Tashi’dai’lai or ”Welcome”.

My name is Lin’Chi. I am a Master of Astronomancy and Geometry at the Academy of Wai’Toshi; my credited Colleges are the Gate College and the Order of Librarians. Much to my chagrin, I am also widely known as the inventor of the famous Beard-Curling Nostrum and the famously failed Beard Straightening Nostrum. The Master Prime’s whiskers have since grown back. Nowadays, most of my time is spent in Wai’Toshi, teaching young mages about the exciting possibilities that teleportation offers the distracted “pimpling” – and occasionally even managing to teach them the math that’s involved. Twenty days without incident is my record so far, an achievement of which I am very proud.

My friend and associate Mortal Arrow has requested that I lay down in some semblance of order what he calls my “tall tales”, which collected are in essence the story of my life and travels. Mortal Arrow finds them entertaining, draws them out to while away evenings, and is convinced that at least half of them are completely fabricated. For my part, I hope that they may serve as an educational description of our universe, at least what small parts of it I have seen. The reader may rest assured that, despite their fantastical nature and contents, my stories are both true and accurate for a given value of each. The least believable is usually the most true.

My students will be familiar with some portions of my life; Journeyman Prillik may be mortified to know that I have, in fact, heard his saucy song about my encounter with the High Priestess of the Dwarves (and I’ve already given him extra credit in his remedials). Others have sat more than once through my description of making precessional miscalculations and winding up on Perruush while still under the influence of Apikan hallucinogens. Other students may see some of their own experiences. Some will recall our disastrous “Thirty-Second Tour of Hell”, while others may never go on a Nixie boat again after “The Diving Bell Incident”. Rest assured that I intend to tell even the most embarrassing parts, Master Kell.

Many of these stories will be known to my regular drinking companions, Mortal Arrow himself being one of them. My journey to the ancient Hob ruins at Uminen, the manner in which I learned the foundational theory of Outsider witch-vessels, and the majority of my journeyman hijinks are favorite recollections, each worn by telling into smoothness like a river stone. I hope that the reader will forgive those tales that are not so smooth, and appreciate my informal memoirs for what they are- improbable stories about an improbable person leading an improbable and often ridiculous life.

I’ll start, I think, in the middle. Tomorrow’s meeting of the Synod is about what I believe to be an incursion of the River Styx into Veldos to the east of Wai’Toshi. I might as well start with my tales of travel as a journeyman, as those were concerned in large part with the Styx and the places that may be visited thereby. After passing my examinations, I decided that the only logical thing for a young fellow to do when released from a couple of decades of academia in one place was to revel in every venue that it is possible for a Firbolg to do so, and some that are not. To that end, I elected to use my fledgling skills at teleportation and negotiation to secure a leapfrog path to Eng-cha, the second moon. This has long been the staging point for journeys away from Veldon, not least because the Gate is so inhospitable that it discourages visitors from elsewhere in the universe.

In what way? Those looking up with telescopes or even keen eyes will note that Eng’cha looks almost furry, like a fat wupu that’s taken hair tonic. In closer quarters, it becomes clear that the moon’s surface is actually hellish badlands from wherever one arrives all the way to the sharp-curved horizon. The Gate itself interferes with local hyperspace, so one cannot arrive less than five miles away. This equates to a full day of hard travel over stones that are sharp enough to cut leather. Needless to say, none of my classmates elected to make the trip with me. I almost gave up when a stone slashed my wineskin, but as the piercing, unfiltered sun rose over the crags I looked down into a crater and saw the delicate Fae-wrought silver of the Gate. Here my journey truly began, for with one leap I would be on the planet Mavvodd, the closest port at which trading Witchvessels entered the Styx.

More will follow after I’ve made ready for the Synod tomorrow. One of my journeyman students has some very interesting spatial folding data I’d like to review…

For now, Tog khe’rang’tsö hö’khe du, or “Pack your hookah and smoke!”