Progress in escaping Gaia has proven slow-going. At first, I had taken to the streets of Barton in an effort to locate those who had joined me in my endeavors so many years before. The cobbled paths, while largely unchanged, bore a certain unfamiliarity; while I had no trouble navigating the township, I found that many things had changed. Many faces were unfamiliar to me. While the decor of the buildings seemed livelier, I could sense that the air around me seemed a bit colder. Some sort of apprehension has gripped the people of this realm, however vague. It almost feels as if this world is on the precipice of some great misfortune, and its denizens can feel it, though they may not understand it.

Gathering information proved difficult. In spite of the vastly varied appearances of the people populating the town, my mage's attire was somehow standoffish enough to catch several wary eyes. If I was to acquire the townsfolk's trust, I determined that I must live as one of them, just as before. In an effort to remain inconspicuous, I managed to reconnect with the tailor who had provided me with my more subdued garments in the past. He gave to me a suit nearly identical to my previous one, down to the fit. While I intended on recompensing him, he insisted that I accept it freely, stating that he was more than happy to help an old friend. I graciously accepted his generosity and warmly bade him farewell as I continued on my way, leaving my unneeded belongings in his care.

Despite this drastic change in form, it would seem my appearance was still unique enough to draw the attention of others. T'was not long after my departure from the clothier that I was approached by a pair of towering individuals. Their names were Paulinus and Douglas, as I would soon learn, and they had taken quite the interest in me. Bidding me to follow them to a secluded location, these robe-clad men inquired as to the nature of my being - to be specific, my status as a "human". While uncertain of their intentions at first, I quickly ascertained that at least one of them bore a firearm, which was more than enough to tell me that they were not simply asking out of pure curiosity. In spite of the perceived danger, I answered their questions earnestly and without hesitation. The two seemed satisfied, and Paulinus explained briefly that those who are not of a more traditionally human persuasion are of some concern to them in this place. Douglas then provided me with a text titled "The New Testament", and the two of them quickly took their leave. While happy to have exited the predicament unscathed, I found myself quite puzzled as to the true nature of these two. In Harkan, non-humans very often find themselves the subjects of persecution, both historically and in modern day. While I have great distaste for those who would judge another living being for their physiology alone, I must admit my ignorance in precisely what measure a "non-human" is on this stone. As such, I reserved my own judgements for the time. What precisely will come of this meeting I know not, though I can only hope that Paulinus and Douglas may somehow prove useful to me in the future.

I spent the remainder of the day in the library. During a lull in my studies, I produced the book that Douglas had provided to me and began to read. Within the finely bound pages were stories of creation and virtue, of men and their relationship with a great and powerful deity, and of one man in particular who proved to have a closer bond with this God than any other. Stories of gods and prophets are in no way uncommon in Harkan, though only those with the ancient knowledge such as myself are capable of discerning the falsities from the truth of the threads holding the world together. I wondered if Seras was watching over me now, helping to secure my safe travels through this place. But in all frankness, I believe Gaia is perhaps too far from even her glorious radiance. For now, I remain alone, and alone shall I continue to find a way back to her embrace.

Ivan Feder