"My expulsion from the township surrounding Serminwurth is at present still a point of annoyance for me- truly, how could I have known that surgical paralysis as a cure for C.S.D. had been outlawed for a century and a half? My patient was happy for it, and would have offered his signed consent, were he literate, and had his hands not have sooner stabbed me in the throat with that same pen. Regardless, I have resolved to make the most of my new situation, rather than simply make due. I have met a somewhat like-minded fellow in my flight from home, though his practice and interest in discovery has something a theistic bent to it. He is a devotee of the god of healing, and thus his familiarity with anatomy and patience with the agonized will both come in handy as we embark upon this new project together. He is one Hital, of the village Ferrith."
- Personal Journal Entry #1
"My companion and I have found the distant and, to be perfectly honest, forgotten town of Uiten in our hasty travels east after certain unfortunate occurrences manifested themselves around Hital's latest rendering of services as a barber-surgeon. He seems to have taken a hint, and no longer offers me a shave. Uiten was apparently forgotten by the rest of the region just as much as it was by the geographic archives back home, because the area is in a state of advanced disrepair and administrative neglect. We have received word that the local prison has recently overflowed- yet another negative side effect of the peculiar practice in this region of using imprisonment as a punishment in and of itself, rather than as a brief interlude to proper financial or corporeal discipline. But, one man's rot is another man's fertilizer. We will contact the local authorities in the morning."
- Journal Entry #4
"We make a surprisingly effective team of negotiators, Hital and I. His forwardness and bombasticity make an excellent entry-point, while my comparatively more reserved nature and technical language "seals the deal" so to speak, where his energy might otherwise turn toward less-than-appealing quirkiness, or reveal something of his "fixations". The pouch of gold which we passed to the magistrate and chief bailiff also seemed to turn them around toward our cause. Regardless, our methods have earned us a signed and sealed certificate which transfers to us the responsibility and authority over one of the prison's condemned inmates. We have assured his former keepers that there is no end more ethical and just than one which serves the progress of human knowledge."
- Journal Entry #5
"The prisoner, whose name I cannot recall being spoken, does not seem to be so fortunate as to be bilingual. This tells me that he belonged to the somewhat plebeian majority back home, and likely would not be a terribly good source of intellectual stimulation in conversation. This is just as well, since he seems more concerned with fruitlessly pulling at his restraints and causing Hital to have to use the bullwhip which he inexplicably carried around all of this time. Still, we are making adequate time on our way to the facility."
- Journal Entry #6
"The buzzing of alert activity was almost deafening four miles from our secondary destination, forcing us to stop and thoroughly hide and veil the horses and our friend before progressing on foot with suits and earplugs donned. It could not mute the pounding of our hearts in our heads as we progressed into Blood Wasp territory. Our target was the smallest functional hive which we could access at the edge of the zone of infestation, but unfortunately for us they happened to be quite closely packed this season. By the time we found a suitable hive which vaguely resembled the shape of a waxy, prismatic squirrel, the thumb-sized colony drones were boring holes into our protective clothing and barbing at our skin. We carefully cut the structure open and harvested a trio of galls from within before beating a hasty retreat. The left side of Hital's face was bloated from an envenomed sting, but it only dragged half of his ever-present smile even farther up toward his pronounced cheekbones. He seemed quite pleased with everything."
- Entry #10
"The "facility" of which Hital spoke so highly has failed to live up to my expectations. At one point, it was supposedly a quite refined retreat for the priests of Najis in the region. But it has since fallen into ruin, and the wooden portions of the structure have rotted and collapsed. The stone structure which superficially resembles a gatehouse shall act as our domicile as well as staging grounds, and so I am grateful that I kept a hold on my earplugs, though they have become quite nasty, waxy things in the summer humidity. The nights will be loud for some time."
- Entry #12
"Fortunately for Hital, the operating room is marvelously more preserved and clean. The heavy external locks on all doors and windows leading to the chamber kept the elements from spoiling the instruments and facilities within, to the point that we believe even the wooden operating table will suffice. After two days of sitting and stewing, our prisoner has become increasingly paranoid. Perhaps he has an inkling of what is in store for him. Certainly, he has noticed that we are feeding him significantly more than in the past week. Hital believes he has worked out some of the rudiments of the man's language, and has conducted a handful of halting conversations with him up to this point. I was unable to transcribe them, but the end result seems to be that he is more distressed now that the "Smiling Man" has taken such an interest in him. The uncanny nickname has, incidentally, reminded me to begin a separate and more disciplined log for what is to follow. Were this to be read by anyone but myself, I would apologize for my subsequent dryness."
- Entry #13
"Observation Log Day One. The subject was transferred to the operating room after the inclusion of a sufficient dose of remphanth extract to his food. My associate and I agree that we should have tightened his restraints, as the constant rattle of chains upon the table is growing already so tiresome. We have placed a low-hanging mesh net above him containing the galls, which have shown signs of greater activity over the past eighteen hours. My associate tells me that the subject insists that he can hear them humming. We both confirm that there is perfect silence in the facility other than his own exclamations. Perhaps they are already growing acquainted."
"Day Two. A reflected light aimed to shine through each of the galls confirms that the larva are highly active and in a more advanced state of development than we had hoped. The subject continues to rant and rave, alternating insisting that he had not committed his crimes, and begging forgiveness for them. He simply wishes for the humming to stop. My associate agreed to contribute his own plugs, and for the moment the subject is pacified."
"Day Four. The galls are beginning to rupture. I began to mix several doses of anesthetic which I believe necessary to the process, but my associate insists that the procedure will have a much higher rate of success if the subject is conscious and able to provide the larvae with the needed levels of aural stimulation. I am skeptical, but will defer to his greater experience in this field, for his treatment of several cases following the Festering River Blight was what allowed for this all to happen. Fortunately he does not dare to call me his assistant, in jest or otherwise."
"Day Five. I have invaginated the subject's navel with a metal rod and spaced out the entryway using a specially-treated hollow reed, pointed upward at the rupturing galls. One has already begun to drip effluvia upon the table.
Addendum to Day Five. By the marked increase in yelling, the subject seems to have finally come in direct contact with one or more larvae. The reed's effectiveness as a channel made from the material of the wasp's native habitat is noted for future research."
"Day Twelve. All three galls have ruptured and emptied fully, though several offspring died or were insufficiently developed to migrate to the host. Perhaps they were damaged in the direct handling of their galls, or perhaps it is the result of improper incubator formation. Future cross-referencing will hopefully illuminate this issue. The subject is behaving very erratically, fighting against his restraints until his wrists and ankles bleed and significant bruising across his limbs indicates the separation of muscle tissue from bone. The influence of adrenaline on the human body is remarkable, but must wait for another time in order to receive full study."
"Day Fifteen. The subject has stopped screaming."
"Day Twenty-Eight. After a significant period of unresponsiveness in which the subject was deemed to be expired, its extremities appear now to twitch and flex randomly. My associate has explained that this marks the point where the larva has transitioned from feeding on gut fauna and internal organs to engaging directly with the central nervous system. The relative lack of innards explains the surprising lack of foul odor- I was incorrect in believing that the subject's tissues were somehow being preserved by the process of incorporation."
"Day Thirty. After one month of observation and gentle goading, we have confirmed the presence of wasp nymphs in and around what remains of the subject's respiratory and digestive tract. The entry-point is now a far cry from a human torso meanwhile, having been sufficiently converted into hive structures that it resembles in crude shape some of the larger, dome-like colonies which I glimpsed at the heart of the Blood Wasp infestation during our brief foray. Soon, the entire subject--blood, tissue, and bones--will become the strange, uniform substance which houses a hive. It is with cautious celebration that we confirm that the process of hive conversion may be duplicated in a controlled environment. This will effectively pave the way to a greater understanding of the ecology of parasitic colonial insects, assuming we ever find a publisher willing to stamp its name upon our soon-to-be compiled reports."
"Day Forty-Two. Thus far we have met with very limited success in obtaining a professional audience for our discoveries. Measures have been taken to keep the hive contained as more advanced wasps lay claim to the host's surroundings. A thick, soupy atmosphere has begun to take hold in the operating room, accompanied by a sickeningly sweet smell which even manages to seep through our more air-tight seals. My associate has explained to me that this is a byproduct of the process, used to nurture and sustain more advanced forms of the wasp which quickly molt the teeth and enlarged stomach found in larvae. It is reportedly used as a highly effective yet highly addictive painkiller and recreational drug in the river delta towns to the south."
"We have officially deemed the project to be completed, though Hital and I will continue to make careful observations on the growth and development of the hive- the appearance of a queen would be a spectacular event neither of us would want to miss. Additionally, standards of safety must be kept at an all-time high, lest the facility and surrounding area become a new infestation zone. I would be deeply grieved if undue ecological damage and loss of life followed this momentous success. I have proposed that in the interim while we seek for scholastic partnership, we harvest and process some of this "crimson honey" and make a few minor business arrangements with the locals.
Hital is in strong disagreement with this, citing his religious disinclination toward the use or, indeed, even the existence of anesthesia. I have assured him that the proceeds would allow us to do much more good than ill, offering us a fast track to publication. I have also reminded him--perhaps somewhat manipulatively--of the severe withdrawal symptoms known to manifest from honey abuse, and of the subsequent need for trained medical professionals which would be sure to follow.
He is beginning to come around."
- Journal Entry #14
Beyond this point, no other journal entries are legible through the thickly-caked dirt and grime of nature, though there did appear to be many more pages written. Given the eventual publication of one very polarizing academic journal within Deneroth and select associated cities which contained elements of the above as well as both names, the pair met with some success. But the article which began this new wave of study was published without followup just shy of a decade ago at this time, and these journals were found among several other hastily-abandoned personal effects amid the effective ground-zero of the recently exterminated northern Blood Wasp infestation. No recently-parasitized human remains could be found on location, leaving the fates of the forested hilltop building's occupants uncertain.
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