Wine Time

24th of Reaping 383 ONT, Lyithalus Vinyards, Elven Court Argyle 6:13pm

Ser Onus Thesalour leaned back on two legs of his chair, striking a match off the window sill as he precariously balanced his pipe in his mouth. He smiled through gritted teeth across the table at Versum who had taken to enjoying an evening smoke with the Elven Knight in charge of security. Onus could see in the wolf’s eyes that he was also happy for the reprieve, his people had been worked and run as hard as anyone feasibly could over the past few years, and a break at a not so sleepy little vineyard, well that was just what the doctor ordered. The leaves took the spark at last and he shook out the match flicking it towards the fire pit as he puffed on the pipe a few times quickly to assure the spark would building into a happy little ember. That task completed he leaned forward putting the front two legs of his chair down while so he could reach for the hardy pinot noir that sat in the middle of the table, quickly he pulled the cork and filled a healthy goblet for himself and one just a strong for Versum.

“ ’Ow goeth tha patrols” he said with his pipe still in his mouth

“Fine, Marscall and Petra should be finishing the evening patrol, they will do another one in about two hours” Versum responded as he lifted his glass to his host and sipped the wine

“Good, more than enough” Onus commented, reminding Versum that he had said two patrols a day was double the standard, eight was a bit overkill. By the Lycans felt like they needed to earn their keep, and so regular patrols were happening. Onus took a long deep swig from his wine and took a moment to contemplate the complicated bouquet of truffle, rose petal and oak. He sighed with a dream laden smile coming to his lips and took another deep breath from his pipe.

“SER THESALOUR!” the door burst open, Paige Furfoot blasted into the room eyes wide in panic. Versum was on his seat in seconds. Thesalour placed his goblet on the table and gently laid down his pipe

“What is it Paige” Onus asked, his tone all business

“ Samson, Amber and Berno were all playing in the caves, Berno came back saying that a hole opened up and swallowed the other two.

“WHAT CAVES? WHERE?” Versum roared, his heart beginning to race

“Easy Friend…” Onus said raising his hands to calm them both, “There are only one set of caves on the island, over on the western beach… right Paige” he said turning to the halfling. He nodded a scared look in her eyes “Be calm friends, this same thing happened to your grandfather Paige, about 56 years ago, the back of the caves have some sharp turns and a few rooms, it is very easy to get lost back there, but no where for them to go… Paige, go back to the village, grab a few blankets and some snacks, the kids will be shaken when they come out… Versum, why don’t you come with me and I’ll show you the caves”. Onus rose slowly and shrugged on his leather coat, grabbed his walking satchel and put it over his shoulder, he strapped his sword belt on and as an after thought tapped out his pipe and stuffed it into his satchel. With that done he scooped his walking stick smiled at Paige once more and nodded for Versum to follow.

Growing Pains Pt 3

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Highport, Argyle 6:15pm

Sir Thalion Ilvanya Alfrin, Knight of Quenya

Born in Novarthia, Son of Ser Ashryn and Delsaran Alfirin, youngest of three. Owner of Lyithalus Vinyards. Rank of Warden in Eagle Nights, Rank of Navasta in Grey Corsairs. Drafted by Admiral of Grey Corsairs and placed under the Command of Erindale.

- Captain and partial owner of Champions Fist and Champion Mercantile Company.

- Known to have active aggression with Sons of Treefall.

- Known to keep a small force of 35 soldiers including at least one gilded knight on Vineyard

- Believed to be highly aggressive

- Favours the Long Sword and Shield

- Trained Eagle Rider

- Fluent in at least four languages

Hikari Anakamoto

- Half Elf, Ships Wizard of Champions Fist, Known to bare the seal of Erindale.

- Confirmed to have paid off all debts of Haldir Numanor to the Red Tower

Casitan looked up from the page

“Not much here” he said to the chubby gnome who sat across from him. The gnome scowled

“You only gave me an hour, that’s a heck of a lot more than anyone else would give ya” The gnome barked back defensively

“Nothing more on this Hikari?” the Elf asked persistently

“Not sure what you want, a half elven sailor and Ship Wizard, no one’s heard of her, Can’t get a line on parents or siblings or even a home port. The Ship is new, and the entire crew registered in Lockland, but that’s just registration, my guess is they had the ship before then” the Gnome replied. Casitan nodded, none of this made him feel particularly good. He had asked around a bit about this Sir Alfirn and nothing came back positive. Involved in a trade war in the penny kingdoms, financing mercenary companies, sparing with the Sons of Treefall, he sounded like a fearsome fellow, and not someone one wanted to tangle with. His sailors were all heavily armed and had brawling reputations of their own.

“This does not appear to be a crowd I want to aggravate” Casitan sighed.

“That’s none of my business,” The Gnome said getting to his feet, “Are you wanting me to dig further or are you happy with this?” he asked rubbing his fingers together to hint towards payment. Casitan sighed and tossed him a small pouch

“This will do for now, inform me should the Good Ship Champions Fist arrive back in port please”

“You got it” the gnome said tossing the pouch in the air and catching it before showing himself out of the room. Leaving Casitan to think

“We will have to let him see Tanithil, I am sorry Salihn” Casitan said in a louder tone. A female elf stepped from behind a curtained portion of the room and came to sit at the table with the Wood Warden. her brown hair was short and shorn at shoulder length, she was short and slim and held the grace accustomed to most High Elves.

“we can’t Casitan, it will just cause him more grief, more trouble for everyone” she pleaded. the Wood Warden nodded in agreement but is words gave her little hope

“I know, it is not my will for it to be so, but I cannot afford a feud with a Knight of Quenya and the Master of Sorcery, until I know more of these benefactors we will have to make some concessions. Now… go and ready the boy to see his father, but make it known that the visit will be supervised, I will be along with Haldir shortly” Salihn wiped the tears from her eyes and dried her face as she prepared to go see her son, it would not due for him to think her as upset about this as she was. Once she mastered herself she left the room and headed up the stairs, leaving Caistan to get up and prepare Haldir for his visit.

To Be Continued

A Dwarven Moment

Lunar Calendar Date: Unknown, Lunar Bag World, Bag Zone ??

Thorbil looked on in amusement from the opposite side of their makeshift camp in Lunar Bagworld, as his mistress called it, and cleaned his pipe. Smoking his pipe was relaxing for Thorbil but his mistress did not like the smoke so he had to choose moments when he could be sure the smoke would not reach her like now to enjoy it. It had been difficult to not give it up immediately when she’d shown her dislike. But Mistress Hikari was adamant that he be allowed to choose for himself and the concept of being a free and independent dwarf was paramount to her. So he kept it.

Free and independent yet created by magic from nothing to be Mistress Hikari’s devoted guardian. It was no wonder that when told that he had a choice that he chose to stay with her. He understood that it was the magic of his creation binding him to her but he really did not have any other purpose and felt that being without purpose would be worse. And the work was easy with good people and a good crew meant that he really had nothing to complain about.

He’d found an unlikely friend in Maddax, well unlikely based on what others said about dwarves and goblins, but the not-knight was a hard worker and willing to talk about anything honestly. His loss earlier was still hard to comprehend for Thorbil and he grieved silently for the loss of his friend. He’d raise a glass to Maddax once they finished their mission. But for now the best thing he and the others could do is kill these illithid-things and shut down this evil place permanently. That would serve as a suitable legacy and make Maddax’s sacrifice worthwhile.

Thinking of things he would like to have was a fun pastime given how little they could or had to do while waiting for Cassidy to let them out. High on his list was a proper dwarven pipe, the design mattered not but the size and craftsmanship he felt would better connect him to his people. It was difficult to be from a clan and know nothing about that clan or the people within it. One day, if Mistress Hikari agreed, he wanted to visit the dwarven lands. Metal beard rings would be nice. Maybe in cobalt or even some stone ones made of jade. Something other than wine or rum to drink would be a welcome change. Neither really matched his tastes and it had taken a while to come to that realization. Finally on his list of wants was more guards for his mistress. She was a mage and that made it difficult to keep up with her at the best of times when she decided to suddenly go off and do something. But more to the point was that he was but one dwarf and though strong and fit could not protect her and those she loved completely by himself. She spoke often of her dream of creating a new type of mercenary fighting force and he wished that it would start to become true sooner rather than later given the number of people he tried to protect and the situations Mistress Hikari was getting into.

Thorbil shook his head at how short his list was and wondered what others would say. Not that he was about to interrupt any of them right now. The goddess was doing her thing and the Schooner was doing his best to ‘improve the relations between churches.’ He turned and looked out to the darkness and sighed. The dark mist was called the bag wastes and was supposed to be the areas between bag-zones. Not a place to be lost in darkvision or not. But it was decidedly too quiet out there. It wasn’t the sound-amplifying creepy evil too quiet of their approach to the tower, but still did not let him really relax.

A look down to his war hammer and a fond touch to the well-made dwarven weapon was enough to keep his confidence high, not ‘I’m going to retire in two days and nothing can go wrong’ level of confidence. Just a confidence that whatever they face he will be able to help and they will find a way to win. Thorbil went back to lighting his pipe…

Growing Pains Pt 2

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Highport, Argyle 4:38pm

Haldir Numanor seethed as he left work for the day, the Steward was a dick, he didn’t understand anything. Haldir had coaxed and sung many of the plants in the garden into flourish, he was a professional, an artist just trying to scratch out a living, but no, now their were overseers and managers getting on his case all the time about a few sick days and late notices… it was crap. He forced himself to take a few deep breaths, he had saved his job, had coin in his pocket. He was going to turn things around, and then he wouldn’t be bothered by the Steward. He flagged down a carriage and had it take him to the southern beaches of the Island. As he traveled they passed through the market and on a whim he had the carriage stop, he rushed into a tailors shop and quickly purchased a new suit, unwilling to wait for it to be altered it was a little baggy on his, but overall a market improvement. he went across the road and saw a small stuffed rabbit, the kind his son Tanithil would just love, he purchased it gladly and wondered down the block looking for a florist. Something that would wow Salihn was hard to find, he was a Gardener and knew at a glance that most of the flowers here were pedestrian at best, but still, it would be the thought that counted. He bought a large bouquet and flagged another carriage,

“Driver, please take me to Oridithas Manor, on the Southern Beaches” he said polity, and smiled as the driver gave the reins a gentle pull and his carriage began to move. It took the better part of an hour to get there, he waved the driver off to leave and approached the large sung wood gates of the great sprawling lands or Oridithas. He let out a long low sigh, he did not get on well with Casitan Oridithas, Senchal of Oridothas Manor and Wood Warden of the Eagle Knights. He was his wives cousin and had been a constant problem throughout his marriage. Haldir walked boldly to the gate, and was not surprised when a halfling clad in chain armor and carrying a spear stepped out of the shallow little guards cove in the wall. The Halfling rolled her eyes upon seeing Haldir approached, but Haldir did not let that slow him

“I am here to see my wife and son, please open the gate and announce me Alpedia” Haldir said to the small guard as he stood before the gate, not looking at her, but instead looking through the wooden spokes at the sprawling manor within.

“What are you doing here Haldir?” The Guard, Alpedia, asked in a tired tone “You know if you cause trouble I’m gonna have to rough you up again, no one wants that” she continued, trying to appeal to the elves sense of saftey and logic.

“Things have changed Alpedia, I have changed, and I have a new benefactor… A man has the right to see his wife and child, announce to them that I have come” he said, still not looking to the guard but staring forward.

“They don’t want to see you Haldir; please go, if you make me get the Senchal involved he will demand to bind your banishment with law this time; then you won’t ever have the chance to come back” She implored, Haldir ignored her staring ahead, his hand rose reaching for the latch to open the gate. fast as a snake the spear reversed and the but end wrapped him on his knuckles causing his hand to relinquish from its course to the latch “Don’t” she said all empathy gone from her tone. He turned with a look of rage and anger on his face stopped himself before he responded in violence; he had learnt long ago that he was no match for the Guard of Oridithas Manor.

“Well,” he said sulkingly, “I won’t leave until I have seen my wife and my son, you cannot keep them from me any longer” Alpedia looked at him for a long time before letting out a long sigh…

“Have it your way, I will inform the Senchal you are here… don’t say I didn’t warn you” she said the later under her breath as she stepped back into her guard alcove and disappeared from sight. Hildar waited as the minutes ticked by, usually he was then invited into the manor he could then slip his escort and find his wife and son. All he needed was chance to talk to them, to explain how everything was different now and that their lives were getting back on track.

At long last the gates opened before him, but instead of Alpedia waving him forward to enter, instead their stood Wood Warden Casitan Oridithas. He stood wearing the uniform of an Eagle Knight, his golden hued chain shirt, long bow and quiver over the shoulder and long sword at his belt. His left hand rested easy on the grip of the sheathed sword with his other hand on his hip. his head was cocked to the side and his expression was that of someone who had little patience left.

“We have discussed this before Haldir, you cannot just come by here, go no and I will forget this matter” The Wood Warden ordered, his voice was soft and melodic, but their was a tone of warning there, a tone that showed decades of command experience and indicated that this was a person whose advise was usually heeded.

“Things have changed Casitan, She is still my wife, I deserve to see her, I WANT TO SEE MY WIFE AND MY SON!” he yelled past the Eagle Knight hoping his tone might be heard

“They cannot hear you Haldir, and this display is not convincing me you should be allowed a visit” The elf said, his voice dripping with disappointment, he turned to Alpedia “If he does not leave on his on accord within the next five minutes, please…. Convince him of errors, and see that a carriage takes him back to his section of Highport” The elf turned to walk away as Alpedia began walking towards him, her spear but held out in front of her,

“Come on Haldir, let me waive you a carriage, no one wants this to get messy”

YOU CAN’T DO THIS! YOU BASTARD! YOU CAN’T STEAL MY FAMILY!” Haldir roared as he ran past Alpedia. The Halfling dropped into a crouch and swung her spear wide tripping Haldir and causing him to land at the feet of the Wood Warden.

“Sorry Wood Warden” she apologized as she moved towards Haldir, this time the point of her spear pointed squarely at him

“Think nothing of Alpedia, I…”

“I HAVE A NEW PATRON! THINGS ARE DIFFERENT NOW, THEY WILL SET IT RIGHT!” Haldir yelled as he tried to rise from the ground, a swift thwack across the back with the spear kept him from rising any higher than his knees. The Wood Warden paused for a moment, likely debating if it was worth engaging with Haldir at all, he shook his head begrudgingly

“Who is this new patron of yours? and what does it have to do with us?” He asked pointedly

“I… I ’m.. uh” He stammered trying to put the words together “Hikari Anakamodo is my patron, she is a wizard working for the Great Erindale himself! She sails with Sir Thalion, Knight of Quenya on the Champions Fist of the Grey Corsairs… she wants me to be with my family… you cannot keep them from me!” he choked out. Casitan looked at him long and hard before saying anything. It was not uncommon for people to yell out names of famous people, but Quenyian Knights and Ships of the Grey Corasirs, few paid attention to such details in common conversation

“Get him up!” Casitan said tersely. Alpedia grabbed Haldir by the arm and quickly pulled him from the ground and dragged him up onto his feet. “Take him to my lower study, and keep a guard on him at all times, he does not leave that room until I can confirm what he has said and who this Knight of Quenya is” Alpedia nodded and ushered Haldir to move forward. Haldir dusted off his new suit and shook his head as he began to wlak forward

“Ms. Anakamoto and Sir Thalion will hear of my treatment Casitan, you can count on that”

To be Continued

The Colours of the Wind Part 1

Lunar date unknown – Moon Bag World

Miriel perched on a large flat rock, surveying the land of Moon Bag World – a strange place she would never have guessed was contained in Hikari’s bag of holding. The area they were in was surrounded by fog, and she sensed that they were being watched; not by the supposed denizens within its folds, but by the fog itself.

She did not sense malevolence, however, so inclined her head politely at the fog, stripped herself of her dress, and sat on the grainy red orange rock to feel the air around her. It started out calm and quiet, but soon as she dropped deeper into her meditation she heard a strange buzzing. Intrigued, she concentrated on it, and it wasn’t long before she realized it was someone praying to her.

“Lady of Divine Beauty and Protector of Men Great and Small, I call out to you on this day…”

She smiled as she recognized Hagnon’s inner voice – powerful and confident, as a leader should be. He was quickly rising in her favour, so she concentrated all the more on his words.

“Your breeze has filled our sails and brought us to the wreckage of one of our fleet.”

“WHAT?” Miriel said sharply, her wings pumping herself into the air for a moment before falling back onto the rock below her. She ignored the pain in her back and bottom – she’ll have to stretch those muscles out afterwards – and went back to listening to his prayer.

“…exact vengeance for those who have been betrayed by your enemies. Should this be true, show me a sign, and my sword will be yours.”

Miriel’s blood sang as she shouted “YES!” and wind blew her hair about her body in answer, streaming down into the rest of the rocky vale to run havoc with her companions. Her lips shifted into a playful smile as voices raised in annoyance rang out, and she snuck a glance behind her to see the new bard running after some paper (though clearly not into the darkness), while the Captain and Johno looked n dismay at the small barrel of ale that had spilt over some fabrics draped over a stone table.

Whoops, guess I will have to make it up to the Captain, those look like some of those sample fabrics he got back in Lockland…

Her attention snapped back as her self-proclaimed champion swore at her again; “So be it Great Goddess, I have seen your signs and accept your task, those who defile the ships named Champion shall be snuffed out, SO MOTE IT BE!”

“What did I do?” she asked aloud, but then shrugged; she would ask him later, and it sounded as if his priorities were straight. If he was amenable, she would ask if he would be interested in exchanging pleasures – though she would first fulfil her promise to Curtis and go to him once they were finished this quest for the infuriating Erindale. Her cleric would accept her favour with eagerness, she had no doubt, and despite some of his faults she cared for him deeply…and she wanted to experience the legendary stamina of a faun.

“Wait for me just a little longer, my Curtis,” she purred, stretching backwards and rubbing at her backside a little – she needed to stretch after all.

“I would wait for ye fer a long time, Goddess,” she heard from behind, and she looked over to see Johno approaching her, clutching the empty ale barrel to his chest. He looked mournfully into the emptiness before dropping the barrel to the ground and sitting beside her.

“You are interrupting my sexual fantasy, Dwarf,” she said, crossing her arms in irritation.

“My apologies, Goddess, I jest wanted to talk about thet exchange program we talked about, since a wind knocked over me ale.”

“Ah, yes. I do owe you for that. Very well, I shall make amends.”

Miriel stood up, cracked her spine and knuckles a few times. Johno laughed warily just as he watched her lustfully. “What are ye gonna do, Goddess?”

She smiled. “You may watch me stretch, Dwarf.”

Growing Pains Pt 1

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Central Gardens Of Athalea, Highport, Argyle 10:33am

Haldir scratched his head nervously, things had been a bit of a whirlwind for him and he didn’t know what to think. He had thought his days in Highport were numbered, that the Red Tower had gone so far to send a formal mark… well that was just to be the end for him. But it wasn’t, the Red Tower had sent two attachés, Flit Fargazer and the lovely Hikari Anakamoto. What an angel she was, swooping from nowhere and agreeing to pay off his debts, remove his troubles with the tower. She had also given him 1000gp in order to “get by” until he was paid again, to “fix up his house, buy food and cover any other payments that had been outstanding”. He couldn’t believe it, he was lucky if he saw this kind of coin in five years of work, here was an all-powerful wizard who just gave it to random gardeners down on their luck. Haldir smiled to himself, things were going to be different this time, he was going to turn his life around, this was his brand new break and he wasn’t going to waste it this time.

“Haldir Numanor?” A stern voice said to him, he turned and saw a tall blond elven man wearing a light shirt of chain and a badge that marked him as a Warden of the Gardens. “Please Report to the Steward of the Gardens” The man said, his tone making it clear that this was not a request.

“Well… ummm, I still have to fertilize the dangeria’s here, and then tidy up, but I can be there in about half an hour or so if…” Haldir stammered

“Leave your work, you are requested now" The man was implacable, so begrudgingly Haldir put down his rake and removed his gloves, the Warden ushered him to take the lead and followed a few feet behind him. twenty minutes later he stood in front of the desk of Steward Nelaeryn Keavyr.

“Mr. Numanor, I want to start by saying this brings me no joy” The Warden began. Haldir stood their awkwardly staring at his feet, their were no chairs on this side of the desk, the room felt closed in and suffocating. “but I am afraid their are just too many infractions for me to continuing ignoring, Over seven hundred sick days in the last five years, Being Rude to Garden Patrons, Frequent Tardy notices, an inability to take managements advice, showing up to work lacking full uniform or dirty uniform… the list goes on”

“Well Sir, you see, my kid… he’s been sick and…” he as cut off with a swift motion of the hand by his employer

“I have heard it before Mr. Numanor, we all have, and I am afraid my patience and sympathy, much like your employment here, has come to an end. The incident last week of having two Tower Goons come onto Park Lands to serve you a debt notice… that really pushes things beyond the limits”

“Please Steward… I can’t loose my job now, I need my job… those weren’t Debt Enforcers… they weren’t” he stammered thinking as quickly as he could “Those were messengers, working Directly for Lord Erindale, they serve on this Ship the Champions Fist, and were coming to speak with me about the park… It was good customer service, just like you have been encouraging me sir. They Work for Sir Thalion Alfirn, a Knight of Quenya, and were interested in the Gardens… please sir… please” Haldir sobbed, he couldn’t loose his job now, not when he had come so far; he was finally getting his life back together.

“Knight of Quenya you say? His people admiring our gardens? not to many Knights of Quenya anymore…” The Steward mused

“No their arn’t sir… and…” Haldir knew what he was about to say was a lie, but it was a lie for good, so it couldn’t be that bad right? “And… The Ships Wizard… Hakari Anakamoto… she said that she liked the Gardens so much that she would be bringing her Captain back next time they were in port, she said she’d see me then… that they’d like to see the progress on the southern beds…” he began crying again. The Steward eyed Haldir carefully but could not be sure if the man could be trusted or not. If this man was able to pull a Knight to the Gardens, perhaps a good word could be put in and more funding could be attained, but if the man was lying than this would be just another waste of time.

“So be it…” he said at last “but mark my words Haldir Numanor, this is your very last chance, one tardy notice, so much as a button undone on your uniform, a single sniffle or sick day and you are done here… are we clear?”

“Yes Sir,” Haldir said, bowing as he backed out of the room “Thank you very much Sir, you won’t regret it at all!” Haldir nodded and bowed until he was into the hall and then exited the building as quickly as he could, not wanting to push his luck anymore on this the luckiest of lucky weeks.

How to Train Your Symbiote

Lunar Calendar Date: Unknown, Lunar Bag World, Bag Zone ??

Hikari looked down at the small pellet of enchanted metal in her hand and at the Arachnis eating a similar piece. She licked her lips remembering the flavours and the differences in the taste of these metal meals both from the types of spells used as well as the she’d had and yet knowing that she had never eaten and could not digest something like this herself. And yet through Phobia she had for every time they rejoined after one of the meals Hikari got to experience the memories. She placed the errant piece back in the pile musing at how much she felt like Phobia was more an extension of herself than an independent creature and how at times like this it was like she’d shut off a part of her while Phobia ate like keeping an eye closed or plugging an ear or not being able to use an arm for a while.

Hikari wasn’t certain when exactly it happened or even how and in truth considered it to be more of a gradual process that she was only now, during a quiet moment, realizing how far it had come. The Arachnis, Phobia, was a symbiotic entity and yet their thoughts rarely misaligned or diverged. Phobia’s knowledge was a part of Hikari and she’d never kept any barriers between herself and Phobia once she’d learned about the Arachnis back at the temple. Now it felt more and more like there was no difference between them but not in the same way as it was with Hiro and Paprikka but more along the lines of Phobia actually being an extension of her own body and mind. Like discovering one suddenly had wings and learning how to first notice them then move them and eventually being able to fly as if they had always known how. Hikari grinned at the clunky but accurate analogy. It was to the point where she was no longer using ‘we’ when speaking as she felt like one person and Phobia was as much Hikari as it was in reverse.

The biggest surprise had happened after having to sort out that mess with the magical deck and the fantastical bow Jesse had acquired and dealing with the intelligence and personality within. In doing so it awakened new abilities in Phobia wherein it appeared she could now shift and adjust her body to different shapes including that of a bow. She began practicing and adjusting the tension in the legs as well as the silken string to mimic the flex and feel and strength of the original but with a more organic feel. Though she didn’t like not being mentally connected during that time and wondered if there was a way to keep the link from severing.

This also led Hikari to imagining other possibilities that could align with the inherent gifts of an Arachnis. Nothing specific in the shared memories suggested it wasn’t possible and excitedly she worked out the details and was almost ready to begin, or would be when the meal was finished when her thoughts were interrupted with a kiss.

Warm, soft and inviting she leaned into the kiss all other thoughts forgotten for the moment. Reaching for Valeira, her hands slid over the gentle curves of her hips and settled in the depression of her waist and pulled her forward till their bodies touched. She felt Valeira’s arms encircle her as she settled into Hikari’s lap. She touched Valeira’s cheek feeling her smile and let her hand run back through her hair.

“Really? Here?” Tar Di’s annoyance cut into the moment. “Can’t you at least wait until you’re back on the ship? ”

“Now lass, ye cannae be interruptin’ like that. T’is bad manners.” The Schooner commented earning him an annoyed look and a raspberry from Tar Di. “Love should be celebrated no matter where it may happen.” He looked over to Miriel and winked. For her part Miriel refrained from commenting or even acknowledging the dwarf.

“But this place is boring, nothing happens and you can’t see anything. And I ahve to leave our cabin when this starts and I can’t do that here.” Tar Di threw a pebble into the darkness beyond the borders of the bag zone. Then she had an idea and her face lit up once more. “I have an idea about how to make it less boring…”

The resounding “NO” from those assembled sent Tar Di sulking off to one side and both Hikari and Valeira laughing quietly. The two did separate however slowly sharing a few last touches and a quick kiss.

“We’ll finish that later,” Valeira smiled and then looked to Tar Di, “I think I’ll go and make tar Di less bored with some good stories so you can get back to whatever it was that had your attention.”

“But you had my attention,” Hikari sighed and looked over to her apprentice and then back to Valeira. She wondered what it would take to modify a teleport spell enough to get them back to her cabin on the ship and then let it go as she knew that even if she could it would be a one way trip. “Probably for the best I don’t try that.” She sighed again and looked down at the Arachnis. Right she had ideas she wanted to try.

For the next few hours Hikari worked on getting Phobia’s shape to stretch and shift sizes. She also attempted many different ways of having the Arachnis on her back instead of front and tried to find a comfortable position where they could be connected and have four of the legs wrapped around her and four of them stretching and moving to match Hikari’s actions. It was slow, looked awkward and not overly successful but there was hope. Phobia’s form was more malleable or adjustable than one would think and with lots of practice and time her vision of combining the Arachnis’ gifts with her own abilities could be more than a simple bow. Being able to move faster and react sooner to danger and climbing… definitely climbing would be easier. And the possibilities of what she could do with the silk/webbing were intriguing. If only they had more time…

Bloodshed in the Wind Pt 3

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:56pm, Southern Evermoors, Argyle

“I can only imagine your frustrations Nameer, but I think you and your group our suffering from Logical Positivism, You are taking a written word and declaring it as the truth directly from Aurora, but you are the first to admit that Aurora did not write the holy books herself. Religious language is often vague, imprecise, and couched in mystery, we are aware of the nature of scribes and translators. From what I can gather from our conversations and I will be the first to admit that I am not expert in the religion of Aurora, many of the written religious statements, including those about her decrees against other Air Goddess, are neither tautological nor empirically verifiable. To me how can it say that Aurora is ‘compassionate’, is ‘kind’ and ‘loves life and whimsy’ and yet she has a monastery that takes children from their parents at a young age and trains assassins to kill those who have never even interacted with her church? The actions to not match your scriptures” Curtis said as he leaned back against the tree in contemplation, they had been discussing the tenants of their religion for sometime now but the faun felt that they kept dancing around to this one vital point. He dug through his pack now without objection and offered the smoked meat to Nameer. He waved off the kind offer with a smile. Curtis shrugged and piece for his own and began to start chewing on it.

“So you do not have Holy Texts?” Nameer said “How is that you can hope for your religion to grow?”

“I am currently writing one, and I am not saying that texts are not important for broad strokes to introduce someone to your religion, but My Goddess speaks to me, often, she watches me always… she cares in my outcomes and does not stray from telling me what path I should take or if an action is wrong. Your entire sub order relies on texts written hundreds of years ago, but priests who did not speak directly to her, but based their information on historical texts of her time on Argyle, that must leave you in knots? How can you know you are pleasing her?” The faun asked, and for the first time they’re was a serious crack in the assassin’s facade, he looked genuinely worried.

“How could I know? She does not speak to me as your Goddess speaks to you, is my entire life a lie?” Nameer mused more to himself then Curtis

“I tell you what… this is important, very important… so here is what we will do” Curtis said dusting his hands off and rising to his feet “Free my friends, and let us surrender to you, we will walk with you to the nearest shrine of your Goddess, and we will ask her directly, and while we walk, I will tell you of my Goddess, let us truly know if we have quarrel here or not… is it truly worth the risk of your immortal soul that a scribe did his research correctly?” Nameer scratched his chin but stood as well,

“You would do that, surrender to me and walk to a shrine?” the man asked in surprise
“You may see me as your enemy, but I see you as a new friend… No matter how this comes about, I will not raise a blade against you Nameer, on my word as a cleric of the Goddess of the Night Wind” he said offering his hand forward to shake in friendship. The assassin smiled despite himself and took Curtis’s hand.

“You are an odd one my friend, I don’t think this has ever been done before” Curtis smiled and let out a small laugh

“Maul says that about me all the time”

Bloodshed in the Wind Pt 2

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:29pm, Southern Evermoors, Argyle

“wake up Curtis… wake up, you’re in trouble” the soft voice whispered across the ether, through the drifts of time and into the realm of dreams. “wake up Cutis, and know… violence begets violence”

The Faun stretched and yawned opening his eyes, it didn’t feel like he had slept that long, he doubted Maul would be back with his fish yet, but still, he had a knot in his stomach, something was wrong and he could not shake it. He sat up and looked around his camp, his heart sinking. Hog tied in the creek, his face fighting to keep above the water was Maul, his right eye was bleeding and appeared to be cut in numerous places. The faun shifted his gaze just past the shore line where he saw a jar with Soaz in it, it was stoppered and sealed in wax, her air would soon run out. At last he noted Levan and Oswack unconscious and tied back to back. Curtis sighed… he was terrible at this whole adventuring thing. About ten feet from him, sitting cross legged was a man in grey clothes, a long bloody dagger sitting in front of him.

“So, you are Curtis, chosen of the Night Wind? I must say, I am not impressed by her champion” the man said, his tone conversational. Curtis sat up, and moved to rush to Maul’s aid “Ah, Ah, I am a fair hand with this dagger, you’d never make it to the shore” the man said pointing causally with the long knife. Curtis nodded swallowing hard before responding

“Would you consider a parlay before killing me? I have questions, and I am sure you do to… what could be the harm in talking” Curtis asked putting on his best charming smile. The man scratched his chin with the point of his knife thinking about it

“I do have questions… I could agree to this” the man said “But any deception will lead to your end” Curtis raised his hands nodding in agreement

“Well, in order for me to focus, for us to speak theologically you must grant me permission to caste two spells… only two” he said quickly as the man’s brows furrowed, Curtis hurried forward with his thoughts “I water breathing for Maul, and a zone of sweet air for Soaz… should you be done with me, and kill me, my spells will end right away and they will soon die as you have set forth, but knowing they are safe at least for the time being allows me to focus on our conversation, and gives you leverage to extort the truth from me… what say you… two spells and I will tell you whatever you wish about my goddess? Deal?” The man seemed to think long and hard about this, but at last did give a single slow nod. Curtis did not question his fate, but quickly set to work laying the two spells that would stave of death for the time being, then went back to his spot on the bed, he opened his pack… slowly showing the man each step in the process and pulling forth two apples, offering one to the man, he took the opposite one from what Curtis offered, but then they both sat and ate.

“I am Nameer of the temple of Aurora, I have come seeking vengeance for crimes against my Goddess” the man said somewhat formally

“I am Curtis Tomas, of the Evermoors, First Cleric of the Goddess of the Night Wind, I acknowledge your complaint and sit in the spirit of peace in hopes that we might move forward together”

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:36pm, Chistles Point, Argyle

Aranite let out a throaty bellow as he felt the bone in his hind left leg snap under the blow from the assassin. He fought with all his might to keep his balance as he reached out with his gloved hands grabbing the small man and heaving him across the smithy. The man rolled over the counter and landed back against the forge, his clothes on his back melted and smell of burning flesh filled the room, the man did not call out. He merely sprung to his feet, grabbing a hot poker near him and swinging hit like a weapon.

“Ave, Zazz, Arnold… GET OUT OF HERE! Fetch the guard from the Temple of Selwyn! QUICKLY!” Aranite called to his employees who quickly scrambled out of the smithy. The man took a half step to chase one, but Aranite grabbed a massive block of metal and hurled it across the room at him. The man nimbly dodged but missed his chance to attack the noble employees and friends of the Smithy.

“I was to offer you a quick death, but for this” he showed the burn along the back of his left shoulder “you will suffer long” Azeer threw the hot poked at Aranite, hitting him mid haunch. The leapt up grabbing a rafter and swinging across the room in a whirling kick. The blow was not that much for a sturdy smith, but the weakened rear leg caused him to lose his balance and the massive centaur tumbled to the ground. “Your bitch of a Goddess has wronged the Lady of Air for the last time… I will hunt down anyone who dares pray to her” Azeer growled as he launched three quick thrusts with a dagger into the stomach of the felled centaur. To the surprise of the assassin, the centaurs great strong hand snaked out and grasped him around the neck

“Your people might… but you… will not” The centaur grunted as he received several more dagger thrusts into the stomach. Still his hands clenched ever tighter around Azeers throats… the man struggled and attacked with everything he had, but at last their was a snapping popping noised, and the assassin went limp.

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:41pm, Honastica, Argyle

“An assassin from a rival Goddess, I can hardly believe it” Cenon said, seeing the man laying on the floor of the shrine. Hagnon nodded to him as he used the assassin’s knife to cut open the chest of his enemy

“These are exciting times indeed, this means we are indeed doing right by our Goddess if our presence causes the other Goddlings to quake in fear!” Hagnon said, excitement evident in his voice.

“But still, who is this Air Goddess, and how can any hate our beloved Lady of Night?” Cenon quarried. Hagnon shook his head, stumped himself over such a question

“To be flawed is to be mortal?” he asked more than said, quoting the ancient poet “It is more of the like that this one was raised in ignorance of the truth of our Goddess, as such he was never given a chance to know her love and live in eternal splendor… it saddens me to think that, but that is the cruelty of the mortal realms” at last Hagnon managed to saw open the chest cavity, with a few quick cuts of the knife he pulled forth the heart of his enemy and turned and walked towards the Alter. “GREAT GODDESS OF THE NIGHT WIND, THIS MAN ATTEMPTED TO KILL AND HE WAS INDEED A WORTHY FOE, I TAKE WHAT STRENGTH HIS HEATHEN HERATIC RELIGION OFFERED AND CONSUME IT TO BETTER OFFER IT TO YOU, MAY HIS STRENGTH FUEL THE FIRES OF YOUR RELIGION SO THAT IT MAY GROW AND SPREAD!” with the he took a great bite of the heart of the assassin’s heart, chewing it carefully and continuing until he had consumed it in entirety. He then turned back to Cenon “Their will be more, let us be more warry in the future of who we grant an audience with”

“As you wish my King” Cenon said saluting with his fist over his chest

Bloodshed in the Wind pt 1

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 1:18pm, Southern Evermoors, Argyle

Please Listen While Reading

Curtis trudged along the northward trail, following the easy pace of Maul Chalum, he could hear Levan pattering along behind him with Oswack and Soaz bringing up the rear. he adjusted the straps on his backpack and took a deep breath of the pine fresh air. It was good to be back in the Evermoors, for some reason it always felt more like home here than anywhere else. he looked back and saw Oswack heaving heavy breaths as he clambered along to keep up. Curtis jogged up to the front.

“Maul, we have to take a break, we’ve been on the road since dawn,” Curtis said in a low whisper. The Wild Elf gave him a baleful look, the group moved at perhaps a third the speed he would normally travel at, with at least twelve times the number of breaks he would take. It was a wonder they ever got anywhere. Curtis gave him his best ‘faun eyes’ and the Wild Elf grinned despite himself

“I hear a spring or creek not far from here, let us push to there, then we can lunch and drink our fill… fair?” Maul offered

“Sounds Great Maul,” Curtis said “a nice cool stream, maybe a nap in the shade… all sounds great” The Faun said with a smile

“Don’t push it” Maul said with mock seriousness.

The group hiked for another half hour before finding a shady clearing beside a burbling little brook. with the ancient red pines overhead the place gave excellent vision and was pretty bug free. Even Maul Challum had to admit it was an excellent resting point.

“Ok,” the Wild Elf put in, “We can camp here tonight, but I want us starting all the earlier tomorrow… deal?” whoops of happiness sealed the deal and in no time the party was hanging a tarp for cover, laying out bedrolls and collecting firewood. Curtis filled a pot with water and began pulling out spices and meats while Maul wandered the banks of the brook picking wild garlic and onions. The wild elf cheered to the astonishment of Curtis as he held up and handful of ripe fiddleheads. “I think their are trout up stream a bit to… hold off on the dry meat, let me try for something fresh tonight” he called. Curtis nodded, cleaning up and opted instead to stretch and take a short nap before starting his cooking duties, while he waited to see if Maul would grant them a better supper. the faun fished an apple from his backpack and took a big bite as he ideally wandering about the resting area, pulling heavier stones from under sleep mats and placing them in a ring for the fire. When his area was suitably comfortable he curled up on his bed roll, took his last two bites of apple and closed his eyes nodding into a light doze.

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:16pm, Church Ground of the Goddess of the Night Wind, Chistles Point, Argyle

The man in simple peasants cloths approached the small smithy at the edge of the Goddess of the Night Winds Grounds. The Smithy seemed to be doing well, it staffed two dwarves a gnome and was run by a large Centaur who came out to greet him.

“Good Day Sir, I am Aranite, Smith of the Goddess of the Night Wind, how may I help you?” the Centaur said wiping his soot stained hands on a cloth as he trotted up to the counter. The Peasant man bowed his head deeply.

“Hello, I am Azeer, I am an Air Worshiper searching for any churches of the Goddess of the Night Wind, I would know her better” the man said. Aranite gave him a warm smile and extended a hand to shake it.

“Well met Azeer, you have come to the right place, the Goddess has indeed visited here, and has deemed this smithy be built until such a time that a proper temple can begin construction. I can tell you what I can of the Goddess from my interactions, but should warn you I am not a cleric” The Centaur said, coming out from behind the counter to speak with Azeer and lead him towards the fields dedicated to the Goddess.

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:19pm, Shrine of the Goddess of the Night Wind, Chestnut Grove, Occupied Honastica, Argyle

King Hagnon bowed before the Alter of his Goddess, he was seeking to calm the stray thoughts in his mind. The last two days had started with slaves fleeing their masters to join his cause, he had offered sanctuary or riches as he had with all others and bolstered his number again. Even now Cenon and Pelious trained with the new recruits, forging them into a phalanx worthy of the Goddess. They had also attempted to reinforce their position, he had seen several riders approach, take stock of their activities and ride off, a battle would be about them soon, and he would need HER beloved wisdom in order to see his way to victory.

“My King” he heard Damocles say from behind him “This is Zamfir, he has risked much running the lines to know more of the Goddess” The King did not leave his bowed kneeling position, nor did he open his eyes

“So be it Democles, I believe we will see our enemy this day, please leave our guest and examine the defenses” King Hagnon said

“It will be done my King” Deomcles said, saluting with his fist over his heart and leaving the room. all was quiet for a long while before the King spoke

“So you have come to kill me, as a strike against my Goddess?” the King asked

“Why would you say that Good King Hagnon?” the voice of the man was soft as a whisper, but did not argue the point. Still Hagnon did not move

“My Goddess allows me to glimpse what is in a man’s heart… your heart belongs to another Goddess and is filled with anger and indignation towards me, you may be an assassin, but that does not mean you must be a liar; speak truth in your intent and own some nobility” their was a long pause, and Hagnon could hear the shifting of cloth behind him before a response came

“So be it, Aurora will not suffer this blasphemy any longer, your Goddess dares steal from her, she will be punished in this world and the others!” the man said leaping forward. Hagnon spun as he did catching the hand with a knife and holding it inches from his face.

“As… Written… In… the… Scrolls… SHEDOESWHATSHEWANTS!” Hagnon pushed the man back with the last and pulled the athame from the alter as Zamfir reversed the grip on his own weapon and dropped into a crouched position.

“Sumbit and your death will be quick” Zamfir offered

“You attempt to kill a favoured of the Goddess of the Night Wind… I promise you, you death will be long and slow, and you will learn you folly well!” Hagnon replied, the two dashed forward and their knives met in a clang of battle.

4th of Goodmonth 383 ONT, 3:26pm, Southern Evermoors, Argyle

“Hello Levan, I am Nameer, I am search of the cleric named Curtis?” the grey clad man said to the small gnome on the fringe of the glade

To be Continued


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