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Michael-TLH

The Darakan Chronicles, Part 2

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Jesset also is glad to see Warrick move with more ease, but she is still concerned and makes herself available to help - or catch - him should he require it while mounting his beast.

 

With a sigh at the ease he shows in mounting, she sets her care behind.

 

"I shall guard the rear, as before Tanaar. Thank you again for meeting us."

 

Then placing her horse in with the others, she sets about guarding the rear of a mounted column as only she can. She runs silently over the detritus of the forest floor, never quite touching it. Her footfalls land on a cushion of air scant inches above the ground. Then, with her incredible leaping ability, she launches onto a strong lower branch. Knowing the trees of the forest makes it easy to choose a place strong enough for secure perching, yet lacey enough for good camouflage. Hiding amoung the fertile tracery, she checks above and below for any signs of menace...allowing her companions to outpace her for a time.

 

But soon she is off again, running on the Squirrel's Highway or the Horse's with equal ease...until she finds another post suitable for observation. On the ground or in the trees at almost any height up to a dozen paces, she spies from every angle. It is not that she does not trust Tanaar, for Stern's senses are infallible e'en if her own wisdom is not renown. But against such magics as her foes weild....

 

[/i]Chance is not to be trusted.[/i]

 

Again she leaps, runs, and disappears, all to keep safe those she loves.

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<Joint post!!! ^_^ >

 

After the group has ridden for a while and individual conversations have begun, Warrick sidles his steed up next to the Aegis.

 

"Just between us, Stern, I'm worried I'm becoming a liability. My skills are at an ebb from my affliction and now my situation is a distraction for Jesset. I'm not sure what we are up against, but my worry grows that I will do more for our enemies than for us."

 

Wouldn't my eternity be a damnation if I am forced to live as undead and having known that I helped slay my friends...

 

Stern glances at Warrick, then raising the visor to his helm speaks in a low deep rumble, "Warrick, ease yer mind ma friend, none o' us know what lies ahead... But I do know this, yer not a liability, not now 'er ever... We are tha bloody Companions o' Searoad, Heros some might say... We shall stand united, together we will find a cure fer wha' eats at yer soul. Between my limited healings o'St. Marcus, Tannar, n' the goodly priest Cuchu ye'll be fine... Trust in this rogue o' Searoad..."

 

Warrick nods somberly, appreciative of the encouragement from the big Paladin but still somewhat doubtful about what the future may hold. After a pause, a thought occurs to him.

 

"Stern, your convictions have attuned you to sense evil, right? Tell me, do you sense evil in me now? I'm worried that whatever I've been afflicted with is going to turn me into some form of undead unless it is corrected. If you ever sense evil growing in me, tell me. All right?"

 

The young Aegis nods and readily agrees, "Aye, Warrick ye have ma word... Fer now I can tell ye this, my powers of discernment have sensed no outright evil within ye. Disease, yes. A disease so foul, so festered in evil, tha' it turns me stomach n' bristles tha hairs on me neck... N' despite me best efforts, I have yet been able ta purge it from yer system... I am sorry. But yer body is puttin' forth a great fight, yer spirit is a strong one Warrick n' shall no' be taken easily by this undead curse"

 

Stern pauses, whispers a silent prayer, then reaches his arm out clasping the rogues shoulder, "All will be well ma friend, trust in this will you? In fact, after tha' elixir Tannar gave ye, yer lookin' as good as I've seen ye in a tenday..."

 

Warrick smiles and nods, accepting the big man's assessment. "Aye. I actually do feel better, though the taste of that fell brew that battles the disease reminds me of our trek through Searoad's sewers. Foul indeed. But I can't deny it's helped. And I am glad for the Druid's aid. And your efforts as well. We'll just have to see how this thing plays out. Not sure if I'll ever get a Wish in my lifetime, but maybe there are other methods for curing this..."

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Cuchulainn rides in silence, eavesdropping on Warrick's conversation with Stern.

 

The Mother help me, Warrick, if you indeed become inflicted, I'll strike you down without remorse.

 

Cuchulainn's hands tighten on the reigns as he contemplates his own inadiquacey in the treatment of warricks disease.

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The afternoon sun shines down upon the Companions as they enter a large clearing. Tall grass sways gently as birds, bees, and butterflies flit from one wildflower to another. Ahead on the trail that opens before them, a huge oak tree stands guard before the aspen, birch and redwoods behind it.

 

As the group approaches, Tanaar motions for everyone to hold. He walks forward a few paces and holds out his hands palm down. He bows respectfully and speaks in a strangely accented tongue.

 

Slowly, the trees bark seems to shift and twist. Two large amber colored eyes form and stare at the druid as a wide mouth set in a sardonic grin appears below them.

 

"Hmmmmm.... yes, yes... hmmmmm.... greetings Tanaar... yes, yes... come home again and with friends... hmmmm? Yes, yes.... hmmmm...."

 

Branches drop down forming enormous arms and hands. A startled squirrel dashes up the side of the tree, bouncing off it's 'nose' to disappear in the branches above.

 

"Bah... miserable little creature!" The hand scratches and then motions the group closer.

 

"Come, come... hmmmm? Who is it that desires entrance, then? Hmmmm?"

 

Tanaar moves to the right and turns to face both the Companions and the treant.

 

"Honored Guardian. Grovemaster. I am Tanaar. These creatures are human, elf, skoli and hin. They are the Chosen of Beleah, Seeress of Searoad. We desire to speak to the Circle, and are expected."

 

The 'Grovemaster' sways a bit and stares at each in turn.

 

"Hmmmm... yes, yes... expected... and late... one sinister, a hin, a feytouched in iron... yes, yes... rotten inside, I can smell it on them... hmmmmm... they bring fire and pain, I think... but time passes for us all. All things die, hmmmm...?"

 

A shockwave passes through the earth as the enormous tree pulls free of the earth and stand, it's trunk splitting in twain as 'legs' appear. A flock of birds fly up out of the tree and dart about. Startled the treant takes two steps backward flailing about.

 

"Miserable creatures... yes, yes... pecking and pecking, building nests... hmmmm.... yes, yes..."

 

Tanaar smiles at the Companions and urges them forward.

 

"Not far now... let's move." he says with a grin. Turning to bow to the Guardian, he will wait until everyone has passe and then move in behind them.

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Eldon enjoys the ride, with Fuzzbucket in his lap, purring contentedly. The great beast yawns on occassion, a paw extending and showing off five pearly needles.

 

The others of the group are obviously on edge as they enter deeper in the forest. But Eldon is either naieve or assured in his safety as he almost dozes off in the saddle. For someone with little to know riding experience, being with the Companions will change that soon.

 

The tiny Hin feels his gastronomic perpensity show itself once more, and he reaches into his hat to nibble some cheese and quaff a Bier. Happily enjoying his hourly snack, he only sees the blinking eyes of the Ent as it looks at him.

 

Drink and cheese forgotten, Eldon looks up, and up, and even further up at the speaking, and soon walking tree. "Holy!" is all he gets out before he feels the ground shift and he must control his pony.

 

--LSH

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Mother o' St. Marcus! Tha legends are true... First a Dryad n' now a bloody Treant!

 

Although unseen by the group, Stern's suprise and awe is clearly evident shrouded only by the thick mithril eye slits and nose guard of his horned helm. The Aegis of Rockfist is truly humbled by the gigantic tree creature before him. From his mouted position, the young paladin bows slightly to the Grovemaster's greeting and assessment of the group.

 

No evil here, only goodness... Many centuries has this giant guardian protected this area o' tha woodland realm. St. Marcus I ask fer yer blessing, Let no harm come unto this great protector er' those he watches over.

 

SK

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Cuhculainn stands in awe of the treant before him. Only once in his life has he ever encountered such a creature.

 

Slowly exposing himself to the raw power of the Earth Mother, Cuchulainn is able to feel the life force of the creature radiate outwards. Niether beast nor branch, one of the specticles of the Mother's creation walks before him.

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Warrick shakes his head at Robert's observation. "You can say that again."

 

The Scout gapes in awe at the moving tree before him. He vaguely recalls legends abotu such things but in the city, such wonders are nothing more...

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Leaving the Guardian behind, the Companions pace deeper into the forest realm called the Woodland Wild.

 

Tanaar's path continues opening ahead of them, the twisting and turning of tree limbs, leaves and vines a wonder to behold. More wondrous is the pair of figures who step out of seemingly nowhere. Tall and graceful, their sun-bronzed skin and pointed ears mark them as wood elves, much like Tanaar, but where he is obviously tied to the Wild around him, these have the marks of more comforting dwellings.

 

High black boots cover their feet and embroidered surcoats festooned with vine and leaf decorations make it seem as if they are wearing a kind of uniform. One, long black hair woven into intricate braids steps forward and bows.

 

<e> "I See you, Tanaar of High Branches." </e>

 

Tanaar bows as well, replying in common, "I See you, Serrasamin of Tershinandor. We ask boon to enter and the welcome of your hearth."

 

Serrasmin bows again and answers, his common heavily accented. "Be welcome, one and each... all."

 

They move aside and it is as if a curtain has been drawn, for the Companions can see beyond them into the city proper.

 

Towering oaks cluster here and there, but although Nature holds sway, an Architect can clearly be seen. No vine lies out of place, no leaf litters the ground. Curving staircases seem grown from the wood itself, every step exact and perfect. Above them, the branches grow and fit together forming the underside of great homes and shops.

 

Tree top walkways stretch from one dense bracket of trees to another, and all manner of creatures walk from one to the other on some unknown errand. The majority are, of course, Woodland elves, but fauns, gnomes, and brownies cavort amongst the populace. Flitting about, their tiny wings a blur, pixies, sprites and grigs disappear into tiny holes grown in the side of the immense trees. A flash of armor, and there is a human man; a flash of red and a High elf in long silks walks past in the branches soaring above.

 

Serrasmin bows once more and addresses the Companions. "Welcome, Companions, to the Bole of Seven Oaks... I am Serrasmin of the Tershinandor... what you would call..." he falters for a moment and is obviously trying to think of the correct words. "You would call it the Guardians, I think. Forgive me, it is many moonturns since I have used the Common speech."

 

Tanaar turns and faces the Companions.

 

"My Road ends here, friends. Shade and sweet water until we meet again. Come, Barata..."

 

A strange twist and once more Tanaar is shaped into the form of a golden eagle. With a racuous cry, his powerful wings beat the air, carrying him up and away to the south. Barata turns, and with a last playful growl, moves off in the same direction.

 

Serrasmin clears his throat, and smiles as attention turns once more to him.

 

"Now then, if you'll all follow me...?"

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Robert stands, gazing around him waiting for their leader to reply. He is impressed; many of these creatures he has never heard of before, let alone seen.

 

With Tanaar's withdrawal comes the crystalisation of a nagging thought he's had for a while - that all they have seen on this walk; Tanaar, the animals, Stern's Dryad, the Treant - all behove of great magical power, far superior to anything within his ability and, he suspects, the ability of the groups more powerful spellcasters.

 

Yet they expect us to protect them? Are they lazy or cowardly? And if this is a settlement in a state of war, where are the soldiers? Why are the civilians not fleeing? Something is not right here.

 

And again, he feels that pang that has been a constant burr ever since they left Searoad. I wish I was back home

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Stern continues riding with the Tanaar and the Companions until they arrive at the hidden woodland city.

 

Stern looks on in awe at the majestic settlement and, in that instance, the whispers of the undead stop. The evil voices of countless lost souls that have plagued the young Aegis' mind and thoughts since the day they arrived in this land, are silenced if but only for a short time.

 

Is this city immune ta tha great evil tha' threatens tha elven people? A sanctuary perhaps for all races, yes... Will this bole be where we make our final stand against the undead legions?

 

Stern's thoughts are interrupted.

 

Welcome, Companions, to the Bole of Seven Oaks... I am Serrasmin of the Tershinandor... what you would call..." he falters for a moment and is obviously trying to think of the correct words. "You would call it the Guardians, I think. Forgive me, it is many moonturns since I have used the Common speech." 

 

Stern bows respectfully from a top his elven draft horse, the giant beast stomping a hoof and blowing air threw it's nostrils at the same time.

 

Tanaar speaks.

 

"My Road ends here, friends. Shade and sweet water until we meet again. Come, Barata..."

 

"Until we meet again then Tanaar in this life or tha next... May St. Marcus protect ye n' keep ye in his light."

 

As Tanaar departs, Stern turns to Jesset, "So this is yer bole? It is no wonder ye spoke of it so often ma friend... Is is truly... magnificent."

 

SK

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Eldon gives a soft whistle, raising the brim of his hat to survey the lands before the Companions. "That's not something you see every day, and that's a fact." Even Fuzzbucket is attentive, her whiskers twitching and her tiny nose snuffling for all its worth.

 

Eldon waves to the departing Elf, wishing him a full belly and happy feet before he awaits the others to recompose themselves.

 

--LSH

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Mykayla moves her horse over next to Robert...reading his face she says quietly "I wish to be anywhere but her too, Love. But here we are...so we might as well make the best of it...get this over quickly and return home to Searoad." And she smiles lightly at him.

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