Hidden 20 days ago Post by CollectorOfMyst
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Prologue

Party Members
Caw | Rogue 1 | 9/9 +3
Vaal Storm-Touched | Sorcerer 1 | 7/7 +3
Magdar Ironheart | Cleric 1 | 12/12 +3
Norixius Surina | Barbarian 1 | 14/14 +3
Rhaeyla Voll | Monk 1 | 10/10 +3

Sebastian N. | NPC Fighter 1 | 11/11 +3
Cassandra N. | NPC Druid 1 | 9/9
Lucian | Horse, Riding | Healthy
Sylvana | Horse, Riding | Healthy



On a crisp autumn morning, as the sun just barely peeks over the horizon for the first time, Sebastian extinguishes his lantern; his eyes still scanning the surrounding area as his watch comes to a close. The party have been travelling for six days now, today being the seventh. On the edge of the camp, the two horses that he and Cassandra made the journey with are already awake, grazing on dew-covered grass. With little else to do, he begins to shake people awake, leaving Cassandra for last, and only shaking her gently. As many of the group have likely noticed while they kept vigil, she has slept fitfully almost every night, and during travel, her gaze would often drift back the way you came.

Kicking a swathe of loose dirt over the embers of your campfire, he turns to the rest of you.

"We'll reach Greenrest today… without any unexpected surprises, of course. I am, ah... grateful that you kept up with my commands. I know that I asked a great deal of you all, keeping up with us on foot while my sister and I rode. For what it is worth, we have not travelled much before, so this was... unusual."

Cassandra nods, smiling at her brother. This seems to be something she discussed with him. She, too, looks over at the party.

"Once we reach our final destination in Greenrest, you will be properly compensated for your time and services. We greatly appreciate it."

"So, we are going to be travelling at a more... relaxed pace today. This way, you won't be so exhausted you cannot enjoy the town's amenities."

Cassandra's mouth drops in shock, and her brother returns her gaze with an impish grin. This is not something that they discussed. Sebastian had been setting the pace for the whole journey, one that often had most of you exhausted by the end of the day. He wasn't a slavedriver - no, not at all. The group did take breaks throughout the day. If you were lucky, one of the twins had, at some point, dismounted and allowed you to ride their horse instead. It has been a tiring, and unusual experience. Most employers of their kind would have moved at a slower pace, had a carriage instead of horses, and they certainly wouldn't have let you ride in said carriages.

But today, Sebastian seems content to let you all move at a more leisurely pace, one that lets you admire the countryside around you. In the same vein, Cassandra no longer seems as withdrawn, and instead of keeping her gaze on the horizon behind, she keeps it on the one ahead. Both of them have carried a tense atmosphere for the whole journey, but now, it seems to have dropped. And you finally have a spare moment to take things in.

For one, there is finally a spare moment to observe the people around you. Aside from the twins, you probably haven't spoken to the others very much, your energy being taken up by the march. There are a number of unusual characters among you, you knew that much, but now you can properly take them in.

Most obviously, there is Vaal, the kobold. Blue in colour, he seems to hold very little of his race's cowardly nature and he even wears clothes much finer than that of many kobold chieftains. It was unusual, to say the least, but Cassandra had made it quite clear that the group was not to harass him... he is a powerful spellcaster, and he is on your side. Woe betide you if you turn him away.

The other unusual member of your group is the kenku, Caw. Most of their kind stick together in gangs, better known as 'flocks' - to see one generally meant there were a few dozen others close by. As far as you know, there are not thirty other kenku following you. Sebastian has been watching him closely, and he did warn Caw openly that he was not to steal from his colleagues. However, he also seems to have a growing fondness for the creature, making sure that he has eaten enough and so on.

And for that, Caw can thank Surina, the tall green dragonborn who has cooked every night. Certainly, her food has made it easier to enjoy the mostly uneventful journey. Surina Norixius (or Norixius Surina with dragonborn naming conventions) is a talented cook, and if her weapons are anything to show for, a strong woman as well.

Then there is perhaps the most mundane-looking member of your party; the dwarf, Magdar. A cleric of war, so you've gathered, he, too, seems to be among your stronger warriors, though for dwarves, he's barely of age. There's no mistake in that he carries scars of his past with him, too - something haunts him.

And last but not least, the girl, Rhaeyla. Though not the youngest of your group, she nonetheless looks the least experienced, perhaps. That's only at first glance, however, and there's plenty more to see at first glance than her age - among them, the pale silver sheen of her hair and eyes.

In the small moments of interim, when you were not focused on the march, or on catching your breath, you may have had your chances to socialise – certainly, everyone has had their chances to talk, or at least learn the names of their travelling companions.

It is about midmorning when Sebastian begins to sing. To most of you, the language in which he sings is a mystery, but to Rhaeyla, it is one that she has always known, knew better as a child than she knew how to walk; Celestial. Even when spoken normally, the rise and fall of the words is a song in itself, meaning it is all the more beautiful now. Sebastian’s voice fills the air around you, warm like the summer sun, and even for those who cannot understand him, it invokes powerful emotions deep within you.

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Magdar is marching near the front of the group. His battle axe hangs from his belt and his shield is slung to his back. He smiles and thumps his hands on his thighs in time with Sebastian's song. "I have no idea what the you're singing, but it sure gets the heart pumping. That would be a great head stompin' song. HA!"

The dwarf jogged forward a little to catch up to Surina. "Hey, Dragonborn. Thanks for cooking and keeping us fed. I liked what you cooked. It's the best trail food I have ever had. Thanks.

By the way, do you know this big black S.O.B. of a dragon? No? If you find it, let me know."


Magdar rubbed his beard. He was trying to make up his mind about something. He looked at Surina's greataxe and knew she was a warrior. Having made up his mind, he continued, "Hmm... Cookie, I've been watching you. I know you are a warrior. Maybe a soldier in an army? I see how you move and care for your weapons. You are a warrior. These others don't understand a warrior's life like we do. What do you say about sticking together once we reach Greenrest? I'm sure the two of us could find some warrior's work together."


@DTHar
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Surina walked leisurely, enjoying the countryside. She enjoyed her companions' compliments of her cooking greatly.

She was deep in thought - What would it taste like to have a boar's meat rinse in sea water, before smoking it on a fire. Perhaps she should dry it before hand? It would make a lot of smoke. Then again, the smokier, the more flavor it would have. Maybe she could add some - - abruptly cut as Magdar came closer.

"Hmm?"
She looked at the lower dwarf, her scaly upper lip stretching in what could be considered a smirk.
"Oh I am happy to hear you enjoyed yourself. Sadly my short friend, I do not know any black dragons, nor do I know any of their descendants.

She rolled her shoulders stretching them some.
"Cookie?"
She halted, looking at the shorter dwarf, moving a scaled raised eyebrow at that. It protruded a loud snort from the depth of her chest.
"I never meant hiding what I was - With such a fine axe, it would be futile."
Shaking her head softly, another snort came from her depths.
"Sure. Why not."
She placed a heavy four fingered scaled and muscular hand on his shoulder heavily.
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Vaal Storm Touched, By the Grace of the Winds, Weaver of the Highstorms, Harold of Thunder, Scourge of Kites, Guider of Ships, the Grand Gem of the Fakhara most certainly did not act like his kin. He held a Kobold’s healthy paranoia, yes… but that was probably the only thing he held in similarity to the rest of the scaled lot.

He held no complaints about moving in the day, and even wore a special drape over his snout and eyes to help him deal with such limitations of his species. He did not act like a wayward waif, but curiously royalty. Vaal took great care of his apperances, polishing his scales, washing and carefully cleaning his clothing. He’s aware of his vulnerability and general weakness, but despises it more than fears it. And death? Well, however he views it, it certainly isn’t kobold like.

He did not march like a soldier, or scurry like a scavenger, but seemingly stride with a strut… if anyone could recognize such a movement from a Kobold. But there was an undeniable grace to his steps. The only time he was not so graceful through the trip, was when he was riding on the back of one of the horses..

The kobold was quite certain that they did this more out of humor, than a kindness when it was his turn. He had never rode a horse before this point. And it was an… interesting experience. It was that first time sensation of letting something else that is alive be in charge of your legs. And those legs being far too large for your own body. And with the little blue creature weighing no more than a saddle bag, he was easily bucked around with just a mere step. It certainly did not help when his claws could not reach the stirrups. And there was also that scent. It wasn’t a bad, unpleasant scent. It just smelled of… well horse. And when his turn was over, he’d be all too eager to get off the beast of burden. Each turn left him sore and irritable. His tail felt like it had been wrench and bent at an angle it wasn’t supposed to be, and his pelvis repeatedly smashed with a rock. Never mind how stretch the muscles of his inner thigh felt. He’d much rather walk with his own legs. But the two humans seemed to insist that everyone had a turn.

And so there Vaal was, sauntering with a leisurely pace. His legs working quickly to keep up with the taller humans, though he did not seem all that winded by the exertion. His shourded amber eyes peered over the countryside. He couldn’t really find anything particularly admirable about it. Most cases, everything looked rather the same. Or rather he had traveled far and long, and had seen most of the mundane parts of the world. Though… it might help if the sunlight didn’t feel as if it was trying to set his eyes ablaze. Eventually, the creature had to tear his gaze away from the horizon. His claws moving underneath the decorative shawl to wipe the tears away from his eyes. Soon, it wasn’t long before he heard the Dwarf and Dragonborn conversing.

The Kobold picked up speed, his legs taking much longer strides till he was practically skipping. He slipped underneath the horse easy to come closer to the two.

“A Black Dragon,” the kobold drawled inquisitively. The accent to his common seems to consist of words slurred in a breathy fashion. Even with the way he punches each words at the start, the way his tempo shifts subtly in certain parts of the sentence makes it a tad difficult to catch. “Darling, what vile and festering vendeta compels a dawi to seek the ilk of a putrid savage?” The tone in his words made it quite clear. This kobold had no love for black dragons, and simply meant his words as an insult, rather than a way to glorify the acidic dragons.

Vaal’s head dipped up and down as he took in the dwarf as a whole. As if the bearded man’s appearance alone could tell a story where words have yet. In truth… he hadn’t actually taken the time to get a good look at any of the party. The sun was constantly in his eyes, and the forced march simply beat the energy right out of him. From what he could see… the dwarf was a soldier of fortune. Yet he didn’t quite hold that grim-dark look of a man who had done dark things… jovial? He inhaled deeply then breathed out a thoughtful “Aaaah…”

His head slowly turning to the side to bring give one of his eyes a much clearer view of the dwarf. The amber hue just barely visible behind the dark cloth of his shawl’s eyelets. “Perhaps that was a silly question… their games are obvious and child like. Cruel, unnecessary, and they certainly leave their toys… in an unfit state. Tell me, dawi, what do you intend when you find your quarry?”


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Magdar turned to towards Vaal, a little surprised. While Magdar wasn't avoiding the little kobold, he surely didn;t go out of his way to be friendly towards him either. Magdar was opened minded, for a dwarf, but he still felt uneasy by Vaal. There was the kobold issue. But more importantly, Vaal was some sort of scholar. Magdar has never known any scholars and he was just so weird with the way he talked and carried himself. Magdar didn't know how to act around Vaal. Magdar was a simple dwarf.

Magdar's face blushed and he said, "I will tell you what that black bastard did! Yes, I will. He attacked our camp in the middle of the freaking night when we were all too drunk to fight back. Came at us without warning he did. He killed all of my friends. If he came at us in the day light, we would have slaughtered him. But no, he came in the dark of night. My best friend, poor Roland, was just a pile of goo after that dragon spit acid on him."

Magdar stopped, he knew he was in danger of losing control of his emotions. After taking a moment to gather is thoughts, he continued, "When I see that black bastard, I'm going to kill him. Don't worry, I won't just charge in like a crazy troll. I know I'm going to have use a strategy. But somehow, sometime, I'm going be standing on that dead bastard's head."
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Seven days they had been traveling down the same long road, one that looked as though it would stretch forever and ever past the horizon. It seemed to Rhaeyla that she would have gotten accustomed to the vastness of the world by now, that the novelty would wear off. And yet each day brought with it something new to discover, further fueling her curiosity and delight. Just two days ago they'd encountered a rather persistent merchant who had this amusing box where, if you turned the crank attached to its side, a puppet would spring out at you. They had been in a hurry, as Sebastian and Cassandra's pace allowed little time for such frivolities, but she had been entertained enough seeing it the first time.

Her companions were also an especially delightful crowd. After nearly seventeen years of speaking with the same people, ones that impart nothing but empty flattery in exchange for favors, it was a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by new faces. She'd been in Baldur's Gate for weeks, yet hardly had time to truly socialize with others, busy as she was milling about the city. This made up for it, however. Now she was friends (if you were in traveling together for a long period of time, surely you must automatically be friends) with folks who were of all different sorts: ones that were bird-like and dragon-like and ones who spoke with excessive flourish. All of it was a wonder!

It wasn't until Sebastian started singing that Rhaeyla had completely stopped in her tracks. Quite a feat, really, to stay someone so restless that she has to bounce her feet or drum her fingers when idling, but the song had caught her off-guard.

It was rare for her to hear words spoken in this tongue, rarer still to hear a song sung. A wave of homesickness drew out a quiet sigh from her; it was not a longing for her small village, as she discovered long ago, but for something she has yet to figure out. All she knows is that when she speaks in or listens to Celestial, it catches at her heart and wistfulness envelops her in a strange, airy embrace.

So lost was she in this reverie that before she realized it, she had missed a lot of the song's lyrics, catching only vague sentiments about a prince and a knight. She tried to think of what it could have been about, but nothing came to mind (other than this terrible story about a swindler prince and the knight he tricked three times until the knight had enough and killed him, but that probably wasn't it). Just as well, she supposed; the effect of the song would have a deeper hold on her if its story had entranced her as well.

Rhaeyla clapped and cheered as soon as Sebastian sang the last note, feeling completely rejuvenated despite a weary night traveling. "𝑻𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒂𝒖𝒕𝒊𝒇𝒖𝒍," she told him, speaking in the same melodic language. Then upon returning to her position in the back beside Cassandra, she flashed her a huge grin, for no reason other than being in a cheerful mood. "Do you also sing?"

With their pace slackened considerably, Rhaeyla had the chance to marvel at more than fleeting sceneries and it brought to mind all of the sights she had written down and dreamed of seeing one day. A long trade route had been one of them, as had been Baldur's Gate for being the first city she'd seen. She took out a folded piece of paper from the inner pocket of her cloak and unfurled it. Her finger traced the long stretch of road, starting from Baldur's Gate — Coast Way — and dragged it east until it landed on the northwestern-most area in the Green Fields: Greenest. It was marked with a flower symbol, which, after turning the yellowed paper around, led to her a carefully scribbled note.

❀ Visit the orchard

Rhaeyla hummed happily and walked toward Caw. Whether he had gotten used to her constant pestering remained to be seen, but because he was nearest in her vicinity, she had often gone to him when they had free time to chatter. "Look, Caw," she showed him the map and pointed at an area within the Green Fields. "I heard one of the farmers in our village say they saw the most beautiful orchard here, and that there were flower fields right next to it. Wouldn't that be lovely to see?"

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That subtle amber hue behind that cowel’s eyelets flickered for a moment as the pupil passed to look back down the road. Vaal was certainly listening to the Dwarf’s story, as evidence by a brief moment where he had stopped in place and lagged behind visibly. The Kobold made a quick inhale and recovered from his misstep by moving once more.

“Then it -is- a vendetta. One of the ten fools. But one I sympathise. A story of loss that I feel is shared between you and I… if the lust for blood is not.” The kobold drawled in that distinct accent of his. He tilted his head thoughtfully. Trying to recall the events exactly. The majority of it was foggy. Like it was all in some sort of drunken haze. But he definitely remembered the agony and screams with full clarity. And he was lacking a voice for some reason.

Surprising how that was one of the few things that was easy for him to remember over the course of a year or two. Had it been a year? Longer? Storms… he needed to get better at tracking the time.

"I used to be much more grand than I currently am... you see! I sailed the skies like an ocean, and I was the master of my own sea. The strata in the desert sand was a privilege few enjoyed. I even had a love. It was an oddity, and one I knew would not last as the wheel of time turns. But I adored and treasured her. But nothing lasts as long as we wish. Being that grand... you attract enemies in a world that plays for keeps. Against my better judgement, I gave an honor-less cretin mercy. A fatal mistake. A mistake I dare not to repeat for any creature again. All I had, stolen away by that single damned black dragon."

The Kobold gave a wave of the hand. A small... uncharacteristic gust blew through the air, blowing a leaf from the ground upwards to the kobold. His hand swiped it from the air where it hung for a second. Small blue sparks jutting from his scales. His balled fist wriggled, letting ashes fall now.

"And now... I am-as I am. A tiny wayward, though fabulous, vegabond. Those memories just a hazy dream. Gone with the wind like ashes over embers. And should I have such power, I'd annihilate kingdoms and worlds to have it all back."

He seemed to smolder with an intensity for a few seconds. Looking wistfully to nothing. But his body seemed to... jar before he returned to reality. His tone held some black humor, but the optimism sounded a tad off. A kobold reaching, to not completely lose himself in what he fear may be insanity. His accent became significantly worse thanks to his sped up words. It had even developed a rhythmic cadence as he spoke. " But for now, I am a creature who'd be lucky enough to live another year before being cut down by an adventuring bloke with an axe. Not even a proper axe. The new perspective does have benefits however. Fortune prick me. I am enjoying certain things I never could. And the oppressive feeling of time running short has an... excitement. Now then, your dragon."

The kobold raised a tiny claw up to his jaws. His index finger pushed past his lips and tapped habitually at his teeth while he thought.

“Your search is a tad off, dawi. My memory is hardly worth calling trustworthy, but I do not use the term ‘Putrid Savage’ lightly. Where the water rots and the air fetid, is where they sleep.” His tone over the black dragons certainly had not changed the more he talked about him. There was even a faint trace of the beginnings of a snarl that died in seconds.

His gaze turned up to the dragonborn cook, as if wondering the woman had anything to add. Before turning back to the dwarf. He then shook his head slowly. “If I could remember more, I am not likely to share. If death was the worst to be given, the tale to be told would be different. For the jack of the night is kind. But tis not, tis their only mercy. I would not knowingly weave another’s fate into such a horrid augur.”
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When Sebastian had first offered him a chance to earn his keep, it had not occurred to Caw that he wouldn't be alone in his duty. The realization that he would be accompanied by a handful of strangers from all walks of life had made him anxious - but also filled to the brim with curiosity. There was a kobold and a dragonborn, both beings he had only seen on the pages of dusty books. Then there was Rhayela with her curious glow, bearing blood whose origins Caw could only guess at.

And though he had encountered dwarves before, Magdar was no less impressive a sight. The cleric was only a few inches taller than him, yet Caw felt just as small next to him as he did with the rest of the ensemble. Even the kobold, half his size as he was, commanded respect with the way he carried himself. Next to such a lot, what was Caw but a lowly scoundrel?

On the first few days, Caw had stuck as close to Sebastian as he'd dared. Stern as the man was, the young kenku had come to view him as somewhat of a benefactor, and had not missed the small acts of kindness the man had offered him. Even so, throughout the journey so far, Caw had hardly spoken.

He had listened, though; to Sebastian's stern warnings not to steal from his companions, to the crackle of a comforting camp fire come eve, to the sizzling of a meal well-cooked, to the rhythmic clack of hooves and the stable clink of armour. He'd listened, observed, memorized detail after detail of their journey so far. Some things he'd scribbled down onto his worn notebook, yet others he'd only stored within the confines of his mind, where he was sure none would be able to see them. A cautionary move from a cautionary bird.

But today, he felt a little more at ease. Perhaps it was the slower pace, or Sebastian's song, or the way Cassandra no longer stole glances at the trail behind them. Regardless, Caw soon caught himself taking in his surroundings with more vigor than usual. Having lived most of his life in the shadows of a distant port and the lonesome tower of an even more distant castle, even the most mundane scenery was a sight to behold to the kenku.

It was then that he caught a familiar sight in his peripheral vision. Rhayela drew closer, her eyes aglow with excitement. The first time she'd approached him, Caw had been startled, unable to offer her much else than a few shaky nods in response. The time after that, he'd been taken aback that she had not given up on him. And from then on, he'd looked forward to her approach, doing the best he could to muster up words in response. A few words more, each time.

He peered at the map she held up to him, following her finger to a small flower symbol. An orchard, she said?

"Lovely," Caw concurred in her own voice and tone, matching her enthusiasm in sound and sentiment. Just as fast, though, he added a far more uncertain: "... I think." It was a gruff voice, perhaps of someone much older.

An orchard and flower fields... try as he might, Caw could not conjure up a mental image of either. He lacked the imagination to do so; the art of creation drained from the blood of his kin long, long ago. It stung, just a little, but without some form of a description, even the most beautiful place remained but a word to him.

"Have... seen many?" Caw turned his beaded gaze from the map to the girl, head tilting strongly from one side to the other; a clear sign of curiosity. He admired her dedication to travel, and could easily believe she had seen everything the world had to offer. Certainly a lot of orchards. Perhaps with her aid, he could imagine one. His voice was pleasant and soft as he continued, the overheard inquiry of a noble lady: "What are they like?"

He gave a wary glance in the direction of the human twins, then lowered his voice. This time, most of the words he spoke must've been borrowed from a child, as they carried with them the childish mischief of a boy wanting to sneak out from under his parents' watchful eye. It was not Caw's intent; he meant after their duty was over, or perhaps if their path crossed close enough. "Think we able to go?"
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Party Members
Caw | Rogue 1 | 9/9 +3
Vaal Storm-Touched | Sorcerer 1 | 7/7 +3
Magdar Ironheart | Cleric 1 | 12/12 +3
Norixius Surina | Barbarian 1 | 14/14 +3
Rhaeyla Voll | Monk 1 | 10/10 +3

Sebastian N. | NPC Fighter 1 | 11/11 +3
Cassandra N. | NPC Druid 1 | 9/9
Lucian | Horse, Riding | Healthy
Sylvana | Horse, Riding | Healthy


“Do you also sing?”

Cassandra doesn’t respond, for a time - not until she realises that she’s the one being addressed. She shakes her head and sighs, though she smiles slightly. “Not for many years, and certainly not with Sebastian’s skill. My brother has always possessed much more musical talent than I.” She glances over at him, and then lowers her voice, even as she switches to Celestial, so that the rest of your party cannot hear. “𝑰𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆, 𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒂 𝑩𝒂𝒓𝒅 𝒕𝒓𝒖𝒆, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒔, 𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒇𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓-”

She cuts herself off, eyes widened and lips pressed together tightly. She had come close, there - close to letting on one of the many things that she and Sebastian had tried so hard to conceal. Instead, she looks to the other side of her horse, her cheeks flushed, and occupies herself with unbraiding and then braiding her hair. That conversation was over.



“Look, Caw. I heard one of the farmers in our village say they saw the most beautiful orchard here, and that there were flower fields right next to it. Wouldn’t that be lovely to see?”

Sebastian looks over his shoulder. “An orchard? Was this farmer perhaps referring to the orchards of Emilia Honeydew? Her skill with plants and herbs is second to none - save perhaps the Archdruids’. Some say she has been blessed - and certainly, the wines she produces are deserving of the gods… you needn’t worry about diverting our path. This road will take us straight through Madam Honeydew’s lands. We’ll be there in a few hours.”



Time passes…
• Due to your slow pacing, no rest is needed. Sebastian presses you onward, though he dismounts so that one person may ride on his stead; in favour of Rhaeyla or Caw, but anyone can climb up.
• Cassandra remains on her mount, though any Small creature could also climb on without causing Sylvanna discomfort.
Vaal’s Mage Armour shimmers, fizzles, and fades away… 8 hours have passed.



Some time in the late afternoon, you pass through a small wood, the road cutting through it like a scar. The autumn air, though it had warmed up during the day, begins to cool once again as the sun descends towards the west; a pleasant golden glow, beckoning you onward. Truly, it seems like even mature wishes to celebrate the end of your journey. Or perhaps it celebrates the beginning?

You emerge from the trees, and before you all is a wondrous sight. Rows upon rows of trees and bushes and vines, each branch heavy with fruits of every kind - apples, oranges, grapes, even a few you can’t identify at a glance. Scattered around you, and equally abundant, are flowers from climates that are vastly different from this one - how are they even growing here? Even the twins seem taken aback by this; their eyes dart about, drinking in the view. And, in the distance, a shapeless grey and brown mix tells you that you have almost arrived at your destination. Greenrest is within reach.

Is there anything you would like to do?
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The Kobold frowned once he witnessed, and felt his mage armor flash for a moment... and then disappear. The Kobold let out a sigh. He thought about refreshing it immediately. But, a feeling told him to hold off for a while. The roads are mostly secure, and there's an orchard without apparent guards. Most likely the road is well patrolled, and Bandits and the like are discouraged.

Vaal took a moment to take note of the shade provided by the trees. And the new angle of the sun which help lessen the effect of its light. It was still an infuriating ball of fire to the respectable creature. The rays of the sun made his scales feel like they were itching and crawling. But it was more tolerable now. The little Kobold took a moment to undo the ornamental cowl that was draped over his eyes, and flipped it back over his skull to reveal his amber eyes.

Vaal winced immediately. The shafts of light seemed to oversaturate the colors of what ever they illuminated into a blinding, blurry mess. Not even the narrow slits of his pupils could save him from such a visual overload. For they seemed to lightly burn their image to his retinas for a few seconds, causing the world to appear to swim for a moment. At least the shadows of the trees gave him blissful respite in thick patches, reducing the bewildering colors to plentiful puddles rather than the sea of light along the road. His eyes were watering and tinted with a hint of red just under his lower eyelid.

His eyes trailed over the group's charge. And then back to the orchard. Without further thought, the Kobold sized one of the leather lashings on the horse and used it to help himself climb up onto the creature's back while it was still in motion. He turned about, and sat side saddle now, his tail draping over the mount's back and to the other-side where it clunged onto another strap to help keep the kobold in place.

His watering eyes glanced up to Cassandra, for a moment, and then back to the Orchard. He seemed pensive, though not about the view. His eyes glanced over the flowers and fruit and registered nothing. "If you mind me asking," the kobold began through his slurring voice. The thoughtful glaze over his eyes faded once his eyes flicked to something overhead. "What kind of fruit is this?"
Hidden 5 days ago Post by Eleven
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Eleven things are strange

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Caw was remarkable, she thought, not for the first time. It wasn't difficult to pick up on his peculiar way of speaking, as though he'd ripped out phrases and words from pages of different books and pieced them together to make pages of his own. More than once, Rhaeyla had thought of simply blurting out all the words she could think of at the moment, to add to Caw's word bank, but it hadn't seemed right to do so.

"I've only ever seen the ones at home," Rhaeyla said, eyes darting up as she tried to imagine how their modest orchard had looked. She leaned close to Caw and spoke in a more hushed tone, almost conspiratorially. "When I was little, I would hide there and it would take the chief hours to find me. There were endless rows of apple and cherry trees and I would weave in and out of them so I could lose whoever was chasing me. I thought I could hide there forever!"

Even before Sebastian conveyed that these orchards were fortuitously along the way, Rhaeyla would have told Caw with certainty that, yes, they would be able to go. She would have found a way.

As they pressed on, Rhaeyla busied herself looking over her world map, reading and reading all the little notes she had scribbled on the back. She had refused to take Sebastian's place on his mount, if only to give her more to do. Their relaxed pace had allowed her more time and opportunity to marvel at her surroundings, true, but with the promise of beautiful orchards and flower fields within her grasp, her restlessness began to stir.

Luckily, the first of the apple trees came to view in time to slake her growing impatience. Rhaeyla turned to Caw excitedly, looking like a child who'd been given permission to gobble up a whole cake. "There it is, there it is!" she told him, pointing wildly at the fecund lands even though there was clearly no need to.

Whoever this Madam Honeydew was must really have been blessed, to have such a green thumb. The fruits were the most tantalizing she'd ever seen, and the flowers, oh, the fields of flowers were something out of a painting. It was almost like every imaginable type of flower existed there, all at once, creating a harmony of colors. If circumstances were different and the twins weren't in a mission to get to Greenrest, she would have liked to try and capture the sight in her sketchbook.

Rhaeyla settled for pressing a flower as a memento instead. Madam Honeydew wouldn't mind if she just took one, she reasoned. Excusing herself momentarily, she ran up to the first flower that caught her eye: a small pale yellow one with almost heart-shaped petals. She picked it short, getting rid of the stem completely, and gingerly placed it in between the last pages of her sketchbook. It needed to be a heavier book, but it would have to do.

With a gratified grin, Rhaeyla pulled out her world map and a pen. After taking another moment to take the beauty of the sight in, she drew a line through her to-do list item.

❀ Visit the orchard

One done, hundreds to go.

Rhaeyla scampered back to see what Caw was up to with a renewed sense of purpose. Greenrest was next, and she felt in her soul that she would find answers there. She would find her there.
Hidden 3 days ago 3 days ago Post by DrakeEricsen
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DrakeEricsen I'm a cowboy now

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Magdar grinned like an idiot as he saw the orchard and flowers. "You see this? Sights like this are part of the reason I left the Great Halls. It's all brown and grays under the earth. But here, the blue of the sky, the colors of the fruit and flowers, green plants. It's truly amazing. Tempus knows that life is not meant to stay underground."

Magdar walked to the apple trees and looked around. "Can we buy some fruit here?" He tried to reach an apple but was just too short to reach. He wasn't about to look like a fool and jump for an apple. With a hand on his hip, he looked around on the ground hoping to spot some fruit that might have fallen from the trees. "Any fruit on the ground will rot soon, right?"

Magdar smiled as he saw four apples on the ground. He bent down to pick one up.

Sebastian breaks out of his reverie, his eyebrows lowering as he looks at Magdar. "You shouldn't be doing that. Rot or no, it's not for us to decide what to do with them."

The smile fled from the dwarf's face. He looked at the apple, then back at Sebastian, then back at the apple. There were only four apples on the ground. Not enough for everybody. He held the apple under his nose and inhaled deeply. "That apple sure smells good." He looked again at Sebastian and the apple.

With a heavy sigh, he dropped the apple back to the ground. He was arriving in a new town and didn't want anybody spreading tales that he couldn't be trusted. One apple wasn't worth the trouble. "If you see someplace where we could buy the food, let me know." He walked back to the road, jogging a little to catch up to everybody.



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