Aeonelas is a sylvankind cleric who is seeking a sign from an Arkati in order to determine whom will grant her powers, in order to successfully become a full-fledged cleric who raises the dead, marries folk, and provides military assistance to the Elven Nations in the form of the various talents clerics provide. She has graduated to journeyman cleric from the Ta'Vaalor College of Theology at the Cleric's Guild, on a military service tuition.
Aeonelas has always been a curious and adventurous child. Her parents are both working class elves. Her mother, a respected healer, is a devout Arkati deist and gave her approval when Aeonelas asked her if she could study theology in one of the "big elven cities." Her father is an ambitious elf who has gained much respect within his community both as a hunter and as a blade and arrowhead smith, and approved of her determination to make her mark in the world, even if it was outside of sylvan territory.
Aeonelas' time outside of her parents' home is detailed in a series of stories, listed below.
You see Aeonelas the Theologian.
She appears to be a Sylvankind of the Tyesteron D'ahranal.
She is shorter than average. She appears to be very young. She has almond-shaped golden eyes and alabaster skin. She has long, sun-tinted pale blonde hair that cascades in a subtly gold-sheened curtain. She has a dainty face, a slender, delicately flared nose and a missing tooth. She has a fake gnarled gold tooth barely visible in her mouth.
She is in good shape.
She is holding a sturdy lor runestaff in her right hand.
She is wearing a gold-trimmed blue chlamys pinnned with an ornate fibula, a sun-shaped petrified haon pin, a leather messenger bag, a saffron yellow leather bandolier, a natural cotton tunic laced with leather cording, a smooth monsoon jasper ring with swirls of cerulean and cobalt, an icy blue cloth sack, a fringed hyacinth silk wrap-skirt patterned with blossoms, and a pair of blue leather boots fastened with mithril buckles.
Aeonelas' Journal: A GemStone Story
PART 0: ONAR
I'm writing from my room here in Ta'Vaalor, for the student paper, I was told it would be a good idea for me by a friend at the Cleric’s guild here. My name is Sister Aeonelas, I’m a journeyman cleric, a pilgrim too, from “the woods” or “the boonies” as some of you like to call them. No offense taken, I didn’t like it there anymore than you did. Family is great and all, and nature is beautiful, but I wanted culture, like I read about in our library. The same thing that called our cousins out of the forest thousands of years ago they say.
My family is very devout to all of the Arkati, every single one. My mother always used to say “Respect them all Aeon, they’re all here for a reason even if we cannae see it.” Despite this, I still don’t feel a pull towards any one or another, so my cleric told me I should spend some time wandering around, visiting different shrines and temples until I felt something, saw something, a sign or vision. I decided that I would scour the lands from top to bottom visiting every blessed and damned temple I came across until one of them decided to pick me up off the turnip farm. . I’m currently residing in the beautiful and surprisingly friendly Ta’Vaalor. Different town than the landing, and although I suspect it’s because they feel sorry for me, they won’t stop feeding me interesting foods. The guards were a bit scary at first but I appreciate the safety and protection of the city.
My hunting skills have been enlisted by the local furrier who has an endless need for cheap leather, supplied by the overgrown rodent population in the catacombs. In my spare time, I chat it up at the local temple and cleric’s guild, learning all I can from the more experienced. I’ve been told that a good start for my quest to gain the favor of an Arkati is to publish true and perhaps somewhat flattering information about my experiences at each shrine, temple or with each priest.
I’ll start at the beginning, about a year and a half ago. I didn’t start on my quest straight off, I decided to have a bit of fun with some friends who had set off with me. We went to Wehnimer’s, the closest big town to my homelands.
We stayed by the beach first, as I’d not seen the ocean before, I was holed up in a shack with my then boyfriend, Tyvieriidh. We ended up having to move out because we couldn’t afford the rent. He’s got a knack for building shelters and finding us food, but he’s not much interested in the Arkati unfortunately. When the local fishermen told me about an old shrine in an ancient primitive cave dedicated to the “Death God” Onar, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit it. Tyvieriidh is claustrophobic so we parted ways, and after being there a few months most of my friends went back to the forest. Here’s my journal entry from that time:
Within the mysterious Mossy Caverns near the Coastal Cliffs of Wehnimer’s Landing, strange bloated gaseous beasts called “whisplings” by the locals, and properly dark vysan by bestiary tomes, float about, eagerly grasping at anything fleshy or metal that comes within range of their stubby arms. Deep within the caverns is an ancient bridge carved of stone that leads across a large underground pool to an equally ancient stone altar. No vysan dares to cross the narrow bridge.
The scene is eerie. Seven monoliths of stone are arranged into a triangle. The architecture of the monoliths is so old, no one remembers where it came from, to the locals of Wehnimer’s it’s always been there - to those who know. A natural hot springs is located within the cave, and it’s theorized that ancient humanoids lived in there, taking advantage of the natural protection of the cave and the warm springs. The evidence lies in the tool carved vent holes above the hot springs as well as the shrine itself, which is undated. It’s rumored that the cave later was reclaimed and became a haven for pirates and bootleggers until the elementals drove them out. While they’re easy enough to avoid for a seasoned traveller and a blood-born huntress like myself, the vysan pose a serious nuisance and a danger to most folk resting or to curiosity seekers. There’s also orcs in the area it’s rumored, I didn’t run into any though.
A woodcut engraving is here: <Seven monoliths form a crude triangle in this room. Thin beams of wood with glowing vines growing on them have been placed on the top of the stones. The strange canopy and silent stone guardians seem to lend the shrine a dark sense of security. You also see a hewn obsidian altar, a narrow stone bridge and a pitch black hole.>
Though you can’t tell from the picture above, the monoliths are emblazoned with a broken white skull, the brutal and sinister symbol of Onar, whose epithets include “Vengeance of the Gods”, “The Obsidian Blade”, “The Divine Patron of Assassins”, “The Dread Hand of Eorgina”, “Prince of Death”, “Hand of the Dark Lady”, “Snuffer of the Light”, and in relation to his hand in teaching Man to make instruments of death, “Gifter of Blades”
The Elves have never taken as much of a liking to Onar as humans have. Kai is the elven soldier’s god, some would say. Perhaps it’s fitting that one of their old folk tales frames him as a tremendous villain who is sent to slay some primitive folk for using fire (lent by Fash’lo’nae in some cases). The myth has varied over time, at first it was a tale about primitive people, now it’s usually a thinly veiled racist-moralistic tale about why humans are bad and shouldn’t have weapons or fire, told to children. In the tale, the folk, human or nae, are astonished as one after the other, each who uses the new gift of fire perishes by having their throats slit.
The confused and simple folk, human or elf as the tale is told, of course look upon the deaths as a sign that fire was responsible for creating the deaths, not realizing the potential of murder yet (absurdly, our history has been violent since the beginning, but it is a folktale after all). One clever woman sees the truth, and in doing so earned the right to wield the blade of Onar, the obsidian dagger.
This confusion is the hallmark of Onar, and indeed, Death itself. In some theology the amorphous shape attributed to Onar is connected to the formless confusing darkness experienced immediately after death. Those who have experienced death and lived to tell the tale through Lorminstra’s instrumentation know this place well.
But this is not only an ornate theological musing. Widely documented cases involving witnesses of an Onarian possession claim that this is exactly how he appears. I am a believer, anyone who thinks Onar doesn’t exist is a fool in my book. Sometimes the witnesses’ testimony is embellished with red eyes, sometimes not. He’s a very mysterious, very subtle fellow, almost catlike were it not for his mechanical, unfeeling intent. One has to wonder what the motivations of such a being might be. What does he want? I couldn’t find any true Onarian priests in the Landing, only theologians who took him seriously. It turns out none of them had actually seen an Onarian posession in person.
But the incidents are not uncommon. In the town of Wehnimer’s Landing for example, during the year 5100, a rash of incidents with bold killers murdering people in broad daylight at the local tavern became so prevalent it spurred a special inquiry into the phenomenon. By the month of Lumnea, the deathtoll had risen to 23 cases of murders, with multiple witnesses, and these were just the ones that were reported to the constable.
Without exception every report records the description of the murderer as a black figure, with some of them detailing the assassins as having a black mist like appearance, others described it as a figure that sucked in all the light around it. Only two of the murderers were ever identified concretely, one of them was pinned to a known criminal underworld figure known as Blades who seems to just wear a lot of black. The other turned out not to be a murder at all, a local Faendryl character, Setzier VonEvenlore, exposed his cloak to a local peasant who promptly had a heart attack and died for reasons not documented in the archives available. VonEvenlore was not charged. The other 21 cases are as of yet unsolved and bear all the markings of an Onarian assassination.
Onar has always been highly revered in a wide array of circles, from the soldier’s tents of the Turamzyrrian Empire to the halls of the rogue guilds and even in the legal courts his power of possession is acknowledged in cases of homicide. His knowledge of Death is said to be unparalleled and highly sought after by those in the martial professions.
Another aspect of Onar that often goes completely unnoticed by those who fear him is that he is not without reasonings in his slaying of mortals. This is why I wasn’t afraid to go spend the night at the shrine.The analogy that can be drawn between this unseen reasoning and the murky causality of life is obvious. There are unknown reasons we cannot hope to calculate for, mysterious churnings of the social spheres we cannot possibly comprehend until it is too late. Delving into the strange and the unknown is like the chaos learning how to use fire for the first time, a knowledge that will lead to a mysterious downfall we have no way of apprehending until it falls upon us. And in many cases, perhaps just like the folk tale, the downfall will not come from the newfound gift itself but from another interference altogether. This is society.
So it is that Onar could also be called the Master of Unconscious Ignorance, the nemesis that plagues us all. It’s a reminder to be conscious of the world around us and not to attract the wrong attention, and even to avoid any attention at all in case we have missed something dire. The primitive environs in which the shrine is housed are hauntingly beautiful, echoing the ancient times when our ancestors struggled against a hostile world, the same time period in which the old tale is set.
But here I am trying to attract the attention of one of the most dangerous beings upon Elanthia, going about it in a completely haphazard way. I suspect, even in writing this I will have called down the wrath of some unseen enemy, somewhere, who will out themselves only to strike at me.
...................(¯`'•.¸ § ~ * Sponsored by the Cleric’s Guild, Ta’Vaalor, North Shimaerslaen Way * ~ § ¸.•'´¯)...................
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PART 1: KAI
<Posted at the local cleric's guild, among hundreds of other leaflets and adverts.>
It’s spring and I’ve been here in Ta’Vaalor for a few months now. Everyday, I go to the temple for a few hours to meditate and listen for a voice or a sign from the gods that I am to become their student. The temple itself is beautiful. It isn’t true what they say about Ta’Vaalorians, they’re aloof and serious sometimes, but they mean well, and they’ve got their own style of fun to be had. The thought of the thick city walls between me and the haunted graveyard outside that’s rumored to be full of cursed undead is a very nice thought when I’m tucked away at night. I stay in a nice little room for theology students by the cleric’s guild down the way, so it’s very close, which is convenient.
The temple itself is breathtaking, and ancient. The gods outside are beautiful as well, and handsome, and a feeling of immensity of power and grandeur surges over one caught up in the holiness of the perfection of art. The cleric’s shop has an amazing and huge golden drake statue and I found a little crystal drake necklace there. If you’re in Ta’Vaalor that shop is a must see, they have just about everything relating to drakes and all of the Liabo Arkati.
Outside the temple, the statues of Koar and Eonak remind me of my uncles a bit, stoic, busy, all-knowing, and responsible. Kai reminds me of my brothers. I did a little combat training with a fellow journeyman, not sure what he does actually, but his name is Ravicta. He suggested I study up on Kai. I had somehow forgotten from my studies that Kai is known for his brawling skills, and I’ve trained for it as I’m damned good at wrestling, especially when I’m beating up on my bigger sisters. If I ever make it through my journeyman hood I’ll be able to afford a Hammer of Kai perhaps. The crown will let me repay my seminary scholarship as long as I spend a year tending to the dead in Ta’Vaalor after I pass my testing.
I do miss my family but I’m truly exhilarated to be following my calling. The boredom at home was stifling me, nothing but hunting for the winter larder and sometimes watching my father make potions and elderberry wine. That’s not for me. I’ll value them more when I go back and visit, as I plan to each summer. Here all of my studies come to life, and I’m surrounded by other people my age who want to be a part of the world.
The girl I share the student room with is also a cleric, as are most of the residents in the dormitories. The man down the hall is not young, he’s an old Vaalorian but he got me a job in the catacombs helping out the city clear the rodent problem down there in those ancient underground passages. It’s not at all like hunting in the woods and I could really use a good ratter hound to pull the wretches out of the holes they manage to scamper into. Haven't gone too deep into the catacombs but I already discovered some very peculiar things. Old carvings and other graphics on the walls. Seems the young ones wander down here every now and then because I hear children’s voices in the distance laughing.
Since I’ve started meditating at the temple I haven't received any signs nor visions indicating the Arkati have accepted me, but I feel accepted being there, if that makes sense…. as if they are indifferent to my case but still responsible for me. It’s not exactly what I hoped for coming to Ta’Vaalor, although I am very lucky of course and very grateful to my patrons, the lack of an Arkati weighs on me. Worse, every time I go to the religion class they make us announce our Arkati. Most of the students here are Vaalorians training to be combat support for the military. On occasion, when the teacher leaves the room for an emergency or to fetch something, while we are left to quitely read to ourselves, they all immediately jump up to clear the desks in order to create a wrestling ring, and post a guard outside to watch for the master. They’re not supposed to do this
The proclamations every day are the same, when the master, Father Malfiloorius, asks us to announce our Arkati allegiance in orderly military style: “Kai.”, “Kai.” “Kai!” “Kai!!!” and so on, in a crescendo, until it’s “KAI”, “KAI!”, “KAAAIIIIIIIIII” - this goes on for several moments you see, until the last few students are literally screaming. The teacher rolls his eyes every time. It’s very amusing. Then a deep “KOAR!” from the lone wolf - handsome red-haired fellow but keeps to himself mostly. They’re not interested in me much and are even a bit teasing but I can tell they feel sorry for me. I can’t blame them at all. I don’t know why we stayed in the woods. Since I’m Sylvankind they put me last of course, and I don’t mind that, because there’s no pride in shouting “UNDECIDED!” like some idiot in the middle of all that.
But I say it normally and no one pays any attention, except for a few curious stares the first day, so it’s bearable. I’m told there’s even a sylvan scout in the army. On the first day at class, Ralor, the boy next to me told me so and the others chimed in to express admiration for sylvan utility in the scouting profession. That made me feel welcome as I was quite nervous about my classmates disliking me. I was simply being nervous and there was nothing to fear.
I’m looking forward to being chosen by an Arkati, at the same time, I’m scared it will never happen or I’ll be rejected, or I won’t like it. I’ve been told that most folk who go on as long as I have end up being a cleric of Voln, as he’ll take any who will swear the oath. I’m dread terrified of undead, so I’ve been putting it off. If I don’t get a sign in a month I’ll go to Voln and sign up for their program, supposedly they will send out more experienced members on the first few hunts for training. Not looking forward to it.
With all the hand-to-hand combat I’ve been doing, everyone expected me to be chosen by Kai, eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet. They all encourage me to come to martial practice every week-end, and I’ve gone a bit but I’m more interested in exploring the western wilds, which are full of strange creatures. I caught a few snakes in the field and they were quite unlike the ones at home, bright green with blue eyes.
Perhaps next time I write I will have a divine mentor, but as of yet it looks like I’m still out of luck. I hope this journal assists my fellow students in their journey and please forgive my familiar style if I have offended anyone, I’m not familiar with the ways of the world yet and I am very ignorant.
...................(¯`'•.¸ § ~ * Sponsored by the Cleric’s Guild, Ta’Vaalor, North Shimaerslaen Way * ~ § ¸.•'´¯)...................
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PART 2: LUUKOS
I did not wish to write this entry, but the clerics here said it's a good idea, to help me let go of falsehoods. I don’t know what that could be but it does not sound appealing.
A terrible thing has occurred. The worst thing that could have happened, in my view. My soul is in grave peril. In my blind curiosity, coupled with my desire to attract an Arkati, I foolishly and impulsively, prayed to the soul-eater on accident. There are no words to express the regret I feel for what then happened, and has happened since then.
I am sure I am cursed now. The dark thoughts that creep into my mind, while I lay in my bed at night, are not only my imagination, they are a clot in my soul. The divine or celestial sign I sought, to make my destiny known, finally manifested as one of pure blind hatred towards me. Not only does my mysterious Arkati not see me, the ones who do see me,hate me.
One of the teachers told me, they've seen far, far worse amongst the younger grades, and from one of the old clerical families of Ta’Vaalor, they had to break up a cult of teenage V'tullians who were trying to sacrifice their sister for favor, in order to gain entry into a prestigious military teacher's class. I didn't go that far, but knowing the fact that there are far worse than I doesn't seem to help much.
I will try to explain how it happened, so that other students do not make the damning mistake I did. I was resting in the park in Vaalor, where all the cunning women sit in order to work their herbalism, and empathic magicks. I had a problem with my arm, but it was all scarred up from the magickal herbs I had eaten out in the field, so that the empaths couldn’t do anything about it. One of the ladies at the park felt sorry for me, so she gave me some of her healing herbs, which are quite rare, so that I might regain the use of my arm. So I sat there watching my arm heal, watching the people go by, wondering if I should go to the temple and pray. I was feeling especially anxious about my lack of a divine patron.
I noticed a kindred folk walk up to one of the empaths, he stuck out because he was dark skinned, like the Faendryl I hear tell of and have seen pictures in books, I couldn’t tell if he was or not. He was wearing the symbol of a little green snake on a bronze medallion.
In my family, we know Luukos as the soul-eater, I don’t have any illusions about that. My mother says his purpose is to teach us respect, and, to punish the evildoers. My father doesn’t agree, says Luukos is a moron, yes, a moron, an Arkati gone mad. He prays to Jaston, because, he says, “At least he’s one of us.” and “The Lady is too busy we needn’t bother her with our grievances.”, meaning, our mother, Imaera. Neither will speak any more about it, lest a quarrel ignite.
I greeted him, because my curiosity forsook me, and I wanted to ask him about the symbol he was wearing. I’d heard about the folk who worship the soul-eater, but I’d never seen one myself. He turned and looked at me and I felt a heat in my chest, like someone had stuck a hot chunk of food in there, like when you take too big a bite of something and it doesn’t go down right all the way. That’s the best way I can describe it. I don’t know what it was.
I immediately thought the cursed prayer, that I would never say aloud to anyone in Vaalor, “Lord Luukos please send me a sign that you want me to work for you if this is the sign you have sent me.” After all the dark skinned elf had appeared right after my arm was being healed up. I don’t even know what made me pray such a silly thing, whether it was my own daft brain or something else, but it worked immediately. The most dreadful thing occurred: the lady who had been so kind to me dropped dead within a second after the thought crossed my mind.
My heart leapt into my throat and I nearly fainted from terror. I thought they were all looking at me, and I screamed “Oh no, I’ve killed her!”. They all immediately denied it. But how could they know? The ghost of the lady reasoned it was her own fault, for taking too much blood loss, by healing too quickly, but I knew better. It was Luukos answering my prayer in a cruel way, making her forget herself or something.
I turned and ran, though I don’t care to admit it. I ran all the way back to Koar’s altar and prayed there for an hour before heading home. At religion class the next day, the master noticed me all red-eyed from the night before and had me stay after to talk. I didn’t want to tell him what had happened but I didn’t know what else to do.
He was put off by what I had done, I could tell, but he didn’t say so, he just told me to stop praying to Luukos and focus on my studies. It didn’t help that I argued with him and said that I *don’t* pray to Luukos, not *normally* anyways. He also thought it would be a good idea to separate me from the class for a while, so I’m being sent away, with a more senior class of students, on a field trip to Solhaven.
This is to be considered a punishment I suppose - the cleric guild requires students to have familiarity with at least one foreign city to get experience travelling for battles, they teach us to march for weeks on end, and then to take the edge off they go somewhere that’s supposed to be fun - but not very many Vaalorians wish to go to Solhaven, or any of the Western cities. The thing is, the Cleric’s Guild isn’t run by the Vaalorians completely, they have their own administration, so they do have some trips that run there, though not as often as in other cities. That does create problems for visiting clerics, who need to return home, as it’s a dangerous trip and one can’t go alone unless they are very heroic. So they end up staying for months waiting for the roster to fill up, and then it’s about a few week’s trek to Solhaven. Young guildies get punished by being sent off for a stay.
The older students know how to march, and use their spells, and I don’t, but I’ve been assured by the head ranger that he won’t leave me behind. Besides I’ve trekked along on many a fast paced hunt back home so I think I will have no trouble keeping up.
I’ve also been told to join the Order of Voln. I went to see the grandmaster and he was very kind to me. The acolytes gave me a schedule and told me to see them again after I'd attended a few hunts. That spooked me. I haven't been brave enough to go on the hunts to the graveyard. I’m not required to go undead hunting until next year, anyways. I’m very worried about it. I feel as though I’ve been cursed by Luukos and now that I’m tainted no Arkati will lend me their aid.
Such is the lot of a sylvan who dares leave the woods. I’ll be fine. I’m too exhausted right now from the nightmares and sleeplessness to be excited about Solhaven - they are rumored to have some of the finest temples in the world, funded by the human emperors and empresses. They even have temples to the Lords of Lornon. The master here says, “They foolishly believe that building elaborate temples to the dark Arkati will slate their unconscientious blood-letting and disobedience to Koar. Well, time has proven that that isn’t the case, it only makes things worse.”
I don’t know about all of that, but I for one will be especially glad to get some fresh seafood instead of the pickled and dried stuff available here - the fresh fish is too expensive around here. I can live on manna bread, but it will be good to have some affordable food around for once.
Speaking of manna bread, I try and try and woefully keep producing these terrible little seeds covered in a mixture of sweet and pepper. They’re really awful. I found a dwarf who liked them but you know how they are. I have prayed to Koar to grant me the ability to make just plain manna bread, so I might do something right at least. All the other students in my class can make perfect white loaves. The teacher went ahead and passed me since the seeds seem to be manna-infused sufficiently , but it was very embarrassing. They all think I’m backwards and shabby.
I will try to calm the dark cloud cast over my life right now and look forward to seeing the splendorous temples and the famous markets of Vornavis.Perhaps I'll even find the favor of an Arkati there. One can always hope. If all else fails I can always move back to the forest, but I would hate that.
PART 3: LUUKOS
I’m in Solhaven now. The trek from Ta’Vaalor was difficult, but I did alright. They didn’t think I would be able to keep up, but they don’t realize we Sylvans have to work hard for our living. Hunts very often lasted for days back home, and treks up the mountainside to gather Imaera’s fruits during the summer were more difficult than the mostly merchant-worn trek across the Dragonspine. Vaalorians are a hardy lot, I didn’t impress anyone.
The food in camp was fairly dull, and we all talked about the different foods and ales we would try when we got to Solhaven. Wine, all elves appreciate and finer human wine is as good as any in the nations, though they likest it not.
We travel with a group of soldiers from the army, as we are wards of the crown, technically. They’re very disciplined, and professional, but they don’t wear any emblems of the army and they are not “on-duty” to avoid diplomatic incidents, yet all are retired soldiers or “on leave” doing “private work”. We were not expected to stand watch. There are a few healers with us. We were marching most of the day, so there was no time for leisure, and we were exhausted by the time we set up camp. Everyone was asleep before dark, except for the watchmen.
We arrived in Solhaven late this afternoon, and rented the whole inn. A gypsy troupe was in town and a few of us went to see them. There were many interesting sites, and lots of food, the first real food we’ve had in a month. I had my fortune told by a halfing by the name of Ordim, who reads dachres. There were some very creepy people there, not the gypsies themselves but others, who I assume to be the residents of Solhaven, wearing black armor, symbols of dark gods, and cold eyes casting me odd looks now and then. For a moment I was afraid my past deeds would be found out, they would sense I had been cursed by Luukos, and I would be forced to leave, or they would follow me back to the inn, but nothing of the sort occurred.
When my turn came up for my fortune to be read, I asked about which Arkati might favor me. I received what is called the “Spirit Light” dachre, and the halfling gentleman, who I liked immediately, told me I should seek the favor of Phoen at the temple in the city. I’ve decided to go to the temple tomorrow after some rest. The rest of the students are going to the cleric’s guild to a lecture, I’ve been excused from it since it’s too advanced for my rank, and the instructors approve of my desire to seek Phoen’s favor. I’m very excited, and happy for the first time in ages. I feel like I have somewhere to go.
The Liabo Esplanade in Solhaven is a sight to behold. The way as you enter through the Liabo Plaze is checkered with alternating terra-cotta bricks in an amazing colorful pattern. Human architecture is colorful here, and it’s best to go in the mid afternoon when the crowds have settled down so you can see the beautiful tilework on the road that shifts at each temple doorstep along the way. Beyond the tall walls of Vornavis you can see the towering golden Fane of the God-King. They won’t let my kind in there at all, not sure what it’s about, but locals tell me citizens only. People complain about Ta’Vaalor! The other story I heard is they keep Solhaven’s temples outside because the only people who they can hire to keep them up are immigrants and the poor, whom they don’t have room for in the city.
There’s eleven temples in all along the esplanade, Cholen’s temple is off the way at the town hall, and there’s no temple to Charl and no one likes talking about it, funny enough. Not sure why. I’ve learned not to mention it.
I laughed aloud when I saw the temple of Oleani. They paid *a lot* of silver to install some tremendous rose quartz swans. The swans are a hit with the children of the wealthy vacationers who are in Solhaven for the summer. I did not mean to be disrespectful and went into her temple first to pay my respects, as she’s the lady of the house. The lords and ladies of Vornavis must pay a fortune to keep up the temple as there’s rose petals everywhere inside, not just from lovers offerings but from the red and white bouquets along the walls. I thought it was a holy day at first, but the chaplain said it was like that all the time. I’d never seen such a thing, and it was lovely.
They were having a baptisimal at noon when I arrived and so the whole rotunda was echoing with screaming babies, which was funny. Oleani is a popular Arkati to dedicate one’s child to, as it guarantees one a happy marriage and wealth in the form of lots of children, even though I suspect many of the humans use the common custom of arranged marriages. I waited until they left and then I prayed for a long while, asking her for permission to approach her husband for favor.
Then I went out into the gardens and tried following an acolyte’s directions to the Temple of Phoen, but I ended up in the Temple of Tonis, the thief, instead, the beloved child of Lord Phoen and Lady Oleani’s union. I was a little scared when I got lost in there as I heard an eerie screaming sound, and I thought that Luukos had caught up with me, or one of the shady people from the night before had tracked me down and had come to abduct me into one of their ancient shadowy cults. A monk noticed me standing there terrified, and explained to me kindly that it was just the horses in the stables. They keep a stable of golden horses at the King of Thieve’s house for rituals and processions. Apparently it is quite a sight, as they bedeck them with wings made of real swan feathers for the rites of Summer.
The monk was a half-elf, and a servant of Tonis who kept the grounds kept, for all three temples which are next to each other, for Oleani, Phoen and Tonis. He was very kind and quite handsome, with blonde curly hair and cute goatee. I have to admit I was quite smitten with him, even though father would barely approve of me courting any sort of human. He took me on a tour of the Temple of Tonis, which was stunning, and very expensive looking. The human nations must be very wealthy indeed. It’s nothing like back in the Landing, which is all mud and sticks by comparison, and by which most elves judge humans.
I fed the horses, and I wrote a little note in the Messenger’s scriptorium, which is this little room filled with votives and messages you post to the wall where they say Tonis himself comes and reads them but he’s so fast you can’t even see or hear him. I left a note asking to please help my Arkati find me, or for me to find my Arkati. Then the half-elf and I went to get a bit to eat, fried fish at the market, which was amazing, and afterwards he left me to pray at the Temple of Phoen.
I told the other girls back at the inn about it and they were very snobby about it, and behaved as if it was completely unacceptable that I had allowed myself to be lead about by a half-elf, so I went out drinking with the boys instead as I am friends with the Koar follower and he didn’t seem to care I had been associating with half-elves. We had a good time, but things were a bit awkward with the other girls after we went to our rooms, and my roommate won’t speak to me.
I doubt they’ll ever come around, unless I make something up about how they were right all along and the gentleman wronged me, but I won’t do that, I think it’s terrible how half-elves are treated.
Most of my trip I’ll be on my own anyways, as the classes at the Solhaven branch of the Cleric’s guild are far too advanced at this time of year for me, and since they’ll all be there, I’ll be left on my own to explore the city! Yay!
PART 4: ANDELAS
A terrible thing has happened. I was wandering around in the central part of Solhaven trying to catch up on anything I had missed along the Lornon promenade, and a group of soldiers mistook me for a thief they had been pursuing. I told them it couldn’t possibly be me, and if they would please just contact the Cleric’s Guild they would see that I was not at all who they were looking for, but they wouldn’t hear it. I was stuck in the blasted prison for 3 days before they would see me. The charges were dismissed after they contacted the guild, but alas, my companions had already left for Ta’Vaalor. Since it is already late in the season I am not sure which route they will take, and I will surely perish on my own. I will have to find a guide of some sort, which I can’t afford. What I don’t understand is why they left without waiting on me.
Something isn’t right. Luckily I can cast a few spells, maybe I can earn some coin spelling up the local fisherman or blessing their boats.
I’m now sitting on the steps of the Temple of Andelas at this moment, where I was arrested, and lost my chance to go inside until now. I came back here in order to see if it was a sign from the deity, the Lord of Cats, Andelas. I’ve always liked cats very much, and of all the Lornon gods, he is the one whom I would not mind serving, as I am good at hunting, but it seems I am not so chosen. I felt nothing unusual and I was given no signs.
The temple is very beautiful and posesses an enormous majestic lion statue which was very impressive, and even soothing in some strange way. There was a cleric sitting in front of the lion statue. She was small and a bit wrinkled from the sun, and had skin as black as ebony and golden hair. I had never seen a human like that. She seemed a bit wild, like the dryads and centaurs of the forest, as she had dried blood in her hair and on her fingers, and twigs, claws and bells and things in her weird locks. I thought she was a bit scary at first but she seemed to like me, and commended me for praying to Andelas, saying “Bless you for honoring the lord of cats, child.” She was curious about me and wanted to talk for a while. I asked her about her training, and how she came to Andelas. She told me she was chosen by Andelas in a ritual of her people, far to the south. She was sent out into the wilderness to be chosen by the Arkati, who would show as a type of animal or as weather, or other natural phenomenon.
I thought that this was very interesting. She said that all of the Arkati have an sign in the wilds even if they are not listed in the traditional clerical books. She named off many for me, but I forget some of them. I remember Mularos is a vulture, Luukos is a poisonous snake, Lorminstra a night that leaves frost, and so on. I also asked her for advice on how to get the attention of the Arkati and how to please them in order to be chosen.
She told me that all the gods are like cats, and that they only come when they please, and one may not attempt to coax them, lest they find offense in our begging and cajoling. She said she liked Andelas because he was true and pure and knew exactly what he was, while the other Arkati tried to hide their ways or decieve us. “They’re all felines” she said, and then assured me that “I would be chosen soon enough, she could “see” it.”
I shall go to the tavern this evening and see what I can find in the way of work or any sort of assistance. For now, I must find something to eat as I have not had anything but human prison gruel for 3 days.
(Below is not part of the journal entry)
The sun was setting, and the clanging and shouting crowds of the docks and markets around Solhaven had melted away, to find solace elsewhere, whether into theatres with their tragedy and comedy, or into the grand edifices on the Liabo and Lornon esplanade for late temple services. The secular enjoyed quiet evenings with their children or parties with the friends in their homes, while the ne’er do wells and transient sailors from faraway ports shuffled into the nearest whorehouse or tavern for the night.
Aeonelas, the lost apprentice cleric stepped into one such dark and smoky pub, feeling awkward in her own skin. She wondered if any of these sailors and shipwrights had ever seen a sylvankind before as a dozen curious eyes posessed by a handful of rough looking sea-worthy folk turned to look at her..
“Ai! You there, girl, about time you showed up!” Aeonelas turned towards the voice, to find herself staring across the room at a large, ruddy face woman standing behind the bar. “Come on over here and let’s talk!” The woman shook her head at her as if in warning. Taking one last look back at the tough looking pub crowd, she walked over to the woman with some hesitation and sat on the barstool. An enormous, well-fed cat with wooly paws was sprawled out on the bar and blinked up at Aeonelas with a sleepy gaze. The woman leaned in close and warned under her breath, in a terse but concerned tone, “I don’t see many of your kind in here, but if you knew what’s good for yah you’d not of come to this tavern. This isn’t the Captain’s Rest dearie...” Aeonelas stared at the woman, her eyes wide, and stammered “Please, if you know anyone, I need to find a guide...my company left me and they’re already halfway to the Landing I’m sure...I’m supposed to...” Before she could finish, a voice behind her said “Hello Aeon!” She recognized it immediately. It was the half-elf monk from the temple of Tonis.
Aeonelas turned away from the woman to find the half-elf standing in front of her in his simple blue tunic and leather tights. She glanced back at the old woman, who squinted, then nodded approvingly at the young man, and sighed with relief. ‘You’ll take care of her then, monk....” the salty old lady stated, matter-of-factly, and she went back to wiping down the countertops, as if everything was fine. “Thank the Gods,” Aeonelas exhaled breathily, “I am so glad to see a familiar face.” The half-elf nodded. “I thought you were heading out a few days ago?” he inquired, with a curious, concerned look. “They left without me!” cried Aeonelas. “I got arrested...I didn’t do anything, but...and then...then...I don’t know why but they left without me while it was being sorted out. I need to find a guide.” Her words tumbled out one over the other as she hoped to the gods he could help her. Aeonelas struggled to remember the half-elf’s name, but failed. “I have a friend who could help you out, he’s headed to the Landing tomorrow. Not sure if he’d take you all the way to Ta’Vaalor, but if you have the coin, I bet he’d agree.” said the slender, blonde half-elf as he stroked his goatee. Aeonelas bit her lip “How much would that cost?” she asked. “You’d have to ask him. He’s right over there.” The half-elf pointed to a corner booth obscured in a darker area of the tavern. “I’ll introduce you. Come on.” He offered his slender warm hand to Aeonelas and lead her to the table.
“Rak, this is Aeonelas; Aeonelas, this is Rak, or, Rakshakvana, if you prefer.” said the half-elf, stretching his hand out towards a large, hooded boulder of a man. He was positioned with his back to two walls so he could see everything that happened in the sprawling pub, Aeonelas noted. The ceiling was lower in here, and pipe smoke lingering in the air made her eyes water a little. Aeonelas had hoped that the person would say the half-elf’s name, as she had still not yet recalled it, but the hooded figure just regarded her with a calm quiet, before enunciating her name. “Aeonelas.” Aeonelas could just barely make out his face as she slid into the booth. She could see that he was tall, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved in a while, or cut his hair. “Rak is a waggler, about the same age as you are, as a matter of fact.” he smiled. “What’s this about, Ning?” Rak said, with hesitant reserve. “Ning! That’s his name!” thought Aeonelas, smiling suddenly, pleased that she could avoid any social awkwardness. “Aeon...needs a guide.” said Ning, taking a long draught from one of the mugs of ale that the serving wench had just plopped down in front of them. “To where?” said Rak. “Just to Ta’Vaalor, or, as far as I can go over the mountains...” said Aeonelas, earnestly. Rakshakvana stared at her and then started laughing to himself, gazing down at his ale. “The pass is mostly clear this time of year, you know that Rak.” said Ning, encouragingly.
Rak was quiet for a few moments, before consenting, “I am going to the Landing, you can come that far with me, if you travel quickly and know how to avoid trouble.” he said, eyeing Aeonelas suspiciously, before adding “You don’t look like you could walk more than a few miles before I would have to carry you.” She bristled a little under the scrutiny, and, the thought of being carried about by a human, and then announced, loudly, “*I* am a sylvan, and I can keep up with the best of Ta’Vaaloran elves!” Ning winced before she had even finished shouting, and looked around.
A group of swarthy, dangerous looking individuals, the same that had been eyeballing Aeonelas as she entered, were scowling in their direction from across the partition. One of them began to get up, staring intently into the darkened corner where the threesome now sat. Rakshakvana slowly reached for a long wooden staff leaning against the wall of the booth while staring back at the group. “Erm...” Ning murmured, as he glanced around nervously. One drunken sailor made his way over to the booth, pushing one of the bar wenches out of the way. “What was that you said ‘oer here?!” slurred the stout, burly human. “Calm yourself friend” said Ning smoothly. “Our friend here was just stating that she wasn’t one of those good for nothing Vaalorians, but rather, a wood sylvan, simple folk...isn’t that right Aeon?” smiled Ning. Aeonelas managed a wide eyed nod, but was struck speechless. “She’s a volunteer cleric helping our town with the shortage of lifekeepers in the city, I’m just helping her find a guide” continued Ning. “I didn’t know there was a shortage of clerics...” mumbled the drunk, before he began examining Rak, clearly sizing him up.
“Let’s be on our way, the road to the Landing is dangerous, we’ll need our sleep.” grunted Rakshakvana. He slid out from the booth and stood up, his full height nearly touching the beams of the nine-foot ceiling above. “A giantkin!” thought Aeonelas, gawking up at him. He towered above the drunk, who stammered something inaudible, while catching glances up at the dark haired giantkin. The lush turned to Ning and nodded once, curtly, before wandering sheepishly back to his friends, mumbling “That’s alright, not a real elf” he murmured.
Aeonelas looked at the giantkin, carefully sizing him up and taking in the details of his person as they exited the tavern through the back door. He was tall, but slender and graceful in his way, and had a regal air about him. He moved quickly and quietly – admirable traits in the lower races, she thought to herself. She noticed a shining gold pegasus on the belt that girt his leather armor. Ning had probably met him at the Temple of Tonis, where he worked as a caretaker, she thought. Stepping out of the moonlit alleyway and into the street lit by sparse magickal lanterns, Aeonelas put her hands on her hips and proclaimed “Well, what now?” Ning gazed at her with a wry expression and chided her, “You really need to learn how to behave in the Empire. If we wern’t there you might have been killed.” Aeonelas frowned. Rak interupted, “Save it. Let’s go find an inn. We leave tomorrow before dawn.” he stated, gruffly.
“Rak will take good care of you Aeon, I hope to see you again someday” said Ning, before reaching into his pocket, “Take these with you. One is magical...the temple has many and Rak has one also. He will explain how to use it. It’s a trinket one of the thie- erm, worshippers left us at the temple.” he dropped a pair of baubles into her palm, before turning her hand over and then he kissed it. She was glad then that he could not see her blushing in the dim light, and curtsied quickly, before pocketing the trinkets without looking at them. “Thank you, Ning. With the blessing of the gods we will meet again” replied Aeonelas. Ning nodded. “I’m sure we will. May the wayfarer guide your path, and guard your treasures.” he recited, before raising his hand in farewell.
Aeonelas trekked behind the giantkin along the sea-facing side of Solhaven, examining the back of his heavy hooded robe. It was swept with elaborate gold feather embroidery that glistened under the lantern she had lit. His left hand was slightly raised, and emitted a soft blue glow, that flickered out now and again before turning shades of black and purple and reigniting. A sorcerer.
“We’ll leave before dawn, girl.” said the giantkin, abruptly. Aeonelas looked about and found herself standing in front of the Captain’s Rest, the same inn she and her class had stayed in. “You have enough for the room I presume?” he inquired, raising an eyebrow. Aeonelas nodded, and said, “So, in the morning then!” before turning to the inn, hoping to herself dearly that he would indeed show up. “Before morning!” shouted the giantkin after her. “An hour before dawn!” and then he trudged away to who knows where.
Dear journal, I’ve found a travelling companion. I’m too tired to write about it now, but I will try to cover it later in detail. Mayhaps the gods are taking care of me after all...
PART 5: JASTEV
Last night I had written that I had found a guide. Well, what a tale that is to tell. You see, the halfelven monk I befriended, in Lady Oleani's garden, turned up again in the unlikeliest of places, and what's more, he had a friend who agreed to take me to the landing.
You will never guess, but he is a giantkin, one of the lesser races I have never spoken with at any length. I have heard that they are not much for conversation and, that they are unpredictable, but this had proven to be untrue, at least in this case. As well as this, my Tonisian monk friend assures me he possesses good character and would "take good care of me." Since the half-elf is a Luukos-fearing man of the Gods I have had no reason to doubt his word.
I have not been disappointed. The giant is as gentlemanly as can be expected from the lesser races, and we have gotten along alright. We do not travel for as long in one day as I did with the Vaalorians, and for that I am grateful, as he is a bit hard to keep up with. I am writing this now under a lantern lit by the blue light of an essence flower - very useful. He is a sorcerer, you see, apparently self taught with a bit of help from his adopted kin. He has informed me that he was raised by a well regarded human family, and they are deeply involved in some kind of important, and secret, guild in Solhaven. As his mother was on with them, when she died, instead of being taken to an orphanage he was taken in by one of the other families in the guild, as is tradition amongst them, he tells me. There is little else he will explain about his background.
He is travelling to the Landing in order to secure some "rare magical ingredients" for a wealthy client, in Vornavis. He won't say what it is, and I didn't press him. Other than his penchant for secrets, I have found him to be an excellent and intelligent conversationalist, despite the rumors about giantkin to the contrary that I have heard about.
I am concerned about what I will do when I reach the Landing. I am low on funds. The gods will surely at least look after me, and, even if I have not yet been chosen, I am certain I will not be without Koar's Providence.
Rak, as I have taken to calling my giantkin friend, short for Rakshakvana, is surprisingly well read. He has even studied the elven treatises on the founders of the great houses, knows all of the rulers of Nations by hear, and more importantly, he knows all of the gods by symbol and by their realm of influence. As well as this, he knew quite a lot about the Church of Koar in the Empire, and how it differs from the Vaalorian sentiment. I would almost say he is as smart as an elf, if that is at all possible. Something which pleases me is that he is also religious and respectful to the Gods. At some point he was being eyed for service as a cleric within his guild, but, was found to be favored by the dark gifts of sorcery instead. Despite his interest in the dark arts, he is a child of Liabo, and personally follows Lord Tonis. He does not dabble in necromancy or any uncouth magics. His 'family' are great patrons of the "Church of the Trinity of the Family", as he called it: Phoen, Oleani and Tonis, and some other Arkati's temple he would not name. He says he felt like it was Tonis who protected him as a youth and gave him the gift of magic, and calling to "the royal art of sorcery" as he calls it.
We are already at the foot of the Dragonspine, having passed through the forests and hills above Solhaven. We were fortunate in that we encountered no orcs or trolls of any sort, though tomorrow we pass through a part of the way that is rumored to be home to mountain ogres - vicious brutes without any intelligence except what they can muster to catch and eat travelers. We shall have to be quiet, quick and wary. Luckily for us, Rak is dispossessed of the clumsiness and oafishness I've heard about some giants, and he does not lack in sheer strength, despite this. I am at ease.
I have become quite relieved and am certain that the Gods are smiling upon me. When we get to the landing, I will attempt to secure passage to Ta'Vaalor.
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Rakshakvana peered over the edge of the rock face, catching glimpses of the blonde sylvankind struggling up the huge boulder from above, merely one small pebble it seemed, in the sea of boulders blocking the shortcut through the Dragonspine Mountains. Panting and exclaiming some sort of elven curse, the wood elf had easily conquered most of the rockslide, but had clearly run out of energy for the final part of the obstacle. He let his pack fall to the ground and pulled a hemp rope and climbing hook from it before securing it to a crevice. With a carefully aimed flick, he tossed the other side of the climbing rope down the boulder's face, where the pile of coils landed unceremoniously on top of her head. "Thanks!" he heard her shout from below, as he pressed a boot on to the rope, just in case.
She ascended easily with the assistance, and stood at the top of the rockslide, red faced, leaning over, her breath coming out in little puffs of steam against the cool, alpine air. Rakshakvana sat down for a moment, tired as well. This was the worst part of the journey, not only because of the blockade of stone they had just conquered, but because of the ogres who descended from the higher parts to feed on unwary travelers. Rakshakvana scanned the ridgeline for any signs of trouble - boulders that were not quite boulders - crouching orc scouts or stalking ogres; the former much less dangerous but with higher intellect. They had made good time, and he had not yet had cause to regret his additional travelling companion, although she had nearly invoked a tavern brawl upon them a few days before.
Elves were generally rare in the human Empire. While the Turamzzyrians regarded his kind as merely taller, long lost cousins adapted to the fierce climes of mountains and wilderness, the elves had asserted themselves as the stewards of the "lesser races" long ago. These "lesser races" were comprised of anyone who was not an elf - beings that lives for thousands of years.
This did not sit well with humans - who were unimpressed by elven longevity, and the benefits provided to them from the elves had become a dim memory. Now it seemed elves were only a threatening alien force, that might rise up and conquer them, ruling the whole world as they had in ancient days. Some of the Southern dark elves, the Dhe'nar, still held slaves of any race other than their own, and worse, still indulged in gruesome cuisine focused on small folk - halflings and gnomes. The elves Rakshakvana knew through his deep connections in the criminal underworld were not at all like that, and seemed to hold gnomes in great esteem. The black market of Ta'Nalfein valued flesh only inasmuch as it held political power or secrets that could be traded for such. The gnome servants of the great families of Ta'Nalfein were treated like royalty by those who could afford to retain them, as there were no finer engineer-artisans in Elanthia. A gnomish clock was the only clock found on the mantle of any respectable family. As well as this, his own kind found a steady living as bodyguards or soldiers for the higher class families.
Despite the veneration and respect with which many of the Elven Nations treated these so-called "lesser races," most humans in the Empire recalled only the habits of the jungle dwelling Dhe'nari elves, even though these were not even well liked by many of the shining Elven cities to the East of the Dragonspine, and many Dhe'nar despised those who indulged in the flesh of humanoids. The Dhe'nar, it seemed to him, at least those very few who he had met, were as polite as the most refined of the Nalfein, who had always treated the young Rakshakvana with respect while he attended to his adopted family's illicit business in the black market there, but no amount of etiquette could compensate for the odd Dhe'nari's grotesque dining habits, and their occasional unapologetic pride in this area.
Aeonelas was a sylvan, usually seen as a harmless sort of elf, if not exotic, in nearly every city and village on Elanith, both elven and elsewise. The forest-dwelling kin of the Nations, he recalled, were sometimes viewed as backwards country bumpkins by the many metropolitan lords and ladies of Ta'Nalfein, as he remembered. Her golden, almond-shaped eyes fixed upon him with a steady gaze, and he could sense that she was about to ask another of her seemingly endless questions.
"Are you very devout?" she asked, glancing at a small Liabo moon symbol pinned to his pack, a typical amulet sold at religious shops to the common folk. "The Arkati seem to like me just fine" he answered. "How did you choose your patron?" she asked, struggling to untwist the back straps of her pack as she set about securing it to her shoulders and waist with the rough fibulae.
Rakshakvana hesitated to answer, wondering inwardly where the conversation would lead. "Well, he kind of chose me. Not really something one goes about choosing." he finally replied, as he started up the rocky remnants of the trail, leading deep into the lower Dragonspine. She scuffled hurredly behind him, hefting her pack further up on her shoulders. "That's what I've been trying to tell my teachers, that one can't just choose an Arkati. They want me to, anyways." she babbled on as he walked ahead, in silence, "I mean all of the clerical textbooks say one can't just choose an Arkati, a sign must be given, and I haven't received any signs, so...." Rakshakvana stayed silent for another twenty minutes but she just kept talking, about every single God in the lands it seemed, and what she thought about them.
"And I'd be just fine as a cleric of Ronan, but I'm pretty sure I would have to join Voln just to have a chance of catching his eye, and I haven't yet decided if I want to hunt undead, as they are very disgusting, but oh, I am fond of unicorns..." she paused suddenly to catch her breath before continuing "and the best part about the Brotherhood of Ronan is that all the clerics dress very fine, very fine indeed..."
Rakshakvana raised his hand and halted, suddenly, on the rocky trail. Aeonelas stopped talking immediately. At least she paid attention, when it was important, he thought. "There's a camp up ahead." he said quietly, pointing to a thin stream of smoke on the horizon. Aeonelas' eyes widened, "Bandits?" she whispered, suddenly aware of the volume of her own loud voice. "Not sure." said Rak, his attention turning to a ridge on their left side. He beckoned her to follow, and the pair clambered up the side of the rocky ridge, crawling to an overlook. A figure hunched over a fire in the meadow below, next to a patched, grey tent. A dappled silver mare was grazing hungrily on the summer alpine flowers. Rakshakvana noticed a pile of supplies wrapped in netting under a tarp near the entrance of the tent.
"Merchant, would be my guess." said Rakshakvana, shortly. He turned over and pulled himself to his feet with the branches of one of the slender fir trees dotting the ridge.
"Stay here while I scope it out. Should be fine." he murmured. He began descending the ridge, and shouted "Hello friend!" as he approached the camp, in order to avoid being misidentified as an orc. He could see now that the figure was a human, old and dressed in the garb of the wandering seer-priests of the Jastevian order. A branch of the Church of Koar, they were a peculiar lot, always moving from city to city according to the whims of their God, and the readings of the various oracular instruments, such as the tarot, and dachres.
The eyes of an elderly grey bearded human fixed on him, and smiled slightly. Regarding Rak was clearly a strain for the old man as his bent form was tightly wrapped in a thick woolen blanket, so the giantkin knelt down to meet him at eye level, across from the fire. "Ah, I was wondering when you two would arrive..." the old longbeard cackled at him, and continued, "You're clearly the tall, dark one, but, where's the other, the youthful courier?" Rakshakvana turned back to the ridge, the silhouette of it embraced in pink and blue as Phoen sunk below the horizon. He raised his arm to wave Aeonelas down. She stood up, and, after examining her choices for descent, surfed down a gravelly part of the cliff, steadying herself gracefully with her staff as she kicked up an enormous dust trail, before lightly and quietly skipping up to the edge of the fire, crouching beside Rak. "Ah, a girl, and a wood-elf at that, I did not see that in the runes!" chuckled the old man. "Well met, young ones. I am Frater Nankh, and this is Electrum, he croaked, pointing at the mare, who was still decimating the meadow flowers.
"You're a holy man, aren't you?" exclaimed Aeonelas, excitedly noting his clerical accoutrements. Nankh stroked his beard, smiling toothlessly at Aeonelas with a twinkle in his eye, before exclaiming, "Not that holy my dear, but come, we shall settle in by the fire for the night, after you bring down the stray urgh to the north of here, then, we shall eat like kings and share in your tale of the road." Rakshakvana peered at the human curiously, and asked, surprised, "There's an urgh, up here?" Nankh chuckled at him and said, "Truffle fattened, hardly off its mothers' teats and ready for the spit! He's wandered up here to feast on the summer berries, no doubt, but he is a gift from Lord Jastev to us three this night." Rakshakvana knew better than to doubt the word of one of these clerics, and the pair of adventurers set out the short distance to see what was behind the small hill to the north. They found the pig-like animal exactly where the old man said he would be. It was noisily snuffling through the underbrush, recklessly ignoring everything but the berries it indulged in with gusto, and the foolish creature was easily brought down by sorcerer's gruesome, jugular bursting magic. The berry patch that was its doom consisted of delicious blue cuctucae berries, and Aeonelas gathered as many of the valuable sweets as she could in her tunic, while Rak quickly gutted and tied the urgh up, preparing to drag it back to the camp.
It was just turning night by the time they returned, and the moon of Liabo hung low and large, silhouetting the thin alpine tree tops beautifully with her brilliant white-gold face. Aeonelas sighed happily as she gazed up at it, finding it a comfort, despite her recent circumstances. The urgh meat was truly delicious, sweet and savory, a perfect companion to the ripe blue cuctucae berries. They talked and traded stories of the Gods for hours, with Aeonelas taking advantage of the situation by asking the human everything he could possibly know, and not know, about the Arkati. "Ah, I know exactly which Arkati has their eye on you" the old cleric teased, "but I cannot tell you, as you might lose your way." Nankh said to Aeonelas, pointing a bony finger wrapped in a grey quartz chaplet at her. Aeonelas did not speak anymore about it that evening.
The trio went to sleep easily, protected by a shimmering sanctuary that the old cleric had evoked. It was a strange thing, and Aeonelas watched the walls of the barrier and its hypnotic, colorful living paintings, occasionally seeing visions of her past and future in the entheogenic mists of the sanctuary, until finally, she dropped off to sleep.
We continue on the road, and have found a travelling companion, a cleric of Lord Jastev! He will accompany us to the Landing, before he departs to Icemule. Since he is a very experienced, godly man, we have no fear of bandits or orcs, and sleep beneath a sanctuary each night. I really do think the gods are looking after me, and everything will be alright, despite everything.
Player name: Izi Ningishzidda Age: 37 Sex: Female Marital Status: Widowed Culture: American Indian (Coast Salish, Colville-Lakota,) European Pioneer and Jewish (Ashkenazi) American. Genetics: American Indian (25%) Jewish (25%) Irish (25%) Italian (12%) English (6.25%) Dutch-French (6.25%) Profession: Artist & Occultist Class: Fine Artist, Scholar Schools: The Contemporary Realist Academy (Lineaged European Academic Art under Kathryn Manzo,) The Abrahadabra Institute (Hermetic School) Alts: Aeonelas, Rakshavana, Aethelinda, Najalinda Website: https://ningishzidda.deviantart.com/