The Trine 2016
a rainbow felt-paneled ger
In the wooden chest you see a silk-lined maple picnic basket, a pony-shaped plum velvet tote, an aubergine satin bonnet with long trailing ribbons, a frill-necked cream cotton blouse, a mulberry gingham pinafore with a slouched front pocket, an off-white cambric shirt banded at the elbows, some tan leather suspenders with leaf-shaped cutouts, a horseshoe-pinned saffron plaid cravat, a pair of leather-belted umber twill breeches, a grey velvet smoking jacket with leather-patched elbows, some open-toed woolen socks patterned with tiny cupcakes, some open-toed tartan socks and some open-toed doeskin footwraps.
white-spotted deerskin ger
On the small bunk you see a forked willow branch, a carved rolton horn comb, a polished silver comb, a white oak case carved with a pastoral motif, a silver pine case beaded in swirled patterns, a light willow case with fishscale inlay, a wide silver toe ring inset with brilliant clear glimaerstones, a channel-set emerald toe ring, a pave diamond toe ring, a thin platinum toe ring inset with a berry pink ruby and a hammered mithril toe ring dangling a tiny tart.
a pale felt-covered ger
On the walnut sidetable you see a folded notecard, a frosted square bottle, a squat octagonal glass bottle with a silk-enclosed mister, a thin ampulla wrapped in gold ribbons and an ebony and silver wire-wrapped bottle.
>read notecard In the Common language, it reads: ~~ The Trine Collection ~~
On the domed oven you see a glass of peppered vodka, a dark purple ceramic jar, a light pink ceramic jar, a light green ceramic jar and a yellow-striped clay decanter.
In the domed oven you see a mango honey scone and a honey-drizzled vanilla cream tart.
In the rickety wooden cart you see a toy black satin rolton with silver spots, a toy pink cotton rolton with green spots, a toy brown velvet rolton with white spots, a shaggy palomino toy and a curly-haired horned goat toy.
Memailly and the Coming of Magic
[The Trine, Inside the Ger] Several tawny deerskin pelts that line the walls of the ger have been pulled aside to expose a criss-cross construction of oak and hawthorn saplings with leather-thonged lacings. Cool night air seeps through the latticework which allows soft moonlight to spill into the snug room. Visible beneath a pair of low, blanket-covered bunks is a collection of short bows, wire snares, and willow eel traps. You also see a bronze statue and an elegantly woven Mhoragian tapestry. You see Kelhaly the Pony Handler. She appears to be a Malghava Halfling. She is shorter than average and appears to be very young. She has long-lashed emerald green eyes and dirt-smudged skin. She has shoulder length, glossy amber hair tied into a loose ponytail with a jade green hair ribbon. She has an upturned nose and a smattering of freckles across her round cheeks. She is in good shape. She is wearing a linked necklace of alternating gold and silver dancing ponies, a sun-bleached canvas feed bag slung over her shoulder, a buttercup yellow cambric dress with puffed sleeves, some thick leather gloves marred with bite marks, and a white cincher embroidered with green and blue swallows. Kelhaly points at a bronze statue. Kelhaly exclaims, "Just look at that!" This detailed statue has been cast in bronze and depicts a tall elven lass seated in front of a large building. She is surrounded by young halfling children sitting in rapt attention, listening to her every word. An oval plaque is affixed to the base. In the Common language, it reads: Memailly Rachidesic Avatar, Teacher of Children Kithly rubs a bronze statue. Wenric leans against a bronze statue. Laden with pollen, a fuzzy bee buzzes in and lazily bumbles around until finding its way out again. Kelhaly asks, "Shall we wait a moment for the others to find us?" Kelhaly chuckles. Kelhaly asks, "Did everyone get their comb?" Kelhaly removes a carved rolton horn comb from in her canvas feed bag. Kelhaly runs a comb through the luxuriant hair on her feet. She carefully combs and arranges the silky strands, fussing and preening the whole time. Satisfied with the coif at last, she smiles broadly and raises each foot, one at a time, for all to admire. Wenric points his rolton horn comb at Kelhaly and waves it proudly in front of her face. Wenric leans forward, rolton horn comb in hand, and teases the hair on his feet into a fine pouf. Kithly exclaims, "Oh how I love storytime!" Kelhaly hugs Kithly. Kithly leans on Kelhaly. Kelhaly kisses Kithly on the cheek. Kelhaly says, "Alright, gather in close." Kithly snuggles up to Kelhaly. A sound of interrupted buzzing erupts from the corner as a honeybee laden with pollen bumps into the wall looking for a way out. Rovvigen says, "After you guys left we feed the fishy and got buzzed by bees." Kelhaly giggles at Rovvigen. Kelhaly says, "Bzzzz." Kelhaly says, "I love the bees." Kithly exclaims, "Hope the fishies did not eat the bees!" Kithly's face turns slightly pale. Darting from the shadows, a little grey mouse makes his way over to a pile of grain. Filling his cheeks with a few kernels, he scurries away to enjoy his prize. Kelhaly says, "This looks like nearly enough to tell a story to." Kelhaly casually observes her surroundings. Speaking to Kelhaly, Ordim exclaims, "I can count as two!" Ordim nods in agreement. Ordim points at himself. Beloran asks, "Who's wearing a skirt?" Speaking to Beloran, Ordim says, "No one right now I think." Ordim glances down. Kelhaly exclaims, "Well a dress!" Kithly says, "Me too but ma makes me wear leggings with it." Kithly folds her arms over her chest. Ordim says, "Skimpy skirts sometimes send several sailors swiftly screaming "Silly sylvans surely seemed scared." Ordim twitches, trying to control a vocal outburst, before settling into a disdained grumble while regaining composure. Speaking to Rovvigen, Ordim says, "Thats a story for another night." Ordim coughs. Rovvigen cackles! Ordim turns to face a bronze statue. Kelhaly says, "Alright." Kithly turns to face Kelhaly. Rovvigen turns an inquisitive ear toward Kelhaly. Kelhaly says, "Everybodies, I'm going to tell you about Truefolk and magic." Kelhaly nods sagely. Kelhaly says, "Tonight I'll tell you a bit about how the Truefolk came to learn magic." Kelhaly settles down around the feet of the statue. Crossing her legs at the ankles, Kelhaly slowly lowers herself to the floor and sits tailor fashion. Kithly sits down next to Kelhaly. Kelhaly says, "Sit sit." Kelhaly nods. Kelhaly says, "My daughter, Kithly, will talk a bit bout the Undead War and what it meant to the Truefolk, but for now just know, there was a time that we wanted nothing to do with elves of any kind." Kithly flashes a quick grin. Kelhaly says, "But for one..." Kelhaly says, "And that exception was Memailly Rachidesic." Kelhaly says, "When Memailly was a young lass she was kicked out of her home in the big elven city of Ta'Illistim because she was accused of casting dark magics." Kelhaly says, "With no place to call home she traveled north for many days and eventually happened upon a settlement of Mhoragian halflings." Kelhaly says, "She was very weak and very tired after her travels, but she was fascinated by the sturdy folk who were so much smaller than her own kind." Kelhaly says, "So very exhausted, but Memailly edged in near the main campfire of the Truefolk settlement and wondered how she'd ever make our folk accept her....or even talk to her." Kelhaly says, "As tired as she was, she was unable to sleep. She was thankful for this when she heard the settlement come to life in the last few hours of darkness." Kelhaly says, "The Truefolk struck all the gers and set off into the darkness. Memailly followed after, leaving her things behind, she was that afraid of getting left behind." Kelhaly says, "The halflings walked through the night and through the next day." Kelhaly says, "In mid-afternoon, the group stopped for a rest. Thankful for the chance to sit, Memailly drew her water bag to her lips for a much needed drink. It was empty."." Kelhaly exclaims, "She should have had one of these!" Kelhaly waves a forked willow branch around. Kelhaly flashes a quick grin. Kelhaly says, "But back to the story... she had no food, no water, but she sat quietly and watched the travelers eat strips of jerky and share cool water with each other." Kelhaly says, "She was very tired and though she tried to keep her eyes open, they drifted shut. Hearing a sound she opened her eyes and realized the group was on the move again. Near her feet was a full bag of cool, sweet, water." Lord Iekid just arrived. Iekid asks, "This right place fer history lesson?" Iekid clasps his hand over his mouth. Iekid sits down. Kelhaly nods at Iekid. Kelhaly says, ""She drew a blessed mouthful of cold, sweet water, and set off once again not wanting to lose the travelers." Kelhaly says, "They traveled for three days and three nights and only stopped briefly to eat and drink." Kelhaly says, "Memailly was very tired and so afraid to close her eyes in case she was left behind. But on that third night when the Truefolk stopped for their evening meal, Memailly gave in to her need to rest and turned on her side and fell into a deep sleep." Kelhaly says, "The following morning, Memailly awoke to find a bustling settlement of gers erected all around her." Kelhaly says, "As she blearily glanced about her, one of our elders, a halfling grandmother knelt beside her and offered her a cup of warm tea." Kelhaly says, "In surprise and gratitude, Memailly accepted the cup. As she drank, the woman chuckled and said something to her Memailly didn't understand." Kelhaly says, "The thing she did understand however was that the ordeal was over, and, against all odds, she had passed the test." Kelhaly says, "She lived the remainder of her life with our people, the Mhoragian halflings, and became the subject of many legends told among our people." Kithly grins. Kelhaly exclaims, "But that's not all!" Kelhaly points at a bronze statue. Kelhaly says, "After many years, Memailly Traithmok slowly gained the trust of the halfling tribe. She even became an advisor to Finryst Carlsonne who was one of the Trine fathers." Kelhaly says, "She didn't look back on her beginnings with the elves." Kelhaly says, "She married a halfling warrior named Einaz Traithmok,and they were married for over 70 years. Einaz was killed in a conflict with an Ardenai hunting party, leaving Memailly a widow." Rovvigen says, "Long time." Kithly exclaims, "Older than the Colonel even!" Kelhaly says, "Finryst Carlsonne came up with a plan to have Memailly teach her magic to the tribes. She agreed and took on the job of teaching her magic." Kelhaly says, "Halfling youths with magical promise were located over the years, and brought to Fraelshire, a Truefolk town. Here a structure was erected, a large building where magic began to be taught, and it was called Grinstoff Roth." Kelhaly smiles fondly at Kithly. Kithly grins at Kelhaly. Kelhaly says, "The children who studied there turned out to be very talented with magic and Memailly was amazed." Kithly wiggles her fingers. Kelhaly says, "During her teaching, Memailly noticed that the spells she cast at the halfings would be resisted as though they had not worked." Kelhaly ponders. Kithly cocks her head at Kelhaly. Kelhaly says, "With experimentation, she discovered these children had been born with the ability to withstand elemental magic to a degree she had never encountered before." Ordim lets out a cheer! Rovvigen applauds. Kelhaly says, "While she was never able to fully explain this, she eventually deduced it derived from a combination of the our close relationship with the land. Memailly called it the 'reshchleiv' or as translated in halfling, 'Land's bounty.'." Kayse raises an eyebrow. Kelhaly says, "Memailly was trusted and all approved of her work with the children. Elves live a long time, you know." Kelhaly nods slowly. Kelhaly winks at Kayse. Kithly exclaims, "They must if married that long!" Kelhaly says, "She taught new initiatives year after year and watched their children and grandchildren follow in the magical arts. The initiatiates grew into their power but none of the other races knew that the halflings were learning magic." Kelhaly says, "And that..." Kelhaly glances at a bronze statue. Kayse gazes admiringly at a bronze statue. Kelhaly says, "..is how the Truefolk learned magic." Rovvigen says, "Amazing piece of history." Kithly flashes a wide grin at Kelhaly. Kithly exclaims, "You have never told me that one!" Tahrid grumbles. Kithly easily and quickly ducks out of Tahrid's reach. Tahrid mutters something about grass. Kelhaly says, "Kithly is going to talk a bit about the Undead War in a bit." Rovvigen asks, "Anyone know any stories like that about the Paradis?" Speaking to Rovvigen, Kithly says, "My story may talk a little about the Paradis." Speaking to Rovvigen, Ordim says, "Perhaps bittersweet." Kithly nods slowly at Ordim. Kelhaly says, "History doesn't choose happy or sad." Kelhaly sighs. Kithly says, "As always, wise words, ma." Kithly nods at Kelhaly. Kelhaly hugs Kithly. Ordim removes a cast iron muffin tin from in his dark grey satchel. Ordim removes a warm caramel apple muffin from in his muffin tin. Ordim rubs his muffin tin. The aroma of freshly baked muffins fills the air. Ordim put a cast iron muffin tin in his dark grey satchel. Ordim just closed a knitted dark grey satchel. Ordim takes a bite of his caramel apple muffin. Ordim ponders. Kayse squints at Ordim. Ordim giggles at Kayse. Kayse pushes on Ordim without much success. Ordim grins slowly. Ordim falls over. Ordim exclaims, "Oof!" Ordim giggles. Crossing his legs at the ankles, Ordim sits up tailor fashion. Kithly says, "I will have the tale at the top of the hour. I do hope you all stay or return here then." Kayse nods enthusiastically at Kithly!
The Undead War
You see Kithly the Dreamer. She appears to be a Malghava Halfling. She is tiny and appears to be extremely young. She has sleepy dark blue eyes and dusky golden skin. She has touseled, curly red hair bestrewn with down feathers, one side more flat against her head than the other. She has a freckled nose and deeply dimpled cheeks. She is in good shape. She is holding a carved rolton horn comb in her right hand and a sugar cube in her left hand. She is wearing a long string of colorful enamel beads, a mint green pinafore turned inside out over a round-collared white shirt, a small chamois pouch, and some wildflower-patterned cotton leggings. Kithly skips in a circle around Kelhaly. Kithly exclaims, "Hullo ma!" Kithly waves. Kithly exclaims, "Hullo everyone!" Nafire waves to Kithly. Rovvigen waves to Kithly. Kithly grins. Kithly proudly exclaims, "I get ta stay up late tonight!" Kithly wraps her arms around the pillow, holding it tight. Kithly glances around the room. Kithly tightens her grip on the pillow and attempts to smack Mynon! He is ready for the attack and blocks it easily. Kithly asks, "Is everyone almost ready for another story?" Kithly glances appraisingly around the room. Nafire turns to Kithly and cheers! Beloran exclaims, "Yes!" Beloran lets out a cheer! Beloran sits down. Beloran dusts himself off. Speaking to Ordim, Beloran asks, "If I cut my wings off, can I pass as a halfling?" Ordim looks thoughtfully at Beloran. Speaking to Ordim, Beloran asks, "Too tall?" Speaking to Beloran, Ordim says, "Just gotta kneel more often." Speaking to Beloran, Kithly asks, "Can ya dance?" Speaking hoarsely to Beloran, Tahrid asks, "Why'd ya wanna do such a daft thing?" Beloran gawks at Kithly. Beloran exclaims, "Not at all!" Beloran grins at Kithly. Kithly exclaims, "Then no!" Rovvigen says, "I can." Rovvigen unlaces his boots and pulls them tighter before tying them again. Kithly sashays in a graceful circle to the right around Rovvigen. Speaking to Tahrid, Beloran says, "You have a culture! A history, rich in Elanthia. We don't have that, unfortunately." Speaking slowly to Beloran, Kayse says, "We have very little, but it is enough to be proud of. We can always make new traditions." Speaking hoarsely to Beloran, Tahrid says, "Oh, you daft lad. Ya all have the opportunity to make yer own history from scratch. That's a lessin not many have." Speaking to Tahrid, Beloran says, "We survived the occupation, and some were lucky enough to escape. I don't know the story of my people." Beloran agrees with Kayse. Darbo agrees with Tahrid. Speaking to Kayse, Beloran says, "Oh, absolutely. No disrespect meant. I'm proud of who I am. That was mostly in jest. But I do mourn that so much of our history prior to the occupation is unknown." Speaking to Tahrid, Kayse says, "Yes, but a little foundation and roots for that history are essential as well." Beloran frowns at Kayse. Kayse nods understandingly at Beloran. Darbo says, "The Trine is about starting new histories. Yer cord may be unadorned, but it is still a cord, two things comin together to form one." Speaking hoarsely to Kayse, Tahrid says, "Ya got it. Ya came through a gate, the elves put ya up fer a while. Now, on ta makin history." Tahrid hoarsely says, "Moonin over what ya ain't got, had, or whatever don't do a damn bitta good." Speaking confidently to Tahrid, Kayse says, "We have a beautiful language to teach others, poems, tales, clothing and more. Tradition and culture take time to rebuild and we will." Tahrid nods at Kayse. Tahrid hoarsely says, "Better words, those." Speaking to Kelhaly, Kithly asks, "Ma! Do you think more will come to hear the tale?" Darbo wipes some gooey chocolate off his face with his hand. Kelhaly says, "Let me take a last look around." Kelhaly says, "This is one that shouldn't be interrupted." Kelhaly just skipped merrily out, followed by several bemused companions. Kithly says, "She teached me how to skip good." Kithly skips around in a happy little circle. Kelhaly's group just arrived. Kelhaly says, "Looks like we're ready." Ordim lets out a cheer! Kelhaly sits down next to Kithly. Kithly takes a deep breath. Speaking to Rovvigen, Ordim says, "Pay attention to this one." Ordim nods in agreement at Rovvigen. Rovvigen nods at Ordim. Darbo gruffly demands, "Everyone shut yer damn mushholes and listen to the story or I'll smack ye into tomorrow." Kithly says, "Thank you all for coming to hear our stories." Kithly giggles at Darbo. Kithly gazes fondly at Darbo. Kithly begins, "If you like stories and history, you probably have heard this one, or at least some of it. It is part of the history of most of our families, whether halfling or elf or human or dwarf; giantkin, half-elf and human, too." Kithly confides, "Me, I love stories. Writing, listening, and mostly the telling of them. Not long ago, Ma would only tell me stories of ponies and fairies and sagas of our fair Arkati. But now I am not so little anymore, and so she did not send me back to my blankets when she caught me eavesdropping on the adults one night by the fire." Kithly grins impishly. Kithly gives a sidelong glance at Kelhaly. Kelhaly flashes a quick grin. Kithly suggests, "Sit close and hold the one next to you." As Kithly slowly opens her small book, the binding creaks in protest. Kithly quietly says, "This is not a happy tale." Kithly shakes her head. Kithly leans forward. Kithly hopefully says, "But we need to remember. We must never forget those who came before us." Kithly says, "Maybe you will find them in your dreams, like I do." Kithly wraps her arms around the pillow, holding it tight. Kithly dramatically continues, "This is the story of the Undead War." Kithly says, "It all began thousands and thousands of years ago." The pitter-patter of rain can be heard outside. Kithly says, "More than you can count." Kithly ominously says, "With Despana." Kithly says, "No one, not even the most scholarly of elves, has ever learned exactly who Despana was." Kithly pensively adds, "Or what she was." Kithly scrubs her hand through her touseled red hair in frustration. Kithly says, "But it is thought that she came from deep in the jungles that lie beyond the Southron Wastes." Kithly says, "She spent her time roaming the lands and searching for places where Ur-Daemons had lurked in the days even before she came to be." Kithly says, "Until finally, somewhere in the wastelands, in a place we now call Rhoska-Tor, she found a book." Kithly grips her small book a little tighter. A low rumble of thunder echoes throughout the area. Kithly says, "Not this one." Kithly says, "The Book of Tormtor." Ordim begins to twitch. Ordim sets about preparing himself to be as presentable as possible. Kithly nods at Ordim. Kithly dolefully says, "This book had secrets of horrible and arcane magics, including how to create undead." Kithly says, "And Despana soon took advantage of the art of necromancy, summoning undead which answered to her, and that quickly grew into a vast horde." Kithly says, "The first task of these undead was to build the great keep of Maelshyve for Despana, which would be her residence and where she made plans to conquer Elanthia." Kithly says, "Then, Despana needed a general, and so the undead army came to be led by the arch-lich Dharthiir." Kithly fretfully repeats, "Arch-lich!" Kithly shudders. Kithly peruses her small book with a level of concentration only befitting a scholar. Kithly says, "Dharthiir commanded not only the undead, but he also recruited some living beings. Tribes of orcs and trolls, enticed by promises of triumph and riches, swore fealty." Kithly says, "Even some humans joined with Dharthiir, drawn either for the riches or because they hated elves, or both." Kithly frowns. Kithly says, "For thousands of years, Despana patiently bided her time while her army grew." Kithly sadly says, "And then, the hordes struck." Kithly says, "First, it was the Elven Nations. It happened so fast and the destruction was so devestating, that the Elven houses never organized a true defense." Kelhaly clasps her arms around her knees and rocks back and forth. Kithly explains, "There was no leader, as each Elven house dreamed of glory, none would have their army follow another or even defend their lands." Kithly says, "And so it was, that within a month, the undead made their way into the heart of the Elven empire, looming over Ta'Vaalor itself." Kithly looks thoughtfully at Legaci. Kithly exclaims, "While other Elven houses had offered little resistance at this point, House Vaalor, led by the greatest warrior of the time, Taki Rassien, with his legendary veil-iron sword Aramier, made a stand!" Legaci turns an inquisitive ear toward Kithly. Legaci narrows his eyes. Kithly says, "Taki Rassien took a legion of elite knights, the Sabrar, to the fortress ShadowGuard. These knights had never seen defeat and Rassien knew that Vaalor would stop the undead horde." Beloran asks, "The Ashrim were still around during this time, yes?" Legaci nods at Beloran. Kithly nods in agreement at Beloran. Tahrid touches one finger to his lips. Kithly lets out a long, contemplative breath. Kithly grimly says, "Taki was wrong. It took less than a day for the undead to crush the Vaalorian forces. Taki Rassien was slain that day, along with his Sabrar." Legaci glances away. Kithly closes her eyes for a moment. Kithly says, "Chroniclers say that the battle at ShadowGuard is probably the greatest defeat in Elven history. And that it was the high point of Despana's war against Elanthia." Legaci adopts an agreeable expression. Legaci lifts up his chin and throws back his shoulders. Kithly says, "But they also consider the battle at ShadowGuard as the turning point of the Undead War." Kithly says, "The defeat stunned leaders of the other Elven houses into cooperating and finally, the Faendryl were able to unify an army to defend the Empire." Kithly says, "They were also able find new allies, as most everyone knew of the wretched defeat." Kithly says, "Giantkin joined with elves! Dwarves sent over two thousand infantry! Sylvans sent rangers and infantry! Even some Humans, long their enemy, joined the allied forces. Reasons were varied, and now there would be humans on opposing sides of this war." Kithly proudly says, "The elves also received the support of the Halfling Cavalry." Kithly says, "The Faendryl traveled to the Shirelands, and lthough the Halflings were suspicious of the tall visitors, by ancient custom they accepted their guests with a hospitable, if wary, welcome." Kithly smiles slightly. Kithly says, "They listened to all the Faendryl had to say and the Trinity of Truefolk, as they called themselves, considered." Kelhaly taps an elegantly woven Mhoragian tapestry. Expertly woven into the tapestry is a bucolic wonder of a stepped valley in late summer, with grasses that seem to move as the tapestry shifts in the breeze. Focus is drawn to a series of four halfling men set astride majestic dappled stallions, their stern look echoed in the silvery blued weapons strapped to their waists. The men are positioned just over the rise and facing toward the valley with bare feet dug into the grey haunches of their beasts. They are adorned in simple leather armor made regal by decorations on both their surcoats and banners depicting a blue bolt of lightning across a white castle. Kithly smiles at Kelhaly. Kithly continues, "And so it was, after much discussion, the three tribes of Halflings agreed to ride with the Faendryl as allies." Kithly peruses her small book with a level of concentration only befitting a scholar. Kithly sadly says, "As the united forces of the Elven Nations regrouped at Maelshyve, some of the Halflings lost their mounts to orcs and ghouls." Darbo grunts. Kithly says, "But the formation of still mounted Halflings advanced into the fray, with their flanks guarded by their brethren on foot." Kithly says, "They fought bravely and hard, but losses were heavy as the day wore on." Kithly says, "But then the unexpected happened." Kithly glances around the room. Kithly says, "The Faendryl said they knew of magics that would crush the undead and defeat Despana for good." Kithly says, "They would not explain the details, but it was eventually agreed that the Faendryl would strike." Kithly says, "And so it was that this secret magic was unleashed." Kithly's face turns slightly pale. Ordim scowls. Kithly says, "Faendryl sorcerers drew arcane circles on the ground and from them summoned fiery lesser demons to battle the undead." Kithly says, "The demons overwhelmed the undead, devouring both the living and undead army of Despana. A few crippled minions were able to escape into the keep Maelshyve, however." Nafire buries her face in her hands. Fromer suddenly fades into view. Fromer grins slowly. Ordim frowns at Fromer. Kithly says, "With the remnants of the undead in the keep, the Faendryl chanted their final spell, destroying the keep, Despana, and her armies once and for all." Tahrid breathes in deeply as he clenches a pipe in his mouth, then exhales slowly, causing some amorphous clouds of puffy smoke to float up from his mouth. Ordim says, "How many were unable to control their own summoned demons and eaten ..." Ordim squints at Fromer. Fromer nods approvingly. Ordim folds his arms over his chest in a display of stubborn pride, tilting his chin up slightly in defiance. Speaking to Ordim, Fromer says, "Those who can not control their demons are not fit to summon them." Kithly says, "The war was over." Kithly lets out a long, contemplative breath. Kithly says, "Some might think the Halflings would cheer at the demise of their enemies." Kithly says, "However, having witnessed the demons summond by their supposed Faendryl friends, the Halflings were instead, horrified." Kithly says, "When that day came to an end, along with the conflict that had been raging for years, the surviving, but disheartened Halflings called a Trine to resolve their differences of opinion on what had just happened." Kithly reveal, "Some of the Halflings were tortured at the very idea of having been allied with demon summoners and felt that they could never ever return to the Shirelands and face their family and friends." Kithly explains, "They argued that they would carry forever the guilt of fighting with an army that loosed such horror on the land and all her bounty." Kithly wrings her hands. Kithly says, "Many others were weary and only wished to return to die in the Shire." Kithly deliberately says, "You see, they wanted to their souls to be reunited with loved ones who had gone before them. It was a Tribal belief that should Truefolk die in lands far away, they would be doomed to wander endlessly, searching for those they had loved in life." Kelhaly furrows her brow. Tahrid closes his eyes for a moment. Tahrid inhales deeply upon his pipe, puckering his lips and sending out a small stream of smoke before him briefly. Rovvigen rubs his red flame tattoo. Kithly says, "And so it was that the Halflings who wrestled the horror of the unleashing of demons made the supreme sacrifice of not returning home to their families." Kithly sadly says, "For the first time ever, the Trine was split. A third of the Halfling army, a mixture of all three tribes, never returned home, but journeyed north and west." Rovvigen shows Ordim a silver-traced red flame tattoo. Ordim nods in agreement at Rovvigen. Kithly says, "The parting was tragic, as they all believed they would never again be reunited, in life, or in death." Kithly says, "Those Halflings who parted ways with the Trine were given the name Paradis, which in Halfling can be translated as The Homeless or The Lost." Kithly nods at Rovvigen. Rovvigen nods at Kithly. Kithly says, "Finally, as the Paradis left, those who would go home mourned them with a weeklong wake, as if they had died. There was fasting, as well as songs of historical tales and new songs written for those who had gone." Kithly says, "The Halflings who became known as the Paradis were never forgotten by those who made it home the the Shirelands, or by their families." Rovvigen says, "I am proud to be a Paradis." Kithly says, "The Halfling warriors who returned from ShadowGuard had stories as well as the heart breaking loss of kin. Halfling families from all three tribes were stunned with sorrow." Kithly solemnly says, "The loss was inconceivable and many many families were just remnants of what they had been before the war." Kithly says, "There were countless widows and widowers and the gravestones raised across the steppes had few bodies beneath." Kithly wraps her arms around the pillow, holding it tight. Kithly says, "It was years before the tribal elders would convince the Truefolk to put aside their mourning. Their survival depended on recovery." Kithly says, "The shamans urged all to again embrace the joy of living, an old term almost forgotten, that they called resch'lative." Kithly says, "The first signs that the Halflings were healing were seen in the Malghavan territories. Populations grew, the rich fields were utilized." Kithly smiles. Kithly says, "But the Halflings were changed forever. They no longer felt the need or desire to wander the lands in search of dreams." Kithly says, "They began to spend more time at home in the Shirelands building their lives." Kithly says, "Eventually, pretty round doors dotted the countryside and lush gardens abounded." Tahrid breathes in deeply as he clenches a pipe in his mouth, then exhales slowly, causing some amorphous clouds of puffy smoke to float up from his mouth. Kithly reflectively says, "Halflings migrated less and less as years went by." Kithly concludes, "But the Trine remains a basic institution." Kithly carefully closes her small book, only to have a cloud of dust rise from its surface. Ordim says, "Evil Elves eventually encounter eviction, eagerly entering enchanted entrapments." Ordim twitches, trying to control a vocal outburst, before settling into a disdained grumble while regaining composure. Kithly leans on Kelhaly. Kelhaly hugs Kithly. Kelhaly says, "That was well told, my daughter." Kelhaly says, "You've learned your lessons well." Fromer says, "A harrowing tale of victory and a sad history of loss." Fromer nods once. Speaking appreciatively to Kithly, Fromer says, "Thank you for your rendition of history."
The Horse War
[The Trine, Inside the Ger] Several tawny deerskin pelts that line the walls of the ger have been pulled aside to expose a criss-cross construction of oak and hawthorn saplings with leather-thonged lacings. Cool night air seeps through the latticework which allows soft moonlight to spill into the snug room. Visible beneath a pair of low, blanket-covered bunks is a collection of short bows, wire snares, and willow eel traps. You also see a bronze statue and an elegantly woven Mhoragian tapestry. Expertly woven into the tapestry is a bucolic wonder of a stepped valley in late summer, with grasses that seem to move as the tapestry shifts in the breeze. Focus is drawn to a series of four halfling men set astride majestic dappled stallions, their stern look echoed in the silvery blued weapons strapped to their waists. The men are positioned just over the rise and facing toward the valley with bare feet dug into the grey haunches of their beasts. They are adorned in simple leather armor made regal by decorations on both their surcoats and banners depicting a blue bolt of lightning across a white castle. You see Colonel Darbo the Retired Sortie Commander. He appears to be a Brughan Halfling. He is average height and appears to be as old as the hills. He has umber eyes and ruddy-wrinkled skin. He has two tufts of wiry, ash grey hair that stick out at the sides of his head in a sweeping upward motion. He has an oval face and a freckle-sprinkled bulbous nose. He has a long, twisted mustache. He is in good shape. He is holding a battered sabre in his right hand and a cord-wrapped mahogany cane in his left hand. He is wearing a circular iron helm, a crystal amulet, a crisp navy cotton cloak with stiff pleats, a celadon cambric shirt with cuffed sleeves, a dented steel breastplate emblazoned with a horse silhouette, a stygian leather sword belt, and some baggy charcoal leather trousers. Darbo shuffles to the front of the crowd, leaning heavily on his cane as he walks. Darbo annoyedly says, "Shut your mushholes and listen to me, ye whippersnappers." Kithly giggles at Darbo. Kelhaly asks, "Kithly dear, would you like to wait outside and steer any lateys inside?" Kithly exclaims, "I can!" Kithly skips in a circle around Darbo. Kithly just skipped merrily out. Darbo clears his throat loudly, then begins coughing. After a few moment he straightens and looks around. Darbo gruffly begins, "My tale begins many thousands of years ago. The Undead War had recently ended, and the world was struggling to recover from Despana's blight." Darbo gruffly continues, "All peoples were affected heavily by the Elves' hubris, but this story tells of the Ardenai, and my clan, the Brughan." Darbo glances meaningfully at Liriessa. Speaking to Liriessa, Darbo confides, "Don't worry, I don't blame you personally." Kithly just skipped merrily in. Kithly sits down next to Kelhaly. Darbo wistfully explains, "At that time, the Brughan were settled next to a beautiful lake, called Khesta 'Dahl. Despite the hard times, Darbo darkly says, "However, the Ardenai were not as industrious. Their lands were soon run bare, and the elves began sending their hunting parties further and further afield--eventually into the Brughan lands." Darbo darkly adds, "The elves were desperate and arrogant. Their mad king had the audacity to formally claim the entirety of the Brughan lands for their own." Darbo harumphs loudly. Darbo angrily mutters, "The Ardenai brought their armies to Khesta 'Dahl, pillaging and occupying the lands, forcing the Brughan to hide their settlements and move their herds into the hills." Darbo proudly interjects, "Of course, we Truefolk would not be pushed around so easily." Kithly nods enthusiastically at Darbo! Darbo smirks and twirls the end of his moustache with a wink. Darbo proudly explains, "The Brughan at the time were master riders, and tended to vast flocks of shire war ponies, swift and strong. On these ponies, the cavalrymen of the Brughan would strike at the Ardenai invaders, riddling them with arrows from horseback before riding off again." Darbo raises his sabre and smiles, a wistful expression in his eyes. Kelhaly gazes with interest at an elegantly woven Mhoragian tapestry. Darbo smugly says, "This caused the Ardenai no small amount of distress. They wrongly assumed the Brughan would be easily handled, and did not expect such loss of life and time over a bit of fertile land." Darbo solemnly says, "The elves reacted harshly, as they tend to do. Their great army went on the march and came upon a village known as Ragalatan." Darbo angrily growls, "Now, Ragalatan was a peaceful village. Large, and prosperous, but of no military significance. The elves did not care: they marched into the village and razed it. Old men, women, and children alike were all massacred." Kelhaly lets out a small sob. Liriessa frowns. Darbo sadly laments, "An entire village of innocent Truefolk, put to the blade." Darbo shakes his head, totally at a loss. Kithly hangs her head. Kithly wraps her arms around the pillow, holding it tight. Darbo grimly mentions, "The Truefolk were incensed. The Mhoragian and Malghavan clans came to aid the Brughan, and a true army was formed." Darbo grimly says, "Three days after the massacre, the Brughan led their joined force to the Saens Valaire Valley, where the Ardenai were encamped, fat on their deluded victory." Darbo grimly notes, "The Truefolk had their vengeance. The Ardenai force was annihilated. The elves were driven to the borders of Brughan land, and a tense standstill remained." Darbo tensely says, "The Ardenai, having learned no lesson from the Undead Wars, and driven by their injured pride, decided to attempt to end their ill-fated war." Darbo darkly whispers aloud, "Sorcery." Darbo darkly confides, "The elven witches spent years concocting their evil spell. The war had ended, the Truefolk won handily, but the Ardenai king would not admit their weakness. The sorcery was performed." Darbo dully says, "The magic infected the shire ponies. One by one, all of them fell ill and died." Kelhaly clutches her pony necklace. Darbo sadly mentions, "It spared none of the Truefolk clans. The elves themselves lost all of their horses. With one fell swoop, the Ardenai arrogance obliterated every mount in the lands. The war officially ended, as even the elves realized the insanity of the terrible cost." Kithly sadly says, "Poor poor sweet ponies." Darbo passionately concludes, "The elves try to forget, but we the Brughan--and all the Truefolk--vowed to never forget this story." Darbo bows his head solemnly in conclusion. Darbo hoarsely says, "Thank ye all for listening." Kelhaly says, "Thank you Colonel." Speaking to Darbo, Kithly says, "That was a sad story but one we should remember so nothing like that happens again like to the bees or the roltons." Kelhaly says, "Aster is going to get extra apples before bedtime." Speaking gruffly to Liriessa, Darbo says, "And we don't blame ye, specifically." Darbo grins a gap-toothed grin at Liriessa. Kelhaly reaches into her feed bag and selects a shiny red apple! Kelhaly offers Liriessa a shiny red apple. Liriessa declines Kelhaly's offer. Liriessa blushes a nice shade of light pink. Kelhaly says, "Well, on to happier things."
Shirelands, Khesta 'Dahl, and the Northern Steppes
[Silverwood Meadow, The Trine] The stone-set pathway wends its way past neatly trimmed hedges and opens into a grassy meadow strewn with wildflowers, the air filled with a gentle sound of crickets. A small settlement of gaily decorated gers clusters around a large bonfire, and a couple of logs have been conveniently arranged in the lush green grass. Next to the gers, beneath the shade of a leafy hawthorn tree, hastily erected animal paddocks house small flocks of goats and rolton. Archales says, "Ohh." Kithly exclaims, "Hullo!" Archales says, "Quite the crowd tonight." Darbo leans forward onto his cane and extends one hand toward the bonfire. Archales nods to Kithly in greeting. Kithly applauds Archales. Darbo says, "Take a seat, listen to a story." Roxe asks, "There anything to be drinkin' here?" Kelhaly says, "There is tea." Speaking gruffly to Roxe, Darbo says, "If ye find something hard, bring me two." Roxe squints. Roxe asks, "Tea with booze?" Kithly says, "Ma gonna get dizzy." Kelhaly asks, "Well it has honey?" A melodic chorus of peeping tree frogs is interrupted by the distant hoot of an owl. Roxe offers Darbo a glass of peppered vodka. Roxe winks at Darbo. Speaking hoarsely to Roxe, Darbo says, "Ah, you save a life." Archales says, "I appreciate everyone coming." Archales says, "And early no less." Archales says, "I'm going to wait just a moment or two more to begin in case folks are less prompty." Archales says, "Please help yourselves to refreshments now." Kithly beams happily at Archales! Speaking to Archales, Kithly exclaims, "We love stories!" Speaking curiously to Roxe, Darbo asks, "Are ye knotted to anyone? Or are ye finding a mate this Trine?" Prolly says, "Goodness, getting right to it aren't ya." Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "Knotted to me ship, of course." Speaking to Darbo, Kithly exclaims, "I knew it!" Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "Only Mistress for me is the sea." Speaking to Darbo, Kithly exclaims, "And she is prettier than a rolton!" Speaking grumpily to Roxe, Darbo says, "The sea can't make a family." Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "That's what shipmates are for." Speaking to Kithly, Darbo asks, "Ye knew what? That a daft little redhead wants to marry a piece of floating wood?" Darbo glances skeptically at Roxe. Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "I bet you ain't knotted to anyone..." Speaking sadly to Roxe, Darbo says, "I was, and am. I miss Mellie." Darbo rubs a cord-wrapped mahogany cane in his hand. Darbo shows Roxe his mahogany cane. Speaking to Roxe, Darbo says, "Our cord." Speaking skeptically to Darbo, Roxe says, "I won't truly believe it 'til I see her." Darbo glowers darkly at Roxe. Speaking bluntly to Roxe, Darbo says, "She's dead, missy." Roxe stares at Darbo. Kithly covers her eyes with her hands. Speaking irritatedly to Darbo, Roxe asks, "Then why'd you make me stumble into sayin' that?" Roxe mutters under her breath. Darbo grumbles at Roxe. Roxe takes a drink from her peppered vodka. Speaking annoyedly to Roxe, Darbo murmurs, "Ye didn't bring me two, either. Ye promised." Roxe squints at Darbo. Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "I just ain't given you the other one yet." Roxe offers Darbo a chalice of mint on the rum. Archales clears his throat. Archales recites: "Welcome welcome Please find your seats" Archales recites: "Welcome to our storytelling about the Shirelands, Khesta 'Dahl, and the Northern Steppes" Archales recites: "The first is a tale I heard from a Brughan about how Lake Khesta 'Dahl got its name" Archales says, "In case you don't know where it is, lake Khesta 'Dahl is just a bit northwest of Ragalatan, and alot northwest of Ta'Ardenai." Archales clears his throat. Archales recites: "Two Brughan sisters walk along the shore of Khesta 'Dahl, returning from the pastures with their goats. The weather was cold, cold enough to see their breathe of the two lasses as they chattered away amicably, as they walked back to their shire, the intricately detailed gers brilliantly illuminated by the sunset." Archales recites: "The slightly taller girl turned and smiled patiently before answering a series of rapid fire questions from her younger sister. "when will we leave for the Trine?" "will any boys ask you to dance?", "when will the lake freeze?" the younger sister asked without pausing for an answer" Archales recites: ""In Eantos, like every year." "no father says not for 2 more seasons." "by the solstice the lake will freeze." "why?" she replied to her younger sister?" Archales recites: ""I want to dance on the lake with the Sister of the Mist, you said it would make me a princess!" the little sister blurted out." Archales recites: "Wincing ruefully at her atttempted jest, the older sister just smiled and nodded not wanting to disappoint her little sister. She opened the paddock to put the goats up and forgot all about the discussion." Archales recites: "Long shadows heralded the sun's setting as a pair of brughan lasses scurried along the shoreline, as they led their goats back home. The cold had just set in for the season and the lake had a thin coating of ice, it proved irresistable for the girls to skip a few stones off the water on their way." Archales recites: "One or two rocks skidded out across the lake, but didn't crack the ice, emboldened the younger sister raced ahead and onto the ice, waving for her sister to look at her. Just as the older girl called out for her to stop, the ice broke and the younger sister plunged into the icy water of Khesta 'Dahl." Archales recites: "The older sister dove into the lake after her sister pulling the little girl from the water, but she was so small, and wet, and with the sunsetting there wasn't time to get help before she froze. The older sister carried her back to town, and was blue and cold to the touch by the time she did, but she was consumed with grief for her sister." Archales recites: "The coldest months of winter force the Brughan indoors while the snows pass, leaving nothing to distract the girl from her loss, and she began to feel cold inside. Soon a frozen mist followed the older sister wherever she went, and even inside her ger." Archales recites: "It is said that one night on the solstice the older sister wandered into the night, blinded by the mist surrounding her and stumbled into the same lake that claimed her sister. That's why Khesta 'Dahl is means sister of the mists." Archales bows. Kelhaly says, "Poor dears." Kelhaly is hugging herself. Kelhaly tries to pull Kithly towards her. Kithly snuggles up to Kelhaly. Archales recites: "No I will have to admit I have my doubts about the veracity about that last bit The Brughan who told me that tale was drinking like a fish the whole time" Darbo glances at a chalice of mint on the rum in his hand. Darbo takes a drink from his mint on the rum. Darbo gruffly says, "Ye mean fish drink like a Brughan." Archales recites: "The next tale I will share is one I overheard from a group of hunters from the Northern Steppes" Archales recites: "They seemed a more sober bunch, so no reason to doubt this tale" Archales clears his throat. Archales recites: "This is entitled Snow deaf" Archales recites: "A vivid blue sky, plays host to a golden sun, as its rays glint across the snow covered rocks on the Northern Steppe. Skidding to a halt near a cliff's edge, a tiny figure leans against his spear, then scans the valley below for signs of game, or tracks. After searching in vain, he turns away from the cliff and pushes off with his spear back toward a stand of high mountain timber." Archales recites: "A northern wind whips through the fir trees, blowing dark grey clouds across the horizon, that promising a swift end to the sunny weather and more snow by night fall. A rhythmic crunch of skies on snow betrays the approach of a Mhoragian hunter, he slides to a halt near a stand of white pine. Kneeling, he slowly observes the blood stained snow surrounding a broken snare, before howling in frustration at some nearby snow leopard tracks." Archales recites: "Pressed against a large rock, the hunter watches a bighorn ram, slowly navigate the steep descent to a mountain meadow, freeing his bow, is the only movement he dares as he prepares for the ram to be in range. The is nearly in range when it stops and looks up, directly at the hunter, but he seems certain the ram cannot see or smell him. With a steadying breathe he nocks his short bow and prepares for a killing shot, instead of following the ram's gaze." Archales recites: "As the first snowflakes begin to fall, the contrast of their movement betrays the stillness of a snow leopard its pale eyes fixed on the hunter, as it prepares to pounce. 'Twannng' the sound of the bow was still echoing through the valley, when the leopard struck the hunter, its momentum driving halfing and cat over the ravine edge." Kithly gasps. Archales recites: "Waking with a groan after his fallen the hunter, rolls on his side hissing sharply in pain and what was sure to be broken ribs. Glancing back over his shoulder, he noticed the snow leopard its neck broken in the fall, was trapped underneath him. Too exhausted to climb all the way back up the steppes the hunter decided to rest for the night, he would use the leopard's skin for shelter and head home in the morning." Archales recites: "The wind screamed through the valley, but seemed to grow louder and louder as it blew around the sharp bends between the rocks and boulders at valley floor. It screamed and howled without ceasing the entire evening, growing ever louder until it even drowned out the hunter's own thoughts. He tried sleeping fitfully, but the winds blew and wailed until right before dawn broke." Archales recites: "Then there was blessed silence" Archales recites: "Deciding spending a second night in the valley would be a mistake the Mhoragian hunter tossed his new prized hide across his back, and headed home to his ger in silence. Arriving at a beautifully decorated ger, the hunter is greeted by a rosy cheeked plump halfling woman and three children. The children dance around hugging their father and the hunter doesn't seem to hear them, growing louder as he approaches, it soon becomes apparent the wind has left him completely deaf." Archales shakes his head, clucking his tongue. Archales recites: "The winter snows came soon after and although the family was happy to be together, the hunter seemed distant, especially watching as the others laughed and shared songs during the long cold evenings." Archales recites: "He had almost given into despair at his new lot in life, as the spring finally arrived. As the family prepared to break down their camp and follow the herds, the hunter's wife placed their handfasting cord into its box, its silver bells tinkling faintly as she packed up the box." Archales recites: "He could hear the tinkling! his hearing was restored, and the Mhoragian now always keep silver bells on their gers to ward off the wind." Archales bows. Kithly applauds wildly! Kithly exclaims, "Thank you for that story mister bard!" Roxe manages a loud roar, sounding something like a leopard. Archales recites: "As I wasn't sure how much time I'd be given before they told me to beat it I only prepared two stories of my own did anyone else have a tale of the northern steppes? If not I have a third and final tale I can share if time allows" Darbo gruffly urges, "Share! More stories!" Darbo waves a cord-wrapped mahogany cane at Archales. Darbo takes a drink from his mint on the rum. Darbo gruffly asks, "Who has a drink for an old man?" Kithly exclaims, "And for a little girl!" Kithly gazes hopefully at her surroundings. Speaking to Darbo, Roxe says, "Gotta get yer own this time." Speaking to Roxe, Darbo complains, "I'm old. I'm owed a drink." Speaking to Darbo, Roxe exclaims, "I already done owed you one!" Prolly says, "Prolly will." Prolly offers Darbo a glass of peppered vodka. Darbo accepts Prolly's peppered vodka. Darbo nods appreciatively at Prolly. Archales recites: "Alright one more story then" Archales recites: "This is a tale I learned from an ancient halfling handfasting cord I once came across" Archales recites: "Stars slowly twinkle into existence, their heavenly light becoming a backdrop for a perfect round moon of ghostly hue. The late spring evening is filled with an air of merriment and touch of anticipation for the festival to come." Archales recites: "Your eyes chase a falling star downward, as it streaks across the sky. Firelight flickers brightly, inside a large ring of stones. Drummers sit outside the circle, some banging on the stretched skins with the palms of their hands, others using short sticks bound with a ball of batting and wool at one end." Archales recites: "Groaning tables full of meats, fruits, and sweet treats stand along the fringe of the celebration site, though many of the halfling present are not eating. Off to the side they stand, dressed for the night's occasion, drinking fermented mead. Giggling and giddy, they sway and jostle each other, clearly affected by the consumption of the potent beverage." Archales recites: "You return to the festivities and watch as the Mother and Father of this Trine are lead to a makeshift throne alongside the circle. Their hands joined and lightly wrapped with a loose cord, a symbol of handfasting, they gesture for the merriment to continue. The drummers resume their almost carnal beat, and the drunken halflings begin to move wildly around the fire." Archales recites: "After several moments of this frenzied dance, several elder halflings step forward, carrying red blindfolds decorated with black and silver symbols, and tie them snugly around the eyes of the young inebriates. Then, taking them by the hand, they lead them into the forest near the edge of the vale." Archales recites: "You have a sense of being transported, aided by the thick scent of the forest. Hands reach out to touch you, strange and yet pleasing, wandering over your body. Giggles and lusty laughter fill the air, as does a more erotic sound of intimacy here and there. Off to the side, a sweet voice sings in perfect tone." Archales recites: ""O' come 'way, come 'way, into the forest we go, A caravan a' joined hands, where to we dinna know. Blindfold 'cross me eyes, turning 'round an' round, Sweet scent o' the night, and crashin' to the ground."" Kelhaly covers Kithly's ears. Kithly leans forward. Kithly vigorously shakes her head. Archales recites: ""O' come 'way, come 'way, deeper 'mong the wood, A kiss upon yer lips, an' wanting more, dare I should. Fingers that touch you, aye, both gentle and rough, An' though tis but the one night, t'will ne'er be enough."" Archales recites: "Gales of more laughter peak as the short verses conclude, and then the rustle of leaves as more pairs move off to couple under the Yesui Moon." Archales bows. Kelhaly says, "I can see I'll have some questions to answer tonite." Kelhaly looks thoughtfully at Kithly. Kithly giggles at Kelhaly. Speaking to Kelhaly, Kithly exclaims, "Lots!" Archales recites: "Thank you all for listening this evening I do hope you have enjoyed the tales"