Ysharra/Pale Spring Morning
A soft quorking above her brought Ysharra to wakefulness, as Munin had decided to circumvent the House rules once more by sneaking into the bedroom via the open window. The pale-plumed raven, having succeeded in waking her friend, proceeded to caw and loudly flap about on the huge pile of furs, making sure anyone else in the Inn that morning would also be aware of her presence. Ysharra rolled away from the playful corvid, glad to have been awoken early- the night had been thick with troubling dreams, and sleep had not been the rejuvenation she’d hoped for. Silently she slipped out from under the stitched puma hides and padded over the cold stone floor to the hearth, then rekindled the fire she’d fallen asleep by. Before long the streaks of yellow and orange danced before her again, though memories of the night’s portents proved more difficult to push away than the room’s early morning chill.
"The coming spring," she thought, as she fished her kettle from off the mantle, "it has much the opposite effect on me."
"The Landing will soon revel in the growing warmth." she mused, putting the pre-filled kettle over the flames. "And for me it is a howling gale, whistling through that hole that never heals."
Before long she had a pot of hot tea prepared, steeped with the leaves and roots she’d gathered and dried the days prior. She poured part into her waiting mug, and the rest into a flask for her afternoon and bedtime doses. Munin in the meantime had fluttered back over to the window, and Ysharra joined her there, watching the sun start to push its way atop the glacier, drinking the bitter concoction down.
A plaintive, soft tune made its way to her, from one of the nearby rooms. Another of Silvergate’s regular residents, a young bard practicing his fife. The melody was pleasant, and suited her somber mood. The raven, on the other hand, answered it with a remonstrative shriek and took off, unfurling her wings into the dawn’s wind toward the rising sun. Ysharra watched her friend careen toward the mountain slope, and thought of how, back in the north, this would be when the sun started to return to the great nameless peaks that few save her and Munin even knew of. The sun would visit for a few minutes more each day, banishing the deep grey of winter for a growing blue luster, so bright that it would blind her until she could adjust to its light once again.
It was then that the poison took hold.
A panic surfaced within her, a sudden, fierce pain wracking through as her heart raced, and the air seemed to vacate her lungs. The moment’s memory of the pale blue snow in the returning Arctic sun suddenly bled into the raven’s flight before her, and she sank to her knees to watch the vision grow. White wings propelled her thoughts and eyes toward the lingering cold of the north, finding where winter still reigned over rock, earth and sky. She saw the true night once more, bled over by the red and amber curtains of flashing aural light. Great arcs of color upon which Liabo appeared to ride, while the black clouds wreathed his ivory face, turning the once-glowing orb into a bone-hued, sybaritic presence atop the world. Lornon lurked behind, her soft grey visage offering a shaded harbor from her brother’s haunting tyranny of the night sky.
Ysharra lay upon the stone floor, twitching and remembering, as the toxin started to uncurl its grip from her. The raven’s voice returned to her once again, and she joined with her Munin once more, flying home. As the tundras faded, she turned back as one last image sang out, keen as the bard’s fife, that of another stone-walled room, a cave deep within one of those northern peaks. A voice, whispering out from beneath a cairn of frost-sealed rock, reminding her of what of hers it still holds in its hoary realm. The coming sun comingled with Liabo’s lurid glare, and flowed down to the cave’s bowels, and the spare heat began to crack the pile’s black, icy surface…and then, it was gone- pushed away by Munin’s emphatic crowing, echoed by another raven- Hugin…, she recognized, and with that, her breath came back, heaving and hammering.
Sometime later, Ysharra pulled the heavy straps of her gambeson through their buckles, hooking the black mithril clasps into the pauldrons and greaves’ embrace across her tall, lithe frame. As she worked, she idly jotted down a few words in her dog-eared journal.
Sample #38 is as expected, from berries to root to stem, and especially flower. Must have caught a ride on an adventurer from Vornavis, though some structural differences in the lobes indicate a possible hybrid. It’s close to the Landing washer women’s laundry site, so it’ll have to be transplanted someplace safer, as the fruit has a very sweet taste. I’ll attempt to keep it alive for further study. Possibly useful for interrogation, certainly risky to have that near family homes. I have two more doses for today, though I’ll have to find a subject other than myself to be sure my findings are accurate. Need a human, methinks. I’ll go have breakfast in Erebor Square, wait for a suitably officious sort to inadvertently offer themselves up to me.
With a final yank, the armor was done, and her cloak and other carryalls followed. The last item to be retrieved was her ivory vasculum, still lying open on the mantle. Ysharra passed her long fingers across the vials, packets, and green, growing samples held close within. Each one had a label showcasing a number, some with additional symbols, and many others with question marks and future dates upon their containers.
"This is what spring blooms for me." Ysharra whispered to the dying hearth flames, buckling the case to her chatelaine. "Flowers of ash, roots of wicked discovery, the season of curious requiem."
She paused once more to gather her flask of tepid, loathsome tea and left to find Munin once more, the tender notes of a piping tune swirling about Silvergate’s halls in her wake.