Tales Sauntering through the Falwood

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Neremyn Virvyre, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Neremyn Virvyre

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    #1 Neremyn Virvyre, Jan 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    He had traveled to Elbion, as he always had, on the gales of hope and some odd sprinkling of ambition. The college had offered him an opportunity to advance through to a more prestigious lecture hall, the sort with towering columns of hand-carved wood, inlaid by swirling tapestries of marble and granite. Large bookcases that stretched from the polished floor to the artistically painted vaulted ceilings, filled with scores of tomes and manuscripts that detailed ages from the beginning to the present. Some were even famed for being tales of prophecy, telling of the infliction of the arcane and how it would bring the world to its knees.

    But then the fire came and things got out of hand. Had he known that the Maesters preferred for lessons of flame control to occur outside, he would have been content to oblige. But they gave him a dusty basement hall and Ere was hardly the sort to spend much time on lamentation. So a few students got burned and they had to be healed magically, one could hardly make an omelette without burning a couple prospects.

    Long fingers, chewed-nails dirtied from digging through the top soil, raked across the elf’s weatherbeaten forehead as he surveyed his domain. He had other means of travel, though the portal stones were hardly convenient and he wasn’t one to spend money where it wasn’t needed. That included protected caravans or trained guides. Figuring wisdom came with age, and one could not know where they were going without wisdom, he set off to head South on his own terms.

    Letting out a breath of frustrated air, he ruffled through the pockets of his soiled green doublet and pulled out a folded bit of papyrus. Hastly turning it over, he unfolded it to reveal a crudely drawn map that revealed a zig-zag line that cut from Elbion to the Fal’Addas, across the Aberrasai and Falwood. There was a bit of feather scratching that he was sure was Vel Anir, marking a near halfway point between the two locations. And he was entirely certain that he was beyond the Human Fortress Town. It was easy to pick out, they had the air thick with industrialization and only distance could remedy such nostril-affliction.

    “Gah...this makes no sense.” Eyes pinning, he turned the map over amidst an ah-ha moment. Flicking the center, he crumpled the map back into a ball and threw it into the woods. “Worthless copper for a worthless map.” He blew out hot air as he held his fingers over his brow, blocking out the sun. The light was shining through the forest canopy like a gauntlet of dust riddled curtains, forming shadows of unknown maps on the forest floor.

    The path he set out on was rife with soil-bare roots, stretching out from monstrous trees, that served as ample obstacle for the lazy-footed walker. Likely formed as a cut by game or wolves, it was hardly more than a narrow swath through lowberry bushes and bristle weeds. His woolen clothing was thick enough to repel the thorns but he found his pace quickening as he rejoined his solo-trek. He could smell fire and smoke in the distance, the sort that he hadn’t started.

    Quellyn D'Araesia
     
  2. Quellyn D'Araesia

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    Quellyn D'Araesia elf maiden

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    Quellyn wondered how long until her father returned from the woods. It had been quite a while and she was considering looking for him. Shaking her head, she reminded herself that she had promised her mother not to go searching until she had returned with her two younger siblings. The young elf began to pace back and forth on the wooden floor, her eyes blind to the beauties around her: creeping ivy snaking its way up the walls, the blooming crocus on the windowsill, and the intricate whorls in the grain of the wood. These would normally have left her with a small smile and glowing eyes, but now those same orbs were merely darkened with worry.

    She glanced out the window for what seemed like the umpteenth time. Nothing. No sign of her father. She sighed. Her mother would not return until a few more hours after running errands and waiting for the twins' daily practice to be over. Surely she could afford to go for a quick search before anyone arrived home? "Farrou!" A sharp whistle came from her peach lips. Moments later, a large hawk-owl swooped in from the opening and came to grip the hard leather epaulette on her shoulder. A quick grin flashed across her features. "Let's go."

    Away she went into the woods, making sure to stay on the trail as everyone advised. The lonely song of crickets filtered between the tree trunks.
     
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  3. Neremyn Virvyre

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    The trail came to a sharp dip between two gentle slopes, delineated by tall deciduous trees at the crests and a meandering spring between. Ere came to a quick stop, gauging the continuation of this route on whether he felt like getting his feet wet or if bypassing would take him too far away from his quarry. Deciding that he didn’t quite have the patience for that sort of forethought, he moved down the hill and through the ephemeral stream with intentionally delicate steps.

    The creek cut back and forth perpendicularly across the trail, marked in high contrast with bushels of blooming yellow jewelweed and swaths of rice cutgrass. Where the stream flattened out, patches of sprawling wetlands formed with thick layers of decomposing duff and the emerging smell of expelled gases. It wasn’t exactly Ere’s favorite form of habitat, but he’d take it over the barren Blightlands of Molthal or the volcanic ridges of the Sheketh Isles. The rich understory of the Falwood was a beautiful place, even when one was inherently lost.

    Once he had crossed the water, he flicked the clinging muck and moss from his robe. The smell of smoke hit him like a wall. It was a surprising sensation, given that it was the middle of the day. The sun had hardly crossed the zenith, cruising nonchalantly towards the West, and the song and chirp of birds had died back in lieu of the gentle swaying of the trees. This wasn’t the sort of time to breath life into an open fire.

    Falling to his hands and knees, he crawled up the detritus covered slope to peek over. Through verdant gaze, he saw the origin of the smell and his nose wrinkled in inferred insult. A pack of lion-men were crowding around a struggling fire, poking the center with charred sticks as they sat upon crudely cut stumps. The fire was a wet one, billowing out smoke and steam and sizzling vociferously. A few of the men were chopping down saplings with ornately carved hatchets, likely preparing a spit roast for recently caught game.

    So close to Fal’Addas. It would now be a struggle to keep his mouth shut; Ere was often prone to talking to himself and the nearby trees. Looking up towards those trees, he spied a chestnut feathered wren hopping from one branch to the next. He’d wait this out, see if these woods were loquacious enough to offer him guidance.
     
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  4. Quellyn D'Araesia

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    Quellyn D'Araesia elf maiden

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    Her father was supposedly gathering herbs. What was taking so long? Yes, it was a particularly rare herb, and difficult to spot, but her father was skilled at that sort of thing. A sweep of wind brough a slightly acrid stench to her nostrils. Fire and smoke. There was no mistaking that burning smell.

    Should she go check it out? Or should she continue on the path. Clearly, the wiser decision was to follow the path. So, she continued onwards. Instead of growing fainter, however, the odor strengthened. The path was leading her towards the source of the smell, not away. Usually fires didn't start in these damp conditions, so the only other option was that someone had started it intentionally. But what creatures would start a fire? Only humanoid ones had the intelligence to do so. Involuntarily, she shivered. She had heard terrible stories of the lionmen and other monsters that haunted the Falwood. None of them were pretty. Here, she paused. Farrou shrilled from her shoulder as if to inquire why they had stopped. "Shhh!" she hushed the bird. "Someone's out there, and I'm not sure they'll be friendly.

    Quietly, she crept closer, still moving along the path, her original intention quite out of mind.
     
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  5. Neremyn Virvyre

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    Ere had not realized how saturated the hillside was until he was laying against it, feeling the cold permeate through his clothing. Biting his tongue, cursing the unfortunate weather, he continued to eavesdrop on the lionmen. These were known enemies of the Fal'Addas, given the propensity of the species to consume elves that had gone astray. It was a small comfort to see the meat clinging to the charred wood of the spit roast; it was clearly a deer, still adorned with an arrow shaft through the crest of the neck.

    Ere felt it first as a rumble, thinking it nothing more than his stomach grumbling. He had not eaten in some time and while he was quite disciplined, he and his stomach weren't exactly on speaking terms. But the rumble shifted to a thump, knocking birch leaves free from the papery branches. They floated like ash on the wind, reluctant and resistant to gravity in all their descent. Looking upwards, Ere felt it again and a howl followed. Though it had closer resemblance to a shriek, the dual tone was unlike anything he had ever heard.

    He had known the touch of rumors and fear-mongering, hinting at things that lied deep within the heart of the woods. But he wasn't often prone to giving credence to things he could not see or feel.

    The lionmen stopped their chatter, standing upright from their stumps. In the distance, a pack of wolves stood along a forest line demarcated from an otherwise scrubby mess of woody shrubs and interlaced trumpet vines. Ere watched, recognizing these as pure bloods and not Lythari; their intent was decidedly alien to him. It must have been the same for the lionmen, as they were now abandoning their fire for spears and hatchets.
     
  6. Quellyn D'Araesia

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    Quellyn D'Araesia elf maiden

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    Lionmen. It was unmistakable: their gold pelts and bulky mass and the predatory way they moved. They were gathered around a fire pit, crudely made. When she was just about to get a better look by standing, Farrou gave a quiet squawk of warning, ruffling her feathers in agitation. The lionmen went to two feet on high alert, peering at... "Dire wolves," Quellyn breathed. No wonder Farrou was upset. Ordinary wolves were not too troublesome for the average elf, well versed in archery. But these were dire wolves, a larger and more ferocious version of lupus. They rarely frequented the area, and being as elusive as they were, were seldom seen in general preferring to stay away from civilization of any kind.

    The bird on her shoulder shifted her weight and plucked a strand of her moonlight hair. "Ow! What is it...?" As she turned her head, she spotted a lumpy form that was different from the rest of the hillside.
     
  7. Neremyn Virvyre

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    A strong gust of wind cut through the forest like a hard slap, flinging his robes about and threatening to give away his position. Instinct drove him to look around, obtaining a momentary bearing on the precipice of something substantial occurring. What that was, he couldn't say. And for the moment, a revelation wouldn't likely precipitate; he had laid eyes on someone distinctly non-lionmen.

    His brow furrowed as another howl resonated through the woods, chilling him to his bones in what was once a stifling heat. It was something magical and sinister, creeping through the understory like a faceless mist. The lionmen were charging the dire wolves, the dire wolves were charging the lionmen, and the sense of dread was spreading with every breeze and gust of wind. Ere stood up, grasping a newly discovered ironwood walking stick, and paid the unknown entity little mind.

    Grasping outward with his own mystical inflection, he clung to the eye sight of the woods and animals that lived there. In his minds eye, through an animistic looking glass, he surveyed the entity that threatened to cripple him with sinkers of consternation. A beast of monumental height and the snout of a bear. Atop it's head, large antlers and a circling murder of corvids that cawed on end. Its arms were elongated and spindly, covered in sprouts and tendrils, and came to end with long claws that were as sharp as metal blades.

    "Those men..." He shook his head and crested the hill, running towards them. As he moved, he waved his arms and yelled with surprising concern. "Stop! Stop!"

    Maybe he cared about the men. Or maybe he just didn't want them to hurt this thing, whatever it may have been. The possibilities were endless and in that moment, he wasn't sure which was which.
     
  8. Quellyn D'Araesia

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    Quellyn D'Araesia elf maiden

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    Fal'Addas
    Something distinctly not flora flapped in that very spot. Was it... a coat? She tilted her head in a confused manner. When a bone-chilling ululation filled the air, her gaze snapped away, trying to locate its source. She did not feel safe here and neither did Farrou who was shifting her weight from taloned foot to taloned foot and rustling her wings in agitation. As if it were the sounding horn announcing battle, the lionmen and wolves charged at one another. Sweat slicked her brow, a cold and uncomfortable damp beneath her arms.

    But then the cloak revealed itself to be a person. A person who was waving his arms and shouting by the looks of his gaping mouth. Quellyn's eyes narrowed. What a fool thing to do! Does he want to get himself killed in an act of idiocy? Her upbringing had taught her that life had intrinsic value and she could not turn a blind eye from a suicidal maniac charging towards the fray. Setting her jaw, she pulled an arrow from the sheath at her back and strung it, the bow tightening and flexing, taut and ready to let fly a deadly bolt.
     

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