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Prelude - Oreleth Soumral and the City of Highwind

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
2 July 2018 - This is a compilation of posts between Psychie and myself introducing her Wood Elven Arcane Archer into the Wayward Wanderers. Looking back, I should have made it into a prelude as I did with Wolf's character, Nivirea, but one thing led to another and what was supposed to be a short introduction turned into its own prelude. And so I have placed it all here for future perusement. It all starts on thread #62 during Chapter Eleven: The Troubled Temple of Tapio - Preparation. These are good times! =)

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(Dungeon Master note for all: Welcome, Psychie, to Sharseya! This introduction is about 2,000 words long so I hope you brought a snack and drink. Oreleth has made it to Highwind's gates! But what lies in store for her? Enjoy!)

"Battle of the Mounds/Day of Doom" by Basil Pouledouris for the Conan the Barbarian Motion Picture Soundtrack

The morning clouds rolled swiftly over the Highwindian mountainside bringing with them the soft orange glow of the sun over the troubled realm. The Road of Kings glowed in the dawn like a blood-drenched arrow and there at the highway's most northerly point, the great winding trail began leading up and up the mountainside finally to reach Highwind's massive eastern gates. The thick, white walls of the city and tall towers behind them rose over the landscape like a gentle guardian.

Below them, cool morning breezes flowed over mountain flowers and grasses along with the many dozens of souls waiting with travel-weary horses and road-caked wagons to be admitted in with the early morning light. Here, among the throngs of merchants, messengers, travelers, and foresters were humans with their many shades of skins, hairstyles, and clothing standing alongside mountain dwarves, as patient and as hardy as their namesake. They all sat or stood with the stillness of stumps and trees.

Only one among them hailed from the distant Forest Eternal, the mysterious and ancient forest far to the south of Summerset and farther still from Highwind. This was Oreleth of the Wood Elves. Her pointed ears, sharp facial features, and long hair that spilled down her back like sunshine marked her to all as one of Corellon Larethian's children. As such, humans stared and whispered cautiously amongst themselves while the dwarves seemed to look upon her like those seeing a rare stone far from its place of origin.

It had been a very long road from the Forest Eternal to these proud gates, but it was here, she had learned that the Soulsinger bow, the bow of her dreams, was known to one Oscar of Highwind. If tales were true, Oscar was a human scholar whose wisdom had reached the stars long ago and whose name among the wise was highly regarded as authentic and just.

Oreleth had heard that the extremely tall, lanky man with graying hair was the one loremaster in all of the continent of Averlund, perhaps in all Sharseya, that knew not only about the Soulsinger, but how it might come into her ageless hands. How he had come by this knowledge, none could say.

But he was here! Somewhere! And finally, so was she! The thrill of having traveled so many weeks and days across plain and hill and forest and highway to know that one was closer to her destination was a very good reason to be thrilled.

So it was that Oreleth was first in line! Second behind her among the teeming trail of people was a quartet of well-made wagons complete with armed Summerset mercenaries, carrying Corellon-knew-what. And those mercenaries regarded her with jealous looks for her being ahead of them.

Without warning, the sounds of flapping, leathery wings came from behind the high wall. One of Highwind's dragon-riders, no doubt, come for some detail or another. Oreleth never saw the reptile nor its rider, but she knew these people could deliver messages with the swiftness of arrows. It was no secret that Highwind had dragons in their army. Indeed, Highwind appeared to have many secrets.

A moment later, a great bell sounded from behind the wall and its single, heavy toll shook the land like the coming of a king. Suddenly, all around Oreleth, men and womens' eyes lit up like fires. Horses trembled nervously and the sighs of relief among person and beast were many as they rose to enter.

"Good morning!" said a resounding female voice from the ramparts in the Common tongue. That call echoed down from above from one of the many helmeted faces now able to be seen looming over the walls.
"Good morning..." came the replies in various states of enthusiasm from among the crowds.

There was a sharp cracking sound and the thunderous grinding of well-oiled gears as the twin portcullis rose like a sleeping giant. One of the massive, scarred doors behind the gate, just wide enough to admit something large like a draft horse or a merchant's wagon...

...or an armored minotaur.

The brute was nearly ten feet tall, his terrible horns almost that wide. Wreathed in heavy chain mail with many a nick and chip across its skin, the monster's bulging arms and barrel-chest spoke of strength far beyond any typical elf or human. He carried a massive sword sheathed on each hip, a round shield over one shoulder, and perhaps the biggest blade Oreleth had ever seen in her young life, a two-handed greatsword some eight feet in length, across his back. But it was his glare that was easiest to note, for there was an irritated flame in them that was no stranger to violence.

An urgent voice behind him caused the warrior to pause. Another minotaur dressed in the white and green hippogryph tabard of Highwind spoke quietly, yet Oreleth's keen hearing could understand every word - for the elf understood the Minotaur tongue fluently.

"Baltor, you need not do this! Guard duty is below one of your station! How are you here?!"

The minotaur called Baltor snarled back. "Gromash is how I'm here, dammit!" he said. "I showed up at Mista Holy Man's church all fucked up on ale! This here is Captain of the Guard Gromash's way of makin' me pay back my debt to Highwind. Guard duty for a whole day!"

"By the Odinson! You showed at the church-fortress drunk?!"

"By Thor, I was hungover, man! I ain't got no peace! Oscar of Highwind is dead! DEAD! Killed by puttin' his nose inta some damned magic book!" Baltor snorted hatefully. "What the hell are we gonna do NOW?!"

Baltor stared back at his shocked brethren. Neither of them had any answer.

"Now bring that thievin' bastard out here..."

The door opened a bit farther and out staggered a brown-cloaked man with his hands tied behind his back. He had a very large and ugly bruise on his head. A rope from his hands extended into Baltor's. The thief cursed and spat until he saw the vast green wilderness stretching out before him. Then, seeing his fate before him, he moaned in despair.

Behind him, more minotaurs ushered along three commonly-dressed people, all human. A young girl no more than ten years of age, a woman twice her age, and a cane-bearing crone some eighty years into life. Baltor lined them up and addressed them. His tone changed to one of politeness, but lost none of its authority. He spoke in the Common tongue.

"All right, ladies. This fool done robbed you blind, takin' your last copper piece while holdin' you up with a knife to the little girl's throat!" Having said this aloud, Baltor seemed to lose control of himself for a moment. He turned to the thief and shouted at him in rage. "She's a little girl! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! Wait, don't answer dat." He turned back to the ladies.

"Sorry about that. Now listen, misses an' ma'am. Before I check all these nice people tryin' to enter my city, first I gotta make an example outta this ass-- ass..." he caught himself and said, "...assine dude. This way, everybody behaves, right?" He pointed at the thief. "According to Highwind law, this dude has been sentenced to exile, but before he goes..." Baltor gave a big grin, "I'm a guard today, right? Well, I'm makin' some use outta this. How? If I'm playin' a guard, then I make the rules! An' I say, for what he did to you, a little tiny bit of Highwind Minotaur justice is in order.

"By the God of Thunder, I say each of you gets to kick that dude square in his behind before we send him on his way!"

Upon hearing this proclamation, all of the dwarves and humans looked at each other in some dismay with the exception of the ladies. The thief blanched in humiliation.

"Little girl, you get to go first." Baltor then proceeded to grab the thief, forcibly bend him over, and drop him to the height of the little girl. She looked up at the woman twice her age, who nodded approvingly. Then with a little girly snarl that only little girls can give, she gave him a mighty little kick right in his butt.

The thief just laughed a little at her.

"All right," Baltor nodded. "My lady, it's your turn."

The twenty-year old woman hauled off and kicked him hard. "Take this, you rotten louse! That's my niece you held at knifepoint!"

His cry was heard down the mountainside. "Ooowww, you damned bitch!!"

Baltor twitched and bit his lip, but did not kill the man. Instead, he took a deep breath, regained his composure, and turned to the crone. "All right, grandmother. Your turn."

But she hesitated. Leaning on her cane, she looked up at Baltor with pleading eyes. Sweetly, she said, "Young man?"

Baltor quickly stepped over to her ready to lend her a hand. "Yes, grandmother?"

"I would greatly prefer... if you did it for me?"

Baltor straightened up with the largest wide-eyed grin Oreleth had ever seen on a minotaur. He was all eyes and smile and joy. Her words were purest music to his ears. Suddenly, barbarically, Baltor ran as fast as he could, grabbed the thief, held him up off the ground, yanked his pants down to his ankles until his naked butt showed, and reared back with his hoof.

"Yes, ma'am!!" he roared.

"No, no!" the thief screamed. "Mercy! Don't do it! Plea--"

Baltor loosed with everything he had.

POW!!

"AAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!"

Baltor punted the screaming thief so hard he flew high up into the air and soared for some seconds. When he finally came crashing down the mountainside, rolling and rolling and leaving long trails of dirt, dust, and grass, he went with no sign of stopping. And no one helping him either. The whole scene looked so painful and deserved, smiling Highwindians watching from their ramparts, made various thankful signs to their gods for his departure.

It was at that moment that Baltor graciously thanked and gently indicated the ladies should return inside, which they did. This done, he then angrily stomped up, fists clenched, hooves ready, and addressed Oreleth and the wide-eyed crowd of travelers and merchants.

"Y'all mothafuckas see dat? That could be YOU! If you cause shit in my city, that WILL be you!" Baltor folded his muscled arms and gave a short speech.

"Now hear this! At this very moment, there are mothafuckas all around Shandra's Evergreen, lookin' up at that flyin', thieving asshole, wonderin' what the hell just happened!"

Baltor acted, peering up into the sky as if watching the scene from below the city. "Think about it! Right now, some fishermen are sayin', 'Hey, man! Look up there! Highwind must have some new wizard magic to launch a motherfucker that high!"

He shouted at the crowd. "Well, it ain't no wiggly-finger, archmage spell - it's my hoof in yo ass!

"Dwarfies from Morgandir Mountain are talkin' this very minute! 'Hey shorty-brother! See that out yonder? Highwind must have a new catapult!"

Baltor screamed. "But it ain't no shiny new catapult! It's my hoof in yo ass!

"Druids! Druids hidin' in the forest are watchin' this very second! 'Hey! That figure hurtling through the sky! It is a sign! Mielikki has blessed us!"

Baltor bellowed. "But it ain't no froofy, holy, priestly stuff!

"IT'S MYYYYY HOOF IN YO AAAAAASS!!"

Then he turned to the first person in line. This was Oreleth. "Now then! All right, miss Elfie! Don't think just because you got the pretty hair and nice twinkly eyes that you are gonna sweet-elfie yo self into my city! I gotta hear you out to make sure you gotta good reason for comin' in!

Baltor stared down at Oreleth, his giant body literally overshadowing hers to the point other people nearest her shrank away. He then gave her his fullest attention. Sternly, but politely in the manner of Highwind Minotaurs, he asked her slowly and pointedly.

"So, miss elfie! What'choo got ta say?"

All eyes fell on Oreleth. Only the wind spoke. And then, quietly.

(DM note: Welcome to Highwind, Psychie!)

* * *​

Oreleth had traveled long to reach the gates of famed Highwind, and now she finds herself standing first in line to get into the city this morning! Surely this is a good sign from Great Solonor. Then, her good fortune makes a sudden right turn.

At the sight of the horned beast before her, Oreleth couldn't help but clench her bow even tighter in her hand. I won't be afraid, but I DON'T have to like the presence of such things in the city. But, before the large beastman could address her, Oreleth's thoughts were already racing along the path of wondering what her quest for the Soulsinger has led her to; a dead man in a city run by minotaurs! A quiet despair fills her for a moment, and she almost misses the fact that this Baltor is talking to her directly.

A few quick blinks go by as she struggles to keep her temper in check and to try and recall what he had just said. "Um, yes. Hello. I suppose that, first off, I would have to say that Highwind justice is all that I have heard it to be. But let me assure you that I have not come to cause trouble in this fine city. I do need to ask you, though, did I hear you correctly when you mentioned that Oscar of Highwind is dead? What happened? When did he die?"
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
"I do need to ask you, though, did I hear you correctly when you mentioned that Oscar of Highwind is dead? What happened? When did he die?"
Baltor gave a long sigh. His bold countenance dimmed, brought down by frustration and sadness. "Yeeaaah, you heard right, Miss Elfie... Oscar! Dead!" He spoke as if he could still scarcely believe it.

"I heard the news a week and a day ago. Good ol' Oscar! Never done nothin' to nobody! He chased books like us young dudes chase women. One day they said he picked up the wrong book... and it killed his ass.

He scratched his chin. "Somethin' about finding the salvation for the whole city and everybody in it. Don't know if he was tryin' to give his life for Highwind or somethin', but if he did, that's just the kind of dude he was!

"For a human, he was a cool motherfucker! Just like my man, Bren! He would give his last gold piece just to see food go in your mouth. By Thor, they don't make 'em like--" then a sudden thought struck him like a fist to the jaw.

Baltor waved his huge hands rapidly. "Whoawhoawhoawhoawhoa... WAAAAITAMOTHERFUCKINMINUTE... Bacdafucup!"

Baltor's eyes thinned to suspicious slits. The muscular warrior leaned down, put his hands on his hips, and looked Oreleth square in the eye. "By Sif's perky titties, I told that Oscar shit to my boy in Minotaur!" He mock-examined the wood elf. "I don't see no little tail growin' out your backside! You ain't hidin' no horns!"

"So how in the fuck a little elfie girl like you understandin' the tongue of my people? Huh?"

* * *
Oreleth lets out a sigh, upset for several reasons. First, the latest step in her search for the bow now is gone, eight days dead. Why a scholar like Oscar wasn't brought back from the dead with a Resurrection spell is a mystery, but that is besides the point. I do wonder, would he have written down the information on the location of the Soulsinger? If he knew he was close to the end of his life, he might have done so, to help preserve the knowledge. Now I need to find a way to look through his books.

She stops ruminating as she realizes that the beastman is still looming over her, waiting for an answer as to how she knows what he said. Foolish girl! You never give away your advantages over your foes like that! Oreleth looks up at Baltor, and she shifts her language to speak the gruff minotaur tongue, "<<Because a while back, my teacher told me to know the ways of others, and that includes being able to speak many languages. When I was a little girl, a war band of minotaurs kind killed many of my family and sold the rest into slavery, and I have been searching for the survivors of that attack for decades. Knowing how to speak like this has come in handy in my search.>>"

She shifts her conversation back to Common. "Now that we have that unpleasantness covered, I am interested in finding some information that was reportedly in the possession of Oscar before he died. Who would I have to speak to regarding being able to look at his books to see if by chance he wrote down the knowledge that I seek? I am most hopeful that my journey here won't be a waste of time." She then works up a pleasant smile and adds, "And I'm quite sure that Sif has never had her 'titties' spoken of in such a fashion, and I will have to remember that for future conversations, so thank you for that."
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

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Highwind's Southern Gate near the Road of Kings.

"When I was a little girl, a war band of minotaurs kind killed many of my family and sold the rest into slavery, and I have been searching for the survivors of that attack for decades."
Baltor recoiled in surprise. "Whaaaaaat?! Hey, now! You know that wasn't us, right? No Highwind Minotaur would be so goddamn evil! An' since wild minotaurs don't deal in no trade, that kinda narrows it down..." Baltor snorted hatefully. "There's only one bunch of dickless cowards who would pull that kinda shit on your people..." He gritted his teeth instead of stating that heartless name.

Who would I have to speak to regarding being able to look at his books to see if by chance he wrote down the knowledge that I seek?
Baltor rubbed his chin, his brown eyes wandering. "Probably Randall Flagg with his snooty, crusty, ol' self. That dude is the Grand Vizier of all'a Highwind and loved Oscar in his own way. But gettin' help outta him is like... like... takin' an orc to a beauty contest! You just can't win!"

"And I'm quite sure that Sif has never had her 'titties' spoken of in such a fashion, and I will have to remember that for future conversations, so thank you for that."
"Oh, sure she has! Don't you know your Norse mythology, Elfie-girl? Sif got the best titties in all'a Asgard! You think big, bad-ass Thor would go for anything less? Not my God of Thunder!"

The Highwind Minotaur peered at the long line behind Oreleth. "So... this here line ain't gettin' no shorter. You gonna state your name and country or what?"

* * *
Baltor recoiled in surprise. "Whaaaaaat?! Hey, now! You know that wasn't us, right? No Highwind Minotaur would be so goddamn evil! An' since wild minotaurs don't deal in no trade, that kinda narrows it down..." Baltor snorted hatefully. "There's only one bunch of dickless cowards who would pull that kinda shit on your people..." He gritted his teeth instead of stating that heartless name.
Oreleth lets out a sigh. "Yes, of course. I did not mean to try and accuse any of the lawful citizens of Highwind of such a crime, and if you will forgive my . . . vitriol . . . on the subject, even after all these years it is still a sore subject for me."
Baltor rubbed his chin, his brown eyes wandering. "Probably Randall Flagg with his snooty, crusty, ol' self. That dude is the Grand Vizier of all'a Highwind and loved Oscar in his own way. But gettin' help outta him is like... like... takin' an orc to a beauty contest! You just can't win!"
She tries to commit the name of Randall Flagg to memory. "Perhaps he is as ugly as an orc at a beauty contest, but I can be very convincing when I need to be. I thank you for the warning, though."
"Oh, sure she has! Don't you know your Norse mythology, Elfie-girl? Sif got the best titties in all'a Asgard! You think big, bad-ass Thor would go for anything less? Not my God of Thunder!"

The Highwind Minotaur peered at the long line behind Oreleth. "So... this here line ain't gettin' no shorter. You gonna state your name and country or what?"
With a polite nod and the image of Sif's bust in her mind, the elf says, "Of course. We all have our duty to perform. I am Oreleth Soumral, from the Elven homelands in the Forest Eternal. I am here at the great city of Highwind to try and recover information for a quest of mine. As I said before, I intend no mischief in your city, I just plan on enjoying a hot bath and a good meal as I try to find a way to get the next location of the item that I seek. Is this adequate to you for my entry, good sir?" She stands straight and tall as she looks the minotaur in the eye, not afraid, but instead focused on her goal.
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

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"Perhaps he is as ugly as an orc at a beauty contest, but I can be very convincing when I need to be. I thank you for the warning, though."
Baltor appeared doubtful. "No, no, I didn't say he was as ugly as an orc... though now that I think about it... No." He shook his horned head. "I said gettin' him to help you was like takin' an orc to a beauty... Oh, to Hell with it..."

I am Oreleth Soumral, from the Elven homelands in the Forest Eternal. I am here at the great city of Highwind to try and recover information for a quest of mine. As I said before, I intend no mischief in your city, I just plan on enjoying a hot bath and a good meal as I try to find a way to get the next location of the item that I seek. Is this adequate to you for my entry, good sir?"
Baltor chuckled and spoke with pride. "'Ha haaa! Adequate?' Oh, it is obviously your first time in my city! First after me, you gotta talk to my boy, Polarth the Grim of Saint Cuthbert!" There, at the foot of the grand gate, Oreleth could see a stern-looking, older human dressed in a red and white hauberk over a gleaming suit of chainmail. He squarely noted Oreleth with a dour expression.

"After him, you gotta talk to my girl, Bereese Shining-guard the Master Blacksmith and Master Carpenter!" A cheery-looking gnome with flaring red hair like a sunburst waved. She wore a midnight-black apron of some once-grand leathery creature complete with matching onyx studded gloves and boots. She seemed both kind and formidable. "Bereese gotta see what'choo tryin' ta bring inta this here city of ours! And I'm talkin' everything on your person!" The master gazed at Oreleth's gear with a patient twinkle in her eye. Oreleth gained the impression this gnome took her sweet time with her duty.

"Then," Baltor continued, "you gotta have a conversation with the bad-ass Iron Kitty himself, Gromash the Terrible! Your Highwind Captain of the Guard!" Oreleth looked over to see a fierce-looking plate mail-clad wemic with incredible muscles, hawk-like eyes, and a face that held such a stern no-nonsense countenance it could have been carved out of solid stone. Then again, a presence and face like that seemed as if it could blast stone to pieces with but a harsh glance. Gromash gave Oreleth a single haunting look that promised swift retribution if Oreleth did not do one simple thing - behave!

This kind fellow, but more muscular and clad in immaculate, custom-made plate mail and decked out with steel arms and shield with the white and green hippogryph of Highwind easily seen on the shield's face.
View attachment 408468
(Image credit: Forgotten Realms Wiki - Fandom)

"Only then..." Baltor waved with his hand, "...is any motherfucker allowed to roam inside mighty Highwind's walls. You see what I-- Hey!"

Just then, a tiny little winged creature - a simple bluebird - came flapping by in the chilly morning wind. It flew over cart and crate, wemic and wagon, mount and minotaur, until it came to Oreleth. It flapped as if in joy directly before her. It looked like this.


This little fellow decided to perch on Oreleth's bow and look down on her in the quizzical manner of tiny birds. It peeked about in silence.

"Hey!" Baltor warned. "Fool bird! Get outta here! Can't'choo see I'm tryin' ta be a guard today?"

But the bird did not move.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
More bureaucracy. I shouldn't be surprised. Every city has to have one. She lets out a quiet sigh. "As you will it, so it shall be. Lets us begin this process so I can enter this fine city and continue on my search." She is ready to move over to the next step in the entrance process when the small bird comes flying in and perches on her bow. When the city guard tries to shoo the bird away, Oreleth gives him a shushing motion. "Oh, pooh. This little one is a real beauty! Don't scare him!" She reaches her hand out slowly, and if the bird does not fly off, she gently rubs its head with her finger. "So cute! Tell me, little one, are you here to deliver a message to me? Are you someone's familiar, or simply a resident of Highwind?" As she talks to the bird, she reaches into her pouch for a wafer of bread and breaks off a piece to offer to the bird, making soothing sounds as she does so.
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
Highwind's South Gate...

The little bluebird answered by taking Oreleth's offered wafer into his teeny beak and leaping off of the elven fighter's longbow. With alacrity and grace, the bird flew about 30 yards away to the corner of Highwind's southern gate.

At first, it seemed as if he were going to disappear around the corner of the outer wall and be gone. However, at the last moment, the little bluebird turned back, wafer still in beak, and landed on the cornerstone.

Oreleth did not know what was around that corner, but the bird watched her intently. He paid no mind to the hulking minotaur beside her, but instead seemed to gaze into Oreleth's eyes from afar.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
With a growing level of curiosity, Oreleth stares at the bird. As a side thought, she murmurs to the minotaur, "Hold on a moment. He wants me to follow him. I'll be right back." She then heads over to the corner where the cute little bird is now waiting for her. "Wait for me, little one. I'm coming." I may have to wait through the line to get into the city, but sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made to indulge in curiosity.
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
Highwind's South Gate...

With a growing level of curiosity, Oreleth stares at the bird. As a side thought, she murmurs to the minotaur, "Hold on a moment. He wants me to follow him. I'll be right back." She then heads over to the corner where the cute little bird is now waiting for her. "Wait for me, little one. I'm coming,"
As Oreleth followed the troubled bluebird, she heard the minotaur call after her. "You be careful, Elfie-girl! Should danger come your way, just shout out my name - BALTOR! - and I'll come runnin'!"

Then he turned to the merchant and his guards. Unconsciously, they slowly shrank back from him. "Menacingly, Baltor shoved his face directly into the merchant's. "And who are you, mister man?"

The human merchant in his expensive brown fur coat and jeweled earrings, cringed and smiled weakly. "Vuh, vuh, vuh--" he stammered.

Baltor mimicked him impatienly. "'Vuh, vuh, vuh?!"

The merchant blurted, "Varelys Trading Group, good sir!"

Baltor straightened and scratched his head. "Varelys Trading Group? Who in the hell is that?"

That was the last Oreleth heard of their conversation. The wood elf's boots crunched in the hard earth and as she followed the bluebird and rounded the corner, she came upon a distressing sight. Here, tucked away from easy view, Oreleth was a tremendously large bite spider web.

Oreleth could tell it had been here for some time, days perhaps weeks. Dozens of small shrunken cocoons, each about the size of a common rat, dotted the web. Oreleth noticed one of these was full and moving as if something inside was trying desperately to get out.

The bluebird, now perched on the wall, hopped excitedly but did not chirp. All of his attention was on that one cocoon. It did not take an elf to see one blue wing and talon inside. This second bluebird was hopelessly trapped while the first gazed on.

Then Oreleth heard a soft rustling sound. her attention had been on the blue bird and the cocoon, but now she looked up. Above her, not five yards away, the rest of the silky spiderweb stretched out, and hanging up on it was its maker.

Heya folks! if my memory is correct, Psychie does not like spiders in Real Life. Therefore insert spider image here. =)

For those interested, the spider is large-eyed, colorful, and furry. Kind of pretty as spiders go.

The Maker had been aware of Oreleth's presence since the wood elf had come around the corner. The arachnid seemed calm, and perhaps curious, but she was keeping her distance for the moment.

Since this is the first time you played in this game, you might benefit from the wood elven perspective here.

The Forest Eternal has its share of giant spiders too, though those are more adapted to more temperate climates. Unlike humans, wood elves see giant spiders as neighbors. The spiders keep the forest clean and clear of nasty creatures that attempt to enter carrying disease or other things that might threaten the wood.

And so, the wood elves largely leave them be, unless the spiders need help.

The Druids among Oreleth's people teach that a spider's web knows not what it takes. If you find yourself in one, of course, free yourself, but then replace the spider's meal before moving on.

For reasons like these, the wood-elves and giant spiders have lived alongside each other for a very long time.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
Oreleth looks at the situation and ponders what to do. On one hand, the spider is not doing anything wrong; its just trying to survive just like it should, and animals that wander into its web are the ones that haven't learned to keep away from them. On the other hand, she has a feeling that there is more to this bird than normal, and she would like to free the struggling prisoner from its impending doom. What to do?

She looks at the spider, and mustering up a smile, she says in elf, "Good master spider, could I prevail upon you to allow me to switch out one snack for another? I could catch a tasty squirrel for you. Would that be ok?"
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
Speaking to the large, furry arachnid seemed to elect even less of a response had Oreleth attempted to start up a chat with a warm-blooded animal. The spider simply stayed where it was and watched her, unblinking and patient as spiders do.

At least for what felt like a short while...

Then the spider moved. Slowly and gracefully, she crossed her web perpendicular to where Oreleth and the bluebirds were. She pushed feebly against a stone some two feet high and wide and perhaps as thick. It did not budge. The stone seemed to cover a hole in the ground, but the spider could not get to it.

Prodding the rock one last time, the horse-sized arachnid crept backwards up her web, quietly keeping her large, luminous eyes on Oreleth. Oreleth could sense no threat from her.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
Oreleth looks at the rock, then back up to the spider. "If I move this for you, I get to take the bird. That seems fair enough." Assuming that I can move the rock by myself. Lets see what I can do. She walks over to the rock and crouches down to get a good grip on it. Once she feels set with her feet planted well, Oreleth gives a mighty heave to shift the rock out of the way.

* * *
Oreleth found moving heavy stone to be difficult, for it was also jammed into the hole. This required Oreleth to deadlift the rock. After some repositioning, Oreleth made the most out of her average elven strength and after much straining and yanking, she pulled the stone free...

... and nearly dropped the thing on her foot! For the moment she freed the stone from its hole, the sounds of dozens of scurrying little feet racing across the earth caught her ears! Oreleth looked down and saw rats! At least a dozen of them! They were scrawny, filthy, and scarred with yellowed, bruised skin and unhealthy fur. Oreleth knew signs of disease when she saw them. They ran squealing all over the place, out of the hole...

...and into the spider's web. There they became entrapped as the spider watched on, her reaction an enigma.

The furry arachnid then turned to face the trapped bluebird. She backed away from the avian and seemed to wait. The bluebird was inside a very thick cocoon, one at least twice the size needed to hold a bluebird. On the wall, the bluebird who guided Oreleth hopped and chirped impatiently and incessantly. The spider gazed on.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
Oreleth goes up to the struggling bird and pulls out a dagger to free it from the web. Carefully cutting at the bindings, she pulls the bird out of harms way. She talks to the bird in quiet Elven. "Hush, little one. I am here, and you will be free in a moment." Turning to regard the spider, she bows lightly to it. "Thank you, Mr. Spider. It was a pleasure meeting you."

Backing away a few steps, Oreleth leaves the spider to its new meal of rat.

* * *
Cutting into the cocoon and slicing dexterously between those ivory strands, Oreleth freed one very chatty, hopping bluebird and makes a discovery. The wood elf spied something else inside, underneath where the bluebird was trapped - a faded-green, bone scroll case firmly kept with a brown wax seal at one end.

At first glance, the case appears to be nearly as old as Oreleth.

What does Oreleth do?

* * *
First things first. Lets make sure my little one is ok. "Here now. Lets get the rest of that webbing off of you. There. How is that? Just a few ruffled feathers it looks like. Other than one close call, you seem to be ok. Can you fly?" She holds up her hand to let the little bird fly away if it so chooses.

Feeling good about her kind deed, Oreleth then turns her attention to the scroll case. "Hmmm. Lets see what we have here." With that, she pulls the stopper and carefully examines the interior to see if there is a scroll inside.
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
The bluebird had more than just a few ruffled feathers - her eyes were as wide as they could be and she was shivering. The bluebird on Highwind's wall chirped repeatedly at his fellow and before Oreleth knew it, she had a sticky bird on her fingers and a chatty bird on her shoulder.

Oreleth saw that the wax stopper had been on for long enough that she would require a sharp object like a dagger to pry it loose. Thankfully, Oreleth was a fighter and those in her profession were hardly caught dead without such implements on their person.

With some finesse despite the distraction of two chirpy birds, Oreleth popped the stopper off. Inside the bone scroll case was a yellowed vellum page wrapped and turned into a long spiraling scroll. It was dry and cracked in some places. There was no way to tell from her current position if the ink had also survived its journey through time.

* * *
With a smile at the reunited birds, Oreleth once more glances down at the rolled up scroll. Well, this has been sitting out here for a long time, long enough that a bit of caution in reading it shouldn't hurt. I must be careful with it when I open it up or I'll end up destroying the scroll and whatever secrets it contains. Look at it in your room later on tonight when you can pamper it the way it needs. Now, lets see how much harassment I'll have to go through to get into the city.

She slips the scroll carefully back into its case, then tucks it into her bag of holding for safe keeping. With a wave to the happy birds, she says in Elven, "Goodbye, friends! Be more careful of spiderwebs in the future! May Solonor Thelandira help lift your wings. Farewell."

Now Oreleth turns to head back to the gate with a bounce in her step and a song in her heart, humming happily in the bright sunlight.

* * *
(Dungeon Master note to all - this post includes all of you. Enjoy! =) Kaerri Kaerri Sherwood Sherwood Wolf Rawrrr Wolf Rawrrr Captain Hesperus Captain Hesperus Psychie Psychie )

"Two Trees" by Loreena McKennitt. This song has such feeling to it. =)

She slips the scroll carefully back into its case, then tucks it into her bag of holding for safe keeping. With a wave to the happy birds, she says in Elven, "Goodbye, friends! Be more careful of spiderwebs in the future! May Solonor Thelandira help lift your wings. Farewell."
Except the bluebirds were not having it...

Hold on to your hat, lady! =)

As Oreleth began to place the scroll back into its longtime home, both of the little bluebirds took action, spreading their wings, and flitting all about the scroll all the while singing their own sunny songs. Each of them pulled at the scroll on opposite ends, and suddenly, the ancient parchment unraveled with a crisp smoothness as if the vellum was made this very day.

Oreleth saw the spider, too, act as if she were in on this. The furry female raised one leg slowly and began to wave it at Oreleth as if in farewell.

The scroll flashed open with bright shine like a small sun coming to life. It faded quickly and there on the scroll's face, Oreleth saw a great and grand drawing - a grizzly bear and a baby bear - as freshly drawn as if it had been done this very dawn.


The scroll lay there in her hands but her senses told her that something terrific had changed. Gone was the Highwind outer wall and the crisp breeze. Gone too was the spider, her webs, and her new morsels. As Oreleth looked up, there was beauty everywhere! She saw great and towering green trees and leaves all about her, all healthy and strong. Trees, shrubs, even the long waves of green grass joined together to form a single beautiful living thing. This, Oreleth's elven senses told her truly. The wood elf could feel the bright, warm feeling of life all around her.

View attachment 413571
(Image credit: ArcaniA Gothic 4 Coda-craven.org)

Oreleth had never felt such natural beauty anywhere except in the Forest Eternal, and she knew she was blessed to have known that. This place, this unearthly realm, was something altogether different than the ancient wood of her ancestors.

As Oreleth looked about, she saw dozens of people, short and tall, round and thin, all going about their business as if Oreleth's appearance there was nothing of alarm. Some of these people wore robes or armor of evergreen, some of these with jewelry or cloaks with the livery of the bear upon them. She noticed several altars arranged colorfully and neatly, all a short stroll away.

"Tweet, tweet!" The bluebirds shot away from Oreleth and up, up into the canopy above her, a leafy ceiling so tall and wide as to make her feel like a little bluebird herself in size. The bluebirds sang happily for the birds were no longer apart.

So it was for the energy that dwelled inside Oreleth's own soul. For elves were special creatures too. Like bluebirds, they needed true and natural realms like this to dwell, perhaps to rest and remember, and to keep in their hearts on their adventures.

Not far from Oreleth was a gathering of people more unusual than the wood elf's method of transportation here - wherever here was... They had noticed Oreleth's flashy arrival like a woman stepping out of a shining sun which had faded as quickly as it had been born. Unbeknownst to Oreleth, the Wayward Wanderers had assembled here in EarthHome and were on their way out when Oreleth had arrived just now.

Oreleth saw two large, bipedal cats the size of minotaurs. These hearty felines, one kind of scary, one kind of woodsy, were like nothing Oreleth had ever seen or heard of. Their eyes were blood-red and their whiskers and tails turned and rose as they spoke with the others. There too were several humans, ladies mostly. One had the bearing of confidence and striking beauty like that of a dryad. Another woman seemed to be the type that enjoyed book-learning and mystical secrets like the little dragon that sat upon her shoulder. Yet another had fair features combined with a look of compassion and kindness that ran incessantly like a brook.

There were men, too. One had a tousled bush of hair and rugged appearance with hints of elven heritage about him. Oreleth immediately recognized this fellow for a half-elf. That race, once prosperous and filled with prowess, had fallen to the brink of extinction. Some said their numbers were less than a dozen Sharseya-wide. And yet, there was something else about him too - something that nagged at her elven senses but would not make itself clear.

Then she spied a small, fuzzy bear-like creature Oreleth could not place, with red, white, and brown fur and black eyes that spoke of a great, reaching intelligence. He gazed at Oreleth, his thoughts an enigma.

But there was one being among them all that Oreleth did recognize! Tall and broad of shoulders, armored and handsome, standing in the stance of a Summerset man was Lord Brendoran Sarabina. Time had in no way dimmed the goodness in his eyes; if anything, Oreleth could now sense more of that good nature in his very being.

The blonde-haired elf, her bow on her shoulder, seemed as if she had come alone.

What do each of you do?

* * *​

When the flash of light fades away and Oreleth is once more able to see clearly, her growing sense of alarm quickly fades. Wherever she was right now was one of goodness and light, that much was clear to her, so she lowers her hands away from her bow and looks around.

As her alarm fades away, it is quickly replaced with amazement. Where am I? What is this place? She looks down at the scroll and the picture of the bears, and quickly realizes that she had just been tested by a divine power, and that this is her reward for helping the bird without killing the spider. Judged, and found worthy? Hopefully. Oreleth looks down at the scroll once more. Bears. There are others here wearing livery with bears on them. What God uses the bear as a symbol? I am no cleric to know these things! Why am I here?

She is about to step forward to ask someone about where she is when she suddenly sees Brendoran. Finally! A familiar sight! What is he doing here, and in the company of such an assorted group of travelers? Lets go ask him about this wondrous place.

With a smile on her face and a bounce in her step (the good feeling of this place is contagious) she walks over with a wave. "Do my eyes deceive me, or is that Brendoran Sarabina?"
0 - Ray of Frost, Flare, Light, Mage Hand
1 - Shield x2, Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands

* * *
DUNGEON MASTER NOTE: And here Oreleth meets the Wayward Wanderers at thread #99. I had a lot of fun creating this, but in such times I cannot help but wonder if I am addicted to such adventures? This was all supposed to be just a simple introduction of an elf far from home meeting my most fabled of cities and joining the team. Then again, I am always daydreaming, forever wondering, happily lost in this wonderful living dreamland of mine. It is so very nice to have people like those in this game to share it all with! Hooray for the power of daydreams! =)
 

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