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Fantasy Unlikely Partners

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Tharivle

Member
Chris fixed himself a quick cup of coffee and followed Ilaria outside. By now it was starting to get dark and the normal orange glow of the plants was now mixed with the blue glow of the water surrounding them. They walked slowly taking in the new sights, Chris was content to let Ilaria walk in the lead knowing that she probably had a firm grasp on the main paths as well as the way to the Sea Spirit.
As they neared the entrance of the path Chris drained the last of his coffee and looked around a bit. He walked over to a plane looking bush, one of the only things that wasn't sparkling or glowing with either dark blue or gold light. He held the cup out and the bush opened up to reveal a garbage can hidden underneath. Chris tossed the cup in and motioned for Ilaria to do the same if she wanted.
The path to the Sea Spirit was much different than their last visit. Some of the surrounding trees leading down the path had solidified and now looked like coral trees. As they walked deeper the scenery continued to change. Slightly at first, but after a mere 40 seconds of slow walking they had gone from a lush forest to a coral reef. But the most astonishing part was the fact that in every way it was a coral reef except for the fact that there was no water. Ocean plants drifted in currents that wern't felt by Chris or Ilaria. Fish swam through the air as though it was water. The dirt under their feet turned to sand, and it drifted up in a cloud as though they were walking on the ocean floor.
Chris stopped short of the opening to the clearing unsure if he should proceed. "I wonder what Seth meant when he said she had a new guard?" Chris was a few feet away from the clearing and could see the majority of the bowl that was a coral reef in one big circle with the Sea Shards flower in the middle. As if on cue Chris suddenly felt the weight of water around him. He wasn't wet nor drowning, but he was stuck, unable to do more than simply float there a few inches from the ocean floor. Rex was similarly immobilized. However Ilaria was not.
Streams of dark blue flowed from the rocks and coral around them and came together to form the figure of a person in front of the three of them. The blue energy faded and standing in front of them was an old man in robes made of kelp and seaweed that floated away from him much like the plants around the bowl. He was caring a trident point down and was floating a foot off the ground. "You must forgive me. My enchantments inherently target creatures of sun and rock magic." The old man pointed his trident at Chris and then Rex and they were released from the weight of the water that was immobilizing them. "A truly unfortunate side effect, given that the Golden Flame is now our host." He floated to the ground and walked up to them with a smile. He looked at Ilaria and his eyes saddened a little, "You have something weighing on your mind young one. I'm a good ear if you need it, but I think you are here to speak with her." He bowed ever so slightly and held his hand up in a gesture for them to approach the flower that held the Sea Shard.
The mans features became blurry as he turned once more to streams of blue water and he floated away. Then the melodic voice of the Sea Spirit was heard, "Hello again Ilaria, Chris."
 
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Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria sipped her tea gently as they walked, watching the Grove transition into nighttime. Even though she still felt a bit of the grossness from being in a place she didn't belong, the Grove was growing on her.
The closer they got to the Sea Spirit, the more their surroundings started to look like the ocean, the more the grossness faded. A calm, almost smile spread across her face. She took a deep breath in.
"Im sure we'll.." She was cutoff by the man's appearance, answering Chris's question for him. She smirked just a little. The magic targeted him and Rex, but not her, as she expected. She only gave a small nod when the guard spoke to her, and then she moved forward to see the Sea Shard.

Quietly, she said, "Its wonderful to see you so strong. It feels almost like home."
 

Tharivle

Member
Chris only nodded at the man who appeared to let him out of whatever trap he stepped in. The experience humbled him just a bit, knowing that with a flick of that old mans hand he would be powerless and stuck. Chris followed Ilaria into the ocean bowl towards the center flower, he smiled when he heard the Sea Spirit speak, "Hello again. I like what you've done with the place."
They could hear her chuckling slightly in response, "My brother has asked me not to get too carried away... But that grump could use a few more flowers in his forest."
Chris laughed lightly at the joke, but said nothing in response. He stayed a few feet behind Ilaria waiting for her to start talking, after all he was very curious about what she was so worked up about.
Rex on the other hand had taken a fascination to a school of fish, and was running around the border of the clearing chasing them. The fish too seemed to be fascinated by the wolf, they would swim close to him then dart away when he moved.
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria felt the Sea Shard's attention turn to her, and even though the air.. or water.. between them was silent, she knew that it was her turn to speak.

"I'm worried about the Moon Shard." Ilaria began, chewing on the inside of her lip.
"We still aren't sure where to find it. We almost didn't get the Earth Shard back, and we still haven't gotten the translated notes back. I.. I tried to ask around, see if anyone had heard anything unusual. But the only person who has.. I'm not sure we can trust him. I got a phone call from a stranger saying as much."
Ilaria sighed, and admitted, "I guess I was hoping you might know where she is, because of the connection between the moon and the sea. That you might be able to sense her, somehow."

There was a pause, and then her voice came. It was sad, resigned.
"I'm afraid not, child. None of us have been strong enough to do so in a very long time. Even if I was, she would need to be as well. It is up to you, and the allies that you've made."
Ilaria waited for a moment, but the Spirit had nothing else to say.
 

Tharivle

Member
Chris was hopeful but not very optimistic as he listened to their conversation. His suspicions were confirmed when the Sea Shard gave no solution to their problem. Chris waited until Ilaria was done and followed her out the same path that they came in, Rex followed closely.
"Well that didn't go as hoped." Chris said rather bluntly as they emerged back onto the main path, all hints of the ocean scene hidden through the thick trees.
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
"No, I guess not," Ilaria said softly, chewing on the inside of her lip as they walked. The world was slipping toward night, and the disappointment of the dead end only added to her growing tiredness.
"I wasn't expecting much, but still.." She sighed, and started to plod toward the willow tree. She wanted to sit and think, and then sleep, and maybe the library would hold answers in the morning.
Ilaria glanced back to where the Sea Shard was only once. She realized as they were leaving that she should have asked for healing, as well. She was still horrendously sore, and the sea magic would agree with her more than the sun magic. But she didn't want to bother her again, not when she had been so patient this time.
"I just want to lay down," She said quietly, shoulders sagging.
 

Tharivle

Member
They walked back to the small willow in silence, and once there Rex laid down at the base of the tree and yawned. Chris knelt down beside him and rubbed behind his ears for a moment before collecting his bag and sorting through his clothes to find something more comfy to sleep in. He had a white trash bag that he had been collecting his dirty clothes in and he set it out away from the trunk a bit after changing.
"The dryads make rounds to all the willows and homes for dirty clothes if you have anything you want cleaned." Chris tied off his bag that held about three changes of clothes. He held out a folded up empty bag to her. "They will also bring back supplies if they have them in stock. If you need or want anything, just write it down and place it in the bag with anything you want cleaned."
Chris then climbed into a hammock that the willow had made and drifted up into the branches as the tree straightened up from where it had bent down so he could get in. There was a similar hammock formed for Ilaria.
 

Tharivle

Member
The clearing that surrounded the Mother Tree had only minorly been influenced by the presence of the Sea Shard. It looked very similar to the time it did when Elmmriss last stood before the towering tree. There were many small dryads milling about the clearing and hanging from bigger trees. It was peaceful and pleasant, the scout and servant dryads whispering to each other in their native language, to people it would sound like creaking and groaning of wood, rustling of leaves.
There was a hush and shocked silence as Elm stepped out into the clearing and could be seen by all the dryads that were present. As Elm walked towards the Mother Tree all the small dryads gathered around him in a crowd, their small feet having to hurry to keep up with his long stride. He nodded to them, bending down and letting the tiny ones climb up his arm before jumping back into the crowd so others could do the same. The dryads that were to big to be climbing on him simply touched his shoulder or bowed as he walked past.
As he neared the base of the tree he stopped and the crowd of dryads cleared a spot in front of and around him. There was a rustle of wind as leaves from high in the tree flew off the towering oak and formed a mass that flowed down to the ground. The leaves whorled around a bit and then settled into the figure of a women, changing colors slightly to give her the appearance of clothes and facial features. Once the figure had fully formed all the dryads including Elm bowed for a few seconds. The women waited patiently not saying anything.
Elm was the first to rise out of is bow, and the rest of the dryad did the same, "Hello Mother." Elm said slowly.
"Elmmriss... I knew you didn't pass on, but I could not see you all these years." Her voice was both sad and happy, like someone who was crying with joy. "I'm glad you found your way home."
Elm was silent for a moment as he looked around, "Being back is both a joy and a sadness. Remembering old friends and past glory, but also knowing that I'm likely the last of the warriors."
"Hmmm." Mother's demeaner saddened at Elms last statement. "I remember a time before this towering forest. When thousands of warriors stood before me, powerful and absolute... Sadly those days are a distant memory."
Elm straightened up a little bit and asked in a questioning tone, "Could those days return?" When Mother didn't answer he asked, "Could you once again create warriors?"
Mothers head and shoulders slumped ever so slightly as she shook her head. "It has been many several thousand years sence I have had the strength to seed the world with wonders such as the warrior dryad."
Elm was surprised by this answer and insisted, "Surely one as powerful as you and in the presence of three of the great spirits could once again make seeds of warriors."
Mother looked away for just a moment, seeming hesitant to answer, "I am not a child of the Sun Spirit.... I was the only of my brothers and sisters not to grow envious of our elders power... I was the one who warned them of the creation of the demons... I am Natura, Lesser Spirit of Trees."

Elm stood in shocked silence, how could he not know his mother was a Lesser Spirit. He was raised and molded to fight them and their demon creations. All Lesser Spirits were evil, there were no exceptions...
Seeing he did not speak Natura continued, "I was one of the strongest of the Lesser Spirits, given that there were allot of trees. So when the others started planning the downfall of the Greater Spirits they asked for my support. I deceived them into believing that I would support them, but secretly I was aligned with the Great Spirits and aided them by providing them with the means to create you..."
"What do you mean you provided them with the means to create me?" Elm asked, now that he had snapped out of his denial of the situation he was just confused because much of his history was now just wrong.
"The Greater Spirits were so powerful and absolute in their own respective magics that they could not blend all four powers into suitable vessels to effectively fight the demons. So prior to the war and then the fall I chose to descend from the spirit realm and take on my mortal form as this tree. Then from above the four Great Spirits granted me their power and I blended them to create the most powerful and absolute mortal force that could ever exist... You, the warriors." She waited and once again Elm did not speak, "Two wars waged. On Earth thousands of Warrior Dryads fought tens of thousands of demons. In our celestial plane, battle between the four Great and the many other Lesser Spirits destroyed that world. All the spirits fell. Most of the lesser spirits died in the fall, those that didn't twisted into powerful demons. The greater spirits formed into the shards, but with me still in command of the warriors, the war on Earth came to a swift end in our favor, but at terrible price."
"I still do not understand why you cannot make more warriors." Elm said, still confused.
"I used the power from all four of the great spirits to make the warriors. After the fall I lost that power, and over the years the warriors themselves lost the power of the Earth, Moon, and Sea, as those shards were not close to me."
Understanding dawned across Elms face, then great sadness. With the destruction of the spirit realm the Great Spirits, even if all gathered in the same place, would not have enouph strength to provide Natura with the power they once did. He was the last warrior, and would remain the last, forever.

"I am sorry for the many years of deception, and that I don't have a better answer for you." Natura said sadly, "Your new friends and allies are this worlds only hope of defeating the demons."
"Thank you for trusting me with this knowledge, I will do my best to preserve our glorious past." Elm turned to leave but stopped half way and asked, "Does the Golden Flame know?"
"There is one among them who knows the truth, and he protects that secret and the tome describing the true history within his library, and he will one day entrust that knowledge to the next librarian." With those final words Natura's figure fell apart as the leaves forming her body drifted away in the wind.
 
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Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria nodded quietly. She picked through her bag and tossed a few things out to be washed, and wrote a note asking for supplies to mend a few things with. A few of her favorite items had taken a beating in their recent unplanned clashes.
Groaning softly, Ilaria looked at the hammock made for her. She knew it was comfortable enough, but the soreness she felt made it difficult to believe that truly. And there was so, so much on her mind still- the calm she felt near the Sea Shard was fading fast.
But she needed rest. So she climbed into the hammock, and laid down, even though her eyes wouldn't close. She would have literally tossed and turned, but her muscles hurt too much for that. Instead, one foot bounced up and down lightly, hanging off the edge of her hammock.
"Chris," She said softly, "Do you think Elm is happy to be back here?"
 

Tharivle

Member
Chris was already dosing but his eyes opened again when Ilaria spoke. He thought for a short moment before answering, "I'm sure its a mixture of feelings for him. On one hand he probably has some good memories here, and he most definitely is stronger." Chris paused then added, "On the other hand this place probably places a shining light on the things that make him sad. I just hope that maybe now the Mother Tree can make more warriors, some friends and comrades for Elm other than the Golden Flame."
Chris and Ilaria would not have been able to tell, but at the mention of making more warrior dryads the willow holding them slumped its branches in almost a sighing motion. For she knew all to well that is was no longer possible to make more warriors.
 
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Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria stared upward, her eyes not sagging a bit.
She tented her eyebrows.
"How would the Mother Tree do that? I thought they were made before the fall?" She turned her head a little to try and look at Chris.
"If they predate the fall, then they were created when all the spirits were at their full strength. I don't see how it would be possible to do it again with just the Shards?"
She hoped that she was wrong, but something didn't add up in all of this. The dryads, the warriors.. they were a different thing than the children of the Spirits. They had elements of all the Spirits within them, and she didn't see how more could be created without all of the Spirits coming together again.
 

Tharivle

Member
Chris had started to drift again, but his eyes opened as he pondered what she said, "I don't really know. Haven't thought about it much, and there wasn't much on the warriors origin in all those books we read." Chris rolled over to face Ilaria and continued, "Seth would know more, or we could just go ask the Mother Tree, we do have the Oaktree mark." Chris glanced down at his left forearm where the brown tattoo of a oak tree was.
There was silence for just a few seconds and Chris smirked as he rolled over onto his back again, "Do you know if the Mother Tree can make more warriors?" Chris said as he touched one of the bigger branches that crafted his hammock.
Chris's smile faded when the willow didn't imminently reply, he was about to ask again when she spoke, "Forgive me Sir Knight, but I do not know the answer to the question you ask." The willow was very formal, the playful tone she normally used was gone replaced by an almost automated recording in the willows voice.
Chris lay silent and confused. Why was she so formal? She had not called him by his title sence the day they met. Why did it take so long for her to answer?
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria frowned, which deepened with the willow tree's reply. She didn't think the answer hinted at a secret- they were running out of secrets to keep around here. She had a lingering worry that it meant the answer wasn't what they wanted to hear.
"Hm. I guess we'll have to do our own research, then." She glanced up at the willow's leaves. "We have to look into a few other things anyway. And its a problem for the morning, we should get some rest."
With that, she rolled over onto her other side and was silent. Sleep didn't come for a long time.
.................
Ilaria woke early, when the grove was still almost silent. She could hear the whispers of the dryads moving about, outside of her vision. She was chilled, and her muscles were stiff and sore.
"Chris?" She whispered, as she started to get out of her bed, just to see if he was awake.
 

Tharivle

Member
Chris too lay awake for a while as well, but stayed silent and eventually went to sleep.

He was not awake when Ilaria whispered his name, Chris always slept hard when he was in the Grove, because of how safe it was. The willow would wake him up if something happened, or if he was going to miss breakfast.
Rex was still curled up at the base of the tree, he would lazily open an eye if there was a noise close by, but remained mostly asleep himself.
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
With no response from Chris, Ilaria got up as quietly as she could. She wrapped herself in an oversized sweater to ward off the early morning chill, and headed toward the Great Hall.
It seemed to be too early for other 'knights' to be awake, and the dryads didn't seem in any hurry to hide themselves from her now. There were dozens bustling back and forth, preparing for breakfast, and some of them even nodded a greeting as she put together a cup of tea. One scampered up, offering a basket of pastries. They seemed aware that she didn't want to speak, and she liked that. With a smile, she selected a croissant, and then got out of their way.

She wasn't really sure if she could get into the library without waking anyone, but she was hoping she could. Everyone was tired from their recent battle, and really, she just wanted to read a few things on her own. She wasn't used to such constant company. Chris hadn't been more than a few meters away for.. was it weeks now? She was losing track of time.
Thats what she was trying to figure out as she reached the library, silently counting back the days to when this had started.
 

Tharivle

Member
It was still a few hours before Chris awoke, and when he did he glanced around lazily, noticing that Ilaria had already left for the morning. He tapped the top of the hammock and the willow gently set him down, "Thank you for the bed." Chris said as he stood up. Seeing Chris wake up, Rex stood and stretched while yawning. The two of them lazily strolled to the great hall for breakfast. The hall only had a few people in it, but the breakfast service was in full swing. Seems like most people are sleeping in after the last fight. Chris fixed himself a plate and joined a small group to eat. Rex trotted up the ramp and found a soft grassy spot to lay down.

The night before, after they had taken their leave from the Great Hall, Seth and Spots made their way to the library. The same elevator that takes people to the library also extends up higher to Seth's personal chambers. When the elevator doors closed behind them Seth's strong appearance became weak and frail, he leaned against the wall as the branches slowly lifted him to his home. When the doors opened again they revealed a set of rooms about the same size as the library. Kitchen, dining set, and living room took the place of the book shelves. A bedroom was in place of Seth's office. And a day room with a coffee table and armor cabinet was in place of the tables that he Ilaria and Chris had done their studding a few days prior. Seth and Spots begrudgingly made their way directly to the armor cabinet. As he entered his home a Dryad, hidden on one of the pillars in the room rushed forward to assist the old librarian. "Master Seth, let me help you." The dryad said as he took the arm that wasn't holding the staff.
"Thank you Ren, most kind of you." They made their way into the side room and the dryad helped Spots out of his leather armor, before assisting Seth out of his. Once finished the small dryad said. "I'll get these cleaned and put away, go rest."
Seth smiled at the little dryad and said, "Thank you for the offer Ren, but when the day comes that a warrior cannot clean his own armor, he should not have donned it in the first place. Please just leave it here on the table and I'll attend to it tomorrow morning." The dryad smiled, nodded and walked away. Seth looked down at Spots and said, "I don't know how many more battles I have in me old friend." Spots, who normally has a witty remark said nothing and started off towards the bedroom, he too was feeling the strain of the battle and had a faint limp.
The next morning Seth woke early without an alarm and in a seemingly routine fashion he moved about his home preparing breakfast and coffee. After a small breakfast Seth made his way into the day room where the armor had all been laid out in an organized fashion with all the needed cleaning supplies set next to their respective items that they would be used on. Seth smiled to himself, Ren can't not help, can he? What a good friend.
He had just started to polish his armor when the soft but unmistakable clicking sound of the elevator going down was heard. "Who could that be this early in the morning?" Seth asked out loud though nobody was around. Seth waited for the elevator to go down and then lift someone to the library before calling for it to go to the library himself. When the doors opened again it didn't take long for him to find Ilaria standing amongst the shelves, "Good morning Ilaria, what brings you to the library at this early hour." Seth asked in a cheerful tone. He was still weary, but he very much loves his job as librarian and is always pleased when someone comes to the library.
 
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Flutterby

standard-issue human
The elevator seemed to appear without her asking it to, although she was looking for a button or something to bring it down. Was it the thought that brought it, or did the tree just sense her standing a the base? She tried not to think about that one.
She stepped into the library, her footfalls dampened by the soft surroundings of books. She didn't even know where to start to answer her question.
Just as she was wondering if Seth would be awake, she heard his footsteps and he appeared.

"Good morning Seth." She gave him a small smile. "I hope I didn't wake you, I was just looking for some literature about the warrior dryads. Some questions have come up in the last few days. Do you have anything about them?"
She had found her way to a section about plants, but were the dryads really plants, or should she be looking under animals? She had searched for a section about magical creatures, but found most of them under animals anyway.
 

Tharivle

Member
Once Chris was done with breakfast he stayed at the table a while longer and had a couple cups of coffee. Figuring that he and probably Ilaria wouldn't mind some time apart, after all, It's not like she can get lost in a forest where literally every tree can give you directions.

Seth ran his hand down his beard, peering at Ilaria with ever so slightly squinted eyes. Now what questions are you looking to answer? After only a second of deliberation on whether or not to show her the "The Children of Natura" which he had safely hidden away in a secret compartment in his office. He smiled at Ilaria and guided her farther down the shelf she was already at. "This section is all we have on lore, accounts of, and accounts written by drayds." Seth said as he gestured to two shelves of books at the bottom of a single case. "I'm sorry there isn't more, but little is known about the origins of the dryads. Especially the warriors, because they came before the Golden Flame." Seth waited a second before adding, "I believe Chris already skimmed through some of these the last time the two of you were here. He asked for warrior specific books and didn't find much."
Seth waited for Ilaria to take a look at the books he indicated or say something and then excused himself saying, "I have a few things to attend to in my champers. Spots can help you more if he decides to stop napping. If not then just call out for Ren, he's a big help on research projects." With those final words Seth returned to his champers where he settled down at the table and started cleaning and polishing his armor and weapons. The old man was lost in thought. Should she know the truth? I've never seen the dryads take so kind to a secondary. What questions could she be looking to answer?
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaria followed Seth further down the shelf, and glanced over the bindings of the books he indicated. She gave a soft, thoughtful hum, and nodded.
"Maybe I'll find a detail or two he missed that'll help the pieces fall into place." She said softly, reaching to take the first one from the shelf. She did her best to hide her disappointment. She didn't really think Chris had missed anything, but the last time they had been in the library, they were more focused on the shards than the dryads, so maybe there was still hope.
"Thank you for your help, Seth, I'll see what I can find." As he turned to leave, she turned to the books and grabbed a few more.

After 20 minutes, she sat back in her chair and sighed, ruffling her hair slightly with one hand. Everything she was finding was either something Chris had already told her, or something she had already figured out. There was some information she knew from the dryads themselves that wasn't anywhere in the books. She frowned, and decided to seek out some more help.
She cleared her thoat and stood from her chair.
"Excuse me, um, Ren? Spots?" She called softly, careful to keep her voice low enough that she wouldn't disturb Seth in his chambers.
 

Tharivle

Member
"I was wondering how long you would scratch your head before asking for help." The old crackly voice of Spots came from above Ilarias head. Spots had been lounging on a shelf just above the door frame, the shelf was just deep enouph and had a divot in the middle that made it an ideal hiding/napping place for the fat raccoon. Spots head popped up into view and he rested his chin on the edge of the shelf so his face spilled over the edge and only his eyes and face could be seen.
"You won't find anything in those dusty old books that'll help your new warrior friend." Spots was speaking and moving without regard for what Ilaria had to say, almost like he was in a trance or just thinking really hard about something. The old raccoon scampered down a series of pegs and shelves and tables until he finally plopped onto the floor with a thud.
"This book will be much more interesting." Spots said as he waddled away towards Seths office. "If you can open it...." he added with a small chuckle.

Meanwhile Seth had cleaned his armor and replaced it back in the cabinet. Then he walked slowly to his bedroom and laid down to sleep, his body still sore and his eyes heavy.
 

Flutterby

standard-issue human
Ilaira jumped slightly, and gave a small, annoyed twitch of her nose. She wasn't prone to startling, but Spots had clearly been nearby, waiting for the opportune moment to scared her before offering help.
She didnt say anything, watchingt he old raccoon wandle away into a area she was really pretty sure she shouldn't be going in to. There was a frown on her face, and she glanced over her shoulder to make sure Seth wasn't standing silently behind her or something. She hesitated, but only briefly, at the doorway. If Spots said it was okay, then surely.. it at least wouldn't be her fault, right?

"Spots.. what do you mean, if I can open it?" She said with a sigh. "Honestly, you lot wonder why others don't like you.. all this secrecy and riddles. I get straighter answers from vampires." She kept her tone as light as she could, but there was no mistaking the hint of uncertainty in it.
 

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