Seven Twines and the Dragon Heartwoods

Forums Yurara Fameliki’s Stories Seven Twines and the Dragon Heartwoods

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  • #122
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It felt as if all hell had broken loose this morning. Everyone seemed to look for their heads, and all in the wrong places.

    What he was really looking for, was his heart. Taking about other people, they used to say things like “his heart’s in the right place, you know”, as a form of apology, as if they knew what was the right place. Maybe they all were wrong, and nobody knew for sure.

    In the morning, the ginkgo trees in the lane leading to the fortified city had all started to turn to gold, glittering the path with golden flecks. Magic comes from the heart they all whispered in the cold wind telling tales of first snows. Autumn had arrived late this year, and the weather was playing all kinds of strange choreographies.

    He could do well with a bit of magic, but magic was tricky to harness these days. All the good practitioners of old seemed to have been replaced by snake oil merchants. But the trees still knew about magic.

    He had a theory, that some pockets of old magic remained, shrouded in nature, oblivious to the city-life encroachments, ever-alive and ripe for the picking. He had heard the term “area of enchantment”, and that was to him the perfect description. He knew some sweet spots, near derelict places, gently overgrown with foliage, sitting side by side with the humbums of the busy city life.
    He would ask the trees and vines there if they could help with the unusual wreckage of this morning.

Viewing 20 replies - 121 through 140 (of 222 total)
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  • #4459
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Eleri glanced at Glynis. So she was feeling it too.

    Eleri had woken in the night, in the dead of the dark hours before dawn, aware of something she could only describe as a central core running through the dream, or a central path so to speak, that all the elements of the dream branched from. It wasn’t much clearer than that, with regard to details, but the feeling of recognition of the bones of that central thread were profoundly real. It was fear.

    #4460
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    They heard a loud crash from the kitchen and rushed to see what was the poultry squawking about.

    It was Olliver, who apparently still had problems managing the landing while using his teleporting egg.
    The year that had passed had brought him a quiet assurance that the boy had lacked, even his stutter would not come as often, and his various travels using the golden egg had given him a wider outlook of what was in the world.

    Rukji!” He called —he still would use the deferential moniker for Rukshan.
    “What is it Olliver? Calm down, can’t you see everybody is all tense?” the Fae answered.
    “Something has changed, Rukji. A great opening in the mountain. I was staying in a village I have seen a great blue light in the distance while there, across the sand and rocks desert, beyond the shifting dunes. Something that reminded me of what Gorrash told about his memories from his master. We should go explore.”
    “I’ll contact Lhamom, she may have heard stories and can help us get there until you get the hang of a group teleport.”

    #4461
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Rukshan went into the forest and looked carefully for a particular creature. It was almost nightfall and there should be some of them already out on the branches. The air was cooler in the evening, thanks also to the big trees protecting them from the scorching sun, and Rukshan couldn’t help but think that the climate was really going haywire. One day cold, one week hot and wet. And this bad omen feeling that everybody seemed to get recently. He knew it was time to go, and despite the comfort of Margoritt’s cottage, he was starting to feel restless.

    He was making a lost of noise, stepping on every dry twigs he could find. A couple of rabbits and the crowd of their offsprings jumped away, a deer looked at him as if he was some vulgar neighbour and the birds flew away, disturbed during their evening serenades. But this was the kind of noise that would attract the telebats, small nocturnal animals that you could use for long distance communication.

    He found one on an old oak tree. It seemed to be in resonance with his cracking twigs. Rukshan hurried and caught it before the spell of his steps would dissipate.

    Rukshan to Lhamom: Hope everything’s fine. Stop. Something happened. Stop. Need help organise trip to mountains. Over,” he whispered in the sensitive ears of the small animal. The telebat listened carefully and opened its little mouth, making sounds that no normal ears could hear. Maybe Fox could have, but he would have found it as annoying as the cracking twigs. Then Rukshan waited.

    The answer wasn’t long to come. He knew it because the ears of the creature vibrated at high frequency. He listened into the creature’s left ear where he could hear the answer.

    Lhamom to Rukshan: Father not well. Stop. I’m worried. Stop. Have to go home take care of him. Stop. I send Drummis to help you. Over.”

    Rukshan responded with “Thanks. Stop. Hope everything well with Father. Stop. Have safe trip home. Over.”

    He hung up the telebat on the branch where he found it, and gave it a moth that he had found on his way.
    Rukshan frowned. He have never met Drummis. He wondered if he could trust him.

    #4462
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Night had fallen when Rukshan came back to the cottage. He was thinking that they could wait a little bit for the trip. He did not like that much the idea of trusting the safety of their group to a stranger, even if it was a friend of Lhamom. They were not in such a rush after all.

    Rukshan looked at their luxuriant newly grown pergola. Thanks to the boost potion Glynis had prepared, it had only took a week to reach its full size and they have been able to enjoy it since the start of the unusual hot spell. The creatures that had hatched from the colourful eggs Gorrash had brought with him were flowing around the branches creating a nice glowing concerto of lights, inside and out.

    It was amazing how everyone were combining their resources and skills to make this little community function. In the shadow of the pergola there was an empty pedestal that Fox had built and Eleri had decorated with nice grapes carvings. Gorrash was certainly on patrol with the owls. His friends had thought that a pedestal would be more comfortable and the pergola would keep Gorrash’s stone from the scorching heat of the sun. Also, he wouldn’t get covered in mud during the sudden heavy rains accompanying the hot spell.

    Seeing the beautiful pedestal and the carved little stairs he could use to climb up, Gorrash had tried to hide the tears in his eyes. He mumbled it was due to some desert dust not to appear emotional, but they all knew his hard shell harboured the softest heart.

    The dwarf had repaid them in an unexpected way. Every day just before sunrise, he would take a big plate in his hands and jumped on the pedestal before turning to stone. It allowed them to put grapes or other fruits that they could eat under the shadow of the of the pergola.

    Rukshan came into the house and he found Margoritt sitting at the dining table on which there was a small parchment roll. Her angry look was so unusual that Rukshan’s felt his chest tighten.

    “They sent me a bloody pigeon,” she said when she arrived. She took the roll and handed it to Rukshan. “The city council… Leroway… he accuses us of unauthorised expansion of the house, of unauthorised construction on communal ground, and of unlicensed trade of manufactured goods.” Margoritt’s face was twisted with pain as the said the words.

    Rukshan winced. Too much bad news were arriving at the same time. If there was a pattern, it seemed rather chaotic and harassing.

    “They threaten us to send a bailif if we don’t stop our illegal activities and if we don’t pay the extra taxes they reclaim,” she continued. “I’m speechless at the guile of that man.”

    Rukshan smiled, he wondered if Margoritt could ever be rendered speechless by anything except for bad flu. He uncoiled the roll and quickly skimmed through the long string of accusations. Many of them were unfair and, to his own opinion unjustified. Since when the forest belonged to Leroway’s city? It had always been sacred ground, and its own master.

    “I have no money,” said Margoritt. “It’s so unfair. I can’t fight with that man. I’m too old and tired.”

    “Don’t forget we are all in the same cottage, Margoritt. It’s not just you. Eventhough, they clearly want to evict us,” said Rukshan. “Even if we had enough money, they would not let us stay.” He showed her the small roll. “The list of accusations is so ludicrous that it’s clearly a ploy to get rid of us. First, that road they want to build through the forest, now evicting us from the ground.” And those bad omens from the mountain, he thought with a shiver.

    “We are not going to give them that satisfaction, are we?” asked Margoritt, pleading like a little girl. “We have to find something Rukshan,” she said. “You have to help me fight Leroway.”

    “Ahem,” said a rockous voice. Gorrash had returned from his patrol. “I know where to find money,” he added. “At leas, I think I know. I had another dream about my maker. It’s just bits and pieces, but I’m sure he hid some treasure in the mountains. There was that big blue diamond, glowing as brightly as a blue sun. And other things.”

    A big blue diamond? It sounds familiar. Rukshan thought. There was an old fae legend that mentioned a blue diamond but he couldn’t remember. Is it connected to the blue light Olliver mentioned earlier? He wondered.

    “That’s it! You have to go find this treasure,” said Margoritt.

    Rukshan sighed as he could feel the first symptoms of a headache. There was so much to think about, so much to do. He massaged his temples. The trip had suddenly become urgent, but they also had to leave someone behind to help Margoritt with the “Leroway problem”. And he winced as he wondered who was going to take care of that road business. It was clear to him that he couldn’t be everywhere at the same time. He would have to delegate.

    He thought of the telebats. Maybe he could teach the others how to use them so that he could keep in touch and manage everything at distance. He sighed again. Who would be subtle and sensitive enough to master the telebats in time?

    #4469
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    A few weeks back now, a visitor had come to the forest. A visitor dressed in the clothes of a tramp.

    “I’ve come to speak with Glynnis,” he said, when Margoritt answered the door of the cottage.

    “And who might I say is calling?” asked Margoritt. She looked intently into the eyes of the tramp and a look of shock crossed her countenance. “Ah, I see now who you are.”

    The tramp nodded.

    “I mean no harm to you, Old Lady and I mean no harm to Glynis. Tell her to come to the clearing under the Silver Birch. Tell her to make haste.”

    And with that he hobbled away.

    It was no more than a few minutes later, Glynnis came to the clearing. She strode up to the tramp and stood defiant in front of him.

    “What is it you want now!?” she demanded. “And why have you come disguised as a homeless wanderer dressed in rags, you coward! Is this more of your trickery! Can you not leave me in peace with my fate! Have you not done enough harm to me already! And all because I could not love you in return! she scoffed at him, her voice raised in fury and unable to halt the angry tirade though she knew caution would be the more prudent path to take.

    The tramp stood silent in the face of her anger.

    “I have come to say I am sorry and to undo the harm I did to you,” he said at last. “I was wondering would you like me to remove the scales from your face?”

    Glynnis could not reply. She stared at him in shock, trying to comprehend what his words meant.

    “My father left this dimension a short while ago,” he continued. “When he left, something changed in me. A dark mass had obscured my vision so I could feel only hatred towards you. When my father departed, so did the hatred. I realise now he cursed me … since then I have seen clearly the wrong I did to you and hastened to make amends. I came dressed as a tramp … well to be honest I thought it was quite a fun costume and I did not want to cause undue fear in those I met on my path.”

    He reached into his tattered cape and pulled out a small package. “Apply this lotion every night for a week. It will dissolve the scales and as well will heal the scars within as you sleep.”

    #4470
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Despite using his human form frequently, Tak was at heart still the same little gibbon his friend had found in the bamboo forest.

    A lot of his inner turmoil had been transformed, like a new skin on a wound, especially after the ceremony. He no longer felt the weight of the other lives they had lived, nor the stir of revenge that was festering inside. His heart was like a forest after a fire, growing anew, fresh below the cover of dead ashes.

    During the past months, he had been mostly busy with himself. He couldn’t avoid the classes that Rukshan would teach him in the morning, but it still left a good deal of free time. He would wander in the nearby woods, listening to the sounds, exploring where it felt safe enough, and at times jumping from branch to branch in his gibbon form.
    He could feel Fox was a bit envious at times —struggling too much to retain his human form. It would become more difficult with the age, to stay longer in a form especially if you started to master it later in age. So he had to enjoy and relish the fact he was still young.

    In the forest, he had felt disturbance, but nothing like the ghosts that had chased them a long time back. There was work done at a distance, and it displaced creatures, the forest was angry. His companions too, and Fox was talking about doing sabotage work. Rukshan had asked him to take no part in it, but there was no telling how long he could resist the call.

    When he entered that night back in the cabin, there was a strange smell, something subtle and precious, like smokey and peppered with ambergris and with a feel of dew on a fresh lettuce. It came from a small package on the drawer in the burka lady’s quarter.
    It smelt too good. Surreptitiously he entered the room and opened the little thing, there was a creamy substance in it. Surely some nice spread for freshly baked bread.
    He couldn’t resist, the smell was tantalising. He dipped one finger, licked it, and… wow… in three quick gulps, licked the whole thing clear.

    Tak was at heart still the same mischievous little gibbon his mother loved so much.

    #4471
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Fox sat back on the wooden chair in Margoritt’s kitchen, and crossed his arms, a little unnerved by the heat and his growing desire to go out in the woods and let go of all restraints. He had been struggling daily to control it and he had noticed it was particularly difficult during the new moon.

    “If we have to do it in the house,” said Fox, “Can’t we at least open the windows? It’ll let in some fresh air.” He wrinkled his nose at the heavy scents of sweat mingled with that of fermented goat milk, irritating his delicate sense of smell. Rukshan had gathered their little group and they were waiting for Gorrash to wake up.

    “The purpose of meeting here is that nobody can hear what we are saying,” said Rukshan with a hint of exasperation in his tone. “If we open the windows it’ll just…”

    “Isn’t it rather because of the mosquitos?” started Fox feeling a little argumentative.

    Glynis cleared her throat and got up, mumbling that she might have a solution. She came back a few moment later carrying a big bottle with a big sticker. Rukshan and Mr Minn helped her lift it while Eleri and Margoritt cleared a space on the table where they put the bottle.

    The sticker had something written on it : AIR CONDITIONED, winter quality. Handle with caution.

    Glynis turned the cap a few turns and a wooshing sound escaped from the neck of the bottle, followed by a gentle and continuous breeze of fresh air which provoked a murmur of appreciation from everyone.

    “What’s this?” asked Gorrash who had just woken up.

    “It’s what the sticker says. Cooling the atmosphere is just one way to use it. One has to be careful not to turn the wheel too much though or you could get frost bite.”

    The fae looked at the bottle appreciatively, impressed at Glynis’ many talents. He was already thinking about a few other ways to put this frozen air bottle to use when Glynis cleared her throat again.

    “It’s not infinite content and I only get a few of them, so if we could start the meeting.”

    “Of course. I’ve received words from Lhamom. Her father has passed away and they are sending him to the sea during the week-end.” He allowed a moment of silence, sending a silent prayer toward their dear friend. Then he continued : “That means she’ll be able to join us for our trip in the mountains. We only have to decide who’s going and who’s staying to help Margoritt.”

    Rukshan looked at each of them intently and Fox felt uneasy when his friend’s eyes fall upon him.

    #4472
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    With a spring in her step that she had all but forgotten she possessed, Eleri set off on her trip to speak to her old friend Jolly about her husband Leroway’s latest plan that was causing some considerable controversy among the locals. Eleri planned to make the visit a short one, and to hasten back to Margoritt’s cottage in time for the departure of the expedition ~ because she surely wanted to be a part of that. But first, she had to see Jolly, and not just about Leroway. There was a sense of a stirring, or a quickening ~ it was hard to name precisely but there was a feeling of impending movement, that was wider than the expedition plans. Was Jolly feeling it, would she be considering it too? And if not, Eleri would bid her farewell, and make arrangements with her to send a caretaker down to her cottage. And what, she wondered, would happen about care taking the cottage if Jolly’s villagers were on the move again? Eleri frowned. How much did it matter? Perhaps a stranger would find it and choose to stay there, and make of it what they wished. But what about all her statues and ingredients? Eleri felt her steps falter on the old rocky road as her mind became crowded with all manner of things relating to the cottage, and her work.

    You don’t have to plan every little thing! she reminded herself sternly. None of that has to be decided now anyway! It’s wonderful day to be out walking, hark: the rustling in the undergrowth, and the distant moo and clang of a cow bell.

    The dreadful flu she’d had after the drenching had left her weakly despondent and not her usual self at all. But she’d heard the others talking while she’d been moping about and it was as if a little light had come on inside her.

    She still had trouble remembering all their names: ever since the flu, she had a sort of memory weakness and a peculiar inability to recall timelines correctly. Mr Minn (ah, she noted that she had not forgotten his name!) said not to worry, it was a well known side effect of that particular virus, and that as all time was simultaneous anyway, and all beings were essentially one, it hardly mattered. But Mr Minn, Eleri had replied, It makes it a devil of a job to write a story, to which he enigmatically replied, Not necessarily!

    Someone had asked, Who do we want to come on the expedition, or perhaps they said Who wants to come on the expedition, but Eleri had heard it as Who wants to be a person who wants to go on an expedition, or perhaps, what kind of person do the others want as an expedition companion. But whatever it was, it made Eleri stop and realize that she wasn’t even enjoying the morose despondent helpless feeling glump that she has turned into of late, and that it was only a feeling after all and if she couldn’t change that herself, then who the devil else was going to do it for her, and so she did, bit by bit. It might feel a bit fake at first, someone had said. And it did, somewhat, but it really wasn’t long before it felt quite natural, as it used to be. It was astonishing how quickly it worked, once she had put her mind to it. Less than a week of a determined intention to appreciate the simple things of the day. Such a simple recipe. One can only wonder in amazement at such a simple thing being forgotten so easily. But perhaps that was a side effect of some virus, caught long ago.

    Enjoying the feeling of warm sun on her face, interspersed with moments of cool thanks to passing clouds, Eleri noticed the wildflowers along the way, abundant thanks to all the rain and all flowering at once it seemed, instead of the more usual sequence and succession. Briefly she wondered is this was a side effect of the virus, and another manifestation of the continuity and timeline issues. Even the wildflowers had all come at once this year. She had not noticed all those yellow ones flowering at the same time as all those pink ones in previous years, but a splendid riot they were and a feast for the eyes.

    The puffy clouds drifting past across the sun were joining invisible hands together and forming a crowd, and it began to look like rain again. Eleri felt a little frown start to form and quickly changed it to a beaming smile, remembering the handy weightless impermeability shield that someone (who? Glynnis?) had given her for the trip. She would not catch another dose of the drenching memory flu again, not with the handy shield.

    The raindrops started spattering the path in front of her, spotting the dusty ground, and Eleri activated the device, and became quite entranced with the effects of the droplets hitting the shield and dispersing.

    #4473
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Margoritt looked at the spot where Tak was nestled, under her desk, with a concerned puzzled look albeit mixed with a repressed laughter sparkling beneath the surface.
    No matter how stern she wanted to look, she had a soft spot for the antics of the youngling.
    “What have you done this time, dear? You have as guilty a face upon you as when you pilfered the raw mangoes that Mr Minn brought us, and got yourself an indigestion as a result…” she almost chuckled, but paused and squinted her eyes.
    “Well except you didn’t look so… green.”

    She craned her neck to see better the little face behind the mop of tangled hair.

    “My, my, my… what have we got here!”

    #4474
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Rukhsan was ready with his package, the plan, the backup plan, and all the disaster recovery plans they would never need to do their journey to the west.
    All of this preparation was starting to make him antsy, and he hoped everyone would make it in time to start the expedition.

    Eleri had promised to be back in time, but she had that tendency to… forget things even more since her bout of illness. Glynis’ ginkgo leaves tea had helped a little, at least for the memory thing, not really for Eleri’s stubbornness to have them wait for her return — such assertiveness that was a sure sign of her recovery she’d said.
    She’d gone already for weeks, and tonight’s was the departure… He had to trust everything would line up.

    Right now, there was nothing to expect… but the unexpected. All carefully laid out plans would never stand a chance once on the roads, he knew that. It gave him some small comfort to just be aware of all the places and manners where the camel’s back would break.

    Pricking up his ear in the still evening, he found out that this time, it seemed to start from the kitchen.

    #4475
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    A rivulet of sweat ran down the middle of Eleri’s back, taking her attention for a moment from the sting in her eye where a bead of perspiration had trickled from her steaming brow. Despite telling herself that there was no need to hurry, that there was plenty of time to get back to the cottage to join the expedition, that even if she was late and they had started without her, that she could easily catch them up, even so, she hurried along the path. There was no sign of cooling rain this day, and the sun beat down mercilessly.

    The visit with Jolly had been surprising, and had it not been for the expedition and the others waiting for her, Eleri would have stayed longer with her old friend. The village had become divided, with some of the inhabitants supporting Leroway’s invasive construction schemes, and the others disliking them greatly. And Jolly had sided with the ones opposing her husband. Old Leroway was too determined, and had too much support, to stop him cutting a swathe through the forest. And that wasn’t even the worst of his plans.

    But it wasn’t just Leroway. There had been other changes, subtle changes hard to define, but that increasingly fostered profound feelings of restlessness. The energy of the place was different, and for some the lack of resonance was becoming too unsettling to bear. Some of them started to talk about leaving, finding somewhere new. And much to everyone’s surprise, Jolly was one of them. She was leaving Leroway.

    Jolly’s people had not yet organized the exodus, had no clear plans. Eleri promised to send word when ~ if ~ she reached a suitable destination. There was no way to know what they would find beyond the mountains. But they knew they must look.

    #4476
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Glynis hadn’t said a word to any of the others about the potion and was non-committal when they pressed her for information as to the identity of her unusual visitor.

    “I used to know him … he just came to tell me his father died”, was all she had said, turning her head to avoid Margoritt’s keen gaze and excusing herself hurriedly on some pretext of needing to gather more herbs for the impending journey.

    “His father must have been as old as Methuselah and then some!” muttered Fox crossly after she was gone. “I don’t believe it for one moment. Always keeping secrets, that one.” He shook his head, possibly irritated as much by the heat and mosquitoes as Glynis’s small evasion. For after all, they each carried secrets and it was generally acknowledged they were an unlikely group of travellers who found themselves together.

    Privately, Glynis was nearly bursting with anticipation and would have applied the potion to her face at once had the instructions on the package not said to wait for the full moon.

    On the first night of the full moon, take one half teaspoonful and rub into the affected area. Rub thrice in a clockwise direction and once in a counter-clockwise direction. Repeat until the lotion is fully absorbed. FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

    And tonight was the first night of the full moon phase.

    It was as she was staring in shock and disbelief at the empty jar that she heard the scream.

    #4483
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Thankfully, there had been a little left of the potion that Tak had so voraciously eaten.

    Rukshan had almost aborted the trip to the desert to take care of the little shapeshifting gibbon urchin, whose new shade of green looked serious enough.

    As quiet as she used to be, Glynis had shown a lot of cool and dexterity in handling the suspicious food poisoning case. She was gentle with the little boy, and didn’t show much concern about his going through her stuff.

    In the end, she said she would be able to manage curing him, but that it would take probably a moon’s time.
    Seeing Rukshan’s longer than usual face about the delay, she was the one to push him to go to the desert mysterious blue beams.

    “Go with Olliver, he will teleport you both, and you can be back faster. Once you’ll be clear of what it is, we can plan something. It seems rather obvious nobody’s really ready to leave.” She glanced wryly at Eleri who was munching noisily on her goat milk’s oats.

    Rukshan smiled. She’d almost sounded as though she was the boss. In any case, Glynis was right. Despite the cottage becoming overcrowded, and the threat of nearby building work encroachments into the forest paradise, all the unexpected friends seemed not in a rush for a change of scenery. Fox, Gorrash, Eleri and Hasam’, Margorrit and Tak, and the occasional resupply visits from the village…

    “I think you’re right.” He picked up his bag and nodded at Olli. “Let us go and investigate this desert beam. Are you ready?”

    And in a flash of the golden egg device, gone they were.

    #4484
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “I think a sandstorm is coming” Rukshan pointed at Olli the menacing clouds galloping towards them. “We need to find cover!”
    It was too risky for them to teleport again with this meteorological turbulence.

    A small ridge of rock was showing not far from their landing spot. They started to rush towards it, their steps burrowing in the shifting sands making their run almost like a crawl.

    “We won’t make it!” Olli had stumbled in the soft ground, his eyes filled with terror at the darkening reddish sky.

    Olli, hurry! we’re almost there!”

    “Kweee” a squeeky sound that almost felt like a purring seemed to alleviate Olli’s fears for a moment, and he managed to hurry back to cover.

    “Not a second too early!” Rukshan shouted in the midst of the howling sands.
    The rocky formation had a crevice which was just big enough for them, and would keep them safe. Rukshan had deployed a large cape to try to seal the entrance with a magical spell.

    “Safe, for now.” He felt tickled. “What the…?”

    “Kweeeyooobilibilibu” —

    Rukshan raised an eyebrow to Olliver. “Did you feel necessary to bring one of the baby Snoot with you?”

    “It’s not me, promise! It just hitched a ride on its own.” Olliver’s face was a mix of confusion and mischievousness, Rukshan couldn’t help but laugh heartily.

    #4485
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    When they reached outside the next morning, the sky was blue, and the light already intense.
    Birds were hovering silently above in regular patterns.

    “See Olli, those are not normal birds.” Rukshan pointed toward the sky. “Too regular pattern – they are the guarding watch of whatever landed there. Better not to attract too much attention.”

    He handed to Olliver a tan cape to put over his red shirt.
    “Better be careful with the sun too.”

    The baby snoot was quick to jump on Olli’s shoulder, and at its touch, the cape seemed to glimmer invisible.

    “Ah,… that can work too.” Rukshan was still intrigued by the creatures’ capacity. They didn’t seem born of magic, but of inter-dimensional energy blending.

    “We shouldn’t be far from a village, I’ve seen some oasis from the top of the ridge earlier, we’ll follow that route, and hopefully will find out some more about these mysteries.”

    #4487
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Something seemed to jump from one of those anormal birds. A small dark spot in the sky at first it began to spread and look like a giant red flying squirrel and it was diving right at them. Rukshan caught Olli who was running around like mad and making the baby snoot nervous.
    “Relax. I think I know who it is,” he said.
    The creature landed in a geyser of sand and tumbled toward them. Rukshan pushed gently Olli to let it go its way and the ball of red hairs tumbled farther away. It sat in the sand, dazed.
    “Hi, Fox,” said Rukshan. “You couldn’t be left behind, could you?”
    Fox who had taken back his human form enough to speak.
    “There are more of them flying over the forest. I hijacked one of them to find you. I think Leroway has found new friends. I thought I could do like those squirrels, but I think I need more practice.” He said, spitting sand from his mouth.

    #4493
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Did you know that the beyond of the deserts was the birth place of the Master’s tribes — the guy who gave life to GorrashFox said to Olliver in a conspiratorial voice. “I kind of miss him… though he’s too heavy to carry around by day, this chump.” He mused while wagging his tail smelling around for crunchy scorpions.

    “Funny you would say that” said Rukshan, who was ahead of their group, between long strides on top of the sand dunes. “I had dreams about this place, and I get the feeling there is some connection to old Fay legends about these tribes. The Sand tribes had old ties to Fays of the Woods, some said they were even more advanced in the Arts — alchemy mostly. But most of the knowledge has been lost. Only legends remain — that they could crystallise diamonds imbued with life… this sort of things. Some versions of the legends spoke of darker truths, that the diamonds were made to capture elementals, to give them power…”

    He stopped in his tracks. Looking at the horizon, the oasis village they were walking towards started to reveal itself. A beautiful patch of green against the variations of sand colours.

    “If we keep on, we’ll arrive before sunset. Come on!”

    #4498
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    “Tagada” said Margoritt to Tak, after feeding him the last spoon of the red clay paste mixture he had to take daily for the past week.

    Glynnis had mixed a fine clay powder with the yellow flowers of the prikkperikum that grew in the nearby woods. It would little by little absorb the effects of the potion, and hopefully neutralise that garish greenish color off his face and fur.

    Meanwhile, Glynnis had perfected her own treatment by analysing the leftover salvaged from the lotion. Tak, with his sharp olfactory senses when he turned into a puppy, had helped her identify the plants and minerals used in the potion, as he felt bad about the whole thing. She’d liked to spend time chasing with puppy Tak after plants into the mountain woods, the nearby plains, and once even as they went as far as the heathlands where a evil wind blew… too close to the heinous machinations of Leroway to desecrate the land of old.

    Thankfully, this time, she had properly labelled the lotion, with the cute picture of a skull adorned with a flower garland, under a smiling full moon. She wasn’t sure it would be of much use to ward off gluttons, but it put a smile on her face every time she looked at it.

    With the full moon a day’s ahead, she started to grow restless. Even Eleri had noticed, and she wasn’t one to notice subtleties. While she’d encouraged Hasam’ to start to work at something outside with his hands, like building a magic rainproof dome — working with his hands was something the God would find himself endlessly bemused at — she’d started her plan to glamour-bomb the forest with placing at the most unusual places hundreds of concrete statues of little fat men wearing doilies. Something Gorrash obviously felt he was the inspiration for. In truth, it wasn’t far from it, as she’d taken the opportunity of a bright day of his stone sleep to make a plaster mold of him, and then artistically adjust postures and decorum to get her little fat men done. Gorrash had felt so appreciative of the likeness, probably encouraged in that thought by the rest of Rainbow’s babies dancing around him, that he even helped her ferry the heavy cargoes to the oddest destinations.

    #4507
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    It was still raining clumps of wet sand when Rukshan, Olliver, Fox and Twee arrived at the oasis.
    The light had dimmed and there was a feeling of hope mixed with dread in the vicinity. Only a mud brick wall no higher than a man’s waist was surrounding the village; and despite the infelicitous weather, standing here were a pair of sentinels so covered in sand clumps that they almost looked like a pair of stone wyverns guarding the entrance.

    “Sسلام Salum’ friends. We are simple merchants, passing through, please allow us some shelter for the night” explained Rukshan using what he could remember of his rusty Nomads’ old tongue.

    After a long silent glance at his strange companions, they shrugged and nodded him that he could go through.

    Rukshan signaled to the others to follow him. The central paved road was leading the the market place, which would constitute, with the masjid, the centre of the city, and the most likely place to find answers on their quest.

    Everyone seemed to have retreated to their places, in caves or the homes built on top of the caves from excavated materials. It was rather quiet except from the occasional thump noise made by the rain.

    They were about to enter an alley when they heard someone loudly call them.
    “Stop right here, Plastic Ban Police! – show us your bags and IDs.”

    #4514
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    The so-called Police quickly left when they noticed there wasn’t much on the travellers, and that they didn’t look threatening.

    If you’re looking for a place to stay the tallest one said you should go to the Hoping Spice Hospice, it’s not far away from the main street, just three blocks north of here. He looked at the sky, where the waxing gibbous moon was rising.

    I wouldn’t stray too much outside if I were you. The desert black jackals are restless this time of year. He looked at Fox who was fidgeting suspiciously. The lack of sleep and being back in human form when they were called by the Police made him nervous.

    Then, we’ll be on our way. Peace be upon you, Constable. Rukshan said, pushing forward.

    :fleuron:

    The Hospice was an unassuming building, like all the other mud brick houses, except it probably had been lime washed in the past, and patches of the external wall had whitish spots shining under the moon sky.

    The veiled nurse in charge of the night service was sternly quiet, and guided them to a common room. Almost all the beds were full, and the patients seemed to have a fitful sleep.

    “What are those?” Olliver said before Rukshan could shush him. He was pointing at the oil lamps regularly spread across the room, which were shining with a dancing faint blue light.

    “Spirits…” whispered Fox gloomily “Captured spirits…”

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