Grand Duchy 12

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 12
April 10 - April 23, 2014

Building a Raft

Gromadain 19th of Thaumont, 1001AC

Laying the Foundation

The company rises with the sun, but see that the Elves have been up for a while already. They have laid out 4 long logs on the beach as the basic outline for the raft. A light rain begins to fall, but the morning sun can still be seen shining brightly underneath scattered clouds.
Vyalia Elves.jpg
The Vyalia Elves
Stretching as he rises, Draven marvels at a solid night’s sleep and the positive effects upon his demeanor. He watches the elves at their work as he prepares himself for his morning prayers. He makes sure to add in an extra thanks for finding, after so many marches, friends on the road.

Taking a few minutes to break his fast on the leftover vegetables and a bit of hardtack from the stores that they’d brought with them, Draven makes his way over to the elves to pitch in where he can. Mostly in carting lighter goods and tying the ropes.

While he works, he engages one of the elves in conversation, asking more about them, their people, where they live and how. He even tries to learn a few words of the elven tongue as he can, for common words.

Griffin also awakens refreshed, revelling in the best sleep he’s had in a while.  Whatever that magic fog shelter was, he has to talk to Ree about it.  It rocks.

He rolls to his feet and wanders over to check on Lucky and the other horses. Not surprised, he finds them hobbled in sweetgrass, their tack under a tarp nearby. He grabs a hard roll and some dried meat and wanders over to the raft. He watches for a few minutes, chewing.

Marcel is rather surprised by the attention paid to the esthetics of the raft. He tries to wrangle the elves into building quickly something sturdy and stable, but much time seems to be put into making something that is also pretty. Brute forcing his will won’t work with that folk, so he decides to apply himself as much as he can to realize the elves’ vision. He soon finds himself trying to integrate Traladaran detailing into the barge. He finds that it is much easier to go with the flow with the elves than to fight them. Even Draven seems to be get into the groove by the time Griffin rises and approach the shore, a hard bun on hand.

The boatmakers are improvising some kind of silly humming hymn. From time to time, Marcel inserts a colorful description of the statue using phonetic elvish, which sends all of them into giggles.

Marcel pauses to speak with Griffin: “There is gruel over there. It cooled down a bit, but our friends gave me some pointers on sweetening herbs. It actually tastes nice for a change.” Draven frowns. “Well, just don’t fall in the water with a stomach full of that, that’s all.”

“I haven’t an ounce of intention to wind up in that water. It’s not that I’m afraid of it, mind. I’ve just always lived in cities, where water comes out of barrels.”

Griffin takes a few minutes to watch and get the rhythm of the work. The Elves have a way about things, the humming and song seem to coordinate their efforts. He almost hates to intrude, but he hates not contributing more.

The Elves seem to do good work, though they work slowly. Goriidel says that it is important to do it right. He estimates that the raft will be ready by the middle of the next day.

This group of Elves is a strange one. One of the Elves, a female named Taradion, does not participate in the construction of the raft. She does not seem too keen in interacting with the company at all. Another of the Elves, Tanwe, also does not seem too friendly, though he does participate in the construction of the raft. He spends most of his time looking for good logs in the woods. Parseran, another of the male Elves, appears quite strange. He does not speak Traladaran or Thyatian and spends a lot of time staring off into the distance or examining a twig or rock or piece of bark very closely. Garis, the other female in the group, prances about the area dancing and singing all the time. She is very talkative and friendly and occasionally shares flowers, hand made flower jewelry, hugs and kisses. She seems to have taken a liking to Griffin and always has a new floral adornment for him every time he turns around. Aeraliel, another male, is a bit odd, but not so bad as the others. He is quiet, though prone to moments of smiling fits and bouts of quiet laughter. No one is quite clear what he is laughing about. Aeraliel does wear a very interesting piece of outerwear though. His green cloak appears to be made out of fine fabrics and materials one moment, then the next moment, it seems to be constructed out of real leaves. The leader of the group, Goriidel, appears to be the most ‘normal’ Elf in the group, though he does have a tendency to let his conversations wander. He is overly impressed and interested in the inherent beauty of just about every possible thing. The sky, a rock, the water of the lake, a worm, Draven’s holy symbol, Marcel’s gruel. To his credit, he seems to find something positive and beautiful about everything, which does bring perspective to things and a smile to peoples faces.

The Elves patiently work with Marcel, though often times it seems that right after Marcel has worked on something, when he looks back, it has been changed or slightly altered in some way, usually aesthetically.

Flirting Among Friends

Marcel pays no mind to these enhancements and tries instead to figure out what makes the elves feel better after modification. Elves have always been an interest to him and he feels very happy to have the chance to work with them. He notices that Garis is particularly cheerful and does his very best to draw her into pleasant exchanges. Marcel is not really a lady’s man, and his attempts are somewhat awkward (involving lame but subtle flexing of his muscles), but good hearted and sincere. She at first seems more interested in Griffin, so Marcel ponders focussing on the raft as to not “get in the way”. Garis is not all that interested in the homely spearman, so Marcel focuses on his carpentry and marvel at how bold he managed to get for the first time in his life (that is, with a partner that wasn’t paid in the first place).

Garis does pass by Marcel several times, often with offers of flowers or other natural jewelry. Marcel thinks her gaze often lingers or her touch a little more intimate than it needed to be. She is kind and brings water and berries to eat. Marcel smiles to himself, then notices that Garis continues to hover around Griffin as well. A giggle from behind him draws Marcel’s attention. The Elf Aeraliel is working on notching out the ends of some of the logs. He stares at Marcel intently for a moment, giggles again and then turns back to his work.

Griffin pitches in and works the day away, but also enjoys the attentions of the beautiful Elf maid Garis. Not a bad time to practice flirting! He notices Marcel lingering nearby, but doesn’t pay it much heed. Although Garis is not his first choice for answers, she is there, and very attractive, and the raft is going to take a while.

“So, Garis, ma belle, these pixies. Are they not your friends? Why would they steal from you?”

“Oh yes, the Pixies are wonderful beings. So beautiful and as whimsical as the spring wind. I do not know why they would have taken our statue, though easily they could have been overcome by its beauty as we were,” she muses as she dances around the beach.

“So, have you spoken since they went out to the island? Do they speak Elvish, too?”

“I have not seen seen much of them since they have moved to the island, except of course when they came and took our statue. And even then, you know, I did not see them. Pixies are Fae creatures. They can become invisible and remain that way, even while engaged with others. They only become visible when they want. When we were attacked, some of our number used magic to be able to see what was really going on,” Garis explains.

“I don’t suppose you have any of that magic to share with us when we go out there?  It sounds really useful.”

“That is a good idea. How would one share magic? I suppose we could cast the spells on you and do our best to maintain them until you get to the island. How long do you think it will take you to make it out to the island?” The Elf maiden turns and looks out into the mist. “It is a good distance. Are you all skilled boatmen?”

Griffin runs his hand through his hair. “Um, well, actually probably not.  I was hoping that piloting a raft wouldn’t require too much skill.” He looks a bit sheepish.  “We’re still kinda new at this.”

“Hey, as long as we’re um, getting to know one another, what do you know of a guy out here - some kinda of clairvoyant or seer?  We were told he might be able to help us as well”

“Ahh, you must be referring to Old Joll. Some call him the Seer of the Lake. He is a good man. He has walked these woods for some time. I have met him a few times. He is rumored to have a hut in the area somewhere, though I do not know where. He does know much about these lands, though. It is true.” Garis continues to stare out at the lake.

Griffin nods, “And since we’re talking about interesting denizens of the woods, the folk in Susikyn said something about a dragon? Is there such a beast hereabouts?”

Garis turns back to Griffin, now with a more serious look on her face. “Yes, the Mighty Argos dwells somewhere near here, it is said. I have seen the beast many times. He is not very old, as far as Dragons go, but he can be a force to be reckoned with. I have never met him in battle and the Vyalia try to keep out of his sight when possible.” She pauses, then continues, “I remember when the green beast arrived here. There were great clashes between him and the Witches though things have calmed down in the last century or so, he is in league with some of the Goblin tribes, I believe, though they come and go so quickly it is hard to keep track of them.”

Griffin nods, gazing out at the lake. “Okay, dragon - check. Now, who are these witches you mentioned? And in anticipation, are there any other forces for good or evil, or just things that are dangerous, in the area that you know about?”

“Oh, the witches, you know, they are just a bunch of Hags!” She twirls and laughs at her joke. “There are 9 of them, spread out across the Dymrak. Powerful and dangerous, though not necessarily evil, at least not ALL the time. They seem to have their own agendas and utilize the other folk of the forest to do their bidding. They are old, they were old in the forest when I was a new Elf in the world. I have not ever had any direct contact with them, nor have any of my companions, I think.”

Conversation with Goriidel

“Does it… do anything, this statue? Purely an object of art?”

Goriidel, who has been working nearby and chatting with Draven, replies. "It's beauty is enchanting, but it is a natural charm, not the magic conjured by mortal sorcerers. It does not DO anything, though. It IS beauty. You will understand when you see it. Perfection of form. Textures more real than your most vivid dreams. I know not who coaxed such beauty out of cold metal thus, but I know it was given in friendship, which makes it altogether more beautiful. The Dwarves and Gnomes of the mountain mine may know more. They are stout and good folk. I wish we could have helped them more with their troubles, but we do not tarry long in the Zargash Peaks. Our folk need to stick to the forests, rivers and lakes we are used to." The Elf pauses for a moment, looking to the north and smiling. "Of course, the mountains are quite beautiful. Tall, strong and majestic..." He continues on, waxing poetic about the great beauty of nature.

Draven holds his tongue, but quietly wonders to himself whether or not this statuette mightn’t be cursed to be desirable beyond all reason. One thing at a time, he reminds himself, and promises to pray on it to see if he comes to some inspiration about the nature of this new quest.

He quizzes the elves on their interactions with the goblins, their knowledge of the different tribes, what they know of the land here, if they’ve traveled much other than the mountains with the dwarves.

Draven learns some little bits of information about the Elves, the land and the other inhabitants of the area, but nothing very helpful or specific.

Waves of Destiny

Taking a break from the work and pointedly not paying attention to all of the “fixes” being made to his handiwork, he sits down near Taradion where she’s been being aloof. “You seem to have something else on your mind, other than rafts or statues.” He tries to engage her in conversation.

Taradion glances at Draven as he sits next to her and forces a smile. “Oh, you are quite wrong, Human. I am very concerned with rafts and statues, very concerned. Goriidel has tasked you with retrieving his statue from the island, but it has been known for many ages that the Vyalia do not go to the island. We are not to concern ourselves with that place, for it holds great evil for us. By sending you there, I fear great calamity will befall our people. Had you and your companions not arrived yesterday, Goriidel would have grown bored and forgotten about his precious statue. We would have moved on. I see you as the cause of the darkness that comes for us. I have seen it in the lake when I cast my stones. I have seen the blackness that destroys all Elves. And then I saw you. This was 3 nights before you arrived.”

Keeping his voice pitched low, Draven delves for more answers. “Yet you spoke of none of this - out of respect for Goriidel? These seem grave tidings to me, and make me wonder whether we should be taking this commission or not.” He ponders for a moment. “Your foreseeing - your seeing us before we arrived tells me that it is true, but does it give you no more details about this blackness? Can you tell us any more about this island, the Ilya inhabitants, and why you are forbidden to go there?”

Taradion continues, “Goriidel knows this, I made my vision known to him both before and after you arrived. He does not believe in the truth of the waters.” She continues and shares what she knows about the Ilya Pixie clan. She tells Draven that the group is not large, no more than 30 or so Pixies and that generally speaking, they are good natured folk. They had formerly lived a bit to the north, in some secret glen in the hills, but had for some reason relocated to the island in the lake. In the past they had always gotten along with the Elves, going so far as to almost be considered friends, though the Pixies were always of a much shorter attention span and generally more interested in frolicking and playing around than doing anything of a more serious nature.

As for the island on the lake, she only knows that it has always been a place of evil and fear for the Elves. They have never gone there in her knowledge. As for what specifically makes the island dangerous, she does not know but suspects something of a magical nature.

“Well, we certainly bear no ill-will towards the little folk, and would bring no ill fortune upon them any more than we would upon you, by deliberate choice. I wish I could have seen with my own eyes your oracle, that the Immortals might grant me to see something therein that you might not - merely by virtue of my different nature.”

“Did your oracle give you anything more to work with, or was it, like so many, frustratingly imprecise?”

Taradion stares off over the lake and speaks. “My divination comes from the water. It is not an easy thing. Only I can see the true nature of the vision, and even then, it is unclear. I feel it is your destiny, though, to bring harm to the Vyalia. You must not go to the island.” The Elf has gotten herself worked up a bit at this point and Goriidel wanders back over. “What troubles you, Taradion? Have you gazed into the waters of the lake again? Some new portent threatens our lives?” He smiles and laughs quietly.

“You may laugh, Goriidel, but I know what I saw in the water. The island is taboo, we cannot go there. If you send these folk there, it will bring us doom!” Taradion waves her hands in the air above her head as she speaks, almost yells, at Goriidel.

“Calm down, my friend. Calm down. No one is bringing anyone doom. Have you seen a different vision? This seems to be different to what you were saying the other day, before our friends arrived. You spoke something about strangers shattering the blackness. That sounds more like helping us than dooming us,” Goriidel retorts.

At this, Taradion sticks her nose up in the air and stomps off. Goriidel merely smiles and goes back to work on the raft, leaving Draven standing there with his mouth slightly open trying to figure out what just happened.

Giving up on the notion of figuring out elves, Draven waits a moment in quiet contemplation and then returns to work on the raft.

Marcel notice Draven talking to the elves and notice Draven’s concern in his facial expression. He ponders walking over but soon gets distracted by yet another esthetic fix. Eventually, Draven shakes his head in disbelief and walks away. Marcel concludes that there is nothing really to worry about.

A Hunting We Will Go

The raft is coming together nicely
The day slowly winds to an end and while much work was done on the raft that day, it is still considerably unfinished but Goriidel is sure it will be completed by midday the following day. Aeraliel announces that he and Parseran will be heading out into the surrounding forest to look for provisions to prepare the evening meal. Giggling, he asks if any of the Grey Company would like to accompany them. The intermittent showers that filled the day seem to have subsided and the Elves believe that there will be some good herbs and mushrooms growing that will greatly add to the culinary beauty of the coming meal.

Griffin raises his hand. “I’d love to learn more from Aeraliel and Parseran about what sorts of bounty the forest can provide.  Please.”

Aeraliel smiles wide at Griffin and nods his head then looks at the rest of the gathered folk, waiting to see if any others are interested in going.

“If there’s a member of this merry band that needs to learn more about how to keep body and soul together in the wilds, I guess that’d be me.” Draven leaves his shield behind in the camp, but hangs his club on his belt, and readies his sling. “Who knows, maybe I can catch us something for Marcel’s stewpot!”

Draven and Griffin follow the two Elves into the woods. They are both amazed at how quickly and quietly they move through the forest. As they move, the strange Elf Parseran moves out ahead, occasionally disappearing behind trees and then reappearing nearby, though seeming to somehow jump from one spot to another. Aeraliel keeps his pace slow enough for the two Humans to keep up. He points out some general things in the surrounding forest, some beautiful plants to avoid, some beautiful squirrel tracks, some beautiful textures in the tree bark. He goes on and on for some time. While they are foraging, Draven manages to find some barely ripened fruits growing on a bush though Griffin is not as lucky and finds nothing.

“Well, that ought to help with some flavor,” mutters Draven to himself. To Griffin he whispers “Not that I want to get on their bad side, but I could do with a bit of meat to stretch out rations as well.”

Encouraged by Draven’s words, Griffin starts looking for some type of small prey in the darkening twilight of the forest. After a while, he sees something moving in the nearby underbrush, possibly a squirrel or rabbit. With a twang his crossbow goes off and the bolt flies into the undergrowth. Nearby, Aeraliel looks at Griffin with a bit of a scowl on his face, but does not say anything about the Thyatian’s hunting. Griffin and Draven approach the bush where their dinner should be waiting but find nothing. Griffin pushes the branches of the bush aside in a wider area, hoping to find a skewered animal, but only finds his bolt sticking out of the damp earth. As he pulls the bolt from the ground, he notices several holes in the ground, three of them, each just wide enough to fit a hand into. Each of these holes, though, has a curious yellow glow coming out of them. Before Draven can even ask about what they are looking at, Griffin is poking around in the hole, trying to figure out where the glow is coming from.

As the young Thyatian reaches toward the nearest hole, the source of the glow is revealed as a swarm of fist-sized beetles with glowing parts scurries out of all three of the holes. He pulls back quickly, but not before some of the vermin crawl up onto his exposed hands, biting his flesh. He quickly stands up and steps back as the swarm of beetles issues forth from the holes.

Griffin swears and shakes his left hand, then puts it in his mouth. “Nasty little buggers drew blood!” he exclaims as he stomps on a few of them, not so much in self-defense as a crude revenge.  “What the heck are those things?”

“You want me to look at that?” Draven asked.

As Draven moves to look at Griffin's hand, both men realize that there are quite a few of these beetles now and they are starting to swarm up onto their legs, their small but sharp mandibles looking for soft flesh!

“Gaaa!  Maybe we should talk about that after we get out of here!”  He takes off at top speed towards his Elvish guides, hoping to leave the vermin behind. “Hey, Aeraliel! What are these bugs, anyway?”

Dodging backwards, Draven slaps at his trouser legs, hoping to dislodge any of the little biters that have tried to crawl inside. “Yeesh, these things are terrible. What on earth were you looking for to set them off so? You’re like a bear, hell bent for honey who doesn’t care about the bee stings!”

The glowing beetle swarm is easily outpaced and within a moment, the Elves are back by their sides. Aeraliel says they are Fire Beetles. Very aggressive and territorial. The glowing glands on their heads are known to continue to glow for several days if carefully removed.

Griffin grins at Draven. “Isn’t that cool? A cold light source, and we wouldn’t have found out about it if I hadn’t stuck my hand in their holes. Sometimes you have to take a chance, y’know?” He grimaces. “Although maybe next time I’ll have bought some gloves. That might be useful.” He lingers, pondering going back to see if he can collect some of these strange critters. “Yea, let’s get back to camp and we can try and fix me up.” He heads back to the lake with Draven and their guides.

Back at the lake camp, Draven takes a look at his injured companion’s hand. He does his best to fix it up while dinner is being finished. After dinner the Elves summon their magical, protective mist and the night passes without any further incident.

Tserdain 20th of Thaumont, 1001AC

Finishing the Raft

The next morning, the sun rises on a warm and dry day. There are no clouds in the sky and the breeze is blowing strong. Work on the raft goes quickly and by lunch time, the craft appears lake-worthy.

Continued on GDA13 - Pixie Party

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 
Remar Umerus, an Alphatian battle mage that escaped forced service in the Thyatian army conjured by +Ben Lipe 
Marcel Maas, a down on his luck Traladaran soldier turned mercenary commanded by +Christian Blouin 
Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos piously played by +Jason Packer 
and +Jason Woollard as the DM

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