Authors Note: This actually goes back a while, and I have a lot of writing to catch up on. I will continue to create new entries until we are caught up so stay tuned!
“It is important that one never stops learning. Whether it be traditional studies through books and letters, or more practical studies of life and experience. The moment you stop learning… stop wanting to learn… is the moment you cease to be.”
The party seems adrift with Shalev gone. Despite all of the things they said about him and to him, they can not deny that he provided for us. It is interesting that with him gone, they seem to have lost interest in completing the tasks we have set ourselves to accomplish. They seem content to wander aimlessly, and I am reminded strongly of the moment we… I first encountered them wandering lost and ill-prepared through the middle of the desert.
We made our way along the road, traveling west at a steady and uninterrupted pace. The roads here are scarred badly in places and not well maintained, but still passable. Travel is not difficult, and we see small farm houses scattered throughout the fields. There is a large forest off to the right composed primarily of nut trees, and I took the opportunity to gather some of these for our stores. It was slow going, but we were not traveling quickly, and eventually I was able to gather two full barrels of pecans and walnuts. The nuts were sweet and delicious, and I was thrilled to find such a bounty. I thanked the trees for their fruit, though I do not know if they heard or cared.
After about two weeks, we were able see the mountain clearly off to the right, and we used this as an additional guide in our travels. The roads were thankfully quiet, and we appeared to be the only travelers out and about. As we rode, we saw the corn fields that had stretched for acres end and a huge field of the strange crimson flowers begin. Recalling the earlier warning about the danger of these flowers, we noticed with some caution that the road branched off here and the road to the right went straight through the center of that field. The left hand path went off by the edge of the corn fields, and Jaeger agreed to scout ahead as a raven.
When he returned, he told the party that the path through the flowers was much faster, potentially, than continuing on our current path. Still wary of the potential effects of the carmine fields, we elected to stay on our current path despite the additional travel time, and continued on the left hand path around the flowers.
The next morning, the party awoke to what appeared to be snow falling, and as we began to bring out the winter gear, we noticed a humming sound in the air. We looked around to try to locate the source of the sound, and we saw a number of iridescent soap bubbles floating in the air in a northern direction.
While this was, by far, not the strangest thing some of us had ever seen, it was enough to make us pause for a moment. When Jaeger reached out to touch one of the delicate bubbles with a curious look on his face, it popped with a small sound. The bubbles gradually increased in size, and one particularly large bubble was almost 8 feet across. This large bubble descended down right in front of where the party stood, and when it touched the ground it burst in a shimmering shower to reveal a human woman wearing long white robes.
The party watches her warily, and she looks long at the party, noticing each one of the magic users right away with a simple nod in their directions. After a moment, she comments that she noticed that we had chosen to travel around the flowers, and that this was wise. She asked us directly then what we intended to do to fix the land, asking KelLyn specifically if, as an archmage, could she not detect the imbalances?
I remained silent at this, but raised an eyebrow, as this is something I had been telling the party almost as soon as we arrived. KelLyn murmured that she wasn’t always an archmage, and then waxed poetic about balance and the nature of things. I looked at her with some amusement at this, and began to think that maybe – just maybe – she had been paying attention to what I was saying after all.
The woman, who says her name is Glenda, tells us that the war has spread across the entire continent, and asked what our purpose here in this bowl was. As KelLyn had been singled out by her, she continued to speak, telling Glenda about our quest to restore the sylvan tree in the center of Emer, and the additional quests that we had to heal GranTier and locate Joffrey’s library.
At that statement, Glenda smartly quipped “which one?” and tells KelLyn that the library that we are seeking is most likely the one located over in the Krakafir mountain ranges. KelLyn ranted for a while about Joffrey breaking her things, and when she described her staff, Glenda took immediate notice. When Glenda expressed interest in this, KelLyn told the her about the desert being cursed, and then said “but I fixed it.” Which caused Tobias and I to glare at her with some anger, because it was not she alone that helped to restore the desert, and had it not been for all of us, we could not have accomplished the feat.
Glenda noticed our ire, and raised her eyebrow at KelLyn at the presumptive nature of her declaration, but then quickly changes the subject to ask her about her ability to do magic with water, as it was an uncommon gift. KelLyn mentioned Lan, and Lan began speaking animatedly about fish and water,and how she missed the ocean. She then stopped, mid-ramble, to ask what kind of fish hamburger was, and then started up about water again, and the strangeness of the fish there.
This whole conversation caused Glenda to blink, amused, but she was either very interested in what Lan was saying, or she was too polite to interrupt the selkie’s chatter. The rest of the party, seeing no threat and deciding that we were not going anywhere any time soon, began to set out the camp again and relax.
I watched, quietly, and listened as KelLyn and Glenda talked. KelLyn proceeded to lay out her entire life story for the unknown woman as if they were long lost sisters. During the course of the conversation, her goddess Leilanna was brought up, which made Lan chirp that she was her avatar. This sparked another long discussion about divinity, which ended with Lan wondering aloud if Leilanna could taste whatever she tasted, and promptly licking the ground.
Again, Glenda blinked at the antics, and murmured under her breath about whether or not we actually HAD traveled through the flowers. After a moment, Glenda waved her hands and snow fell gently onto the blood colored flowers. She pulled out a wand, and I tensed at the action, but she only conjured a table with a smile and a statement that it was time for a break. I relaxed some at this, realizing that there was nothing we could likely do if she chose to harm us in any case, and in desert fashion, I offered to share food with her. Tobias brought out one of the older bottles of wine to share, and the food appeared directly on the plates in large portions. I noticed with some appreciation that the meal was individually tailored to each of the party members, and that the vegetables and fruits that appeared on my own plate were well spiced and seemed at the peak of their season.
Jaeger pulled out his sword and laid it on the table, as was his custom to do. Half of his food vanished into the sword, and Glenda’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. She accepted the wine that we had provided, and crystal goblets appeared to pour it into. She asked us about our next steps then, and KelLyn stated that our immediate goal was to repair or restore the sylvan tree. I was uncomfortable with the amount of information KelLyn seemed to be so carelessly sharing, and I shot her a warning glance as Glenda asked her how we knew it was still there.
Glenda cautioned us that we would need to be stealthy to get back in, and tells us that the dragon would be quite difficult to deal with, as things are the way they are here for a reason. She says that the imbalance here is necessary, with a glance at me. KelLyn tells her about the blue dragon that we encountered and Glenda looks at her with some alarm. She tells us about dragon nobility, and the difference between metallic and chromatic dragons. She tells us also that we had gathered a large amount of power together in one place, and that those who sense magic could see us coming from a half mile away.
This was not new information for us, as Jaeger had warned us before about his swords inability to mask it’s signature. Glenda went on to say, with a note of ire, that those who had worked hard to control their destinies saw us as a wild card, and as a dangerous one at that. She added in a warning that we should be careful in our travels here, as we trod in a place where we could come face to face with our own destiny.
Then, with a deep breath as though she were making a decision, she stated that if we continued down this road past “Hoppin John’s” farm, that we would end up at Waglebug University where we would find information that would be useful. She reinforced the warning that the right fork should be avoided as it leads straight to Emer. She wished us well, and drawing a circle at her feet, stepped into the giant bubble that formed around her. She said she needed to depart to look more into the appearance of the blue dragon, as it concerned her greatly, and with that she floated away. The table disappeared with her, and the party begins to break camp and prepare to travel on.
KelLyn asks Jaeger something, and they begin discussing in earnest for a few moments. She tells the rest of the party that she is (finally) looking into a way to mask our appearance to other magic users. She uses her Nature of things spell on her necklace to see if that would lend her any clues on how to cast a spell on the entire party, but does not come up with any useful information. She promises to continue to look into it though, and we begin our journey along the road once again.
Another week passed before we saw anything other than flowers and corn fields. We came to a break in the fields where we saw a large, well kept farm, with workers out in the fields. We noticed that one of the workers was running towards the party carrying a pack on his shoulders.
The large man hailed the party loudly, and asked directly if he could join us to help kill the dragon. We looked wryly at the farm hand, and asked him pointedly who he was, and if he knew what he is getting himself into. He told us his name was Scott, and that his boss told him to go get hired on with a caravan. He told us that he was bored with farm life and looking for some adventure, then asked for a going rate of three silver a week. We chuckled a bit at this, knowing that he would soon have more than he likely would ever know what to do with, and with a glance at one another, agreed to let him join us.
We traveled on for another few hours and then made camp for the night. That evening, Jaeger and Scott got into a wrestling match to see if they could prove who was stronger. I watched the male display for a moment, before shaking my head and returning to my studies, meditations, and tea.
The next morning, I requested that we wait a while, as the season had turned and I wanted to do the rituals for springtime properly. I took the time and moved a little away from the party. I could tell that the ring of mushrooms surrounding this place still dampened my connection with my ancestors, and I felt the distance keenly. I was able to successfully complete the spells and rituals though, and their culmination made me feel some better.
I returned to the camp in time to see a live goat fall from the sky with a bewildered bleat. Scott caught the goat easily and tossed it towards Osman, who was not so skilled at catching farm animals and instead caught the confused animal with his face. Both he and the goat toppled over with a surprised cry, but thankfully neither was overly harmed. Scott walked over to calm the goat down, and he asked quite confused where the goat came from. Osman sat up and explained that, where he comes from, once a year goats fall from the sky if you said the right words.
The rest of the party laughed at this, but I gave them all a disapproving look at the deception, making a mental note that I should not take any of them at their word when they spoke in Common.
Scott and Jaeger got into another wrestling match, and while they grappled with one another, I made my way over to where Lan and KelLyn were sitting. We began to discuss how to potentially break the fairy ring here, and the ramifications that such an action might cause. I mentioned that I got the strong feeling that, while Glenda may have been one of those who had worked hard to control her own destiny, that she had aided us in her own way, and may not be so opposed to the return of natural order here.
The next morning, we all woke up to the goat making a horrible racket right near Osman’s ear. Scott looked at the goat with the critical eye of an experienced farm hand and promptly stated that the goat wasn’t right in the head, but seemed physically healthy. Osman tried to talk to it, but this only led to more loud bleats from the goat, and confusion on Osman’s behalf as he tried to figure out what his godsend was trying to tell him.
The goat kept acting strangely, bleating loudly, stumbling around, and running into everything. We eventually decided to break camp and move on with the noisy animal in tow. Even the horses were eyeing the goat warily, and as we travelled, Scott eventually became fed up with the noise and threatened to knock the goat out if Osman couldn’t quiet it. This, naturally, caused an argument to break out, and I took note of the aggression between Osman and Scott. KelLyn stated that the goat seemed to be magical, and as they argued, I watched the goat. After another moment of everyone yelling at each other, I calmly stepped in the middle of the argument and pointed to the goat, who was happily, noisily, and woozily munching on the crimson flowers that were growing near the roadside.
The argument ceased then, and Osman quickly pulled the disgruntled goat away from his colorful feast. Osman put a muzzle on the goat to prevent it from eating any more of the addicting drug flowers, and travel afterward proceded quietly. It took an entire day for the goat to come down off of whatever it was in the flowers that made it so delirious, and it became obvious that if we had gone through the forest of flowers instead of taking the long way around, we would have been lost ourselves.
Eventually we came to the fork in the road that Glenda had told us about, and we decided to keep to the straight path, feeling like we were not yet prepared to enter Emer itself. We followed the path until we came to an enormous and ornate wrought iron fence that surrounded a large and immaculately kept campus with several stately buildings scattered among the green grasses and shrubs. The presence of iron here was curious, and the sheer amount of it was impressive. It was obviously meant to repel and keep out fairies of all kinds, and Lan was distinctly uncomfortable.
We discussed it with her, and we all agreed that she should stay outside of the fence with the cart and the bulk of our belongings, as we did not want the presence of the iron to injure her. Scott agreed to stay with the cart, and Jaeger also offered to remain behind. Tobias, Osman, KelLyn, and I walked up to the decorative gate, and we are guided to the administration building.
Once inside, a round little man walked up and welcomed us all to the university. He explained that the library was open to all who wished to study, and that they offered a variety of courses for those who wished to learn. He recognized KelLyn immediately, and warned her sternly not to cast any magic anywhere on campus. He pulled out a lengthy liability waiver that he requested that she sign as agreement, and she grumpily agreed.
Tobias inquired about what classes were offered, and after hearing the descriptions, expressed interest in some. He was informed that those he was most interested in were already in session, and it was too late to register for them. He chose a biology and a monster knowledge class, and he was ushered off to where the classroom areas were located.
I expressed my simple desire to visit the library, and I was shown the way to the great gold doors. Osman follows me to the library, and once through the doors I approached the librarian to ask for guidance in my search for knowledge.
The librarian looks at me kindly, and asked what I was searching for, and I requested – to start with – a history of this area, and any information they could find for me about the sylvan tree. He disappeared among the books and scrolls, and after a while came back to me with a cart full to overflowing with texts.
I am able to learn much of what happened to create this place as it is now, and only a little about the tree. From what I learned, the elves that were here had arrived early after the crater was formed, and planted the sylvan tree over the wellspring at it’s heart. The elves were loathe to share the sight of the tree with anyone else though, and were loathe to leave the tree unguarded. They built a wall around the city to protect the tree, and over time become complacent, and were central in provoking conflicts between the four quadrants.
The city was impossible to take, with the wall that the elves had built, importing rocks from Al-Auld mines, which were now known as the “Border of Death.” The dragon came down from the caves to the north, and seeing the city, dug up the entire road to prevent easy access to the city, and carried the hoard of gold to the center of the city which he made his dwelling.
The tree in the center was crushed by the fae dragon and the dragon used the sap to encase a man who had attacked him so that he wouldn’t rise up against him again. I recalled the ghost castle where the knight encased in sap had rested, and did not tell the librarian about what we had done.
the librarian goes on to tell me that the dragon continued to monitor the treasure he had gathered at the center of the city, and that as a fae, the dragon was susceptible to iron. Magic was generally unreliable here, and each quadrant was essentially now an empire of their own. The entire crater was under an extreme amount of magical tension.
Among the texts and writings was also a detailed map of the entire area, and I asked the librarian to have the map transcribed. They agreed to do so, and when I offer to pay for it with some old platinum coins from my own purse, they sternly tell me that platinum is cursed and that they will not accept it. I relay this information to the party, recalling the warning that Shalev had given them when they picked up the platinum bars from the ghost castle. They made a sound of derision when I told them my own concerns, mirroring the thoughts of both Shalev and the librarian, and I tried to get them again to avoid using the platinum. An argument about finances broke out, and I asked simply if they wanted the map, or not. They grudgingly said that they did, and so I used some of the party funds to purchase the map, staying well clear of even touching the platinum bars that had been picked up.
I returned then to the library with the gold required, and returned as well to my studies of the area..oOo..oOo..oOo..oOo.