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    Rats, We're Rats, We're the Rats.

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    Dwarf Night! Dwarves Assemble! In about 7.5 hours from now (8pm est)! Meet by the main gate to Hammersong

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    Reminder: no necro night tonight! See you Saturday for the big event!

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    Unfortunately, I have had something come up today and I will not be able to run Nature Night again today.

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    Feel free to get together as The Called and have an adventure and/or some great RP. smile

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    Meant to get this out earlier, but there is a Necro Night tonight, starting in about 7 minutes!

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    I have to go into the office today, so I will not be able to host Nature Night. frown

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The Island of Thain :: Forums :: In Character Discussion
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Three Branches, One Wood

LAN_402 LAN_403
3:06:14 pm GMT 04/29/09
Vaedryan Registered Member #345 Joined: 2:28:49 am GMT 11/25/04
Posts: 1920

At first a single voice, but soon joined by another; distant, light, full of life and joy, yet suppressed, as though careful to preserve the quiet of this place. The sound adds to nature’s own symphony – leaves rustled by a frolicking wind and waters tumbling lightly over rounded stones in the nearby brook, joined occasionally by a chorus of birdsong offered by avian voices hidden among the canopy’s limbs.


Kissed by a light breeze, cool and refreshing against the skin, washing away doubt and worry like particles of sand carried off by the ice-clear waters of a flowing stream. Breath, in a long steady rhythm, filling the lungs with the purest air, bearing only a hint of the forest in its scent, nothing more. A sense of belonging, and not belonging; bound to this place, always watching, but of a different time.


Two ephemeral figures, women in gossamer gowns, one white, one pastel green, lean toward one another filling the glade with their subdued, lyrical laughter. Eyes, vibrant and alluring, look toward a third figure. A male, fully armoured in polished steel and possessed with a commanding posture, steps easily into the glade, his gait blessed by fluid grace despite the plates he wears. The armor, tinted in shades of silver and emerald… familiar… the scimitar resting in its sheath by his side… somehow known.


The man’s eyes widen, filling instantly with resolve as they turn sharply to the sky. The wind whips, building to a fury. Branches of oak and elm recoil, bending to their limit, leaves torn from their limbs. An acrid odor, burning, unsettling, unholy, fills the lungs as clouds bury the sun, leaving the glade in unnatural darkness. Flame consumes one of the laughing women, leaving her writhing, her shock and horror plain as the other flees into the wood howling with fear. Though he stands against it, the winds tear at the armoured figure. His scimitar, drawn, glows with a divine fury dimmed by wind-borne debris. The gale scours his skin raw as the plates he wears lose their burnish… becoming spoiled and pitted by rust.


Gaelwyn’s breath caught in his chest as the haunting dream startled him from reverie. He sucked in the night air, his skin slick with a sheen of sweat despite the early-autumn cool. He stood to work the tension from his limbs, resting a hand on the glade-crystal, its microvibrations filling the air with a soothing hum. Looking skyward, toward the star-filled sky, he shut his eyes to the world and let the sound of the crystal and the night calm him. He stood there for a time, finding comfort in the world around him, its tapestry of sound full of life.

As his surroundings worked to help him regain a sense of tranquillity, Gaelwyn allowed himself to review the images from his reverie.

I know that armor and blade,” he thought as he splashed a handful of brookwater over his face.

I have held them,” he recalled, thinking on that day in the Wastes and the swirl of mixed emotion that had descended upon him as he and the others recovered the armor, blade and helm from the gullet of the felled blue wyrm.

Why such an image should visit him during his reverie, he did not know, but who the armoured figure from the vision represented, that he knew without question.

Gaelwyn collected his pack and bow, one name echoing through his thoughts as he walked toward the City, and the tomb atop Queen’s Hill.

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10:15:21 pm GMT 04/30/09
Vaedryan Registered Member #345 Joined: 2:28:49 am GMT 11/25/04
Posts: 1920
“Aya!” Gaelwyn winced, the hot tea burning the back of his throat. He placed the cup back on its saucer. “This tea has steeped for twenty minutes now. How does it hold so much heat yet?,” he asked, reaching for a glass of cooled water, knowing that it would do little good.

“Careful… careful,” Harybba, the ancient druidess and friend, held a hand out in a now unnecessary warning as she spoke, her voice frail from centuries of use. She then let out a laugh, tinny from age, but full of good nature still. It was good to see her so. She was among the oldest to have made the journey with Queen Yu’syu from the Poisonwood, and one of the last to make peace with her memories.

“Willing to face the blades of cannibals and the ogre’s foul stench," she spoke between her laughter, "but unable to manage your tea, now?”

Gaelwyn laughed as well, glad for the moments of levity to distract him from his thoughts. His dreams had disturbed him. He did not delude himself into believing he had become a dream-reader, or attribute any visionary power to the images that haunted him, but they haunted him all the same, and he needed to understand why. Harybba, with her pithy wisdom, could help if any could.

After the mirth of the moment passed, and the laughter faded, Harybba turned again to the topic at hand. “The three figures from your dreams,” she asked while leaning forward to stir a pellet of maple sap into her tea, the spoon chinking lightly against her cup. “They are always the same?”

Gaelwyn shook his head while fanning the surface of his tea to cool it.

“No,” he said. “The figure of Kynnonnen, he has been present in each. But the other two,” he shook his head once more. “Always different: two laughing women; a father teaching his son how to draw a bow; two youths, friends, shoving and tumbling. Each time, they are different faces, but always three including Kynnonnen. Never more. Never Less.”

“And the one always perishes by flame?” The druidess sipped from her tea, settling back into her chair.

Gaelwyn cradled his cup in both hands, feeling the heat permeate through the earthenware, surprised that the druidess could tolerate the temperature already. “Yes,” he said before correcting himself. “Well, no.”

“Yes, one figure always perishes,” he explained, “but no, not always by flame. I will spare you the details,” he said, motioning with one hand, perhaps to dismiss the details, or perhaps to vanquish the pain on those faces from his thoughts. “The means change – fire, acid, unnatural decay – but the suffering…”

Gaelwyn shook his head and blinked, the images coming to him as he spoke of them. His jowls tightened, then relaxed as he forced the images from his mind. He set his tea back on its saucer, having lost his appetite for it for a time.

He continued. “The agony they endure,” he said, “is immense, and always plainly visible.”

The druidess watched Gaelwyn closely, the vividness of the images only now becoming clear to her. “To the end?” she asked, her tone quieter, more sober.

“Yes,” Gaelwyn said, “until I start from reverie.”

A puzzled look came over Harybba. She took another sip from her tea before setting it down and rising from her chair. She walked a short distance to an old armoire, a missionary style piece with its slatting slightly warped by age. By its years, the piece must have come with her from the Poisonwood, or it was recovered here, surviving the City’s ruin.

Harybba pulled a dried flower from a drawer within the armoire, placing it along with other materials into a small bowl, then grinding them with a pestle, grabbing the instrument in both hands and hunching her weight into it, as though it required all of her age-diminished strength. Gaelwyn knew better than to offer her aid, still stinging from the lecture she had given him the last time he had tried.

“So,” she said while still focused on the grinding. “It seems the one does not perish after all.”

Gaelwyn’s brow furrowed briefly, apparently not following, before understanding came to him.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “They still suffer from their torment when I rise from reverie, before death takes them. But certainly they cannot sur-“

Harybba set the pestle down, interrupting him with a wag of her crooked finger. She then carried the mixture back to the table. “But they do,” she said, her eyes brightened by the grin of one who has just solved a puzzle. She wagged her finger once more. “They do survive. You rise before their end.”

Gaelwyn reached for his tea, thinking on that, wondering what Harybba saw that he did not yet. Harybba, meanwhile, pinched some of the mixture from the small bowl, tossing it lightly into the air where it hovered, ground as fine as dust.

The air filled with a smell that reminded Gaelwyn of springtime walks through a field of wildflowers.

Harybba’s grin widened as she watched Gaelwyn’s raction. “Lavender,” she said, “and vanilla. Good to soothe the mind.”

She took her seat once more, reaching for her tea, breathing it in. “A wonderful scent when added to the sagebrush and maple,” she added, speaking of the tea.

Gaelwyn agreed as he sipped from his own cup.

Shafts of the afternoon sun beamed through Harybba’s window before they returned to the subject of the images in his dreams.

“That the one does not perish,” Gaelwyn said. “You find some meaning in this, some importance?”

Harybba looked surprised. “Yes,” she said. “Of course. They are dreams, and so they are windows to thoughts that we might not otherwise voice, or even know we had.”

“But you know,” Gaelwyn pressed, “or seem to.”

“Tell me this,” Harybba said, leaning across the table toward the ranger, her tone patient but intense. “The other figure, they always flee?”

Gaelwyn nodded. “Yes,” he said, curious, but still not fitting the pieces. “Nearly always through the wood, but once by taking the form of a hawk swept away by the winds.”

Harybba seemed to expect the answer. “And the setting,” she asked. “Where do these dreams take place?”

“Here, always,” Gaelwyn replied. “Within the Greenwood. The glade.”

Harybba grinned, grasping the ranger’s forearm and squeezing as she looked into his eyes. “Gaelwyn, my noble ranger,” she said, “I believe you dream of us.”

Her grin widened with self-satisfaction. She patted Gaelwyn’s arm once before reclining back into her chair as though it must all be obvious now. Gaelwyn’s expression convinced her otherwise.

“Not you and I,” she said patiently. “But we,” she swept her arms in a wide motion. “The three branches born after the end of Elisara’s rule.”

Gaelwyn blinked as the truth of the druidess’ words struck home. Now spoken, the interpretation seemed obvious. Yet, as it answered some questions, others boiled to the surface. There was still something that escaped the ranger. “But what of Kynnonnen? Why does he appear, and what of the rust?” he asked tentatively, uncertain if he wanted to hear the answer.

Harybba watched Gaelwyn for several moments, then looked away, placing the tea setting back on its tray, perhaps to give her time to gather her thoughts, or perhaps so she could find the strength to speak them. When she looked back to the ranger, she offered him a sad, sympathetic smile and spoke her words softly. “Perhaps you believe,” she said, “that we were once more than we are now.”

Gaelwyn’s breath came in a short, stunted cadence. His thoughts scurried, as understanding dawned on him and his mind worked to keep up at such a pace that the rest of what the druidess spoke was barely heard.

“Why that might be, I cannot say. Only you can know,” she offered, looking at Gaelwyn curiously as she read his expression.

“Perhaps,” she added, studying the ranger, “you already do.”
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11:58:25 pm GMT 05/02/09
Vaedryan Registered Member #345 Joined: 2:28:49 am GMT 11/25/04
Posts: 1920
”Kynnonnen represents the ideal,” Gaelwyn thought, his mind again on the images from his dreams as he worked the miniature lathe carefully over the ashwood, stripping a sliver of the wood from the bow stave’s surface.

He held the bow out at arm’s length, assessing the quality of the work. He found peace in working nature’s grains, and a detachment that allowed him to review concerns, sorrows and losses from a distance, without feeling their sting - a meditation Llellana had taught him to better deal with the guilt he had carried with him for deeds done while the tainted wood’s poisons had fogged his mind. “So long ago now,” Gaelwyn thought of the time since Yu’syu had led them from that fate. He looked back, toward the City. “And so much achieved through Her wisdom..”

”But have we done enough?,” Gaelwyn allowed his thoughts to continue to probe as he rubbed a rough coral along the bow stave’s surface, smoothing the last of the imperfections from its shape. He knew his answer to the unspoken query, it had been revealed to him within the images of his dreams.

”The rust,” Gaelwyn thought. ”The decay of our ideals. Kynnonnen did not die to have his people severed into three.”

The ranger placed the bow staff in his lap, running two fingers gently, slowly, along its length, feeling for any imperfections that his eyes may fail to reveal. ”He gave his life so that we may live, Gaelwyn conceded. ”And live we do… but not as we once did.”

”Will we ever live again as we once did?.” Gaelwyn wondered as he rested his hand on the bow his lap. ”The world is not what it was. Ideals that ignore reality are no more than delusions.”

Gaelwyn set the bow aside, reaching for his pack. He pulled a small pouch from among its contents, retrieving a small gemstone that radiated with the magical energies it contained. ”Even so,” Gaelwyn thought, ”I swore my oaths - oaths meant for the Wood, the City… and for all of those descended from Elisara.”

He let the gem rest in his palm, its magical energies – a whirlpool of swirling, smoky greens – drew him into their depths. He continued to stare into it as he further explored his thoughts. ”We now are three branches,” he thought, recalling Harybba’s words. ”How is it possible to serve them all?” Gaelwyn had always been on good terms with those of the Northern wood, knowing many among them as friends, ”but distance disallows a duty to both. “

”And the Tainted Wood," Gaelwyn shook his head. ”No,” he thought, "any effort to serve those yet possessing some glimmer of what they were, would be rebuked, or worse yet, turned toward wicked purpose.”

Gaelwyn inhaled the night’s air, letting its cool diffuse through his lungs, enjoying the sensation; a simple pleasure he would not have come to appreciate had he remained behind, as so many did. ”Can I abondon them?,” he continued to probe, ”Accepting that they are beyond my reach?”

The disquiet he felt at that self-posed query provided his answer.

”But how, then? Gaelwyn pondered that as the stars continued their slow journey through the heavens, and the magics contained within the gemstone continued their mesmerizing dance.

Then the words of Llellana came to him once more. Words she spoke as she taught him to find an inner peace, one he had never known before leaving the taint behind. ”Through the wood,” she had said, “the way is found.”

Gaelwyn blinked, stunned by the simplicity of the solution that came to him. He looked from the grains resting upon his lap, to the swirling energies contained within the stone.

A smile touched his lips. He could hear Llellana’s voice again, as though traveling to him from Avandor itself. ”Through the wood,” she had said in her voice that seemed to have been born within the heavens. ”the way is found.”

The ranger returned to his work, as he let the thought take root.
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3:19:35 am GMT 05/05/09
Vaedryan Registered Member #345 Joined: 2:28:49 am GMT 11/25/04
Posts: 1920
Gaelwyn tested the draw once more, feeling the string bight into his two forefingers in the bow’s eagerness to spring. He released the tension slowly.

The work, he thought, was among his finest, though there was more to this weapon than that.

”There is work that you do,” he thought, ”And there is work that is done through you.” The ranger knew that the magics in this bow, and the ability of the grains to contain them, were not all a result of his own skill.

”The spirit of the wood has blessed this weapon,” he thought. ”May it also guide the hand that enables it to serve its purpose.”

Gaelwyn looked the bow over one final time, letting his eyes follow its dark ashwood grains, then flow over the shaft of ironwood that reinforced the main staff. He ran a thumb over the elven runes etched into its surface. ”Vakha-Taur” – guardian of the wood.

His lips were touched by a small smile. ”This,” he thought, ”is the limit of my ability. A finer bow will never be made by my hand.” The realization brought only a sense of peace, not the melancholy some might imagine. It was a pinnacle, and one that would not be wasted.

“May those of the northern wood help me keep my oaths through its use.” The ranger rested the bow on a velvet wrap; the wrap at once reflecting and absorbing the light, displaying all of the wood’s greens upon its surface, from its deepest shadows to its sun-kissed mosses.

He turned the velvet over, enveloping the bow in its lush bristle. He then lightly cinched it with gold- and silver-flecked cords, securing the weapon within the velvet, then carefully tethered that to the side of his pack as he prepared to travel.

”It is time," he thought, "to deliver on my vows to the northern branch.” With that the ranger hefted his pack to his shoulders, then stepped from the glade, beginning his journey to the Feywood.

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//Thank you to Gregor Wyrmbane (a.k.a. Styvn) for the screenshot of Vakha'Taur's description.
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12:34:26 am GMT 02/27/10
Vaedryan Registered Member #345 Joined: 2:28:49 am GMT 11/25/04
Posts: 1920
Days and weeks had passed, and Gaelwyn found his reverie more restful after returning from his visit to the Northern Wood. The discussion under the wood’s canopy, by the fireside with Krin, Styvn, Willow, and Pilninge had been fruitful. Those present of the Tel’Varataurie had accepted the gift of Vakha’Taur, and had promised to see it used in their duties protecting the elves living within the stronghold and beyond, to the edges of the wood many call by the name Fey.

The conversation with Harybba months earlier had proven a balm. Though she had told him little directly, in her pithy way, she had been a guide. She led him through his own thoughts and fears, veiled within the visions that had haunted him, to their source.

Oaths were a powerful and mysterious force. And Gaelwyn had not fulfilled his.

He had sworn to serve and defend the children of Elisara. Despite his efforts on behalf of Greenvale, some part of him, or something within, demanded more.

The elves that had followed Queen Yu’syu to reclaim the City of Elisara, as Greenvale had once been known, were not all of Elisara’s children. One branch had taken root elsewhere following the Cataclysm, and another branch remained behind yet in the tainted wood -- those branches faced their own threats; suffered their own horrors.

Whatever aspect that demanded more of his oath, had spoken to Gaelwyn through the visions that had tormented him during his reverie. Since delivering Vakha’Taur to the defenders of the Northern Wood, however, those visions grew less frequent. He had felt magics at work while shaping that bow that he had never felt before. And now at times in reverie he felt as though he could sense it in the hands of skilled bowmen and rangers of the north. It was as he had hoped… or as a part of him had known: by the Giving of Vakha’Taur, there was now a piece of him that too served the northern wood.

<div class='spacer'>[ image disabled ]</div>

//A big "thank you" to Gregor Wyrmbane (a.k.a. Styvn) for the screenshot of Styvn fighting the gnolls.
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9:02:40 pm GMT 08/05/15
Katana3DG Registered Member #17 Joined: 1:33:47 am GMT 02/25/04
Posts: 1364
Vakha’Taur, The Guardian of the Wood.

The bow... his bow was a true work of Art. Ahron marveled at it's craftsmanship as he reverently traced the wood grain without finding a single flaw. He was overwhelmed at the ceremony and did not ask Styvn, but perhaps he would travel south and meet with the high-ranger of Elisara to learn more of the history behind it.

Named weapons were for elf-lords and heroes, not for simple rangers and yet he had been granted such a wonderful gift. It's inherent beauty belied it's deadly purpose and somehow he knew such a weapon was not to be hung in a place of reverence but it's purpose was in the hands of an elf defending his people. To that end Ahron made his way out of the canopy and headed north, deep into the moors where he would bring life to the bow and death to the enemies of the Wood.

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