[Monday, June 3, 2002]
Griflet's Report: "Kings of old went forth and inspected their kingdoms."
MEETING OF THE LEADERS - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
After leaving the 'Greenwolf', from the harbour to Whispering Earth is nine days march, most of it through the new growth forest of Black Earth's Bloom. The trees are small, and wildlife is plentiful. The weather is overcast but mild. On the seventh day you spot the familar ring of hills which marks the Place of the Law Stone, and after another day your weary band is met by one of Corinth's mounted patrols, who escort you back to the compound, where you observe some progress in the construction during your two-week absence.
Gorianthas and Corinth are on hand to greet you.
"Greetings Master Gorianthus and Master Corinth, I trust all is going well?"
"All is proceeding well, Griflet." says Gorianthas. "It is good to see you again. We heard rumours of your success from Kellin, who returned here several days ago."
"This is Master Gorianthus of the House Royal and this is Corinth of the House Protectors, two capable advisors. These good Elves are kin to the Loyal Guard of Imric. Among them their leaders Jaern Shadowblade, Thion Bearspear, Andril and Tallbow Wintershine. They have brought with them warriors and builders from the Blessed Isle to help build the new land. Please listen to each others council and work well together, there is alot we can teach each other. Thion Bearspear is a Warchief and Master Falconer and will be establishing a message link to Zecy, give him the use of our best Falconers and birds that we have. Jaern Shadowblade is a great warrior and ship builder. Let him met with Shipmaster Zhivias and together discuss plans for the new harbour in the west and Ships of War and Trade to be built. Once a plan has been establish action will be taken. Master Grogromanth will use and listen to the new master builders to help continue the works around The Stone for now. Let Andril and Tallbow Wintershine discuss with Master Corinth on how best to use the warriors for the security of the People, Stone and New Harbour. Let our friends rest for now, tonight we feast together, as is the custom. Have Comestas of the House Culinary make the finest of foods, and tommorow we go to work."
The elven leaders, impressed with your courtesy and manners, bow to each other and exchange pleasantries. Corinth takes Andril and Tallbow Wintershine for a quick tour. Everyone seems to be on their best behaviour and no tempers flare.
MEETING OF THE COMPANIONS - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
Before the feast you find Kellin, Windwood and Leonore and talk with them. The three of them find you soon enough. Leonore still looks pale, but he is smiling. "This land is good, Griflet, the sun is good, the air is good. I don't ever want to be inside again."
Kellin is trying to be in a good mood but something is clearly bothering him. When you question him he says, "So these Wild Elves are now our friends, are they? Will they teach our warrior s their fanatical ways? I suppose it's just politics, that's probably why I've always been an adventurer - to get away from politics. But enough of this. Arborius sends his greetings. He says things run smoothly at the trading post - except for an incident last week in the forest. A large group of Beastmen were conducting some sort of ritual in the forest. They had abducted a Lorn Velpan family and were in the process of sacrificing them when a group of Vardin and Arborius' men disrupted proceedings. There was much blood and confusion. Arborius thought the beastman gathering unusually large, and noticed the totems of several clans, which is also apparently out of the ordinary. Vardin said that what was more disturbing was that it seems the Beastmen had Lorn Velpan help to abduct the family. He is making enquiries."
"As a man I understand your resentment. As your King I must roll the dice of politics - some are lost and their memeroy is sacred to me but the game remains. I will not lose it, there is too much at stake. You are a good friend Kellin and I hate to see you like this, take what you need to accomplish the task and find Arborius. Find this black seed in Lorn Velpa and return with news. The life here is not for you yet, you have good eyes and a heart for wandering. I know it well. I have appointed b oth you and Arborius as Scouts Royale, I know you will not diminish the title."
Kellin says, "It is true, my heart is always on the road, and with my friends. Thank you for this freedom. We won't disappoint you."
Windwood too will also be declared Scout Royale but will remain here with Griflet to observe his techniques. And help Griflet "I-it is a g-great honour, Sire. I h-hope I will b-be worthy."
Later, you find Helias. He is pleased to see you. He has just returned from a northern patrol. "Greetings Sire. The stone jetty is secure, though I am concerned about it. When I had the time to spare from my duties, I examined some of the tunnels near the jetty - the ones which I was aware of anyway. I did not detect any folk from Tovilyis, though there were signs that Grimlocks had been in the vicinity. I do not know if the tunnels are still watched by my people, but I am suspicious."
"Helias you are a man of your word - this much I have seen enjoy the feast and discover the minds of lost kin for tonight we dine with the Elves of Celedrils guard. Men without fear - I`m sure you will get along well with them."
"If they are men of honour, I will honour them if it is your wish."
THE ROYAL COOK - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
Comestas puts on a fine feast in the new feast-hall to welcome the king and his esteemed visitors, who are impressed by what they've seen (and tasted). After the feast.. "Master Comestas you are truly an Avatar of your art (Burp) Your pardon good chief the feast was grand!"
Comestas is larger in girth than the average elf. He smiles and bows. "Truly Sire there are many fine foods to be found in this part of the world. My apprentices are gathering more unknown comestibles even as we speak. Perhaps some of them may prove equally satisfying."
"That is to say, foodstuffs, consumables, types of food, raw produce of the edible variety, Sire."
THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
You summon the best tailors of the land to audience:
"Greetings Master Tailors, you have been called before me because I am now your King. These rags i wear, as you can surely see, are unfit to adorn the royalty of Elves - I look more a hardened scout than a king. This is my history but now the court summons me and I feel unfit to respresent the Elven people in such rags. I need your help. I bid you weave two sets of clothes fit for a king."
"The first will be for courtly matters and perhaps foreign negotiations - for such I need you to express the beauty, skill and longevity of the Elves. It should be the most comely of clothes and yet pratical. I commision you to weave a fine silk sash which will be of such strength that though thin , it will also be able to perform the actions of a rope of considrable size . When it is wrapped around my waist many times it should hold the appearance of a courtly sash. The clothes should never encumber my fighting style, two short swords and a bow. Nor should it hinder my freedom to ride a horse across the roughest of terrain or run through the woods hunting my prey. It also should be messed with metal that provides some protection in case ou r enemies hire assasins with posion steel. A file should be woven into the pants that can be used both to saw through the hardst metal and puncture the armours of my jailers if I am ever taken by foreign plots. The robe should be attach to my body to act as a wind barrier so that if I was to jump or fall from a great height the wind would carry me or soften the fall."
"The second I shall adorn for the hunt. It must be as intangible to the eye as the shadows of midnight. And yes it also must look good. My two short swords should be well concealed from the eyes of those who gaze apon your King. Furthermore the robe and sash should act in a similair manner to the courtly attire. You have the papers of the king commision what smiths and help you need from other elves. This seal does not however allow you to take manpower fro m those building the wall or feeding the people. May your art prevail."
The tailors bow low. "It shall be as you require, Sire." The tailors immedi ately set about measuring you, weavers weave, and fine fabrics, metals and ornaments are sent for.Soon the fine garments are finished and you happily try them on. "They are fine clothes and it is true that Elven art has no equal!" you exclaim.
GRIFLET'S EYES - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
You command 3 scouts to scout out the area between the Mountains of Hunger and the Lower Lake of Plea. 3 more will be sent to the lower ranges of the Mountains of Hunger to the West of the Whispering Plain. "You are under orders to never engage an enemy, simply be my eyes and rep ort back immediately when things of note are found."
TRAILBLAZERS - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
You comission 4 scouts and 6 labourers to be sent to Black Earth's Bloom to clear a trade route through the woods while the saplings are still young. "With the best knowledge your scouting ensure that the path has a number of culdesacs and hidden paths to confuse and trap an enemy who attempts to use it for their own advantage." Taking a wagon and some tools, the group depart to begin their task.
BAHARIYE AND MUDANYA - Last Quarter, Snow Moon, Year of the Lamia
"Master Corinth. Have the new horses been useful so far? Do our men ride well?"
"They are acquiring skills rapidly Sire. Indeed the horses have been useful , as this is a wide land this Whispering Earth. Our bases and soldiers are spread out across it through sometimes dangerous territory, and horses are vital. We have brought many from the human cities to the north; soon our he rds may be sufficient for our needs."
"I will need you to find me the two best horses we have. The first "Bahariye" will be my horse of war, may it be the strongest and most fierce of steeds. The second "Mudanya" I will use for scouting and riding swiftly through this new land. May she be the swiftest of steeds. As I King I am respons ible for the safety of the peopla and if there is to be Battle I will be there."
"I shall seek them immediately sire."
THE STONE JETTY - Day of the Dog (15th), Wolf's Moon, Year of the LamiaYou ride your warhorse Bahariye with Windwood towards the Stone Jetty. Spring is here, bringing cool rains to the long-parched lands of Black Earth's Bloom and Whispering Earth. Still, not the greatest riding weather. Bahariye does not complain even when his hoofs sink into the new mud. The rain delays your passage somewhat and although it clears it takes two and a half days to get to the Stone Jetty along the trade route (rather than the two you estimated). Of course, as Whispering earth gives way to the Sighing Plain the rain ceases. You stay a day (which is clear) and inspect the settlement. The stone jetty is as it always was, but a wooden palisade with a watchtower has been erected around it, an area for ships to unload and a holding area for wagons, a stables, barracks and warehouse. In time, a stone wall is planned, but there is no appropriate stone nearby; it must be ferried across the Upper Lake from the mountains, perhaps from a site near Red Rock or a little closer. At the moment, most of the materials which the swanships transport is bound for Whispering Stone. At night you watch a huge full moon cast its ghostly light across the Sighing Plain and the Upper Lake of Pleea.
FROM BLACK EARTH'S BLOOM TO THE BAY OF LEAVES - Day of the Shrew (24th), Wolf's Moon, Year of the Lamia
On the way back you encounter more rain, which you suppose is good for the thirsty land. A couple of days later, after a quick check in at Whispering Stone, you are on the road again, this time riding sturdy Mudanya. It is a bit over a day to the edge of the forest (again, slowed somewhat by the rains) and then the going is drier, but more tangled by the undergrowth. The trees are growing quite quickly, although you suppose it has now been five months since the kingdom was born. It doesn't take you long to ecounter the working team. They are quite close to the edge of the wood, having only reached here with their wagon a couple of weeks ago. They are in a reasonable mood, although they say the progress is reasonably slow. They have enough food and supplies to last them a while longer and are enjoying being out under the southern stars. You ride on with Windwood.
"How do you find the new ground Windwood?"
"B-by horse it is f-faster t-to travel, Griflet" he says. "There is s-something f-familiar about it, as if i-it..as if I kn-knew it as a ch-child, ia d-dream."
"Your dreams have insight Windwood. You must share some of them with me while we are travelling together."
"I-if you com-mand it S-sire. Th-they are j-just d-d-dreams."
A couple of days further into the forest and you are standing on the beach looking across the wide harbour to where the Greenwolf lies anchored. Standing nearby are Shipmaster Zhivias and Jaern Shadowblade, who arrived here a week before. The sound of the lapping waves and wind is punctuated by the sounds of hammering. A group of labourers are building the first section of a pier, which extends some way from the harbour. Nearby floats a small boat, currently unused. It is a bit larger than a dinghy; would hold ten or twelve elves. Jaern Shadowblade says, "The timbers of these trees are are suitable for small boats and general construction. In time, they will be more useful. For now, the old trees of Zecy will provide better masts and beams for larger vessels. We'll build a small shipyard there, around from the pier." You estimate that when the road is built, it will be about two and a half days' ride to Whispering Stone from here.
"Then Master Jaern sail to Zecy with what warriors you need to safe guard your vessel and have the Shipyard built on Zecy. Take Tallbow Wintershine with you and make your reports to the other members of the War Council. Return as soon as possible - The Wall on the steepes of the whispering Plain is almost finished. Soon I will build my Tower of Law and will need much help. May the Powers guard you well."
Jaern Shadowblade says, "You misunderstand me Sire. For the Blessed Isle is already possessed of a shipyard. I helped build it myself. I mean to build another one in this place, over there [he gestures]. However, we will need to bring tall timbers from the Blessed Isle for the spars, beams and masts."
INSPECTING THE KINGDOM - Day of the Shrew (24th), Wolf's Moon, Year of the Lamia
Cominante, no hay camino,
Se hace camino al andar.
Traveller, there is no path,
Paths are made by walking.
- Antonio Machado
Leaving the Bay of Leaves behind, the two of you ride for two days though the new forest, talking little until the ground sinks away and you face the lowlands and a forest of silent, half-drowned young trees shrouded in mist. Game and water is plentiful, and the ride is peaceful. The weather is cool and there is some rain and dank mist as you skirt the wide wet lands to the south. After five days the young forest abrubtly ends and not far away you see the bleak desolation of the Quarmall Barrens, the black salt-crusted earth extending almost to the wood. Another day and you climb the first of the southern guardian hills and pause for a meal near the summit. To the north is the green expanse of the Black Earth's Bloom; to the south, endless and bare the desolation of chaos where nothing moves but shimmering heat waves across the blasted stones. To the west you can see the second of the guardian hills, and it is toward this that you now ride.
Two days later you climb the second hill with Windwood to a small wooden structure situated on the leeward side of the hill. Inside, you meet a lone scout named Ferianh, who is delighted to entertain the two of you. He gives you bread and soup and cheese other foods you have not tasted on the trail. "Sometimes watching the Barrens plays tricks on one, Sire," he explains over dinner. "Even geography and direction can be false out there. Sometimes it just seems to shimmer and then...it no longer looks the same. It is a bad place, but peaceful too, in its way." Ferianh gives you some of his provisions for the rest of your journey, wishing you well.
You meander along the edge of the Barrens, noting the occasional distant dust storms and sickly lightning discharges. You observe no living creatures, but on the second night, cold and rainy, you awaken early from poor slumber to see ranked upon the plain silent and unmoving an army of green ghosts, hollow-eyed, facing north, which slowly fade from view in the dim grey light.
Near the mountains the weather is cooler, and there is almost continuous rain for three days. The rain swells the rivers and makes fording them more unpleasant, dangerous and time-consuming than it otherwise might have been, but not a real threat. In the foothills you see some evidence of Giant activity - no cattle, but a huge mud brick structure, almost the size of a small hill itself, perhaps a giant hut. Its door and window gape blackly like caverns. Approaching quietly you see that it cotains a giant chair, table and bed (unoccupied), with a giant blackened pot hanging above the oversised fireplace.
Wet, weary but pleased with your tour, you return two days later to the welcoming three hills of Whispering Stone. Your journey since leaving the Shipmasters has lasted seventeen days.
"Take leave young Master Windwood and rest well, I will call on you again."
"It h-has been an-an honour r-riding with you, S-sire."
REPORTS AND ORDERS - Day of the Hornet (10th), Seed Moon, Year of the LamiaThion Bearspear is making some progress with the carrier birds. "The work proceeds well, Sire. In fact, I am about to take half of the birds back to the Blessed Isle, now that they are familar with this location. Each half will seek their home. I leave for the new Harbour today."Your northern scouts report that the area between the Mountains of Hunger and the Lake of Pleea contains the Cloudscape Pass, which crosses the Mountains of Hunger. The pass is infrequently used by travellers and supposedly haunted or infested with monsters. The southerly scouts report to have seen giants in the western foothills of the Mountains of Hunger, whose woolly cattle have been seen straying on to the western plains, now that they are green. You give orders `not to go Westward` for now. But the Elven Scouts are asked to return there to assertain numbers and ways of the Giant folk. No news (which you assume is good news) from the western scouts. Kellin has apparently returned and left again, leaving this report with Corinth.
Vardin, Arborius and I have uncovered a sickly political plot in Lorn Velpa. It seems that a priest by name of Porthos in the Church of the Eagle's Way, and probably others who we haven't yet identified, have been dealing with a Beastman priest of some kind named Yarl G'nai. This beastman apparently struck some deal with Porthos and his cohorts which resulted in the abduction and murder in the forest of Lord Velpa's chief assassin and his family. I need to investigate further. I'll keep you informed of further developments.
A MESSAGE TO HELIAS - Day of the Hornet (10th), Seed Moon, Year of the Lamia
Have the tunnels watched closely. Your people have strayed from the path, having endured so much Chaos and devastation. You are charged with the protection of those Elves around the Jetty`s Palisade. I will consult Corinth as soon as possible, meanwhile this letter and my seal should be sufficient to ensure all goes well.
SOLID FOUNDATIONS - Day of the Hornet (10th), Seed Moon, Year of the Lamia
You find Grogomanth: "Ahhh Master Grogomanth, tis a fine Gargoyle you have raised there. How goes the wall? When do you expect to have it finished?"
Grogromanth beams "You like it Sire? I thought it fitting given the terrain and the surrounding kingdoms. As for the wall, surely you jest Sire. As you can see it is nearly complete. Another couple of weeks at most.." The wall is rather grim, made of the dark grey stone which comes from the quarries of the Mountains of Hunger. Only a few gargoyles adorn the wall (Grogromanth couldn't resist a few flourishes) It's about three elves in height and one thick.
"I have made plans for a Tower of Law to be built in the center on the foundation of the Whispering Stone which I will need you advice on. The Tower will contain Therapeutic Baths around the spring of the Law Stone, a Great Entrance Chamber of Burning oils, and balconies, a Feasting Hall and cermonial room as well as a chamber of War (Where we shall place the head of the Great Worm), Chamber of Knowledge and State Affairs. There will be Three Towers stretching out from the main building: The main one I will reside in, the second for the Commander of the Protectors and Warriors, the Third reserved for the Geomancers where they may study the ancient Lore and examine the heavens."
"Magnificent concept, Sire! Of course it may require refinements. I must discuss these plans with you."
"Yes I have the plans here...no wait a minute where did they go..?"
"I await the pleasure of their viewing, Sire. In the meantime..Hey, not so rough with that statuary, oaf! No not you Sire, of course not you. If you'll excuse me.."