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#906135 - Sun 04/02/18 17:59 GMT HWD: Along the Flowered Path
Wolf Offline



Registered: Mon 25/07/11
Posts: 4930
Loc: NY


The Heartwood
The Flowered Path
Later that month


Lyric, Cesare, Keiko and Bekkah ... and Tomomi and Hinata Cat.

Somehow riding horses and being a cat-person was something that would never end well so it was best that it was never begun in the first place. Not that it was a problem travel-wise; the most important thing about riding was that it was the horse that got tired and not you and the walking pace of a horse could be easily matched by those on foot. It was also a benefit; Hinata had a very natural ability when it came to small game for their meals. Though it took him a while to get used to fishing.

"Wait. Burned fish live in water?

"But water's wet! We do the sun and warm and sunbeams, not wet!

"Stupid fish.

"I kill you hard."

They rode east first, along the border of the Dirkwood Forest. It was a path that both Keiko and Lyric knew, having come to Waverider's Watch from that direction to start. Once again Lyric noted the hoofprints that seemed to lead deeper into the southern fields, but there was no one to be seen that could be attached to them. In its own way that was nothing surprising; the fields were anything but flat and the manner in which they rolled could easily conceal an entire town.

She could also not get over the fact that she herself felt watched. But it was not a disturbing thought, not one that made the minstrel feel uncomfortable. It was the exact opposite. As long as they were in bow-shot of the wood's edge she felt safe, at home, like she was still in her family's arms.

It was a feeling she had never had in her small village.

It was new.

And then they came to the Path.

They had already descended - very slowly - the strange switchback stairs that climbed the edge of the Karten Wash - the border between the high and low side of the High Tarn lands. Without Keiko, they would never have found the start of the tricky passage; wide enough for a caravan cart but with so many twists and turns it had all the appearances of being impassable - unless you knew its tricks and traps.

This was farther east than where Lyric had taken up the trail to Waverider's Watch so it too was new to her.

It was odd, disturbing in a way. They had all heard the stories of what had happened here. It was no more than a few horses wide where it crossed the Rhoni road. The path itself was a swath of green grasses where were scattered with wildflowers of all sorts - the most common were simple daisies and dandelions. Looking to the east and south it seemed to sometimes narrow down to where one would have to walk single file to remain within its bounds and perhaps, at the very edge of sight, it might also in someplace sprawl.

The Path was quiet.

It seemed to swallow sound all up like one was covered by a thick and heavy blanket.

It felt both stable and unstable. As if the footsteps of a god and goddess placed a strain upon the fabric of their world. On the other hand, they knew it was a true Path; if they never strayed from it, no matter what they saw or what might happen along the way, it would take them to Bordertown and the ruins there.

To their right, was the flowered path that would eventually take them to Bordertown.

To the left was what Keiko had been taught was hallowed ground. A place the caravans stayed away from; not for fear, but for respect. But it was not spoken of beyond that; just like one never spoke of those set to rest next to a cathedral. There, perhaps a day's ride away, in a little hollow, at the farthest one could see, was a small copse of trees. Beyond the copse, just a stone's throw away was the dark green treeline of the cursed forest.

This place was different from the Dirkwood, however. It was as if these trees, in that separate wood, were trapped in a forever autumn.

Where they were bound, Bekkah and Cesare had seen the start of this Path; they knew where it began and the story of its crafting.

The other way was where that story had most probably ended.

Right or left.

It should be a simple decision to make.

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#906424 - Mon 05/02/18 15:02 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Gypsy Offline

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Registered: Tue 09/05/00
Posts: 57106
Loc: Pidley, Cambs, UK
Cesare

He is in relatively good spirits. Nice to be on the move again where each new day brings new surroundings, new experiences.

As they reach the junctions, he looks in both directions to see if anything catches his eye. Interesting copse of trees to the left but he is fairly sure their agreed path is to the right.

"This way I think."

He indicates right.

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#906601 - Tue 06/02/18 01:48 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Kel Offline
Sower of Insanity


Registered: Thu 14/07/11
Posts: 7421
Loc: Rebel Alliance, CA, USA
Keiko
[pronounced KAY-ko... do you think the GM has memorized this yet? Nope, not yet...]

While it was true that riding a horse meant that a person was less tired at the end of a day and a horse might be more tired, Keiko liked to walk. Oh, she let the horse — whose name had not yet become apparent to her — carry her pack. And it seemed happy enough to do so.

Hinata made her smile, especially his reaction to fishing. Since fish from the Blackwater were generally avoided by everyone with any sense, that fact that Hinata was willing to ‘kill them hard’ made it possible to actually catch them. The Cat wasn’t keen on sharing his burned fish, but until he learned how to cook them himself, he grudgingly let others have small — very small — portions to taste. The walking fish weren’t nearly as good as the cold water fish from the Black Mountains; Keiko certainly didn’t believe they were worth the trouble of fighting with them.

The Karten switchbacks were, indeed, tricky. It wasn’t surprising that most folks didn’t think it was possible to travel the entire length of the Forest — from the Road East all the way to the rocky shores of the Sea of Opals. Father had made sure she had memorized all three of the Rhoni Paths before leaving the Caravan. The Forest Path merely had the trickiness of the switchback, whereas the Satin River Path had the dangers of griffins, occasionally annoyed Amber merchants and the evils in the Forest of Roth. Still, that was often the easier road to Snowgate Pass. Of the westernmost path between Talesan’s Village and Sherman’s Keep, he had only said, “Beware the Hunters when the snarkhounds are roaming.” She had rolled her eyes — which had earned her a cuff on the shoulder from Grandmother — because everyone knew to be still, to not be prey when the Hunters of Khannish were about their Lord’s business.

She looks toward the Mother’s Grove for long moments before nodding to Cesare.

“Ja. I have heard many stories of the Earth Mother’s and Horned God’s flight from the lost Dayalan temple at the end of the last Age. To walk their Path is enough for me. Visiting the Mother Grove is a journey best suited for those who follow Her, I think.”

She gestured toward the multitude of flowers around them and smiled at Lyric.

“I think I can name all of the flowers that are said to grow along the Path. Some of them only grow here, where the Deities ran that night long ago.”

While yellow was the predominant color, there were also flowers in many shades of blues, purples, reds, oranges, pink, and even white.

“I’ve never seen Lilybells, but Mother has a sketch of them. They grow in large clusters, she said, and look like little tiny white bells. I’ve seen carnations in the markets in Trundle, but they’re ever so rare and quite expensive. You have to be sneaky to get close enough to smell them. Oh, they smell like... like... well, like spices and sunshine, and there’s really nothing else quite like them!”

Cesare and Bekkah might recall that not so very long ago, a young spearbearer had remarked with some small amount of exasperation about the number of her Temple Sisters who were named for flowers. From Kay’s long-dead friend Lily, who now stood at the point of the Spear constellation, to Daxia’s arms master, Gillyflower, and their mutual acquaintance, Dandelion Koromov — every floral name borne by a Dayalan had its corresponding plant growing along the Flowered Path. Perhaps someday they would meet Dazi again and wonder aloud about the odd coincidence.
_________________________
The World Is Not Okay Right Now. And Neither Am I.

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#906621 - Tue 06/02/18 02:27 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Phoenix Prime Offline
I'm Grumpy - Go Away
Moderator

Registered: Tue 16/05/00
Posts: 21209
Loc: Sanger Texas
Lyric, of Paths and Flowers

How many days now? Odd to consider such a question. It never mattered much before. But intensity of those first days away from her home had resolved themselves into something of a familiar pantomime for her. But how to reconcile that anxiety? She found herself missing the intensity of things happening so fast and frequently, but to look around at her travelling companions they had settled in to this pace and rhythm despite the nature of life being so short. It was as if her friends adapted so easily to it. They accepted that for this period of time, this was how life would be until it wasn't.

Lyric rode easily in the saddle of Lisica, the horse princess of Amber. Though Lyric did not arrive in Waverider's Reach with a horse, she was obviously well skilled and schooled in horsemanship. In fact, she and Lisica got along quite well with each other. One did not own a horse, one shared time and purpose, each offering that to another. Lisica offered herself as a mount and Lyric cared for the horse with great attention. It was a partnership that might become a friendship.

She reflected on that last morning in WaveRider's Reach, before the the breaking of dawn, before those first warming rays broke the darkness and warmed the sky to warm the land. Lyric introduced herself to Lisica properly, gently, and with respect. Lyric whispered and sang a song that was a story to ease the parting and the offer of a new friendship. A tale that was both sad and happy in equal measures for Dama Kadri was brave and honorable lived her life with the same courage as she surely must have faced her death. Life and Death. Telling the story, one such as this, was odd because it was so different than the stories from her own heart and life. But it was an important one, for Lyric felt humbled that Cesare would think of Lyric as a new companion for such a beautiful horse.

That the group had come to a crossroads was irrelevant to the Mintrel. She didn't know where she was, and would travel wherever her companions led. She, herself, had gone from the memory straight into the present where she stared off into the depths to their Left. She did not know this story, or that there was one attached to the emotions she felt. It was nothing she could understand, but she was sensitive to certain things and certain things were sensitive to her. She had no inclination to explore to the left but she couldn't help but stare into the deepness of a Path not meant for them it seemed.

She blinked and looked around to Keiko who was telling her she thought she could name all the flowers along the Path. To the right it seemed they were bound to travel, leaving behind the edge of the Great Remnant once and for all.

"Then that is what we will do," Lyric agreed. "You tell me the names of flowers and I will smell them." The Minstrel slid from the saddle. Smartly so, the mercurial one had opted to wear her breeches and tunic, with her heavy Tartan cloak. She also wore her boots. Her bundled pack of belongings was carried by Lisica and contained whatever other worldly possessions the Minstrel was able to take from her home with her.

"And maybe you will tell me more stories of places and names of where we are headed... and tell me of this Path as well. I want to learn."

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#906686 - Tue 06/02/18 12:28 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Phoenix Prime]
Nivek Offline

Administrator

Registered: Tue 28/08/01
Posts: 45852
Bekkah

She loved being outdoors. Whether it was simply being in her light atop a horse, or working outdoors it didn't matter. She always preferred this to being cooped up inside.

She nodded in agreement with Cesare. While left would be an interesting choice, it was not her will to pass atop ground considered hallowed.

She noticed the flowers and knew about their tries to the Dayalans. She said nothing, instead smiling as Lyric got down to inspect the flowers.

*Such a strange one. Like a child, but not.* she thought.

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#906689 - Tue 06/02/18 12:52 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Gypsy Offline

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Administrator

Registered: Tue 09/05/00
Posts: 57106
Loc: Pidley, Cambs, UK
Cesare

The company is easy and the air fresh. Cesare did not feel out of place amongst three women. To him each person was a collection of memories, stories, skills, likes, dislikes. Individuals and interesting to him.

Still riding as the novelty will take a long time to wear off for him, he still joins in the conversations around him.

"I am not as well versed in all of the names as Keiko, of that I am sure but I do quite a few that are either good for flavourings and eating and also some of those good for treating ailments. So if you like, I can add my small insights into the journey also?"

He smiles, happy to be where he is.

And one good thing of being atop a horse is that you an see farther, see things more distant and so it allows for a watchful overview of their surroundings should trouble come calling.

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#906710 - Tue 06/02/18 13:35 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Phoenix Prime Offline
I'm Grumpy - Go Away
Moderator

Registered: Tue 16/05/00
Posts: 21209
Loc: Sanger Texas
Lyric among the Flowers

She held the reins of Lisica in one hand as she knelt among the flowers of the path. Cesare, from his saddle, also added what he might offer to her understanding and she glanced in his direction with a smile and nod.

She was everything the Bekkah surmised in so few words of thought. Innocent and child-like... and not. Blue eyes that caught light and shadow and brunette hair, exposed edges teased by a soft breeze, kept mostly hidden in the confines of an overly large cowled hood that would hide her whole face if she pulled it further forward. She was indeed easily amused and expressed joy so easily and effortlessly and there were other moments where she was distant and remote, lost in thoughts.

Glancing at her companions from where she knelt her expression was one of innocence and trust. That child-like wonder at simple things that others seemed to take for granted was likely being overwhelmed right now as this was a place that none could bear witness and not wonder in the awe and inspiration of it's beauty.

The cloak tried to conceal half her face and frame it in partial shadow as she turned her head more than the heavy fabric hood would allow. She pushed it back and chuffed at the errant strands of hair that still rebelled.

"I want to learn everything I can..."

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#908247 - Sun 11/02/18 17:12 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Phoenix Prime]
Wolf Offline



Registered: Mon 25/07/11
Posts: 4930
Loc: NY
The Heartwood
The Flowered Path
Later that month


Lyric, Cesare, Keiko and Bekkah ... and Tomomi and Hinata Cat.

It was not long until the Dirkwood was hidden behind the rolling fields and scattered boulders. for a long white the Flowered Path headed in a generally easterly direction and only gently sliding south. And even though the Path might be considered hallowed ground in and of itself it still was a path upon the High Tarn. It wound hither and you, it was broken many times - sometimes many times in a single day - by little streams and creeks.

It was from these creeks that Hinata found his fish, which begrudgingly became everybody's lunch.

Eventually, the path itself swung southwards, to begin its run to its source, the Bordertown ruins.

That there was a world beyond the Path was evident every now and then. Once, before they turned towards Bordertown, they had seen smoke rise between the Path and the Dirkwood. Sometimes a farmer's field might run right up to the edge of the Path. They sometimes saw the farmhouse in the distance, sometimes not. Sometimes, for a little while, they kind of shared the Path with a cow or two or three. The animals usually didn't step onto or cross the band of flowers, however, it was as if the Path was a more effective fence than anything made of wood or stone.

Occasionally, one critter might lean don and partake of the wildflowers. That happened without hard. Indeed, it was a very natural thing to occur.

It would not take long for Lyric to learn the flower's names. Indeed, they were similar, mostly, to those found in her own village and the paths around her own home. And it was more than a little familiarity. While they may have different names in different tongues, wildflowers were forever, it seemed.

Once they heard music, as the sunset, the melody sifting around the rocks and boulders, up and down the hills. It was a cool night and it was if the coolness helped carry the notes farther than one would normally think or believe. The music was a light country bransle; the kind farmer folk played when neighbors got together.

Mostly, however, these brighter hints of life came from the east and north side of the Path. When the wind blew, if it was from that side it was cool and laced with the scent of fields and flowers. When it was from the south or west it was a dry and dusty wind.

Just after the Path's turn southwards it decided it favored the hollows of the High Tarn. Both the rocks and rolling hills rose on either side. It was nice because the shadows were more comfortable than being under Her light all day. It, however, added to the sense of being watched. As if they were not alone upon their path. it was most apparent in the mornings when there was a soft mist, grey like a prowling slink, drifting above the fields.

One morning started this way.

That previous night, off to the side of the path, for a little while, in the distance - ahead and to the west - there was a sparkle low, like a fallen star. But it was red and well below the horizon line. It appeared and was there for a brief portion of the night and then it vanished.

The next day, behind and to the west, every now and then they caught sight of others. At the edge of sight were three riders. They seemed to be riding in parallel to the Flowered Path. They didn't turn or investigate their small group; as if they were bound on a very important business of their own. It was also a matter of chance. They were in the hollows, the strangers were riding along the hilltops and the winding of the path made continual observation impossible. Each instance, when they could be noted, was short. Then, in but a handful of steps the Flowered Path would turn, taking them from sight.

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#908270 - Sun 11/02/18 18:05 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Gypsy Offline

Wizop
Administrator

Registered: Tue 09/05/00
Posts: 57106
Loc: Pidley, Cambs, UK
The journey is pleasant, the company better. It is hard not to feel isolated from the world out here. Not a bad feeling all in. However, when they caught sight of the riders, Cesare kept a watchful eye out for them without appearing obvious. He did not assume they had not been noticed. So far as he knows there is not a blind convention in the area.

His motto is "if folks don't bother you, no need to bother folk."

It has stood him well all of these years.

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#908655 - Mon 12/02/18 12:49 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Gypsy]
Nivek Offline

Administrator

Registered: Tue 28/08/01
Posts: 45852
Bekkah

She rode and walked at times. They were not in any hurry, which was exactly the way she liked to travel. If she had a chance to speak with people along the way, she always did, inquiring if they needed any aid.

She listened to Lyric learning all the names of the flowers. She of course knew them all as well and even recognized the Dayalans that were named after some of them.

She of course had no fear of the strangers that they glanced along the way.

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#908769 - Mon 12/02/18 16:57 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Phoenix Prime Offline
I'm Grumpy - Go Away
Moderator

Registered: Tue 16/05/00
Posts: 21209
Loc: Sanger Texas
Lyric, finding something of herself among the Flowers.

It never escaped Lyric's senses that the path they followed was like walking in a story from somewhere near it's end to it's beginning. It was a tale that Keiko was reluctant to share. No doubt the sadness and grief was immeasurable. She had felt some of that in what had become of the Great Forest. But this path, and where they turned right instead of left put them onto a path of a story of desperation. They did not see the place where the story ended, as that might be akin to intruding upon a solemn and sacred cairn, but knowing what little she did, turning right was both beautiful and hauntingly sad.

Lyric felt these things. It was in her nature to feel such things where magic was woven through nature. And more than once she found herself with tears in her eyes as they quietly rode along the Flowered Path.

She didn't push to hear the story. None of the others seemed inclined to share, if they knew it well enough to tell properly. She was resigned to feeling these emotions and accepting them for what they imparted to her along the way.

Further along, after hearing the music of a people, a community, like that which reminded her of a ceili, she felt more at ease to play and sing a little as they rode and walked.

For a time this playing and singing was too quiet to carry very far, and the Minstrel seemed to be repeating parts of what she sang and played and tinkering with her music as if she were actually composing something.

...something personal, something revealing


Twas' the wild flowers I preferred
Who owed nothing to nobody
But blossomed in the ditches
And made their own way in the world
Twas' the wild flowers I admired
Who never done nothing to you
But driven from the garden
Sang their own songs in the spring

You can have your lily, you can have your rose
That were taken and broken, and bred by men
They were grafted and maimed, twisted and tamed

But the wild flowers I enjoyed
They had nothing to do with you
They flowered by the roadside
And wore their own colours in the sun

They were there before you
They'll be there after you
That will out, that will out
Like your own true nature
You can try, you can try
But you never will defeat...

The wild flowers I enjoyed
They had nothing to do with you
Banished from the garden
They made their own way in the world
Sang their own songs in the spring
And wore their own ... colours ... in the sun




*****

Then came the grey morning, the morning after the night where they had seen that red light in the low night sky. Being on the Path did not give them an advantageous view of the horizon to begin with, but still that light had fallen at the 'edge of the world'... ahead of them, westerly she imagined. It meant something. Such things always do. She hoped one of the others might understand the portent for what it might mean. It was an uneasiness though that fell upon her mind's emptiness and quiet peace.

It was a feeling that continued through the night's rest and into the next grey morning. The three riders along the ridgeline... westerly side, behind them a bit... riding parallel. That was all there was to know for the time. But Lyric knew enough about hunting... and being hunted...to be wary though. The Riders were hunters. They were 'hunting'... something. Going... somewhere. And that distant point on the horizon

They might not be hunting Lyric and her companions in particular, and might not even know they were below them on the Flowered Path but their paths could and probably would cross or merge. And things could change quickly if these Hunters felt threatened or believed there was competition for whatever it was that drove them along a parallel path. That was how such things worked.

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#908967 - Tue 13/02/18 07:34 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Kel Offline
Sower of Insanity


Registered: Thu 14/07/11
Posts: 7421
Loc: Rebel Alliance, CA, USA
Keiko
[pronounced KAY-ko... do you think the GM has memorized this yet? Nope, not yet...]

Walking... always walking along a path where once a God and Goddess once ran...

It wasn’t strange or unusual for Keiko to spend much of the day just observing the land around them. She knew the story of this Path; she had never expected to walk it. Some days she pointed out the rarest flowers and herbs — the ones that commanded the most coins in the markets of Trundle. Some days she enjoyed the explosion of colors of the more ordinary ones. Some days she led the horse, whose name she decided was Umayashi — not a particularly inventive name, but still as descriptive as Tomomi’s name, for it meant gentle horse in the language of the Ancestors. Some days she walked beside Umayashi with her fingers twined in the mare’s silky mane.

It was perhaps a week into their journey that she spoke up softly as they finished their evening meal.

“We don’t dwell on things that begin with ‘what if?’ The Rhoni, I mean. Oh, for small things, perhaps — such as, ‘What if I paint a picture of a flower in a color that the flower has never seen?’ Those sorts of ‘what if?’ questions are interesting and often lead to new adventures. But backward ones?”

Keiko shook her head.

“I am a Rhoni lass, so there are things I cannot do. But one day when I was little, I asked one of the Old Aunties, ‘What if I learn all there is to know?’ She laughed and reminded me of the First Teaching Song:

Don’t feel bad that you are small
No one can remember all
Even when you’re very tall
No one can remember all


“So I asked her ‘What if I learn everything that can fit inside my head?’ She thought that was very funny, too. She said, ‘Why, you would be a Lore Master!’ And even though Grandmother was teaching me about the Cards, I pestered everyone in our Caravan and everyone who traveled a few days or weeks or months with us. I wanted to learn all the stories the Rhoni are said to have remembered from the beginning of time.”

She smiled softly as she looked up at the stars. “Auntie Shinju was right. There is so much to know — more than any one person can know!” She sighed softly. “I will tell you the story of this Path, but it is a story that is part of a longer one.”

Keiko sat up straighter, barely resting on her heels at all, and brushed her tunic as clean as possible. Stories required a certain amount of respect — just as the Cards did. The story had a definite rhythm to it, one that seemed to pull both storyteller and listeners through the story.

In times grown old so long ago, before the Princes came
There was a tale of treachery, betrayal, and of shame.
We hold that story close and dear, remembering for all
That heavy, dire, and deadly is the price of Power’s call.

The Coven broke that foggy night upon a marble bridge.
Not by the words of Eastern men that gathered on a ridge,
But by their grief and hate and fear — yes, by their very hands
They broke the vows they pledged to friends, and cursed the sacred lands.

Some say it was the Sorcerer named Davidson the Black
Who conjured up the creatures vile that broke the Coven’s back.
Yet he was just a handy tool of One Who Is Not Named
And through the years the stories changed, so Davidson is blamed.

While there is truth in all the tales that sorceries he worked,
Once on the temple top they stood, in darkness he then lurked.
‘A sacrifice that’s big enough,’ he said to those in Red,
‘Can summon truly anything,’ the son of David said.

The One Whose Name Is Never Said was more than merely pleased
And from Dayalan Warriors their lives and blood He seized.
He slaughtered their black Unicorns and threw them down the well.
Thus was the start of summoning our world down to His hell.

But three stood firm against His horde to save those He attacked:
A priestess fierce of Lady Sun, her steed of midnight black,
A priestess fair of Mother Earth fought nearly through the night
To free the Coven God and Goddess from Their fateful plight.

Free from Their bonds the Two took flight from temple top and well
While He Who Wears a Scarf of Red prepared an awful spell.
Although His prey slipped from His grasp, He paused to seek revenge.
He was the Lord of bloody death; His pride He would avenge.

First to die was Evening Star, Unicorn so black and brave,
But worse for Tashka and Linette, whom none could ever save.
Bound to a wall in magicked chains to never see Her light,
Each night they watched the other die, an agonizing sight.

The Lord and Lady bound on earth in bodies human-made
Ran fast and far across the Tarn toward safety in a glade
Of Forest known then as Heart Wood, where They could then be free
To live Their lives as human... then reclaim Divinity.

Along the path They ran that night, Their footsteps blessed the earth.
From that day forth it was as if fair Risha sang of birth.
Forever blooms each type of herb, each flower, and each tree.
The lesson that we always hear is, ‘Please, remember Me.’

But safety came not that night, for soon the Two were parted.
The Lady reached the glade, ‘tis true, while Her Consort darted
From tree to rock to riverbed avoiding Eastern hunters.
Others found the Lady’s glade and there they did confront Her.

When Her Lord discovered Her, She was dead beneath the trees.
He saw the way in which She died and madness He did seize.
He cursed the ones who brought Her down, He cursed the very air.
In His human grief, He misunderstood His Lady fair.

He grief and madness spread out and caught his followers, too,
So at the marble bridge that night, a giant pine tree grew.
The bridge did break to stop the horde of dreadful Eastern men
But on that bridge, too, was a squad of Lady Sun’s women.

Trust and vows two Ages long were snapped like twigs and branches.
If the truth be known, would their rage look like avalanches?
We hold the truth for those betrayed; our pain is also theirs.
Though not betrayed at Age’s end, we watched from Karten’s Stairs.

We hold betrayers’ truth for them; we have no unfairness.
For every cult, every clan — there is the same awareness.
So listen, child, and don’t forget: remembering the past
Is the duty of the Rhoni. It matters not how vast.


Keiko sat with her eyes closed for a moment. “All the songs — well, poems, really, I suppose — end the same way. No matter the rhyme pattern, we are always reminded to remember the stories for those who can’t.”

She opened her eyes again and looked up at the Dark Patch. “The Elders may need to change a few lines now.”


* * *

Lawsy day, I ought to get extra credit for this one... that was HARD.
_________________________
The World Is Not Okay Right Now. And Neither Am I.

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#908989 - Tue 13/02/18 12:58 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Gypsy Offline

Wizop
Administrator

Registered: Tue 09/05/00
Posts: 57106
Loc: Pidley, Cambs, UK
[Nice one Kel smile ]

Cesare

He starts listening to the tale with a relaxed attention but part way through it his attitude changed markedly. He sat straight, rigid, questioning, his frequent looks at Bekkah bring her into the story too. At the end there are tears in his eyes.

His words are soft, quiet but from the heart.

"We met Taska and Linette in a temple below that well. And we fought, fought hard to free them. I have never met any more more worthy of saving, never found a cause so just to champion. Doubt I ever will again. It was a turning point in my life when I first realised I could contribute to something so huge, something that would make a difference in life. And I had Daxia's leadership and courage to follow. Such an inspiration. I can never look upon those stars without feeling a fierce joy for those two nor a shame for what was done to them.. beyond depravity."

He is quiet too for a moment or two.

"We were also at that bridge. Time slipped and we entered that battle to hold the bridge at all costs. Darian and I were on the far side harassing the enemy, Daxia, as always, was right in the thick of it, right in the centre of the bridge. I watched it fall.."

His voice is thick with emotion now.. and he goes quiet. His eyes reflected inwards at the memories that Keiko's story had evoked.

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#909135 - Tue 13/02/18 18:55 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Phoenix Prime Offline
I'm Grumpy - Go Away
Moderator

Registered: Tue 16/05/00
Posts: 21209
Loc: Sanger Texas
Lyric, a quiet night before the 'Grey Morning' and the 'Riders on the Ridge'

The Minstrel sat at the edge of the flickering light and warmth of their sheltered fire. She listened intently, sometimes with eyes closed, and imagined the the tale unfolding around her. Just in the hearing of it, she could feel the taxing of her spirit and burden of the weight that came with understanding. It was only a fraction of what another might bear, and a pittance of sorrow compared to those who endured it first hand, survived, and passed along their knowledge and wisdom to those who would come after them.

Maybe she closed her eyes to keep the tears as private as she could. No matter how much she wanted to learn as many things as she could, she was seldom prepared for the heartache she felt. Some things were so foreign in concept to her knowledge that feeling them for the first time was crushing to her. And it was then, during this tale, that she realized she needed to hear things that made her feel this way. She needed to feel everything, the sadness and grief, and the happiness and joy as well. She was beginning to understand, just a glimpse of a sliver of what she had set out to discover when she left her home.

Cesare's words were not so much a story but rather a remembrance of an experience. It confused the Minstrel as she could not put his experience in context and time with what she believed she knew. How was it possible?

"He misunderstood her," she whispered in a questioning voice. "She reached her glade and her people, and he found her dead... He misunderstood her... And still there is love in every blade of grass, life in every tree's leaves, hope in every flower... These seasons change in birth, life, death, and birth again."

But to Cesare and even Bekkah, whom his glances had included in his remembrance, "As if you were there, witnessing it... reliving it... trying to change it? How is this possible?" Back and forth she looked, between the Healer and the Wanderer, head cocking, eyes searching for understanding in her confusion.

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#909140 - Tue 13/02/18 20:01 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Kel Offline
Sower of Insanity


Registered: Thu 14/07/11
Posts: 7421
Loc: Rebel Alliance, CA, USA
Keiko
[pronounced KAY-ko... do you think the GM has memorized this yet? Nope, not yet...]

She held onto the silence created by Cesare’s words as she watched the two stars looking down on the world from the Dark Patch. It wasn’t just Rhoni stories that said it was the pathway from the realm of the Chaos Lords. It took tremendous courage even in death to stand where they did.

“When she saw what had happened...” Keiko’s whispered voice cut off as she swallowed past the lump in her throat. “When she saw the well... I imagine she felt as I did when I saw the Dragon in the mine. No language I know holds words to describe it — it goes beyond anguish.

“Is it courage to continue on in the face of such horror?” she mused to herself. “Maybe it is, although I never thought myself to be particularly courageous.”

Tearing her eyes from the two stars guarding the Dark Patch, she regarded Cesare for a long set of moments. History and the Rhoni stories broke like the enormous waves on the rocks that protected Gh’orre Cove.

“No Dayalan survived that night. That’s why we remember for them. But Lady Daxia...”

Keiko shook her head, and her eyes tracked to the east, where the Spear constellation sat on the horizon. It couldn’t be seen from their camp; not tonight. She knew that it rode above Darkdown Pass. She knew that was the route the Easterners had taken at the end of the last Age — their incursion had been diverted because Triah’am Pass had been blocked by enormous avalanches and rock slides less than a generation before that. Had it truly been a Dragon shifting in its sleep? The notion seemed far less fanciful tonight than it had only last month.

“She was there. She saw what we saw. You must have had a similar vantage as our ancestors did, Cesare. It somehow seems... fitting, I suppose, that you watched history unfolding from this side of the Ravine.”

Lady Daxia had been there. She knew the truth. Keiko wondered how that had changed her. The Dayalans and Coveners had a relationship, a partnership that had existed since before the First Ancestors told their first stories. The knowledge of a betrayal that profound... after learning of her Temple’s desecration and the fate of her foresisters and their Immortal companions...

No, Keiko did not have the ability to imagine that.

But how had she escaped the fate of the other Dayalans on the bridge? All Rhoni knew that one should never spend the night near Highside Heather, for it was possible to die there. Dommi’s stories were not as detailed as she would have liked, but a reasonable conclusion — based on timing and a missing star in Spear — would be that Lady Daxia not only escaped but rescued one of the women who should have died that night.

Lyric’s words broke her from her reverie, and she nodded as she turned to her friend.

“He misunderstood Her, yes. They had been pulled from Their place of Divinity into human form by The One Who Is Not Named, by the sacrifice at the Dayalan Temple. And when that human form died...” She rested a hand on the ground beside her and gestured all around them with her other hand. “The Mother once again became that which She had always been.”

Keiko smiled almost slyly. “Young Coven initiates — the followers of Mother Earth, anyway — are told the story of the God and Goddess becoming human. Their priestesses leave it to them to learn for themselves the true nature of their Goddess. They begin their journey believing their Goddess is dead. Eventually, they learn that the core teaching — that death is only a different part of the journey in life — applies not only to every living thing around them and to themselves...

“...but it applies to their Lady, as well. And the Horned God, in His human form and consumed by human anger and human grief upon seeing that the Eastern hunters had killed Her in a terrible way... He misunderstood Her. He had forgotten that She was not truly dead.”

She sighed. “It’s a sad story. But it’s not entirely sad. Hidden beneath the pain and betrayal, the curses and the madness, there is a glimmer of hope.” She reached out and touched one of the nearby flowers, a dandelion half-closed in on itself while waiting for Her morning light. “Every one of these flowers reminds us of Mother Earth’s lesson. And for those who know the whole tale of Their plight at the end of the last Age, we can even see the Mother’s lessons in the ice plants with their tiny flowers in the high passes of the Black Mountains.”

She turned again to Cesare. “Indeed, I would like to know of that night. Our stories say that we can only witness the past. But if the evidence of a changed constellation is any indication, it seems that Lady Daxia did something that should not have been possible.”
_________________________
The World Is Not Okay Right Now. And Neither Am I.

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#909365 - Wed 14/02/18 10:03 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Gypsy Offline

Wizop
Administrator

Registered: Tue 09/05/00
Posts: 57106
Loc: Pidley, Cambs, UK
Cesare

"Daxia survived because we were out of our time and as the bridge fell, time reverted and we found ourselves returned to the time we had left. But another did survive. As the bridge fell, Daxia reached down and grabbed hold of one and brought her to safety. Kay. She is now the guardian of Bekkah's acolyte."

There is a faint smile now as he recalls Kay and Daxia together. That young lady, well both of them really, had to adjust to the circumstances Daxia created when her instincts took over on that bridge. And they did that in their individual styles.

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#909398 - Wed 14/02/18 14:52 GMT Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Phoenix Prime Offline
I'm Grumpy - Go Away
Moderator

Registered: Tue 16/05/00
Posts: 21209
Loc: Sanger Texas
Lyric

With the terrible magic that had bound the Goddess in a human form somehow broken, mortal death could not contain her. That was what Lyric understood when she heard Keiko tell the story. And it was truth when her Rhoni friend confirmed it. It was a powerful story indeed and it meant that there had to be hope for her Love as well. Had he returned to his divine nature? Or did he roam the earth, trapped somewhere between two worlds? Lyric would need to hear more of this story, his story for her desire was to free the Great Forest from the terrible curse. It surely had to grieve nature to know that her lover's pain and anguish, madness and anger hung like a curse over a part of her Dominion.

"Thank you friend," she said to Keiko. "Your poetic story was powerful and it moved me deeply."

But she followed Cesare in speaking to Keiko again. Gone was the child-like wonder and awe in hearing an emotionally evocative tale. Returned was the voice that came with knowledge and wisdom. Her blue eyes reflected the flickering flames from the fire, but that innocence that so often characterized the Minstrel was nowhere to be seen. This was something they had all seen before now. Maybe it was uncommon to hear her speak this way, in this voice, as she seemed to prefer to interact with the world around her as though everything was wondrous and new. But, just like sitting around a table in the common room in Home, where she laid out her plan and strategy, a differesnt side of her prevailed for the time being.

"Heart and Will... Courage," she stated without preamble.

"Possible and Impossible are just words. We create our own limitations and find words that form rules to keep us within these boundaries... But Magic does not have to follow rules. Magic is the means to reveal the mystery of things deemed Impossible. But magic is more than that."

"Courage, Will, and Heart... This Lady Daxia... Sister to Lady Bekkah... she had the Courage to discover that nothing is Impossible. She bent the nature of the balance between Order and Chaos through her Will, to her Will. And because she had the Heart to risk everything to make a difference, whether she knew it or not, she touched Magic. The truest Magic. Yes, she touched the warp and weft of the fabric that is the tapestry of our World and... It accepted her hand upon the Loom."

Lyric trailed off, looking from her friends sitting around the campfire on an evening before the Grey Morning to somewhere further down the Flowered Path. She could say more, but she knew she had said enough. She wanted to think about her own words and what they might mean to herself. Maybe she could save her People... if she too had the Courage, the Will, and the Heart.


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#910489 - Yesterday at 15:43 Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Wolf Offline



Registered: Mon 25/07/11
Posts: 4930
Loc: NY
The Heartwood
The Flowered Path
Later that month


Lyric, Cesare, Keiko and Bekkah ... and Tomomi and Hinata Cat.

"Stupid slink"

They had had meat for their dinner that night.

"Why little cat pounce big cat? Stupid? What was little cat doing in tree in first place?"

That, it appeared, was the depth of Hinata's philosophical musings. He was most certainly a live-in-the-here-and-now kind of Forest Folk, though it had its benefits. They were certainly getting used to his natural foraging skills to keep their evening meals from being a simple repetition of trail bread. True, he had looked a little worse for the wear when he had returned just before dusk, but then, of course, the other slink had fared much worse, having fallen to the harsh demands of their Mother's circle of life and death.

Tomomi just listened to the tales told, almost hypnotized by both the Minstrel and the Rhoni storyteller. Her eyes were wide, her whiskers stood straight out and her soft round ears had rotated forward, so as not to miss a single word. But, when the tales had been told, when folks returned their gaze from the stars above and back to their little campfire, where the most important thing was the sizzle of meat on a spit being perfectly burned she just tucked herself in upon herself. She tugged up the hood of her travel cloak, looking so very small.

"Heroes ..."

She took a deep deep breath.

"Do you have to have a song written about you to be a hero?

"Do you have to face gods and people so bad you can't even say their names to be a hero?

"Do you have to live in the stars above to be a hero?

"Do you have to change the whole wide world to be a hero?"

The travel cloak hood ducked, looking down, into the warm fire.

"What about saving just one little scared and very lost Mouse?

"I should be ... I should be ... I should be gone. But I got rescued."

Tomomi was quiet for a long, long time then, just listening to the fire crackle.

"And I can't stop remembering, I just can't stop. I close my eyes and I can still hear him ...

"Deep in the mines. Soaked in the red of the mines. He was broken, his clothes were rags and a rope, his eyes were dead, he had lost all hope for himself so long ago. But I will never forget what he said, in that horrible place, that place of death and non-being, that place of being a thing. That place of being no worth.

"Take her."

A small and frail hand reached up, to rub her nose.

"Take her."

Her words were quiet, soft, and laced with the feeling of I just don't understand.

"No one will ever write a song about him. No one will ever know about her.

"They.

"They.

"Weren't they heroes too?

"They seem so to me.

"But I am just a silly mouse."



Edited by Wolf (Yesterday at 15:47)

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#910530 - Yesterday at 16:52 Re: HWD: Along the Flowered Path [Re: Wolf]
Kel Offline
Sower of Insanity


Registered: Thu 14/07/11
Posts: 7421
Loc: Rebel Alliance, CA, USA
Keiko
[pronounced KAY-ko... do you think the GM has memorized this yet? Nope, not yet...]

The Rhoni reached out an arm and pulled Tomomi close and then hugged her friend tightly, both arms wrapped around the Mouse.

“Not all heroes have names,” she whispered. “And not all heroes do great things for all the world to see.

“Did Jeminy Kilkenna think she was a hero when her band of warriors stood against the forces of the East to save Risha’s followers in the little farms south of Tor-An-Dal? Did any of the Dayalans who are now among the countless stars think they were heroes? Did Tashka and Linette believe they were heroes when they fought to free Mother Earth and the Horned God from the Avatar of the One Whose Name Is Never Spoken?”

Keiko shook her head. “I think not. I think they only did what they knew to be right in the moments they were becoming heroes to all the world.”

The young woman smiled in the soft light around the campfire. “I will tell you why I know this is true. Some heroes are just simple folks who have done something great for one other person... A person who shows one kindness who has never known kindness is a hero. A person who feeds and shelters one who is starving and homeless is a hero. Everyone is a hero to someone, Tomomi.”

She paused, and just rested her cheek against her friend’s head before continuing. The cloak was not nearly as soft as Tomomi’s lengthening yellow hair, but she certainly understood the Mouse’s desire for the comfort and privacy it afforded her.

“I know a silly little Mouse whose name means Brave and Beautiful Friend, and this silly little Mouse is a hero to those who might have been Lost before Lady Bekkah called upon her Goddess. This silly little mouse showed others that one only needed a purpose to not become Lost.

“Do you think I am a hero because I helped you out of that Lost place? Then I am your hero. Does Hinata think I am a hero because I let him out of his cell?” Keiko looked across the fire into the shadows where the Cat sat eating slink meat and chuffed out something that might have been a laugh if she weren’t so serious.

“I talked to my friend. I opened a door.

“You don’t need to change the whole wide world to be a hero, Tomomi. You just need to change one person’s world.

“You changed mine by being a Mouse who became a Forever Friend.

“That makes you a hero.

“Hinata changed my world by being a Cat who does not even realize he is nearly as funny as my beloved Uncle Toshi.

“That makes him a hero.”

The Rhoni looked around at her companions and smiled.

“Those who do great deeds are the subjects of songs and stories only because their deeds are more interesting to sing about than simple acts of kindness.

“We are — all of us, Tomomi — heroes.”
_________________________
The World Is Not Okay Right Now. And Neither Am I.

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