Over the last evenining since the party’s return, the following has transpired:
Sasha was greeted at home by Darryl, who talked through the events of their adventure with her, then decided the well at the greenhouse was probably still a threat. She accompanied him back up into the mountains instead of sleeping, where they smashed up the pool’s walls and drained its contents until the glow went away, then came straight back down. For Sasha, that’s 21 straight hours of hiking, broken only by physical labour and the hour’s time where Darryl went to grab a jug of Sid’s home-brew for the road.
Aelita prepared for every conversation she might possible have with her mother- excuses upon explanations upon justifications for why she was gone for two days. The most reliable, she decided, was that Quidd had decided to go out camping, and she couldn’t let her patient go unattended, but that sounded hollow even to her. She was greeted by Seidi with a casual, motherly “Where were you?” “Um, out with friends? Camping?” “That sounds nice. Did you have a fun trip?” “Yes? It was… quiet?” “Good, I’m glad you had fun with your friends.” Aelita, caught in the only situation she didn’t prepare for, went right to bed afterward.
Marten slipped in the back of the tavern, outside the notice of Sid, but not of Karen, who decided not to say anything. Like father, like son, she thinks, and figures she’ll find out where he was eventually, whether she wants to know or not. She imagines he’s probably just slipped off for a couple days by himself, which he has done before, anyhow, and has recently been told to back off of him a little by Miranda, who has always held the opinion that if Karen slept around a bit more, she wouldn’t mind when Sid does it.
Caery is too sleepy to walk all the way to the monastery, despite having been carried half the way home, and sleeps at Alana’s house instead. She sleeps in late- later than she usually does, anyway, and so does Alana. She doesn’t say much about where she’s been, and Alana, who doesn’t see her every day anyhow, thinks nothing of it.
Fable comes home with a triumphant “I have returned!” This is not unusual for him. His parents ask how he’s been, and he spins them a dramatic tale of his exploits. They act duly impressed, and will praise his imagination and flair amongst themselves later, but they have come to expect him to embellish the events of his day. An afternoon of browsing used books is always “delving into forbidden and forgotten knowledge, long hidden from the prying eyes of mere mortals”, and a nap by the millpond is “time spent in deep contemplation of the future’s portents, gazing into the well of sorrows”. “Traveling deep into the wild places, to combat the molding minions of an ancient sorcerer in his palace of greenery” is just par for the course.
Halgrim has had just about enough of this place. He returns and assures Brandy and Dean that he hasn’t been getting up to trouble. Missing his mother, though he’d never admit it, he decides he just hasn’t run far enough away, and plans to stow away on a ship bound for further yet from Fallcrest. He nicks a few imperihables and gathers his stuff, then hides away behind crates and boxes in a ship with pretty blue sails. He nods off thinking of home.
Richard, dog-tired, doesn’t drop in at the mill before returning to the glen and falling into a deep sleep after the day’s stresses. He’s done a lot better since they left the confined space of the Greenhouse, but is nonetheless glad to be home, in his comfort zone, and expects things will go back to normal tomorrow.
Quidd returns home to find his father waiting for him, prepared to give him a stern talk about having disappeared for two days. Quidd breaks down, and tells Erin Senior how scared he was, that they might have died, that he had no idea what was up. Erin takes this all in, and tell Quidd that he’s coming along on a trip Erin is taking, and there will be no discussion on it. Quidd’s things are already packed for him, and he surrenders, defeated, and certain that he is in SO much trouble, that his parents are going to send him away to a school or relative’s house of some sort. This is, of course, the worry talking- reationally, he should know his parents aren’t that kind of people. They noticed his absence and what he took with him, and Erin has decided to take him on a proper adventure, just the two of them, putting on a stern face so it will be a surprise. He has no idea.
Quidd awakens early for one last time and makes the run to Dunsor glen- this time, to say goodbye to his best friend. Richard is the only one he’s telling about his departure. He wakes Richard, and break the news that he’s leaving on a trip, which Richard initially concludes should be over in about a week. Quidd tries to explain that it might be a lot longer, and Richard refuses to let him go, certain that Quidd would never leave him. Quidd breaks down, and cries on Richard’s shoulder, while Richard reassures him that he never has to leave, and Quidd can live here in the glen with him, forever. The tearful reassurances continue for a long hour while Quidd is forced to draw the horrible conclusion that he’s going to have to lie to his best friend. He tells Richard that he’ll stay, and never leave him, and that everything will be okay, but he has to get his stuff from home. He’ll be right back, he says. Richard lets him go, and he starts back along his trail- as soon as he’s out of sight, he breaks into a run. Ten minutes later, Richard starts walking after him.
Aelita gets up early, as usual, and does her chores. Her mother still hasn’t said anything else about the trip. After finishing her chores, she does them again, then finds other things to do around the shrine, desperate to keep busy as long as her mother isn’t asking questions, and sure that this is a clever tactic. Seidi is of course certain that her daughter has things well in hand, and would say something if anything was wrong. The two of them work in near silence all morning- Aelita cleaning, and Seidi polishing and refillinf the temple lanterns. At some point, she asks wherther Aelita wouldn’t rather do something else whith her free time, since all the chores are done. Aelita insists that she’d rather do her duties. Seidi Shrugs.
Marten has been out fishing since the early morning, having borrowed a little landing dinghy from his neighbor and Sid’s friend, Colby Murdock, the Harbormaster. (It has been decided that the squat, grouchy harbormaster resembles Danny Devito. I’m game.) Their standard arrangement applies. The boat comes back with no holes or scratches, no problem. Marten damages the boat, he’s going to work it off. (It’s mostly only available to him because Colby knows damned well who Marty’s mother is.) He’s caught and released a few fish, and is coming home with one big one that swallowed his hook. As he approaches the harbor, he takes note of a few ships that are leaving port- as always, he unconsciously checks the colour of the sails- one white, one grey, and one blue. He’s pretty sure that the blue sails belong to a ship that Quidd’s dad often works with. With his fish, he returns to the dock. Confirming with Colby that there are no holes, he decides to drop off that fish and take the boat back out for the afternoon, having nothing better to do than avoid Karen. At this moment, he hears quite a commotion from the nearby marketplace.
Aelita, having taken her mother’s hint that she should get out of the house for fuck’s sake, has gone over to the forge to have an in-depth teenage girl discussion over whether werewolves are real, and whether they’re probably anything like in her favourite books about them, “No Moon”, “Sunless”, and “Breaking Bad”. Mona figures thay’re probably about as likely to be real as Ghost sand vampires, and she’s pretty sure those are real, even if she hasn’t personally seen them. She didn’t get into the “Nightlight” books, preferring more “Adult” books anout vampires and werewolves. She convinces Aelita to let her make a batch of proper arrows while she’s there, and replaces the blunt heads with blunts which are competently made, then gives Aelita a package for the shrine to be delivered to her mother- new gate hinges and another lantern. Aelita heads home.
Richard, having walked an hour and not caught sight of Quidd, has broken into a run- he reaches Quidd’s house after some time and finds nobody home. Quidd’s bag and favourite books are gone, and well as some clothes. Distressed, he makes a wild guess and takes off for the harbor, assuming Quidd is on a ship. He tears through the marketplace, overturning a few stands and displays in his haste, and bowling over a good few people as well. He runs right down to the edge of the dock, shouting Quidd’s name at the top of his lungs. Marten is right below him, his ears now ringing. Marten greets him, and Richard exclaims “Marten, Quidd’s gone, have you seen him?” by way of greeting. Marten, taking a second to catch up, mentions that he thinks the blue-sailed ship is Quidd’s dad’s. Richard doesn’t need any more information- he dives off the pier and starts swimming sfter the ship.
Marten, seeing this ending badly, begins rowing after him. Richard is still shouting Quidd’s name, with every stroke, and Marten eventually convinces him to climb into the rowboat, which is faster that Richard’s dog-paddle. They row after Quidd, shouting his name until Quidd takes notice. Quidd profusely apoligises, telling Richard hehas to go back, and it has to be this way. Richard refuses, and takes off swimming again, since, as the ship is faster than the rowboat anyway, it must not be fast enough. He keeps swimming long after the ship has disappeared over the horizon, and Marten keeps rowing beside, partially in sick fascination and partially out of determination to be there when he’s too exhausted to swim back. Eventually, Richard dips beneath the waves for a third time and doesn’t resurface- Marten dives in and rescues Richard, who has worn himself out to the point of unconsciousness. He rows back to shore for mid-afternoon, and trades Colby the boat for a wheelbarrow, (No holes? No holes, Colby.) so he can wheel Richard over to Aelita’s.
Fable has slept in, then had a relaxing morning of “Deep meditation and intense martial practice”, then takes a few of the cool old books he found in the Greenhouse to find Quidd, who will really appreciate the no doubt forbidden and ancient wisdom that lies inside. He finds Quidd’s house empty, but is startled by the return of Mrs. Quidd, who tells him that Quidd hs left on a trip with his father for who knows how long. She invites him in, and he starts to turn her away with a dramatic line, but is lured by the promise of cookies. Taking a bundle of the cookies for “his sisters and everyone else”, he heads to Sasha’s, eating the entire bundle of cookies along the way. He finds Darryl butchering some large predator in the yard, with an open jug of something VERY strong beside him. Sashais asleep, and has been for only three hours by Darryl’s reckoning, but that’s probably enough. Fable ascends into Sasha’s loft as Darryl’s approval to try and wake her- she punches him in her sleep, hard enough to knock him out of the loft. Darryl comes in and smiles down at him.
“She hit yeh, didn’ she? Knocked yer arse back about ten feet, didn’ it? Bet you’re not gonna do that again, are yeh?” Sasha awakens groggily, and Fable tells her Quidd is gone, and they need to go tell people, starting with Richard. Darryl tells her three hours is probably enough to be getting on with, and she rises to the challenge.
Marten and a very unconscious Richard arrive at Aelita’s, much to her distress- she has returned to doing chores after making Mona’s delivery, and is now beset with the tak of healing Richard. She shoos them out after snapping at Richard for “trying to drown himself”, and Richard invites Marten to join him for dinner at Dunsor glen. Marten heads home first, and Richard heads home to decorate for a guest. By decorate, he means “string up a bunch of animal skulls”. Seidi insists yet again that Aelita is free to go spend time with her friends if she wants. She instead drops by the monastery, hoping to find someone who reads whatever dialect of ancient elven that book on molds is written in.
Marten asks Sid what he knows about Dunsor glen, and Sid regales him with most every terrifying local tale he’s overheard in the bar about the place, prompting Marten to accept a half-full jug of blueberry ‘shine to take along for liquid courage. He takes a few sips on his way, and they’re most of the reason he doesn’t flee when he encounters the first skull. True to the tales, mysterious snippets of haunting laughter and flickering blue lights in the trees follow with throughout the glen, which he finds empty. He sips at his liquid courage in the haunted and skull-filled forest until, with Richard’s arrival bearing food, all those haunting signs are extinguished. They drink, eat, and talk, and end up totally smashed on that moonshine. They christen Marten the Skelelord, and dress him up in a bunch of skulls, whilst Richard shapeshifts, taking a lionlike shape composed of bones and stone projections, with a mane of cobwebs and lichen.
Aelita speaks briefly with a visiting monk from Drom, Haska, whom she finds rather intimidating, though she isn’t sure why, before speaking with Father Greyson. He takes the book, promising that should anyone prove capable of reading it, she will certainly be notified. She decides to head down to Sasha’s to check in on things, but on the way, runs into Sasha and Fable on their way to Dunsor Glen- if Quidd is gone, Richard should be told.
Entering the forest, they find it strange and unfamiliar- great, dark, twisted trees stretch toward the sky, which is shaded a deep violet, darkening to blue-black in the East and lightening to pinking in the West. They wander endlessly for what seems like hours, occasionally stumbling upon great, dusty cobwebs strung with beads, or skulls which have been ritually affixed to trees. Here and there, they hear laughter in the trees, or see small will-o-the-wisps dancing just out of the periphery of their eyes.
It isn’t long before they realise they are being followed. Some very large predator is moving through the forest behind them, always just out of sight, playing with them. Sensibly, they run, and become even more hopelessly lost- they are separated, and run for a while on their own, unsure of whether this is all a dream. Exhausted, muddy, and tangled, they all eventually emerge into Dunsor Glen at near exactly the same time, and from almost the same patch of woods.
The moons are high and bright above the Clearing at the heart pf Dunsor Glen, reflecting off the pool at it heart and giving a strange, eerie cast to the broken pillars which rise from its center, as well as the various skulls strung from trees around the clearing. Will-o-the-wisps flicker in the eyes of these skulls, making them seem to look at the party. As the party approaches, a figure rises above the mount of the cave which hunches at the far end- a figure clad in horns and antlers, silhoueted by the moon, astride a great lionlike beast clad in cobweb and shadow. It proclaims loudly, “Behold, The SKELELORRRRRD,” before projectile vomiting in a wide, steaming arc.
The skelelord and its mount leap down, landing in the pool with a great splash, which soaks Sasha. She waits a heartbeat, then, as the Skelelord rises from the water in what could be construed as a dramatic and threatening manner, she shoulder-checks him halfway across the clearing. He turns out to be nothing more than a disguised and VERY drunk Marten- the beast is one other than Richard, who proceeds to go to sleep on the bank of the pond.
During the confusion, Fable hears a snatch of beguiling music in the woods, follows it, and promptly disappears. Aelita and Sasha drag Marten out of the woods, looking for a farmhouse to take him to. They find one, but before they can approach, they suddenly see a pure white deer in the moonlight. It takes off toward the farm and into a sheep paddock, where the sheep promptly lose their minds. The deer turns to the party and regards them with flat, grey eyes before opening a too-wide mouthful of sharp teeth and howling at them. Its howl cuts through to the heart of them- it’s like a chorus of the animal damned. They spend a moment fleeing before regaining control of their senses and returning. Here they witness the beast nudging a fallen sheep, which has perished in the restrained stampeding of its fellows. The body shudders, then the sheep’s spirit rises from it, as sharp-toothed and empty-eyed as the deer that called it forth. Several more suffer this treatment, then the newly-formed herd gallop off into the open sky, to the party’s amazement.
The farmer and his wife are found, seemingly dead, outside the farmhouse- upon inspection, only the wife is dead. The party carries the farmer inside, before Sasha collapses into a chair. It’s at this point that Aelita inspects her, and concludes that she’s been lying about how sick she was all night long. Marten is, naturally, just as sick in an entirely different way. Aelita puts about seeing to it that everyone is well fed and taken care of. She retrieves one of the dead sheep from outside, skinning and expertly quartering it to make a stew. She works mostly in silence, awake through the night to ensure that just this once, everybody lives
Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them
A Dog and His Boy
Over the last evenining since the party’s return, the following has transpired: