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Messages - Johan

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In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: February 10, 2014, 04:32:04 PM »
To the west of the Dale of Wolves stand the glacier-tipped Dragonteeth mountains. Some of the run-off from those glaciers create two great rivers that careen down the mountain slopes and come together to flow as one under the Tower of Zebulon, thereafter falling four hundred feet to carve a great gorge in the valley below. It is said that in that place, Istisha makes love to Grumbar.

Standing near the falls in the valley below, one is deafened and shaken by the vibration of the water smashing into the ground. You do not have to be in the water proper for the falls to fully envelop you…it carries its power to you. Through you, more aptly put.

Shankaria couldn’t help but think of Zebulon’s Falls when Bal-Jhor’s drone filled the Grove of Needles. The mist and fog that was so persistent at Zebulon’s Falls were here replaced by the chromatic ghostly fingers from the four fires, and the Falls’ thunderous voice was replaced by the Drone of the assembled Gnarcheon. But the drone filled her body as much as the halo of ghostly lights filled her eyes.

When the Drone had been lifted on the voices of all Gnarchon around the perimeter of the Grove of Needles, then did Shankaria take it up, as did Kaltya and the few others who were at Mahiya’s fire.

The tendrils of light from the four childrens’ fires reached towards the center, as if attracted by the Drone that was taken up there, and the light that was a flowing halo constricted to become more of a dome. Shankaria looked to Maragarn. It was time for him to complete the Ritual.

Game Log / Session 37 A Torch in the Dark
« on: February 04, 2014, 11:15:14 AM »
Thanks, WF. I'll consider "polishing" this at a later time. It certainly captures the salient points!

Game Log / Session 36- Tombs, Temples, and Troubles”
« on: February 03, 2014, 08:45:05 AM »
Thanks, WF

In Character Discussions / Morning in the Woods
« on: January 14, 2014, 12:12:45 PM »
Humans, being so young and short-lived a race, were always a bit odd to Eswarth. But this particular human was far more so. He seemed so frightened and unsure of himself. So much seemed to make him twitch and twitter.

"Just about every place is holy to someone or other, but you are in a forest, young friend." Eswarth replied. "Nothing is more natural."

"We must talk, though, before we can decide on our course today...come join me when you're done." He instructed his young companion.

In Character Discussions / Morning in the Woods
« on: January 05, 2014, 05:56:10 PM »
Charon's unexpected movements and murmurings took Eswarth a little by surprise, and when the centaur looked up from his reverie it seemed to him that the young human was gathering to leave.

"Good morning." He greeted his new companion, trying to remain quiet enough to not waken the other sleepers. "Where are you off to?" He asked.

In Character Discussions / Morning in the Woods
« on: January 03, 2014, 11:31:31 AM »
Balorie's visit had replayed itself in Eswarth's mind through much of the remainder of the night. His sleep had come in fits and starts...enough to let him get through the night, but not enough that he could call himself rested.

He stoked the small campfire back to proper flames and waited somewhat impatiently for Charon to wake up.

Game Log / Interlude 3 - Elves on the Run
« on: December 27, 2013, 09:18:04 AM »
The advisor watched the receding dwarf ambassadors for a long while. Now, they were all but tiny specks in the distance. "The dwarves will not help us, despite what they say." He stated.

"I know. The Stonehammers were ever a duplicitous lot, but ever since the younger one died..." She trailed off, her thoughts taking too many directions. "This 'ambassador' that Stonehammer sent fairly stank of ogre and orc."

"Something isn't right in Derkenwold." Finished the advisor.

"Ah-norya." Agreed the young principal. "And we're no match for these gargun that rain death upon Ahmdelarden."

"These are not normal gargun." The advisor suggested. "Too...organized. Too...intelligent."


"How fares Barranden, ye think?"

"Better than we." She answered. "They are not so close to the mountains, so the gargun can't reach them quite as readily. Even with Derkenwold's help."

"My grandfather would have called upon the Kharan'Juhl." Mused the advisor. "A single one of them could be enough to throw back the tide."

"The Kharan'Juhl are long dead and dust." Replied the principal tartly. "We are on our own today...but to do what, exactly?" A lonely tear rolled down the elf woman's cheeck as she surveyed the make-shift hospital that her home had become.

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: December 26, 2013, 07:02:28 PM »
There were two surprises for Bal-Jhor this year...perhaps there were more yet to come.

Year after year it was clear that no other Gnarcheon in the grove truly understood what was happening during the Drone. This year was different. This year there was a half-orc that Bal-Jhor had never seen before, who understood. While every other Gnarcheon there was uplifted and happy when the Drone started, this half-orc was truly moved, and Bal-Jhor didn't need to see the wolf spirit at the half-orc's shoulder to know that the half-orc was a spirit friend. But the half-orc was clumsy with Mahiya's tongue...he had not been taught Her ways by anyone, and yet was here in the Grove where only Her servants were allowed. Bal-Jhor knew that the half-orc was no threat; he would bear watching.

His second surprise was Varshya who, in her role in the ritual was transformed from her lonely elf into a beautiful embodiment of Istisha. Perhaps, the goliath thought, Varshya wasn't quite so isolated as she seemed. Of course, outside of the ritual, even the spirits spoke a different story.

The Drone continued to fill the grove, taken up by joyous voices. It moved northerly towards Akadi's fire, and it moved southerly towards Grumbar's, leaving a bubble of sorts in the middle of the grove, where Mahiya's fire burned brightly. That middle ground would be filled only when all of Mahiya's children's fires were reaching to the sky, like Istisha's was. Istisha's green tendrils lifted on the energy of the Drone and Varshya's song like a green current following the path of a river, both lights and voices searched for Akadi's fire and Grumbar's fire.

At Akadi's fire, while voices joined the drone, Mirriam set tipper to bodhran and beat a rhythm full of life, adding dimension to Varshya's song while to the south, Eswarth reared high and brought his feet down impossibly loud upon the earth at Grumar's fire. Eswarth's enormous forehoofs began to stomp in a slow, methodic rhythm that complimented Mirriam's more rapid one, the both of them carried along with Varshya's song, the three continuing easterly to where Cailyder awaited the coming of the Drone and the currents of the three rituals for her to add her own to.

Blue fingers reached up from Akadi's fire to mingle and join with Istisha's green, the two dancing as though alive, intermingling before moving towards the orange fire that was Kossuth's. To the south, the ruddy fingers of Grumbars fire pulsed into the sky with Eswarth's stomping. Leaping up those ruddy fingers of light grabbed hold of Istisha's blue currents and lent the strength of Grumbar. The two searched onward towards Kossuth's beacon.

Shankaria felt the drone vibrating in her little body and watched the lights grace the sky one by one, all the while keeping an eye that saw, but did not fully understand, upon the sad satyr that stood beside her.

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: November 22, 2013, 12:41:12 PM »
Bareglar knew when he first saw that goliath that Bal-Jhor (as he had heard the elf woman address him) was different from the other people who were in that grove. It was clear from the goliath’s trappings – his satchel and the mystical fetishes on his heavy staff – that Bal-Jhor was a spirit-talker.

Bareglar had thought that such gifted were only among the orcish clans of his father, where Bareglar had lived for some years as he grew. In those orc clans, being a spirit-talker was not always a good thing to be, unless you were also high-born within the clan, and while Bareglar had been so gifted, if only feebly so, he was a half-breed and low-born besides. When the elder spirit-talker had learned that Bareglar had the trifle of the gift that he did, the elder condemned the young half-breed to death, and Bareglar’s own father moved to deliver it.

Needless to say, Bareglar had escaped, but only after losing his left hand to his father’s rage. Alone in the wildlands, Bareglar had been rescued by an ageing wolf who cared for Bareglar as the half-orc recovered from his wound. The wolf brought food to Bareglar and kept him warm through the wild winter nights, and by the time that Bareglar was once again whole enough to hunt for himself, the wolf rather abruptly died. It was that wolf’s hide that continued to keep Bareglar warm to this date, and it was that wolf’s spirit, Bareglar felt sure, that had guided the half-orc as he had these past seasons learned Mahiya’s ways and that had also eventually guided the half-orc to this festival.

There had been no fear for Bareglar upon his arrival here, despite the many celebrants who were there already. In fact, it had taken Bareglar a hand or two to learn that this was in fact an annual celebration of the Children of Mahiya. When he learned that, he knew that this was a good place for him to be. He knew that here he should be able to find some acceptance.

Thus, when Bareglar saw this mystical goliath striding across the grove, he had followed. The goliath’s carriage told that he was one of import; he was a leader among these celebrants. And then, by his conversation with the elf woman, it became clear that this Bal-Jhor was influential indeed, and wise besides. Bareglar decided then and there that he must talk with the goliath: Bal-Jhor would be of help to the lonely half-orc.

But Bal-Jhor had offered no such opportunity. No sooner had the goliath terminated his conversation with the elf woman than did he fall to one knee, seeming to pull himself together for this Drone of which the two had spoken.

The fire where the goliath had knelt burned a green light, and was attended not only by the lonely elf woman, but by a number of what were clearly her acolytes, and many others besides. No one gave Bareglar a second look; they all seemed to accept the half-orc in their midst, and some even greeted him in friendly fashion.

Many of those collected there continued to whisper to each other while Bal-Jhor, on one knee and palms to the ground, began to glow. The blotchy patterns that were an ear-mark of his kin began to blur and vibrate in place on his skin, and he glowed a ruddy sort of light. No one else in attendance seemed to note these things, however. They all seemed completely oblivious to what Bal-Jhor was doing and stared at him expectantly. Bareglar even heard one human ask when Bal-Jhor was going to begin.

Then, Bareglar’s breath caught audibly in his chest as he sensed many spirits about himself, pulling the fear from his pacht – his soul – and causing him to feel such joy that tears dropped unbidden and suddenly from his cheek. The human who seemed to wait impatiently for Bal-Jhor to begin asked if Bareglar was ok…Bareglar could only sob that he was. He had never felt such beauty touch the depths of his being.

Through his tears he looked at Bal-Jhor only to find the goliath looking from the corners of his eyes and scrutinizing Bareglar, the green light of the fire making the goliath’s eyes seem supernatural.
Bareglar thought he saw a cryptic smile on the goliath’s face as Bal-Jhor closed his eyes and turned his attention once more to the ground.

Then, Bareglar felt a deep but subtle tremor in the ground beneath his feet, followed by a moan so low that he felt it in his chest. He realized that Bal-Jhor was making both of these things happen. The one by his racial closeness to grumbar, and the other by his powerful voice. The goliath was emitting a low drone that carried literally into all those present.

One by one, the celebrants who stood near to Bal-Jhor took up this drone, joy upon their faces, and the drone grew. All around him, Bareglar realized that everyone present was picking up the drone. He did likewise, adding his voice to the collective sound. Overall, while each individual might have to pause to refill their lungs, the collective drone was constant, and grew louder and louder, and filled the bodies of all those present more and more completely.

Bareglar then heard the elf woman reciting a ritual of some sort. He continued to drone with the rest of the participants, and as he did he felt happy. Genuinely happy to be there at that time, with those people. He felt…connected. Connected to all the celebrants around him, and to the trees, the earth, the fire, everything. He felt as though he were part of a family, which was something that Bareglar had never before truly been.

As the elf woman chanted her own particular part of this ritual, the green fire pulsed along with her. Tendrils of light leapt high into the night sky, as though they were fingers searching for something. They continued to grow, but instead of going higher, they branched out, searching towards the left and right, as well as towards the center of the grove.

And the drone continued to grow ahead of the green filaments of light. More voices in the grove took up the drone as they heard it. And Bareglar felt euphoric.


Shankaria felt a mixture of great relief and awful sadness when she spotted Maragarn approach. It was clear from the satyr’s scowl – normally so foreign an emotion for Maragarn – and his gait that their worst fears might have been realized. Something wicked had clearly been afoot in Maragarn’s forest.

Food for the after meeting. She thought. She sighed and cast a commiserating look of fondness at her friend. Shankaria could see that Varshya had begun her ritual, although where she was, at Mahiya’s fire, she was as yet unable to hear the Drone.

“Come, child.” She said to Maragarn. “Yours will be the ritual here for Mahiya’s fire.” She told him. She needed to give him an intrinsic role to the commencement. Perhaps Bal-Jhor’s drone, when it truly got here, would raise the satyr’s spirits. She thought she could feel the deep vibrations of the drone now, although it was still beyond her hearing.

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: November 06, 2013, 12:37:47 PM »
Bal-Jhor reflected on Varshya’s ironic use of the word ‘spirit’. He wondered if perhaps she were aware of the spirits dancing around them, or was she perhaps only using the colloquial. He made a mental note to pursue that at a later time. She was such a sad person, really, striving to live vicariously through her acolytes, but completely unaware of the heights to which she herself could soar if she’d just embrace herself and the spirit world.

He smiled a bit grimly in the green firelight: these thoughts would feed his philosophical side well in the weeks that he would travel the forest on his way home.

He began to turn his mind and his thryng-pah – his spiritual self – to the starting of the Drone. He remembered the Drone and how it had been conducted when he was a new Gnarcheon…when others led the commencement magics. In that time, the Drone was awesome. One would lose themselves in the Drone and connect with all the Gnarcheon present in a spectacular presence of life.

But when Bal-Jhor assumed that mantle, the Drone reached new heights. Although to his knowledge none present understood why that was, they all agreed that Bal-Jhor brought some ineffable energy to the Drone. An energy that connected all the Gnarcheon there with not only each other, but with the trees and grasses of the Grove itself, and with the living stone beneath their feet and the winds that embraced each and every one present.

In part this was because Bal-Jhor was a goliath by birth, and as such he was particularly attuned to Grumbar – to the stones that created the mantle of earth upon which they all walked. He brought with his heritage the very rhythm of the stones. But it was more than that as well.

It was also because Bal-Jhor, as Grhumtilde, reached out not only to the Gnarcheon in the Grove, but also to the spirits who were present, and connecting in his own special way with Grumbar – with the very earth upon which he strode – called forth the devotion of the Ancestors and combined that devotion with not only the voices and spirits of the living in the Grove but also with the living and mystical power of the grove itself, giving the drone a dimension that it could not otherwise have. All life energies present were entwined, and each could feel the other on a visceral level below their conscious selves.

In this way, the Drone carried the energy of the present Gnarcheon, the past Gnarcheon, all the animals, the plants, and the very elements present, bringing the Drone and its participants that much closer to the eternal Divinities and to Mahiya.

It was now time to start that sacred journey.

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: November 05, 2013, 04:32:44 PM »
Bal-Jhor tried to remain formal with Varshya, despite his natural tendency toward near-joking good humor. Nevertheless, he did manage to temper his response, saying as if to himself, "Imagine wanting to avoid the mountains!"

He smiled what he hoped would be a good natured smile and gazed upon Varshya's acolytes. "They are of great spirit." He observed wondering whether Varshya could appreciate his use of the term. She would when she was ready, of course, but he wondered when she might be ready.

"I have a modicum of advantage, not needing to shepherd any of our Brothers or Sisters. But more of my journey is under the trees than in the mountains; we must all be in places away from our comfort in order that we might grow, eh?"

He breathed deep the festival air. "Do you mind, sister, if we start the drone here at Istisha's fire?" He asked her, knowing that doing so would mean that Varshya would be attending her part of the ritual for longer than the Chankathur at the other fires, but he also knew what role in the Drone the spirits would play, and mayhap they would lift Varshya a bit by their proximity.


In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: November 05, 2013, 03:19:06 PM »
"Indeed little sister." Bal-Jhor replied, remaining formal with Varshya. "A day where you find no wisdom is a day lost." He quoted to her. "How about yourself? No issues on your pilgrimage?"

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: November 05, 2013, 10:36:50 AM »
Before Bal-Jhor began to understand the mysteries of Mahiya, before he began to appreciate Her better, he had been conversing with spirits for many seasons in the mountains that were then his home. North and west of the Dale of Wolves, in the high craggy peaks of the Yarnal mountains he had served his people by providing them guidance that came directly to them through him from The Ancestors, or from the ancestors of the animals that lived in those same peaks.

As he left the wrestling ring and his Chosen-Brother behind, his ears and nose were conscious of all the life that was now concentrated in the Grove of Needles. Brothers and Sisters from all races mixing together, all speaking in the Ancient Cant; most of these brothers and sisters bore close friendships with one animal or another, and all were present in a great cacophony of speech, music, song, laughter, and the smells of life.

But unlike many of his Brethren here, Bal-Jhor was also aware of other participants at the Grove of Needles. Unknown to most, in a place just beyond the ken of those less attuned, the spirits of those Brothers and Sisters who came and went before were also there. As Bal-Jhor strode across the Grove, these spirits whirled and danced as much as did those living in his own material world. They whispered in his ear and brought him a comfort unlike that of being a Gnarcheon in the service of Mahiya.

Bal-Jhor was very much a Gnarcheon, and he very much loved Mahiya and the Divinities. But he was unique among the Gnarcheon in that he was also Grhumtilde – one who walked with the spirits. On this night, the spirits of Gnarcheon past walked the Grove with him, celebrating the long day every bit as much as did those living in this world today.

As expected, Bal-Jhor found Varshya at Istisha’s fire. Varshya’s affinity for the water divinity had made that fire a logical choice for where to find the elf. The green cast of the fire put a particular sort of sheen upon the attendants there, but Bal-Jhor was able to pick Varshya out from the others who were also nearby easily: Varshya was the only one holding herself apart from the celebration, almost aloof.

Bal-Jhor sometimes felt sorry for Varshya: she allowed her elven prejudices to keep her apart from a vast population of Brothers and Sisters, and in fact alienated many of them from her. In so doing, though she did not know it, he felt sure, she also drove the spirits away from her place.

Spirits were a generally joyful lot, and they eschewed areas and people of undue gravity. Thus, people of Varshya’s bent did not benefit from the buoyancy of the spirits, who were attracted to community and joy, magnifying such comforts for the living. While Varshya did indeed have a community here, she carried too little joy in her heart, and thus the spirits by and large left her to her own.

It was an awful loop: she carried too little joy, and so the spirits that might lift her heart stayed away from her, deepening her melancholy, causing more difficulty for spirits to help her. It was her choice, however, and Bal-Jhor recognized that only she could separate her from her anger, her disappointment, and her solitude. He felt confident that sooner or later she would do just that. He noted that some of her acolytes partook of the festival’s mood; it might well be that one of them would carry Varshya forward with their youth.

Approaching her, he nestled his staff in the crook of his elbow so that he could pay respects to her in the way of his people: crossing his wrists he lay his palms upon his chest and bowed formally to his sister.

“Greetings, revered sister,” He addressed her. “I’ve come to bid you be ready. Our Torquanic has given me leave to commence the Drone.”

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: October 28, 2013, 10:25:12 AM »
This year was Da’khaire’s third visit to the festival at the Grove of Needles. The first, when Inh introduced him to his new brethren, was indelibly printed on his mind and yet was also nearly void of specific memory for him. There were so many sights, sounds, animals, and people that the entire meeting was nothing more than a jumbled set of individual visions. In his second visit he had spent just about the entire night at the Veneration of the Life Cycle, “meeting” sister after sister. His young mind was riveted to that particular fire, and he had spent much of his journey here looking forward to paying his homage to the Cycle again.

This was the first year that he had made the journey alone; he hadn’t seen Inh since before Sythus had laid her blanket of snow upon the wildlands and so he had no choice but to try to feel his way to the Grove. As he was a young Gnarcheon, he had not yet learned the deeper mysteries of Mahiya and so could not call upon any animal forms to help him navigate the thick forest that for tens – perhaps scores – of leagues surrounded the Grove of Needles. But as he made the trek, accompanied by Gray Cloud, his lynx friend,  it had seemed that Mahiya herself had guided their step, and the trees opened for them a path to the Grove. Not an easy path, but a path nonetheless. Vine bridgeways had spanned the deeper chasms for them to cross; the shallower ones they were forced to climb first down and then up. Clean water had appeared when they needed it, but the journey was arduous, continuous up and down through dense forest until at last, almost too late, they arrived safely at the Grove of Needles, to the scene of two enormous hulks arm wrestling in the midst of a throng of Gnarcheon.

Da’khaire felt that his mind and eyes must been playing tricks on him. The smaller contender stood half again as tall as Da’khaire did: he was a massive mountain of a brother whose skin was blotchy patches of light and dark gray. Indeed, he looked very much like a larger-than-life statue.

The other contender, however, was so big as to cause Da’khaire to blink in disbelief. He was an enormous black-maned centaur that stood another head above his opponent. If the horse portions of this centaur were an actual horse, Da’khaire would have been unable to easily mount the beast as it would have stood at the shoulder taller than Da’khaire himself was.

If the human portion of the centaur were an actual human, he would be the largest human that Da’khaire might ever encounter. Even among Da’khaire’s wildlander tribes, there were none that would be so large or intimidating a specimen as either of these two.

As Da’khaire watched this contest that neither participant seemed likely to win, a small lovely woman entered the circle. Through the crowd it looked to Da’khaire that she must have been riding a small, thin horse, but he could not see clearly.

What he could see, however, was that the smaller of the two contestants recognized in this lady the beauty that Da’khaire himself could, even from this distance through the fire-lit night. In a moment of distraction the centaur forced his opponent’s hand back; he apparently won the contest.

The woman rode closer to the two giants and they held what appeared to Da’khaire to be a familiar conversation, the two towering wrestlers regarding the diminutive sister with great respect. The woman struck Da’khaire as the embodiment of all that was feminine: beautiful and elegant, perfect of form and confident. He guessed that she must have been a very small human, or perhaps a halfling mounted upon a pony of some sort. He wondered whether she would be paying any homage to the Cycle this year.

While he let his thoughts wander on that possibility, she rather abruptly turned from the two giants and addressed the crowd of on-lookers, saying, “The rest of you, gather around for the Grove of Needles meeting of Gnarcheon!” She then bounded off northward and only then did Da’khaire realize that this sister was in fact an hybsil – much like a centaur, but having hind quarters like those of a deer. He watched her in fascination as she hurried off, seemingly with a purpose.

Da’khaire’s mind seemed to stop, wrestling with these realizations much as the two giants had wrestled with each other.

“Get along, youngling.” A gravelly voice awoke him from his reverie. “You’ve been called to order.” The centaur was speaking to him in a deep, rumbling voice. Da’khaire looked up into the centaur’s dark, menacing eyes while the centaur in turn scowled at Da’khaire. Gray Cloud hunched low and began to slink away, more aware than Da’khaire of the correct response.

Apparently the two wrestlers had come to where Da’khaire was standing dumbly; they had come in order to reclaim their gear: a huge great-sword and a tree-like bow for the centaur, and a sizeable satchel for the other, along with an ancient staff seemingly made from a species of ironwood for the other.

When Da’kahaire did not move, but only started at the two, the centaur spoke more harshly. “Get moving and join the others.” He commanded, slinging his great-sword into place along his horse quarters. This was not a brother that Da’khaire would like to irritate; the young druid stammered a few inarticulate sounds as he bowed low and moved to disappear into the crowd of gnarcheon who were moving as a body. Da’khaire didn’t particularly care where they were going; the crowd no doubt knew where to be right then, and he was pretty hopeful of becoming just a face in the crowd at that moment.

Behind him, he heard a different deep voice saying, “You oughtn’t treat the children so roughly, brother.” This was only responded to by a snort from the centaur. The other voice rejoined, “I’ll head off to Istisha’s fire in search of Varshya. We’ll enjoy more of the food later, eh?” This time, the snort that returned sounded almost in an affirmative, but Da’khaire was hopefully out of the view of the two. He melted as much as he could in amidst the other brothers and sisters; he would have liked just then to speak to Inh, if only for some direction. But in times like this, the thing to do was to be a fish, and swim with the current.

In Character Discussions / Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« on: October 18, 2013, 03:50:40 PM »
Shankaria deflated a bit as Ashe spoke; she added her own reverence to Cailyder’s prayer, and after the hybsil finished she scanned the Gnarcheon in the grove. As if sensing her discomfort, a long-eared rabbit hopped over to her and pushed her forehead into Shankaria’s knee.

The little Trqanic knelt and whispered in the rabbit’s ear and the rabbit then hopped away dutifully. Wistfully, she watched the rabbit go and said, they’ll find Maragarn…if he’s here.” She then looked up at Cailyder again. “When they find him, he’ll need you.” She knew that Cailyder already knew that, of course.

“Stands to reason that the only real threat to Maragarn or his brush would be the Ash Lords.” She said ruefully. Then, slipping back into her northwoods brogue she added, “Bu’ le’s na get ‘head o’ us. Th’ rascal’s bin in danger since he wuz whelped…on’y, he dinnae know it back then. Now he knows it…he’ll ha’ it Her way.” She reiterated her assertion that Ashe had heard the week before when they both visited her Vallenbrush. Her conviction was undeniable, though she was certainly no prophet.

“Cailyder, dear,” she said, adopting once again the ancient cant. “See to it that Eswarth is off to Grumbar’s fire, and send Bal-Jhor to find Varshya so that she’ll attend Istisha’s fire, and when she’s settled in he’ll call the meeting to order. You have Kossuth’s fire.” She wasn’t having a pleasant conversation now, she was now Shankaria, Druid of the Deep Secrets, and in the North Woods, she was Torqanic as well. It was time now for leadership at the Grove of Needles, and the Gnarcheon present – Chankathur or not – would follow.

Cailyder bounded off while Shankaria turned her attention to Ashe. “You and I, revered Brother, shall attend Mahiya’s fire and await Bal-Jhor’s drone.” She said, bidding Ashe to follow across the span of the Grove of Needles.

As they walked, she said to him, “Ah know ye’ll take no of’nse if I tell ye tha’ I hope yer wrong too.”

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