Griznuq Gaming

D&D Campaigns => Threshold => In Character Discussions => Topic started by: Wildfire on November 15, 2005, 12:33:35 PM

Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 15, 2005, 12:33:35 PM
OOC: this takes place after 'A Ring within the Brambles'

After deciding to go back to town Maccabeus, Dale and Ashe pass back through the bramble maze and back into the great flowered hall of the Ring of Mists. The carcass of the deer that Wolf has caught is still there partially torn and bloody. Ashe says, "Maccabeus, are you going to bring that meal with you to Threshold along with your wolf friend? I'm certain it will still be good when you return tonight. Has the wolf seen the town yet? I wouldn't want him to frighten the townsfolk. Then again, the locals here seem to understand wolves and accept them. It's the outsiders that concern me. Anyway, it'll be nice to get back to town. My feet are a bit weary and the early Sythus mountain air can still put a chill into me bones. We'll take the back route that we came in so as to keep the ease of the farmers. Dale, no need to swim the river this time...heh!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 09, 2005, 01:25:45 PM
Thanks guys that was fun
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 09, 2005, 01:19:15 PM
"Not much of a problem Dale."

Keltan hurries over with two of the maids.

"Dale, Keltan and his room maids will help you get to bed. Be sure to drink some water before you go to sleep. Oh, and a cool swim in the river when you wake up will shake your bones out nicely otherwise you'll be stiff as branch come mid-morning. Keltan, be sure he gets some water before bed, okay" Ashe says.

"Whatever you say Ashe. What did he drink to get him like this?" Keltan asks.

"Cider with a triple dizzysap."Ashe responds

"Oh...OH!!! I'll try to make sure he gets a swim in morning. We'll take it from here." Keltan exclaimed

"Thanks again Keltan. I appreciate it. Now, Maccabeus I'll show you my house."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 09, 2005, 01:00:59 PM
"Hey Assshe... I live upshtairs.   I'd like to go upshtairs.... to go to shleep.
Thanksh for taking me home...   You're a good friend...."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 09, 2005, 12:40:35 PM
Boy when he's drunk he sure can talk Ashe thinks to himself

They four of them approached the Thornhedge. As had become usual there were people all about on the streets. It was a good thing that Wolf was with them as he caused people to clear what would otherwise be a difficult path to the front door of the Inn.

Upon getting inside Ashe, practically dragging Dale, gets to the check counter and says, "Get Keltan if you would, please"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 09, 2005, 12:30:50 PM
"Proffesshun?    HA  HA HA."   Dale doubles over and laughs uncontrollably.

"I'm a nobly born shtrreet rat.   My father wass the grand mucky muck in the army of Kazbourne.    I wasss a stain on hiss reputashun.  Soo he killed my mother and then he tried to kill mee.   But I wash always ready for his shtupid cronies.  They can't kill me.  I'm to shmart for 'em..."  Dale awkwardly taps his head to add emphasis to his statement.

"But SHHH don't tell no one.   He'll keep tryin til he kills mee...."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 09, 2005, 12:06:28 PM
Boy, when he's drunk, he sure can talk. Maccabues mused.

"Hey Dale?" Maccabeus queried. "What happened to you back at home that made you come here? What profession did you hold?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 09, 2005, 11:25:21 AM
"Lucky??.... Luck hassh nothing to do with it.   You mussht be prepared...or you'll be dead...The wolf knows what I'm talking about.  Don't ya boy...eat or be eaten..."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 09, 2005, 10:55:44 AM
"Why not bring him back to the Hunter's Lodge?" Maccabeus suggested mischievously. "Of course, that's all the way back there. Alas."

Maccabeus surveyed the town in the depth of night. "I've never seen so many lights." He remarked. "So many unnatural lights buringing in unison at night." He corrected, and then yawned widely. "Very pretty."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 09, 2005, 09:22:56 AM
Ashe looks at Maccabeus and says, "If I wasn't such a nice guy I'd leave him right here right now! Ohh I'm gonna get Kym for this. Luckily we're just a short way off from the Inn. A few steps and the drunk can go to sleep."

Looking at Dale Ashe says, "Dale, you're not that lucky for me to see you that way...now get your head about you you dizzy fool!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 08, 2005, 10:14:22 PM
"Hey Ashe....   I'm a little uncomfortable with you holding me thiss way...
I didn't realize you were of that sort of persssuassion...I had no idea...
Unfortunately for you you're not my type...  I like my women a little younger and more cute if ya knowwan what I mean.... Say I hope ya don't taken offense... I mean ya aren't bad lookin for an old guy...  I mean a older gentleman.. err ahh I didn't mean old..  Uhh sayy how long to the inn, I could use a seat to take a load off..."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 08, 2005, 09:32:19 AM
Quote from: wildfire
...could you make sure that Wolf is in his sight so he doesn't do anything foolish like run into the forest looking for him?"


Maccabeus looked down and next to him where, obscured from Ashe's view, the large wolf sat and stared back inquisitively. Maccabeus shrugged at Wolf and watched as Ashe assisted Dale on thier way.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 08, 2005, 07:37:08 AM
Ashe rolls his eyes, "Yep...she has a sense of humor alright. If he were down in town with the nightly festivity he'd fit right in. We've got to get him to the Thornhedge right away and have Keltan put him to bed. Oh, and Maccabeus, could you make sure that Wolf is in his sight so he doesn't do anything foolish like run into the forest looking for him?"

Ashe looks at Dale and says, "Dale, look at me. Wolf is just fine. We're taking you back to the Thornhedge so you can get some sleep. Now, if you don't quiet down I'm going to have to quiet you down. I don't want to do that...but I will."

Ashe puts his arm around Dale's back and under his arm to hold him steady. "Now with me, one foot in front of the other. We'll be going down a hill soon so you'll have to be careful." Even while Dale was drunk he could feel the surprising strenth in Ashe's arms. Even if he wanted to Dale would not have been able to break from Ashe's wooden grip.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 07, 2005, 10:22:30 PM
As Maccabeus and Ashe discuss their plans for escorting Dale to the Thornhedge, he continues to walk towards Ashe's house.

"Here wolfy.   Commere boy.....  Woooolfyyy....

As Dale voice echoes through Threshold,  a lady from a nearby home defiantly exclaims, "SSSHHHH!!!!  You're gonna wake the entire town you drunken fool..."

"GOOOD   EVENIN MAAAM!!  MY FRIENDS AND I ARE LOOKIN FOR A BIG WOLF....   HIS NAME IS WOLF AND HE'S GONNA DIE IF WE DON'T FIND EM...  UHH?  HAVE YOU SEEN HIMM?  HIS NAME IS WOLFY.   HE'S LOST AN HE'LL GET REAL COLD....
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 07, 2005, 10:01:50 PM
Maccabeus looked questioningly at Ashe. "I'm not used to drunken men." He said. "Any thoughts on how to get him to where he belongs?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 07, 2005, 09:15:57 PM
As Dale reaches his two companions he stops and gives them a wide eyed stare as if waiting for them to say something.   When nothing is said by either companion, he shakes his head as if to clear it and begins to walk in a wobbily fashion towards Ashe's house.  

"Ya know I'm so glad we're friends.   Its nice to know I can count on you two.   Hey where'd wolf go to anyway.  Its getting awfully cold out here.  I wouldn't want him to get lost and freeze over night.    A dog like that needs to stay warm near a good hearth."

Dale begins to walk a little faster calling "Here wolfy.  Here boy."   He even tries to whistle, but can't quite manage to do anything more than spit through his lips.   This of course causes him to try again and again, wondering why he can't whistle.

"Hey Maccabeusss.   Can you whisstle?   I can't.  My lips are broken.   I don't think we'll find wolfy unless  we whissstle.  I don't want him to get lossst.  He'll freessse to death."   Clearly the bronze saps that he had early in the meal combine with the triple shot at the end have taken their toll on the young adventurer.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 07, 2005, 01:38:45 PM
"Yes Maccabeus, she's got quite a sense of humor. She has ever since she was born. That's a good thing to. It's helps Zarion relax and not take things so seriously."

Dale continued to stumble and fumble down the hilly trail.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 07, 2005, 01:23:43 PM
Maccabeus laughed, entertained by the circumstance. "She's funny." He said simply and almost affectionately.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 07, 2005, 12:24:04 PM
Ashe looks down at Maccabeus and Wolf, "I'm keeping pace with you two aren't I? That dizzysap must have hit him hard. Let's wait here for him."

Ashe looked back at a staggering Dale knowing full well what he felt like. "C'mon Dale, just down the hill here and a few steps to the Thornhedge and you'll be there." Ashe says to himself, "I can't believe Kym actually gave him a triple shot of dizzysap...It's amazing that he's even on two feet...."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 07, 2005, 11:55:23 AM
Already feeling the effects of the spiked cider, Dale sways a liitle when he stands up from the table.  

In a silent tribute to Orion's litter, he waves to Kym and Zarion and follows the two druids out the door.   The crisp night air seems to help him walk a straight line (more or less) down the path.  

As he gets going, he realizes that he hasn't ever been this drunk before.  He usually prides himself on being able to hold his liquor, but this stuff truly has a kick!.

After a couple of dozen steps, his vision starts to waver a little and he begins to step rather heavily and slowly as he tries to keep up with the druids and the wolf.  Know matter how hard he tries to concentrate, the ground just seems to be too far way for each step.   Pretty soon he falls very far behind his companions.

"HEY GUYS!  WAIT UP!   WHY YOU WALKIN SO FAST!!"  He yells to the druids.  (Although  he thinks he 's speaking in a normal voice)  "YOU SHOULD SLOW DOWN.  ENJOY THE EVENIN!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 07, 2005, 11:28:06 AM
"Sounds like the thing to do." Maccabeus agreed as he rose with the elder. Wolf stretched and rose as well, yawning wide.

He weaved his way through the inn, making sure to pass close by both Zarion and Kym to thank them properly for their hospitality. "Mahiya's grace be upon you." He blessed them both in parting, and then stepped out into the cool night. Lights winked at him from below as he tapped the ash from his pipe and stowed it away again. "Lead on, kind sir." He said formally to Ashe as the elder emerged from the inn.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 07, 2005, 08:53:44 AM
Kym brought the three their drinks and went back to her 'mundane' tasks. Other folks sitting in the inn kept to themselves in quiet conversations. Occasionaly Zarion could be seen going in and coming from the kitchen preparation area often times with blood all over his hands and arms. At length one of the hired hands sat down and began to play a pipe.

The sound of the pipe cut through the still, hushed demeanor of the common room. It was a sound that one could imagine being played around a tribal fire in a cool night. It spoke of the basic need to exercise a primal need to create. One could imagine cave dwellers celbrating the life and fire within their spirit and bringing forth through passionate, articulated pipe musings.

As Ashes pipe began to fade he said, "Well, I think it's time for me to go home. It's been a long day and I need to rest my bones. Maccabeus, I'd like to show you where I live in case you need to find me. Dale, that dizzysap is going to hit you quickly. I recommend that you try to get bed before it does."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 06, 2005, 11:36:30 PM
"Cider sounds good Kym.  If you wouldn't mind I'll take the extra dizzy sap that they aren't drinking.  

You're right by the way.  I am from Kazbourne.  Some people figure that out, because I talk too fast for you country folk....

I guess that's just a symptom of the hustle and bustle of a big city like Kazbourne.

I tell ya though, I'm glad to be here.  Kazbourne is simply stifling or maybe stagnating is a better word.   There's no room to move around.  The air is foul.  The people are rude.   Compared to Kazbourne, Threshold is paradise!

Threshold may lack on some of the finer things that can be had in a big city, but there are so many other things that you can do here that you can't in a city.   For example, in Kazbourne you could never go hunting, unless its for sewer rats or people.  You can't search for herbs either...  

By the way Ashe, I'd be honored to search for herbs with you.   Well look at me, just letting my mouth run away with me again!  Old habits are hard to break!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 06, 2005, 04:54:02 PM
Maccabeus laughed at Ashe's joke and agreed with the elder. "This pouch has lasted me since mid-rynnyx." He said. "It's a blend of several hebs that Shankaria mingled for me. To be honest, I'm not much on herbs, so I'm not really sure what's in here." He poked his long nose into the small bag and shook his head. "You're right though: it's a shallow lot that I'm left with. I'd be glad to both take your weed and knowledge to learn me yet another craft. Likely be something I can use."

Maccabeus's tonuge slipped out of the corner of his mouth as he packed his pipe with most of what remained in his pipeweed pouch. "I tell you, it was a thin venric, this being all my stores I've often had to make do with half a pipe." He looked up from his work then. "I wonder what kinds of pipeweed grow at...um...home?" He asked rhetorically.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 06, 2005, 02:50:25 PM
Ashe looks over to Maccabeus's pouch of smoking weed. "You seem to be getting a tad short there Maccabeus...on pipe weed that is. I have some fine tabac at my place if you'd like to restock before you head back to your new home."

Ashe opens his leather pouch and lets the fine fragrance of his pipe weed emanate out around the table. "This is Bimblesprig. A fine smoking plant if I do say so myself. Good for healing too. Speaking of which, I've been teaching Laren about herbs and how to find them. If either of you two are interested I'll let you know when we go out again. Laren is away right now but he'll be back in a day or two."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 06, 2005, 02:40:22 PM
"And one for me as well." Maccabeus answered, producing a crude pipe and filling it from a near-empty bag of leaves. "But I've a bit of a walk home, so I'll have to fogoe additional sap as well."

"Thanks, kindly."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 06, 2005, 02:23:53 PM
"You sure can light your pipe here. After all Ashe does it all the time without even asking!" she winked at the aging man. "Usually the night cap here is hot spiced cider with a touch of fermented bronzesap. It gives a kick worthy of the nine hells but it sure does make you sleep good. Sadly, after I get that for you I must take my leave of you and continue with my work. I'm behind already and I promised Mom that I'd help around here. Not that I don't normally mind you but I want to do other things besides prepare for the following day. I actually like to hunt at night! It's so much fun! There's this local pack of wolves that goes with me every now and then. I pretend that I'm Orion running with his wolf pack under the moons...howling...breathing. I feel so alive and free when I do that! I can feel the touch of Mahiya with every swift and silent step. I understand Orion in that way..." Kym seemed to get lost in her own thoughts and words. Her eyes stared out at...something.

"Oh, excuse me! I dazzle myself sometimes gettting caught in the moment. I'll be back with your...Oh, did you want hot cider?"

Ashe breaks his silence, "Ah, yes, I'll have one. Go easy on the dizzy sap though. I need to keep my head about me..."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 06, 2005, 02:05:30 PM
Maccabeus blushed back at his new-found friend. "I apologize." He said simply. "I had been describing earlier this day to Ashe and Dale how the wolf is the most perfect of Mahiya's blessings upon this world. The wolf alone bears the embodyment of that which is best in each of the Divinities."

"The wolf hunts in collaboration, able to take the largest of prey; loyal, honorable, fearless, intelligent, intrepid, social yet independant, the wolf, at the time of creation, was granted Kossuth's fire, Akadi's swiftness, Grumbar's strength, Istisha's unity, Paladine's honor, Saridor's tenacity, Takhisis' will, and Mahiya's independance. The wolf is the embodiment of the strengths of each of the Divinities." Maccabeus repeated the cant that he had uttered earlier for Ashe and Dale. "I envy your family's great gift."

"You know," he continued, seeming to change the subject. "It seems to me that there's a story or two floating about my clans regarding when the Master came to the Dale. It is my misfortune that I've always been a bit of an impulsive sort, and so took the habit of not paying proper attention to many stories. Now I'm all but bereft of them, sadly." He seemed to reconsider himself quickly and said, "Well, not bereft exactly. They're in there." He poked the side of his temple as he winked at his table mates. "I'll just have to work at bringing them out."

"Gads, but this is a wonderful day. Would there be a warm beverage to be had and would it be alright for me to light a pipe here?" He asked, his round sky blue eyes wide with hope.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 06, 2005, 01:25:58 PM
Kym blushes slightly, "That's a good question." She leans in close and whispers, "Orion, my great sire who you would call the Master Hunter, was the embodiment of the wolf spirit. It's rumored that after the Great Wars he wanted to retreat away from the pain that he had endured and inflicted that he became feral and ran with the wolf packs. For his passionate embrace of his wild nature Mahiya gave him the gift of the wolves. He could speak in Wolven and took on Wolven characteristics.
It was truly a gift of Mahiya. After he pulled out of his wild sabbatical he joined with The Antlered Giant whom he had met during his running. After that the two of them with their wolf packs executed Mahiya's justice. So, to answer your question, talking Wolven is Mahiya's gift to my lineage. Having wolven features, and don't think I haven't you noticed you looking at them, is also Mahiya's gift."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 06, 2005, 12:48:24 PM
"This was indeed a hashly cold venric." Maccabeus answered "But Mahiya's shield [Endure Elements] kept both Wolf and myself comfortably thawed even though we might not have been able to really put any distance behind us. We did have an advantage though, and that is we weren't exactly on any particular time table, though I guess in retrospect we arrived right when we could do the most good. The Divinities certainly plan well." Maccabeus sat back comfortably in his tall chair as he answered Kym. He regarded her a moment, then ventured a question:

"Please forgive my forwardness, but I have a bit of an itch on my mind. In the Dale, many of my kindred find themselves gifted with the ability to communicate with animals of one sort or another. Over many years this can be developed towards frequency of use, but in raw talent it is a gift that is generally available of a lesser frequency. I wonder: you find yourself with such a gift, is this common in your lineage, or perhaps it is found unusually in yourself? Perhaps there's little Dale Gnome in you or are elves and their progeny thus gifted as well?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 06, 2005, 08:41:05 AM
"Yes I was! I've lived here all of my life. Although I have traveled all over. I've even gone to Kaaryn'Zyth the elven lands. That's a long journey let me tell you! My mother is there right now actually visiting her family. She's only part elven mind you but she has strong ties over there. Me I'm only a little bit elven. Most elves would say that I don't have any of the blood at all but I think I do. Which in my mind explains to me why I'm pretty good at being quiet during the hunt. Dad says it's because of the wolf in me!" Kym laughs in that charming way that only a woman can.

"How long did it take you to come here from the Dale of Wolves? That must've been a harsh trip being next to the Dragonteeth (the mountain range in the south) and during Venric at that! I'll bet there was more than one night that you and Grrgrowlgrrgrr (again she speaks in Wolven) spent more than one night curled up with each other in some cave next to a fire. I wish I could have seen that...so cute. You must have some stories to tell about the open country, eh?"

She looks over to Dale, "And you've been terribly quiet Dale. Where do you come from? Certainly not from around here judging by your accent. I would guess that you're from the city-states either the Tri-State or Kazbourne, yes?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 05, 2005, 04:09:06 PM
"Umph." Maccabeus added around a mouthful of snake. "Wolf and I are the same way: I can talk and he can hunt! It's largely on his account that we travelled here from the Dale during venric." He swallowed his mouthful then.

"Were you born here, Kym?" He asked.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 05, 2005, 02:46:04 PM
Zarion says, "Well I actually have a few catches that need tending to. So regretfully I must take my leave of you. I know that i'll see you again. Goodnight and good hunting!" Zarion turns and walks acroos to the kitchen.

Kym looks about and replies, "I can only stay a little while. I have some work to do and I'll be getting up early in the morning for a hunt. You should come with us sometime. Nothing gets past this nose of mine. As for my Dad, well, he always comes back with something. Some say he's the best in the area. Ashe could tell you, Dad and Mercer were always testing skills with each other. sometimes Mercer was better, sometimes Dad. I have a tendency to think that Mercer was a bit better since he taught Dad alot of things. But it's hard to measure things like that."

Ashe laughs, "Those two razorbacks were constantly jabbing at each other! It was all in fun though. As for who was better...who can say. I think they were probably equal in their own right. Each could do things the other couldn't."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 05, 2005, 02:17:23 PM
Maccabeus yawned abruptly, then his face flushed. "Ohh, pardon me." He beseeched his companions sheepishly. "This has been a day or two of revelations and emotions. I've been in this region for such a short time and thus far have met so many interesting folks. Friends I dare say. And hardly a sleep-filled night." He glanced furtively at Ashe.

"Your lovely daughter is wise." He suggested to Zarion the Giant. "I don't mean to be rude, but this snake-filled belly of mine is suggesting that I languish a bit. Are you able to sit and talk with us about nothing in particluar? I think I'm enervated for the nonce and must recoup myself." He stifled another sudden yawn and tried his best to disguise it as a deep sigh. Then he laughed a bit, saying, "I blame also this fine company that makes a strange little outlander feel so much at home. Such a comfortable place."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 05, 2005, 07:46:58 AM
Zarion chuckles slightly, "You're all welcome whenever. And as for stories I'd be glad to tell you of some. Admittedly, I have great pride in my heritage...which is no bad thing, mind you. You must understand though that many of the folks that live and visit here don't appreciate or even care about the folks and deeds of old. They like the result of those deeds but to them it's a story. For people like yourself, Ashe, and probably Dale though it's very close to us. We have somehow lived and been part of that."

Kym chimes in, "Dad, save your speech for another day. These people are here to eat and talk and not be bothered by your quiet malcontent with regular folks." Kym looks at the others, "Which is why this place is far away from everything else." She winks at Zarion playfully.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 04, 2005, 10:40:35 PM
Dale listens to the little guy's story and watches as the drama is acted out before him.  Not wanting to interrupt, he ravenously devours his meal and drains his mug of bronzesap.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 03, 2005, 11:10:42 AM
Maccabeus accepted the grizzled old hand happily, clasping it in the Dale manner:  hand-to-wrist. It resulted in a comical clasping, though. The entierty  of Maccabeus's arm up to his elbow was lost within Zarion's large, calloused mitt, and his gnome hand, fully splayed, was insufficient to round Zarion's wrist.

Maccabeus laughed at the unusual site and said, "I'm overjoyed to meet you."

"I hope you might not mind me frequenting this fine establishment so as I might learn from you? I'm particularly interested regarding your knowledge of your honored father's time in the Dale? That is, assuming that you have any such information and might be of a mind to share it."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 02, 2005, 04:41:43 PM
During the telling of the story Zarion had quietly come over and listened. After it was done he said, "It's good to hear stories of my older sires. It seems we are connected in many ways little one. Your arrival and our meeting was certainly no mere coincidence."

Zarion extended his large, rough, somewhat hairy hand. He smiled warmly and said, "It seems that old alliances are convening once again."

Maccabeus could see a wild and free spirit in Zarions eyes. He was an old soul that could not be chained or bound. How like a wolf he was! Kym had the same air about her but she was younger and more cheerful.

Zarion left his right hand extended for Maccabeus to accept.

Ashe watched with delighted intensity.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 02, 2005, 03:44:39 PM
?A gnome can live for upwards of three centuries, it is said. But that?s not the case in the Dale.? Maccabeus all but whispered while he picked idly at his plate of meat. His tongue was largely listless, and so he couldn?t discern any real flavor from the faire. ?In the Dale it?s a rare thing for a gnome to live two centuries before he is overtaken by the nature of the Dale. That is, giantkin, clanwar, or the Great Cycle.?

He inhaled deeply. ?My sire and mother were both older when I was born. I didn?t know them.? He picked some more at the plate, and drank some more of the Bronzesap, which seemed to lose some of its earlier kick. ?Before I could walk the clan was beset by marauding Shadewolves and my parents were killed and eaten. I realize that this seems like a harsh way to enter the world, but the Divinities know what they?re doing. I needed this to happen. My grandsire raised me. You can imagine that he was old, my sire being as old as he was. My grandsire was well beyond three centuries at this time, but he was as virile and active as a man a third his age.?

?In his youth, my grandsire had borne rare witness to the Wild Hunt. So inspired was he that he attended closely the ways of Mahiya and followed in the Huntsmen?s paths. I think that he was chosen by one or more of the Divinities because he barely aged from that point, at least not discernibly. Stories around the Dale place my grandsire often where help was needed, especially at times when Shadewolves banned together for evil. He is a local folk hero and was a great hunter as well. Some say that he was the most successful mortal hunter in the Dale since Orion himself had come there.? Maccabeus?s admiration for his grandsire was clearly reflected in his face and voice. The telling of his history didn?t seem to sadden Maccabeus at all. It seemed more a recitation of fact and not an emotion-filled reliving of the past.

?In any event, he never spoke much about himself, except to say that Orion had touched him, and the Antlered Giant had befriended him. He spent most of his life in their service. When my parents were taken, he took me unto himself. He taught me much: tracking, wild manner, many skills needed for surviving in the Dale.?

Maccabeus smiled then. ?It wasn?t until I was selected to study under Shankaria that I learned a little about my grandsire. When I was apprenticed under my preceptor, I left the guardianship of my grandsire and he went back to his service to Orion and the Master. I haven?t seen him since, but I?ve heard the stories. He roams the Dale chasing down evil where it infringes upon the lives of others.? Maccabeus was becoming more animated as he spoke. ?Well, last I heard anything of him he was.? He even laughed a little. ?I haven?t heard anything from him over the last decade or so; I often think that the Hunt might have caught up with him.?

?I?ll tell you one thing, though, if he yet lives, he?s the luckiest Dale Gnome in the history of our people. If he?s now past and gone, then he?s the luckiest Dale Gnome in the history of our people.? Smiling, he raised his cup ceremoniously and drank a small sip.

?I still don?t have the whole story of how he was incepted into the graces of Orion and the Master, but Shankaria did tell me that they had chosen my grandsire, they taught him and he acted on their behalf and on their orders. Were that not the case, then he would not have been so long-lived, and I would not have survived as a whelp. You commented earlier, Ashe, that I?ve been called upon by the Divinities. I don?t know this yet, but my sense is that my line has closely served the line of the Great Hunter for many generations. Shankaria tells me that when Orion first came to the Dale, he befriended one of my line and began to adopt from among the wolves that were bonded with my clan.

?We in the Dale owe much to the Great Hunter and the Master; I and my line more than most, I think. They even were kind enough to relieve my grandsire of his duty to them while he reared me.? He seemed to think on this a moment, then said, ?I suppose that might have been part of his duty to them?? He smiled wryly at that. He looked up at Kym, still listening to his tale and said, ?I and mine owe much to you and yours, my lady; on behalf of my line, I thank yours.?

He smiled broadly at her then and took another piece of the wooly snake and put it into his mouth. ?This is really quite good, isn?t it? A bit of a wild flavor to it.?
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 02, 2005, 12:30:16 PM
Kym had a puzzled look on her face. She had said his name several times but had not gotten a response. Finally she said with great command, "Maccabeus!"

Maccabeus had shaken his head out of his unexpected trance and saw a heaping plate of meat the white color of fish. Ashe and Dale were looking sidelong at him.

"I hope that you enjoy the wooly snake. Well, it's not wooly now but it...it was."

Wolf had already begun to devour the massive bowl of venison put before him. "Grrrgrowlgrrgrrr (wolf sounds) seems to like his supper very much. He's such a special brother."

Maccabeus recognized the lupine sounds that Kym made. It was how he would address Wolf when he could talk in wolf talk.

Ashe had begun to cut into his pheasant and in getting frustrated with the inefficientciey of the utensils put them down and tore off chuncks of the bird with his hands. "That's better..." he said as he munched away.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 02, 2005, 11:46:18 AM
Maccabeus looked with new eyes upon the visages of the tavern keeper and the comely serving girl.

Zarion was fifteen or more paces away from where Maccabeus sat with Ashe and Dale, but even from that distance the little gnome could tell that the man was very tall. Twice as tall as Maccabeus was. He also carried himself upon an uncommonly powerful frame. Maccabeus didn?t really know what Orion Wolfjaw might have looked like, but he always imagined a tall, powerfully built human. Such was the nature of any such epic hero. His nickname, ?The Great Hunter? promulgated that image as well.

And if that fabled hunter?s last name ??Wolfjaw? ? was any indication, then Maccabeus could clearly note that familial trait echoed in Zarion. The humble-seeming tavern keeper had decidedly wolf-like features. As Maccabeus looked with his newly sharpened eyes, it seemed that peaking out from under Zarion?s long brown hair were slightly sharpened ears. Maccabeus had to look a bit intently through the somewhat dimly lit room; he couldn?t easily tell whether they were ears poking out or just another of the feathers or beads that Zarion had weaved into his hair, but indeed, he decided at length, this man had pointed ears.

Orion, it is said, had a strong natural affinity for the noble wolf. One would think that he could have assimilated lupine characteristics (indeed, very likely must have), which would have been passed along to his progeny. Zarion?s ears, his slightly exotic eyes, and his long bristling sideburns, which descended along the ridge of his sharpened jaw, painted the image of Wolf in his otherwise human form.

Kymberly appeared at the table, obscuring Maccabeus?s view of Zarion. Is occurred in such a way that Maccabeus enjoyed the illusion that Zarion had melted into a smaller, more pleasing form.

Kymberly was clearly related to Zarion, as Maccabeus could now tell, the older man?s visage having morphed into the younger girl?s. She was not as tall as Zarion, but she was still not short by any stretch. She stood about as tall as Maal did and was similarly athletic in her build. Her hands were large and strong, her jaw line was sharp and rigid, like Zarion?s. But what caught Maccabeus?s attention so solidly were the young girl?s eyes. Under her airy, relatively short tawny hair, nestled in the fine porcelain skin of her appealing face, her angular eyes were a beautifully deep and rich brown. Maccabeus was sure that they could see clear into the core of his being; obviously as keen as any wolf in the forest, they must be able to see much that is imperceptible to common eyes such as his own.

Orion Wolfjaw stood at his table, looking kindly and enquiringly into his befuddled and blurry eyes. He had no words for this honor, and wouldn?t want to spoil his privilege with coarse verbiage anyway.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 01, 2005, 12:47:23 PM
Ashe looks at Maccabeus and says, "The Great Hunter? Is that what your kin know him as? What do you know of him? I'm curious..."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on December 01, 2005, 12:33:46 PM
Dale takes a long sip and wanders into deep musings about his studies.  Orion Wolfjaw was a legend among legends.  This is like meeting Paladine's son.   His mind starts to race through all he can remember of the Shadow Wars and Orion's deeds.   His heart starts to beat faster as he realizes he has encountered a link to the past by coming to this tavern.   This town is unbelievale!   What could possibly happen next?   Will he stumble onto Valekai's trail after all?
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on December 01, 2005, 11:45:09 AM
Mac's jaw hung slack for a long moment as he listened to Ashe talk. "That man is a direct descendant of The Great Hunter?" He chokingly whispered. "And she as well?" He indicated Kym as he spoke.

"By the Blessed Divinities." He breathed. "Dear Mother! Ashe, you could have warned me! I'm completely unprepared for such a meeting!" Maccabeus spoke in conspiratorial tones; he was clearly set off-balance by this revelation. He started to breath somewhat heavily and took a deep draw upon his bronzesap; the quaff seemed to settle him somewhat.

"Just when I think this day can get no better..." The little gnome trailed off, leaving his thought hanging in the air as he stared awestruck at Zarion and Kymberly.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on December 01, 2005, 09:58:31 AM
"Ah, yes. Zarion is a descendant of Orion Wolfjaw a legend among legends. He was actually one of the chief commanders in the First of the many Shadow Wars in Elsenbans history long ago. Later his sons and daughters fought in the last series of Shadow Wars that cracked the Kingdom of Vychia into the City-States. After the Orion and the other heroes defeated The Shadow Riders and the Cruxus he went on to nurture his natural affinity to wolves. He joined with The Master of the Wild Hunt and with their fierce pack of green misted wolves would track down terrible evil and bring it to it's doom. It's said that Orion was the tangible essence of the wolf spirit. Zarion and Kym have that same way about them." Ashe says in a sort of dream reverie.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 30, 2005, 03:36:43 PM
"Ashe," Maccabeus ventured quietly as he placed his cup back on the table. "If I might ask you a bit of a personal question, your friend Zarion mentioned his ancestory and alluded that it made all wolves his friends; what did he mean by that?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Dray on November 30, 2005, 01:11:30 PM
(OOC, Just wanted to state that it was an absolute joy to read this through today. Very well thought out and articulated, I was thoroughly enraptured by the thread. Thank you so much.)
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 29, 2005, 02:55:38 PM
The bronzesap had a sweetness that Maccabeus had never before tasted. It had an unusual thickness but was also thirst quenching. As the elixer slide down he could feel it coating his throat instantly taking away any sort of roughness. It hit his belly and warmed him from the inside. It was absolutely rejuvinating! Not in the way that the water pools in the Ring of Mists were rejuvinating but almost as pleasurable.

"The folk that hunt in these local woods take that drink with them in the cool seasons to keep them warm and in the warm season it keeps the flies from biting and the skin cool. It can fill you up such that it's almost like drinking a meal! And when you do go to sleep tonight you'll sleep like newborn wolf pup."

Upon saying that the group could hear Wolf eagerly licking at the warm bowl of milk. Maccabeus having been with Wolf many a year could swear he heard Wolf hum with delight.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 29, 2005, 02:15:33 PM
Macabeus smiled at Kym - for a tall folk she sure was easy to like!

"That's very sweet of you. I'm sure Wolf appreciates the thought. But just to that you are aware, he's his own sort. We are bound friends, not master and servant; he can have what he wants." He then leaned in to speak somewhat conspiritorily, saying "Actually, I wouldn't want to be between him and whatever he might want!" He winked meaningfully at the young maid.

"What a fine place this is. Ashe, if you don't mind, Wolf and I will wander over to your dwelling after this fine meal just so that he and I can enfirm in our minds the way." As he spoke, Maccabeus took a shaved and cleaned stick from his belt pouch and vigorously stirred his drink with it. "This is what we use for mixing in the Dale" he quipped as he stirred. When the concoction was blended to his satisfaction he pulled a mouthfull from the mug, holding the drink in his mouth for a moment before swallowing it.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 29, 2005, 12:37:17 PM
"Well, I live almost directly across the river from where we sit now. My house is at the base of Goldleaf Ridge. It is marked by a sign with the tree of life on it. I like where it is since it's still in town but far enough away from the noise."

After a few minutes of idle talk Kym arrives with three mugs of bronzesap and a bowl. She puts down a mug in front of each person. Ashe's is lighter in color than the other two. At the bottom of each glass is a pool of thick, dark, amber syrup. "Now, don't forget to stir the mix up before you drink it as the sap will separate from the milk and honey." Kym says. "Maccabeus, I have some heated milk for the wolf here if you don't mind him having some. I put in some extra goodies to keep his fur shiney and his skin clean from any bugs that might try to nest or bite."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 27, 2005, 05:56:12 PM
"I think that townly questions will be answered by time." Maccabeus responded. "Except for general directions. You know, like 'if you want to get something, this section of town is where to find it'. All things considered, I'll never really know quite how long I'll be where. I guess the most important piece of information that I can have is where is your residence, should I or Wolf have to find you?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 27, 2005, 08:01:03 AM
"AH-HA! I knew there was an adventurous side to you Dale! Otherwise why would you be here? So you've traveled from Kazbourne, eh? Never been there myself. From what I've heard people there are somewhat uptight. But who can really blame them what with being next to Xanthakos and all? So, a bronzsap for you too Ashe? I've known you since I was little and still I can never guess what it is you're going to drink!" Kym says excitedly.

"Yes, a bronzesap for me. and if you could put a bit more milk in mine I would appreciate it."

"You got it Ashe!" Kym says.

"So, do either of you have any more questions about this town. I'm sure I haven't explained everything. These last few days have kept me busy and my mind gets whipped up to the point that I don't always remembe what I've told people!" Ashe remarks.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 26, 2005, 11:56:24 PM
"A bronze sap for me as well!"

"I hail from the darkest streets and alleys of Kazbourne.   If ever there was a tougher place, I wouldn't want to see it.   I know that Maccabeus has remarked more than once about how big Threshold seems to him.  To me its as rural as can be.  Quite refreshing actually.    Its nice to breath fresh air and be able to go for walks through the forests.  I enjoy seeing the farmlands nad distant mountains.   I feel more free and relaxed.  Almost as if I can let my guard down.   Its not cutthroat here, like it is in Kazbourne."   Dale smiles as he realizes that at least for now, he doesn't have to worry about his past....
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 26, 2005, 04:34:12 PM
Maccabeus smiled at the young lady's flirtations and said "You must have better things to distract your pretty self with, no? As for drink, I'd be remiss if I didn't try some of this bronzesap of yours. A gnome-sized cup, mind you."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 26, 2005, 07:51:50 AM
"Okay then. Maccabeus is the only real man here then,tsk, tsk!" Kym winks and walks away.

"So Dale, where is it you said you came from?"

Kym returns and says, "I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached! I didn't ask you what you all wanted for drinks. I'm just smitten with little Maccabeus over there...makes me forget everything!" Kym smiles and nods at Maccabeus. "So, what'll it be? We have a variety of ales of course but we also have this special drink called bronzesap. Bronzesap is sap from the gold trees across the river mixed with some honey and milk. The hunters that stay here use it as a way-drink but it makes a good supper drink too.", she explains to Dale and Maccabeus
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 25, 2005, 02:41:10 PM
"I think I'll stay with the pheasant.   I'm not accustomed to eating wild creatures.   The pheasant will be quite adventurous for me!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 24, 2005, 03:27:10 PM
"Yep. I can get that for you, no problem. Ashe, would you like the pheasant? I know that's your favorite." Kym asks.

"Yeah, I think I'm going to stay with the pheasant. Wooly snake is a touch more adventurous than I feel like right now. Perhaps next season I'll give it a go." Ashe says.

"Very well. Oh, Dale, Wooly snake for you?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 24, 2005, 12:33:38 PM
"Wooly snake?" Maccabeus echoed. "I've never heard of such a thing. It actually sounds enticing, but also exotic; if there are no objections," Mac looked meaningfully at Dale as he spoke. "I'd love to try that, thank you."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 24, 2005, 11:01:43 AM
Kym sticks her tongue out the side of her mouth and glances up, "Uhhhnh...let me think. We get a variety of different things but it all depends on the hunt the day before. I do believe that we have some wooly snake left from a hunt a few days ago. It hasn't spoiled yet and it does taste good. This time of year these snakes go into hibernation from the heat...quite the opposite of the scaled snakes that are much more common. Would you like to try that Master Maccabeus? How 'bout you Master Dale, wooly snake strike your fancy? We don't get this very often at all as these beasts are quite smart and cunning...at least that's what Dad says"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 24, 2005, 08:07:10 AM
"Indeed, kind lady." Maccabeus responded somewhat startled. "My friend and family. I tell you, Ashe, I've never heard of so many folks outside of my homeland who are so at ease with Wolf. Neither have I seen Wolf - any wolf for that matter - take so kindly to stranger after stranger. I think perhaps we could very quickly become very comfortable here."

Smiling, he then turned back to the serving woman. "Tell me, please, do you have anything that is unique to either this area or this establishment? Something that I would be unable to try were I not here in this place? I do like to try new foods and experiences; it keeps me growing. What might you recommend?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 24, 2005, 06:17:35 AM
"It would appear that Dale has you covered for the meal. In any case you need not worry about that sort of thing...Zarion owes me anyway."

The three enter into the eating area of the lodge. Placed about are a few rugged and seemingly worn people. Their clothes are torn and frayed in places, boots are faded and creased, their faces are hard and unshaved. Eyes glance up and down over the trio and Wolf.

The inside of the inn is lit by the occasional lantern. The walls are decorated with antler sculpters creating surreal, twisted shadows. Ashe escorts the group over to a large booth and sets in.

Ashe says, "Dale, Zarion is of an ancestry that as an affinity to wolves. Not in the sense that he turns into a wolf like the boys turned into rats but rather an affinity like Maccabeus here has."

A serving woman dressed in plain brown clothes, flowing brown hair, and slightly elven features approaches and says, "Hello Ashe. Zarion says that the pheasant is very good this catch and he recommends it. Is that what you would like? We do have other foods if you prefer."

"Kymberly, pheasant will be perfect for me tonight. I'd like you to meet my friends Maccabeus, Dale and Wolf." Ashe says

"Hello," she says leaning down to Wolf. "you are a beautiful King aren't you? I'll bet you have the pick of the bitches wherever you go, eh? I've got something special for you to eat. After all, one so strong as you needs hearty food to keep you going" Kym says scratching behind Wolf's ear and rubbing his shoulders. Wolf doesn't seem to mind at all! "Is he a friend of yours?" she says looking to Maccabeus.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 24, 2005, 12:19:34 AM
"Not to worry my friend.  I have enough coins for all of us.   It will be my pleasure to share a meal with you....

After listening to Zarion, Dale's curiosity gets the best of him yet again.  "Hey Ashe, what did Zarion mean by that comment about his ancestry?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 23, 2005, 01:09:41 PM
The walk up the trail to the Hunter's Lodge was sheer delight for Maccabeus, especially so as they walked further and further from the cacophony below.

As the trio approached and entered the Hunter's Lodge, however, a horrifying thought occurred to the little man. "Ashe," he whispered hoarsely and urgently. "I'm such a ninny I forgot: people hereabouts expect payment for service, don't they? I've not a single coin to my name." Maccabeus was clearly embarrased to not have proper tade on his person. "Do you think that master Thunderfist might be willing to trade some kind of service for a meal? If not, then I'll reconsider and be off back to -er- my new home where my own kill lays awaiting dressing and eating. I'm sorry to not have thought this out earlier." He said abashedly.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 23, 2005, 07:39:06 AM
"I did just show you, yes?" Ashe asks. "No matter. The Hiddenmount is the temple to Grumbar. After the Shadow Wars many years ago it was carved into the face of the cliff after the other temple was fouly defiled."

Ashe sniffs the air, "So Zarion, is there any of those pheasants to be had?" He turns his head to the other two and whispers, "This is the only place to get pheasant. They cook it just right so that the meat practically melts with each bite."

"You don't mind if our wolf friend here joins us do you? he's very well b ehaved. Probably moreso than the rabble that's usually here" he askes Zarion.

"Ashe, my friend, this the Hunter's Lodge is it not? The wolf here is a hunter. And given my ancestry wolves are always my friends. Please come in and settle...have some food"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 22, 2005, 07:05:26 PM
Dale's stomach begins to rumble as he catches a sniff of dinner when he enters the lodge.   Still, his curiosity proves to be more insatiable than his stomach.   "Hey Ashe?   What exactly is the Hiddenmount?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 22, 2005, 11:14:59 AM
"Well okay then. It's up around this way." Ashe nods his head to the right and begins to walk up around the tapering cliff. Ahead of the trio is a building with a short round tower connected to a square structure. The building is very well kept but does show age. over the front door is a sign the reads, 'Dragonbones'. The sign is a carving of a dragon with the words etched along it's body.

"That building there is the shop of Torrent of Clan Thunderfist. He works valuable metals and does much of the gilding work you see about the town. His brother is Agar and he runs the Knightstar armory. Between the two of them they make Threshold quite rich in meatalworking skill." Ashe explains.

As the three walk up the road they pass by several houses and can see that the forest starts to reclain some of it's land. The road gets steeper and the cliff to the right gets taller offering a commanding view of the town below. At a fork in the road is a stone tower sitting to the right. "That tower actually connects down to the Hiddenmount and is actually poart of the temple." Ashe says "That road there leads of to many of the trails throught the forest. Hunter's Lodge, which is up ahead, is conveniently located for those that want to explore the wilds."

The houses on this stretch of road are far more rugged than the ones in the town center. There is rustic ornamentation but mostly the cabin are funtional almost exclusively. The sounds of the forest are as music to some's ears as they are away from the noise of the town. Ahead can be heard a raging waterfall that is no doubt plump with the waters from snow melt from the mountains.

A few of the residents cast a curious look and some rough looking passer-byes offer a kind but quiet hello. Ahead on the road is a large building with multiple eves for a roof. the porch on the building has a large overhang and a guardrail made of antlers. Some men are sitting on the porch smoking pipes and resting after a days work.

Ashe calls out, "How was the hunt this day?"

One of the men, a half-elf, gets up and calls back, "It was okay. A few pheasants, some rabbits. Huro here got a turkey!"

"Well with the way you smell Zarion all of the game will run for fear of choking!"

"Ashe you flatter me too much! Come on in and get some food you old dog!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 21, 2005, 10:46:04 PM
"I'll be joining you.   Good food and good friends is a rare combination not to be passed up."   Dale hopes that he will truly be able to call both druids friends.   Both men seem to be honest and sincere.   Something Dale highly values.   He only hopes they will accept him for who he is...
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 21, 2005, 09:26:41 AM
"As you wish. Hunter's lodge is actually sort of above us on the cliff set away amidst the trees." Ashe replies. "As for the night viewing that's up to you. I can show you about or we can continue another day."

Ashe escorts Maccabeus and Dale along the clifface to the north of the Hiddenmount. The music that was heard before gets louder and the group can hear whooping and shouting from ahead. Easily seen is a group of dancing folks wearing brightly colored clothes and sparkiling jewelry. In their circle is a fire with food roasting over it the smell of which gets Wolf's attention.

"These are gypsies from the east. They have a very free lifestyle and go to where their whims take them. They have a zest for life that is not commonly seen from settled people. They are free-spirited nomads that have broken from the binds of oppresion. They are good people."

The three arrive to the tapering of the cliff. The road ahead goes right up the around the cliff and left back towards the rest of the town. Hunter's Lodge is to the right. Dale, will you be joining us or do you have business elsewhere?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 20, 2005, 09:17:25 PM
"The Hunter's Lodge it is, then. A meal with kindred can never be beat. Then, depending upon the time, I'll either head back to the Ring or tour a bit more after dark; we shall simply see where time and spirit lead, yes?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 20, 2005, 04:44:22 PM
Ashe looks out towards the rest of the town trying to make some sort of judgement but finds only confusion. "Well, that depends on the type of activity you seek. Threshold has a variety of different venues. Generally, the inns and taverns near the center of the town are pretty busy right now. If you want a more peaceful setting then we can go to one of those. They're usually on the outskirts. The good thing is that there isn't bad food to be found in any of the places. One of my favorite places that I find to be one of the best secrets here is Hunter's Lodge. It's usually quiet, not quite so bright, and has people that...well, find peace in the wild."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 18, 2005, 04:56:50 PM
"Gads, man!" Maccabeus exclaimed. "There is more to see here than there is time; night will be falling soon, and I realize that I haven't properly eaten since yesterday morning. Where might we find some faire?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 18, 2005, 03:23:47 PM
"You make an interesting point. Given your circumstnaces I might very well think the same thing. However, ahead and to the left in the clifface is the Hiddenmount, Grumbar's temple. Opposite of that, way up on the Goldleaf Ridge to the right of the start of the trees is The Temple of Open Skies. So you see, by rough placement the temples are located oppossed to their elemental opposite with the Circle of All in the middle. The Ring of Mists has the same configuration with the outer stones."

Ashe stops and points to the right to a white marbled building with silver and gold trim. It had grand pillars in the front and dome bubbling up from the building center. "That is The Alter of Virtue, the Temple of Paladine. On the river island is The house of Crimson Eyes, for Sardior. And on the far side of the river is The Temple of Shadows. Goodness on one side, indifference in the middle, and evil opposing good. Threshold's layout was no accident. But you wanted to see Grumbar's temple so ahead we will go."

The group bustled their way through the crowded streets. Arriving to a large field on the left Ashe simply turns towards the clifface beyond. The field was tight with tents, wagons, and people. Ashe shakes his head and grumbles under his breath. ahead can be heard music floating out through the late afternoon air. Kossuth was starting to settle in past the west wall but was still shining brightly among the passing clouds lighting the face of The Hiddenmount. It was a stone double door that was framed with ornate relief carvings of various weaved knots set on each side was a large column of stone which looked as if it could hold up a mountain if necessary.

"This is the Hiddenmount. The doors do open but right now they're locked to prevent any vandalism. As a matter of fact there have been no priests here since last Rynnyx. The dark soul Severen arrived recently but I've not had the chance to speak with him. He was the first of many priests to arrive. Julius informs me that they should all be here very soon. So, what catches you eye now?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 18, 2005, 02:29:31 PM
"You seem to have representation from all the Divinites. It seems that Threshold is really a bit of a shadow of the Ring, isn't it? You have the Spike, which would obviously represent Kossuth, the Crystal Fountain, which is would think would be a dedication to beloved Istisha, the fog is clearly a manifestation of Akadi, and the Circle would be representative of Grumbar. You say that Mahiya is venerated at the circle; this would suggest that Grumbar must be elsewhere?"

The little gnome pointedly ignored the gawkers that seemed to surround him. He held firm to Wolf's fur to assure his friend that he was not alone. He surveyed the surrounding peaks of the mountains and the growing forest. "Were I here on my own, I'd suggest that the little Circle is for Grumbar" he said, pointing towards the Circle of All. He then lifted his hand and the staff therein to indicate the surrounding mountains saying "and [size=18:4aad19ff47]that [/size]Ring would present as Mahiya."

"But forgive me, please. Can you point me towards the sacred place where Grumbar is honored? Perhaps I need only get my bearings."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 18, 2005, 01:08:24 PM
"Yes, People go there to pay respect to Mahiya. It is centrally located in Threshold to signify that Mahiya is at the center of all. Hence it is called The Circle of All. It was built I suspect about the same time as The ring of Mists. Through the many wars often the Circle was the only thing left standing in Threshold. Rather fitting since Mahiya is always enduring in the same way. Now, Maccabeus, as I showed Dale earlier to the left is the Shrine of the Crystal Fountain. It feeds the stream that we just crossed over. Ahead of you is The Spike of Fire. It's flame burns ever on. If you look close on the ridge under the Spike you'll see the Circle of All. In the morning it is almost always shrouded in mist as is much of Threshold. The river is called the fogveil because of that. It's as if a veil of fog is always surrounding it's clear waters."

Wolf had again grown nervous being amidst so many people. Ashe led the way down the street and no one got in his way. Passerbyes stayed full clear of wolf not knowing what to expect. Many also noted Maccabeus taking a second glance. Not one person ever laughed or mocked the little gnome. It was instead more a matter of wonderment.

"Come, let me show you the Goldleaf Trees. You'll no doubt be enraptured by them. If you look to the far side and end to river you'll see them on the ridge."

Looking in the direction that Ashe pointed to, Maccabeus could see on one of the highest flats in the river valley a line of pale gold lacing the edge of a cliff. It was bright to look upon but not painful. In all of his days Maccabeus had never seen any tree such as that.

"Extraordinary aren't they?" Ashe askes "Dale, have you ever seen trees like that in your homeland? Why am I asking? Of course you haven't! They only exist here!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 18, 2005, 12:41:24 PM
"I think that you've mentioned this ring earlier. What exactly is it?" Maccabeus echoed Dale's curiosity. "Is it religious or something that was there prior to this town? A geological anomoly?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 18, 2005, 12:10:31 PM
"Is the stone circle an active place of worship?", asks Dale as he scratches his beard.   "Is it devoted to Mahiya?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 18, 2005, 11:39:03 AM
"Heh...Lonely in paradise? I'm alone much of the time but I'm not lonely. I must admit though I do wish Mercer were still here. In nearly every way he was my brother...like you and Wolf are to each other."

"Anyway, Threshold is only this choked and busy during Sythus. After The Day of the Valley it thins out a bit. People still pass through of course and many that you see here will continue on to the Valley in a few weeks when traveling is sure to be safe weather wise. The mountain weather is very unpredicatble around here. Even this distance out of Venric a snow squall can whip up in the blink of an eye." Ashe explains

"Of course they pass back through on their journey home during Brak. When Rynnyx comes on you'll see the true population of the town. Which the trees around here are stunningly gorgeous. The town celebrates that with The Festival of Trees. Some travelers do come here for that but not like what you see now. During this time it makes me glad that I live where I do in the town. I do, however, get some people to my shop to buy spices and herbs."

"I'll be showing you about the town to some of the key places and bit by bit you'll come to know it if you let yourself. You might be interested to know that there is a stone circle in the middle of Threshold..."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 18, 2005, 11:14:35 AM
"If you don't mind me saying, it sounds like you're a bit lonely here in paradise." Maccabeus observed of his new-found friend. "And amid so many people; it seems to me that there are more people than there is room for in your town."

"What is it that entices so many to live in such close proximity to one another? I'd be interested to know a little of the history of your town? Who are the people that should be known? Where are the places of splendor? Where, for instance, would your dwelling be? Certainly not amidst this cacophony?"

Maccabeus tried to be as observant as possible as the small group traversed the bridgeway, but although his eyes alit on many different features, he saw very little. His senses were overloaded with sights, sounds, and smells; he placed a reassuring hand on Wolf's back as they trod onward to see what there was to see.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 18, 2005, 09:57:22 AM
"It sounds much like children taking care of their parents when they get to weak to care for themselves. In a way they transition from being member of on pack to members of another pack. That's a beautiful symbiosis." Ashe says.

"As for the Wildlanders, you're right. They do fight amongst the clans. Mostly it's the Bavaans in the eastern section against the Wildlanders. They are bound by the same heritage in many ways but the Bavaans are much more sadistic with craving for flesh. This of course sets the stage for many differences between them in attitudes and philosophy. I'm sure Maal could tell you something about the Bavaans if you were interested as every Wildlander grows up with that animosity. My friend Mercer spent much time with Wildlanders in his youth. They certainly made him one hell of a fighter!"

The road had passed quickley with the conversation and before anyone had a chance to calculate how far they had walked the three could see the Angelhawk up ahead. Wolf stuck his nose in the air and began to sniff. Towns smell so different from the wild.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 18, 2005, 09:26:16 AM
"Dale Gnomes (that's what we call ourselves) have a fair and favorable history with the wildlanders. Although I myself have never had to interact with them, I've seen them. Seeing Maal lent me some anxiety, but I think that I would have had that anxiety no matter who I ran into. I'm a stranger in a strange land; I've never been to a city, and until now I've never met a city-dweller. That said, I must admit to bias as I know the wildlanders - who are friends to my people - are at odds with the city-folk. Enemy of my friend."

"Even though wildlanders are friends with my people, they are nonetheless divided among themselves, and they tend towards irrationality. The large people are so divided, and so unpredictable ? so ruled by dark emotions at times ? that my people avoid them when they can. Once they bear friendship, they work well together, but the approach is fraught with trepidation."

"I've known clans of Dale Gnomes who came under attack by clans of wildlanders because the Gnomes had assisted that wildlander clan's wildlander enemies." He shook his head, sad and or confused. "One set of wildlanders might be friendly while the next might be hostile. You never really know what you?re going to get. It's a sad statement, but the Dale Gnomes are sometimes at odds with each other too. We are fortunate to have the giants as a common enemy to knit us back together."

"As for you treading among my folk, I think that you should do that if you get the chance, although leaving this marvelous place might be a challenge!"

"If the clans could distinguish right away that you are an agent of Mahiya, then you would be an honored guest with any of the Dale Gnome clans (honored just below the native servants of the Divine Mother)." Mac grinned at his huge companion. "If they could not tell, you might not be able to find them at all (although being who you are, I?m sure that you'd be able to make contact). The elder wolves that are cared for by the clans would help to identify you. As wolves get worn out, no longer able to survive in their birth-pack, they come to live with the gnomes. It's a matter of great honor for my people to house and support the elder wolves, returning to them the support that they have shown our peoples over the past generations."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 17, 2005, 02:54:29 PM
Ashe stared out in deep thought as he walked upon the road back to town. "Maccabeus, today you have taught me something. I had been to the dale but only in passing. I never had a chance to soak in the rich culture of your tribes. I wish now that I had had the time. Ones obligations often tear them from their personal pursuits unfortunately. Perhaps someday I can make my way there. Would I be seen as a friend or enemy in your tribe? I like to think that I'd be welcome with my knowledge in Mahiya's ways but I might assume to much. Actually, how are outsiders viewed? I know that you're close to the Wildlands and the clans there live a life close to nature as well. How are they accepted? For instance, when you saw Maal Brengain was she a comforting familiar sight or was she something else."

Before Maccabeus could answer Ashe laughed outloud and said, "Now I'm the one with all of the questions!! Great River! The finding of the Ring was truly a blessing! My mind is once again lit with Kossuth's fires with everything that's happened! My questions, like yours, are as many as snowflakes in a storm!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 17, 2005, 02:10:28 PM
"Life in the Dale is by nature and need a nomadic one. Naturally, the wolf is the most successful animal in the Dale, and naturally, we pattern our families and livelihood largely upon his prime example." Maccabeus answered.

"We aspire to be as much like the wolf as possible. We protect our young as he does, and we exile the miscreants as he does. Tyranny can not work in an environment where survival so precarious. It isn't like in your great cities where people can live sequestered from nature and her teachings, and yet grow strong. In the Dale, if you do not live in nature you die outside of it." The little gnome shuddered visibly at this utterance.

"We have lived in the Dale for generations; we never really counted, but there are stories that tell of the wolves welcoming my people to the Dale and teaching our forbears how to survive: how to fight the giants; how to hunt the deer and the giant elk; how to evade predators and the winter chill. Those stories tell us that the Wolf Lords taught our people these things millennia ago. We are children of the wolf at this point, and we continuously look to his perfection to guide our growth."

Maccabeus absently stroked Wolf's back while he spoke. "This particular fellow" he continued, "would likely have been a Lord of his kind were he to stay in the Dale, but he and I have higher aspirations: we seek greater enlightenment under the watch of the immortals."

"You call us brothers, and friends, but the truth is that we're bound by something greater: a yearning in each of us to serve the Divinities. It was serendipity that he and I have found ourselves upon the same path, and we found a friend in each other at the same time. As I say: I'd rather be lucky than good!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 17, 2005, 01:26:02 PM
"You have an unshakable passion about your pack brothers. It's much of who you are isn't it? Would you say that your tribes are much like the packs that roam the great dale? I must admit the two sound very similar." Ashe asks.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 17, 2005, 12:50:05 PM
"Of all of Mahiya's splendid creatures, the wolf is the most perfect." Maccabeus answered sagely.

"The wolf is tireless, able to sprint at top speed for as long as Kossuth rides the sky or his siblings the night. The wolf lives in a very close-knit pack. They have a specific order to that pack, and every member knows who is the first and who is the last, and where each memeber lies between the two."

"The wolf hunts in collaboration, able to take the largest of prey; loyal, honorable, fearless, intelligent, intrepid, social yet independant, the wolf, at the time of creation, was granted Kossuth's fire, Akadi's swiftness, Grumbar's strength, Istisha's unity, Paladine's honor, Saridor's tenacity, Takhisis' will, and Mahiya's independance. The wolf is the embodiment of the strengths of each of the Divinities."

As he spoke, it seemed that Maccabeus was reiterating an oath or a rhythm that might be taught to a child. He descended toward a somber and monotonous, but clearly convicted ethos, it appeared. Then, as suddenly as he had thus descended he ascended once again back towards playfulness and with a wide grin added, "Yes. They are honored in our clans. They taught us how to overcome the giants."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 17, 2005, 11:57:51 AM
"Great Grandtree! Where did you say you were from, Dale? Sounds like Xanthakos by your words." Ashe said with a tint of horror. "I do hope you find more peace here than in your homeland."

"Maccabeus, since you're from the Dale of Wolves do wolves such as your friend here have a special honor amongst your tribes? I remember passing through there some many years ago and they were everywhere! Giants too were seemingly common. It was the wolves though that were...ah...top dog not the giants".
Title: A New Home
Post by: Blackspear on November 17, 2005, 07:54:25 AM
Dale chuckles loudly and smiles at the little fellow walking beside him.  "You have not offended me friend.   Your forthright nature has put me at great ease in your company.   My people's customs are quite different.  Every man, woman, and child fend for themselves.   The strong and cunning survive.   Friends exist only rarely and that is usually only as long as an opportunity to gain from your friend's downfall does not present itself.   Parents often try to protect and raise their children, but sometimes they do everything they can to destroy their offspring.   It is truly a vile and dangerous world.   Our traditions go something like this although its not a formal code everyone understands it:  If you can steal it, take it.   If you can gain advantage by killing your brother or son, do so.   Every opportunity to gain more for yourself must be taken.   If you show kindness, you in turn will be taken advantage of....    
Its a hard way to live.  You can never let your guard down.  You never know who will try to saw your face off when your not looking."   Dale's scar seems to jump off his face and come alive in new ways for the two companions he is walking with.   With a forlorn sigh, Dale continues.  "I am glad to be here.  This is a good place.  Everyone seems to help each other and aside from a few petty squabbles everyone seems to be in good harmony.   The evil of the area comes from outside the town, not from within.   In only two days I have met more trustworthy companions than I have encountered in the whole of my years.   The people here are good people.    Its great to be in their company.....   There is an aura about this place.   Something profoundly good and strong.  Vibrant.   I can't really describe it, but I can feel it resonating in my chest."  Dale pounds his fist over his heart to emphasize his feelings.    "I already feel drawn to this place and compelled to protect it.   It is truly a land of beauty and wonder, both physically and spiritually."  Dale's mind wanders off in thoughts, remembering some of the more darl periods of his life.....After a moment he begins to hope, to wonder if this is truly a place he will be able to call home.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 16, 2005, 02:10:34 PM
"Customs are an interesting subject." Maccabeus observed. "I've spent my entire life up to this past Venric in the Dale, so it's hard to say what's different from other places."

He walked along a few paces before continuing. "For instance, in the Dale, we have a coming-of-age ceremony. I suppose all places have such a thing. But once you're considered an adult, which isn't always a matter of chronological age - some people become adults sooner than others (a matter to be decided at the annual festival or - on rare occasions - by your clan's five eldest women), you are no longer allowed to speak to children that you don't know. You can't be too careful; children are the future and need to be protected."

"Here's another one: let's say that you meet a chamen - what we call our young women - and you think that you might like to mate with her. In the Dale, you would woo her mother. Our clans are largely matriarchal, and although you might still be able to mate the girl without her mother's approval, it is a hard taming to be had."

"In some clans, they have a tradition where the hunter eats last. This is to symbolize the fact that it is the hunter that provides for the rest of the clan. They go and kill so that the rest of the clan survives. Of course, added to that is the etiquette that the rest of the clan is supposed to not eat the best part of the kill - that's for the hunter in appreciation for what he is willing to sacrifice for the clan. They do all eat together, but the hunter is not allowed to take a bite until the eldest woman has had her fill, and the rest of the clan has taken one bite. In return, everyone is given a small piece of the kill, and they all take their first bite as soon as possible so as to allow the hunter to eat."

"There's a story where one clan's greatest hunter was despised in his clan, so every day, one member of the clan would fast, thus never affording the hunter to eat. Knowing that he would starve while the rest of the clan would continue to be healthy, he was forced to abandon that clan. He ended up in a troll's kettle; it's really very hard to survive in the Dale if you have no clan."

"Our folk, however (brothers, that is) are welcome everywhere. One of the perks of being one with Mahiya. She gives our people life, and while all the clans revere her, those of us who are called to her service are regarded welcome by all clans, even if the one that you were born out of has a blood feud with the one that you've come to. You are not of a clan anymore; you are Mahiya's Gnarcheon - her favored child. To harm one of us is to invite Mahiya's wrath."

"In any event, those are the sorts of things that I'm thinking of. Like I said, I don't want to accidentally insult anyone. That should be done on purpose!" Maccabeus chuckled lightly to himself.

"Dale, if I have yet insulted you, it was not intended. I hope that I haven't crossed any of your customs either."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 16, 2005, 12:57:58 PM
Ashe looked up slightly and thought, "Hmm...observed customs...the only steadfast custom that I can think of aside from those at holidays are respecting travelers customs. There are many that come from all sorts of places as far and wide as I have traveled. They have certain traditions amongst their kind that might surely seem odd to any one of us. As long as there is no infraction upon anyone else their ways must be respected."

Ashe, Maccabeus, and Dale continued down the street. It was getting on towards late afternoon and the field workers were also walking the road to Threshold. "What sort of customs do your folk have, Maccabeus?"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 16, 2005, 11:25:22 AM
"Sounds like a win-win to me." Maccabeus accepted Ashe's offer of guidance. They trio finally arrived at the north-south road and angled southerly towards Threshold. Maccabeus used his sturdy staff as a superfluous walking stick as he trod along the road, walking almost shoulder-to-shoulder with Wolf (Wolf's shoulder, in fact was a bit higher than Mac's was).

"Tell me before I make too much an ass of myself," Maccabues asked. "Are there any specific customs that I should be observing? Any taboos or expectations here? I'd hate to inadvertantly make enemies so early in my residence." Dale and Ashe could see that the little gnome was grinning playfully again
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 16, 2005, 10:07:10 AM
"I remember back when I was first learning the art", Ashe says "My mind was wide open to all of the things that Iwas curious about. My Uncle taught me the ways and was delighted at my enthusiasm but was frustrated with my impatience as well. It's no bad thing to want answers to your questions, Maccabeus. There are still answers that I'm seeking. I may be learned in Mahiyas ways but I still consider myself a novice at times. You two are only at the beginning of your path. There is still a great journey ahead of you...and me for that matter!"

Ashe continues, "If you'd like I'll continue Shankaria's lessons. You were chosen by Zebulon for a reason. I consider it my obligation to see that you will be prepared."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 16, 2005, 09:56:00 AM
"This place must be bursting with mystery, I think." Maccabeus observed. "If you don't mind, I'm going to practice an art taught me by my preceptor: I'm going to try to keep my mouth shut, and my eyes and ears open." He smiled fondly at the memory of Shankharia's frustration at teaching this technique to her exuberant pupil.

"If I don't, I'm likely to not learn a thing on this tour." He breathed deep of the forest air. "Such a lovely place." He remarked.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 16, 2005, 08:57:22 AM
Ashe laughs full bellied, "I know that there are many confusing things to you right now Maccabeus and probably to you Dale. In good time they will be answered. As for my travels I've seen more of this land than i could write about in three lifetimes! I've been all the way to your homeland and to the islands to the north. I've been to Xanthakos and the elven lands. I've been to other lands almost beyond count. Finally my travels brought me here. I arrived here perhaps about thirty years ago with my friend Mercer, who was actually from here originally, and I decided that Threshold  was to be my new home."

The three arrived to the other side of the plant bridge and upon stepping off the trees and bushes began to un twist and returned to their natural state. There was absolutely no evidence that any sort of river span had been there. "Maccabeus, to answer your question: yes. I made the bridge the first time. But it was truly you who did it the second time. I'll explain later."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 15, 2005, 05:00:50 PM
That I made? Maccabeus thought that he'd better start getting used to being confused. "How do you mean that I made this?" He asked as he nonetheless stepped gingerly upon the botanical bridge. "You suggest that these plants know me, that they will help me to cross this river, yes? Was it not you who had beseeched these fine brothers when we crossed this was earlier? How do you know that it is not you that they know?"

He laughed at himself then. "Mystery abounds here, Ashe. Perhaps this is another subject for a later moment." He then changed the subject rather abruptly. "How long have you lived here? Have you traveled far and wide? Who are our allies here, and who must we be wary of?" Again he laughed. "I'm sorry." He apologized. "I've many question - obviously - and sometimes they get the better of me."

Maccabeus gained confidence as he traversed the bridgeway; the limbs and fronds were indeed strong, but he still kept a gentle pace to prevent from damaging them. "Thanks to you, friend." He said as he alit on the far side of the river.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 15, 2005, 04:51:50 PM
Ashe looked down at Maccabeus and nodded his head with a cryptic grin on his face. The leaves began to rustle and the branches and tree boughs started to creak and groan. The bushes at the rivers edge began to stretch and twist together. On the other side of the river the plants were doing the same thing. Just as before when they had first come here and the plants spanned the river so to again did this happen.

A sturdy bridge had been created for the three to cross. Ashe looked down stream of the river and said, "Now, if the two of you will notice not one leaf fell into the water. The plants here are both strong and delicate. The blessed power of the Valley flows in everything around here. Well, Maccabeus, this is the bridge that you made and it should be you that leads us across."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 15, 2005, 04:33:30 PM
Curious, Maccabeus did as he was instructed, edging down near to the very water line. He listened intently, and glanced at Ashe, looking for some indication of what it was that the elder wanted him to see.
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 15, 2005, 04:19:37 PM
Ashe put his boots on as did Dale. Soon all three were walking back the way they had come. Arriving to Fogveil River Dale and Maccabeus could see that the plant bridge that was once there had disappeared back to normal trees and bushes. Ashe half turns his head back and whispers, "Maccabeus, come stand on the bank of the river. Dale, be sure to watch your footing."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 15, 2005, 02:21:41 PM
Ashe had become an interesting study for Maccabeus. Rather quickly so. Wolf had set Maccabeus at ease regarding the elder's being and motivators; Ashe was a learned one from whom Mac could learn much, he thought.

He did tend to speak vaguely, though. Did the elder mean that as Mac came and went the plants would help him across the river? Did he intend now to show Mac and Dale a different way across? To what "Others" did Ashe refer?

Threshold, it seemed, was an active place; Maccabeus led Ashe out from the Ring and southward, gaining egress from the Ring along the flowered path that had led them into it earlier. Near the exit to the tunnel, he plopped down and, humming lightly, donned his tall leather boots.

"Lead the way, Ashe. Wolf and I shall follow you to see what there is to see in this place you call Threshold."
Title: A New Home
Post by: Wildfire on November 15, 2005, 01:26:09 PM
Ashe chuckles just a bit and says, "My little friend, the plants now know you. Your passage across the Fogveil will always be assured as long as they are there. Others will not be welcomed as you are. They will likely have to swim as Dale did or take their chances going through little Threshold. Come, there is much to see!"
Title: A New Home
Post by: Johan on November 15, 2005, 12:50:39 PM
Maccabeus surveyed the Ring and the carcass, then made an exaggerated display of checking himself over. "I think that I might be a wee bit too small to take that thing all the way into your town." He answered jestfully. "I think I'll be back later today and the meat will last until then. I'll dress and cook it tonight. As for Wolf, he's free to do as he wills." The little gnome roughly fluffed Wolf's cheeks as he spoke.

"I do hope you'll accompany me into town again, friend." He said to Wolf. "I think we both need to know the lay of the land. At the same time, we should definitely take the forest route out of here instead of through the fields. I'll have to find a more permanent way across that river though. I don't yet know the trees here well enough to beg such a construct from them as a matter of routine."