Author Topic: Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles  (Read 7204 times)

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Offline Wildfire

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2013, 02:28:16 PM »
Varshya sat back under the boughs of the tall pine trees away from the celebration. Since her early years it felt awkward to her to celebrate. Her young life was overshadowed with war and the destruction of her home city of Crusindiar during the Shadow War. The Shadow War had been a war between The Kingdom of Vychia and the Empire of Xanthakos with the elven homeland of Kaaryn’ Zyth as a large part of the battlefield. The elves suffered numerous losses and many settlements has been destroyed. Since then Varshya had been distrustful of nearly all races- especially humans- though other fey were offered a modicum of kindness. Her suspicion of all those that were not elves always tinted her outlook and attitude in all of her relations. She often admitted to herself that it wasn’t fair or just but nevertheless it was there. It was a perspective she wanted to let go of and somehow could not. She felt that perhaps she had grown too comfortable with her anger and found that she didn’t know how to release it.

She took solace in Mahiya. The ways of the Mother-Father made sense when so much didn’t. There were no pretentions, no opinions, no ulterior motives, no good or bad with Mahiya. There was only the purity of life and the cycle of it. To her that was the most sacred thing of all. She took the passing of knowledge to her acolytes quite seriously as it was though she was rearing her children though she had none of her own. She worshipped life yet to celebrate it with overt joy was not in her nature. She smiled at the irony of that.

Yarlia approached Varshya with a plain, dark green, ceramic goblet. “Master? I’ve some Dalewine her for you if you’d like some.” Varshya had watched her acolytes partaking in the festival. They danced and frolicked as though it was their last night alive. Yarlia was certainly no exception. On more than one occasion Yarlia had expressed nervous anticipation at contributing to the Veneration of the Life Cycle. She had never before been to the Grove of Needles and despite the stories told to her, didn’t know what to expect. A few possible consorts had caught her eye but still the night was young.

Varshya nodded and accepted the goblet. “Thank you Yarlia. I see you’re having fun. “Tis good. Keep with it for Mahiya smiles upon those that honor life with joy.” she said. She felt nakedly hypocritical at that moment for she could not celebrate in that way. She felt envious too.

“Won’t you join us? Oh please come dance with us! You can’t always be the reserved master.” Yarlia pleaded.

“I celebrate in my own manner Yarlia” Varshya stated firmly. She had this conversation many times in the past and she was not enthusiastic about trying to justify her stance on the matter yet again. “Now please, be off and keep a watchful eye, always. Soon we will hear the droning and the fires will be lit. Tell all of your brothers and sisters to be mindful as well.” Varshya felt that of all of her acolytes Yarlia would most likely be the warden of the Vallenbrush. She showed great promise even in her young years. “Oh and Yarlia” Varshya said with a wink “Do enjoy the Veneration…but don’t appear too eager. Patience offers greater rewards.”

Yarlia was always seeking approval from her master and truly appreciated it when she got it. With a wide smile Yarlia bounded out to fire and quickly became another wispy dressed silhouette against the fire.
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Offline Johan

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #31 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.”
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Offline Wildfire

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #32 on: November 05, 2013, 02:12:53 PM »
Varshya could see the mottled Goliath approaching her from the distance. She had only a cursory knowledge of his kind as they usually held to the mountains and her kind to the forest. Their races did not often pass across each other. She wondered what brought him down from his peaks and how he ever was brought into the fold of Mahiya. It seemed to her that his culture would more likely to worship Grumbar or Akadi and that Bal-Jhor must be somewhat of an anomaly. Perhaps that is why he was here in the Grove of Needles and not among his primitive people she thought.

He had earned her respect though even if by proxy. He was no doubt talented in his own way and his friendship with Eswarth commanded deep regard. Also, he was here in the grove- not just anyone was allowed to enter the sacred shrine. Mahiya must have seen something in the goliath.

“Bal-Jhor” she said nodding to him “Seems the past year has been kind to you as you’re looking well.” She studied his natural skin designs to see if there were any patterns to be seen. Not wanting to be misconstrued as having other intentions she looked up at his eyes almost immediately.

“Ah yes…the calling drone.” She said in recognition of the tradition but more to cover her academic interest in his markings. She stood up and began to proceed to the Istisha Fire. Varshya at full height was still a Halfling height shorter than the behemoth next to her. “I trust your journey here offered wisdom and safe travels?”
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Offline Johan

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« Reply #33 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?"
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Offline Wildfire

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« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2013, 04:02:45 PM »
“Nothing I’ve not seen before.”she stated flatly and with a hint of derision. “Traversing the borders of the Tortured Lands and then the Wasteland of Archea is always trickey. Staying close to the mountains offers some relief from both of those wretched places if you can believe that. Usually it’s the mountains that travelers avoid for fear of the beasts that inhabit them.”
Varshya thought of her words after she said them and hoped that Bal-Jhor would take them not as an insult but as a matter of fact. With a lighter voice she continued, “However, that all pales in comparison to the eagerness of my acolytes at coming to the festival. The whole journey I was barraged with questions! In a good way mind you. They thirst for more and I can barely keep up with the brandy of knowledge.” She looked ahead as she spoke watching her young students. Their dance around the fire brought to Varshya thoughts of what her kin have been doing for millennia.
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Offline Johan

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #35 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.

Mayhap.
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Offline Wildfire

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« Reply #36 on: November 05, 2013, 08:42:58 PM »
She espied her sisters and brothers dancing in the green glow of the water fire. Such abandon they had; such carelessness. “They are moved by the spirit of instinct Bal-Jhor…their primal reverie. Mahiya smiles upon them.” She explained despite knowing that Bal-Jhor knew well why and that he sought no explanation. “New experiences beyond the boundaries of comfort are indeed good for the soul- exhilarating even- which is why I take comfort seeing my disciples as they are at the fire. They all show great promise.” Varshya detailed. “I suspect that we shall all be pushed to our limits in the coming seasons. Then will the true nature of us all will be seen.” She warned ominously.

They arrived at the emerald fire and Varshya held her hands to it feeling it’s healing warmth. She looked up to Bal-Jhor who in the fire light seemed as a large green ghost and answered “I would be honored, as would Istisha, for you to begin the drone here. Life begins in the water and so to do we return to it to heal and cleanse our soul.”
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Offline Johan

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« Reply #37 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.
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Offline Wildfire

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« Reply #38 on: November 13, 2013, 07:36:01 PM »
They walked towards the grove’s inner fires. Cailyder didn’t know what to say to assuage Maragarn’s despair. She wanted to take the burden of his pain onto herself. Over the years she had become resilient to loss since she witnessed it nearly every day. Losing a Vallenbrush she thought must be soul crushing. She empathized with him by imagining her Vallenbrush being taken. The very idea sickened her. As tragic as it was for her to see her homeland diminish to almost nothing, the emptiness of losing what essentially amounted to a child and parent must have felt all the worse. She wanted to burden herself with Maragarn’s pain but feared now that it would be too much to bear.

“The others are here?” he asked her.

“Aye, they are. Including an unexpected guest. A long time friend of yours I’m told- Ashe Clearwater.” She replied with an uplifting tone.

Maragarn snorted with a fond smile. “That old fox finally managed to wiggle his way into the festival, eh? If anyone could, it would be him.” He mused. “Although with all of the strange things going on I’m actually not fully surprised he’s here. Threshold has been a hub of activity lately.” Any conversation he had to take his mind away was good. He needed the distraction from the numbness and the growing anger inside of him. “Where is Shankaria? I want to see her before the drone begins.”

Cailyder pointed towards the central Mahiya fire. “They’ll both be attending Mahiya’s fire this year. Of course Shankaria wouldn’t have it any other way with the likes of Ashe being here.”

“The likes of Ashe…” he repeated. Maragarn glanced sidelong at Cailyder with a quizzical expression and asked “Had you ever met him before?”

“Well no…I hadn’t actually…” The hybsil replied. “…but something in me has known him for a long time.”

They came to the crimson fire of Kossuth. “I must stay here for the ritual. I’m leading the Kossuth Fire this year.” Cailyder informed him. He looked to her with a dependence in his eyes. “Whenever you need to, love.” She said with a sisterly affection. “I’ll be here for you.”

He nodded with appreciation and continued to walk towards Shankaria and Ashe. He wished the emptiness would be filled. He knew it may never be.

______________________________________________________________

He strode towards a destination. Branches snapped at his passing and leaves hissed under his step. He did not know where to or why for but on he went with compelling intent. He had gained confidence in the journey the further he went as though he was going home. If he were to be caught by his former brothers and sisters he’d be executed on sight. That notion did not bother him- and that bothered him. He was embarking on a journey literally and figuratively- striding towards redemption.

He felt he was in hostile territory though the only ones he would actually be hostile to were those that he once called family. How strange that he felt stronger now here alone running blindly through the forested wild than he had when he was surrounded with soldiers at his command. He was compelled- by what he did not know. What he did know was that he carried five berries in his belt pouch and that he would protect them at all costs.

He breathed deep and continued on under the canopy of leaves and pine needles.
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Offline Johan

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« Reply #39 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.
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Offline Wildfire

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« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2013, 08:38:29 PM »
Varshya could feel Bal-Jhor’s drone before she heard it. It came about as a tingle in her bare toes. She closed her eyes and concentrated on the ritual drone. Memories flooded her mind and passed through as birds flying among trees. So many came and went. They were memories of joyous times, saddening ones, angry ones, regretful ones. They blended together as colorful leaves in Rynnyx; blended together until they were one white light. Then nothing. It was just her and the warm feeling in the heart of her mind and mind of her heart. Her soul was touched at this moment and she had no sense of herself. She could feel the ritual taking her.

Her eyes slowly opened and she rose from her resting place. She moved with a posture of  fluid strength toward the green fire and loosened her clothes as she went. She was a steward of Istisha and shedding her clothes was symbolic of birth and rebirth. She whispered, “As from the water was I born, to the water shall I sing.” Her body was consumed in green light and quietly she began to sing in the brethren cant:

Mahiya is the life, Mahiya is the breath
Mahiya is our knowledge, Mahiya is our death
We rise above, we sink below
We unite as one, as one we know
Istisha we drink, Istisha will mend
Istisha is peace to our hearts will it send

The song started much as the drone did, quietly at first but picking up in volume as well as tempo until it found it’s own rhythm and pace. It was a beautiful but stark contrast between the two voices: Bal-Jhor’s masculine bass complimented by Varshya’s feminine soprano. Varshya alone sang the hymn and despite the drone being carried by the surrounding onlookers, it did not drown her voice. She stood at Istisha’s fire free from everything and lost in the ritual.

Yarlia in her training thus far had never seen Varshya so open. Her master had unashamedly shed her clothing in front of all of these people and was singing at a fire for all to hear. At that moment she felt inspired by her master’s unification of all that she was with all that was Istisha. She saw Varshya not just as a living spirit of her race but of Istisha itself. It was such an inspiring sight to her that Yarlia, while partaking in the drone, shed tears of revelation. She would never be the same after that moment.

Bal-Jhor could sense the peace that Varshya had found in the ritual and saw well the multitude of spirits that had surrounded her.

Across the camp at Mahiya’s fire Maragarn listened to Shankaria’s direction. He wanted to protest and refuse his part in the ritual. He hadn’t earned the honor this year. He wanted an alternative. He knew right well that Shankaria would hear none of it. The only way out for him was through. He realized that may have been Shankaria’s unspoken wisdom- one of many in her decision.

He nodded his acknowledgement of his part in the ritual. With sad eyes he looked to Shankaria for some release of the void within him. He wanted that emptiness to fill with something…anything to mitigate the ache of his loss. Time was too slow.

He could sense the wispy threads of darkness that began to tickle his thoughts like a snake’s tongue as he walked to the fire. Ashe watched as the satyr approached. He knew the path that Maragarn was going to take before anyone else did- including Maragarn. Ashe was once a legendary Swamp Seer and could sense such things. Maragarn would either be liberated or destroyed by his choice. There was no middle ground.

The drone continued to carry across the camp.
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Offline Johan

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« Reply #41 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.
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Offline Wildfire

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2014, 08:45:53 PM »
Cailyder found it hard to concentrate. Her thoughts were with Maragarn and what she knew in her heart was a significant loss though Maragarn had not said as much. Rather, more telling, he said nothing. She heard the drone, could feel the ritual and its power coursing through the crowd but she was not in the moment of reverie. Although she found her distraction troublesome to her responsibilities as a fire warden and found difficulty in setting it aside, she knew she must. The great cycle can appear to be cruel Cailyder thought but she also knew there were no accidents. Maragarn, she believed, was chosen for a special purpose. He had more to learn. They all did.

She watched the path of the chromatic fires arcing over the grove begin to reach for her end of the grove. It was her charge to bring them to the Kossuth fire and complete The Circle. The Circle had so much meaning it was hard to fully grasp its ubiquity and meaning. It was a truth of reality that could overwhelm, inspire, frighten, and comfort one all at the same time. Cailyder felt honored this year, more than usual, to bring the circle to a close.

She pulled two fire clubs from her sides and approached Kossuth. Across the way she saw Varshya singing her hymn. To her left and right she saw Eswarth and Mirriam keeping the method of the rhythms. Joining everyone in common purpose was Bal-Jhor’s pervasive drone. Before her at Mahiya’s bonfire was Shankaria, Ashe, and Maragarn. She decided that while her part in this ritual was to honor Mahiya, this year it would be dedicated to her forest brother.

Cailyder looked at both clubs admiring their craft in beauty while she slipped the haftloops around her center fingers so they could freely spin. They were bronzewood clubs crowned with heads that took the dancing shape of fire itself. They had been used in this ritual for many years and she was honored to have been given them. She lit them in Kossuth and as she did her four deer-like hoofs began to tap. She tapped to the meter of Eswarth and Mirriam. Cailyder then began to swing the fiery clubs to the progression of Varshya’s song. It was time for Cailyder to bring it to a full circle.

The clubs flared out as bright, red hued torches and she slipped into the moment. Her hoofs forged their own “song” to blend perfectly with other parts of the ritual. If Eswarth and Mirriam were the rhythms then Varshya and Cailyder were the harmony and rhapsody. Cailyder spun the beacons around her weaving a web of fire. It was as though red wisps were dancing in joyous rapture around Cailyder. It was hard for even the most astute to follow the motions of her hands and arms as she spun the torches about her. It seemed at times that even the fire had difficulty in keeping up with the dance.

Her hoofs continued to keep their song and her torches their fiery orbits. As she spun the fire she twisted and turned her lithe form. At times she would jump into the air (which was slightly above Eswarth head) swinging the clubs underneath her to flip them back into the hand from whence they came. It was a magnificent display of passion and also the true skill of the revered hybsil.

The fire stream of Kossuth flowed as water from the bonfire and reached its red, flowing fingers to the fire streams of Grumbar and Akadi. Kossuth was pleased this day.

Cailyder though danced for Maragarn.
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Offline Johan

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #43 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.
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Offline Wildfire

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Gnarcheon's Festival at the Grove of Needles
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2014, 07:33:35 PM »
Maragarn looked at Shankaria’s soothing and matronly smile. He took comfort in knowing that she was there to lean on in a time of need. He liked to think he didn’t need anything, he was, after all, a revered Vallenbrush warden. What more could he need? He needed his Vallenbrush. He needed to be among friends. He needed to be here. He needed Mahiya.

He removed his flute from his belt and looked at it. It was so common among his kin and it was what everyone expected to see a satyr with. At this moment it gave him courage. He looked overhead to see the colorful light tendrils reaching for the center fire. He needed to bring them full circle. He spied the Blood Tear through the needles and branches of the grove. There it was, a sign of portents, a sign of change.

By now the drone had embraced everyone in the grove. Varshya sang in full glory, Eswarth and Mirriam kept one beat over the over, and Cailyder spun her fire sticks around with dizzying abandon. They were all ready and waiting for him. Maragarn began to play his flute. It was low and whispering at first. Barely audible even to him. Like the drone, he could feel it. He wanted to play a lamenting dirge but in this moment he could not. The flute’s volume began to rise and did so in time with all of the other fire stewards ritual offerings. Maragarn sunk into his place of peace. He could feel himself being moved by something within him and without him. His mind drifted away to wonder and intuition. It was here that he knew who he was and what his place in the world meant.

The chromatic streams of light finally connected to the center fire and flared up and out in a swirling, blazing twist of elemental divinity. The four fire streams made one and the one made four. It was a union of all things to make precious life.
Wildfire

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