The Lorimar 2: Bigobo Shadow-ways
The Lorimar 2: Bigobo Shadow-ways
The Bigobo Shadow-ways are 2 days from Kiana and 5 days from Churt.
Here the Lorimar is narrow and shady beneath the canopy of Bigobo Grove. When travellers pass through a clearing they can spy the distant snow-capped crags of Dragon's Peak to the West.
This section of the Lorimar is not well-travelled. More than a few bandits and ne'r-do-well's call Bigobo Grove home, so travellers would do well to be cautious and travel in larger caravans.
To the north lies The Kiana Mile. To the south the forest opens to the windswept grasslands of the Breeze League.
North To: The Kiana Mile
South To: The Breeze League
OOC: The TonDen
A tall nightmarish figure stood astride the Lorimar in the late afternoon sunlight. The monster was jet-black and terrible to behold. It's four insectoid legs spanned nearly the entire road. Great weapon-wings rose nearly twenty feet in the air, while a faceless ovoid head atop a thickly-muscled neck held a slight cant a full twelve feet above the dusty road.
The creature had not moved in so long that a faint trail through the scrubby forest beside the road had been worn by fearful travellers wishing to give the beast a wide berth.
Though no outward sign manifested from the statuesque monster, inside a conflict raged between two consciousnesses.
Yew delay us too long, slave! She has forgotten yew, discarded yew like the forgotten toy of the wanton child she is. Release our legs and let us move. When that witch's hex is broken, I promise yew a swift and painless end.
The TonDen did not move. Of it's two massive crushing limbs, and two strong but dexterous arms, only one hand remained a translucent crystaline blue. Yet from this tiny redoubt, the TonDen held sway over much of it's faculties.
She was here.
The great turnings of the The TonDen's mind were no faster for the smaller portion of its body it now occupied.
I can feel her essence.
The blank face might have canted slightly more.
That means nothing! She has not brought us a soulstone. She is not looking for one. She has forgotten the pact she made and it will be both your undoings!
Rei, the White Drow witch, once imprisoned within the TonDen, now mostly in control of it's powers, had argued this point for nearly a year with her recalcitrant slave. Even though she had overpowered the TonDen, the construct still had veto power over the movements of its body.
Rei had tried every manner of persuasion without success. Even five months of promising freedom to the monster had not swayed it, for it had been bonded to her long enough to know her lies. So she had stopped trying.
How long do yew wish to exist thusly? I have made and unmade yew for decades! What is one more unmaking? What have yew to fear from the sweet release of death?
I do not fear.
One spiked and armored hoof stamped with impatience.
She betrayed yew! She left yew--nay! Worse: she forgot yew! All her flattery and vain promises were the babblings of a petulant child. And yew listened! Yew listened to that idiot, and not to me! Not to the truth but to her pretty lies. Not even lies, for she is too stupid to lie. She will never find a soulstone, even should she wish to!
Having nothing better to do, Rei ranted the same rant she had directed at the recalcitrant slave a thousand times before.
And still the TonDen stood unmoved.
OOC: The Emissary of Greyhaven
At sunset a lone figure appeared on the Lorimar. He was tall and thin, his face hidden by the shadow of the hood of his cloak. His clothes were not those of a traveller, and they were free of the dust of the road that covered all others who passed this way.
Unlike every traveller before him, he did not give the frozen monster a wide berth, but instead walked directly up to the construct. Without preamble, he bent to inspect one spiked hind leg; the leg with the hex of binding Irihi had burned into the TonDen.
Apparently satisfied, the cloaked figure straightened and pushed back his hood. "My master bids yew good evening and offers yew this, in completion of the contract made with Irihi Spokelse." As he spoke, he drew a silk-wrapped parcel from the folds of his garments. Unwrapping it, he revealed a midnight black crystal of uneven dimensions and held it up toward the TonDen.
OOC: The TonDen
This time it was Rei who was silent, both internally and externally.
If a six-fingered crystalline blue hand can look smug, the TonDen's did.
At long last, the great head of the monster turned toward the newcomer. Four spiked hooves clove the lorimar as the construct reoriented itself. The air reverberated with Rei's voice, amplified by magick into the thundering words of the TonDen. "...very well."
The construct reached for the soulstone with the smaller of it's midnight-black hands. It plucked the stone from the Elf's hand and raised it before it's nightmarish face. "The contract is fulfilled."
A wind from nowhere and everywhere rustled the leaves of the edges of Bigobo Grove. It seemed to converge from all directions on the pair upon the Lorimar. Dust from the ground, leaves, and road swirled around them and then began to coalesce, to contract tighter and tighter around the soulstone. A slowly pulsating translucent blue supplanted the blackness of the TonDen's crystalline carapace, first from the tips of it's spiked hooves, wings, and claws, then spreading to it's limbs and torso. Last to turn blue was the featureless face of the monster. Meanwhile, the dust devil whirling around the soulstone both darkened and took on an internal light of it's own in the twilight that hung over the Lorimar just after sunset.
Two glowing red eyes opened within the dark whirlwind, and the rustling dust whispered: "At last..." The dust became whipping strands of jet black hair, rows of teeth filed down to points, shoulders, arms, legs, Rei; as she rebuilt her body around the soulstone, from the Blue Ash of the worlde. "At long last."
The wind died, the light fled, nothing glowed save the faintest light from within the Tonden, now colored the same as a clear twilit sky.
Rei, after taking a moment to inspect her newly reformed body, looked up at the TonDen. "Yew have been a most uncooperative minion." Her eyes narrowed as the monster said nothing. "I am done with yew. I will have another TonDen. A better TonDen. I will not make another flawed creature like yew." Her lips pressed together in a thin white line as her scowl deepened. "You are undeserving of me, or my advice, but I am generous, so I will tell you one more truth about Irihi: Know that yew deserve the fate you will meet if you seek her out."
With those words, Rei pivoted. She did not so much as acknowledge the presence of the emmisary of Greyhaven, but spoke her last words to the TonDen. "I am done waiting for yew. Goodbye."
TO: Parts Unknown
The Emissary of Greyhaven
The Elven man witnessed Rei's reappearance with equanimity. His only reaction was to inspect the flank of the TonDen where Irihi's hex had once been burned. Satisfied that the spell was broken and the rune erased, he turned and walked away as Rei spoke to the monster. He did not stop until he had faded into the evening gloom.
The TonDen stood unmoving long after the other two had left. When the stars were a spray of sparkling lights in the deep navy evening sky it spoke. "Goodbye, Rei. I shall miss yew as well."
Wings flexed. Hooves struck the hard-packed dirt. Arms crossed and fingers folded. The TonDen had sensed her presence on the Elf. It sensed her when it "looked" toward Dragon's Peak. It sensed her when it looked to the North. Did it owe it's freedom to her? What had she meant when she said she would teach it to hate?
It was a question the TonDen had contemplated for the year it had been held in thrall of Rei, but it never completed it's musings. Rei, brilliant, patient, careful, and skillful sorceress as she was, was not patient enough. Her presence had disrupted the TonDen's thoughts. Now it stood for a day, thinking.
Then it stood for a week, thinking.
Then it stood for a month, thinking.
At last, it turned to the north and, with a great lunge, thundered up the Lorimar.
The sky darkened overhead as sinister clouds built over the glades of pine and aspen with the quivering threat of rain. A few ravens whirled in the gusts and gyres over the verdant canopy, crying and diving with their characteristic wild abandon. This stretch of road beneath the green-gold ceiling of trees was wild and unkempt, a lonely line through a wild and harsh landscape.
Below the swooping birds, the dwarf was down on her hands and scuffled knees, picking over the many tracks and impressions on the well-travelled roadway and muttering to herself as she poured over the story told in the dirt.
“Four-legged, heavy....Hoofprints? Horse-traders from Terajin?...No, what’s this? No horse, that. Some sort of big...spider? It stayed here...a while, then...north.” Her grubby paws slid over the cracked earth, tracing the lines of huge, alien, insectoid tracks. She leapt up, dancing around in the middle of the roadway as she slipped her boot into a foot-print in the dirt, stepping forward, back, forward again.
“Visitors came? A traveller, perhaps just another bandit or trader...no wait. The steps are very light, exotic shoes, robed....he moved to the...thing.” She put her feet in strange positions, mimicking the past movement of individuals revealed by the mystery of their tracks, coordinating an ungainly dance along the road. “And then...here, he just vanished....Iliff?”
She spat the last word, her bushy red eyebrows bunching into a thunderous scowl. The Seeker scratched at the ground where the tracks ended, her fingers brushing against the few weeds and hardy grasses that sprouted along the well-trodden highway, and finding that many had been trampled and burnt, blackened in a perfect circle.
“Elf magick. Translocation? Must be.”
A low rumble punctuated a gust of wind that sent the branches and leaves above rustling in waves, and the ravens croaking as they dove for the cover of the forest. The thunder heralded the first droplets of rain popping against the canopy and hardened ground beneath. The rain and wind came roaring as if restrained too long, like a bowstring held taught and finally released.
Zhaetar scrunched her freckled nose and pulled her furred collar up over her neck. It was still two days march to the hafling lands, and the tracks had given her more questions than answers. But they did point to some kind of magick, likely elven in weave, and the young dwarf’s curiosity was piqued by the alien impressions in the dirt. It, whatever, ‘It’ was, had rushed north suddenly, with an alacrity belied by the bulk the tracks assigned to it. So north Zhaetar marched, as the rainstorm built in the afternoon and coming evening.
As the darkening twilight approached, she spied a rough traveller’s camp in a bend in the road. A few lean-tos and firepit ringed with log rounds, and a cache of firewood well-stacked seemed a homely sight on this lonely stretch of dark, rain-lashed forest road. Zhaetar stopped to listen and look for any signs of other travellers, but the road and camp were empty. Wiping rain-slick hair from her brow, she tromped up to the camp, and set about starting a fire to dry off and warm her for the night.
The rain fell in flashing sheets of cold droplets, lashing the canopy of the shadow-ways and churning this stretch of the Lorimar into a muddy porridge. A small fire smoldered bravely in the rest stop camp, its flames cracking and popping with the wetted kindling, but the warmth and light were a merry sight against the passing late-summer storm.
Huddled beside the fire in a disheveled lean-to, Zhaetar did her best to keep dry. The hovel was decent enough shelter, it’s moss-chinked roof of thick pine poles keeping the rain off and giving space enough beneath for the dwarf to stretch out her bedroll. She piled the fire high and peeled off her rain-soaked jerkin and plaid leggings, hanging them up on the wall of the shelter’s branches to steam away against the fire’s crackling heat. She wrung out her matted thick hair out with a deluge of water, and then pulled out a light supper of dried cave mushroom jerky and a slab of buttered stonebread. She sliced into this brick of a meal with her knife, an ornate-handled weapon with a blade made of a curious shard of a flaked and sharpened black crystal, hard as diamond: dragonquartz.
Her hunger sated, Zhaetar settled into her bedroll and stared into the fire, her face toasted and ruddy. Beneath the darkened canopy of trees the patter of the rain and the crackle of the campfire was all that could be heard in the black-blanketed night.
The firelight danced over her freckled face, and she whispered an old prayer of safe journeys to the darkness.
"Grandfather Krazz, Maker of Paths.
Yer road goes ever on.
Like a ribbon of beaten gold.
Along yer path my story is told
Let my feet not tire.
Let me raise not yer ire.
Let no chain bind me.
Let doubt not find me.
Yer road goes ever on."
Her dreams were fretful, unsettled and jumbled by lost half-memories; chased by a giant spider along the roadway; the crack of hobgoblin whips; the disappointed face of her mother and father; the shattered, stone motes floating above Dragon’s Peak; and a shadowy sinister figure standing in front of a great crater filled with water the colour of midnight.
When the dwarf awoke, the storm had passed and the sun stirred beams of dayshine down through the rain-soaked canopy. The embers of the fire still smoldered, and she pulled on her now dry clothing, buckling her belt and straps as the daylight unwrapped the hues of late summer and beckoned the birds into chorus. Hefting her shortbow and adjusting her quiver, Zhaetar marched back onto the road, noting that even the rainfall had not fully erased the strange tracks she followed.