Shale was devastated when her mother decided the family would move to the great northern frontier because of a war that wasn’t anywhere near their home. True they had sent many off to aid in the fight and word that her own father was lost were saddening events, but to uproot and leave out of fear that you’ll loose another loved one from something happening so far away was overprotective to say the least. Wouldn’t it be far more dangerous traversing the savage lands of the north in hopes of finding something that you don’t even know exists anymore? She doesn’t want to leave, where her friends and the only home she has ever known are, and she worries about her uncle, who left home to join the war efforts. She prays and prays to stay but her mother is insistent on the move.
Just the journey through the wilderness to the northern reaches will be dangerous. We will have to struggle through savage lands filled with barbarian tribes, cross raging rivers, and finally over climb over mountains. Not to mention that when and if we reach our ancestral homeland, we must struggle to build a new home in the untamed wilderness, raise crops, and struggle with natural elements and fear of savages attacks. But Shale will soon realize that what her mother says is true, “that home is not a place, home is being with her family.”
That late summer night when we left, time stood still. A mist had risen thickly covering only the ground to my knees, all was eerily quiet, as if nature itself knew we were about to run away. The silence was interrupted by the beautiful call of a pair of loons. The distant sound of paddling, quiet, yet becoming louder. The loons fell silent as the sounds came closer. Mother quickly ushered us over to the shore of the small lake, dragging with us all the possessions we will ever know from our former home. I had a pair of bags, one filled with clothes and essentials, and a much smaller one filled with sentimental things. I would need these in the times ahead, I just knew it, else I would loose all that was my home.
Three canoes seemed to row out of the mist, smoothly sliding on the clear, black surface of the lake. In those canoes were four travelers. All of whom knew their separate roles in carrying out this journey. A journey back to a place as old as the roots themselves. Their journey was to find and rebuild a homeland abandoned countless eons ago by their forefathers. More of their kind would follow after they had settled, of this they were sure.
The travelers were an odd combination of Wayfarers; in the first canoe was the silvery haired Istar Akh’faern, a venerable woodbourne Val’istar (Archmage), without question the most experienced of the group, so too was the young “diplomat” Melign of Fallen Oak. Melign had previously served in the Elite Guard for a number of years before entering politics. He was good friends with our uncle and was usually a bit of a pessimist, but nevertheless he was made welcome in the group.
The second canoe, a bit more weighted down, carried our aunt, Aenia. She was a healer, a sister, Seler’ en’ i’Taure, Sister of the Forest. She stood grasping my mother in deep embrace as she drifted up to the dock, “Nae saian luume’” (It has been to long) she said, teary eyed. The spoke quietly for a moment.
Lastly, in the third canoe and paddling hard was Dae Rilyn’nddare (White House of the Winds). Dae was a quiet one, for he too was a Mith’Quessir, one of the precious few who still survived. He was fathers best friend, he brought the news back to mother about our fathers death. I also think he in some way feels guilt over it, and now he has made an oath to protect Ǽl’s family. We all knew this not to be true however, but I digress and know I have not the strength at this time to recite that tale.
So here were the travelers; all one group, yet all so vastly different in their views. They so far hadn’t completed any part of the journey, yet they had taken the first and most likely toughest step, the act of leaving. We climbed aboard the canoes, I in the canoe with my mother and aunt, my sister and cousin boarded Dae’s canoe. We pushed off officially leaving the shores of our home…
The mists soon abated as daylight filtered in through the thick forest canopy, we had left the lake as well, traveling up a winding river. The water to had lightened in color to a dark brackish blue; staying midnight in the shadows of the towering trees along the banks. The scenery was breathtaking and the group oft commented on the sight of greenery mixed with the subtle shadings of the coming fall. After what seemed a very long time they beached the canoes along some thick mangrove roots. They chatted a bit about direction, we all took a small meal of water cress, nuts, and berries. They spent what seemed like an eternity carefully checking their course They looked hopefully at Dae, whoom had a lot of experience traveling abroad. Shale, Alfirin, and Ivellios all remained silent and concentrated on the beauty of the wilderness that surrounded them; mother let out a sigh when the three mappers bent over their maps once again. Mapping did not come easy to her and so she let the others do what she felt she could not. And as yet, the Mrigg’ondo had not.
The day was too beautiful to be wasted. The canoes took off again and kept a fast pace until they reached the secret trail covered in thickets leading away from the river.
We unloaded the canoes in an uninhabited swampland. Then left the canoes upside down and in the bushes with their paddles. The water was ankle deep and it was hard to walk as we trudged through the sinking ooze of peat and mud towards the dry land trail. It was ironic how a swampland could be so beautiful with its fallen trees, tall grasses. Yet it was so untouchable and remote when com paired to their elven homeland, though each inhabited the great wood. The swamps too were slowly encroaching on the settled woodland areas, but it would be a thousand generations before their kin would need worry, as nature takes a long slow role changing, evolving the environment.
The trail was another sight to behold. The travelers were struck with wonder upon seeing the immense boulders lying in the wake of giant trees. The feeling of ancient wonders lingered in the very air they breathed. One could only imagine what lye ahead. The pathway turned upwards running north, parallel to a tinkling stream. As they climbed upwards the stream grew larger and at one stage the group found themselves walking across a natural rock bridge over across a breathtaking waterfall.
Enchanted by the never ending wood and beautiful water falls Shale and Alfirin fell back from the others’ pace and continued to enjoy the wonders. The “guys” seemed to rush on to see all the new wonders awaiting them, Istar, mother, and Aenia walked at their own pace between the two groups, feeling at peace. This was almost paradise.
The day wore on and it soon became evening. The girls caught up with Istar, mother, and Aenia and met the guys waiting for them at a suitable campsite, already cleared and small fire crackling to life.
Istar with the help of the two young girls set up a pair of large canvas tents. Ivellios and Dae went their own way to find some game, leaving Melign to gather more firewood.
After a well deserved dinner, they sat around the warmth of the fire and stared at the heavens.
“In the great cities from where I’m from we are lucky to have even a few stars in the sky; what with all the magi lights. Here… well here they are… millions of them.” commented Istar
“I know. Of all the places I’ve ever been, this sky is truly the most magnificent I’ve ever gazed.” Melign offered
“Where have you been?” Ivellios questioned out of curiosity.
“Everywhere,” he replied, “I have been to the south and the great city of Ordain, to the east and the IronCross mountains, and to the west to gaze upon the mighty ocean. But this is the first time I have come north, beyond the Grimmwall mountains.” He replied leaning back against a large stump.
An owl screeched as the sounds of the wooded mountains took over…
Their first morning away, it seemed longer. The bedraggled occupants of the tents emerged into the morning dawn, Melign already having stirred the dwindling fire to life, the others tired and aching from the previous day’s labors slowly moved about repacking the camp. They had some tea and hardtack for a morning meal and then set off on the trail that should lead them over the mountains.
Shale caught herself staring again. For some reason she could not keep her eyes off the scenery, the quiet valley below and the forest beyond, her home was back there, she could feel it, why should they leave. She wanted so badly to stay in this land, knowing that beyond, over the mountains was a strange and alien world..
What she did not know was that she was not the only one feeling this way; Aenia was also dreaming of staying in the forest with lakes for eternity. She longed to be with her sisters, but knew she should accompany her family. She had a mission, to discover the ancient homeland and report back to her order its location so that more might make the pilgrimage.
As the sun rose across the valley, the group split into groups as before, the two girls trailing behind, the guys swiftly leading ahead, and the the elders keeping the middle ground. By noon they had only a quarter of the way left to go up the mountainside. The trail grew steeper, the air more crisp and cooler, and the woods gave way to pockets of scrub grass and the occasional tree leaning sideways on the hillside.. They stopped on a stretch of bare rock and ate a quick meal of rations. Time was running out. They had to get to the top of the mountains by nightfall, Istar now kept a faster pace than the others, speeding past the guys who were now tired and barely kept pace with the girls.
It was still full daylight when the small group reached the summit. Here on the windy pinnacle, there were not trees nor scrub. Bare stone, bleached and rounded by the wind was what they had to traverse. As each of them reached the top they fell to their knees in exhaustion and looked at the scenic view around them.
For miles in every direction the realms spread beneath them. To the far south was the great forest of Umbra, their homeland, near the base of the mountains swinging westward around the range were the vast Moors (swamps). To the west was the great ocean, its shimmering barley visible on the horizon, to the north, the crumbling fields known as the savage wastes stretched out as far as the eye could see. This was the direction they were headed. Finally to the east, the Grimmwall mountains continued but one could make out the tablelands beyond. That was were the war raged, even now men, dwarf, and elf fought side by side against an evil the likes of which these lands had never known. The reason they fled, or should it be said, left to avoid. So to could smoke be seen billowing from the west, almost from within the Grimmwall itself. It was a city, a city of man. The Citadel they called it, we referred to it as “gray” because its precarious position and high walls prevented it from receiving any sunlight. It was the main pass across the Grimmwall used by thousands of merchants and caravans each year as they brought their goods down to the southern cities. But it was heading to the northeast, and they were traveling to the northwest, a land without civilization, or so they believed.
As Ivellios gazed at the city and back towards his homeland he was overcome with a terrible feeling.
“I don’t want to go back… I don’t want to…”, he repeated to himself, mouthing the words another time.
Ivellios had lost both his parents, uncles and aunts to the Shadow. So too did both of his older brothers tramps off to war, leaving him alone. He wanted so badly to go with them, probably more for their company than to face down any evils. But he was to young, and was sent off to live with the WindStones. He was glad mother wanted to leave, he was glad they were taking him.
“You okay?” asked Shale with a look of concern.
“yeah…”, replied Ivellios. He noticed that the others had a ghostly viel upon their faces, as if realizing for the first time that they to had left. No turning back now.
“We must hurry.” Istar stated breaking the spell, “We must find shelter before nightfall.”
The travelers heaved their packs and followed one by one single file down the path. They had passed their first milestone and now could get on with their journey.
_A very fun first session for our young gamers. I decided I wanted to go without combat so they could get use to talking in character, picking out the correct dice, and describing to me what exactly they were doing. It went extremely well, though I think they enjoyed using the plethora of dice more than anything. Not only did they go into surprisingly detailed accounts of what their characters were doing, they would at times unknowingly stand and act parts out. I made them roll a few skill checks, my son wandered off and did some hunting for the one meal, and my creative 9yr old daughter went into depth about her characters sad feeling about leaving home. My only regret is that I didn’t have the camcorder out and record it, truly inspiring! Ah to be young and full of wonder is a refreshing thing around a table, don’t get me wrong, I still enbjoy the people I play with, its just very refreshing not to have a rules lawyer in the group! Overall it was much better than anything I could have hoped for, and the best thing is they are very eager to run another session, though my son insisted on some combat or he told me he will turn on the NPC’s, lmao!!