Quest Spring's Flower

Shiress and Rook go on an adventure together.

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

Spring's Flower

Postby Shiress on July 23rd, 2019, 8:13 pm

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Shiress listened raptly as the old healer spoke on, nodding or shaking her head as she was posed a question, mostly shaking her head, though, as she knew little on the topic of the environment and the pleasure she felt at asking a knowledgeable question about moss was short-lived, discovering that it had not been named after the man who had found it. Thankfully she hadn't spoken that particular speculation aloud.

As Shiress and Rook plotted along behind their aged guide for their second day of travel, Shiress had never been more grateful for the generous helping of the soothing backside salve that Melisath had shared for their journey; the old woman had them riding hard with no breaks. The conversations between the three companions were engaging, and Melisath's lessons were interesting, though, and so the bells ticked by as they came closer and closer to their destination.

The topic of a trap plant had Shiress sharing a wide-eyed, bemused look with her bondmate. To think of a plant that trapped insects had her mind going wild with visions. She frowned, imagining a substantial claw-like leaf entrapping her, then shivered. "How big are these...traps?" she questioned, not knowing if she wanted to hear the answer. The healing qualities of the trap plant took her imagination in a different direction, though.

"You say its magic can dissolve growths, what about the wasting sickness? I've heard some say that it is caused by some sort of growth in the body." A treatment for that particular ailment had Shiress thinking of dozens of other possibilities, but she kept those to herself. A better understanding of the healing magic would make for better, smarter questions. Something told the young healer that Melisath would appreciate more scientific questions to the ones that made her repeat herself.

With the subject of magic, Shiress fell silent, not knowing enough about it to even ask a question, but she did know enough for the old woman's words to make her uneasy. She mulled over the lesson for a long time before finally speaking "You make it sound as if the bog is alive," she said, trying hard not to sound as if she doubted the woman, but wanting a better understanding all the same. "as if it has its own will? And wild djed, I have never heard of it"

Shiress's knowledge of djed and its uses were about as vast as her riding skill and so she would prod the old woman's wisdom, questioning further on the topic of how an inanimate thing could use djed, then pick apart her replies for an understanding of something she had always found confusing.

Melisath would most assuredly become irritated at Shiress at some point before they finally made camp.

When the old healer summoned Shiress to the fire later, she approached, tiny pot in tow, and settled down beside Melisath, listening attentively to her instruction, wishing not for the first time she had brought a quill and parchment with her. Instead, she settled on reciting the ingredients three times in her head to retain the memory of them.

After a short time, and well aware of Melisath's watchful gaze, Shiress measured out four tablespoons of beeswax into the pan, followed by one cup of coconut oil, watching as the two ingredients began to melt and run together. Picking up a stick, Shiress gently stirred the two together, forming a somewhat thick, light yellow mixture. With the end of a blanket, she removed the pot from the fire and carefully tipped it over the edge of the proffered jar, allowing the mixture to slowly transfer. Placing the jar down, Shiress began measuring out the different oils, giving Melisath studying glances to make sure she was doing it correctly. Once done, she used the same stick she had stirred her earlier concoction to mix the final product. After tying down the lid, she placed the jar out of harm's way, stood, and made her way to Rook who was rummaging around in the food bag.

"I'll help." she said, grinning knowingly at her bondmate. "Maybe between us both, we can cook something worth eating." Shiress would help Rook prepare dinner if he'd allow it, then insist on snuggling with her Bondmate for sometime before sleep would overtake the campsite.

The next morning the old healer had them up and on their way well before Syna had fully stretched her rays out across the treetops. They had been riding for sometime when a movement out of the corner of her eye caught Shiress's attention. By the time Shiress had pulled on the mules reins enough to stop him, they were several paces beyond what had caught her attention. Not knowing how to back the animal up, Shiress slid from the saddle and approached a knee-high plant situated along the edge of the trail. A long green stem ended in a split bean-like flower if flower it could be called, with barbed, sharp edges. To Shiress, it looked more like a tiny torture device. Kneeling, she immediately found what had caught her attention. A bee struggled within the grasp of one of the plant's traps, its wings desperately flitting back and forth in a futile effort to free itself.

Shiress watched in horrid fascination as the plant's teeth tightened around its prey, locking the bee in place. It took a chime, but the girl finally remembered what the old healer had said about the location of the trap plants. Expression darkening with concern, she found Rook's gaze. "I think we are close to the bog now."



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Spring's Flower

Postby Rook on July 31st, 2019, 6:24 pm

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Rook listened intently as Melisath spoke of peat bogs, peat soil, and the magical properties contained within. There was almost more information than Rook could absorb in a single session. He found himself struggling to concentrate on the woman's words and to adhere every bit of information she spoke to memory. Rook knew a bit about herbalism, but he had never really put much consideration into the greater world beyond the plants that grew in it and their roles in healing people's hurts. His attention was brought into sharp focus, however, at the mention of carnivorous plants. Rook could feel Shiress' horror at the mention of the monsters running through the bond between them. In turn, Rook felt a deep and almost morbid fascination. Although Maned Wolves were technically omnivores and much more inclined to eat plants then they were meat, Rook was still a predator at heart. Plants could hunt things too? They would have to be ambush predators, he decided silently. Considering they didn't have feet to walk on to stalk their prey. Rook wasn't overly concerned with the concept of the prey being digested whole. That was life. It was brutal and uncaring and always always hungry.

Despite knowing a few things about herbalism, Rook knew virtually nothing about medicine. Rook had never heard of wasting sickness or growths, and had no idea how those things could possibly be applied to this situation. Shiress knew about it though. This was no surprise to Rook, considering how extremely clever his bondmate was. Shiress' interest in the subject brought the wolf's curiosity into sharp focus. "How do we modify that power?" Rook asked finally. "Do you mean using it to make poultices? Or compresses? Or salves?" Rook's knowledge on how herbs were specifically applied to wounds was fairly limited, but there was something specific about the way the old woman spoke the word 'modify' that gave the wolf boy a pause. He was sure there were ways of applying medicine that he was unfamiliar with, and he was eager to have the knowledge expanded upon.

When Melisath went on to talk about the animal life in the big, Rook was soon nodding. Small animals; ground mammals, frogs, crayfish, ground birds. It had Rook's mouth watering. "That's good hunting," the wolf said cheerfully. Crayfish and frogs should be easy to catch if you could find them, and ground birds were considerably easier hunting then the ones that perched on trees. They could still fly, usually, but if you could ambush them then you could have a nice meal on your paws. One that humans wouldn't turn their nose up at either. There weren't many animals Rook would refuse to eat, but he had found in the past that humans tended to turn their nose up at frogs and mice. It was silly really. It was all meat; the wolf boy couldn't see the difference. The mention of poisonous snakes reminded Rook that he probably shouldn't go darting off after a meal though. This was dangerous terrain and he didn't want to get hurt, or worse, put Shiress in danger.

The mention of magic had Rook thoughtful. Rook knew next to nothing about magic. He had known the effects of it on himself. Torture in the Kelvic research institute and dicipline by his Ebonstryfe masters had often involved it. But he knew no details on how it was done, or what it involved. There was even a word that Melisath said that had the wolf scratching his head. It was like she had briefly lapsed into another language, one the wolf boy was unfamiliar with. "What's 'djed'?" Rook asked. The word sounded very strange and foreign on his tongue. "What do you mean by untasked magic?" Just based on the context, could it mean magic that wasn't given a purpose? But why would that be dangerous? How could that effect anything in a dangerous way? Rook knew this bog was dangerous, but he didn't understand magic or what it meant.

By the time they made camp for the night, the wolf boy was exhausted. Despite that however, Rook took to his wolf form and patrolled the campsite several times, his nose poking into suspicious places to track down what might be dangerous scents. At one point, while Rook had his head in some brush at the edge of camp, a loud RRWOF noise resonated from the wolf's general area, followed by the noise of something in the long grass rapidly retreating. Rook came trotting back to the center of the camp, pleased as peach, with his tongue hanging from his mouth proudly.

After he was done, the wolf moved back to Shiress' side, still a wolf. He watched with fierce interest as Melisath explained how to create the salve, his long body halfway across Shiress' lap with the other half sticking out from the side and curled up around her back. His nubbly tail wagged as he watched. The wolf remained in place on Shiress' lap during the explanation, only moving once his bondmate required being able to move in order to create the salve. As his bondmate worked, the wolf sat vigilantly next to her. After she had finished, Rook was all but ready to snuggle up to his bondmate again, when Melisath told him he was in charge of dinner.

Rook looked dubiously at the pack of food on the ground, to the flickering fireplace, then back again. His tongue caught in his teeth as he considered the problem at hand. Rook trotted back to his clothes, retook his human form and dressed, then returned back to the pack on the ground. He opened the pack and slowly began to remove some of the food from inside. Most of it was plain, dry, easy to transport food. Bread, jerky, cheese, potatoes. There was a bottle of something that when Rook opened the top and sniffed it gave the sharp, distinct smell of fruit and alcohol. He laid the objects all out on the top of the bag and glared at them like they were a puzzle he'd rather not have to figure out how to solve. There had been many things Rook had been called upon to do as a slave. Cooking was not one of them. Rook picked up a potato, then set it back down. Then he picked up some cheese, and set it back down. A look of absolute misery dawned on the wolf boy's face.

Rook gave Shiress a fiercely affectionate look when she came over to help him. "Can we just cut this all up and give it to everyone?" Rook asked. It briefly occurred to the wolf that the potato would need to be cooked to be palatable to the humans. He dug up and ate raw root vegetables not infrequently and would happily eat the potato raw. "Or do we need to cook it?" he asked. Rook picked up the potato and held it over the fire, half ready to toss it into the fire. Hopefully at that point Shiress would stop him or else they would be down one burned and charred potato. After she debate, and perhaps some burning and experimentation, the pair would manage to come up with some baked potatoes with cheese melted on top. It was maybe a bit singed, but mostly good. After the meal was complete and everyone fed, Rook curled up and snuggled with Shiress until morning came.

The smell of the world grew thicker and wetter. Ravok, being on a lake, was pleasantly humid but the taste of water in the air was different then the one Rook had become used to in his home city. It tasted acrid, almost acidic. Like the scent was aggressive enough to burn the inside of his nose. Rook inhaled, and sneezed. The smell of this place was foreign to him. It smelled old, and Rook was reminded of how Melisath had said that the bog was older than the Valterrian. When Shiress stopped her mule and examined a plant, Rook threw himself off the side of the mule and chased after her. The wolf boy's eyes followed where his bondmate was looking, and he nodded in slow agreement to her words. "This place smells very strange," Rook said. He glanced over at the still mounted Melisath. "I've never smelled anything like it," Rook admitted.

A loud hiss echoed from a patch of prickly plants behind the trap flower Shiress had been examining. Rook jumped and grabbed his bondmate and pushed her back and swung his body around her so that he was shielding her. The wolf's eyes scanned the underbrush, his jaw tense with anxiety. After a moment, he saw the source of the noise. A long, black snake was just barely visible in the grass. It's large, white colored mouth was open wide, revealing thin, pointy fangs. Rook pushed his back up against Shiress, urging her back towards the mules. The snake watched them, mouth open, an occasional hiss spilling from it's jaws.
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Spring's Flower

Postby Gossamer on October 13th, 2019, 7:08 pm

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The traps, it turned out, were small – fearful things only for bees. The old woman hadn’t actually given Shiress an answer but had just given her a knowing grin. It gave the impression she was being teased if nothing else. And so, when they rode upon the fringes of the bog two bells later and Melisath dismounted when Shiress did. She watched patiently as if she enjoyed the younger woman’s discovery and curiosity. Several varieties were pointed out and Shiress noted they’d only threaten flies, and some of the bigger ones perhaps small mice and shrews. Shiress had already seen them though, consuming a bee. And it was perhaps a thankful thing that they weren’t larger.

The snake wasn’t anything harmful. “Looks like a cottonmouth, but it’s a black racer. They are harmless. They’ll give you a nasty bite, but no poison or anything. They eat a lot of frogs and slugs, even snails.” Melisath commented and got the mules hobbled while the snake slipped back into the underbrush. “Snakes are easy to tell. If they are poisonous, they tend to have a triangular head… slightly arrow-shaped. And their eyes are slitted like cats. If they are harmless their noses are rounded like their heads and their pupils are round and in the center of their eyes as well. That cute little guy was round-eyed and round-headed, even though it was marked like a cottonmouth.” The old woman commented, as she unloaded gear off the mule and unsaddled the one she was riding.


The entire two-bell trip, Melisath had picked up on a question Shiress had asked earlier the previous day. “Unfortunately, most healers equate wasting sickness to being one thing. But in truth, it can be from many things. People waste away from invasive growths inside them, true enough, and some of these growths can be all over, even inside the bones. They can affect the lungs, liver, brain, any part of the human body. So, these plants can dissolve some of these growths. But you need to remember something. People can waste away from bowels that are not working properly. Do you know the rope-like intestines in all of us are actually what food passes through so we absorb it into our systems? When they are not functioning well, we can waste away. Dysentery can cause that as well… where the bowels and colon swell and cause diarrhea.” The woman chattered along happily.

“Medicine is about learning what causes what and what disease looks like. You can only do that getting into the heart of the problem… treat a lot of patients… see a lot of illnesses. Many things look alike because there’s the actual sickness and then there’s the actual ‘presentation’ of symptoms. A person might have a cough, for example, but does that mean a head cold? Does it mean growth in their lungs? Do they have a disease that makes their breathing hard and breathing attacks frequent? A cough could even mean something serious like a plague. We just don’t know until we learn how to tell things apart and seek out the other symptoms to eliminate things it could be until we figure out what it is. That’s where Rak’keli’s gnosis comes in helpful. You can diagnose things faster with Rak’keli’s magic. You should attempt to get her attention one of these days. What do you even know of her? Will you tell me?” Melisath asked, studying Shiress as they unloaded the mules.

Camp was made quickly. Melisath refused to take the mules into the bog and refused to even think about camping there. The old woman stood on the edge of their new camp surveying the bog, while the mules were chomping grass contentedly at its edge, with Rook left to guard them. “Come here Shiress. Look with me.” She said, pointing out over the bog.

It was clearly denoted on the landscape. There were no trees – save in the distance in what should have been its furthest edge. There were only low vegetation and open water. Low lying fog clung near the ground and even Syna’s light didn’t seem to warm the place. It had a vibrancy to it though, and insects were buzzing about with a ferocity that was not usually seen. The place, for all that everything seemed so small, was ablaze with life. “You asked me yesterday if I thought the bog was alive. What do you think now?” Melisath asked carefully, then quietly waited for Shiress’ explanation.

“See that low hanging fog? It’s like the breath of the swamp. Mixed into it is wild djed. You can kind of see it as a glittering edge to the fog. I didn’t answer you yesterday because I wanted you to see it first hand for yourself to understand it better today. If you have auristics, you could clearly see it. People have claimed wild djed are many things, but I think it is the world's own djed, somehow released from the earth and floating free like blood might spill from a wound in our arm and splatter onto the ground. When blood is inside us, it is purposed to do various things. As is djed when it is within the world. But once free, it has no purpose. I think this bog collects wild djed and uses it to transform the things inside it. That’s why sometimes tiny plants grow large and large things grow small. The water here is always clear and cold, filtered by the peat. Bog water is honestly some of the cleanest you can find because things don’t survive in it. But you’ll want to be safe anyhow. We’ll dig a bog well.” She said gently, then began to demonstrate.

Pulling a folding shovel from her pack, Melisath unfolded it, and walked a foot from the edge of the nearest spot of water. The water was a brackish looking green pool filled with busy water skippers. She dug down about one foot then gestured. “You go this far to make the well worth the trouble to dig it. Any smaller and you won’t get much water.” She said. When she was done, she smiled and sat back. Water was seeping into it slowly… painfully slowly. “Now, we simply wait. It will take a while… maybe the whole day… for the hole to fill with water.

As the fluid seeps through the soil, it filters out the green growth and you get close to pure freshwater. If you want to not chance anything being in it, you can boil it and it will have no taste like normal bog water will have. Remember, when you boil it, let it boil ten chimes to be sure everything that might be impure in it is gone.” The old woman added, pleased with herself. Her newly dug hole was only slowly filling with water. Shiress could tell it would be several chimes if not a good part of the day before it would be full.

Once the well was dug, Melisath set off with Shiress in tow with a list of plants she wanted and a bucket that looked strangely like the feed buckets she had for the mules. The bucket was full of small cotton bags with drawstrings. The old woman carried a walking stick but used it more to point at things she wanted Shiress to harvest than she used it to lean on. “When you harvest something, pretend you are a grazing animal. Don’t take the whole plant unless I say we need its roots. Then collect the whole thing. If we just need leaves, take one for every three so the plant can recover quickly and not die at our harvesting. If I point out one, I expect you to recognize others.” And she did, pointing out the pitcher plants and sundew.

There were beautiful iris’ as well, bright yellow and blue. There was bog bean, canna, and water poppy. Melisath pointed out water hyacinth, pennywort, mints of all sorts and a chameleon plant. There were also rain lilies, garlics and cattails. Dwarf bamboo and arrowhead was also present. The old healer showed her black taro, though they never harvested any of it, and equally walked past the white snowflake and mosaic flower, though Melisath shared their properties.

Finally, they came up on a small rise, started down the other side, where Melisath froze, causing Shiress to almost run into her back. Floating in a pond of water clover – something Melisath had pointed out earlier – was a beautiful man. He was fully naked, arms and legs outflung, with the water clover growing around him like chains, tethering his wrists and ankles to the pool. Creeping Jenny encircled his chest, seemingly holding him up, and small bundles of marsh marigold were woven into his hair or were indeed holding the individual strands apart. It looked, for all the life of him, a situation where the plants were indeed feeding off the man.

Melisath seemed speechless. “By the Gods. What in the world is this? Go see child. Go see quickly!” She said, looking deeply as shaken as her trembling words indicated.
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