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 Gossamer on March 10th, 2019, 4:14 am

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Timestamp: 10th of Spring, 519 A.V.



"Once I had the rarest rose
That ever deigned to bloom
Cruel winter chilled the bud
And stole my flower too soon..."



Melisath had seen many many years. To look upon her, there was no doubt she was well into her sixties, perhaps even older, because the lines of her face read like a topological map more than a woman’s normal smooth features. Small of form, frail, but with a wide grin that somehow retained a full set of teeth - the tiny lady looked like she had one foot on Dira’s doorstep. But for all of that, she was spry and got around more so than most of her kind that were her age. The key, she preached, was remaining active. But that activity had gotten slower and slower and required more and more help as the years had flown by.

This season was no exception. Melisath was a healer of some renown, but maintaining that status had meant she traveled in all seasons and all weathers, chasing herbs and medicines that few knew with as extensive knowledge as she did. But now that she was older, she needed far more help than her normal companion gave her. Boras, her mule, was steadfast but he wasn’t always an extra set of hands, a pair of eyes that saw better than her own dimming vision, and he certainly wasn’t the best of company. Neither were the other mules. Mules were just a means to an end though. They were travel companions and transportation. What Melisath needed most was live warm strong bodies to accompany her on certain trips.

And one of those trips was to The Filrian Bog. There was something there she was after, something important. It was a flower, one of the most precious and rare sorts that bloomed only on the cusp of spring, before the first true warmth, but after the last long snow. It was such an odd thing that Melisath was convinced it was Valterrian generated, for nothing natural mimicked the flowers fickle nature. And what it did…. what it meant… was nothing short of miraculous.

But she was too old to go alone. And the timeframe too tight to leave it to chance without hiring help. The Firian Bog was to the north, less than ten days from the Talderian boarder close to Ravok on its northern side. The only problem was the bog itself was fifty acres of pure misery. Plants grew huge in its boarders, some having an almost sentience to them. Others were carnivorous scavengers that lived among the rot and ruin of the black waters. But that wasn’t the most dangerous thing about the bog. Its dangers were most deeply realized in the swirls of wild djed that seemed to hang about the region, replacing the more common fog usually found over such natural features. Insects, birds, and even predators of other sorts could be found in its confines.

And the Bog itself? Some say it is alive, with a monstrous awareness that only land steeped in Wild Djed can achieve. Melisath knew certain truths about it. Other things were still a mystery to her. But what she did know is that she’d need help.

And so she carefully sat down, hand lettered signs, and hung them in the dock areas advertising a few positions in a party going to gather herbs. She carefully wrote out her wants, giving a time and a place for all interviews to take place.

Help Wanted!

An Expedition is forming to The Filrian Bog to gather medicinal herbs before true spring rains hit. While no experience necessary, the Expedition is looking for strong young men and women who do not mind carefully harvesting plants under the direction of a Master Herbalist and Healer who’s seen too many years to be comfortable making the trip on her own.

The journey will take 10 days round trip. The pay is 10 Miza’s a day. Transportation will be provided but one should have their own housing in the form of a tent or palette. Wilderness Survival a bonus consideration, but not necessary. Interviews will be conducted Spring 10 on the C12 Dock at its very end. Interviews will be conducted from the 8th bell to the 10th bell. If accepted, applicants must be prepared to sail on the vessel tied there which will take them to shore by the 12th bell. Ask for Melisath.


It was cut and dried. The old healer hand dried the signs, then quietly took the afternoon to tack them up anywhere such advertisements were welcomed. Then, at the appointed time and date, she would be at the dock to see if any interested people appeared.

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Spring's Flower

Postby Shiress on March 10th, 2019, 3:07 pm

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"I just want to feel real land beneath my feat."

The statement was repeated for what must have been the hundredth time by Shiress as she meandered through the small shop, Rook by her side, a rolled tent ready to be purchased in one arm while the other was hooked loosely around her bondmate's elbow.

"It's crazy, I know," she went on, rambling more for her own benefit rather than Rook's, "ten days away from home and in a bog!" she turned to Rook, brow's knitted together, "Do you even know what a bog is? I don't." she shrugged, sitting down the tent on the table and reaching for her coin purse in her bag "Elias isn't pleased about it, but I think he understands that I need this if I'm selected to go and he is relieved that you are with me, at least."

Shiress handed over two gold coins to the merchant, a balding, portly man who looked very unhappy at the girl's absentmindedness when she managed to drop only one coin in the man's pudgy hand, the other clattered and rolled around the tabletop. Retrieving the tent, Shiress shoved it in her bag and turned for the door. "We need to hurry, it has to be nearing the 10th bell."

Shiress fell into a thoughtful silence as they exited the shop, trepidation and excitement warring for dominance each time the ten-day expedition came to her mind. If she honestly had to tell the woman, this Melisath, why she wanted to go on this adventure words may very well fail her. The truth was, she had no idea. From the very chime she had read the notice she knew she had to go. It would be a rite of passage into her new found life and one she knew she had to share with Rook.

She smiled up at her Bondmate, wrapping her arms around him, her steps falling in line clumsily with his. She hoped that the wolf could sense the mass amount of love and safety that he created within her.

They reached their destination with chimes to spare, coming to a halt beneath a small wooden sign hung on a post that read 'C12'. Shiress released Rook, glancing around.

"Which one is her?" she wondered aloud, taking in the many female patrons as they meandered about. Spotting one lady standing off by herself Shiress stepped cautiously over to her. Shiress had envisioned what the woman Melisath would look like over and over in her mind, but never did she think she'd be covered in tattoos with giant rings in her nose and ears, but one never knew.

"Melisath?" she questioned, once the stranger's eyes found her, but before the stranger replied, a male's voice called out from behind her "She's over there." Shiress followed the man's line of sight to where a very small and very feeble and, indeed, ancient looking female stood. Shiress apologized kindly to the tattooed woman and made her way over to Melisath.

"Hello" she said, pausing until the woman's keen gaze found her "I'm Shiress and this is Rook." she pulled Rook around to stand beside her. "We are here to be considered for your expedition." Shiress straightened to her full height, securing a rogue strand of hair behind an ear "I don't have much knowledge of herbs and herbalism, I want to learn, though. I do know a bit about Wilderness survival," she cringed not wanting to think about that particular experience, "I do have the first mark of Bala, of cultivation, that I think you may find beneficial on your journey and I do have a bit of medical knowledge and would love to learn more." she licked her lips, unsure of what else to say. "My Bondmate and I, we can share a tent."

Stepping aside, Shiress left room for Rook to introduce himself, her gaze boring into the old woman, anticipating her reply.



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Spring's Flower

Postby Rook on March 10th, 2019, 3:16 pm

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Rook had not needed much convincing in order to join Shiress. There was, of course, the ever present need to remain near his bondmate at all times and the thought of his dearest going off on her own in the wilds, whatever her reason and capabilities, was something that did not sit right with the kelvic. But more so than that, Rook found his curiosity peaked. At one time, the wolf had been a slave to an herbalist. He had not had much cause to practice the talents he had learned under Ruby, but the information he had learned from her still weighed heavy in the pup’s skull. There was something intriguing about getting a chance to explore those abilities he had learned that had been left sitting. Rook would have followed Shiress anywhere, but perhaps even if the two of them had not been bonded the pup would have found himself searching out this Melisath anyways.

So the wolf demurely followed his bondmate around as she went about the store, chattering as she gathered the materials that the two of them would need for the trip. Rook nodded demurely to his bondmate’s words, and scrutinized the tent perhaps a bit more aggressively than his bondmate did, despite the fact that he hadn’t the foggiest idea of what to look for. He shot the shopkeeper a sharp look and made sure the man didn’t balk; the last thing they needed was to be sold shoddy supplies. It wasn’t until the two of them left the store that Rook finally addressed the words that Shiress had spoken.

“It’s like a swamp,” the pup explained, inordinately pleased that he actually knew something for once. The terrain of the north ravok outpost had been filled with the sort. He had even traversed one once before. “You’re not a slave anymore,” the pup pointed out to her. “Elias shouldn’t decide what you do or don’t do. I’m glad that you’re going if you want to. You will feel the world beneath your feet, and you’ll do it because you want to.”

Rook kept close to his bondmate’s shoulder, his eyes roving in a suspicious fashion as he scanned the city around him. The kelvic relished in the physical closeness he was sharing between himself and his bondmate. A closeness of minds when distance seperated them was bittersweet. There was no better place for Rook than beside Shiress. He was exactly where he needed to be. When Shiress’ twined her arm in his, Rook automatically slowed his pace to match hers, and nuzzled the side of her head affectionately before the pair continued onwards.

Upon reaching their destination, the wolf scanned the area once more, amber eyes piercing the crowd. What were they to be looking for? The pup’s eyes roamed straight past the woman with piercings until Shiress approached her. He quirked an eyebrow, but before he could comment the pair of them were directed over towards a very small, very wrinkled woman. Rook’s eyes widened slightly. He had never seen someone so small. She was like an apple that had been left out in the sun for far too long. Rook allowed himself to be tugged forward as Shiress introduced him, but he was still in wonder of the strange creature. He had never seen anything like her before.

“Hello,” Rook offered uncertainty. The pup waited for his bondmate to speak her skills and then after a moment he offered his own. “I know a little of herbalism,” the wolf said. “I was a slave to an herbalist for a time, and I learned some things there under my master. I’m a kelvic too. I can turn into a wolf, and I have a very good sense of smell and hearing. I don’t really know how to survive in the wilderness but...I can learn. I’m good at being told what to do.” Rook gave his bondmate a quick, cursory glance before looking back towards the woman called Melisath.
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Spring's Flower

Postby Gossamer on March 10th, 2019, 4:45 pm

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The antique human wrinkled her nose and looked up at Shiress and then up once more at Rook. “That’s it? Just two people responding? I’ve been here practically all day.” She grumbled, then glanced at the sky. It was just moments after the tenth bell, which mean she couldn’t have been there all day because they were almost exactly on time. “You know, when I was younger people would flock to my outings to learn things along the way and tap my brain about what I knew on herbs. Now… well things change when you get older.” She grumbled discontentedly. Then she seemingly absorbed what Shiress said and then looked Rook well over.

Nodding, she said thoughtfully. “As long as you both are hard workers, you’ll do fine. I’d be glad to have a bonded pair – a kelvic and a healer. You are a healer, aren’t you girl? You have that look about you. People think healers are soft, but they are tough as nails and get things done. Just because they usually don’t battle with swords and fists doesn’t mean they don’t march to war. They do. Sometimes daily and in ways we cannot predict.” She said in her gravely voice, then turned to study rook.

“A predator without much practice being one. Interesting. Loyalty isn’t a skillset, boy. I can see you’re young though and I can excuse you for being far more worthless than your bondmate. That’s not usually the case. This trip will be good for you. Wolves, even tall odd looking ones, aren’t much good for anything unless they embrace being a wolf. You wear your animal shape in your aura like a solider flying a flag, but it aint any wolf I’ve ever seen. We’d best take you a long, if for nothing else so you can figure out how to be a wolf instead of a possession. Possessions are worthless as bondmates. Wolves are much more useful.” She said thoughtfully.

“We’re going to The Filrian Bog… and it’s a nasty godless place. It smells hideous; there’s bugs, predators, and wild djed. Any one of those things can kill you. When we get closer, I’ll give you some bug repellant to at least eliminate one of those things, but predators and wild djed are harder to avoid. Boy, I’m going to depend on your presence to deter some of that. I don’t think you much look like a fighter, but scent means a lot in places like the The Filrian Bog. You just being here might be enough. We’re going to collect some pretty rare botanicals, and girl that’s where I will need your strong young body. I’ll need your hands, your fitness, and your youth. We’ll get wet, dirty, smell bad, and question our sanity before its all done. But the botanicals are worth it. And I’ll teach you a bit about them as we go. And if you know anything I don’t, boy, you’ll gladly share your knowledge too. Herbalists are a secretive lot. But they are often more talkative around slaves than hired help. Slavery. What a worthless institution.” The woman said bitterly, and shook her head.

“Can either of you ride? I have five mules with me. Three for mounts and two for supplies. If you are ready to go… lets get to it. I don’t think anyone else is coming.” She said, beckoning them to follow her. Though she was old, gnarled even, she moved spryly and with the type of speed that made them have to scurry to keep up. She passed down two streets, cut into an alley that had a lease stable at the end of it, and walked into the stable yard where five healthy mules stood tethered eating out of feed bags. Three were saddled and two had packs.

“Add your packs to the mules, kids, and mount up. The faster we get going the better. I’m always uneasy in this city.” She said unhappily. And before they knew it, she’d untethered all the mules so that the two were roaming free, and had mounted the third which was a big bay. The other two mules were black and grey… one smaller, and the larger black one looking a little grizzled and mean as he eyed Rook as if he were sizing up a pile of hay. All the mules were geldings and all looked eager to get out of Ravok any way they could.

When they were all ready to go, Melisath shared the mules’ names. “This is Boras.” She said of her mount, then gestured to the grey and black respectively… “That’s Ash and Soot.” Then she pointed at the other two pack mules that were spotted and almost identical. “That’s Bob and Bob. They are the best pack mules around… don’t need leads to follow Boras, Ash, and Soot. But I can’t tell them apart.” She added, looking thoughtfully. Then, without a hesitation, she kneed Boras around and started out of the stable yard and into the streets.

Then they were riding briskly through the streets, heading for the barge that would take them out of Ravok and into the wilds. As they rode, Melisath turned to the pair and asked them one last thing. “Tell me a story as we ride… tell me how you met.” She added, as if curious about the bonded pair and how that had happened.

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Spring's Flower

Postby Shiress on March 15th, 2019, 1:05 am

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Shiress shot an uneasy look at her Bondmate at hearing the old woman's worrisome details of their destination. Bugs were one worry, predators another all together fearful thought, but what in Rhysol's nightmares was wild djed? Shiress wanted to ask the woman but thought better of it and remained silent. Maybe Rook would know. But, when Melisath vocalized her dislike for slavery, she couldn't help herself. "Slavery is a worthless institution," she agreed, "one I hope to see soon disassembled." she added, mumbling to herself. She gave Rook a knowing smile, but the woman's question interrupted any gloating of future plans.

"Ride? Mules? I..." Shiress nearly blurted out that she had absolutely no experience riding and all but was terrified of horses, but feared the old woman might turn her away. Instead, she cleared her throat and put as much confidence in her voice as she could muster. "I can manage on my own," she said, then looked to Rook with a grimace, adding in a whisper, "I hope."

Shiress followed Melisath to the animals and gave the beasts a wary look before stepping hesitantly to the one of the two indicated for their pack. As she tied her bag to a saddle, Shiress watched their guide mount smoothly onto her giant of a mule. The woman made it look easy, even at her age. Stepping up to the smaller of the pair that was pointed out as their rides, Shiress swallowed hard, eyeing the animal with nearly as much contempt as he was eyeing her with.

Shiress grabbed hold to the saddle horn, stepped as close as she dared, and placed her left foot into the stirrup. On three, and comically bouncing with each counted repetition, Shiress stepped her weight into the iron ring. As if on cue, the mule's hindlegs sidestepped, obliging her to awkwardly jump one-legged after the thing to keep from falling face first into the dirt. Swearing very unladylike, she used the momentum of one of the jumps to propel her weight forward finally and ended up standing with one foot in the stirrup before slinging her right leg across the saddle, both hands in a death hold around the saddle horn. Once she was somewhat situated the mule shook his head, turned one black eye to her, ear turned inward, and Shiress could have sworn the blasted thing was amused!

Hopefully, the animal was accustomed to following along without much encouragement and Shiress would only be needed to hold on and do her best to look the part of a seasoned rider. She was pretty sure she was already failing miserably. Had she not been too scared she'd fall out of the saddle if she moved Shiress would have turned to see how well Rook was fairing but instead settled for a "You okay, Rook?" thrown back over her shoulder. Shiress didn't hear any screams of terror, so she took that as an affirmative, but even that small movement had Shiress squirming, sure the saddle would slide off.

All this and the Mule hadn't even taken a single step yet.

Melisath caught her attention with the animal's introductions. Bob and Bob? Shiress grinned at the old woman, then to Rook, "Who do I have, agai..ahh" Shiress's words ended in a squeal as the animal took a step to fall in line with its leader, his weight swaying dangerously to the side and making Shiress feel as if she was tipping from the saddle. But, she righted herself and quickly concluded that riding and talking at the same time was a skill she did not have. "Rook?" she called, daring not move an inch, "mind filling her in on our story?"

Meanwhile, Shiress would focus on not falling off the mule. Her legs were wrapped so tightly around the animals center that it made her hips creak.

"I think I'm getting the hang of it" she whispered to herself.




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Spring's Flower

Postby Rook on April 8th, 2019, 12:11 am

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Rook took the old woman's grumblings with a downward turn of his head, although he couldn't help but feel the barest prickle of annoyance at the woman's irritable demeanor. The wolf cast a sideways glance at his bondmate as the woman spoke to them, searching for a reaction. As near as he could tell, Shiress didn’t seem to perturbed by the situation, so the pup attempted to settle his ruffled fur. Why was he feeling so on edge? He cast a long look around his surroundings, and felt his invisible hackles raise, as if some threat lurked out of sight. The pup listened with half an ear as he scanned his surroundings, and found himself automatically nodding in agreement at the woman’s comment about healers not being so soft. He certainly knew that from first hand experience. Shiress might not be as skilled with a blade as the Ebonstryfe were, but Rook was fairly convinced she could endure far more than those idiots could.

When Melisath turned her eyes on Rook and gave her rundown on him, the wolf found his head tilting. The woman’s blunt statements about his worth were things he was used to hearing during his time with the Ebonstryfe, but there was almost a note of admiration in her words that the wolf wasn’t familiar with. He liked the thought of being a wolf instead of a possession, and a small grin slipped across his features as she spoke the words.

Rook listened as the woman described the bog and the dangers within, and his eyebrows knitted together with thought, particularly when she mentioned the use Rook would find with his sense of smell. A moment later he found himself speaking. “I once navigated a cave full of noxious gas,” Rook said. He glanced at Shiress, and shrugged. “That’s kind of similar right?” His gaze returned to the elderly woman. “I don’t mind working hard or getting dirty.” This was true. Frankly he probably wouldn’t have baths if he didn’t have stuff thrown at him if he didn’t. The comment about slavery earned the woman a very startled glance. What kind of Ravokian thought slavery was worthless. It gave him a pause, and he immediately looked at the woman differently. But he wasn’t quite sure if he viewed her with respect, or suspicion.

At the mention of the mules, Rook turned his nervous eyes on the one remaining mule. It had set to work pulling up all of the grass in the nearby reachable radius, leaving a large brown circle of dirt surrounding it. Rook approached, slowly. He had not ever dealt with mules before, but he was familiar with horses. They tended to kick and bite whenever he drew near, or else run away at top speed, earning a string of curses from their Ebonstryfe masters, and earning him a beating. In truth, horses were far too large for Rook to ever think about consuming. He wasn’t interested in anything larger than a rabbit. Maned wolves didn’t hunt big game. Despite the animal’s nonchalance, Rook could feel his nerves pattering through his hands. “Hello,” Rook said, and the creature looked up at him. It didn’t seemstartled. “I’m going to ride on your back now. Okay?” Rook pointed at the creature’s back. It looked blankly at him, then returned to it’s landscaping.

Rook watched his bondmate mount, and anxiously mimicked her. Unlike Shiress, Rook wound up on the ground on the other side. Growling softly, Rook yanked himself up and this time managed to seat himself properly. The ears of the mule almost seemed concerned. “Shut up,” said Rook, and promptly held on tight as the animal jogged to catch up with it’s companions and nearly flung Rook across its neck and onto the ground below.

The question aimed at Rook was answered with great distraction, but the wolf did his best to answer considering the circumstances.

“We met when I was taken from my master,” Rook said, trying to speak calmly through his gritted teeth as he wobbled on the creature’s back. “Shiress stole something from my master by accident and was caught by the town guard, then they took me from my master and gave me to a new one when I talked back to them. She was kind to me and told me not to give up. Afterwards I looked for her and found her on a boat. She had been given to a new master too, and was treated terrible. I told her she wasn’t allowed to give up either, and we bonded.” Rook glanced at Shiress from his vantage point behind her. Even wobbling like a top on the mule, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “I’m not very good at telling stories,” Rook said. “But this story is hard to describe. It was amazing. She’s amazing.”
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Spring's Flower

Postby Gossamer on June 30th, 2019, 3:47 am

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‘You’ll manage and do fine, girl. Now hush up and get your ass up on that mule.” Melisath said with a laugh. She wasn’t exactly mean about it, but there was a certain crude joviality to her that wasn’t usual for Ravok. “Good! See? Nothin’ too it. Now you boy! Get on up on that mule. Let’s get to it!” She said happily, not really waiting for them to get seated on the animals and courage gathered. The truth was, it looked as if the old woman was having the time of her life with two ‘employees’ following her and someone to chatter to or listen to the whole long ride. “You have Ash, girl. The other one is Soot. Then there’s Bob and Bob….” Melisath reminded Shiress. The mule Shiress rode was paler, a dappled grey, while Rook’s mule was a darker dapple, almost black. It made sense.

“Caves of gas? You lived obviously. That’s a good sign.” The woman said with a satisfied nod. By that time, Rook was in the saddle and Soot was jogging at an awkward gait to catch the other four mules. He brayed loudly, as if to complain about his short-end-of-the-stick situation.

When all five were rejoined, the animals all settled down and Melisath was able to hear Rook’s story. She nodded, not commenting on the quality of it. She was just glad the Kelvic was talkative. Not having much experience with Kelvics, Melisath hadn’t been sure Rook would even talk. Evidently he did. “Wait, you both aint slaves now are you? I’m not stealing someone’s property am I?” She asked curiously, eyes narrowed.

By then she’d handed coins – from the saddle – to the ferry master and then all five animals clomped from the stone of the street cobbles onto the wooden ramp and out onto the barge. They didn’t seem at all bothered by the swaying lake conveyance and simply stood there snorting and nipping at each other good naturedly as if they were as excited to be off and going somewhere as their old mistress seemed to be.

“Amazing. Glad to know.” Melisath said, giving Shiress a hard look, even as more passengers loaded onto the ferry and they eventually pushed off. The woman stayed mounted, knowing it would take longer to dismount, settle into a seat, and then get ready to go again once the ferry hit the shore. As far as stories went, it wasn’t that exciting nor that detailed, but then again Melisath was getting the impression Rook wasn’t the smartest or oldest gander in the flock. Still, she was a polite old woman, and these young people were going to be her muscle for this – maybe her last – harvest.

“Well, that was truly an inspiring story. I’m glad you both came out of it fine. And are still together, right? Good to know.” She added, muttering something to her mule’s ears which caused Boras to flick his ears back and then forward, snorting as if in agreement. All the animals remained quiet for the crossing, and soon enough the ferry was bumping against the shoreline, letting them all off the boat. The mules took after Melisath obediently and they were on their way, traversing the contents of the South trading post and taking a trail that roughly ran southeast out of the view of the lake.

Sylira had no roads, but there were animal tracks and trails enough the mules had no problem following them. The twins were soon released, and set off roughly following the three riding mules, only with a buck and a snort to their gaits as they lifted their heads and strided out briskly as if relieved beyond relief to get out of Ravok proper and to be back in the world itself.

Melisath hummed as she rode, happy to be out of the city again. It always felt like she was escaping some sort of prison or otherworldly place of false happiness leaving Ravok. The city had too many secrets and almost acted as if it were alive and under its own guidance. But she said nothing to the pair following along beside her. She soon established a pace that would keep the mules going briskly. They walked, then trotted, then galloped a bit before they pulled back to a walk to start the cycle again. At midday they stopped, stretched their legs, and watered their mounts. Melisath prompty stretched out in the shade of a tree and fell into a deep nap. She’d sleep a full bell before rising, catching the mules from where they were grazing and getting them all going again.

At this pace, they traveled most of the day, camped that night at a rocky bluff that gave them some shelter from the wind and an overhang all five mules and their campfire rested under comfortably in case of rain. They ate stew cooked over the fire and slept in shifts to watch the camp from predators and predatory humans. They traveled onward the next day, moving through varying terrain. Trees gave way to brush, which then gave into more trees. They rode through thick forests and across flanks of small mountains and hills. They passed pristine lakes and even a couple of water-logged marshes that gave them hope they might have arrived at their destination.

It wasn’t to be though. Melisath rode on, stopping only occasionally to pick a plant she saw from the back of her mule and once after she shot down a fat turkey with a short bow hiding in her pack. They took a big break to skin and wrap the meat for consumption that night. The old woman was hearty, fit to ride, and didn’t seem bothered at all by the trip. Though she did nap. She did rest when resting was needed, and she did halt immediately when Rook’s mount started limping to pull a stone out of his frog. Soot recovered quickly, keeping pace with Boras and Ash and both Bobs. They traveled briskly for a few days, three to be exact, before Melisath slowed them down, became more cautious and started doing a bit of teaching along the way.

“Now you folks are going to be foraging for me. Foraging requires a lot of knowledge of the local area. I’m going to be teaching you about Bogs before we get to this particular one. But more than that, I’m going to teach you a bit about how to forage. We’ll be looking for specific plants, but in doing that, we need to make sure we don’t take too much of one plant or be ignorant in their life cycle so we damage some part of it. There are a great many bog trees and shrubs at the moment that are flowering. We use those flowers for medicinal things, but keep in mind we also use the berries that result from those flowers too…. though we won’t be here long enough to harvest them. So don’t take too many flowers from one tree or shrug, because you’ll cause a dearth of berries in the fall and maybe a food shortage in the area altogether. The same goes for foraging ground plants. You look for patches of growth. If you pass large patches, take no more than a third of the patch, and do not take any if the patch looks unique or is a singular one in an area. When you are harvesting leaves from a plant, take the mature leaves only… take only a third of a plant, and then only if the plant looks abundant in the area. These things are important. Think of how a deer or rabbit eats in the woods. They nibble here, much there, always taking a step, and a new bite. If you act on this, you will keep your foraging grounds healthy.” Melisath added, looking over her shoulder at them both to make sure they were listening.

“Now, lets talk about this bog. It’s special. One thinks of a bog as a wetland, like a swamp or a fen, but bogs are different. There are three things that make up a bog, and once those things are present, bogs do pretty interesting things. First off, bogs are never fed by streams, lakes, or anything that comes seeping from the ground say even a low water table. Bogs get sky water only. Sky water is water that falls from the sky in the form of rain snow hail or sleet rather than by groundwater. They usually exist above non-porous rocks that cup the sky water and collect it. They normally contain peat soil, which is made up of poorly decomposed dead plants and animals. For some reason, sky water inhibits things from decomposing, so the normal critters that exist in places like swamps that will eat a dead plant or animal in a matter of bells isn’t present here. And because of the peat soil, bogs get a unique bunch of plants and animals that are adapted to grow in this odd soil that won’t sustain anything else.” Melisath added, looking thoughtful.

She paused for them to ask questions, then she continued. “The Filrian Bog is a unique scenario since it is considered a blanket bog… one that creeps uphill, defying the normal behavior of water because the dried peat soil wicks the water uphill. That’s what makes this bog unique and its plants well sought after. Even its peat is favorable because it can be packed into wounds and due to its nature, will inhibit infection.” She added, looking thoughtful.

“So, lets go back. Why is sky water special? Well, water that falls from the sky is not just plain water naturally. It has a bite to it… a flare. But when water percolates through the ground, its filtered through the stones and clay, taking away that bite and mellowing it out. Plants thrive in mellow environments with mellow water. Life doesn’t thrive so easily in environment with bites. When the water bites, things don’t rot… the food in plants is trapped and not released. It’s almost like time stands still. You can float a human corpse in a bog and then when the bog dries up you can dig it up thousands of years later and it will look very closely like it was when you floated it in the murky waters. I don’t know what sort of magic this is, but it indeed is a kind of magic. But it’s a dangerous magic. The bog holds its secrets and guards its denizens closely. We are going there to steal its secrets and unlock its healing power. You must be careful. And by the time we get there, you will know some of what you need to be careful of.” The old woman said, looking thoughtfully at both of them and then once more paused in case they had questions.

They were riding further and further south as she spoke, though she paused for the cantering, talking only again after they were back to walking and trotting. The land was passing quickly and the mules were surprisingly sturdy and swift.

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Spring's Flower

Postby Shiress on July 2nd, 2019, 12:17 am

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"No, neither one of us are still slaves!" Shiress said, a little more bite in her tone than she would have wanted. She glared at Rook that, hopefully, would silence any forthcoming reply. Even though Elias owned Rook as a slave, Shiress would never again refer to her Bondmate as one. As far as Shiress was concerned Elias had freed Rook the moment he had purchased him, despite the fact he never made it official.

Shiress followed their guides example and stayed atop her mule as they crossed over Lake Ravok, though, by the end of the ferry ride the girl wondered if it was the best idea; a saddle wasn't a very comfortable seat, nor was the smelly beast attached beneath it, for that matter.

As their journey took them further and further away from Ravok, the trio of travelers fell into a companionable silence. Shiress, for her part, was enjoying her surroundings and little by little, her tensed body began to relax in the saddle. How long had it been since trees had surrounded the Zeltivan? Even during her time in the fortified city of Syliras, a trip out into the woods was a rare thing. Everything was different in this environment. The sights, smells, even the air felt different, surrounded by nature. It was somehow comforting, and it didn't take long for a girlish grin to find its way snaking across her face.

Shiress hadn't noticed the first time that Melisath had changed the pace of their mounts and when her mule followed suit it jolted the girl out of her blissful appreciation, her gentle sway in the saddle suddenly becoming a jolting nightmare. Shiress immediately stiffened in the seat, grip tightening around the reins and just when she thought she wouldn't tumble out of the saddle their pace quickened again. Shiress's mumbled curses quickly became fervent entreaties to Ash to not dump her from the saddle. Somehow, Shiress managed to keep her seat, but by the time their guide called their first halt, she all but fell out of the saddle, gingerly rubbing at her backside.

The respite didn't last long, however, and as soon as Melisath had surfaced from her nap they were underway, and Shiress was pulling her aching rear into the saddle, their guide beginning their cycled pace all over again. By the time Syna's rays dipped into the west, and Melisath stopped for the night, Shiress was in near tears, her bottom aching in ways she was loathed to admit. This time when she dismounted it was slow and careful, and when she finally got her feet on solid ground, she stood awkwardly for a tick, gradually working her thighs closer together to a more natural distance. Her hips ached, her ass hurt, and she was pretty sure she would find sores in spots that made her blush.

Once mobile again, Shiress waddled her way to Rook and all but fell into his arms, both exhausted and in pain, "I never knew riding and not walking could make you so tired." she said, nuzzling into his shoulder, "My bottom hurts like you couldn't imagine." Shiress resituated her head against Rook's shoulder so she could see his face and grinned amusedly up at him. "Will you rub it for me?" Most of the time, that sort of humor was either lost on her Bondmate or embarrassed him thoroughly. Both reactions amused Shiress greatly.

Sleep alluded Shiress that first night, from the new surroundings or her throbbing backside she didn't know, but she sat wide awake during her turn to watch the camp and sat with Rook when he took his turn. The next morning when it was time to remount, she groaned but pulled herself up onto Ash's back. By midmorning, Shiress sat awkward in the saddle, one hand holding the reins, the other pressing against the side of the saddle in an attempt to take some of her weight off her hips. It had helped some, but by the end of the day, the odd position just served to make her sore in other ways.

That night, as she sat close to the campfire, Shiress watched Melisath as she rummaged around inside one of her packs, remembering the older woman was a healer. After a few chimes of debating to herself, she finally worked up the nerve to approach the older woman. Straightening, Shiress shuffled across the distance between them in what could have been described as what a duck might look like struggling up the bank of a river and lowered herself down beside the healer "Melisath?" she said, tucking a rogue strand of hair behind an ear, "I was wondering," she cleared her throat, suddenly unsure of herself, "Im not very used to riding and I..well, I have some sore spots on my bottom that are really quite painful. You wouldn't happen to have anything that might could help that, do you?" Shiress gave the older woman a timid and embarrassed smile.

The next day Shiress's experience in the saddle was far less painful, by the next, she was sitting comfortably again, and by the time Melisath's first lesson came, she was comfortable enough to pay attention, although her emerald eyes continuously roved around her surroundings. When the old woman began to describe the bog they were heading to, Shiress's brows dipped in a frown, peat soil pricking at her memory. After a tick of hard thinking, it came to her. "Peat moss." she whispered, then louder, directed a question at Melisath "Does peat moss have anything to do with peat soil?"

Shiress attempted to form a picture of the bog in her mind, thinking of a giant, smooth rock, dipped enough to hold water, but the idea of the water just staying put without absorbing back into the air, like when you leave a cup of water sitting out, alluded her. She questioned the old healer about it, then gave Rook a confused look. "Do you get it? Surely it doesn't rain that much."

The woman droned on, and Shiress all but dozed in the saddle, but when she mentioned that the bog had healing powers, she perked up instantly. "Healing powers?" she glanced to Rook with raised brows that quickly fell into a frown as the woman went on, hearing the 'what' to be careful of and noting she didn't say the 'who.' It could have just been an innocent play of words, but somehow Shiress didn't think so, and for the first time since they left Ravok, her thoughts became uneasy.



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Spring's Flower

Postby Rook on July 2nd, 2019, 5:06 pm

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Rook hadn't really considered answering the question about whether or not he was a slave, but when Shiress snapped a reply the wolf boy offered no dissent. Some things it was best to just keep quiet about. And with his story complete, the wolf once more lapsed into his usual comfortable silence. He had crossed Lake Ravok any number of times, during his forays up to the Northern Outpost and back again, but with the exception of his most recent return though voyages had always been tinted with a sense of anxiety and fear. Rook would usually find a place to hide until the trip was complete. But this time, Rook was comfortable. The wolf allowed his eyes to roam the waters of the lake, pick out the details lingering beneath the surface of the waves, and breathe in the scents percolating in the air. As a general rule, he liked leaving Ravok. There were lots of unhappy memories here. But leaving Ravok with his bondmate was a definite plus. The only thing keeping him in this city was her.

When the group finally started out onto the trail, Rook found himself in fits of concentration to keep himself from toppling out of the saddle and to the ground below. He felt his bondmate struggling as well, but the poor wolf was far too distracted to do much to comfort her beyond occasional little flutters of affection and reassurance. Although the riding was certainly active, Rook found himself restless. He didn't like being pulled along the same route as everyone else, and as the group moved deeper into the Wildlands Rook began to feel the scents and sounds calling out to him from the forest.

He managed to contain himself until they were in camp, or during the points that Melisath was resting. Then, when he had the opportunity, he shed his clothes, slipped into his wolf form, and patroled the areas nearby. Every so often he would come back with hints of blood on his jaws, scraps of meat from an unlucky mouse wandering nearby, but such instances were rare. More often, Rook would find interesting smelling plants and then go fetch Shiress to show them to her, or Melisath if she was awake and amiable.

"This is Burdock Root. I remember the smell." Rook prodded the wide green leaves of the plant, and put his fingers in the dirt beneath it's stem, though he did not go so far as to dig up the roots underneath. "I was told that it can help clean your blood, if you're hurt," Rook added.

In addition, Rook took his watch shifts very seriously. He would patrol every inch of the camp, trotting from one side of it and back again, checking on the mounts to make sure they were well, before returning to sit in front of his bondmate's tent, eyes wary for the scent or sound of possible danger. He expected trouble. There was always trouble in the Wildlands. So the lack of it made him uneasy and anxious. Where were the hungry wolves, the poisonous frogs, the rampaging monsters? None so far, but to Rook, that only met they hadn't seen them yet. The wolf kept his earnest and suspicious vigil up, and often found it difficult to sleep even when his watch was over.

Shiress' pain in the saddle seemed far greater than Rook's was, or perhaps he was simply more tolerant of the bumps and bruises one might find through the course of travel. The wolf spent a lot of time fussing over her, though he didn't really have the knowledge on what might help ease her pain. When she playfully suggested a way that he might help, the pup went pink. "I don't think that would help much," Rook mumbled. When Melisath offered her solution to Shiress' problem, the wolf boy lingered nearby, taking in the details of the treatment to apply for later use if necessary. When Melisath picked plants, Rook would question her on every detail. What was that plant? What is it used for? How do you prepare it? Is it edible or only used for medicine? The wolf's old herbalist instincts were kicking up and igniting his natural curiosity. He was at his most vibrant when examining something new.

When Melisath spoke volumes on foraging, how to not take too much of any particular plant and what quantities of plants to take, Rook listened with rapt interest. He had gathered plants and berries from time to time to eat when he was stranded at the Outpost and wasn't being fed well, but it had never occurred to him that taking too much of a plant could affect the environment badly. He didn't vocalize his mistakes, but silently promised himself to take Melisath's advice to heart.

When she moved on to speak of bogs, he felt his head tilting in thought. This was all new information to him. People rarely shared much useful information with slaves. "What kind of unique animals and plants are here?" Rook asked. Forthright on his mind was an urge to hunt. He was curious if there was anything in the bog worth hunting, although he would happily consume interesting plants as well. He knew better than to go munching on things that he wasn't familiar with though. Mice and rabbits were all well and good, but who knows what kind of strange traits the creatures here might have. The talk of the magic of bogs had Rook looking at his bondmate with great curiosity. "Why is that magic dangerous?" Rook asked. The pup was not well acquainted with magic but it was still a curiosity to him, one well worth examining.
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Spring's Flower

Postby Gossamer on July 20th, 2019, 4:46 pm

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Melisath was glad she wasn’t taking runaway slaves from Ravok to help in her mission. It just made things messy when that happened. Surprisingly, the complaints about riding were limited and easily explained. “You use muscles you don’t use when walking. So your body is complaining because it doesn’t want to use those muscles.” The old woman said, laughing. She smiled at Shiress asking Rook to rub her bottom and offered a solution. “I’d not be a healer worth my snuff if I didn’t have a cream for that. I’m running low though so it might be something we need to make more of before the trip is over. When we stop for the night I’ll give you what I have and you can slather each other up and see if it helps.” She said with a grin that showed several missing teeth.

And when the did stop, Melisath remembered and gave them the cream to ease their sore muscles and nagging painful soreness.

As Shiress asked other questions, Melisath answered when she could. “Sure it does. Peat moss doesn’t quickly decay like other dead plants do. It does something to the soil… as I told you. So peat soil is just broken up of waterlogged partially-decomposed plant material including sphagnum moss and other acid-loving plants, which has built up over years and years in poorly-drained wetland areas. Do you know most peat soil is older than the Valterrian? Some people say it is up to ten thousand years old.” Melisath piped in… loving small factual things about the world they were traveling in.

“Sure.. healing powers. It grows plants you can find no where else in the world. There’s power in that… and power in the plants that live there. You know there is almost no nutrition in the soil for plants to grow in right? There are plants… called traps…. they grow with vibrant colors and have petals that open up wide. But the petals are lined with spears on the edges and when an insect or something like a small mouse wanders by and scents them… for they smell beautiful and their nectar in the center smells irresistibly sweet to little scavengers… the petals snap shut, the spikes or spears form the bars of a cage, and the creature is trapped inside. It’s not a bad thing, mind you, in and of itself. But what comes next is worse. That sweet smelling sap? It has the power to digest the insect or small mouse whole… and starts doing that… while the creatures trapped inside are still alive?” The old woman laughed.

“That kind of power can be tapped to dissolve growths and unwelcome things in our bodies if we modify it enough… make its power our own.” The woman said, smiling slightly. “Think of it!” She explained, happy and proud of her plans. “And you two are going to help me do that!” She said with an excited voice that clearly stated she could not wait for them to get to the bog and get started.

“As for animals, there’s nothing big. There’s not enough food to support it. But there’s smaller things – frogs, fish, turtles, crayfish, and small rodents. All of those are unique. All found only in this bog. There are even species of birds – mostly ground birds – that are unique to the bog as well.” Melisath figured there was other stuff, but she couldn’t recall at the moment what is was. “The bog is full of snakes too… some very poisonous. They eat the other things that live there, the small things, even the birds.” The old woman said.

As to Rooks next question… Melisath looked incredulous. “All magic is dangerous, young Kelvic. All of it. Its only as decent as its wielder. And this bog is a deadly place, thus is magic is as deadly as it is.” She added, shaking her head. “It’s a wild and unrestrained thing. Its full of danger, and you have to treat it as such. It even draws wild magic, which is djed that is untasked… djed that has no purpose and alters things that touch it. So from trip to trip the way the bog is can change… drastically even sometimes. Not only are the plants carnivorous sometimes… but even the very ground can be. If the bog wants you, it will get you… taking you without any sort of rhyme or reason.” Melisath added, her eyes hard and sharp.

“We’ll be there first thing tomorrow. Are you both ready?” She said, as they rode through the day. She didn’t let them rest as much, knowing her cream was easing their soreness. Tonight they’d have to make more, but she’d teach the young woman to do it so she wouldn’t have too. Then in the morning, later on when the sun had been up a bell or two.. .they’d reach the bog at first light.

When they made camp for that night… right where Melisath had wanted… she got out her ingredients for the salve. She had a jar of thick white oil, beeswax, and vials of essential oils. ‘Now, young Shiress… come here. Fetch me that little cooking pot and put it on the fire on that grate.” She ordered, gesturing. When Shiress had complied, Melisath continued.

“This is an easy to make salve. However, it will only keep a season, no longer, before it goes rancid. And it can go rancid faster if you expose it to harsh winters or very hot summers. So keep the temperature even. Store it in a dark container so the oils don’t lose their potency or else keep it in a clear jar but keep that jar somewhere dark and not exposed to the light.” She instructed, as she pulled out measuring spoons and rattled off the recipe.

• 4 teaspoons beeswax
• 1 cup coconut oil
• 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil
• 5 drops peppermint essential oil
• 5 drops lavender essential oil

“It’s the essential oils that help. The coconut oil just gives you something to suspend them in… it’s a delivery system. So melt the beeswax and coconut oil in the pan. My pan is great, but if you are doing this on your own make sure your pan is thick with a heavy bottom. Don’t burn yourself, because it gets hot and burns you easily. You can take a stir stick and stir it good so its mixed once its all melted. Then dump your mixture into your jar.” She presented Shiress with a clean dark glass jar big enough to hold the melted oil and wax. “Go on… pour it in.” She added, then let it sit. “Don’t ever add your essential oils on the fire. It gets too hot and can break them down. Then… once you have it in the jar, its already cooling, so hurry and add your essential oils… and stir it.. with a stick, or a pipette. Then add your lid and let it cool slowly until the oils solidify and turn milky white. Then you can use it.” Melisath said, then snuggled down.

“Rook, Shiress made the salve. You make us dinner.” She said, gesturing to the pack on the ground that had food stuffs in it. Then the old woman yawned, leaned back and was fast asleep.

She hadn’t even reminded them they were leaving at first light and getting to the bog only two short bells afterwards.

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