Stormspeaker - Sacred Trials
Nov. 20, 2019, 6 p.m.
Outside Arx - Northlands near Stormwall - Westwind Point
Comments and Log
Gutherin, the Stormspeaker of Westwind Point, lies dying in his bed. Near him stand, Rukhnis, Mirk, Volcica, Gwenna and the young woman who had been his apprentice, Lykka. A vital wind blows in the room after Mirk's offering, stirring the plants in the room, causing the fire to swell and dance, and a subtle but noticeable movement in the hair and across the skin of all present. Suddenly, a voice is heard in the main hall. "Riot! Lykka, please help! Riot!!"
A look of concern rises to Lykka's face. She turns to those nearby and says, "I must go outside and help if I can." The slight tremor in her fingers is the only sign of anything other than courage and determination.
Gwenna can't help but look to the door and the shouting beyond it. Her gaze shifts back to the dying Gutherin and then the others. "Perhaps at least a few of us should accompany Lykka? I don't want to leave the Stormspeaker to pass alone, but if more trouble is brewing like we got an inkling of at the docks..." Then she turns to Lykka and asks, "Unless you might rather handle it without us?"
"I can stay," Volcica offers. "I'm not the best with people, after all." Volcica's dark gaze is looking towards the door, but she shifts it to Gwenna, and then Mirk, and back down to the dying shaman.
Rukhnis raises her head sharply at the yelling and commotion coming abruptly from outside, and her mouth sets in a deep frown. Rather than looking disturbed by the riot in itself, she looks more angry that someone has the temerity to start causing such a hubbub when a patient -- one of /her/ patients, now! -- is being tended to. She mutters something low under her breath in Eurusi that doesn't sound very complimentary, then says in response to Gwenna, "I will stay with the Stormspeaker and help him to pass. So if anyone else wishes to see to this foolishness, they may."
Mirk remains with his head bowed and eyes closed for a few moments more after his offering, feeling the wind stir, but the calls of riots intrude soon enough. He opens his eyes and looks to Gwenna, as she speaks. "I'll go with you and Lykka, if needed," he says quickly. "I'm not sure how much help I can be, but I'm no healer. There's little more I can do here, and my concern is for his successors." He nods his head in the direction of Lykka.
"Your presence would likely be a big help," admits Lykka. "You are nobles from Arx, and the people here will be likely to listen to you, since you stand apart from the factions that have formed." The last words are spoken with a kind of sadness. She nods to Rukhnis. "If there are riots, you may have more patients soon, good Rook Nis, but thank you. Others will be in the main hall to protect Gutherin as well. You should be safe here." With that, she opens the door to the main hall, where a small group of have gathered, some of which seem to have been charged with guarding the hall, along with a young man who is nearly out of breath, Gim and Arcadia. "It's wild out there," says the young man, with wide open eyes, still trying to calm himself. "You must speak to them!' he says to Lykka. The young shaman frown, and nods. "Let us go then." She takes up her staff, and a bag from a peg near the door, and makes her way into the streets and towards the market, where one can hear a great deal of shouting and many lights burning in the light snowfall.
"I've no skill in healing either," Gwenna says easily and glances again toward the door. "Though neither do I have much skill in putting down riots, so..." There's a faint and brief grin of sorts at that. Lykka's remarks about others being around to protect Gutherin and, by default, their friends as well, give the Redrain some small relief, it appears. Nodding a couple of times, she falls in step behind the shaman and follows the woman toward the market. The louder the shouting becomes, the more a faint frown tugs at the corners of her mouth.
Arcadia has made her way through the crowds outside, her breath caught on her lips for a moment. "What the hell is that?" She gives Gerryn a clap on the back. Finding Mirk, she warns him. "Those con artists. They're on their way to find you. Drag you back to their leader."
Rukhnis gives a small, firm nod to Lykka, saying to her and the others, "If there are any who need care, send them here. I will tend to them as best I may, so that hopefully there will be no further loss of life in all this madness." Letting out a sharp sigh, she returns to her meticulous preparations, pausing only to pass a gently hand across the dying shaman's brow and whisper something soothing, far as he may be beyound earthly hearing.
Mirk has a few quiet words for Volvica, and then he moves to follow behind Gwenna and Lykka. He beckons for Arcadia to walk with him, as he goes, speaking while on the move. "Is that right? Well, then the riot might be their perfect chance. I can't stop them, if they ambush me. But did they say why?" He cants his head, more calculating than worried, as if considering something.
Rukhnis checked intellect + medicine at difficulty 30, rolling 29 higher.
Volcica nods to Mirk, hugging the book to her chest for a moment, and then tucking it into her backpack. Though her heavy mammoth cloak and pack are removed, set down towards the back of the room for now. "I'll see him safely to the Queen." The shaman will sit by Gutherin's side, and softly start to pray. For now, the prayers are to Lagoma.
Volcica checked mana + theology at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.
Arcadia moves with Mirk, she checks her quiver and bow, just in case. "Had to do with the bag of coins. Rosa is still listening there. She should follow soon if they reveal any plans."
Mirk nods his head once and says, "Watch my back, please, Lady Arcadia? But if they ambush me in the riot..." He's thoughtful for a moment. "Don't intervene unless they seem inclined to kill or to maim. I've seen your shot with a bow, and you'd do a great deal to make things safer. Besides, we need to meet all three of the Stormspeaker's successors, and he'll be far more like to speak openly and reveal his motivations and intentions if he thinks he has the power in this situation."
Gwenna checked composure + etiquette at difficulty 20, rolling 70 higher.
"Thank you all for staying with the Stormspeaker," the Redrain offers and dips her head in thanks. Gwenna arches a brow as she overhears Arcadia and Mirk. "Drag him back? That sounds exceptionally impolite, though given those two..." One shoulder lifts in a half-shrug that seems to contradict the concern etching itself on her features as they trek through the snow toward the shouting.
Rukhnis finishes whatever medicament she was preparing, and, lifting Gutherin's head with the greatest care, she pours a tiny bit of whatever it is between his lips, massaging his throat softly until the unconscious man reflexively swallows it. After that there's nothing to be done save to make the man as physically comfortable as possible, and then Rukhnis simply sits and -- pulls an unusual flute from her kit, which she raises to her lips and begins to play. A soft and haunting music fills the air, as she awaits the inevitable.
Lykka, walking beside Princess Gwenna Redrain, whose aura of power and authority seem to cause the villagers to give a wide berth, and followed by Mirk as he speaks with Arcadia, arrive in the market. A large crowed has gathered, and a woman wearing a fine seawool cloak of deep purple, and a wide-brimmed sailor's hat stands on a number of boxes, as a large group of sailors seem to be cheering for her. "And these barbarians would enslave you to the spirits!! You good working folk have no use for such ancient beasts! They are powerless before Gild! Give them up! Join me! And I will bring you greater prosperity than your mothers and fathers could ever dream of!!" Across from the woman, whose name is Artalia, Tookral, with a large group of his own - all natives of Westwind Point and the Northlands by their style of dress - and Rosalind, with her red hair, moving in the light wind and snow, stands near by. "Blasphemy!" He bellows. "You would enslave us all to coin! To work ceaselessly and pillage the land that is our birthright!" A series of cheers and curses rise from either side, and it seems things are about to get (more) violent, as many of those in the crowd have already begun to smash stalls and grab what they can amid the lawlessness.
"Please stop," Gwenna says, raising her voice and one hand, palm out. "Whatever your thoughts on the Spirits or the Gods, destroying livelihoods and property won't make any decisions in either direction." Her voice, while raised, is calm, at least for the moment, every the diplomat. "We are all fiercely independent in the North and that is what makes us great! But we also respect one another and those differences, do we not? Can we try to speak with each other, at least for a moment? What has lead us here?"
Rosalind sees the others as they arrive and makes her way over, but not before she asks,"Why can you not do both ways?" Always inquisitive, always wanting answers, Rosa hurries to her group with her own news.
Gwenna checked charm + diplomacy at difficulty 50, rolling 5 higher.
The clopping of hoofs begins to sound, coming from a westerly direction. They can be heard before seen, but eventually, a strong mare capable of traversing the great northen mountains and snows emerges, upon her back, a figure dressed all in white, wine-red hair tumbling out of a large white leather hood. It is Wrath, the horse of Khanne, and the Vala herself.
She stays her distance for some time, observing the scene whose noise drew her near. She sees familiar faces though, and slows her horse, who gives a disgruntled huff, and asks whomever she is able, "what is going on, and what can I do to help?"
There is a quiet murmur through the crowd as Gwenna speaks, and a relative silence falls over the people. Tookral crosses his arms, and Artalia scoffs at Gwenna. "Who are you, silk?" challenges Artalia. "Some Lycene noble from Arx? I've sailed in and out of this port all my life - and offering these people something better!"
Mirk stops at Gwenna's side, every inch the shaman, charms dangling from his beard, but he does not shout to make his voice heard. Instead, he trusts her to handle it. "We have a zealot here," he indicates the sailor, "denouncing the spirits. Others arguing for their old ways. I suspect the absence of the Stormspeaker and arguments over his successor - there's three candidates, all told - has brought things to the force." He doesn't seem particularly surprised to see Khanne there, but there is a look of relief. "It's a mess."
Lykka nods to Mirk, though her eyes are on Gwenna, clearly awed by the princess's way with the crowd. Turning to Mirk she says, "I would gladly step aside and let Tookral lead the people, if it means that the city and its people would not left to Artalia."
Arcadia remains close to Mark's side, One of the only true southerner of the group. While she may be dressed in the wears of the north, her accent is unmistakably crownlander. "He is also using muscle and force to get people to pay for his speeches. Fear mongering at it's best."
Rosalind hushedly lowers her voice, sounding quite northern,"That man doesnt like the woman named Artalia. He hates her a lot. He thinks he the successor, not Lykka and wants to eliminate foreign trade." Rosa takes a big breath and continues,"He wants to go back to the the ways of the ancestors, focused on living in harmony with the spirits..",she chatters away to Gwenna and Mirk. Rosalind glance at Lykka briefly as she speaks.
"Sounds like... " Khanne says with a nod to Mirk. She slides off her mare, though it is a bit of a drop. Wrath seems ready to walk off, away from the crowd, but Khanne holds on tight to the reigns despite the horse tugging at them. It seems a battle of wills, until she produces a bit of dried fruit for the horse to eat. "Denouncing the Spirits? In a place like this? Are they from the Oathlands?" She frowns a bit, not at all (okay, quite a bit) judgey on that front. "Who are the candidates, how is it to be decided who will be the next Stormspeaker?" Gwenna seems to have things in hand fairly well, so for the moment, she continues to try to get caught up. She overhears Rosalind as well, trying to figure it all out. "So are Artalia, Lykka and... that man, the contenders?"
Gwenna surely gained great comfort from her friends and peers around her, and she gives them each a grateful smile before turning to address Artalia. Dipping her head just a little in quick greeting, she introduces herself. "Princess Gwenna Redrain, born and bred in Farhaven actually, though I do reside in Arx now, as do my esteemed friends here. As for offering the people something better, denouncing the Spirits that have guided so many does not seem a better path. It seems like taking our history." Khanne's arrival makes her smile a moment and she gives Rosalind a grin as well before growing serious. "Neither seem good for Westwind Point, though, Lykka. One wants to rob and one wants to lead by fear, from the sound of things." Khanne's words draw more nods from the Redrain and she turns again to the Shaman. "How /is/ it decided? Surely not like this?"
"I lay no blame at your feet," Mirk assures Lykka, waving a gloved hand dismissively. "These things have a way of boiling over in uncertain times." He glances towards the man indicated by Rosalind, a thoughtful frown, and asks, "So. One candidate that will cater to Artalia's zealots, one that is hostile to the Pantheon and wishes to turn back to an older time, and one that is wishes to continue with their traditions and the comprises that have been made?" He looks to Lykka at that last. "Is that about the size of it?" He shakes his head at Khanne. "Artalia isn't one of the candidates, I think, but I don't know the name of him. I rather suspect the third candidate is, ah...more concerned about coin than spirits?"
"Far... Farhaven," mutters Artalia, taken aback for a moment by Gwenna's words.
Overhearding Mirk and Khanne, Tookral moves towards them, tower over Lykka, with his auburn hair and shamanic robe. He recrosses his arms and says, "There are no contenders - just the rightful shaman, a usurper," he spits, glancing at Artalia, "and a pretender," he says, stabbing his finger into Lykka's chest. The blonde-haired shaman grits her teeth and says in a venomous voice, "Don't touch me. I will... under go the trials," she says, her voice wavering slightly. Tookral laughs! "And you'll die! Ye haven't the skill, Lykka - and ye never will. /I/ will under take the trials," he says, and turning to Khanne and Mirk adds, "and you should witness. And when I return triumphant, ye can tell the people of my deeds."
"Go on your stupid 'vision quest' and smoke your haze," shouts Artalia, trying to regain some authority that has shifted decisively toward Gwenna and her companions. "When you return, the same miserable, unprofitable lumps you always have been, we will build shrines to Mangata and Gild, and put the 'Old Ways' behind us in the privy where they belong!"
Arcadia listens and then loudly interjects in her lilted Crownlands accent, "what's so wrong with building shrines to Magnata and Gild? I mean, shouldn't the gods of the pantheon be worshipped here too?"
"They should," says Lykka, as Tookral spits. "See? That Lady understand the nature of commerce," says Artalia. "Get rid of the superstitions, and make use of the lands the gods gave you!"
Rosalind lowers her voice, asking again,"Why? Why can't they combine old and new? We pray to Mangata too, as well as the old..."
Nodding to Arcadia, Khanne agrees. "They should, as this place is part of the Compact, and that is the compromise that was put into place a century ago or so. We are allowed to keep our old ways, as long as we also embrace the Pantheon. I myself have had shrines to Mangata built all throughout Halfshav lands, and soon, Petrioch too. The Spirits themselves have directed me to work with the Gods at times." Looking to Lykka and Tookral then, she asks, "why not all who feel they are the Stormspeaker take these trials? I am assuming that the trial is what determines the Stormspeaker? Whomever prevails, is. No argument needed?" She murmurs to Mirk, "though if it were a vote, I know who I wold vote for."
"They gods are well and good for the rest of 'em," says Tookral to Rosalind and Khanne, "But we true Northlanders need to return to our roots, and keep the Old Ways pure. The gods lead to corruption, dark reflection, mindless labor with no meaning to have more useless shit. No. We will live in a paradise among the spirits!" A roar of approval rises from Tookral's followers. "Aye, let us take the trials," he says with a contemptuous grin at Lykka. She nods and says, "So be it."
"I am Mirk Halfshav, Elder of the Spirit Walkers, and a Minister of House Halfshav. Under my guidance, a city has been built, a new jewel at the tip of the Gray River," Mirk announces, turning to address the crowd fully for the first time. "The shrines to Mangata attract pilrims there, and merchants are welcome from all corners of Arvum. All the same, I commune with the spirits. In a place like this, all that you have - your food, your furs, everything - comes from the land. Your relationship to the land, and the spirits that dwell within it, is a cornerstone of that. If you cannot find room in your heart for both, you're a fool."
Then he turns to Tookral and Lykka, and nods his head at Khanne's words. "I will be glad to stand as a witness, with Vala Khanne, if you wish it."
While townsfolk bellow and argue outside, back in the Stormspeaker's room the sound of Rukhnis's flute doesn't quite drown out the commotion so much as make it seem far, far away, like some fading distant dream that no longer has the power to trouble the dreamer. She plays with the soft hollow voice of the wind itself, blowing through deep canyons and across measureless undulations of sand or snow. It is like a lullaby, soothing the soul into the deepest of all slumbers, to awaken one day to the dawn of a new life. The merest thread of melody slips from the house to weave through the winter air of the day, though few out there are likely to notice it.
"The Jewel of the North," Gwenna confirms to Artalia and then turns her attention to Tookral and Lykka as they trade words. She then nods as Arcadia, Rosalind, and Khanne speak. "There is no need to put behind the Old Ways nor is there reason to ignore the Pantheon. Even in Farhaven we were taught to worship both, and there are numerous shrines across the Northlands without abandoning the Spirits." There's a wave of emphasis as Khanne mentions the ones in Halfshav lands. A faint smirk tugs at the corner of her mouth. "I know who I'd vote for, too," she murmurs. More nods follow, this time at Mirk's words.
Mirk checked charm + propaganda at difficulty 30, rolling 17 higher.
Arcadia argues with the crowds, "There needs to be a balance. The Stahlben tribe almost died out clinging to their old ways. It is only from the wisdom of their clan that they joined the compact. Compromised and are stronger for it. If we clung to only the old ways there would be no house. Combine them both. Cover all your bases."
The words of Mirk, combined with the presence of Khanne, Gwenna, Arcadia and Rosalind seem to be having a profound effect on the crowd, and the feeling of violence and hostility fades.
"Let us leave at first light for the Stormspeaker's Seat," says Tookral haughtily. Lykka nods. "As you say." The crowd begins to disperse into the cold night.
Volcica murmurs softly, her words weaving with Rukhnis' music. The prayers shift between Lagoma, the Queen of Death and Mother of Beginnings, and the spirits themselves. She prays for Gutherin, but she also prays for Westwind. She asks the spirits and the gods to guide the people, to help bring balance.
Arcadia beams proudly as the crowd disperses, "Hey look. No violence." She does look a tad disappointed as she stores her crossbow again.
"I am unfamiliar with what these trials may be," Gwenna admits quietly among their group. "Can we assist somehow?" She, on the contrary it seems, appears relieved that the crowd has quieted and are moving back to normal life.
Rosalind actually looks annoyed about being considered a not real northerner. Insulted really. It sort of looks out of place on her freckled face.
Mirk shoots Arcadia a look and says, "Imagine that." There's a hint of self-satisfaction at the crowd's reaction, but it doesn't last long. To Gwenna, he says, "They will need to follow the instructions in the Rite of the Stormspeaker. I'm afraid I didn't have time to read it in its entirety, but the book is with Lady Volcica. We shall see, hm?"
Letting her melody drift away into a lingering quietude, Rukhnis looks pensively upon the still figure of the shaman, whose breath still almost imperceptibly stirs the air. "He is an honourable man," she speaks softly, perhaps to Volcica, perhaps only to herself. "He will not allow himself to go to his deserved rest until all is settled as it should be." She sounds as if she approves this, yet her voice is touched with a deep sadness.
Khanne listens to something Mirk says quietly to her and gives a nod before murmuring back, a hand held up to further keep her words private.
Arcadia checked charm + seduction at difficulty 30, rolling 67 higher. Arcadia rolled a critical!
Volcica checked mana + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 17 higher.
Lykka walks back to the Shaman's Lodge with Gwenna, Mirk, Khanne and Rosalind. Her head is downcast, and she seems apprehensive. When the group arrives. Grim runs up and hugs Lykka. "Gods and spirits! I'm glad you're ok," he says in the a voice filled with emotion and relief.
Gwenna makes an 'aaah' sound as Mirk explains, a few bobs of her head following the sound. "Thank you, Elder Mirk. I can't imagine they'd be something might let the wrong person triumph, right?" Catching Rosalind's annoyed look, she manages a quick chuckle. "At least they didn't call you Lycene. I would say Lorenzo is rubbing off on me too much, but even he is half Northern." Once they are back in the comforts of the lodge and Grim's cheerful voice echoes forth, she manages a real smile. If allowed, she'll rest a hand briefly on Lykka's shoulder. "Is there anything we can do to help?"
Arcadia has sneaked off into the shadows while the crowd died down. Is anyone truly surprised? That girl should wear a bell. She follows Tookral first and then Artalia. The night grows longer and darker with no signs of the young countess returning to the lodge.
Khanne holds up a finger as she begins to follow Lykka, hesitating. "Volcica and the book are...?" She is pointed towards the Shaman's Hall and nods. "I will find the lodge in a bit then. Thank you." And she finds a spot to tie up Wrath (she'll pay for that later), and heads inside that hall.
Lykka smiles at Gwenna, and shakes her head. "You already have," she says, unable to keep the tears from flowing down her cheeks. "Now, I must rest for the trials ahead. I am glad you are coming," she says to Mirk and Khanne. To Mirk, she says, "You will give me strength, Elder, as will Gutherin." With that, she turns and makes her way to her own chambers, after giving instructions for cushions and blankets to be laid out near the fire for anyone who might wish to stay in the lodge.
Mirk offers a dip of his head to both Grim and Lykka. "Make your preparations. We will see you in the morning, and good luck," he says, a hint of a smile. "Lycene. I heard that, and I'd have been twice as offended as you seemed," he admits to Gwenna with a chuckle. "But I see why you're the diplomat in Redrain." He waves a hand, and then heads into the shaman's hall to find Ruhknis and, particularly, Volcica. He follows after Khanne to find Rukhnis and, particularly, Volcica.
Rosalind grumbles at Gwenna,"I dont get it. I dont understand whats wrong with..blending old and new?" She sees the departures of Lykka and Grim and gives them a big smile and a wave.
As the others arrive, Volcica's soft, constant litany of prayers fades. She looks first to the door, but seems to speak mostly to Rukhnis. "I felt Lagoma's presence here, ready to guide him to the Queen. The young breeze, as well, intends to stay until Gutherin is beyond its reach. We won't be alone."
Gwenna smiles back to Lykka and bobs her head again. "I'm glad if we've been able to help, but yes, I shouldn't keep you." She can't help but laugh at Mirk's words. "Right? Well, I can hardly go home and tell Lorenzo I was insulted to be called Lycene," is quipped with a grin. "You are no slouch of a diplomat yourself, Elder Mirk," she adds and then finds a seat. "I know, Lady Rosalind. It's preposterous, hmm? We've managed it for as long as I can remember without much trouble."
Rukhnis checked mana + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 3 higher.
Rukhnis is back to playing her flute again, eyes closed, when Khanne and the others enter the chamber of the dying Stormspeaker. The mood in the room is sombre from the sound of the instrument and the nature of the circumstances themselves, but not gloomy. There's simply a sense of hushed waiting, of being poised on the brink of some eternal mystery. She opens her eyes, bringing her melody to an end as she lowers the flute to her lap and gives in a solemn nod to those coming in, and a faintly querying frown to Volcica. Her gaze grows distant for a moment as she stares off through the room, and then she makes another, tiny nod to the other woman.
"I dabble," Mirk says dismissively, shaking his head at Gwenna. "But tomorrow will be more interesting, I think. I suspect that regardless of how the trials go, we will have a need of diplomats." Then he steps towards Volcica, waiting a moment to let the woman finish her prayer. "Lady Volcica, might we see the book? You're welcome to study it with us, but if we are to stand as witnesses, it might be beneficial for us to understand their ways," Mirk suggests, gesturing to Volcica and then to Khanne, raising an eyebrow.
Mirk checked intellect + linguistics at difficulty 15, rolling 26 higher.
Khanne checked intellect + linguistics at difficulty 15, rolling 25 higher.
Rosalind asks, almost serious--maybe to lighten the mood,"It's my freckles isn't it. That's what threw off my northern looks. Because it's not my hair!"settling next to Gwenna. She does admit,"I know who I wouldn't vote for."
"If you don't mind explaining it all to me, I would like to sit with you both." She looks to Mirk, before rising to retrieve the book from her pack. It had been hidden, mostly, as a lump under her mammoth cloak. "If you'd like, Rukhnis, I can take a vigil tonight. We can both get a few hours of sleep."
Rukhnis's mouth turns down in a stubborn expression at Volcica's offer, but then after a moment's pause, and a sidelong glance over at the other shamans and the book, she accedes quietly, "Very well. You may take the first watch until the new candle burns down, and then I will watch for the rest of the night." Some concession. She doesn't even leave the room, just bundles herself up in her cloak in the corner furthest from the others. It's almost as if she's more eager to avoid hearing any talk about shamanic ceremonies than to actually get any rest.
"What I heard of that was lovely," Gwenna says over toward Rukhnis and has a softer smile at the corners of her mouth. "Thank you both for keeping care of the Stormspeaker," is then offered to both Rukhnis and Volcica. "I'm glad there are others keeping watch over him as well." There's an amused and vaguely dubious glance given to Mirk. "You seem to do far more than just dabble. I'll hope that the trials might settle things as I'm not sure how well I might diplomat such a foreign situation." As the trio turn their focus to the book, she looks again to Rosalind and chuckles a bit again. "You know, I'd think freckles might seem quite Northern, what with the prevalence of them along with red hair." Turning toward where the Stormspeaker rests, she adds, "I wouldn't mind taking vigil for a bit as well, if needed."
"Of course," Khanne says to Volcica. "We'd be happy to study with you and what we are able to understand, explain."
Rosalind offers too, lifting her hand,"I can help with anything you need! Vigil and things!" She looks at Rukhnis and grins,"I really liked your lute playing."
Rukhnis makes a quiet grunting noise that might be acknowledgement of the compliments to her playing. But "I will sit up the rest of the night after Sayyida Volcica," is all she actually has to say, and then she curls up on the floor and pulls her cloak up over her head. Is she really sleeping? She's very quiet and still, at least. But then that's not much of a change from her being awake, so who knows really.
The next morning, the group, including the adventurers from Arx, Tookral and Lykka begin the journey towards The Stormspeaker's Seat in a valley, just west of the town. Gwenna and Mirk's speeches generated an enormous amount of interest in the trials, and a large crowd has gathered near the gates, handing out food and small handicrafts to the shaman in the hopes that they will be offered to favor sailors of the family, local farms and crops, livestock and countless other cares of their daily lives.
The journey takes several hours, but just before noon, the group arrives at the sacred valley of Westwind Point, and Lykka points out the craggy trail that leads up to the Stormspeaker's Seat. "We must ascend here," she says, gazing up amid the light snowfall. The air here is crisp, but nearly still, and the entire valley and hillside seems full of life in spite of the winter, as if it is merely blanketed in a gentle whiteness until the coming of the springs.
Arcadia is leaning on a post awaiting the group from arx. She snacks on an apple while waiting. Once they come into view she pushes off from the fence and saunters over to the group, "So. We have a few problems. Artalia has hired a bunch of mercenaries and ships and likely will attack if she looses."
While Gwenna's blood may have begun to thin the last few years in Arx, the stillness of the air and a very heavy cloak keep the Redrain from shivering embarrassingly. The large crowd and offerings appear to give her some pause, but the task at hand keeps her from lingering anywhere really. Arcadia's greeting draws a quick sigh. "Son of a mother bear," is apparently a curse. "Any chance we can buy them off, do you think? Or...I'm not even sure what recourse we might have against that."
Rukhnis trudges slowly along behind the rest of the party, looking unlike everyone else as if she would rather be anywhere else in the world than here, perhaps in a pleasant torturer's chamber being given a nice long stretch upon the rack. In fact, she gives off such an aura of extreme reluctance as she goes along that one gets the feeling that if she were the mule her temperament so often resembles, her handler would have to be hauling on her lead rope with the strength of ten giants to get her there. As they pause on the threshold of the valley she gazes down into the snowy hollow with a deeply unhappy expression, and looks by contrast practically pleased by the distraction of possible impending attacks by marauding mercenaries.
Mirk smiles slightly, seeing the offerings that the crowd has brought. To Lykka, he says, "We will follow and bear witness to your trials. May the spirits bless and guide you." It's a carefully neutral phrasing, but considering that he's here with Lykka, it's likely more of a token nod to neutrality than a genuine stance. He shoots Gwenna a look, as Arcadia speaks, and says, "See?" He seemingly trusts the two of them to talk that out, focusing his attention on the shamans prepared to attempt the rite.
Arcadia shakes her head at Gwenna, "Maybe? I didn't have time to try. They are mercenaries and you're a princess. You've got a lot more coin then me." After a few moment she has to ask, "Son of a mother bear? Is that a nickname for Darren or Kieran?"
Volcica honours the agreement to wake Rukhnis as the first candle is finished, and catches a few hours of sleep by the fire before rising with the others! She looks every bit the Northerner, wrapped in fur and with ashes streaked into her dark hair, for some reason or another. Maybe to honour the fire spirits. For now, the shaman is.. Well, she only offers a few words. "Spirits of Westwind, of Stormspeaker's Seat, Lagoma, our Lady of Change, and the Pantheon, gather to witness these two that hold the future of their people in their hands. Bring strength and guidance to your favoured." Again, the words are neutral, but perhaps there's a glance to Lykka?
Rosalind looks quite comfortable and in her element. Looking to Arcadia as she talks, she frowns a moment. She cant help bit help but snicker though,"So are those swear words?"
When Lykka hear's Arcadia's words, she scowls, but remains silent, perhaps focused on the task before her. "Bah," says Tookral, waving a hand dismissively. "I will summon the spirits to come to our aid," he says, running his fingers over an amulet he wears around his neck, as he gazes up at the path leading towards the Seat. "Watch and learn, pup," he says to Lykka, before brushing past her and starting on the trail leading to the snowy heights above.
Lykka frowns, and breaths out, leaving a mist lingering in the air, but steels her face, and soon follow behind Tookral. The climb is steep, and cold and ice make areas of footing treacherous. Lykka slows her pace, but Tookral presses on ahead, laughing at Lykka, and saying, "I'll have passed the trial years before you even get half way up!"
Gwenna lets out another sigh. "I wish I didn't see, but," she replies with some wryness to Mirk. Tapping her lips with a finger a couple of times, she shakes her head. "I doubt I could get enough coin here to buy a whole damn mercenary group. Snowballs." Mulling things over a moment, she then makes a 'hmm?' sound when Arcadia and Rosalind's remarks register. "What? Oh, oh, no. 'Son of a mother bear' was something my mother used when she wanted to curse but /not/ curse, when we were kids. I picked it up, I guess." She gives a small wave of her hand and glances up the path. Since everyone is being seemingly neutral, she doesn't say anything and leaves the words to the Shamans, though Tookral's baiting of Lykka makes her frown.
Arcadia checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 45 higher.
Rysen GM Roll checked dex(2) + athletics(3) at difficulty 30, rolling 5 higher.
Rosalind checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 6 higher.
Rukhnis checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 7 lower.
Rukhnis checked willpower + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 44 higher. Rukhnis rolled a critical!
Arcadia begins to help people move up the mountain, but the jeering of Tookral annoys her, so off she begins to trot. Jumping rock to rock and overtaking the cocky man. Look. She's not even breaking a sweat.
Khanne checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 23 higher.
Volcica checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 14 lower.
20 inflicted and Rukhnis is unharmed.
Mirk checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 4 lower.
Gwenna checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 7 lower.
Rosalind starts to climb the mountain, helping the others,"I thought Shamans were you know, know--nice? He sounds likes his mother sounds like he was unloved and needs a hug.."
20 inflicted and Volcica is unharmed.
20 inflicted and Mirk is unharmed.
"Not all of them, unfortunately," Khanne mutters as she seems to walk up the trail with little to know issue (probably). She assists the others, stopping at the hardest parts to help guide them with a steadying hand and letting them know where to step. Like Mirk, for instance.
Mirk follows behind the shamans, at a distance, watching them on their trek. He slips more than once on the ice, and nearly tumbles more than once, though he reaches to Khanne for support. It's clear that this is not precisely his element.
Arcadia is bouncing along up ahead. She shouts back, "Hey. If I make it up first, am I the new stormspeaker?" Well. Isn't that a scary thought.
While Gwenna might be good with words, climbing hills of snow and ice are quite a bit more of a challenge for her. At least, one might surmise as much since she stands at the bottom of the path looking a little forlorn. "Lady Rosaliiiind," is called up hopefully toward the Ravenseye noblewoman. Surely Rosalind didn't think 'help climb hills' was part of the whole patron/protege agreement, but here we are!
Tookral finally catches up to Arcadia, breathing heavily. "You'll never make it past the Cloud Steps, Crownlander."
Despite the fact of her clearly not wanting to arrive at their destination in the first place, hell if anything is going to prevent Rukhnis from doing her damnedest to make it there once she's made up her mind to. Unfortunately, everything else is apparently also doing its damnedest to stop her. As she starts her way up the cliff, somehow her foot manages to find the iciest, most treacherous spot on the path, and with a muffled yelp her feet go out from under and she goes sliding back down the slope -- and down, and down, until she slides right off the side of the cliff. The only thing that saves her from being a splatter on the ground is the fact that she's managed to catch hold of a small tree sticking out of the rock, which she clings to perhaps desperately, perhaps only stubbornly.
Volcica follows her companions, climbing slowly up the path. She does hit a patch of ice, slipping and falling down the rocks. She tumbles to land somewhere near Rukhnis, on a shelf of rock. There's a quiet groan.
Arcadia is extremely competitive and eyes narrows at the man, "Want to bet?" She begins to pick up the pace, still bouncing rock to rock. "Can you keep up or scared of a little crownlander?"
"No. After that, there are sacred rites that one must be judged worthy to even attempt. In other words, a dedicated shaman," Mirk replies, a frown of disapproval creasing his forehead. "Not you, Lady Arcadia."
A big grin appears on her face as Rosalind skids down to help Gwenna,"Hello Princess Gwenna!"reaching forward to grab her hand. "I'll help you, yes!" Hearing Cady up the mountain, Rosa may grin a bit as she pulls Gwenna up more.
Tookral attends carefully to what Mirk says, running his hand over his auburn beard. Lykka greatfully accpets Khanne's help in getting up the most treacherous parts of the cliff. "Thank you, Vala," she says, with a slight smile. "Why don't you just bring a few servants to help you like one of the silks?" snorts Tookral.
Khanne grins a bit to Mirk. "So like... you or I?" She is joking, surely. Wait, did Rukhnis go off a cliff? "One moment... " She goes to where Rukhnis went over. "Can I help you up?" Though, over her shoulder to Tookral she says, "helping others does not make us silks. It makes us a society that works together. You could benefit from that."
Arcadia turns to speak to Mirk as she continues up the mountain, "Why not? And who gets to decide who is worthy of standing the tests? You and Her Highness spoke of blending both shamanism and the faith, yet now you're saying only a dedicated shaman can stand the trials." She takes a breath and continues to walk upwards. "I can see why people are dissatisfied."
Since that first quiet gasp, Rukhnis hasn't made a single sound. From her precarious place she simply stares upward at the path, then the sky, then shifts her eyes slowly downward to gaze at the distant snowy ground. She stares that way for a very long while, as if she's seriously contemplating the merits of simply letting go. It's only when Khanne's voice comes from above that she gives a quiet grunt and says, almost reluctantly, "Yes, a hand would be helpful, if you would be so kind."
As Arcadia presses forward, the wind picks up, and flutters over her cloak, rustling her golden hair. A narrow, but oddly smooth set of stairs appears, leading up into a part of the mountain that is hidden in a swirling mist.
Gwenna smiles wide and warmly at Rosalind. "You are a savior, my friend," she tells the other woman with relief in her voice. The chatter around them causes the hint of a frown at the corners of her mouth. Tookral's remarks just make her shake her head before she looks over to where Rukhnis and Volcica had trouble. "Yikes! Is everyone alright?" She'd offer to help, surely, but she's a walking accident waiting to happen herself. "Even I could not stand the trials," the Redrain notes over to Arcadia. "I haven't studied or learned enough to be a Shaman, at the very least of things. I also couldn't be a disciple for about the same reasons."
"They can coexist. But this rite is not about the gods. It is about the spirits. And those the spirits deem worthy," Mirk says, shaking his head. "This is a sacred ritual. Have a little respect, Lady Arcaida." He lets out a sharp breath, a little irritated, and then nods his head to Khanne. "And everyone needs support sometimes, though at this point I would do better to be in this position less often." He eyes the stairs, but makes no move to attempt to ascend them.
Arcadia checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 99, rolling 61 lower.
"Of course!" Khanne says towards Rukhnis. She first makes sure she herself is secure before leaning over and reaching for Rukhnis' hand. "Just hold tight... and use me as leverage, walk your feet back up."
100 inflicted and Arcadia is harmed for grievous damage.
Arcadia is stupid and well... stupid. One step onto the stairs and a huge gust of wind grabs her. She doesn't even have time to utter a scream of surprise before she falls hundreds of feet down the mountain, her body making loud crunching noises with each roll. Finally she lands at the bottom. A crumpled, bloody mess.
Rukhnis makes another quiet grunting noise in Khanne's general direction as she peels her gaze from the ground and makes a quick grab for the shaman's hand. With more determination than grace, she manages with Khanne's aid to scrabble herself back onto the path.. just in time to see Arcadia do just what she'd apparently been considering herself, except on accident.
Rosalind checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 3 higher.
As Arcadia steps onto the Cloud Stair, Lykka holds out her hand, "No!" but it's too late. The Countess of Bonespire is hurled through the air and falls several hundred feet. Lykka quickly rushes to the edge of the cliff to see what happened. Tookral shakes his head.
Mirk watches Arcadia fall, sighs, and attempts to approach within ten feet of the base of the cloud stairs with Khanne's help, but no closer than that. "From here, physical conditioning alone is not enough. Do those who would be Stormspeaker know the next step?"
Volcica checked dexterity + athletics at difficulty 30, rolling 15 lower.
Rukhnis lets out an appalled exclamation, so shocked that it comes out in her native Eurusi rather than Arvani, and is back on her feet so quickly one could hardly credit her having fallen in the first place. "Quickly! QUICKLY!" she snaps, at anyone who might be paying attention. "We must get to her. She might be.." Giving a sharp shake of her head, she seems to firmly dismiss the very obvious possibility that Arcadia is dead and pulverized, and glares around at anyone who might be compelled to help her back down to where the countess lies.
Tookral glances at Mirk. Something the Elder Shaman said earlier must have shaken his resolve - or perhaps it was ascent and rapid decent of Arcadia. Lykka nods to Mirk, but Tookral steps in front of her. "I'll do it," he says. And sits down in front of the Cloud Steps, and reaches into a satchel to remove a stone, ash, a feather and a shell. He closes his eyes, and seems to enter a trance.
Rysen GM Roll checked mana(4) + occult(4) at difficulty 60, rolling 8 lower.
Rosalind looks to Gwenna and asks her,"Are you ok from here while I go down to Cady?"
It's hard /not/ to notice mysterious stairs that appear in mists upon a mountain, so Gwenna can hardly keep from turning her attention to them when they appear. Considering the Redrain couldn't get up some frozen incline, the likelihood of navigating the Cloud Stair doesn't seem promising. When the athletic Countess attempts them and goes tumbling, she gasps and covers her mouth. "I'll be more of a problem than help if I try to assist. But yes, I'm good here, Lady Rosalind. They need you far more than I do." That said, she turns to watch Tookral with some interest.
The winds moving around the Cloud Stair seem to change their direction - and the mists seem to float down toward Tookral. He begins to shiver, and his concentration seems to be straining, and suddenly a gust of snow covers him, and he is scrambling to sit up, and shaking with cold.
Lykka glances at Mirk and Khanne. "Will you help me?" she asks, gazing at them with her brown eyes.
Volcica rises to her feet, but can't seem to find a path up from where she fell. Maybe someone else could, but Volcica.. This is *not* what she's good at. "..What happened?!" She can't see to the top, likely not to Cady, either.
"We must /hurry/," Rukhnis says, voice tense as she beckons sharply to Rosalind. "The stupid girl.. that stupid, stupid, /stupid/ girl," she mutters forcefully under her breath, her face pale.
"Of course," Mirk says, reaching into his pouch. He produces an offering of his own, held in one closed fist, not yet revealed. "I will make offerings, and petition the spirits to recognize your worthiness, though in the end, success or failure will be up to you."
Rosalind is already half climbing, half sliding down the mountain. Obviously she's in a hurry,"I'm coming!" Rosalind gets to the healer in what feels like record timing, giving her a hand to hopefully not dead Countess.
Khanne nods along with Mirk as he agrees to help Lykka. She too has a pouch attached to her from which she begins to pull some items. "I will help as well, reaching out to the Spirits to help guide you if they feel you are worthy. But as Mirk said... it sounds like, the end will be up to you. We cannot ascend."
Mirk checked mana + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 50 higher.
With Rosalind's assistance Rukhnis manages to get back down the mountain and to the point where Arcadia's body lies, without suffering any incident similar to that experienced by the woman she's trying to help. Once there, she swiftly drops to her knees in the snow and begins a quick but careful inspection, hands gentle, dark eyes fixed on the fallen woman with burning intensity.
Khanne checked mana + occult at difficulty 30, rolling 27 higher.
Rysen GM Roll checked mana(5) + occult(3) at difficulty 20, rolling 25 higher.
Mirk recites his prayers and his pleas, weaving between two languages, and cups a sliver of wood from a lightning-struck tree between his hands. His breath is warmed as it washes over the fireweave, and he raises the offering - or offerings, depending on how you interpret it - up and places it on the stair. But he doesn't attempt to set so much as a foot on the stair himself.
After safely getting Rukhnis to Cady, Rosalind makes her way down to Volicia,"Hi! Did you need some help!"a slight smile on her lips, trying to hide the worry for a moment. Rosa Iwill likely begin leading Volicia up the mountain now.
"I would love help, Rosalind. I grew up in the mountains, but I didn't go out climbing very often." The Bonespire probably has centuries old paths, after all! She'll take Rosa's help!
Lighting some dried sage with a firestarter until it smolders, sending smoke into the air, Khanne then closes her eyes. She breathes in deeply, waving her hand gently through the smoke to waft it up towards the stairs which she also does not try to climb. Her words are murmured, only brief portions of words caught on the breeze taken to those nearby. They are not meant for mortals to hear, but the Elements, the Spirits. She lifts her hand then to her cheek curling a finger just under her eye. Mist grey orbs open and she holds them that way, facing the cold winds until they become irritated, her body trying to defend itself against nature's strength. When they begin to water, she catches some of those tears on that finger, offering it up towards the stairs with more muttered words.
Gwenna remains by the stairs, keeping a healthy enough distance that she can watch the Shamans without (hopefully) seeming intrusive. There are no few glances toward the places where Arcadia and Volcica went. The Redrain doesn't call out to see how anyone is doing just yet in case it might distract or disturb Lykka, Mirk, and Khanne.
As Mirk and Khanne, two of the most eminent shaman in Arvum, and leaders of the Spirit Walkers, present offerings, the wind and fog begins to lift into the air, and part along either side of the stairs. Lykka also kneels, and chanting her prayers, and holds up a warm tear, falling freely from her eyes, no doubt arising from some memory of times with one who will soon pass to lands where she cannot follow, and breathes upon it. A strange sound can be heard that might be words of some ancient, though unrecognizable language, echoing over the cliff.
Turns out your friend here is only mostly dead. See, mostly dead is still slightly alive. Arcadia has the most shallow of breaths and she is unrecognizable. Bloody and battered and well... pulverized. She sort of looks like an uncooked hamburger at this point.
Rukhnis's mouth tightens into a white-edged line as she completes her inspection, and in a heartbeat she's stripped her own cloak off and rolled it into a bundle which she swiftly tucks beneath Cady's knees, keeping them spread and bent. Then her medical kit comes out, and absorptive moss and clean rags are produced, which she applies to a pulped and bleeding area on the other woman's torso that seems to be where a splinter of fractured pelvis has extruded. With a grimace the physician secures the pressure bandage with a strip of cloth and begins to work on.. all the other many things that seem to have been smashed up in Arcadia's fall.
Khanne gives a nod to Mirk, then speaks to Lykka. You may begin the ascent up the stairs." She pauses, seeming a little apologetic in her expression. "The Spirit of Air says we may as well." This is said gesturing only to Mirk and herself.
"I will bear witness, and return once Lykka has proven herself worthy, or failed in her own right," Mirk says, though his eyes settle on Gwenna and Volcica. "I will rely on you both to deal with the...diplomatic fallout from those not permitted to pass." His eyes skirt towards Tookral, and then the crowd below. "And to relay what has happened here so far."
"Is that all," Gwenna replies to Mirk with a bit of a dry laugh. Growing more serious, though, she nods. "We will do our best. Be safe, all of you."
Back to list