A Voice From the Storm (Closed)

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« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2019, 09:52:42 am »
Wherein one encounters strange folk, and a glance of torchlight catches one's eye.

As Ramår was brushing through the tall grass of the plains, they suddenly noticed a wisp of golden smoke rising above from behind a mound yon northward, in striking contrast with the darkness of the night sky.
As they were eager to find shelter ere long, they started towards the source of the smoke with haste. As they approached it, they espied torchlights carried by people resembling hillsfolk and setting directly for the forest.

Wary of approaching the woods again, their wind having been put up by their first encounter with its edge, they elected to remain near the village, rather than go after the people nearing the forest; but they wouldn’t enter the village either, as the burgh’s people, they noticed, were nothing like themself. They were unusually tall for hillsfolk, and their skin was dark; they burned birch bark to make crude tar, their beer was made of barley, and the wood of their houses had been stripped of its bark, which reminded Ramår of a West Tsunna saying:

   ‘Only Hillsfolk, black and dark, ever strip an oak-tree’s bark.’

Feart of faring near a village alight with such unkept fire (as the Tsunnas have a fear of flames over all else), and afraid of the people who might dwell there, Ramår stealthily made their way towards the village’s wood pile, hiding in the grass behind the mounds, seeking to discern what those torch-wielding people were doing in the nightly forest.

The village’s wood pile was kept nigh from the forest, since the townsfolk seemed to thrive on the harvest of timber from the woods’ edge. They hid behind some birch-tree trunks as a party of lumberjacks passed close to them, having felled some mountains’ worth of timber and bringing it back in the still of night. The lumberjacks, who had been soaking in taverns all evening, had a few hearty laughs as they carried the hefty trees past Ramår.

   Aye, sure, Fishie’s bound tae have trouble getting am trees back up by mornin’ so! one of them said.
   —Aye, Siànoin, sure we’ll be faine laike! T’ain’t laike we had’nt have rent more so ’afore!
   —Yae, she’ll grow back sure, does every naight, can ever be done ’bout it nothin.

After eating some birch-bark from the felled trunks near them, Ramår recognised that they were beyond the unnatural, linear border of the woods. Their tiredness and the smoke surrounding them dulling their instincts, they neglected to hasten back into the plain, wierdly not experiencing the same visceral, instinctive reaction as in their first encounter. As they had been moving towards the forest, they had noticed the torchlight fading out of sight. Though their first instinct had been to hurry after them, their second one had been to stay and wait for the lumberjacks to leave, so as not to cause any trouble. When at last Ramår could come out of hiding, the light had long fallen out of sight, and their memory was too clouded to accurately recall whither they had gone.

Managing to muster enough courage to try and go deeper into the forest to follow the torch-wielding hillsfolk despite their tiredness and thirst, Ramår hasted into the brush, and came to a grove of oaks, the middle of which was a circular clearing with a faerie ring at its center. They looked around but, despite their eyes being accustomed to the forest’s darkness, they could not manage to pierce the dense foliage to spot the orange light of the torches. They resolved to consult their enchiridion, wherein one could find a pharmacopeia, a concise handbook of botany, and advice concerning foraging and life in the wild. They tore out a few of the tome’s pages, the title of the first of which was:

   'Whither one goes, when lost, to find their hearth.’

They quickly skimmed over the first few paragraphs, marveling at the phosphorescence of the lichen-paper which allowed for reading in the deadest of night.

   Aye, there she is. Sure the night’s deep enough to find them. Nae where can I find a low branch, so?

After a bit of searching around, they found a branch low enough for them to climb on. Fighting to keep their balance, they managed to summon enough strength to carve some horizontal scotches to use as grips. They steadily made their way to the top of the oak, then paused for a moment and tried to pick up the smell of the torches’ smoke nearby.

   Oth, that damn tar’s too smoky to taste any other than ash here, ’tis so.

The smell of the torches’ smoke being thwarted by that of the burning birch-sap, they sat down, their faint resolve at last dying out.

Then as they sat there, astride a branch, they noticed a glance of golden light, much like the one they had seen leaving the village not so long before. They jumped to their feet, and jumped from tree to tree to catch up with the light. A young and dynamic, yet unexperienced sylvan, they eventually fell through a piece of particularly dry foliage. They noticed some charred, cooled embers on the ground, and signs of a party of folk passing by. Now detecting the smell of smoke more particularly, they hastened through the brush, following the trail of ash, until at last they could espy, a few steps away from them, what seemed like a peculiarly sundry company of woodsfolk.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2019, 10:42:35 am by Casimir »
that is not dead which can eternal lie;
and with strange æons even death may die.


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« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2019, 12:51:07 pm »
When the figure placed their hand on the tree, Leeva felt them. They seemed very curious, and alien. They had thought it was only humans here, but this person was . . . different. At first Leeva wasn’t sure if they were intentionally sending their energy out, but then the figure spoke—

—In a language Leeva wasn’t sure they understood.

They shook their head. They understood, but not exactly the words, because words weren’t the meaning. They had expected the person to speak in Human, not Tree.


There was one thing Leeva knew. This person wasn’t dangerous to them. They collected their roots and swung under the branch they perched on, lowering themself until they hung right next to the person down below.

Leeva stared at the figure curiously from the blue lights of their consciousness. Their face was almost translucent, but strong featured, a forehead tattoo. In a way, it almost felt like they weren’t there at all, or as if the tiniest wind could blow them away. It was like they had Gone Away, the way trees do.
Leeva changed the blue color of their consciousness to match the other’s gray eyes, and instinctively shaped their branches and leaves into a humanoid face like the one they were examining. It was shaped differently from the humans they’d met. Pretending to use their new mouth, they spoke to the person, experimentally, quietly, “Hello.”

"Hello," he responded, seeming unconcerned about this meeting.

"Who are you?" they asked curiously.

"My name is Rizali Corvus," he said. "I'm a mage from east of the forest. I apologise if our fire has caused upset or stress, I sought permission beforehand."

Leeva tilted their head. So they had heard the other trees. How much did they understand, though? "They're just nervous, they don't know you very well." Leeva dropped to the ground, briefly severing their Tree connection. They stood on their branches and looked up at the towering person who called himself a mage. Leaves sprouted from Leeva's head and other branches and fluttered over each other until they formed a hood around their head, and a cape, similar to the one Rizali wore, but in ridiculous miniature. "You're not human."

Suddenly Leeva remembered their manners. "Oh! I'm sorry. My name's Leeva." If they were human, they would have blushed. "Everybody knows everybody here. Inter, iteno, inroductorty . . . anyway, learning people's names is new to me."

They couldn’t help but think Sine would be disappointed in them . . . but happy that they eventually remembered!

"Hmm," the mage said, seeming to think a little deeper about what had happened before. "I certainly apologise for making them nervous. I'm not human, no, I'm an elf. My people live in a forest far away from here, and have for a very long time. Everyone knows everyone else there as well, and the trees have grown to trust us. It was thoughtless of me to assume the same familiarity here. Anyway, it's nice to meet you, Leeva."

Leeva had never thought of another forest existing anywhere else. Or did he mean the same forest, but far away? There were definitely parts of the Kingfisher Forest they didn't know about. "Th-there are other forests in the world? Really?"

He seemed to get excited, leaning forward as he continued. "Oh yes, absolutely. The area around this forest is actually quite strange, because it has no trees. Once you travel a little way, forests start appearing again, including the one I came from on the far end of this country!"

The way his face lit up as he spoke of other forests made Leeva like him a lot. Surely they could trust somebody who loved forests this much? They let the message flow through their roots and through the ground to the rest of the forest. Then they said, in a wondering voice, "I'd like to see them someday." They felt the disapproval of their mother at the edge of their mind. Without thought, they scurried right next to Rizali's boot, considered, then jumped up to his shoulder, where they could speak without the forest hearing Leeva's thoughts. They covered both shoulders with their size. "You really shouldn't trust just any old tree here, you know."

"Why's that?"

"We ARE protecting something. We're not exactly trying to bring people inside. Some of us are more bloodthirsty than others, and most of the trees are so old or young they don't care anymore, but there is still much of the forest that won't want you here. A tree here might shelter you with its branches as its roots upturn your house."

"Fortunately we're not planning on living here," he laughed. "I anticipate we will cause as little fuss as possible as we travel to the other side. And I hope we reach that other side quickly."

Leeva sighed. He didn't get it. The trees didn't want them to find the other side, either. But that was alright. They leapt from his shoulder and landed on the ground again. "Just remember, every night before you sleep, find a tree who is friendly and shelter beneath them. They'll protect you from the other trees."

"I promise that I will." He leaned back against the tree once more. "So tell me about you, Leeva. What was it that brought you here? How are you able to move around but also communicate with the trees?"

"I heard the trees say there were humans in the woods, and, well, I thought it might be my friend Sine, coming to check on me, and I didn't want her to be hurt, so I came to see and take her home." They looked down sadly. "But it's not her." They brightened with a bit of confusion. "But that's a good thing, isn't it? She’s safe! And besides, you're very nice." They fluttered their leaf cape happily, then started.
"Oh! And I can talk to any trees, better nearby, as long as there is earth between us." They reached a branch out and tapped his boot. "That's why I was able to tickle your root." They giggled.

Perhaps if they’d been connected to the forest outside the camp, they would have noticed or been warned of the impending traveler barreling through the tree branches like an ape.

As it was, Leeva didn’t know about them until suddenly there they here, having burst out of the bushes to stand just a few feet from them.

The warning spell had, alas, failed again.

Leeva’s response was to immediately find the tallest tree next to them, which just happened to be Rizali’s head, eliciting a startled cry from him, but from there they jumped into the tree and hid in the tallest branches.

It was only when they felt safe in the company of the entire forest that they considered that poor Rizali was all alone at the base of the tree with the—

—well, the whatever whomever whichever it was.

They slowly lowered to the lowest branch again, wondering what on earth had just happened. The stranger and Rizali faced each other.

“Who are you?” Leeva asked the stranger.

People from outside the forest live with such surprise and suddenness! Sheesh!


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