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Unread 16th of June, 2010, 02:35
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Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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Book Two - Chapter Two

"Relax Saedra and let's try it agin." Saedra's jaw tightens at the druid's words. They weren't meant to scold, but her cheeks grew red just the same.

"If it were easy, shuri, everyone would follow The Way." The old orc smiles, the silver caps on her tusks flashing in the noon sun. With a light pat on Saedra's leg, she settles back into a crossed legged position mirroring Saedra's. A deep breath eases out of the the matronly orc and Saedra copies her, willing the tension out of her body with the exhale.

Breathe....she can almost hear the words of Muertah's lesson in her mind.

Breathe the breath of the Earth Dragon...

Feel its blood coursing through the stone beneath you...

Feel its pulse...it is the pulse of all things...the pulse that has beat since the begining...

Feel the energy of its pulse...feel the call of the deep magics...now open yourself to it...let it flow through you as a river fills and flows through a bowl.

The throbbing pulse of the Earth Dragon fills Saedra's ears. Her heart beat in time with it, as did everything else around her, from Muertah to the trees around them, to the water in bog around that. The wind, the clouds, the ants working their way in a tidy line over a rock to the body of a sparrow long now dead - everything vibrated with the pulse of magic.


Life is a great wheel turning on its self. Nothing is created...nothing is destroyed...all things return and are reborn.

As a follower of Sanah Pajif you must realize this...

And once you have achieved this state of arak you can upon the Earth Dragon...

Magical energy curls around Saedra and she feels like she is floating. She dreamily opens her eyes and affixes her gaze on the small acorn sitting between her and Muertah. Her hand rises heavily off her lap, its every cell resonating in time to the steady pulse of the Earth Dragon. With slow, deliberate motions she gathers and scoops the energy around her, redirecting its flow into the seed infront of her.

All life is change...

The tiny acorn vibrates then swells. Bright yellow-white tendril crack from its coppery shell, and worm their way into the soft dirt. In moments the acorn is a sapling and within a minute the sun is blotted out by the towering oaks branches.

"That," Muertah's voice calls playfully from the other side of the oak's trunk, "is better."

Last edited by Kelemyn; 28th of June, 2010 at 22:14.
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Unread 28th of June, 2010, 22:15
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Kelemyn
Famine Spirit [Epic]

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Saedra allows herself a small, satisfied smile. She'd finally managed to do something right! The druid's magic - what Muertah called deep magic - had eluded her for so long that she had begun to think that there was something wrong with her, that her m-

No. She is not going to start thinking like that again.

"Did I really do this?" she asks Muertah, gazing up at the leaves dancing in the wind above her head. "It wasn't you helping me, paghrhu, was it?" She can't help feeling a little doubtful still, knowing how much her teacher wanted her to succeed.

But Muertah had been nothing if not completely honest with her during her training, at times brutally honest. Saedra knows in her heart that the magic had really been hers. Her smile grows the tiniest bit wider.

"Come child, night is nearly upon us and Khurrig has asked that you attend the dance tonight," the old woman says as she offers the half elf a hand up. Even at her age she still surprised Saedra with the power and fluidity of her movements. The two head back toward Saedra's camp, walking in silence for several minutes. The old orc waits patiently for the question she knows is coming.

"Khurrig... wants me there at the dance?" Saedra finally comes out with it. "But why?" She has never been invited to attend a clan ritual before. And to be asked by the Chief Elder! She is not quite sure how she ought to take the news but... surely it can only mean that the druids have accepted her. The day keeps getting better and better!

Muerta confirms nothing, only offers her anxious pupil one of her inscrutable smiles.

"I am honored, of course!" Saedra says quickly. "But what if I forget what I am supposed to do? Am I really ready for this?" She bites her lip nervously, and glances back at Muerta. "Do you think I'm ready, paghrhu,?"

The orc stops and looks at Saedra then at the oak tree back in the glade.

"I think you'll manage," she grins tuskily. "That or the ground will open and swallow us whole. Either way it should be exciting."

Last edited by -J-; 1st of July, 2010 at 03:24.
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Unread 4th of July, 2010, 02:46
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Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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The sun had long set when they set out for the ritual site. There are six of them, including Saedra, all of them in little more than swirls of thick blue body paint and the occasional dangling fetish. The warm swamp air flows thickly over Saedra’s skin, but she doesn’t notice. Her mind is too fixed on the importance of the upcoming ritual. A druid’s life, it seems, is consumed with ritual. Muertah explained it as a means of keeping everything harmony with the Earth Dragon, for the druid, for the animals and plant and also for the spirit world.

And few were as important as the ones performed during the equinoxes and solstices.

The leather canoes glide soundlessly through the still, black waters, and all around a heavy, pensive silence hangs. Birds line the branches above them, their small reflective eyes flashing in the moonlight. Water moccasins, venomous blue mur’rhats, and harmless black snakes skim noiselessly through the water next to their paddles and off in the distance Saedra catches the saucer like eyes of dire crocodiles floating just above the surface.

We are the keepers of the mysteries of the Triat – Syberis the Dragon Above, Khyber the Dragon Below, and Eberron the Dragon Between. Through the Triat the elements are kept in order, and from this order the nature of things is determined.

The quiet dip of the paddles carries them further into the swamp and she struggles to keep in time with Muertah’s strokes. A dense ring of cypress looms in front of them and the canoes slow. In the lead boat she spies Khurrig lifting his hand and immediately the humid air fills with the creaking sound of moving tree limbs and roots. In moments a narrow waterway opens to a ringed lagoon, and beyond Saedra gets her first glimpse of the island.

Her initial impression is of a great mound of moss crested by an enormous black gum tree. The water around the island was so calm that it perfectly reflected the night sky above, making it seem that the island and the tree were floating amongst the stars. The three canoes come ashore and they all quickly file off. From the middle of their canoe Saedra grabs the large, round drum of stretched skins that she would be playing throughout the ceremony.

The drum is the heart. As it beats life can flow, as it beats the deep magic comes.

The moss of the island is surprisingly firm under Saedra’s bare feet, and smooth lichen covered boulders crest wave like from the sea of green. Khurrig and the others take time kneeling and touching each as they pass, offering silent respect to the earth. Silver whorls and lines shimmer like the moon at their touch and soon the island itself seems to glow and throb with the deep magics.

Saedra can feel it coursing through the ground and up into her feet and into her chest. A steady thrumming that carried with it the pulse of the Earth Dragon. Without thinking she begins to tap its beat on the drum under her arm. The elder druids in front of her begin to sway as they walk, and she almost stops. A quick smile and nod from Muertah keeps her hand in motion and lends confidence to her beat. The swaying quickly turns into dancing as they let the magic around them guide their movements.

At last they arrive at the tree. The tree seems old and almost stunted, compared to the black gums Saedra has seen elsewhere in the swamp - its once smooth bark now furrowed and rimed with pale green lichen, and it’s normally lush, glossy green oval leaves look dark and faded. Its roots are also peculiar: lying in great sprawling masses over a large, half buried stone. As they approach it is the stone that fixes Saedra’s attention. Whereas the other stones of the island were of a uniform white, chalky limestone, this slab was inky black shot through with line of faintly pulsing red. It had an unwholesome presence that grew in intensity as she approached.

Reaching the tree the five druids continue dancing until they are equidistant from each other, with the tree in the center. In unison the five begin to chant in the old tongue, as they shifted and twirled around the tree.

We are the Gatekeepers
We call on fire to purify.

As he dances Khurrig flesh ignites as he becomes living fire. Spiraling into the center stops at the twisted trunk of the black gum and presses his fiery hands against its rough bark. Almost instantly its boughs and limbs begin to sway and creak, and in the incandescent glow of Khurrig’s flaming body Saedra thinks she can almost make out a woody face silently screaming in agony. In moments the tree is fully engulfed casting the island in brilliant shades of orange and yellow. Even from where she stands Saedra can feel the waves of heat licking her skin.

We are the Gatekeepers
We call on the earth for fertility.

The bright, sun-like glare of the bonfire dims, leaving in its wake a nimbus of red glowing motes. The ground above the black slab is caked in a layer of thick, gray ash. Cold prickles Saedra’s skin - an unearthly cold that she can feel stirring within the black stone. A palpable wrongness that resonated in her chest with waves of atavistic fear.

As her eyes adjust to the dimmer light she sees that another of the druids, Ruanđ, was now standing next to Khurrig in the sooty remains of the tree, his body now living stone. Beneath their feet the black stone begins to emit a low keening wail, like the throaty snarl of a trapped lion. Ruanđ raises his arms and the soot is buried under a wave of black, peaty earth.

We are the Gatekeepers
We call on the waters to heal.

Kresht’kah is next, her supple movements blurring into living water. She flows up the hill and washes over the black stone, turning the dirt and peat into thick, black mud. The stone begins to shake, its massive bulk kicking like a spring foal. Another wave of dirt and water still its movements, but whisps of noxious black mist begin to seep from its edges.

There was something there - something unspeakable and foul that desperately wanted to get out.

We are the Gatekeepers
We call on the air to guide us.

Urat’s body becomes a vaporous cloud that quickly disperses until it completely surrounds the druids on the slab, then it begins to churn, twisting faster and faster until its howl is deafening. The black mist is helplessly drawn in the vortex, trapping it and forcing it back under the stone.

We are the Gatekeepers
We call on wood to renew.

Muertah slowly ascends the hill, her movements growing stiff and stilted. She wades into the thick mud covering the slab. She stands there a moment, her feet firmly set in the earthy muck and her arms swaying slowly despite the roaring winds around her. She shoots one last toothy grin at her still drumming disciple before her body begins to shift. Her legs thicken and merge together, her feet splay into massive curling roots that sink deep into the hill and wrap themselves around the still moaning slab. Her torso swells and her skin becomes rough and bark-like. Her strong arms lengthen and from her fingers long droopy fronds flourish.

The slab quiets; the other druids stagger back and return to their true forms. The drum falls from Saedra’s arm as she stares at the spot where her friend and mentor last stood - the spot where now a great willow tree now sways.

We are the Gatekeepers
We guard the hidden pathways
We are the Gatekeepers
We bar the way beyond.

Last edited by -J-; 4th of July, 2010 at 14:46.
 

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