“Nature shows us only the tail of the lion.”
After the arrival of food and supplies from the Kou Kingdom, and Kale and Tumdrum’s brave, but very frightening meeting with the third consort of Baelhal, Arygos, the tension-filled atmosphere within the settlement begins to calm in the days thereafter; however, it becomes clear there is some friction between the Ech’lun which have remained at New Dawnsburg and the newly-arrived settlers from Choso. All the same, our adventurers, and Baron Drussus, begin to initiate plans to further develop the settlement. With a new brewery starting to be built, it’s only a matter of time before the denizens of the settlement will be able to piss away their worries with Tumdrum Hazkaldar’s finest ales!
Throughout the week, things continue to progress, but there inevitably comes a time when the adventurers turn their eyes towards distant western terrain – not only to scout, but perhaps also to cultivate in the future. It is known the Valkyrian once lived in a very grand city close to where Alandra’s temple is, but does anyone truly know what’s become of it? Ultimately the Clan of the Bear – an Ech’lun tribe which have previously skirmished with the Clan of the Crow – do, but is it even possible to approach the tribe without being put to death? Given the cultural differences, and the troubling language barrier, any possible encounter may incite violence. Because of this Tumdrum, Tanna, and the others, seek out Mako – a fellow colonist and Ech’lun. As they speak upon the Clan of the Bear, and more sensitive matters, about the Ech’lun within New Dawnsburg and the Lady of the Wood, it becomes clear Mako is disconcerted with the conversation.
Considering all that is said, she points out to Tumdrum that, perhaps, one day she may very well be opposition – an enemy – of New Dawnsburg, should anything happen to the Ech’lun within the colony. Whether they leave, or become enslaved, only time will tell how the relations between the Choso natives and the Storm Isles Ech’lun continues to develop. Tumdrum suggests possible celebratory events which all citizens of New Dawnsburg can partake in, to possibly lighten the atmosphere, – particularly customs which the Ech’lun partake in. “Boar-wrestling,” is one such custom. After meeting with Baron Drussus, it seems he is, at the very least, interested in the idea, and see into possibly hosting a future event.
After quietly listening and observing this conversation, Kale decides to strike up a conversation with her retainer, Thal, about the Lady of the Wood. She’s heard a little bit of this and that about her from a few members of the colony, but finds the Lady of the Wood to be a curious topic. Warlocks are warlocks after all, and she’s your typical warlock – a gatherer of knowledge, a seeker of power. However, upon conversing with Thal, she’s warned to stay away from the Arch-Fey, to avoid eating and drinking anything offered to her, and to respect, if not fear, the scary fey of the wood. Presuming this arch-fey to be an extraplanar entity, Kale takes the words to heart.
As the group prepares to leave the next day, with Mako in their company, it takes a bit of time for them to decide who will be riding with who. Nonetheless, they’re soon off. Passing by a nearby obelisk, they all stop to peer at Tumdrum’s pair of shadows. It is the first time Kale’s seen Tumdrum’s two shadows and as he admits his shadows are pointing him towards Cyrelun, she suddenly appears troubled. Stepping closer to the obelisk to peer at it, or perhaps to see if she had two shadows too, Kale feels a strange sensation wash over her. Not immediately painful, she decides to take a step closer to the obelisk and suddenly wishes she hadn’t. Cursing, she reaches for Deedee and shoves her towards the obelish, as if expecting it hurt her, but Tumdrum quickly explains it’s because she’s still attuned to the artifact, the Fragment of Seylurian, and carrying it on her person. Commenting about feeling phantom pains from time to time, her nervousness makes it clear she wants to be soon off.
Once the group sets off again, they come across a pair of Ech’lun fishermen. As the group tries to hail them, the fishermen, spooked by their presence, instead seek to retreat, clearly not wanting to do anything with the group. Deciding it best to continue following the road, they are soon beset by five Ech’lun warriors – members of the Clan of the Bear. Such knowledge is made readily known as they summon four Bloodrage Bears to attack the party. Alas, the party seeks to exercise diplomacy with the Ech’lun warriors; however, the Ech’lun encourage the fiery bears to strike the adventurers. Tanna, as well as the others, continue to exercise diplomatic tactics, all the while with Mako translating. Growing weary of the nonverbal exchange of threats, Kale, guised in her familiar human shape, reveals herself to be one of the dragonborn, trying to appear as stern and threatening as she can, even going so far as Mako telling the warriors, she – they – were there to see the Lady of the Wood. A not so smart idea, Kale is at a loss while the party converses amongst themselves. All the same, the Ech’lun allow them to pass without further violence. How long will it be though until they realize they were bluffed?
As they continue on, they eventually come to the ruins belonging to the Valkyrie. Tumdrum and Amanus scout the area, and Tanna encourages the group to explore the ruins they came across. It’s clear there is a small spiral of smoke coming from a ruined tower, so someone is undoubtedly home. Tanna knocks upon its broken door and doesn’t receive an initial greeting. Knocking again, and nearly about to give up, a voice suddenly speaks to her in her head. Communicating through telepathy, the mysterious voice encourages the woman to enter its domain. With that, the party enters the tower. The tower seems to consist of three floors, but though they enter the first level, Kale seems interested in opening the closed doors instead of going to the second floor! Still, she decides to ignore the doors and head up the steps in front of the party. Just in case…
With a fellow comrade behind her, she finally returns to the first level and asks if they’re going to all head up. It seemed safe enough. As they all start looking around, there are statues within the room which seem very peculiar. Peering towards them, its eventually learned the statues are of Valkyrie who were petrified to stone, long ago. Still donned in armor, or in light cloth, some bore weapons, their expressions angry, whereas others, looked terrified. What possibly could’ve done this to them? As it turns out, the group isn’t alone. A pointy-eared elf greets Kale, and mistakes her for the person he telepathically communed with, shaking her head, Tanna quickly speaks up that it was her. As they approach this individual, Kale, from the very beginning seems highly edgy. The stranger is quick to introduce himself as Garm, and as he peer towards everyone, he seems to be reading them in a peculiar way. He speaks of their auras, leaving Kaleth even more perturbed.
Nevertheless, Garm seems pleasant enough. Tanna, Tumdrum, and Deedee actively speak with Garm about the tower, and the petrified Valkyrian within the room. He says he doesn’t know how they ended up like this, but he’s interested in trying to restore them to life. Kale is quick to absorb these words, but she says nothing on the matter; at least, until she asks another question or two, and he suddenly lets slip she’s Dormin’s servant. Highly on edge now, she approached Garm, and even reaches out to take a hold of his wrist, because she realizes there is something very off about this person. As Garm’s illusion is suddenly destroyed to her sight, she sees a dark, twisted, spindly creature, with scratches all over its body. Reeking of dark origins, Kale remains moodily silent while Garm speaks of Dormin to Tanna and the others. Recounting a tale over Dormin’s origins – he refers to a time when not only the Serpent, but also a Plague, Eye, and Mouth were playfully active upon the world’s surface, dabbling with the world as if it was their very toy.
And then Eight entities came along, saw what they were doing, and put a stop to it.
Very perturbed by now, Kale believes it best to leave the tower completely instead of breathing an inferno of flame upon the wretched creature. Leaving her companions behind, they continue on in their conversation, but eventually decide to leave the tower. Tumdrum gifts a few magical items to Garm, and as they depart, it seems they are on good terms with one another. Westin, however, pops a divine sense and while he and Tum are heading down the steps, mentions Garm to be a demon. It seems though Tumdrum is trying to look at it from the brighter side of things. Garm owes him a favor! Perhaps Garm will be able to help him find the mysterious artifacts which are connected to Alandra.
With the tower now behind them, the party decides to continue their scouting adventure; however, Mako mentions the group needs to decide if they are going to appear dominant or submissive to the Ech’lun within the Clan of the Bear. To these Ech’lun there is no equal standing – you are either one or the other. While the group converses on how to possibly impress the Ech’lun – from utilizing Tumdrum’s aerobatics with Amanus and predigestative fireworks, to an even more daring idea…
…*possibly asking Salt for help*.
While Kaleth’s idea may seem insane, these Clan of the Bear worship and respect the Lady of the Wood. It seems the Lady of the Wood has existed upon the Storm Isles since Baelhal’s initial arrival, so perhaps her idea isn’t as insane as it initially appeared.