Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Duendewood: Afterparty

The town of Calisthum was overrun with druids, and Alnira Berris knew for a fact that she'd just made the problem worse. It wasn't as if she'd had any choice, though; after the attack that had smashed her teacher's attempt to gather the local circles and her narrow escape with a baker's dozen of the newest, least-experienced druids, the vision of revelry that led her to Calisthum had seemed their only chance of survival. 

The vision had been a true one, it seemed; a genuine root-sending, despite the apparent torpor of the legendary elder treant. The same man who'd appeared so prominently in the vision had also appeared to slay their pursuers and usher them into Calisthum proper, where the senior druid Elendor had greeted them and made them welcome while the Mayor, Valdur, had only shaken his head in disgust and walked away. 

They'd arrived too late for the Bacchanalia, but at least they were safe. 

The others had rejoined them as well. They weren't druids, this trio, but they were evidently allies; they'd fallen on the false king's hunters like saberteeth pouncing on deer. A strange bunch, though, Alnira thought, looking them over: the warrior who offered his belly-muscles as a tray for jello shots, a heavily armored human priest shaped somewhat like a potato, and Grey Elf woman who seems to vanish whenever I'm not looking for her.

She looked at Elendor. "Vuelisharrn is dead," she said quietly. "So are most of the Circle of Nine. You may be the most senior druid left in Duendewood."

Elendor nodded sadly. "I may be." She glanced at the others behind Elnira, most of whom still clung to their wolf-shapes as if they couldn't believe that they wouldn't need to run any further. "Make yourselves at home, here. There are pallets beneath the elder treant, and any who need rest may take it there. We are arranging hunting expeditions, to make sure we can feed ourselves without harming the forest, and the people of Calithum have been as generous as they safely can." She looked up as the true elf strolled over. 

"Thank you for stepping in," Elendor added, looking up to meet his eyes. 

"I was hoping that the one called Septimus had finally arrived, O my ally." The man's voice was soft, smooth. "Alas, there were only a double-dozen hunters, a wizard, and two lesser priests."

So that's how they kept themselves on our track, Alnira thought. 

Ruin turned to look at Alnira. "Come. Let's get you and your charges settled."

Elendor bristled. "Alnira is an acolyte of Vuelisharrn, of the Council of Nine, and does not need--"

Alnira shook her head. "I could use a guide," she said, "and I appreciate the courtesy. And I regret coming late to the gathering, and so missing out on the jello shots."

Ruin shook his head at that. "Who says you missed out? It's not too late for jello shots."

Elendor rolled her eyes and made a quick gesture. "Artemis protect us." It was supposed to ward off evil, that gesture, but Alnira had noticed already that she mostly seemed to use it to ward off foolishness. Fine by me, Alnira thought. We made it here. I think I've earned the right to do something a bit foolish...

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