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Game Master stormraven


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DM

Welcome to Mylhaven...

Water runs like blood in the Wahika river – sluggish and ponderous. A minor tributary at best, its black and turgid waters have spattered and dripped down the mountainsides for eons. Born on the heights, the Wahika, trips through the high forests, staggers through open scree, tumbles off precipices, and crawls blindly among the lowland slopes and brambles before collapsing – exhausted – in the rock strewn wetlands at the mountain’s base.

For long years, the Wahika has worn its plodding path through the forested mountains, carving a deep wound. Along that crevasse, devoid of the dense trees, men have slowly insinuated themselves – finding their way like worms through the broken skin of a bruised fruit. Up they have come over the years, higher and higher up the mountainside, in search of rich and arable lands, stocked waters, rare lumbers, and game animals.

DIES DREAR sits in the treeline, deep in the gorge, hugging an outside bend of the Wahika as it winds and pools before plunging into the valley below. The little thorp sits in a broad gap along the gorge's often narrow seam – a gift of the winding river that overruns the banks here often, cutting away at the rocky walls. Its situation is doubly blessed – as it is free of the encroaching trees, has fertile silty soil (often replenished by spring floods) and gathers what meager sunlight is available from the open sky. When the first families found it three generations ago, it must have seemed a piece of Heaven. But if it was Heaven, the families didn't share that knowledge willingly. Dies Drear has always been a kept secret.

No sense inviting jealousy from others who maybe don’t have such a nice piece of land, right? was how the common thought went.

Just need to work our land and mind our business... let the rest of the world mind theirs, others agreed.

No sense inviting problems to your doorstep, right? argued the superstitious.

And so, to the outside world, Dies Drear was just another small thorp scratching out its existence and occasionally trading goods when a year was particularly good. They just happened to have more good years than others and were very careful to trade with different towns each year so no one caught on. That was the Dies Drear way – quiet and careful. And when someone new wandered in to their thriving, if sleepy, community? And if that someone figured out the town's prosperous secret? Well, they were invited to stay, of course, and appreciate what it offered... provided they were quiet and careful too.

Dies Drear grew. The five First Families became twelve. The few, original stilt houses that stood like grey storks (to stay above the yearly floods) became a modest ‘flock’ surrounded by deep rooted fences, paddocks, and small farming furrows.


DM

Another Day in the Drear...

Winter hasn't quite released her vice-like grip from the mountains but there is a promise, perhaps a false promise, of spring in the air... or maybe it is just that our heroes are each excited for their own reasons this day. After a long winter, the snows have finally retreated back up the mountains granting a little more freedom – lifting one burden from daily work and turning thoughts to more interesting pursuits that have hibernated during the long months of unremitting cold. The day passes quickly as the waning afternoon brings a Gathering.

On the first day when the ice breaks along the surface of the Wahika and the river begins to run in earnest, by longstanding tradition, the townsfolk of the Drear cross the footbridge to gather at the Assembly Hall in the late afternoon to share and finish off the dwindling products of their home-made stills, speculate on the up-coming year's crops, eye the snow-pack to discuss the potential severity of the spring floods, and renew their communal bonds. Frisky as peacocks, some of the town's young men and boys strut their plumage for eligible girls by attempting to 'Run the River'. Instead of using the bridge, they run across the fracturing ice at its widest point and try to avoid a bone-chilling dunking in the Wahika to the applause, laughter, or scowls (depending on temperament) of the townsfolk.

If anyone wants to 'Run the River' (including Lyrica if she wants to risk her mother's wrath for such unseemly behavior), I'll need three Reflex saves.

Every life touches and is inextricably linked to every other life in the Drear. It is a testament to this truth that all of the heroes, in one way or another, are pried away from the more enjoyable frivolity of the Thorp's children to discuss the business of the community...


DM

Aerik...

Despite his preference for solitude, Aerik finds himself having the ear of the Hetmon (Headman) of Dies Drear, Elias Marthuon, as well as that of the farmers – particularly Harmon Strom, a strong but quiet force in the community.

That man has earth in his veins. he thinks.

Elias pulls the Druid from his thoughts, ”You’ve got your hand on the mountain’s pulse, Aerik… How does spring look? Early? Late? Heavy floods this year? It was a cold winter to be sure but we didn’t have too much snow. Was it worse on the heights?”

Aerik only:
Spring, in your estimation is still weeks away and should be temperate. You expect the annual flooding will start in about a month and shouldn’t be bad this year as the snow pack on the heights wasn’t heavier than normal. So it should be a good year for the crops… barring any unforeseen weather changes.

DM NOTE: Your plan this evening is to head up to the heights to survey the snow pack but, more importantly, to harvest Mistletoe as your supplies were depleted over the winter and what you have left is barely viable.
Whether you choose to stick around the Gathering or not, please have your character head back to your hut at the end. From there, I’ll auto-pilot your character just a bit once everyone is through with their activities at the Gathering.

No one would leave the Thorp at night unarmed. So you will be able to kit yourself out to whatever extent you feel your character would for this type of adventure.


DM

Ezekiel…

Ezekiel enjoys more than grudging acceptance from the townsfolk at the Gathering. The somewhat hard-eyed and hard-voiced Beax Guthwite and the soft-spoken Elsbeth Rallo make a point of offering the Doctor drinks and jars of their finest summer preserves – strawberries and apricots.

Beax softens her permanent scowl of disapproval at everything, saying gruffly, ”Lil’ Jode mayhaps may not of made it through the winter if you hadn’t set up with him and taken care of that flu. So… thanks.”

Elsbeth nudges the other woman in the ribs, not unkindly, at her sparse thanks. ”I’d like to thank you as well, Doctor. You took fine care of my Margot; she is mending well… and everyone in town lived through the winter. You had a hand in that. The cupboard is a bit bare right now but when we’ve got the spring harvest in, my family would like you to come for dinner.”

Ezekiel only:
DM NOTE: Your plan this evening is to head up-river to acquire some prized fungi for your experiments that are fed by mists off the cataracts and glow in moonlight – making finding them tonight ideal as the moon will be full and the skies clear.

Whether you choose to stick around the Gathering or not, please have your character head back to your home at the end. From there, I’ll auto-pilot your character just a bit once everyone is through with their activities at the Gathering.

No one would leave the Thorp at night unarmed. So you will be able to kit yourself out to whatever extent you feel your character would for this type of adventure.


DM

Jak…

Jak tries to listen attentively as the conversations turn to crops and lumber – all items he and his father will have to move and sell down valley and beyond. They’d have to see which communities were most in need of which goods and bargain hard. Mattin, his father, had already been in ‘close consultation’ with the Hetmon to determine what Dies Drear needed, wanted, and couldn’t live without this year. Jak smiles at his father’s idea of ‘consultation’ – the two men sharing a bottle of homemade hooch over a bale of hay in the barn that doubled as the Drear’s watering hole. That was the nature of the business – like father, like son. And with winter over, Jak was anxious to get down valley and see some new faces, renew some old acquaintances, and – if he could get out from under his father’s all-too-knowing eyes – sneak some time to do a little gambling in Muuscarta. He was pretty sure his reputation wasn’t burned there…

Jak pushes a hand in his pocket and fingers the lilac-scented note there. But first, I’ve got some ‘business’ to conclude here. Thoughts of real business long gone from his mind, Jak surreptitiously pulls the note and re-reads it before sliding it back in his pocket:

Dearest Jakwin,
Have I lost your interest? Were all those sweet words just talk? I hope not. Meet me at the Tumbling Pool tonight, after dinner, if you can sneak away. Prove your ardor for me and I’ll do likewise.
Yours,
~R

It was scarcely believable. The buxom Rina Ruske, the girl he’d spent the entire winter trying to win over, had finally fallen for him… right after he wrote her off as a loss on his personal ledger and left her alone.

Isn’t that always the way of it? They don’t want you until they think you aren’t interested anymore.

Jak falls into pleasant speculation about how Rina intends to ‘prove her ardor’ when he senses eyes on him. He turns around to see a rake-thin, red-headed, slip of a girl – all arms and legs – no more than 12 years old, staring knowingly at the pocket where he secreted the note. Her smile is all cat-that-caught-a-flock-of-canaries. Jak knew her, of course. Her reputation for trouble and mischief almost equaled Jak’s. She was Ritti ‘Red’ Rallo – a precocious little hellion that was allegedly giving her mother and many of the town elders prematurely grey hair.

”Whatcha got there, Jakkie? Looked like a note from a girl to me.” she says a little too loudly, almost loud enough to draw the attention of everyone nearby. The cat swallows another canary with her grin.

Jak only:
DM NOTE: Your plan this evening is to head downriver for a clandestine and hopefully illicit dalliance with the lovely Rina Ruske at the hot ‘makeout’ spot - the Tumbling Pool.

Please have your character head back to your family home when you are ready to leave the party. From there, I’ll auto-pilot your character just a bit once everyone is through with their activities at the Gathering.

No one would leave the Thorp at night unarmed. So you will be able to kit yourself out to whatever extent you feel your character would for this type of… uh... ‘adventure’. I doubt Jak would go armed to the teeth on a date but a couple of weapons would certainly make sense.


DM

Lyrica…

While her father is busy discussing the weather with the enigmatic Druid, Lyrica speaks with the other farm families. They compare notes on what they plan to grow, how many rows, and the pest situation. Some of the other farmers were less diligent than the Stroms at watching out for blights… and that could be disastrous. An outbreak of Featherworms could wipe out all of Dies Drear’s harvest for a season.

Lyrica dutifully makes the rounds, working with the other farmers, but her mind is far away. She is antsy to get on with her evening plans but patience is required for the moment. The only, even vaguely amusing distraction, is Lohegrin Zirk. He was a nice boy but not particularly brilliant or dashing. His most notable quality was a clear, if somewhat poorly articulated, crush on Lyrica. All the Strom girls were popular in town, but Lyrica was clearly his one-and-only and had been for well over a year.

He circles her like a small bird, diving in hesitantly to talk to her and then dashing away quickly as his courage fails him. After a painful time, he joins several of the other boys on the far side of the Wahika and, after much teasing, he ‘Runs the River’ for Lyrica Strom.

Reflex #1 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Reflex #2 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17
Reflex #3 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (16) + 1 = 17

His first deft leap lands Lohegrin's foot through a fracture in the ice. He faceplants on the unyielding sheet, bounces, and slides 6' forward to rocket headfirst into the Wahika. After 30 seconds where he debates if drowning would be better, he comes up sputtering and crawls bedraggled from the river to the loud hoots of derision from his friends. He tries to not notice any Strom girl, even with his peripheral vision.

Lyrica only:
DM NOTE: Your plan this evening, with your father’s help, is to get out of the house for a few hours to practice your swordmanship and armor-clad fighting. You found an isolated glade up mountain in the fall that may be perfect for practicing undisturbed and without fear of any locals catching you. You are fairly confident your father will find a way to get you out of the house after dinner.

Please have your character head back to your house when you are done with the Gathering with an eye to making dinner so you can get to combat practice all the sooner. From there, I’ll auto-pilot your character just a bit once everyone is through with their activities at the Gathering.

No one would leave the Thorp at night unarmed. So you will be able to kit yourself out to whatever extent you feel your character would for this type of adventure (outside of the scimitar and armor which your father will get to you out of sight of the town and your mother).


DM

Marcus…

Marcus was slightly irked that he had to leave a tree half-felled to attend this social event. I won’t be noticed, will I? But Sara insisted he needed to show up, a message emphasized by the hopeful looks in his children’s eyes. So what could he do, say ‘no’?

And so the Lumberjack finds himself drinking some eye-watering hooch and watching children that had been cooped up all winter running around like maniacs in the chill sunlight and laughing hysterically as boy after boy crashes through the ice as they attempt to ‘Run the River’.

His attention is drawn from the kids by the trader Mattin Howell and Eluon Balatin, another Lumberjack. More importantly, they are both relations by marriage. The middle-aged merchant (his father-in-law) nods in the direction of Lohegrin crawling from the frigid river looking like a drowned rat. ”I did that once. Didn’t make it across… but I got a kiss from the girl I did it for so, on balance, maybe it was worth it.”

Eluon chuckles, ”I made it across the second time I tried… but that girl still wouldn’t throw water in my face even if my hair was on fire.”

The trader nods, ”Ah, the joys of youth. I’ll stick with business – the rules are easier and less subject to change. Speaking of which – do you men know what sort of supplies you’ll be needing and what you’ll have to trade down valley? I’d like to get a mule-train going in the next couple of weeks. If you’re fine right now, you might want to chat with the Hetmon. There are farmers in need of seeds and supplies but with nothing to trade until their first crops come in. We can work a deal – trading your wood for supplies now, with the promise of the later crop profits going to you.”

Marcus only:
You don’t really need anything big supply-wise. The deal Mattin is proposing is a pretty typical arrangement in Dies Drear.

DM NOTE: Your plan this evening is to head up to an unexplored stand of trees on the heights you noted this morning. You want to survey it for potential rare lumbers. It could be a significant find if it contains what you think you saw – Fey Birch. Unfortunately, Fey Birch is a fickle wood. It is subject to disease and rot, particularly in what could be a wet Spring. So time is of the essence.

Whether you choose to stick around the Gathering or not, please have your character head up into the woods when you are done. From there, I’ll auto-pilot your character just a bit once everyone is through with their activities at the Gathering.

Marcus is kitted out with whatever you feel he would normally have while ‘lumbering’ in a dangerous environment.


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)

Lyrica watches with great concern as Lohegrin falls in the river! "My dear Sarenrae, watch over that boy! Please don't let him drown! I could never live with myself if I let that happen." Turning to her younger sister, Melodica, Lyrica says, "That's Lohengrin Zirk! He's been eyeing me for weeks, if not longer. Doesn't he know that running the ice is not a way to endear my heart! I wish he could use a little more insight and a lot less of his foolishness. See those boys over there? They equate running the ice with bravery. They will talk about this for months, but when it comes to anything like patient persistence or a daily discipline, they dismiss the idea so quickly they may as well not have heard of it in the first place. Trust me, Mel, with patience all things are possible. You just need to open your heart to the Dawnflower and she will gently guide you. But even so, I just can't imagine any of those boys, including the ever watchful Lohegrin Zirk, ever taking the time to sit in the silence of the early morning dawn and feel her radiant light shine upon them."

As Lyrica watches the young man pull himself out of the water, she wonders what to do. "Phew! At least he is safe. But oh dear. He looks embarrassed and does not want me to see him, but look at those other boys teasing him. They have such little compassion and can really be rather rude to each other, don't you think? Well, Lohengrin needs to get out of those wet clothes and dried off more than anything. He is likely to catch cold if he stays out here much longer. I wonder if he even has that much common sense? Well, come along, Mel, let's see if we can persuade these boys to go home and find something more productive to do with their time. If nothing else, I will at least try to get Lohengrin to return to his house. I just hope this doesn't take too long. I need to help with dinner tonight, and I have some work to do with Papa this evening."

Lyrica takes her sister by the hand and proceeds closer to where the boys are hanging out and jeering. "Good day, Stix, Onivaar, Rilithane, Lohengrin." Lyrica geets them politely one at a time. "Lohengrin, that was a most impressive display of bravery. It looks like you have all had your fun for today. Perhaps you boys would be kind enough to bring our friend Lohengrin home so that he may get warmed up and into some dry clothing. You certainly don't want anybody catching cold just after they ran the river now do we?"

Diplomacy 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22


(hp 11/35, AC 18, T 13, FF 15, Initiative +3, Perception +9)

The gruff hermit eyes the Hetmon, grunting in contemplation before responding.

"Feels like Spring isn't too far off. Less snow means we should have less flooding this year, and I expect it should start around a moon's turn from now. Can't say for certain till i get a chance for a better look at the snow pack though. Scuse me. It's just about time for me to be off."

Aerik disengages from the conversation, not waiting for a reply from the Hetmon. He looks around for his parents and sister at the gathering.

Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19


As Marcus watches the children run the river, his thoughts meander momentarily to a time when a shy, scrawny kid who could barely lift his father's axe considered running the river to impress a girl, but couldn't gather up the nerve. She did, though, and laughed when she came up drenched and shivering on the other side.

The lumberjack takes a long drink, feeling the warmth flow down to his core and chase away the chill that had started to creep in. He listens to Mattin with polite interest, nodding at the mention of the trade arrangement. After a time, he speaks:

Our usual arrangement is fine, Mattin. Nothing special this time around for me, though might be I could have something could fetch a fair price. He finishes his drink but holds up his hand in protest of a second when the jug is offered to him before addressing his brother-in-law.

Eluon, how d'you feel about comin' with me tonight? I think I spotted some Fey Birch not too far from here. Both of us together could snag a decent haul, be back before the kids realize we're even gone.


Lyrica wrote:
Turning to her younger sister, Melodica, Lyrica says, "That's Lohegrin Zirk! He's been eyeing me for weeks, if not longer. Doesn't he know that running the ice is not a way to endear my heart! I wish he could use a little more insight and a lot less of his foolishness."

Melodica rolls her eyes, as if this is the appropriate answer to all things male, "That's what boys do. Besides, Loh can't even talk to you, so how could he know how to impress you?" Mel giggles.

Lyrica wrote:
"Well, come along, Mel, let's see if we can persuade these boys to go home and find something more productive to do with their time. If nothing else, I will at least try to get Lohengrin to return to his house."

Melodica digs in her heels, "Aw, what? Why do I have to go?" She glances towards their father and opts to follow her sister now reluctantly instead of risking a lecture later.


Lyrica wrote:
Lyrica takes her sister by the hand and proceeds closer to where the boys are hanging out and jeering. "Good day, Stix, Onivaar, Rilithane, Lohengrin." Lyrica geets them politely one at a time. "Lohengrin, that was a most impressive display of bravery. It looks like you have all had your fun for today. Perhaps you boys would be kind enough to bring our friend Lohengrin home so that he may get warmed up and into some dry clothing. You certainly don't want anybody catching cold just after they ran the river now do we?"

The boys mill around, unsure what to make of Lyrica. Lohegrin finds his voice, walking the line between being hospitable and having his pride stung that he'd need help. "That's OK. I can get myself home. Thanks. I'll... see you fellows later."

Lohegrin raises a hand to everyone and sets off towards home - through town and up to the bluff. The rest of the boys fire off muted goodbyes and look vaguely uncomfortable.


Used to the laconic Druid's ways, neither Elias nor Harmon are surprised at his sudden departure. Everyone in the thorp is at the Gathering - either to talk business or enjoy the turn of the season. Aerik finds his parents with little effort. Although his sister intercepts him first.

Bellavia (Bell) gives her older brother a hug and a smile. "It's good to see you, Aerik. You should spend more time in town. I don't like you being shut away in that cabin so much. I worry."


Marcus Braun wrote:
"Eluon, how d'you feel about comin' with me tonight? I think I spotted some Fey Birch not too far from here. Both of us together could snag a decent haul, be back before the kids realize we're even gone."

The other lumberjack rubs his chin, considering the profit to be turned on a stand of Fey Birch. "Sara will have my hide, most likely, for going up country at night... but, yeah, I'm with you. Can't afford to wait on a find like that."


stormraven wrote:

Ezekiel…

Ezekiel enjoys more than grudging acceptance from the townsfolk at the Gathering. The somewhat hard-eyed and hard-voiced Beax Guthwite and the soft-spoken Elsbeth Rallo make a point of offering the Doctor drinks and jars of their finest summer preserves – strawberries and apricots.

Beax softens her permanent scowl of disapproval at everything, saying gruffly, ”Lil’ Jode mayhaps may not of made it through the winter if you hadn’t set up with him and taken care of that flu. So… thanks.”

Elsbeth nudges the other woman in the ribs, not unkindly, at her sparse thanks. ”I’d like to thank you as well, Doctor. You took fine care of my Margot; she is mending well… and everyone in town lived through the winter. You had a hand in that. The cupboard is a bit bare right now but when we’ve got the spring harvest in, my family would like you to come for dinner.”

As the two women come up, Ezekiel forces his hand to his side, nearly going for a hat that wasn't there. 'Keep forgetting I lost it last year.' As the women hand him the preserves, he thanks each in turn, listening to their thank yous. "I assure you, only doing what I can to help the town. Nothing anyone else wouldn't do."

As they continue on, Ezekiel can't help but think to himself about the two. Lil' Jode would be fine, maybe a tad stunted in his growth. Illness could do that. Margot was more of a concern though. It had nothing to do with her being Olivia's age. At least not everything.

The invitation to dinner, that wasn't anything unusual. "You have my thanks for such a kind offer. And I appreciate the preserves." Everyone in the village had offered at some point. But rarely was it more than a courtesy. Ezekiel had the habit of not taking people up on these offers, not unless he expected someone to be ill. At least then he could justify it as work.


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)
Melodica wrote:
"Aw, what? Why do I have to go?"

"Don't worry, boys won't bite you. At least I hope not. But the alternative is to listen to Papa and the others talk to Master Wynn. Come along, this won't be long."

Lyrica takes her sister Mel and speaks with the boys.

Lyrica wrote:
" Perhaps you boys would be kind enough to bring our friend Lohengrin home so that he may get warmed up and into some dry clothing. You certainly don't want anybody catching cold just after they ran the river now do we?"
Lohegrin wrote:
"That's OK. I can get myself home. Thanks. I'll... see you fellows later."

Not wanting the young lad to feel any worse than he does, Lyrica calls to him as he leaves, "Take care of yourself, Lohegrin, and make sure you dry yourself off as soon as you can."

Once the wet boy leaves, Lyrica turns to the rest and says, "I do hope none of you boys put him up to this! You do realize that even had he succeeded he would not be earning a kiss from me for it! I hope you gentlemen did not fill his head up with such thoughts!"

As the boys slink away from her, Lyrica takes Melodica and returns to her father, politely waiting until he is not chatting with any of the other adults before speaking.

"Papa, how did the talk with the Master Wynn fare? Do we know how soon the spring will arrive? Tell me Papa, why does everybody seek out Master Wynn to ask these questions? He must be really knowledgable on these matters to warrant the Hetmon of Dies Drear speaking with him. I just wonder why he doesn't live in the hamlet with the rest of us?"


Jak is lost for a second, imagining all the possibilities of just what Rina could mean by 'proving her ardor.' Was more than enough to shake the chill from ten Drear winters.

lilac really is my favorite flower, he thinks, well… is tonight, anyway.

Jak can't help but smile at Little Red's taunts. A smile he's sure to hide behind a facade of overly-dramatic suspicion as he turns around to regard the bundle of knees and elbows held together by little but two barrels-full of spunk and brass. "And just what do you know of notes from girls, Red?" He insinuates every ounce of good-natured derision into her nickname, folding his arms across his chest. "I didn't think prankster-little red-top squirrels even knew how to read or write? And I don't believe for one second that your ma was able to pin you in one spot long enough to teach you." He gives her a wink and his best mischief-sharing grins as he steps closer to her, "So, got any big plans for tonight, Kid? I think all this snow's made this town ripe for some fun, don't you?"

Red was one of Jak's favorite younger girls in town. She had enough brass for a whole room full of girls, and knowing the women in the Howell family, that was saying something. Plus, he thinks as he looks at how the scrawny girls clothes seem to fit her gawky-long limbs all wrong, often as not, gawky little awkward girls could be like wines. All vinegar, fire and clumsy when young, but they often turned into a thing of beauty. He shakes his head at his own metaphor, Pair with chocolates for a real treat.

Sleight of Hand 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19

He musses her hair, a perfectly-shined silver crown seeming to come out of her nest of bright red hair. "Hey, you're paying out already. I might have to take you with me as my lucky charm when i head down-valley." He flips it to her, "Share some of your ma's mulled cider later? My treat?"

Plenty of time before I need to head out to meet Rina, he thinks as he watches some of the boys run the river. Plus, give her some time to stew and warm up… always seems to speed things along.


(hp 11/35, AC 18, T 13, FF 15, Initiative +3, Perception +9)

Aerik's hard stone face brightens into a smile at the sight of his sister. He looks her up and down after gratefully receiving her embrace.

"You are always welcome to visit me, Bell. I'd make sure to feed you well too. Look at you! You look so slight I bet a strong wind would knock you over. I'll have to stop by town at least a bit more often, to bring you and ma and pa some food. And don't let me catch you off by those fools at the river. Winter or Spring, a child could catch a terrible sickness from the cold."

Aerik's eyes are on Bell, but they do not see her just then. He is seeing Ellie, lying in her sick bed. Feebly asking for his help. He is lying and telling her everything will be all right. That she will recover. Though he knows that she is too far gone to be saved by mundane or magical means. A splash and a loud roar of laughter snaps his thoughts back to the present.

"Surely prancing on half-melted ice can't be the only way for a lad to get a kiss from a fair lady in this town. I fear I'm not as nimble as I once was."

He gives a snort of laughter at his own jest, a sound not often heard from his lips of late. Then the druid bends down and turns his cheek to receive a kiss from his sister.

"Now go have fun. And be careful. I should like to talk to mother and father before I leave."


Ezekiel Druiminn wrote:
"I assure you, only doing what I can to help the town. Nothing anyone else wouldn't do."

Elsbeth holds his eyes, "There's a river of difference between would and could, Doctor. Not everyone could minister to the town. You could and did. That's not a small thing." Despite the soft-spoken demeanor it's clear that Elsbeth Rallo shares the doggedness of many frontier women. She looks ready to wrestle Ezekiel to the ground to accept her praise. Ezekiel amends his previous opinion... while some of the townsfolk had offered him dinner with no real intent to make good, he was quite certain that Elsbeth Rallo would follow through and 'no' wasn't an answer she'd accept.

Abruptly, she smiles and switches subjects, stepping closer to the Bonesetter to speak a little more confidentially, "In the snow, it's a fair trudge for you to come into town, isn't it? You're either walking the river or crossing the bridge on the bluff. And your house must catch the winter winds coming up the gorge. Either way - it's cold." She looks around at the town, insinuating with her glance that Ezekiel should do the same. "Maybe you should think about finding a place in town before next winter..." Her eyes light on a pleasant looking brunette scolding a couple of children no more than 30' away, "Have you met Mara, Ezekiel?"

The Bonesetter doesn't need a map to see where this trail leads... matchmaking. Mara is the spinster sister of Tobar Zirk and has been helping to raise his children since his wife was taken by Swamp Fever three years past.

'Spinster', Ezekiel thinks is an unforgiving term for a reasonably attractive woman in her thirties but, in the Drear, they marry young. The Doctor's eyes unconsciously swing to Rowan for a moment as she ladles lemonade into small cups for a crowd of the thorp's youngest children.

Ez - How well known would the old Rowan-Gavin-Ez love triangle be? Is your character still carrying a torch for Rowan? If so, would anyone know that?


Lyrica Strom wrote:
"Papa, how did the talk with the Master Wynn fare? Do we know how soon the spring will arrive? Tell me Papa, why does everybody seek out Master Wynn to ask these questions? He must be really knowledgable on these matters to warrant the Hetmon of Dies Drear speaking with him."

Harmon Strom makes a warding gesture with a chuckle to stave off the barrage of questions from his daughter. "Peace, girl! Master Wynn thinks we'll have a month 'til the spring floods come. They shouldn't be too bad, but he'll look into it further. When it comes to these mountains, the Hetmon will listen to any man with experience... and nobody knows more about a place than a druid who lives there. Wynn's got his feet in the soil, his fingers in the branches, and his head in the wind."

Lyrica Strom wrote:
"I just wonder why he doesn't live in the hamlet with the rest of us?"

Harmon hrumphs, "People and crops are no different, Lyrica - some need less space to grow well, some need more. Aerik Wynn strikes me as a man that needs a lot of room, maybe all druids do."


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)

Lyrica smiles as her father gestures for her to hold with the questions.

Harmon wrote:
"People and crops are no different, Lyrica - some need less space to grow well, some need more. Aerik Wynn strikes me as a man that needs a lot of room, maybe all druids do"

"I never thought of it that way." Lyrica replies, clearly thinking about the druid. After a moment, Lyrica asks her next barrage of questions, "Papa, I suspect that Master Wynn is the type of person that could sit quietly and meditate. Do you think he is familiar with the ways of the Dawnflower? I mean, I know he is a druid, but do druids still seek the Everlight?"


Jak Howell wrote:
Jak can't help but smile at Little Red's taunts. A smile he's sure to hide behind a facade of overly-dramatic suspicion as he turns around to regard the bundle of knees and elbows held together by little but two barrels-full of spunk and brass. "And just what do you know of notes from girls, Red?" He insinuates every ounce of good-natured derision into her nickname, folding his arms across his chest. "I didn't think prankster-little red-top squirrels even knew how to read or write? And I don't believe for one second that your ma was able to pin you in one spot long enough to teach you."

Ritti looks mostly amused and slightly affronted. "I know my letters! Had to learn'em just so I could find the wiggle room in the Rules. Don't wanna take more switchin's than I earned."

Jak laughs realising the red-headed hellion is probably speaking the truth. Posted in the Assembly Hall (which also serves as the school) are two weathered placards that list the Rules of Fellowship. The first list outlines the values and behaviors that Drear-folk have abided by for the sake of the community since the thorp's foundation... with some amendments made after the blood feuds of 1018. They are mostly commonsense guiding principles.

The second list describes the Rules of Fellowship for the thorp's children - outlining proper behavior and what would earn a child a switching or worse. At least one or two amendments had been made to the list since Jak was a boy. And it was speculated that another one or two would be added before Ritti reached her maturity.

Jak Howell wrote:
He gives her a wink and his best mischief-sharing grins as he steps closer to her, "So, got any big plans for tonight, Kid? I think all this snow's made this town ripe for some fun, don't you?"

A co-conspirator at heart, Ritti lowers her voice, "I got nothin' planned, right now... Mama has been watchin' me like a hawk all week, Jak. It's like she doesn't trust me." She shares a grin with Jak that says her mother is right not to, "Can you believe that?"

Jak Howell wrote:
He musses her hair, a perfectly-shined silver crown seeming to come out of her nest of bright red hair. "Hey, you're paying out already. I might have to take you with me as my lucky charm when I head down-valley." He flips it to her, "Share some of your ma's mulled cider later? My treat?"

Ritti's eyes go wide - less at the crown and more at the offer of adventure. "Jak! Jak! PLEASE take me down-valley when you go! I'll be your lucky charm, I really will! I'll be really, really good! And not the 'good' I promise Mama, but the real thing! I've never seen Muuscarta or anywhere! Can I come? Please talk your Pop into it! I'll do anything to go!"

She manages to simultaneously leap up and down while hanging onto Jak, trying to extract promises from him. After a long minute of heartfelt and sincere begging, she reluctantly lets him go for the promise of a shared cider later along with an additional chance to wheedle him into bringing her along on the Howell's next trading trip.


Aerik Wynn wrote:
"You are always welcome to visit me, Bell. I'd make sure to feed you well too. Look at you! You look so slight I bet a strong wind would knock you over. I'll have to stop by town at least a bit more often, to bring you and ma and pa some food. And don't let me catch you off by those fools at the river. Winter or Spring, a child could catch a terrible sickness from the cold."

She rests her hands on her womanly hips and offers him a scowl that is a mirror for his own. "Do I look like a ninny? I'm a woman grown, Aerik, though I suspect you still fancy me in pig-tails... and I love you for it. And don't think I didn't notice how you eeled your way out of spending more time in town." She waggles a friendly finger at the Druid. "I see you are still a conniving truant."

Aerik Wynn wrote:

"Surely prancing on half-melted ice can't be the only way for a lad to get a kiss from a fair lady in this town. I fear I'm not as nimble as I once was."

He gives a snort of laughter at his own jest, a sound not often heard from his lips of late. Then the druid bends down and turns his cheek to receive a kiss from his sister.

"Now go have fun. And be careful. I should like to talk to mother and father before I leave."

She takes the hint, kisses him, and gets set to leave adding only a final thought before departing, "If you are truly looking for a fair lady, then you should visit the Odenbrands. Rose and Nyssa are both free. I dare say neither is a twittering girl who will expect a gentleman of your advanced years to Run the River... and who could be more of an appropriate match for a Druid than a Rose?" Bell leaves laughter in her wake.


Aerik quickly finds himself in the company of his parents. Cole Wynn is greying like a winter frost and wrinkles mark his face, but he is still vital. His wife, Annika, has aged more gracefully.

The older man, shakes his son's hand and places the other on his shoulder. He smiles less than he used to, and both the Wynn men know why. "I'm glad you've come, Aerik. It's good to see you looking strong."


Lyrica Strom wrote:
"I never thought of it that way." Lyrica replies, clearly thinking about the druid. After a moment, Lyrica asks her next barrage of questions, "Papa, I suspect that Master Wynn is the type of person that could sit quietly and meditate. Do you think he is familiar with the ways of the Dawnflower? I mean, I know he is a druid, but do druids still seek the Everlight?"

Her lay priest father considers the question. "Among the Dawnflower's servants, there are some druids, yes. Is he among them? I've never seen him at our services so I assume his faith lies elsewhere." He smiles. "But he isn't a man to talk of his beliefs."


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)

"Well, Papa, I spoke with several other farm families. As you asked, I took notes on what they planned to grow, and how many rows they were going to plant. I hope you like potatoes, Papa, because that is certainly the most popular vegetable to be grown in Dries Drear this year. As far as the pest situation, I don't think many of the farmers took the same care that you did in our fields. I remember the day that we dug up all those plants with infected leaves and disposed of them under the rock pile. Well, I don't think the others kept such vigilant watch on their own plants. From what I could see, the Rallos, the Guthwites and the Marthuons look like they are going to have trouble with an outbreak of featherworms. I think we could help them with some generous application of fungicide on the brown and wilted leaves, but they do not seem very interested in using your method. If we are not careful, those unchecked plants could cause a disastrous outbreak of featherworms. What do you think we should do, Papa? I know these folks are too proud to accept our help, but I wonder if there is still something we could do?"


Harmon gives her a small smile and speaks with certainty, "The spring crops haven't broken ground yet, Daughter. Featherworms will have little to feed on for several moons. The Hetmon is no fool and a farmer that feeds his family has no room for pride in the face of blight... They will listen and they will accept our help. Do not worry." He wipes the dust from his hands, "That is enough work today. Go and enjoy yourselves while the light lasts, then supper."


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)

"Thank you, Papa! There is a dance move that I am trying to work out, and can use the time to practice, but what I'm really looking forward to is after dinner when we can practice the art. Are you still free to work with me, tonight? I would be willing to work more around the house, if that would be helpful?"


(hp 11/35, AC 18, T 13, FF 15, Initiative +3, Perception +9)
NN_Woman wrote:
Aerik Wynn wrote:
"You are always welcome to visit me, Bell. I'd make sure to feed you well too. Look at you! You look so slight I bet a strong wind would knock you over. I'll have to stop by town at least a bit more often, to bring you and ma and pa some food. And don't let me catch you off by those fools at the river. Winter or Spring, a child could catch a terrible sickness from the cold."

She rests her hands on her womanly hips and offers him a scowl that is a mirror for his own. "Do I look like a ninny? I'm a woman grown, Aerik, though I suspect you still fancy me in pig-tails... and I love you for it. And don't think I didn't notice how you eeled your way out of spending more time in town." She waggles a friendly finger at the Druid. "I see you are still a conniving truant."

Aerik Wynn wrote:

"Surely prancing on half-melted ice can't be the only way for a lad to get a kiss from a fair lady in this town. I fear I'm not as nimble as I once was."

He gives a snort of laughter at his own jest, a sound not often heard from his lips of late. Then the druid bends down and turns his cheek to receive a kiss from his sister.

"Now go have fun. And be careful. I should like to talk to mother and father before I leave."

She takes the hint, kisses him, and gets set to leave adding only a final thought before departing, "If you are truly looking for a fair lady, then you should visit the Odenbrands. Rose and Nyssa are both free. I dare say neither is a twittering girl who will expect a gentleman of your advanced years to Run the River... and who could be more of an appropriate match for a Druid than a Rose?" Bell leaves laughter in her wake.

Aerik's mouth smiles when his sister talks of pig-tails, though his eyes do not.

"You shall always be a young lass in pig-tails to me. Even when we are both old and grey."

Then with a gentle feigned annoyance, he continues:

"And I might be more inclined to visit the town if I didn't have a flock of women trying to match me with a wife each time I did. As to that, I'll tell you the same thing I told Mrs. Odenbrand when she came calling on behalf of her daughters. I'd be glad to take either of them as a wife, so long as said wife would be glad to live in my cabin with me."

As Bell departs laughing, Aerik reflects, solemnly.
She is a strong one. It does my heart well to see her laughing and happy.


(hp 11/35, AC 18, T 13, FF 15, Initiative +3, Perception +9)
Nameless Normal wrote:

Aerik quickly finds himself in the company of his parents. Cole Wynn is greying like a winter frost and wrinkles mark his face, but he is still vital. His wife, Annika, has aged more gracefully.

The older man, shakes his son's hand and places the other on his shoulder. He smiles less than he used to, and both the Wynn men know why. "I'm glad you've come, Aerik. It's good to see you looking strong."

Aerik returns his father's "manshake" and then embraces his mother, kissing her lightly on her forehead.

"Father. Mother. It is good to see you both. You look well. Do you need anything? I mean to come into town in a few weeks or so. I can bring food or remedies if you or the herd need something in particular. Any sicknesses or injuries that I should know about?"


Ritti wrote:
"I got nothin' planned, right now... Mama has been watchin' me like a hawk all week, Jak. It's like she doesn't trust me." She shares a grin with Jak that says her mother is right not to, "Can you believe that?"

"What? You? Nooooo…." He lowers his voice, "Though let me know if you think of anything juicy."

Ritti wrote:
"Jak! Jak! PLEASE take me down-valley when you go! I'll be your lucky charm, I really will! I'll be really, really good! And not the 'good' I promise Mama, but the real thing!"

Jak looks at the knobby-limbed ball of excitement like a trader who just realized he was being conned. "What are you trying to pull? If I wanted 'good', I'd ask a Strom. I look for luck charms who are fun to have around."

After disentangling himself from the girl's exuberance, he watches her walk away, inwardly shaking his head at his misstep. You shouldn't have mentioned taking her out of the Drear, Jak. She's a sweet girl, but the road's dangerous. Plus, da won't appreciate having to look after her every minute of every day.

Oh well, it was a problem for another time. Can't put the milk back in the bottle, the saying went, so he might as well enjoy the rest of the evening.

He set across through the town gathering, eyes and ears open for anything fun. He nearly stumbles into the conversation between his father and Eluon. Nope! Not fun! he thinks as he sneaks back into the crowd, no sense poking the bear. Then his eyes find Lyrica Strom, and Jak can't help but grin. Bingo!

Lyrica was a tough nut to crack. The girl was gorgeous. And bright to boot. How she could have so much potential and still be about as fun as a wet sock was beyond Jak. Still, a gorgeous wet sock is still worth looking at…

He waits until there Lyrica is finished with the conversation with her dad, giving the farmer a warm, respectful nod as he departs, "Lyrica. Always a pleasure to see you." He dips his head in the direction of the soaking and departing Lohegrin, a joking grin appearing on his lips, "So, you and your boyfriend set a date yet?"

Jak wasn't aware of Lyrica actually having feelings for the younger boy, but she was just so fun to tease.


stormraven:
When Jak heads out to meet Rina, he'll take his 2 daggers, his shortsword, and his quarterstaff. The quarterstaff is good for walking and will help fend off wild animals. The shortswrod will (hopefully) make him seem all the more worldly and manly. And the daggers are actually good weapons to have in a pinch. I'd considered him taking all five, but that might get awkward or weird if things really warm up with Rina.

His buckler, whip, morningtar and backpack will obviously stay back in his room.


Nameless Normal wrote:
Marcus Braun wrote:
"Eluon, how d'you feel about comin' with me tonight? I think I spotted some Fey Birch not too far from here. Both of us together could snag a decent haul, be back before the kids realize we're even gone."
The other lumberjack rubs his chin, considering the profit to be turned on a stand of Fey Birch. "Sara will have my hide, most likely, for going up country at night... but, yeah, I'm with you. Can't afford to wait on a find like that."

Marcus half-smiles at the comment and puts a calloused hand on Eluon's shoulder.

Thanks, friend. Lemme talk to Sara--I might can smooth things over, or at least take the blame off you when I tell 'er it's my idea. Could be fun for the kids tonight, too, though less so for Sara. I'll meet you at your house in a half-hour. Evenin', Howell, Marcus nods to Mattin, then walks off in search of Sara and the kids.


Before Jak teases Lyrica...

Lyrica wrote:
"Thank you, Papa! There is a dance move that I am trying to work out, and can use the time to practice, but what I'm really looking forward to is after dinner when we can practice the art. Are you still free to work with me, tonight? I would be willing to work more around the house, if that would be helpful?"

Harmon shoos his youngest daughter away to enjoy her evening and glances around to make sure his wife is not in earshot before answering. "Your mother, Sarenrae bless her, doesn't like what you're learning. "Isn't proper for a woman", she says. And Melodica is getting to that willful age where she won't be your tag-along any more - the signs are there. Girlish resentments being what they are, she might say something to your mother that will get us both in hot water. So, have a care what you say and in front of who..." He looks his daughter over a little sadly, "You are all growing up so fast."

The aging farmer puts the maudlin thoughts aside, "I'll get you time to practice by yourself tonight - after dinner. Now go, and don't let me catch you saying 'art' in public again."


Aerik wrote:
"Father. Mother. It is good to see you both. You look well. Do you need anything? I mean to come into town in a few weeks or so. I can bring food or remedies if you or the herd need something in particular. Any sicknesses or injuries that I should know about?"

His father pipes up, "The goats are fine. Brownie's broke his leg but we got it splinted and he's hobbling around faster than us. A couple of the does are ready to give birth. If you'll be by in two weeks, that'll be just about right. I'd appreciate the help bringing those kids into the world."

Aerik's mother contents herself with leaning against her tall son. Out of long habit, she straightens his hair.


Marcus wrote:

Marcus half-smiles at the comment and puts a calloused hand on Eluon's shoulder.

"Thanks, friend. Lemme talk to Sara--I might can smooth things over, or at least take the blame off you when I tell 'er it's my idea. Could be fun for the kids tonight, too, though less so for Sara. I'll meet you at your house in a half-hour. Evenin', Howell", Marcus nods to Mattin, then walks off in search of Sara and the kids.

Eluon shakes his head ruefully at Marcus' confidence. When the other lumberjack has disappeared into the crowd, he turns to Mattin - his father-in-law as well as Marcus', "That poor bastard. He just stepped into a hurricane."

The old trader chuckles in silent agreement.


Sargiva 'Sara' Howell-Balatin is one of the most seasoned mothers in the Drear. When her own mother died some years back, she helped to raise her four younger siblings, including the notorious Jakwin. While she couldn't stop his excessive mischief, she certainly had skill at curtailing it. Adding to that, she and Eluon had four children of their own and the Howell blood was strong in them. They were a noisy, willful, slightly mischievous lot.

And then Mira died that horrible winter. There was never really a question if Sara would act as god-mother to Marcus' children when her sister died. Their daughter Heather was Cassi's age and Eras was book-ended in age by Sara's Bernal and Ryal. What were two more mouths and hearts at a table as large as the one Sara set?

So Sara knew how to handle children and how to watch them for signs of impending trouble... and that skill wasn't useless among the 'grown up kids' that most men were. As Marcus cut through the small crowd on his way to find her, she could already tell he was up to no good. She gives Ryal a final, determined swat on the behind for putting the muddy frog down Anka Guthwite's dress. It sends the boy running with a yelp. Then she stands up and wipes a muddy hand idly onto her apron. The other hand still holds the frost frog.

As he approaches, Marcus appreciates the woman helping to raise his family. Her slender body has broadened a bit and her face is strong, if one can get past the sharp green eyes. She has that indefinable 'something' of the Howell women that instantly and painfully reminds Marcus of his lost Mira.

Her voice is laced with justified suspicion, "What? You're going to tell me something I'm not going to like, aren't you?"


Marcus smooths his shirt, unaware of what to do with his hands before holding them rigidly at his sides. He speaks gingerly, as a child too scared to run the river tries to tip-toe across the ice.

Well, I guess that depends on how long I can get you to listen to me...

He good-naturedly holds up an arm as if to block a strike from his sister-in-law. While clearly comfortable with Sara and appreciative of all that she does for him and his children, Marcus is unhappy about burdening her with yet more responsibility.

I found some Fey Birch out a ways and, well, it's a two-man job so... The big man rubs his beard and leaves the rest unsaid for a while before crookedly smiling and continuing: I probably should have talked to you, first, huh?

He turns aside and watches the children at play before looking back at Sara, earnestly, and speaking with an unspoken 'I-owe-you-one' in his voice: It's a good find, it is, and worth enough to keep us well-stocked for awhile. We'll be back before dawn or insert applicable time here , and I won't let anything happen to him. You have my word. At the last sentence he looks her square in the eye, then gives her a hug, lifting her slightly off the ground before saying his thanks.


Sara broods like a threatening storm-cloud as Marcus unfolds his plan. Her thoughts and emotions bounce back and forth....

Taking care of the children isn't a problem. Cassi and Heather are thick as thieves and have been begging for a sleepover for weeks so they can whisper about boys. But lumbering at night is dangerous work. But, Fey Birch is valuable and perishable. And Marcus didn't have to share the stand with us...

Sara finds it hard to be mad at Marcus; he was sweet and sincere. No doubt those were the qualities that attracted Mira. There isn't a rascally bone in that man's body - clearly not a Howell - so that's a point in his favor...

She accepts the hug with a smile, the storm vanishing. "Alright. You can borrow my husband for the night. The children will stay over. Cassi and Heather have been begging me for a sleepover anyways... Brace yourself - they've both decided that 'boys' aren't completely icky." She lets the thought of coping with his daughter's pubescence hang in the air, "Now if you boys come back stinking of liquor and nymphs, I'll kill you painfully and slowly with your own axe. And you don't want to know what I'll do to my husband."

She looks to the children, particularly the girls on the verge of womanhood. "Make up beds for Heather and Eras, they'll be staying the night." The girls' squeals alone would deafen bats, then the excited whispering begins...

Sara gives Marcus a grim look, "Welcome to every parent's nightmare."


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)
Harmon Strom wrote:
"I'll get you time to practice by yourself tonight - after dinner. Now go, and don't let me catch you saying 'art' in public again."

"Thank you, Papa!" She says with a great big smile. "I promise to be more careful."

Lyrica runs off with Melodica at her side only to meet Jak Howell hovering.

Jak wrote:
"Lyrica. Always a pleasure to see you."

"Hello, Jak." Lyrica replies politely. "I saw you giving Lohengrin the eye. I hope you didn't have anything to do with persuading him to run the river?!"

Jak wrote:
"So, you and your boyfriend set a date yet?"

"Jak Howell, how dare you! There is no such relationship going on between us and you would do well not to even entertain such ideas. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it as it is! Besides, I haven't met my soul mate yet. To be honest, I don't think he lives in Dies Drear at the moment." She says matter of factly. "Just because you do not have high aspirations, doesn't mean that none of us do!" She adds with a slight grin. "So who do you have your eyes on this time? It better not be Hanna Guthwite?! She is far too young to get involved in your sort."


Lyrica wrote:
"I saw you giving Lohengrin the eye. I hope you didn't have anything to do with persuading him to run the river?!"

Jak barks out a laugh, not expecting the accusation. "I don't think he needed any encouragement. A twice-blinded bat couldn't miss the moon-eyes he has for you. Though I certainly don't begrudge anyone running the river for the prizes it can bring." He leans in a bit closer, adding some juicy emphasis to the following words, "You do have some prizes for him, right?"

He steps back, palms held up to forestall an actual answer as if to say not my business. "Whatever secret prizes you and Lohegrin share are yours. I won't tell anyone." He mimes locking his lips and tossing the fake key over his shoulder.

Lyrica wrote:
"Besides, I haven't met my soul mate yet. To be honest, I don't think he lives in Dies Drear at the moment."

"Soul mates?! I'm just talking about a good kiss and a cuddle." Not that he thought Lyrica had ever sullied her reputation with such. "Do the boy some good. I like to read a book as much as the next guy, but some things you can't learn between the pages of a book, if ya know what I mean."

Lyrica wrote:
"Just because you do not have high aspirations, doesn't mean that none of us do!"

"You cut me deep, Lyrica. Your da doesn't complain with the work me and my da do to keep you and yours supplied on the farm. And name one guy our age who's seen more of what's outside the Drear. That's not nothin."

Lyrica wrote:
"So who do you have your eyes on this time? It better not be Hanna Guthwite?! She is far too young to get involved in your sort."

Jak grins, "Your sort'? You mean a charming gentleman? Well, my sort never tells. Hanna is cute, though." He looks around with a playful mock-sincerity, "Why? Did she say something about me?" He waves it off, "Anyway, she's no Allegra Strom…"


DM

O.o Scandalous! :D

Whenever you have finished what you want to accomplish at the Gathering, please drop an OOC comment in your final post saying that you are ready to move on.

I'm not trying to rush anyone or cut the scene short. Feel free to RP as long as you like.


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)
Jak wrote:
"You do have some prizes for him, right?"He steps back, palms held up to forestall an actual answer as if to say not my business. "Whatever secret prizes you and Lohegrin share are yours. I won't tell anyone." He mimes locking his lips and tossing the fake key over his shoulder."

"Jak Howell, of course I do not have any prizes prepared for him! When did you learn to be so cheeky?! What would your mother say if she knew you were speaking this way? All I can say is that I hope that you some day find the Everlight! If you felt the presence of the Dawnflower in your heart, you wouldn't need to go chasing these young inocent girls around trying to steal a kiss and a cuddle whenever possible."

Lyrica wrote:
"Just because you do not have high aspirations, doesn't mean that none of us do!"
Jak wrote:
"You cut me deep, Lyrica. Your da doesn't complain with the work me and my da do to keep you and yours supplied on the farm. And name one guy our age who's seen more of what's outside the Drear. That's not nothin."

"I will not complain at the work you do. I know that you and your father work hard and pull your weight in the village. We are also most grateful for all of the supplies you help us with. My concern is that mischievous smile and that cheeky attitude you approach the girls with. They may not have the same Strom instinct that I grew up with to know that you are trouble with a capital T when it comes to kissin and cuddlin. As for my own soul mate, I will know him when I meet him. He will be a kind, patient, gentleman who will not speak so forwardly as you do! He will also dance with me and be a helpmate in all that I do! He will also lookout for the welfare of others over his own. He certainly would not be foolish enough to run the river to try to impress me! Now tell me truthfully, Jak, without even considering the gentle and helpful part of my list of requirements, do you even know a boy in Dies Drear who knows how to dance?"


Jak's grin deepens a bit as Lyrica's annoyance rises. And then….

Lyrica wrote:
"What would your mother say if she knew you were speaking this way? All I can say is that I hope that you some day find the Everlight! If you felt the presence of the Dawnflower in your heart, you wouldn't need to go chasing these young inocent girls around trying to steal a kiss and a cuddle whenever possible."

Sense Motive DC 22:
Jak's smile falters ever-so-slightly and his eyes harden a bit at the mention of his dead mother. It's no secret that her death was hard on the whole family, but even after ten years, it seems like mentioning her name -- especially in such a context -- still brings a wash of emotional pain.

You're reminded of the time you overheard one of the local women commenting -- with a mix of annoyance and compassion -- that Jak really hadn't had his vaunted recklessness until after his mother passed away.

Bluff (to mask his reaction) 1d20 + 7 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 7 + 1 = 22; Charming.

"My mother loved to laugh. I hope she'd be proud of me, but I guess there's no way to know. "

He weathers the rest of her response with the smile plastered on his face. When she's finally finished, his response is short. "Well, good luck finding your perfect dance partner soul mate."

… or just finding someone willing to put up with you at all, he finishes mentally. He nods, still fighting to maintain his grin as he spins on his heel and heads back across the gathering, ignoring anything further Lyrica has to say. Three steps away, he shakes his head, grin finally slipping into an annoyed grimace. He finishes with a wry mutter, "Maybe you should go have a dance with Old Gray."

Jak walks away struggling to suppress a suddenly black mood. There's not a pair of eyes deep enough or lips soft enough to put up with that, he thinks, Wet sock, indeed. More like a cold wet noose for whatever poor sod gets roped into that dance. She can stow her 'Strom instinct' where the mist don't reach!

Suddenly something warm and alcoholic sounds fantastic, and he cuts towards he barn. He unthinkingly fishes out his dice, rattling them in his right hand (something he does when looking for fun or trouble) as he looks for something to correct the suddenly-errant turn this day had taken.

I'm good to move on whenever. Jak doesn't need to RP the scene with little Red, but it will mostly consist of Jak being evasive on the whole 'taking her down-valley' issue while trying to work up some fun with the young trouble-maker. Other than that, bring on whatever's next for us!

And Harpwizard, I can see that this is going to be a fun character dynamic. :D


NN_Woman wrote:
Elsbeth holds his eyes, "There's a river of difference between would and could, Doctor. Not everyone could minister to the town. You could and did. That's not a small thing." Despite the soft-spoken demeanor it's clear that Elsbeth Rallo shares the doggedness of many frontier women. She looks ready to wrestle Ezekiel to the ground to accept her praise. Ezekiel amends his previous opinion... while some of the townsfolk had offered him dinner with no real intent to make good, he was quite certain that Elsbeth Rallo would follow through and 'no' wasn't an answer she'd accept.

"When you put it so eloquently, I suppose I'll have to say thank you for the kind words, Elsbeth. And be assured I'll always be willing to help best I can. I'll have to take you up on that offer."

NN_Woman wrote:

Abruptly, she smiles and switches subjects, stepping closer to the Bonesetter to speak a little more confidentially, "In the snow, it's a fair trudge for you to come into town, isn't it? You're either walking the river or crossing the bridge on the bluff. And your house must catch the winter winds coming up the gorge. Either way - it's cold." She looks around at the town, insinuating with her glance that Ezekiel should do the same. "Maybe you should think about finding a place in town before next winter..." Her eyes light on a pleasant looking brunette scolding a couple of children no more than 30' away, "Have you met Mara, Ezekiel?"

The Bonesetter doesn't need a map to see where this trail leads... matchmaking. Mara is the spinster sister of Tobar Zirk and has been helping to raise his children since his wife was taken by Swamp Fever three years past.

'Spinster', Ezekiel thinks is an unforgiving term for a reasonably attractive woman in her thirties but, in the Drear, they marry young. The Doctor's eyes unconsciously swing to Rowan for a moment as she ladles lemonade into small cups for a crowd of the thorp's youngest children.

The pain in his chest flares for a moment, one he knew none of his medicines would cure. Realizing he wasn't alone, he turns back to Elsbeth, hoping she hadn't notice. Knowing it was inevitable without sounding rude, Ezekiel gives in to what he knows is to come. "I have indeed met Mara, but only in a professional setting." Ezekiel leaves the opening for Elsbeth. It was the least he could do for her. "Never know anyway, she might be the one." He catches another glance of Rowan. "Of course won't have much time as it is. Too much to do this evening."

SR:
NN_Woman wrote:
Ez - How well known would the old Rowan-Gavin-Ez love triangle be? Is your character still carrying a torch for Rowan? If so, would anyone know that?

Amongst the older generation, quite well known I would say. The fight was probably public and quite disgraceful. Ezekiel would definitely still have feelings for her, a large reason why he's never married since. While he denies it, it's obvious enough for the same people that knew about it. I figure it doesn't get talked about for the younger generation to have common knowledge of it, but one or two might for story purposes.


(hp 38/38, AC 17, T 11, FF 11, Initiative +1, Perception +5, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +10)
Jak wrote:
"My mother loved to laugh. I hope she'd be proud of me, but I guess there's no way to know."

Sense Motive 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20

Although Lyrica is quite perceptive and good at reading people, Jak Howell can put on the mask of happy face enough to not arouse any suspicion in her. She is completely unaware that she caused any hurt with her words and is more annoyed with Jak's own teasing.

Jak wrote:
"Well, good luck finding your perfect dance partner soul mate."

"It isn't about luck, Jak Howell, but I thank you just the same! I wish you a fine day."

Lyrica takes her sister and departs. She will return home and before dinner she will go out to her favorite spot out behind the Strom house. This special spot is a place Lyrica loves to go to in her free moments. She will often sit on a wooden swing suspended form one of the branches and think about life and its people. However, today, she spends her time spinning and dancing in swirling arcing patterns that form the shape of a beautiful flower with elliptical petals.

Perform, Dance 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12

Why am I having such trouble with that spin? she asks herself as she falls down after several tries. Don't give up. Maybe with a little less speed I can make that turn? The middle daughter of the Strom family does not give up easily and goes back to practicing.

Lyrica is all set. She will simply practice her dancing until she hears her mom's call to help make supper.

Eben, this is going to be great!


Ez wrote:
The pain in his chest flares for a moment, one he knew none of his medicines would cure. Realizing he wasn't alone, he turns back to Elsbeth, hoping she hadn't notice. Knowing it was inevitable without sounding rude, Ezekiel gives in to what he knows is to come. "I have indeed met Mara, but only in a professional setting." Ezekiel leaves the opening for Elsbeth. It was the least he could do for her... He catches another glance of Rowan.

At 42, Elsbeth had seen many dramas unfold in Dies Drear over the years - the little heart-breaks and the great tragedies. The star-crossed affair of Rowan Ruske (now Finiose) and the Apothecary was closer to the latter than the former - made more heart-rending by Ezekiel's unwavering fidelity. It was romantic, gallant, and tinged with sadness - and Elsbeth Rallo wasn't the only woman from her generation who thought so.

Elsbeth places a gentle hand on Ezekiel's arm to regain his attention. The touch matches the soft look in her eyes, "If you're... when... When we have you over to supper, if you'd like to have company other than a pack of my children, I could certainly invite Mara or another of the townswomen over." she pauses briefly, "If you'd like that... Just think on it."

On the verge of saying more, she reflexively wipes her hands on her dress and changes the subject, "Speaking of my children, I should really find out what they are into - trouble, no doubt. Good evening, Ezekiel." She quickly heads towards her home.


DM

Jak makes good his promise of mulled cider with Ritti just before dinner. Normally, he wouldn't mind sparring with the little firebrand but his heart isn't in it - preocupied with thoughts alternatively of Rina Ruske or the barb set by Lyrica Strom. In the end, he walks away only assuring Ritti that he will speak with his father about bringing her along but he can make no promises about what the senior Howell will decide.

Jak and Lyrica are staged for the next scene.


(hp 11/35, AC 18, T 13, FF 15, Initiative +3, Perception +9)
Nameless Normal wrote:

"The goats are fine. Brownie's broke his leg but we got it splinted and he's hobbling around faster than us. A couple of the does are ready to give birth. If you'll be by in two weeks, that'll be just about right. I'd appreciate the help bringing those kids into the world."

Aerik's mother contents herself with leaning against her tall son. Out of long habit, she straightens his hair.

"Yes of course. I shall stop by in two weeks time. It was nice to see you both. Truly."

The druid squeezes his mothers hand when she finishes straightening his hair, kissing her cheek before his arms engulf her in a long embrace. He shakes his father's hand, seeing his own sadness mirrored in his father's tired eyes.

"I'm afraid I must be going now. I've had more than enough festivities for one night."

With that, Aerik stalks back to his hut, alone.

SR:
I'm done. Aerik will take all of his listed gear, except for the bedroll. Unless this type of trip typically takes long enough to keep him overnight, in which case he will bring the bedroll as well.


NN_Woman wrote:

Sara broods like a threatening storm-cloud as Marcus unfolds his plan. Her thoughts and emotions bounce back and forth....

Taking care of the children isn't a problem. Cassi and Heather are thick as thieves and have been begging for a sleepover for weeks so they can whisper about boys. But lumbering at night is dangerous work. But, Fey Birch is valuable and perishable. And Marcus didn't have to share the stand with us...

Sara finds it hard to be mad at Marcus; he was sweet and sincere. No doubt those were the qualities that attracted Mira. There isn't a rascally bone in that man's body - clearly not a Howell - so that's a point in his favor...

She accepts the hug with a smile, the storm vanishing. "Alright. You can borrow my husband for the night. The children will stay over. Cassi and Heather have been begging me for a sleepover anyways... Brace yourself - they've both decided that 'boys' aren't completely icky." She lets the thought of coping with his daughter's pubescence hang in the air, "Now if you boys come back stinking of liquor and nymphs, I'll kill you painfully and slowly with your own axe. And you don't want to know what I'll do to my husband."

She looks to the children, particularly the girls on the verge of womanhood. "Make up beds for Heather and Eras, they'll be staying the night." The girls' squeals alone would deafen bats, then the excited whispering begins...

Sara gives Marcus a grim look, "Welcome to every parent's nightmare."

If the idea of venturing into the woods in the dead of night gives Marcus any pause, he doesn't show it, but upon hearing that his daughter has started to take an interest in boys, his face turns three shades lighter. The dumbstruck horror passes after a moment, as the big man shakes his head slowly and says quietly: Boys, huh? I'll have to check my woodpile, it's probably low. I should hack a few dozen logs tomorrow, in public view, just to show all the boys a few pointers. You know, to be 'helpful'. He smiles wryly before approaching his kids, Heather first.

He holds her, warmly but firmly and says softly, so Eras can't hear: Have fun at Aunt Sara's, but mind yourself and be a help to her. Be good to your brother and watch out for him. I'll be back in the morning. You're strong and brave, just like your mother. Remember that. You're in charge while I'm gone. 'Love you. Marcus kisses her on the forehead and walks over to Eras.

The father smiles at Eras, hoping to allay his fears--it's clear Marcus has gone off at night before.

Don't worry, Uncle El's coming with me. We'll be back before you know we're gone. He hugs the child, a frail boy for his nine years. Marcus then holds Eras out in front of him, looking him in the eye.

There's nothing to fear of the dark--it's only the things we see day to day, with no light to see them by. Be good, don't stay up to late, and I'll see you soon. I love you, son. Another hug, and Marcus is off, long-strides to his house to pickup what he needs.

SR:
As far as what I'm going to bring, this:
Cold-Weather Outfit

Backpack
Waterproof Hooded Lantern, Lamp Oil (3 pints), Thieves' tools, Torches (3), Flint and Steel, Whetstone, Winter Blanket, Waterskin

Wooden Armor
Heavy Wooden Shield
Dagger
Throwing Axe (2)
Lumberjack's Axe

I'm going to leave one of my throwing axes at home in case the kids need it.

Marcus is ready.

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