The Grove of Ancients


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Jack Hammer wrote:
lynora-Jill wrote:
Well then, maybe it's time for the Winds to change. She looks up at JH This could take awhile. First I have to draw myself out of the Place of the Winds. Then I have to move that power here. I need you to keep me steady during that between time. I'm sorry to have to ask so much.

Ask it and I will drag the Place of Winds to you.

Think George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, lassooing the Moon.

Thank you. I'm not sure how long this will take, but I should begin.

She closes her eyes. Her breathing slows. To all appearances she seems to be asleep, except that the stars on her belly twinkle in a swirling pattern that makes it seem as if they are turning. JH can feel increasing weight as if he were trying to lift a mountain as she uses him as a temporary anchor. After some time when it feels as though he will be crushed the weight slowly begins to lift.


Hate to bring up the term 'Diet', but... ;) JH is smart/lovestruck enough not to.


She is racing among the stars. The dance is not right. She has to keep the rhythm. But she can't remember the tune. And then she hears it, a low thrumming counterpart. Not her Song, but steadying, calming. Her tune begins to repair itself, redirecting the dance, adapting to the changes without allowing the stars to crumble into the Black.


Jack Hammer wrote:
Hate to bring up the term 'Diet', but... ;) JH is smart/lovestruck enough not to.

LOL. Nice.


lynora-Jill wrote:
She is racing among the stars. The dance is not right. She has to keep the rhythm. But she can't remember the tune. And then she hears it, a low thrumming counterpart. Not her Song, but steadying, calming. Her tune begins to repair itself, redirecting the dance, adapting to the changes without allowing the stars to crumble into the Black.

Now Heavy Metal, from Flight of the Bumblebees type of music? Heavy Metal chicks are wild!


Jack Hammer wrote:


Now Heavy Metal, from Flight of the Bumblebees type of music? Heavy Metal chicks are wild!

LOL. Yeah, something like that :)

She opens her eyes. She looks fully rested and restored.


*runs through the thread dragging what might very well be some french guy's arm*


Thank you, she says to JH, and kisses him. He can hear the changes to her song when she does. It has more energy to it than it did before and more bass.
I don't know what I'd do without you.


*circles the thread looking for something to eat*


lynora-Jill wrote:

Thank you, she says to JH, and kisses him. He can hear the changes to her song when she does. It has more energy to it than it did before and more bass.

I don't know what I'd do without you.

JH winks I prefer to think about what you'd do with me.


Jack Hammer wrote:
lynora-Jill wrote:

Thank you, she says to JH, and kisses him. He can hear the changes to her song when she does. It has more energy to it than it did before and more bass.

I don't know what I'd do without you.
JH winks I prefer to think about what you'd do with me.

Mmmmm, she says with a mischievous look, biting her lip, I wonder if they have private rooms at the new temple?


lynora-Jill wrote:
Jack Hammer wrote:
lynora-Jill wrote:

Thank you, she says to JH, and kisses him. He can hear the changes to her song when she does. It has more energy to it than it did before and more bass.

I don't know what I'd do without you.
JH winks I prefer to think about what you'd do with me.
Mmmmm, she says with a mischievous look, biting her lip, I wonder if they have private rooms at the new temple?

Works for me.

JH scoops up the small squirrel, who doesn't wake up at the intrusion, and places her at the base of the One Tree. He holds out his arm for Lyn.

To the new hot spot?


Jack Hammer wrote:


JH scoops up the small squirrel, who doesn't wake up at the intrusion, and places her at the base of the One Tree. He holds out his arm for Lyn.

To the new hot spot?

She smiles and takes his arm. Yes, let's go. Quickly, she adds with a meaningful look.


lynora-Jill wrote:
Jack Hammer wrote:


JH scoops up the small squirrel, who doesn't wake up at the intrusion, and places her at the base of the One Tree. He holds out his arm for Lyn.

To the new hot spot?

She smiles and takes his arm. Yes, let's go. Quickly, she adds with a meaningful look.

Lyn hears JH mumble in Terran this time, as they merge into the earth. Her connection to the One Tree has brought her closer to him and the earth power. They head to the temple of Sunny Delights.


Night, ancient and terrible, born of the chaos of the extinguishing of the last true star many ages before, draws in suddenly like the furling of great wings about the grove, as power old when the world ash was but a sapling sweeps about in a maelstrom flurry. Lightning and primal terror flicker in the shadows for a moment, feeding on the scars and injuries of recent battles to mar the grove.
Then, the darkness is gone, as suddenly as it descended, leaving the grove seemingly fresher and more vibrant, various 'impurities' having been removed; but nature learns from such trials and tests, and perhaps the grove, whilst stronger, has lost much preparedness and lore of various foes and how to deal with them most effectively. Not unless it faces them again, will it be able to learn anew how best to deal with them.


The shadow of a man walks amongst the recently repaired Grove.

Well and Good.

He nods to the Guardians, and disappears.


I'm back!

As the howl's echo dies away, the shapes darting through the forest emerge, revealing themselves to be wolves. Kiba gives a wolfish grin until he sees a small pure white wolf. A series of growls and barks make up the coversation between the two.

With the possible exception of JH and the sentient trees nearby, nobody can understand this next part, but I'll post it anyway. Insert story plot here!! ;)

K: "You go right back to the Valley! I told you not to come here because it was to dangerous for a pup!

Lk: "I won't go back! Your always telling me I can go with you when I'm stronger, but you don't help me get any stronger! I had to learn how to hunt, how to fight, how to track, all by myself because your never around!

*Even in his wolf form, its easy to tell the words sting Kiba harshly.*

K: "I.. I'm sorry. I promise I'll make it up to you later, but this isn't the time! Please go back to the Valley and play with Gip. I don't want to lose you..."

Now to be harsh...
Lk: "You lost me a long time ago..."
*The young white wolf runs into the forest, leaving a visible hurt Kiba behind*

And I'm gone, see you all later!


The trees rustle

The child grows and the parent worries, just as thir parents worried in turn long ago. Soon the new shall stand with the old and ready themselves to start the cycle anew. So it is with the Green.


Great Erl wrote:

The trees rustle

The child grows and the parent worries, just as thir parents worried in turn long ago. Soon the new shall stand with the old and ready themselves to start the cycle anew. So it is with the Green.

"Doesn't make it any easier my friends..."

*Kiba talks the new arrivals, giving each of them their posts, all the while looking where Lk ran off and rubbing the bracer on his left forearm. When the werewolves (yes they are his new tribe/pack) have left, Kiba turns to the trees.*
"As you have guessed, that little wolf is my son. But I have more worries when it comes to my pup. There's more to him than even my pack knows. It is for this reason I ask you to watch over him while I'm otherwise occupied. He'd know if I was following him and would run somewhere else, probably right into danger. I just wish all this wasn't happening right now..."
*Kiba shifts to his wolf form and slowly makes his way back to the Oasis.*


A large humanoid rises from the earth. He surveys the area, as if looking for somethong or somebody. Finally he turns to the trees.
"Cousins, I carry with my arrival terrible news. An evil has been reborn and even now he spreads his roots throughout the Green. Prepare yourselves, for sooner or later he will come here."
Slowly the man sinks back into earth.


JH, LJ, and E7 arrive at the Grove. JH carries Lyn to the base of the One Tree and places her amongst its massive roots.

I must leave you for a while here. I'll be back soon.

He once again melds into the Earth, leaving her in the care of E7 and the Elders.


A short time later JH returns to the Grove and Lyn's side, watching her as she sleeps. He places 3 boxes upon the ground, alongside his hammer.

For Angel:

Spoiler:
The box contains a pure silver spiral bracer, finely detailed in the shape of a wyrm with jewelled eyes. The note reads: Try not to lose this again. We've altered one history, but it came with a price. Love, Hammer.

For Lyn:

Spoiler:
Two boxes have your name on them. One contains jewelled earrings, each fashioned into the shape of a shooting star. The various stones seem to have been woven together, as if they were pliable. The second contains a spiral of a gold anklet in the shape of vines, with emeralds as the leaves. The note says, 'To keep you grounded'.

JH talks to the sleeping Lyn Keep Leo et Aquila safe for me, my love. He touches one finger to his chest and pulls away a bright spark. He places the spark upon Lyn's breast. As he does so, his face changes, looking worn. Keep this safe too.

He kisses her forehead for a long moment, nods to E7 and the Elders, then melds into the Earth. Leaving everything behind, his face is sad but determined.


JH climbs the mountain. Somewhere along the line he is joined by the Board Warden. Not a word passes btwn them as they reach the top. Atop the highest peak is a plateau with two ancient columns. They each have a long chain with a manacle. Btwn the columns is a small pool of lava.

Nodding to the Warden, JH steps forward into the pool. He doesn't melt in the knee deep molten rock, but he winces in pain.

The Warden approaches and shackles each of JH's wrists, then steps back fading from sight. Each manacle is branded with a strange rune within a circle.

JH stands alone, writhing in pain. Screaming to the heavens as his body convulses. Every so often a black fracture appears on one of the columns. With force of will alone JH turns it to white, and it fades. Afterwards JH sags, the manacles keeping him from falling.

This is the burden of a Stone Lord.


For LJ:

Spoiler:
The spark contains JH's memories and feelings for you. Your 1st volleyball game, and his efforts to get a kiss from you. Drinking and dancing at Club Calistria, walks thru the threads, the Oasis. You see yourself in his eyes, perfect despite anything. You know that he has watched over you as best he can. That he watches over you still.

For any auguries that don't rely on dieties:

Spoiler:
The Stone calls. It is an urgent request. There are a thousand thousand worlds without life, but still with need. The Bindings are failing.


LJ's consciousness has fled deep within Yggdrasil. She can feel and see the memories JH left her, and she can also feel pain, but she doesn't know why. She sees the beginnings of battle at the Place of the Winds, and she feels the ties of power between herself and the Eyrie. She draws deeply on the Song of Life contained within Yggdrasil.
"I understand now. No matter how much I wish it otherwise, I cannot deny what I am and the burdens I must accept from that. My mortal existence is at an end, but I do not know how to take the next step. Please, help me. What am I supposed to do?"
She isn't even sure who she is pleading with. Perhaps the tree itself. There isn't exactly a handbook on how to become a deity. But even in her confusion she is learning. She is learning the Song of Life, and the Song of Making, and the Song of Binding, and the Song of Ending. The dance must continue. And she was the measure and rhythm of the dance.


A wizened figure, in grey rags, stands at the thicket at the edge of the grove. He strikes it on a tree, tosses it in the direction of the of the grove whilst muttering an ancient and profane name, and turns and hobbles away.
The match spins slowly end over end through the air, and vanishes.


There is a smell of smoke - the snap and crackle of burning wood, and the fear and roar of ever-burning, ever-hungry flame in the place where Lynora-Jill is. In this plane of spirits and visions the World Ash chars and falls all around in embers, and in the swirling cinders a spiritual form so much greater in power and malevolance than in the puny little physical form trapped and exiled on the drifting asteroid takes shape.
It is the Flame Troll, herald of the sixth of the Eldest Elemental Evils, and its eyes like burning lanterns ravenously fix upon Lynora-Jill.


She doesn't know if this is a test or a true attack, but she can still feel the pulse of the Song coming from Yggdrasil, so she knows that some of what she sees is a lie. She listens to the song of her enemy, learning the notes that make him before she begins to Sing. A Song of Binding and Ending. The evil one finds his movement constrained and his fire dimmed.

Not really sure about the level of power of an elemental evil, but you described him as a herald, and she's just at that edge of becoming a demigod so I thought it was reasonable to allow her to cause him some real harm.


The laugh is like a blast-furnace.
That's right, rub me all over yourself now, like soot. You're not a mortal any longer. I don't need to be gentle with you anymore.
Ever since the Goddess of Dangerous Knowledge learned a little more than was good for her, you've been marked for our service.

It's only a herald, so Lynora-Jill can sort of interact with it (and probably vanquish it), but in deific circles only a couple of very Lawful Good dwarven deities have any power against its masters. And right now it wants to interact and leave marks all over Lynora-Jill, to make it easier for its masters to try to use her.


The flame troll continues to laugh, though caught in the grip of Lynora-Jill magic, spewing soot and smoke and cinders over her, every time she tries to tighten the grip and diminish it. Lynora-Jill has a sense of something overwhelmingly evil trying to probe her mind every time she strikes at the Flame Troll, but her defenses continue to hold.


Flame Troll of Doom wrote:

The laugh is like a blast-furnace.

That's right, rub me all over yourself now, like soot. You're not a mortal any longer. I don't need to be gentle with you anymore.
Ever since the Goddess of Dangerous Knowledge learned a little more than was good for her, you've been marked for our service.

Oh please. Her entire existence involved knowing more than was good for anything. And I will never serve evil.

She blasts the smoke and soot away from her with powerful winds, increasing the strength of the Song of Ending. The troll feels cold beginning to seep into him.


At whatever juncture of the astral or other plane that the confrontation is taking place on, there is a sudden disturbance of a new visitor. Trailing clouds of darkness, the dragon Lynora saw at the Sanctum that one time arrives. The Flame Troll, cackling madly every time Lynora-Jill flung winds, despite the battle it seemed to be losing, appears much less happy.
You're in way over your shoulders, little goddess, the black dragon barely spares Lynora a glance. It wants you to use elemental power - earth, wind, fire, water. It's all the same to its master or one of its masters associates. Try happy thoughts next time, or positive energy if you don't have any happy thoughts to muster. And please note, that what I am about to do, is only going to work for me, or the dragon which requires anonymity and has assisted me.
The black dragon launches streamers of darkness at the flame troll, wrappings from the depths of night, at the Flame Troll which gutters and goes out.


Next time, you willll serfffff... the Flame Troll's last words trail off into nothingness.


Since we skipped introductions last time, for the record my name is Smagnavast the Black, the dragon turns its attention to Lynora-Jill. You are Lynora-Jill. I gather I inadvertantly saved you a short time back whilst attending to a location sacred to creatures of the air which you had neglected to protect properly. Please do not presume on my rescuing you a third time.
Lynora can sense that the dragon is a herald or servant of something else, and that that greater power is skilled, if nothing else, in hiding any traces of his or her nature/identity.


Smagnavast the Black wrote:

Since we skipped introductions last time, for the record my name is Smagnavast the Black, the dragon turns its attention to Lynora-Jill. You are Lynora-Jill. I gather I inadvertantly saved you a short time back whilst attending to a location sacred to creatures of the air which you had neglected to protect properly. Please do not presume on my rescuing you a third time.

Lynora can sense that the dragon is a herald or servant of something else, and that that greater power is skilled, if nothing else, in hiding any traces of his or her nature/identity.

"Thank you Smagnavast the Black. I owe you a favor. Two really. I will not forget."

She sighs. "I am very new to being a goddess, and I seem to be doing nothing but making mistakes."


By temperament and inclination I am, I suspect, unsuited to reliably advise you on how to deal with mistakes, Smagnavast dryily observes. My solutions would not be your solutions. Two things from draconic lore - myths perhaps. There is some sort of guardian beyond the knowledge of even the gods, unless it makes itself known, which keeps the masters and mistresses of those such as The Flame Troll at bay, through their easiest route to invade reality, through the Realms of Dreams. Naturally, draconic myths insist that this guardian is a dragon.
The second is that, beautiful and evil, the Daughters of the Morning walk at times abroad, wrapped in the shadow of their own light - a light which was before even most gods were, and which will still be after all the gods are gone, and which is horribly unique to them, a last echo perhaps of the grandeur and splendour of the multiverse in the days when everything was new. Such creatures are outside of the the knowledge of even the gods, their thoughts their own unless they permit otherwise, and inscrutable as they wish to magic. It is said that only the most pure-hearted of paladins can defeat them, by sacrificing themselves, although the last deity of paladins and chivalry to attempt to disseminate that information broadly, to his followers, expired in a rather nasty manner as the homeworld of his pantheon was invaded by three simultaneous hordes of fiends, and a plague of Scro from spelljamming space, eliminating every last worshipper and cleric within hours.


Oh yes. Watch out for those little worshippers and clerics of yours. The more of a goddess you become, the more you will need them to continue to - in the deific sense - 'live'.


"I thank you for the information and the advice. I had heard of the daughters of the morning, although not as much as you have told me, but this guardian you speak of is something I was not aware of. I had never visited the dreamlands at all until very recently. Whoever or whatever they are, it must be a very difficult job."
She looked sad. "I will have to work harder to protect my worshippers. I never wanted to be a goddess at all. I'm still not comfortable with the idea of being worshipped. But that doesn't ease my obligations to my followers. And you are right. Whether I wish it or not my existence is now tied to theirs."
She plucks a feather off of her wing and blows on it gently. A small swirling galaxy appears on it in silver.
"Here. Take this. If you ever have need of me, you can use it to call me to you."


*
And finally, expect the quantity and quality of your enemies to have increased - there are whole nations out there brought up from birth to have regarded a rival nation and its patron deity as enemies to be exterminated.
And don't think - if you have any sense of obligation to make a 'good' job out of it - to have much time to call your own or to pursue personal projects. The dragon gives a toothy grin. Frankly, if I were in your particular shoes right now, I'd be looking for a way to get back to being a mortal before it was too late.
Anyhow, I shall be off. I am awaiting notice on whether or not to intervene with regard to correcting a misunderstanding over actions the Goddess of Dangerous knowledge took with your form. The fact that you have of course 'just reverted to being a deity', as the informant has done their best to paint the picture of you, has only helped to blacken the image of you that they have woven with their artful lies and half-truths.
With scarcely a backward glance, Smagnavast departs.

Edit:
*Smagnavast snorted, but took the feather anyway. He's a dragon, so he doesn't turn down presents from deities except in the most suspicious of circumstances; it pleases his ego too much. And as a dragon, if he has it to spare in the first place, he almost always has time for a deity that wants to listen to his thoughts...


A tear runs down her cheek.
"Yet more misunderstandings. I only hope this one can wait. I will not survive the upcoming battle. Even I can see that far ahead. How permanent that death is remains to be seen."


lynora-Jill wrote:

A tear runs down her cheek.

"Yet more misunderstandings. I only hope this one can wait. I will not survive the upcoming battle. Even I can see that far ahead. How permanent that death is remains to be seen."

A wave of calm flows over Lynora-Jill. Even though he is in battle, Sky tries to reassure his demigoddes.

"You only believe you won't survive the battle. Nothing said you wouldn't die for just a few seconds and be returned to life just after the battle has ended. Nor do you know if the part of you that makes you a god will die, leaving you mortal once again. Remember though, even if you do die, which you won't, your memory will live on and the hacthlings will know about you. There's something to live for. My eggs hatched LJ! Two girls and two boys, with dire eagle chicks to match. Live so you can help me name them Lynora. Winds never truely die...
His voice fades as he returns to the battle at the Place of the Winds.


lynora-Jill wrote:

A tear runs down her cheek.

"Yet more misunderstandings. I only hope this one can wait. I will not survive the upcoming battle. Even I can see that far ahead. How permanent that death is remains to be seen."

Lynora-Jill feels a calm mind speak to her

Starsong, there is no death. Death is not the way of the Green. All endings have new beginnings. Only those who fear to begin again step off the cycle into the abomination that is the Black. Take comfort that whatever happens you will be fashioned anew, and the cycle will continue.


A slender form arrayed in shining mithril armor steps forward.

I am ready to challenge the Black. Who here will ride with me?

A group of large grizzly bears emerge, clad in rough armor and with forged claws.

We will fight with you Spring Sapling.

A group of large badgers similarly accoutered emerge

As will we.

One by one, armored groups of foxes, stoats, squirrels, rabbits and all manner of woodland creatures emerge, forming a massive army of animals. A one-eyed grizzly of immense girth stands before Spring Sapling

We are yours to command.

Spring Sapling shakes her antlered head

I am not your leader, Beren Fishfinder. My Grandfather is our leader in truth, I await his coming. I am but his herald in this matter.


The large bear inclines his scarred head

So mote it be. We await the Tree Emperor!

The large army mills, awaiting its general.


The gathering turns to where they last saw E7, but he is gone.

The ground shakes and the sky darkens. Thunder roars, and lightning streaks across the sky. As the glowing green form of a man astride a triceratops enters the Grove, a green dragon with another green rider lands in the circle. A third green manform astride a giant eagle circles overhead. The form astride the dragon speaks...

The Turning has arrived Granddaughter. JH has taken on the mantle of stone, leaving us the mantle of green.

Pointing to the other riders This is Jorel Longstrider, cleric of Obad-hai, astride Rocksplitter. They command the dinosaur legion. Above us is Windwalker, from the High March, and his companion Lightwing. They have many friends to aid us.

And this...this is my friend Marsh Shadow. She has long served the Green.

The Guardians of Summer, Fall, and Winter will wage battle on other fronts.

As he turns yet again, elementals form around the Grove. Even fire, though the flames and heat seem to have no affect on the plants.

This battle has been waged before, and it will again, but it does not lessen our need to win.


A growling roar rises up from the Army of the Animals. Spring Sapling smlies and salutes Emperor7

Well met Grandfather! And well met new friends! We of the Grove stand ready to accompany you in battle!

The roar goes up again, thousands of furry fists clenched around weapons


E7's head tilts. The Stone Lord awakens.

He raises his hand and the rider of the giant eagle wheels about. The eagle screeches and a deafenening roar of avians echoes thru the Grove.


A man appears in the Circle. He says nothing.


Azuri'ith blows into the Grove and stands over LJ where she lays sleeping at the base of Yggdrasil. He nods respectfully to E7.
"I see you too are mustering your forces. I must soon return to mine, but my granddaughter's herald was becoming agitated that I did not go to her."
He gently brushes the hair back from her face.
"This time is harder even than the others. Even more than her father she had such little time to live. I hope that she is able to come back after, but I fear for her, allowing such vulnerability while fighting against the Black."
He stands."I wish you good hunting, Tree Emperor."


Aunt Esmerelda and Uncle Meepo step out of their room, holding a chessboard.
"The battle is raging in the Place of the Winds. The Ghost Kittens are pitted against Shadow Pelt, Innocent Blood has vanished, and the dwarves we brought are up against the undead horde. And this is but a skirmish."

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