Wednesday, January 29, 2020

194 - “Prisoners and Friends” - Parith - A Tale of Heroes

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“It just keeps on snowing, day after day,” Parith offered, as Eddiwarth and Korr stepped up to the ornate wooden railing of the balcony. Flakes drifted between the tree branches before them. “Day after day.”

Eddiwarth leaned back for a moment and took in a breath. “You grew up here, right? This place is pretty amazing. Homes, shops, paths, roads, all built up in the trees.” He pointed out away from the balcony, to other buildings and structures, scattered out above and below them. Each surrounded the trunk of an old enormous tree, or supported by its branches. A vast network of bridges, ramps, and walkways connected them together, each filled with the bustle of an active city.

I grew up here. This is my village. Flaming lot of good that’s doing for me. 

“At least the snow has slowed down considerably since we got here.” Korr offered. They looked out past the nearby treehouses and into the forest. It was early afternoon, but between the deep tangle of tree branches all around them and the cloudy skies, it was still pretty dim out. The wind was only a chilling breeze chasing the light snowflakes around, so the house on the branch barely moved at all. He leaned over the railing, presumably trying to see the ground.

He continued, “Hopefully, it will slow down even more and we’ll be able to get on our way.”

Parith snorted an angry laugh. “It’s not the snow keeping us here.”

Eddiwarth raised an eyebrow and frowned.

“Keeping us like prisoners,” Parith sulked. “This is my home!”

“Prisoners?” Karendle stepped up from the path. “This is a lot different than the last time I was a prisoner. Maybe it’s the good food and whole not-being-chained-to-a-pillar thing.”

Eddiwarth smiled with recollection. “Oh, yeah! You and DeFrantis. I rescued you!”

“Rescued?” Karendle smirked, and waved her hand dismissively. “Sure. Ok. If that’s how you want to remember it—“

Parith snapped, “Look, they aren’t letting us leave, right? We’re just sitting here while the captains and lords decide if we’re trustworthy or not. Three days! I can’t even visit my family!” He rubbed his hands across his face. “This shouldn’t be how it’s handled. We’re just travelers, walking up the established trade lines. Why is this a problem?”

The others exchanged glances, but nobody answered.

“High elves, humans, even dwarves,” he gestured toward Karendle, “used to travel back and forth from Twynne Rivers to Umbrawood City and even on to EmberFire! I know! I used to guide them. That was only a year ago. Now, all of a sudden, nobody trusts anyone.”

The awkward silence blew through the air like drifting snow. Parith leaned back on the balcony railing and blew out a foggy sigh.

Eddiwarth put his hand on Parith’s shoulder. “Well, for what it’s worth, I trust you.”

Parith shrugged and looked out over the town in the trees. To their right was a long walkway that angled between several strong, large trunks as it zig-zagged between buildings. It wasn’t as well traveled, being only wide enough for two abreast, and it was still covered in snow. Someone was walking on it toward them, kicking chunks of snow off the path and into the depths below. In a moment, he recognized Thissraelle, dressed in a heavy green wood elven tunic and skirt and thick furred boots. Behind her strode two men, soldiers, obviously escorting her. They were both well-armed with bladefern swords and bows, but at the moment all of their weapons were sheathed and stashed. Hmm... She’s even acting like a wood elf and they still keep her under guard.

When she noticed the group had seen her, she smiled and waved. Eddiwarth quickly waved back and called out to her.

She came off the path and onto the balcony platform where they all waited. “Thank you.” She exchanged nods with the soldiers who then walked away, back along the path. She shook the snow out of her hair. “I have good news! I spent the first half of the morning meeting with the captains and army people, and the council of the city. I know we’ve all been meeting with people these last few days, and--”

“Meetings?” Parith interjected, “or interrogations?”

Thissraelle shrugged and nodded. “Yeah, either way, with what all of you have said, and Illariel’s help today, they’re finally convinced that we’re not a threat, and they’re going to help us get through the forest and up to the mountains.”

“So, they’re escorting us out of their country.”

Thissraelle hesitated. “Sure. That may be. But we’ll get where we’re going either way, and if they go with us, we’re less likely to get attacked again. And...” She jumped ahead before Parith could interject again, “they’ve decided to stand the guards down. We’re free to come and go as we please, and can stock up on supplies for the journey.”

Parith raised his eyes at this news, a bit surprised.

“That also means that you’re free to visit your parents.”

He nodded. Well. That is good news. Alright, then.

“There’s more good news.” Thissraelle continued. “I spent the latter half of the morning talking with their sages in their schools. It was a very eye- and heart- opening experience. I’ve learned a lot about the wood elves that I would have never--” She took a deep breath, then blew out fog slowly. She gestured to Parith. “Well, I’d love to talk to you about all that someday, maybe as we travel. But right now the exciting news is that they told me of a legend of someone named Giatrice DragonFriend, who lived in the side of the mountain that the wood elves call ‘Dragonspine’. I guess it’s because of the shape of its ridges.”

Parith thought out loud, “I remember those stories. I didn’t make the connection. If you translate the sounds of the name Giatrice from old elvish into common...”

“Exactly. It comes out as Heathrax. They say that there’s a trail at the foot of the mountain that leads up to an old shrine. They’ll take us to the trailhead. I’m hoping we’ll find some clues there.”

Korr nodded. “This will bring us closer. This is truly good news.”

Thissraelle paused again, and looked around the circle at each of her companions. “I have to say, I’m very grateful for everyone’s help on this journey so far. I’m not really sure why we’re doing this, but I have a feeling that there are bigger things going on somewhere beyond our understanding. I’d love to have all of you with me, and I need you all with me, but nobody will be forced to follow me up the mountainside. Honestly, I’m a bit scared. I wouldn’t blame anyone for turning back.”

Eddiwarth’s hand jumped up. “I’m in! Creator help us, I’m in!”

Korr laughed softly at the outburst, and added, “I, clearly, must continue as well.”

Karendle and Parith nodded their agreement.

“Thank you all!” Thissraelle smiled. “And may the Creator bless our steps.”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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