Saturday, October 10, 2020

Leader of the Pack

Good day Reya,

I hope these letters find you comfort as they do for me to write them. The world stage is larger than I had anticipated, and the problems stack up.

After the raid with the bandits, the guard was able to arrest a bunch of them. Since we were asked to do something about the leader Benna Seridan, we asked if we could talk to the imprisoned ones for more information.

Rakuno and I set up a sort of good guy, bad guy routine to get information out of one of them. Well, it went about as well as you’re no doubt imagining Rey. We botched the whole thing. Luckily Spoke was there and bailed us out.

We were able to confirm the location of their stronghold was in the Crest Mountains, learned a little more about their management structure, and how they recruit desperate Humblefolk.

Tables began to turn though. Everyone has their story, a cause to believe in, and truth be told, Spoke looks to have empathized with their position. He's even considered taking their side, aside from the banditry of course. I’m still on the fence about what the person said, but it was worthy enough to investigate further.

The bandit told us about the devastation the fire is doing to all the smaller villages, like Hedgewatch, where he was from. He was just a farmer then and lost everything, came to the city and was forced to make a home in the Underfall, the root system of the Alderheart tree. We decided to visit the Underfall ourselves, and it was a squalor.

For now, we need to stop this conflict because the fire is a more pressing matter, but after we do something about Benna, I will have some words about representation of the Humblefolk to the council. The council members are nothing but Birdfolk, how can they truly serve all the citizens?

Oh, that night before we were to head out, we spotted the strig knight from the raid before. Turns out he is Riffin the Ash Knight. He was in Ashbarrow when the fire hit. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know much what happened there as he was overwhelmed and then woke up in Alderheart. An interesting story for sure but wish he had more to it. Also turns out, he adventured with Susan too. Imagine that. The woods are a small place it seems.

Once daybreak came, we set out for the stronghold. It would take us a few days journey, so we made last minute preparations. It was a hazardous road, being stopped by a bandit ambush. Fortunately for us, Farah played out her great idea. Using the sword, she convinced them we were long time members away for a while and headed back after the raid on the fort, and we lost our leader putting her in control. We hid out in the woods for a while before finally coming back in. They bought the story and let us through.

Further down the road, we were attacked by mountain lions. They got some licks in, but we ultimately triumphed. Since we had this extra meat, I had a plan to get to the stronghold and hand them over to further help our story that we were bandits.

Arriving at the stronghold, the feeling was tense. There were no birdfolk I could see, but that was to be expected. Farah explained to them that we were from the same village when the fire took it, and I kept my beak shut. If only I had kept it that way.

We had walked inside, offered the meat and made our way to the common house where we observed some of the other bandits. Here is where I made a mistake. In my anxiety of trying to fit it, I made some small talk with the table next to us claiming we’re new members around here and was a shame what happened to the fort from the raid. This of course ruined Farah’s story she established with the ambush party. As soon as they come in, it would ruin our cover so my slip up caused us to start to expedite our plan to confront Benna sooner.

Our plan was to spike the drink we give to Benna to put her unconscious, then find a way to haul her out to a safe place. Now we’re more or less going by the seat of our pants.

I’ll continue this story in the next letter for you Reya. For now, enjoy the lion jerky I sent along with this letter.

Your brother

Cork

 

 

Rumble in the Humblefolk

My Sister,

I hope all is well in Saltar’s Port. The conflict here in the city grows bigger even as we try to rest. I had just gotten back from my walk and had started sleeping when a loud commotion echoed through the city. Merchant caravans at the gates were being assaulted by brazen bandits.

Everyone had barely enough time to grab their weapons before rushing down and helping the guard. It was chaos. All of us tried our best to push back the bandit raid. A few of them were put down in their rush, but many got away. The guard captain herself began recruiting any abled bodied folk who could fight and give chase. Naturally, your brother volunteered to help stop these assaults.

We followed the trail left behind by the thieves and came upon an old fort of some kind. This place was being used by them to coordinate their assaults. The group decided to try and flank them in the fort. Farah and I were to take to the cliffs, Brin would climb atop the other one, and Sycamore, Spoke, and Rakuno would go into the camp along with the other members of the party. Unfortunately, the bandits were quick to discover us, routing most of us as we split up.

Sycamore and Spoke were confronting the main force. The combine fierceness of their presence and ferocity of their abilities kept the largest group at bay. Rakuno snuck around, taking out the bandits attempting to pick off anyone with their bows. Brin was a marvel, hitting our foes with precision strikes.

Farah and I would support from above until she had a brilliant idea. She set fire to the main tent, causing panic and chaos. I had just recently purchased some lantern oil and thought there would be no better use than right here. The bandits inside were in a panic to put it out giving Sycamore and Spoke the time to push through and setup in front of the tent. Rakuno was trading and dodging blows with one of the mapachs, it looked rough, but I could tell he was just toying with them before finally cracking them up the head with a well-placed punch.

More bandits showed up from the other tents, but Farah and I were able to distract them long enough for Spoke to try and deal with the leader. Though I think we were all surprised that their boss was the vulpin we had confronted before on our way to Alderheart. The one that was terrorizing poor Eliza. The battle was terrible, but with Brin’s help, Spoke’s fiery demeaner, Sycamore’s many axes, Rakuno’s speed, Farah’s quick thinking, and my magic, we were able to put down the bandit known as Fray.

Spoke quickly put out the fire and tried collected what he could from the tent while the others searched for anything from the raid throughout the fort. By the guiding light of Ardea, we were very lucky that we had found some folk taken as hostages that weren’t in the tent we set ablaze. That could have been a terrible mistake. Some other treasures were found, but we took back everything that was stolen to the city and returned it.

On our way back, I meant to talk to a strig I noticed helping us fight in the battle. I saw him taking on 3 bandits by himself. I’m sure he has some interesting stories to tell. Although I was distracted by Spoke’s unusual curiosity of my walk earlier in the evening. I think he was able to suss out that I had taken Brin out on my walk as well. The ol’ hedge is rather wise to my short response. I suppose I have too much of a tell when it comes to my close friends. Well what more should I say? That I think Brin is very beautiful …

Much of the letter has been ripped out here

I’m sorry Reya, I kind of went off on a tangent and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear your brother gush over Brin.

Either way, there was something interesting with a sword we brought back. It was the Fray’s that lead the bandits. Rakuno recognized that it was a guard captain sword, one the bandits use to show off as a way to establish rank. Farah is holding onto it, she hopes it comes in handy.

When we arrived back, we had the injured taken to the hospitals, and the city held a makeshift parade to celebrate. The council requested for us and wanted the details of what transpired in the fort. We gave them all that had happened, about the bandit leader, how many we encountered, and what all they had taken. Bita then graciously awarded us for our help, a rather nice sum of money. She had also told us that they will be sending a caravan of supplies to Meadowfen. I don’t think it is quite enough to deal with the looming threat of the Scorched Grove, but it is something and Meadowfen needs it.

Before we could leave, Bita requested that we deal with the bandit fortress nearby. The source of a lot of these outlaws. We’ll need to deal with Benna Seridan, their main leader.

Will write you soon, sister. I’ve included some interesting notes about herbs I picked up that you may like.

Enjoy the sea breeze for me

Cork

 

 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

To the Heart of the Woods

Oh gods, Sis,

We made it to Alderheart. The city is huge and beautiful, and there’s so many people and wonderous things here. I’ll have to bring you here one day.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself. The trip had some bit of excitement as well and what would I be if I skip that part of the story.

On our way to Alderheart, we noticed that patches of the Scorch Grove reached near the path. All the more reason for us to hurry with our news. We were escorting Eliza again, so we had to keep our wits about us. Good thing too because we bumped into more bandits. I’m getting worried that the spread of the Grove is forcing more folk into banditry. I also feel very bad for those poor folk when they threaten Rakuno and Farah. The speed at which those two move is amazing. No matter how far the bandits think they are from us, those two are right on them like lightning out of a bottle. And the amount of punches and kicks they do in such quick succession. Their whole body is like a weapon.

That night, a Tender stumbled into our camp. Those folk are apparently gifted with commanding nature around them. This one, a Gallus, goes around and steering fires away from the rest of the woods. I believe a Tender came to Saltar’s Port when we were much younger, morphing the trees there to create a few homes, like the one for the Potters up the street from us.

There was not much else before we finally got to the city though, but we found that the grove took many more villages. There are a lot of refugees here, it’s very depressing. The city is doing what it can to help them, but there are just so many people. I did get to see the Perch Guard though. Dad’s and mom’s description of them were accurate. They wear very shiny armor and command respect when you look at them.

Oh I really wish you were here Reya. The city is amazing. We even spoke before the council, which is filled with so many elegant birdfolk. I don’t remember dad getting to speak before them, so I finally did something new. Their speaker, Bita, heard our plea, and will let us know how they can help in a few days. In the meantime, she mentioned a problem with a particular bandit, a leader of theirs named Benna Seridan. Do you remember dad talked of a Seridan in a village in the woods? Some local seer. I wonder if they are related.

Speaking of dad, you can tell him I bumped into a friend of his. Her name is Brin Whitecrest, a fellow raptor. If he doesn’t recognize the name, which I doubt because he remembers like everything, you can also tell him she has the markings, and frankly the ambition of the wind-touched. She told me a lot about you guys, so I’m sure you may remember her too.

I should say, even in the city, there’s adventure to be had. We decided to look around the Trunk Market and my friend Spoke was pickpocketed by some Jerbeen. We of course gave chase to re-secure my buddy’s fortune. The small chipmunk Jerbeen were cornered in an alley. It was a terrible situation, they were so young, still children, with no home or parents. I didn’t know what to do, lucky Farah and Rakuno offered to take them to the local monastery, recommending them to the chapter master. Farah, with her big heart, also made a sizable donation to them for taking in the children and getting them off the streets. Not exactly a solution to the whole bandit problem, but these kids will hopefully find a good path like Rakuno did. I should mention, Brin was with us during this. She is such a good friend to have. Funny enough, the inn we checked into was the same she was already staying at, the “Howling Harpy.”

I don’t know if you already knew this, but Brin apparently plays the Shawm. Well there was an open stage, and we all jumped up there to play a small concert to help brighten the mood of all the folk staying there. We had a good time. The owner of the inn was pretty happy as well and gave us the rooms for the night so long as we played some more. I find this bard profession to be a good choice for me.

I miss you Reya. Mom and dad too. I can’t stop thinking about home right now. I… I think I’m going to go see if Brin is still awake and in the mood to maybe talk some more about home. Wish your brother luck.

The goof that is your brother,

Cork

Monday, August 3, 2020

Beetle and the Beast

Heya Reya,

How are you doing, sis? We’re still in Winnowing Reach, but we’re about to head out very soon. I do have another story to tell though as the slime caves wasn’t enough adventure for us here.

When we returned from the slime caves, Kenna marched right passed the guards straight to the Magistrate. I wish I were so brave. We explained what had happened and was rewarded, but then he enticed us with another request.

After Kenna left, he locked us in. I’m not entirely sure what all happened after that, I sort of panicked and my memory is kind of fuzzy here, but he wanted us to hunt down a witch causing trouble with the city. She apparently is seen just before the slimes attack. Some wicked hedge witch of the swamp.

The Magistrate released us with the promise of a letter to get us in to see the council at Alderheart once we bring back the amulet that has the witch’s power. I hope I’m not worrying you because the story gets better.

We’ve asked around town about the slime attacks and what they know of this witch. They were able to share with us many rumors, but no one seems to have actually talked to this lady yet. So we decided to be the ones to get to the bottom of this problem and go confront this person ourselves… together of course. No need to confront the unknown alone. A lesson for you.

We gathered supplies and set out. Fortunately, we picked up the trail of the witch near an area that she was reportedly sighted before. Farah and I found her footsteps, well Farah found, I almost tripped into, but helped locate it nonetheless.

We came cautiously upon a hut out in the swamp, something humble and not looking like a place a witch would dwell. Rakuno braved the porch way to go knock and introduce himself. We were expecting some ugly hag of a hedge to answer and try to swallow our Jerbeen companion, instead it was a very nice well-dressed middle age lady.

Her name is Susan, and she’s been living out here alone because she’s a bit of an introvert and shy’s away from social situations. She lives with this flying beetle that she can talk to named Normal. They’re both absolutely adorable, and I think Spoke is rather smitten with her. They would make a good pair.

Susan served us some Nettle Tea and Cat Tail Scones. I’ll send some leaves for you to try the tea yourself, it’s minty.

After talking with her, we found out she was just gathering components for her spells, specifically one for summoning a fey spirit so she could ask it about a vision she had.

Don’t panic because this is just a vision, but Susan saw a large burning creature that set a great blaze consuming the woods. I’m not sure if I believe in visions, but it was worth helping Susan get the stuff she needs to finish her summon ritual.

We set out to gather frogs, leaves and herbs from a nearby pond. While Spoke and Rakuno found the easy stuff in my opinion, Farah and I decided to get the frogs. These frogs are a lot more cunning than the ones we went after as kids, because I had a heck of a time swimming after them. Farah got one, but I resorted to taunting another to death. Good thing Sycamore was on watch because the little frogs had a much larger frog friend. Being the one in the pond wasn’t the best place for this encounter because the thing almost ate me alive. Sycamore was able to skewer it before it got the chance.

We rested for the night while taking back the ingredients only to hear a call for help in the middle of the night. A Gallus apparently got stuck in quicksand trying to study the habits of slimes at night. I’m not sure what this town’s fascination with slimes are, but it gets them in trouble a lot. We helped the poor stranger out and she gave us an interest gift. Don’t tell mom or dad, but I enclosed it with this letter. It’s a switch-knife hidden in a wooden spoon. Please don’t hurt yourself with it.

Back to Susan, we delivered the giant frog and the leaves and herbs. Putting what she needed into her snail cauldron, she said her incantation, something like “oh great spirit, heed my call.” She was surprised when a red fuzzy beast of a creature came out, but tried to ask her questions.

Unfortunately, whatever the thing was, it wasn’t interested in talking, and instead attacked us, specifically your idiot brother for sitting too close to it. We were able to put an end to the demon before it harmed anyone. Strangely it just fell to ash when we did. Susan suspects it has to do with the burning grove corrupting the spell, that or the giant frog spleen used instead of the normal frogs.

So without answers to this vision, Susan decided the next best thing to do was to apologize to the town. Apparently when she was gathering other components, slimes would approach, and she would run away. This unfortunately lead the slimes close to the town instead. A big misunderstanding by the folks and Susan offered to try and fix anything she could.

On our journey back, Spoke tried to flirt with Susan. It was super adorable and a little awkward, but I could see Susan and Spoke connected a little. Maybe one day they will get together, but she has her work at her shake still, and he needs to help deliver our warning to Alderheart.

As we neared the town though, Susan was getting worried, so your brother decided to cheer everyone up and began playing my pan flute. That supposed amulet of Susan’s was actually an ocarina and she joined in, and Rakuno played too. Had a bit of a parade coming into town. I wish you could see it, many folks cheered us. Spoke was also ready in case some folks weren’t as welcoming to Susan.

We decided to ask Kenna one more favor in dealing with the Magistrate since she has no problem standing up to him. I hope to find someone like that someday.

The Magistrate wasn’t very happy with the results but was convinced it was best for both parties to understand each other and work with one another. He accepted the apology and wrote us the letter. I could see Spoke was ready to give the Magistrate a piece of his mind in case the conversation went south. Luckily, it never came to that.

We also have an ally now in Winnowing Reach, Susan and Normal. They offered to make potions for us at discount if we are in need and have the components. I’ll send you the list as well if you wanted to take interest in alchemy someday.

How’s dad’s business going? Hope you guys stay safe. And Susan was nice enough to give me the recipe to her scones if you would like to try them yourself. They are unbelievably delicious. I’m also sending a gift for mom and dad, some Prickleberry Wine. I hope they enjoy it.

With all my love,
Cork

Fell on Hard Slimes

Hi Sis,

I wanted to check in with how things are with Mom and Dad. I don’t remember you mentioning anything in the last couple of letters.

There’s been a bit of a delay in my trip to Alderheart, but well worth it. A young Corvum apparently was in need of help as she journeyed alone to study slimes in a nearby cave. The Magistrate (can you imagine a magistrate asking for my help?) asked us to find this Kenna Brightspark for him. So off to the caves we went.

Remember when we would joke about putting slimes on mom and dad’s beak brush instead of the cleaning paste? Well I’ll tell you what, slimes are no joke. These things either burn through leather and metal with some alchemical properties, and if that’s not enough, instantly glue themselves to anything it touches. My friends lost a weapon or two fighting them. But funny enough, they also have feelings as I made one cry with my abilities before it loss cohesion and died. I felt pretty bad, but it was either it or us walking away from that fight.

Here’s a particular interesting scene, my friend Sycamore, the Cervan if you recall, is pretty tall. When we were down in the caves, his antlers grabbed a sizable amount of the cave moss. It reminded me of images of Cairith. Now Sycamore may think he’s the spitting image of an Amaranthine Deity, but if you meet him, don’t feed his ego or he’ll think he is one.

Back to the slimes, if you ever see them, you can use this trick. We came across some in the cave and needed to get past them. They apparently sense movement, so we used some stones and tossed them to a part of the cave to move them away from where we were going. I’m attaching a book that came in handy about the slimes with this letter. You might get some use out of it. I’m also sending some of the glowing mushrooms I found in the cave. Please don’t eat them, the group told me I shouldn’t do that either.

Just remember, caves are dangerous. There was a section that fell on your poor old brother, knocking me out unconscious. I was told a cave slime came out and was about to feast on me, but Rakuno rushed in and pulled me away, while Spoke was able to heal me. I don’t know what we would have done without them. Please don’t tell mom and dad about this incident, I don’t want them to worry.

Farah was having some problems, I think she had allergies or something while in the swamp. She was a little slower and like she wasn’t all there, but she helped when it counted.

We did find that slime researcher though. She was stuck to a wall in the cave, guarded by this large slime. Not sure what it was, but it shifted colors as we fought it. It was very pretty for something so dangerous. Rakuno and Farah were tag teaming it until some other slimes showed up from the commotion. Spoke was having some trouble with his spells, but we were able to clear the room of the slimes with Rakuno getting the final blow on the large one and Sycamore finishing the others.

Getting Kenna unstuck was another challenge altogether. Sycamore got stuck (please don’t tell him I told you) but Spoke magically created water that was able to clean up the slime.

We just got back from this whole ordeal, so I will finish this letter and get it sent with the presents.

Your tired, but still kicking brother,
Cork