A Wonderful Dinner (Living Post)
(This is a living post, more will be added as participants reply, all replies are cannon. If you are not a participant, do not reply, it will only result in your reply being removed, so lets save us all some trouble how about.)
It was a fairly cool evening for spring, but the many guests seemed to care little for it. They all walked grouped rather closely together, peering down at the plants as they ascended the hill upon which the manor sat. Leading them was an older gentleman, dressed sharply in pressed formal wear, but his movements were more fluid than his appearance would lead one to believe. A sword rested upon his waist, though it was far more utilitarian than the rest of his outfit. This was Caspien, Voice of the Stailceoir. He lead the motley crew to his lord, Ruler Bryson Hawkson.
They entered the manor quickly enough, and it wasn't long before they all laid eyes upon the dining room. It was a regal place, though quite subdued at the moment. The fire in the fireplace less roaring and more of a gentle simmer, giving a more homely atmosphere than the decor of the room would suggest. At the far end of the table, a man was rising. His clothes were also less than one would probably expect, and Caspien knew that his lord had changed from the clothes that he had picked out for him, but nothing could be done of that now.
Hawkson stepped forward, with his bonded familiar Helena alighting upon his shoulder, and says, "Welcome, Clan Bright-eye. We have much to talk about."
At that, Kerf, with surprising speed, draws his harvest dagger, spins it, and presents the handle to Caspien, who eyes Kerf warily. Kerf, grinning ear to ear, with just a hint of mischief in his eye, nods to him.
Caspien reaches for the knife, and as he grasps it, a flood of emotion and though enters his mind.
Impressions of pain, loss, gratitude, hope, and then a singular formed thought: "The harvest is complete!"
The exchange complete, Kerf releases his grip on the dagger and skips giddily toward the table, still grinning.
Caspien turns back to see the next Elder, awaiting him, dagger handle extended.
The time it took to accept all of the daggers was especially draining on Caspien. One after another, the elders presented their daggers, and not really knowing what else to do, he accepted them. By the time the last elder presented theirs, he had a good-sized pile of them, which he sat down on a small side table nearby. The emotions coursed through him leaving him feeling empty afterward, and he pulled up a chair to sit beside the pile of daggers. Hawkson was greatly amused by the happenings and had sat back down to eat with Kerf, as he had immediately dug into the presented food.
Succulent roast chicken, delicious baked potatoes drowned in butter, carrots covered in a sugar glaze, as well as some nice wheat rolls to round it all off. There were assorted fruits put about the table, some imported from places such as Kisaevin, others naturally found within Obrexia. The meal was fairly opulent, but maybe more tame than most would expect from the ruler of a whole realm.
As they were eating, Hawkson hoped to get a bit of conversation flowing, and he said, "So, Kerf, and associated Elders, I was hoping to find out what it is that you are running from? If that isn't too difficult of a question to ask. I would also like to know more about your Spark, and One if you are willing to speak of them.
Kerf, seated nearest to the Bird-child, looked up from his food. His face took on a brief look of consternation, though quickly changing to that same grin of amusement.
"Kerf learned enough language to survive, when Caspien briefly became One with Kerf. But,.. It is easier to show.. if you allow." Kerf gave a big smile, extending his arm toward Bryson, palm outstretched.
Hawkson was intrigued by the prospect, and quickly enough sat his utensils down. Caspien, ever vigilant, waved forward the guards, letting them know to be ready should anything untoward happen. Hawkson said, "I have never become One with someone before, so sorry if it doesn't go correctly." He then rolled up the sleeve on his right arm, before extending it as well.
Kerf, chuckled aloud at Caspien's caution.
With no hesitation, Kerf grasped Bryson's hand.
Instantly, he could sense the ruler's foremost emotions, as Bryson could sense his(though Bryson may not realize it): Hope, fear, even excitement.
Kerf, paused a moment to allow Bryson to adjust to the new sensations. Then, he spoke. Or thought, as it were.
"We are One. Later, the other Elders can join us, if you wish it. Too many at once can be overwhelming for newcomers.
I will now show you the answers to your remaining questions, to the best of my ability. Are you ready?"
As soon as he grasped my hand, Hawkson could feel more. It was in many ways similar to his own bond with Helena, but also completely distinct. Kerf seemed to be waiting for him to adjust, and while the sensation was new, it wasn't completely so.
The thoughts Kerf pushed toward Hawkson were distinct, not the blended, and more gestalt connection that he shared with his familiar. Once he broke down the ideas within, he thought back, "I am ready."
Kerf was surprised by the speed at which Bryson adjusted to the melding, at least until he felt the subtle presence of Hawkson's familiar.
Kerf began with the first question, sending impressions of his former home. His discovery of the 'logging' operation. Confronting the newcomers.
The twisted and broken trees. The flames. So many flames. An emergency meeting.
Clan Bright-eye, no longer such, and their exodus of the forest.
The desolation that was conveyed by Kerf struck home in Hawkson. He could feel the terror that Kerf had felt, and he could empathize with it greatly. Kerf's home was gone, but Hawkson could help he gain a new one. That was important to him, and he pushed those feelings toward Kerf.
Kerf received a strong impulse of compassion from Hawkson, images of a new home.
He continued on to describe the Spark.
'The Spark is a source of magical energy. It is believed that many living beings contain the Spark.
The Spark gives, and it takes. Care must be taken lest it consume. Selk train to access their Spark from youth.
All do not have equal capacity or ability for spark. Among our Clan, many are but a Light. This is not a shame, as all roles are important within the Clan.
It is this training that we bring to share, Bird-child.'
As the knowledge filtered into Hawkson's head, he couldn't help but wonder what kind of magic that the spark was. Did it come from a similar source to his own Druidic magic, from the world and from within, or another place? Hawkson wasn't a historian, but he knew enough about their own magic through interacting with the Stailceoir who did have it that the two came from a similar place. He pushed these thoughts towards Kerf, as well as the question, "Do you sense your Spark within me? Or any potential for it?"
"Spark is fire, life. It may be that our magics spring from the same fount. We cannot be certain."
Kerf pondered briefly on Hawkson's last question. This would be the first time he gave the Spark to a non-Selk. But it was a new time, and time for new things. Hawkson had been open to the One.
Decided, he gathered his Spark, as little as could be managed, and pushed it into Hawkson.
"Grab ahold, friend"
Anyone watching from without, if they were paying attention and had a keen eye, might have noticed a tiny, brief light flash between Kerf and Hawkson's hands. The seconds pass, a minute, two, and then...
Spark-light fills Hawkson's body, his veins glow from within. This lasts but a moment before the light condenses into his chest.
He opens his eyes and they flash with a bright orange glow. Hawkson closes his eyes.
Then, as quick as it came, the light is gone, and Hawkson opens his eyes.
As he comes back to himself, Hawkson can feel a new well of power within him. It has a similar feel to it as the soul well of his druidic magic, but a distinctly different flavour. This one felt more of untapped potential, like what could be.
He looked back a Kerf, and thought towards him, 'Its like nothing I have ever felt before...'
Kerf reaches toward Hawkson and places his hand on Hawkson's forearm.
"The Spark is life. But this.."
Kerf projects the notion of the empathic bond, "is Selk. Some are able to Empath through the Spark. You have at least the potential, as I was able to sense you reaching out."
Kerf projects his feelings of joy and congratulations for Hawkson.
"You took well to the Spark, and your potential is vast. Most do not respond as you did. Use wisdom with the Spark. It is life, fire, hunger, and it will devour you if it must."
Kerr projects images of a young girl, aflame with Spark. More of several young men, dried as corn husks. And one final image, trees snapped off at the base, twisted, mangled, as far as the eye can see and farther.
"I caution you: do not reach for your Spark.
At least until you've had more tutoring. "
Kerf removes his hand from Hawkson's arm and reclines in his chair.
He says, audibly this time, "You'll find we can now communicate adequately with speech," and he grins again.
Hawkson shook his head, as if clearing it. He was mildly concerned about the possible secrets read from within his mind, but decided to not dwell on it as such.
Instead he said aloud, "I think it might be best to let things grow more naturally from here. My mind is growing a bit taxed, so it might be for the best to focus elsewhere for a time." Shaking his head once more, he continued, "I have taken the liberty of having prepared a map, I was hoping we could come to a conclusion as to where to settle your people, depending on what you need..."
Kerf looked down nervously for a moment before holding his hand up to the Elder seated nearest him.
Almost immediately all of the elders had joined hands. After a few moments of silence, they dropped hands, and Kerf looked up to speak.
"We don't presume to choose our place here. We are hardy and resourceful.
However, we are most familiar with the ways of the forest. Within the forest we can thrive, and the forest will thrive with us, for we are stewards of the land."
Kerf paused, appearing to debate whether he'd continue on.
A moment, a deep breath, and on he went.
"Access to a waterway for harvest and transport would also be a boon.
As well as supplies to sustain us until we can tend the forest."
Kerf gestured to one of his companions and a moment later a good-sized chest way placed near Kerf's chair.
"We do not come entirely as beggars. As I'm to understand it, Frozen Moonlight is highly valued here.
As such, we've brought you this gift."
He opens the chest and piled within are tons of silver... leaves?.. among other woodland inspired figures.
Enough such that the Elders could have probably bought themselves a good sized estate and staffed it for a few seasons.
Kerf looked back up at Hawkson.
Hawkson considers the wealth in front of him for a moment, before saying, "Land is plentiful, I am sure you can pay for more than enough supplies with what you have if you can provide the shelter for yourselves. We can get a few ships to ferry you to the northern shore, at no cost." He stopped to think for a second, before pointing to a spot on the map, around the center, but slightly south, in the Thurrial Wilds, before taking his other hand, and point to another position, this time in the Artaire Forest. Then he spoke once more, saying, "Both of these locations should be rather suitable, though lacking in infrastructure. Both near rivers, and in the forest, though of different varieties. No matter where you settle, I am sure that some druids will come to learn your ways."
The Ballad of Clan Bright-eye
Kerf smiles, glad his clan will have a home.
He raises his hand again to the Elder next to him.
The elders join hands once more in what Hawkson now knows is likely an intense deliberation, a flurry of emotions and images.
Hawkson, too, smiles, excited at the prospect of having these interesting folk living in his domain. There is much they can share with Obrexia.
Kerf's eyes open, and he claps his hands, beaming.
"Friend Hawkson, Clan Bright-eye is most humbled and overjoyed at your gracious offers.
We, with utmost gratitude, accept stewardship of the location in the remote Artaire forest.
With that, let us enjoy this bountiful harvest and be merry."
Kerf places his hand briefly on Hawkson's arm again, projecting to him the overwhelming gratitude, relief, and hope he now has for Clan Bright-eye.
Too, though, he projects words of caution, "The Spark consumes. Tread lightly. Kerf will tutor, if you desire."
The merriment and celebrations continue.
Jokes, laughter, conversations, thought this time of a much lighter tone continue into the night.
At one point, Kerf produces a wooden flute from his vest and begins a playing a joyous song.
Several other elders now also have instruments: bells, small drums, another flute but this one with a deeper sound.
It's quite dark out now. The food is gone, and the mood is high.
Kerf begins playing his flute again, a single note held long.
A quiet sets over the room as everyone turns to look at Kerf, his eyes closed.
The note ends, a brief pause, and Kerf plays.
The tune is slow and soft, a crisp, melancholic melody invested heavily with emotion.
Soon the others join in, the music becomes full and detailed, as if an entire orchestra had entered the dining hall.
Hawkson can tell that this is a special moment, the very air thick with emotion, a static just waiting to discharge.
He can feel their sadness, their pain. He can feel their hopelessness.
And then, flashes of hopes, sparks of joy. The music brightens, the melody swift.
And then it's over, the instruments disappear.
The Elders stand, each a brief bow to Hawkson.
Farewells are said, and they collect their daggers from Caspien, who seems to be at a loss for words.
He leads the Elders back toward the inns in Hawk's Landing.
It may be dark now, but tomorrow is a bright new day for Clan Bright-eye.
[This concludes the living post]