Abelard - Chapter 12 - Full moon, Werewolves, and a long road ahead!
Full moon, Werewolves, and a long road ahead!
As the party wound down for the evening, lullabied to peaceful rest by the Zigras’ peaceful, nurturing song of the forest, and sheltered by the protections of her tiny hut, the gloaming Hearth magics of the Trillium, their Elven guide, Rissalya’s knowledge of the terrain, and the unsleeping watchful eyes of the slain orc war chief under Abelard's control, a chilled wind began to blow in from the West.
Trillium made mention that the wind seemed to be flowing counter to the normal prevailing winds that stemmed from the Great Whorl past Lusterlin to the East. Yet another active reminder that the Shadowrill forest was, and was not, of Lumere. But, steady as the breeze was, it seemed to do little to disrupt the tendrils of fog that continued to creep out from the dark trees of the forest edge, stealthily snaking across the river towards the resting adventurers on the hill. Morning crept in silently, as if it, too, was afraid of the looming shadows of the Shadowrill forest.
The sunlight crawled across the hill, gathered it’s courage along the peak, and then spilled down into the river valley below. Abelard, seated near the edge of the campsite, stared out into the distance, his mind running through what the Vistani Seer’s card reading has provided. He still seemed taken aback by the card reading having brought up his father, and as he settled into quiet contemplation, he muttered aloud to himself. "My Father is alive? Mom said he was dead!" He paused a second before continuing. "Well, I… I thought that was what she was saying. Why else would he never return?" "My father is known to me? But he does not know me? He must reveal himself?", he repeated the earlier reading again. “So I must have met him, or seen him in my travels?....... What Elves have I met in travels. Hmmm… I better make a list. But Elf and Male is about all I have to go on if he no longer goes by Agnarr."
The Half Elf continued muttering to himself, citing cities and instances. "The bosun on the the Haulin Oats? He was an Elf, right?... Dangit, what was his name? That Swordmaster in Za? No, he was Genasi. The lookout on the Destiny was at least Half Elf for sure. I sure hope it wasn’t the cook on the ‘One for the Money’. He was a horrible person! The fish pie vendor in the market?" On and on he rambled, softly to himself, in no chronological or any other apparent order.
Oblivious that he was speaking aloud, Abelard continued muttering to himself. Something the group had mostly has grown used to by now, but in an entirely different fashion. Actually to Himself... not to other listening powers. "Did the du Bosch's mention their father? Another Elf with the Ambassador? THE Ambassador? Maybe one of the Treasure and Lace artists is an Elf beneath the costumes?"
Overhearing the half-elf muttering to himself Trillium sat down next to Abelard and studied him closely. After a moment of pause, almost as if she wanted to say something but didn’t, the blue Firbolg sighed and said "It seems we both have mysteries surrounding our parents. We will help each other solve them." Towering above him, the Giantkin Druid offered Abelard what she hoped was a reassuring smile, gently patted him on the shoulder, stood, and began to head back towards Buskin and Zigras.
Abelard had a brief moment of "Was she reading my mind?!?!", before he realized he had been talking out loud. "Thank you Trill... It's all just so...", and he paused. "Trillium?", the half elf asked with a look of concern as Trillium moved away. Abelard could swear that, for a moment, the Firbolg’s smile had turned sour, like she had something else to add, but had not. But, trusting the blue druid as he did, he did not try to call her back when she moved away thoughtfully.
With elven ears trained for scouting, their guide Rissalya did not miss the exchange between Trillium and Abelard. As the druid moved away leaving the young half-elf wondering, Rissalya shrugs. Midway through the process of setting up her own bedroll, the guide says off-handedly, "She's probably just concerned because your father was a..." Then she stopped, thinking better of continuing that sentence out loud. She abruptly changed topics, looking at Abelard skeptically. "You DO know what your family line's history might have been with Môr’lanthir, don't you? None of them would have been to this province before, correct?"
Abelard, still watching Trillium walking away, and attention not fully on Rissalya, nodded, "I know.. I'm worried about what her Giantkin Ancestors might have done here as well." But then realized that he was the focus of her question, not Trillium. "Me? My family has lived in Fjordheim for generations. I really doubt any of them traveled this way. Well, any from my Mother’s side." "I didn't really know my Father’s family. No one did. He... He didn't stay around for long..... Why? What do you know?"
Abelard’s mind suddenly replayed back the beginning of her comments he had not been paying much attention to... "Wait... wait... Do I know my father was a what?"
Rissalya sighed, realizing she had assumed too much, and glanced back towards Trillium. "Your father was clearly a... mighty warrior, seeing by the way you inherited his ability to fight so fiercely. I was asking because if for any reason he had... raided within the borders of the ancient forest, Môr’lanthir will remember and hold you accountable."
"Oh... Ok.”, Abelard responded, as his still distracted mind failed to pick up on their guide’s redirection, “You know. For a minute there it sounded like you knew something more about my father." Abelard shook his head. "No. I never heard any stories about anyone in the family travelling all the way over here. That's... That's kind of one of the reasons I decided to stop here, actually. I just started moving, and when I felt like stopping, here I was. I don't know anything about my Fathers side... But I don't see why he would be any different. Trollansby folk don't travel. Well, they didn't travel."
Chuckling wryly, Abelard continued "And the Elders would all laugh to hear you say I inherited my father's ability. I was a terrible warrior. Likely one of the worst recruits to ever pick up an axe. Nothing like the stories of my da."
"Did those stories ever describe what your father looked like?" Rissalya queried carefully. "Or where he came from? How would you know if you found him again?"
Abelard's youth, and his frazzled frame of mind showed through as he teared up at the simple questions, blowing them far out of proportion. "OK. Fine! You win. I lied! I don’t even have any stories about my dad. Ok? I never knew him. I only know that people would always laugh at my ineptness and say I was nothing like Agnarr. Or that they sure wish they still had Agnarr around. Or 'how could I come from the blood of Agnarr'. I know he was this amazing warrior, and I was nothing. I couldn't protect anything." ".... I couldn't save anyone."
Abelard leapt to his feet and ran back up the hill to where the party had camped at the top of the hill and collapsed to the ground to sit next to his pack, facing back away from the river, and the disapproving stares of his companions.
Baffled by the outburst of teen angst from someone who hasn't even spent their first century in self reflection yet, Rissalya blinked in bewilderment at the form of Abelard running away. She frowned slightly, perhaps with uncertainty, then shrugged and allowed Abelard the solitude he had chosen.
"Poor child," Rissalya said with honest concern to Trillium, Zigras, and Buskin. "If his father was indeed a Drow raider that passed this way, the forest will punish him for it."
Seeing Abelard run up the hill, Trillium sighed again, her shoulders slumped a little. Turning to Buskin and Rissalya she said quietly "Give me a moment with him? Someone needs to gently tell him, and I think he may take it the easiest from another who understands his pain."
The caring Firbolg’s intuition accurately noted the Half Elf’s mood as she carefully approached Abelard, much like she would an injured animal. Calmly and not bearing straight at him, the young Druid moved to sit at his side, looking off in the same direction as him. Quiet, not pressing.
Abelard looked up to Trillium as she sat next to him. "I know, Trill. That was uncalled for. I’m sorry for yelling. I'll apologize to Rissalya. I know she means well.... um.... I mean I think I know she does?"
"What did she say?", asked Trillium, as she searched for a place to start what she knew would be a difficult, and possibly painful, conversation.
“Honestly? Nothing. She just asked about my father. What stories I knew... But… That’s just it. I don’t know any. None. No one ever talked about my father... Not when they thought I could hear.”, Abelard replied. Abelard repeated, embarrassed, what he had said to Rissalya in return.
Soaking it all in, Trillium nodded while she reaches down to pick up a few freshly shed twigs that were nestled in the grass. "In a forest,”, Trillium began, “Many of the creatures never know who their father is. The mother bear may only have a brief time with the male bear, then raise the cubs in her den. Nature is unsentimental in that way. The bear served his purpose and is off having his own adventures, and she and the cubs theirs. Sometime later in life... often many years... the grown cubs may cross paths with him, and more often than not, they can sense their kinship."
Carefully she weaved the twigs together with her massive, but deft hands, as she continued... "It is like that with the deer, elk, squirrels, spiders, and many more creatures. It is mostly us odd Two Leggers that are the outsiders." She added some dried grass into her weaving, delicately tying off a knot and uttering a quiet word in Druidic. Then, switching back to common, Trillium continued... "Two Leggers try and think we are somehow different or better... living in our cities or villages. Making art, music, or structures. But really, we are just animals with instincts and needs."
Trillium set the tiny weaving in her lap, and quietly rummaged through her many pouches for a minute. Pulling out a small leather pouch from within another larger one, she poured out a collection of hand hewn stone, shell and seed beads, intuitively selecting two. Placing them in the folds of the split skirting over her breeches, she tucked the pouches away.
“I don't know who your father is, but I think I now understand more about what he is.”, the Druid continued, calmly and carefully, ”I have fought at your side Abelard, you are a fierce warrior, don't be ashamed about not being good at fighting as a kid. Every cub needs to learn and practice his skills." As she wove the beads into her creation, Trillium chuckled "Our goat Trouble had these two buck kids one year. Oh my gosh, did they live up to her name! One was bigger than the other and he used to beat the ever living snot out of the little guy. But that little guy would not give up and, with time, he ended up being far better at their sparing games than his much larger brother. He just needed time and practice.”
Smiling, she finished the last knot and brought the weaving up to her lips. She whispered another word in Druidic, closed her eyes and breathed intent into the weave. Opening her eyes, she reached out and placed the finished creation in the palm of the Half-Drow’s hand and gently closed his fingers around it, holding his hand for an extra, quiet, moment. ”I think, Abelard, that your father was a Dark Elf. He gave you your white hair, your exceptional dark vision, as well as the gift of the Faerie Fire and your comfort and natural talent riding a giant lizard. Before you feel scared remember that your people seemed to respect him and that the fortune talked of his watching over you. I don’t think you should fear him, I think you should be proud of who you have become. Your Father and your Patron may have given you your magical gifts but you are the one who has honed your skill and talent. There is so much more to you than them.”
Abelard listened intently, even as his mind went on a wild ride. He began by not understanding what Trillium is saying, catching up to the concept midway, and ended with just as little understanding as he begun. In an attempt to give his mind a chance to catch up, Abelard opened his hands to look at what Trillium had given him.
The item woven together by the druid was formed from disparate elements. Fresh green twigs bent around each other, creating a small, circular wreath about the size of Abelard's palm. Long stems of sun-dried grass were braided into a rustic amber twine that looped around and around on itself within the wreath to form a net, much like a spider web. And suspended in the middle of the net, each hanging from different sections of the same thread... one bead formed out of a small white almond-shaped seed, and another bead made from a slightly larger spherical seed of grey-veined ivory.
Through the druidcraft cantrip, all of the natural components were melded together, as if they had grown that way organically, forming a complete and solid whole. The circle reminded Abelard of how druids always look at nature in cycles that loop through divergence and reunification. How Nature is all interconnected, like the web, even when it seems to be spread apart. And the two seeds, dancing around each other, yet still held together within the net, both representations of potential growth... they could only represent Abelard and his father.
"Dark?... But he was an Elf! I mean... Wasn't he? They're not Real Elves, the dark elves. Right?", Abelard started, nonsensically. Abelard seems completely stunned by the concept, one never broached or considered before.
"You mean the Dark Elves have Faerie Fire? But they aren't even Fey!" The poleaxed Half Elf, (Half Drow?), opened and closed his mouth a couple times, but no more words were forthcoming as he turned the weaving about in his hands to look at Abelard continued to turn the woven work in his hands, admiring the craftmanship as well as the success of the spur of the moment intent. "I don't know. I don’t know what any of this means. Dark Elf? Do you truly believe so?"
The young Warlock shook his head frustrated, "I know almost nothing about Dark Elves. They were not something I studied. Do you think Buskin has any books? Shay. I can ask Shay when we return. She'll be able to tell me more about Dark Elves! Or maybe even if I am half of one?"
Trillium shook her head, “I don't know much about them either. I think talking to Shay is a good start. Books may just give a prejudiced view influenced by fear. Even if that fear was earned. Shay may be able to give you better perspective."
Abelard nodded and looked up to the face of the Firbolg, a big furry blue Rock in a suddenly menacing river. "Thank you Trill. I needed that. Thank you for being the one to tell me." With a deep sigh, he carefully placed the woven work of art away and stood. "I may not like much about this whole Herald business. I hate what happened to Trollansby. But I am glad you lived, and glad we met. Together indeed. We've shown that, together, we're a match for anything that's been thrown at us. I guess we'd best stick together and get on the road."
Abelard looked back at the menacing forest across the river, the road ahead, then at the two burial mounds. "Full moon, Werewolves, and a long road ahead, eh. Can we ever pick the 'easy' way?" Abelard scooped his pack to his shoulder and dragged Trillium's towards her, nearly falling over with a surprised grunt at how much it weighed. It must nearly outweigh him!
Trillium accepted the pack from the slight half-elf, lifting it with ease over his head to her shoulder. Smiling down at the Half Drow she replied, "I, too, am glad we met, Abelard. I never had many Two Legger friends in Fjordheim, most of the other kids were intimidated by my size. You, Zigras, and Buskin have accepted me as I am. Thank you."
With that she gave their camp site a once over, making sure they had left no trace, and followed Abelard back down the hill to where the others were waiting.