Acid Taint

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W02: The Light Woods

It's Gilday, Callem 22 16:37:46 1020. The full moon is up. The tide is high and ebbing. Towering white clouds drift slowly through the blue sky. It's hazy and hot, and the glare of the sun seems to drain the color from the landscape.

Once again, the blazing summer sun bakes the land. The greenery of the forest gives a slight boost to the abnormally low humidity today, though, as the breezeless air stagnates with acrid smoke turning the light of Daeus a rusty shade and making the colors of the wilderness take on a coppery cast that makes things look off.

Ga'Elian, mounted upon his majestic eagle-lion lands on the grass near a rocky riverbank, and dismounts. Both rider and griffon seem surrounded by a bubble of sorts, or at least by a cushion of clean air. The ranger walks down toward the river, looking around to see if anything is looking back.

Aznara's sitting at the riverbank, across from where Ga'Elian comes to the water, her boots off and her feet in the water. She's apparently enjoying the coolness. "I thought I heard wings coming", she comments after she catches the ranger's eye... and moves her hand off the whip that's coiled at her hip.

It is not from within the river, or from across it that comes another greeting of sorts. A trill of music trickling like water over stones. An apt discription given the fact that this was beside a river. The music is just loud enough that it can be heard over the soft rush of water, and comes from the blue-clad Sildanyar up the river a short ways. Shizin smiles at Ga'Elian, lifting a hand from the harp being held and offering a brief wave before noticing Aznara. To Aznara comes another nod, a bob of hair dyed white to blue in gradation with the darker color at the top and the lighter near the bottom. The hair falls past the feet of this particularl Sildanyar, and shifts over the grass as the harpist moves closer to them and to the river beyond.

GAME: Aznara rolls fortitude: (3)+3: 6

Aznara, just as her comment finishes escaping her lips, yelps and hops back away from the water's edge, getting her feet out of the water as quickly as she can -- though she remains sitting on her backside after the backwards motion.

Ga'Elian waves at Aznara and then at Shizin, and is about to say some greeting when Aznara's sudden retreat from the water's edge catches his attention. He instead asks, "What happened? Are you alright?" Then he says, looking at the river, "Where are the fish?"

Whether it is quiet music, the griffon-rider sailing overhead, or the very recent yelp that draws her, Aya emerges from the treeline at the beginnings of the riverbank.

"I thought the water was starting to feel warm, but all of a sudden, it burned... my feet feel as if I splashed boiling water over them, all of a sudden...", Aznara says, gently touching at her bare feet with fingertips.

Cautiously and carefully, with the smile fading from Shizin's lips the elf draws closer to the others. Dawn-colors like soft lavender shift over the river at Ga'Elian's comment looking for any fish and not finding them in evidence. Unconsiously Shizin shifts a step further back away from the water's edge and looks at Aznara. "What happened?" For all that Shizin's voice is soft and light, it is clearly male, and easily heard. There's a certain resonant quality to it.

Ga'Elian looks down at Aznara's feet, then suddenly looks at Shizin and says, "Don't wade in." He notices Aya stepping out of the trees and nods, but returns his attention to Aznara. He stoops down and says, "The grace of Niessa restore thee." At this he gently touches her feet, and the redness dissipates, leaving the skin as black as normal.

GAME: Ga'Elian casts Cure Light Wounds. Caster Level: 19 DC: 15

"I don't know... the water was cool and comforting, as expected... then it seemed to warm around my feet, and suddenly it burned", Aznara says in reply to Shizin's question. "Best I can describe it is to compare it to the feeling of boiling water splashed upon my skin, and even that doesn't really seem to properly describe the sensation." Then Ga'Elian casts his spell and she nods, looking up at him. "Thank you, Elian", she says, before reaching to the small pack that sits next to her, to pull her boots from it. She shoulders the pack before starting to pull her boots onto her feet; clearly, she doesn't feel like dipping her feet into the water, anymore.

Aya relocates herself to the more local vicinity of Ga'Elian and company, ceasing to be at one spot and reappearing at the other, trailing fading wisps of shadow at both locations. "There is a great deal of conversation regarding the corruption of the wilderness. Perhaps this is a symptom? I wouldn't suggest drinking the water."

Shizin takes another small step from the water and shakes blue-colored hair back and forth. The dawn elf startles back away from Aya with a small noise and a blink before quickly acclimating to the presence of this new person. Worry and concern replaces surprise quickly, and is evident in every line of the elf's body even as Shizin lets loose a small mournful sigh. "To lose the wilderness..." The words are even softer than before, Shizin rubbing fingers over the held harp as though it is soothing. Abruptly the elf seems to realize something and flushes, ducking the head and lowering lavender eyes.

Erakirak has been doing more adventuring in the woods of late than is his preference... but sometimes one must make a virtue of necessity, so he has been taking time to become more familiar with the woods. The idea of a natural environment that can catch fire still strikes him as ridiculous, and gliding amidst all of these trees in a virtually flat setting is far more difficult than seems at all justifiable, but what can you do?

He is excited by the flight of a griffon overhead, and changes his path to hopefully coincide with it. That brings him to a river with several people gathered nearby, and he waves a wing diffidently.

"Ah... hello. I hope I'm not interrupting?"

Aya waves a hand somewhat dismissively. "I doubt it is lost. It's survived much worse and existed here long before any of us, or even the city. I imagine that it will remain long after all else is gone, also." She then looks to the arrived avian and rolls a shoulder. "Not that I'm aware."

Ga'Elian nods agreement to Aya's remark. He says, "The wilderness around here has certainly been facing new struggles since that battle in Mictlan recently." As Rak lands, the griffon flutters his wings and lets go with a soft squawk. Ga'Elian says, "Well met. Have you been patrolling?"

"In a manner of speaking, sir," Rak replies to Ga'Elian. "More... familiarizing myself with the woods. As you say, since the fight at the Mictlan... well. I expect I'll be spending a lot more time here than I'm accustomed to." He ducks his beak to one side, a nervous habit. "But, yes, patrolling in a sense. At least, maintaining some awareness of potential threats. I haven't seen anything too unusual, though... well, except for him," he admits, gesturing with a wing in Erithamiel's direction. "You don't see many griffons around here... especially not armored ones."

Shizin does another shake. "I had heard." About the battle. Such things were widely talked about and one who listened could easily find out about the battle which had left such a mark on those that had both fought in it and been later told about it. Everyone had been affected by it. Shizin kneels by the water, bows, and silently prays.

Aya directs the others, or at least their questions, to Ga'Elian with a hand gesture. "He would be the foremost expert of the wilderness amongst us present. Perhaps of the recent battles, as well. I don't often venture this far, but it seemed wise to learn of the current corruption."

Ga'Elian nods. "This disturbs me a little differently though. I mean, in the case of a band of unruly oruch razing the forest by ax or flame, the answer is simple: vanquish the oruch. But when the environment is tainted, how does one stop the damage and heal it? If this acidic river water is the result of something more widespread than a particular polluter, how do we reverse the problem? The fae that I occasionally encounter hereabouts are conspicuously absent or at least more reclusive than normal. There are rumors in the nearby settlements of changlings and whispers of greater hostility from the few treants known to the villagers in these parts."

Erakirak nods. "Yeah. There were some corrupted treants attacking a druid grove not too far from here... a wizard or something was dumping something in a lake that, well, did something to them. I guess that's the same thing?"

Shizin finally stands up looking horrified at these goings on. So many terrible things... It was no wonder that fae creatures were scarce now. Everything was being affected. Even the rivers and streams. "We must do something." The elf puts away the harp and grips instead fine fingers lost within robes. Then again Shizin speaks, clearly passionate about this subject. "This is terrible."

"A wizard destroying, corrupting, or otherwise meddling in things beyond his means is hardly new," Aya comments, "Unfortunately, removing them all isn't practical." She looks to Shizin, then eventually others. "What would you suggest we do?"

Ga'Elian nods. He says, "I wonder if I might be able to convince enough of my tribesmen to gather to invoke the rituals of Faroth Fea in order to identify the specific sources of these taints and then the Estellen Calen to heal them." He seems to focus into distant thoughts.

"Well, if the river is fouled," Rak observes, "the source is prob'ly upstream, right? Maybe even up in the mountains," he adds, suddenly seeming more concerned. "Might be the same wizard or whatever who was poisoning the treants. Z-something, I think?" He scratches his head-feathers with a talon, then shrugs his wings. "Wanna go look? Maybe if we stop it at its source, everything else will just clear up naturally. Or, that ritual thing," he nods to Ga'Elian.

Aya arches a brow at Ga'Elian. "As I've heard there are dozens, if not hundreds, at work attempting to cleanse the tainted lands. As large as the wilderness is, I imagine they wouldn't mind more aid."

Shizin lays a hand on Ga'Elian's shoulder and offers a small smile. "It is a good idea." Perhaps they would be willing to help, perhaps they could do something. When Erakirak suggests more Shizin nods. "As is that. I am willing." Though the bard was clearly uncertain how much good Shizin could do, it was worth the effort.

Ga'Elian turns to Erakirak and says, "That sounds like a good measure to take in the short run. Yes, let's trace the pollution upstream and see whether we find a source. But judging by the lack of fish, and the dead clarity of the water -- I mean it is beautiful to look upon, but as wrong as this smoke-tinted sunlight without the usual algae and so forth. Whatever caused it, it was nothing small."

Erakirak nods appreciatively to the blue-haired sil and to Elian and clacks his beak enthusiastically. "Great! Let's go! Oh -- I'm ****," he adds as an afterthought, providing a whistling caw for which 'Erakirak' is a reasonable transliteration in Trade. "You can call me Rak."

Ga'Elian looks at Erakirak and says, "Before we go, <Auran>Erakirak</Auran>, I wonder if the wild might not give me a little help in determining quite what we're dealing with. There is a spell I'd like to cast that will allow me to learn certain things from the wilderness directly, but it will take some minutes for me to cast it."

They have a few moments while they wait, so Shizin pulls out the harp and plays a few bars of a soft sad song while Ga'Elian's spell is cast to lead them further into the wilderness to find the source of this pollution affecting the water. The dawn elf has proven already to be remarkably quiet, and offers no conversation while they wait. If the possibility of danger scares Shizin it does not show.

GAME: Ga'Elian casts Commune With Nature. Caster Level: 19 DC: 17

Erakirak clacks his beak agreeably. "If it's all right with you, sir, I'd like to get better acquainted with your companion while we wait?" His wing twitches in Erithamiel's direction, in case who he meant is not clear. Unless prevented, he spends the next several minutes in companionable silence with the griffon.

Aya is not of the wild, though she is currently in the wild. She may have seen enough example of the corruption with the dust, smoke, and acidic river... or maybe she holds less patience than others on communing. "I will leave you to your conversations with nature," she notes, possibly more specifically to Ga'Elian and Erakirak. She vanishes once more, returning to the forest canopy, or what currently passes for one at the moment.

Ga'Elian nods and says to Rak, "Go right ahead." He then starts to weave his spell, the verbal components taking the form of a song of sorts. Although vocalized, there isn't a language per se, more of a variety of natural sounds immitating various birdcalls, animal vocalizations, even the sounds of rain and wind and rushing stream, or, at least as close to it as Ga'Elian is able to reproduce with his humanoid anatomy. Similarly, the wildness of the Sylvanori is plainly evident in the sort-of dance that forms the somatic component of Elian's spellcasting. It immitates animalistic movement demonstrating his preternatural dexterity, and finds him shedding some of the accessories that encumber his body. It is all designed to put him into a wilder mindset, but is certainly still an exotic performance to witness.

Shizin's music only emphasizes this. Eliciting the sounds of water and wind, putting a sad and sorrowful spin on Ga'Elian's lovely performance. Not without hope however. There is always an edge of hope in Shizin's music. After a few brief moments watching Ga'Elian on the verge of something like dancing Shizin begins to echo Ga'Elian's sounds with a more 'human' harmony. The sound that elves make when singing back to nature. It's the sound of calling to the wild. It is a duet of sorts, call and call back. Beautiful though it is clearly something which Shizin is creating in this very moment. Like Ga'Elian with his beautiful magic. Magic and music, music and magic. They were made for one another.

Erakirak is, perhaps surprisingly given his heritage, not in the least bit musically inclined. That's OK, though. He's happily hanging out with the griffon.

Once the spellcasting reaches its climax, Ga'Elian goes rigid for about 5 seconds, then opens his eyes like he has just experienced a 38-mile diameter of awareness and is understandably challenged at trying to assimilate the sudden revelations. With a glassy-eyed look, he staggers back a step or two and catches his formerly bated breath. As his composure returns, he stands again with his characteristic poise and starts to weep, like the Native American elder in those 1970s public service ads for environmental awareness. In his clear, tenor voice he slowly pronounces, "This is very bad. I could not discern the full extent of the water's taint. I sense that its strength is evenly spread, which would not be the case if there were a single source of the befoulment."

The music ends almost abruptly with Ga'Elian's rigid posture, sweeping away into nothing as Shizin aways the pronuciation. When Ga'Elian finally does speak, Shizin's lavender eyes become incredibly sad, as sad as the words that finally come forth. "The poor land." The dawn elf rises upwards and walks to Ga'Elian, laying a hand on one shoulder and wiping away tears with the other. Each touch is delicate and light with its purpose of tracing away the signs of Ga'Elian's sadness. "It will be well again." Though the words are meant to be reassuring there is an echoing sadness in Shizin's eyes as though Ga'Elian's experiance rocked the foundation that such a statement might be built upon.

Erakirak thinks about that. "Does your spell work in a sphere or a circle? I mean... does the taint spread underground as well?"

Ga'Elian wraps an arm around the bard and says, "Oh, nature is resilient, indeed. This is a wound, even a deep one, but not a fatal one." To Rak he turns, looking ponderous a moment before answering, "Now that you mention it, I suppose my awareness did extend above and below, but I wasn't focused so much in that dimension. But my mind did touch a sterile coldness far above where the sun's brightness is unable to veil the stars, and did also penetrate deep into the earth below, deeper than even most khazad are wont to delve. The roots of the land and the skies above seem largely unaffected by this malady."

"If not pervasive, there is hope." Shizin points out with a soft smile that is still tinged with sadness. Such an emotion could not so easily fade. Yet as with Shizin's music there is hope. If the land has not succumbed in its roots, then it can be healed. If the skies do not rain down this sickness then it can be stopped. There was hope. Hope in Shizin's soft smile and in the dawn elf's eyes. Shizin lowers those eyes, embarassed to have spoken so much, but every word is meant to its fullest.

Erakirak listens carefully, then looks really confused. "So... if it's not spreading from a source on the surface... and it's not seeping up from below... then I guess it's not coming _from_ anywhere?" He seems uncertain about that. "Like... lots of different sources, or magic that works everywhere at once, or something." His lower beak juts out in thought. "Yeah, I don't know."

Ga'Elian nods. "Yes. I would draw the same conclusions. I know that Ea is sensitive to the magical energies upon her face. I think I will consult my tribal elders and see if they might journey hither to assist in healing the land."

Shizin nods. "I will consult my kin." The dawn elf lifts the harp slightly to indicate not the kin of blood but the kin of kind. Certainly the bards might be able to offer insight, having knowledge of the past that few others have. Particularly elvish bards like Shizin. Shizin meets Ga'Elian's eyes and bows once.

- fin -