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Subject: Session #2 - Preparations and Confrontations rss

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David S
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Currently listening to: "Age of Excuse" by Mgła
(You may find the previous events in Session #1.)

Athdara and Celli are returning to Aoife’s Bow with the herbs, when, as they near the village, Davalian, the apprentice scholar, hurriedly meets them. He tells them that Morak is in an emotional state and her services are urgently requested. Celli welcomes Athdara to accompany her, and the three of them head toward Morak’s house. There, they find the old man with his head in his hands, crying and lamenting the loss of Nirelle. Davalian comforts him while Celli immediately sets about making a pot of tea. Athdara notices a painting of Nirelle on the wall and studies the girl’s features, and then she goes to help Celli craft the herbal treatment. She recognizes several of the herbs that Celli is employing, most of which will induce sleep in Morak, but there are a few ingredients that she doesn’t recognize. Celli tells her that they are for the dream state and that they will put it, too, at ease, and it will facilitate Morak’s recovery. As an interesting side note, Athdara detects a very faint aura around Davalian. It was upon him when he met them on their return to the village, and, over the course of their time spent caring for Morak, the aura fades further before disappearing altogether.

While that is going on, Kal continues to whittle on the wooden boat that he’s crafting. He is approached by Riggart Blande who invites him to Temple. Kal thanks him but declines, and Riggart is forced accept it. Dennoryn, less inebriated at this point, arrives and asks Kal why he volunteered the two of them to accompany the hunting party that is setting off to explore the caves to the northeast with the intention of confronting the Feond. Kal points out that Dennoryn, himself, did the volunteering, but that it will be a necessary undertaking. Dennoryn can only shake his head at the whole situation, and then he adds the story that there is an odd tree “with the face of an old man” not too far from the village. He said he had heard some odd rumors about it, and that it might be a petrified Feond. He egged Kal into buying him a mead if he (Dennoryn) went to go explore the tree. Insufferably, Kal accepted, and while the two men were jovially talking, Seanath, the sentry who had invited them on the hunting party, arrived. He thanked them for their willingness to participate and asked them to spread the word. If they could, he asked them to also encourage Jast, the carpenter, to provide bows and other wooden materiel for the excursion. As things stood, the carpenter was proving to be reluctant to help. Meanwhile, Grimn, the blacksmith, was noted to be in high favor of the party and was waiting on the supplies from Jast. Kal says that if the conversation comes up, he will mention it.

Dennoryn, initially intent on going to the Temple for a preparatory blessing before visiting The Elder Tree, instead accompanies Kal as he goes to speak with Jast. Seanath departs in order to speak with Grimn. Much more boisterous and forward than his companion, Dennoryn initiates the topic of the Feond hunting party with the carpenter and pointedly asks why the woodworker wasn’t being more helpful. Jast sighs and confesses that he feels it to be a doomed mission and doesn’t want to be a part of it, but, over the course of the conversation, he is persuaded to accept his role. He offers some weapon hafts and bows to Dennoryn to be taken to the blacksmith and the sentries. During the conversation, Kal notes the glyphs and runes painted here and there within the carpenter’s shop. Jast tells him they are part of the Demorthèn Arts and that they are blessings that had been given over his shop and the items of his trade.

Meanwhile, a couple of hours have gone by. Morak Lestryn has imbibed the herbal concoction and is resting, with Davalian, his apprentice, keeping an eye on him. Celli has gone off to prepare supplies for the hunting party, and Athdara is confronted by Riggart Blande, who, not for the first time, invites her to his next sermon at Temple. She declines, and a concerned look crosses his face, and he says that word is spreading that she has visited The Elder Tree with Celli. While the people of Aoife’s Bow respect the old Demorthèn, they do not trust the site. He encourages her to be careful before bidding her adieu. At this point, Athdara finds a quiet area, sits beneath the tree and spends some time alone, parsing her thoughts. She decides, at length, that she will visit The Elder Tree at night. She realizes the danger, but she also believes it will settle, at least for her, any truth in the various rumours that she has encountered. She also notes, incidentally, that the aura which she had earlier observed on Davalian has not been seen on any of the other residents.

At this point, it is later in the day. Adigar has approached Kal and Dennoryn to inform them that they will remain in Aoife’s Bow for two more days. He is working on some business arrangements before the route heads northward. The two men accept the update, and their employer departs to speak with Riggart, the clergyman. They offer their timetable to Seanath, who finds it encouraging. He hopes to have the hunting party set out on the morrow, but he says that some of the men are reluctant and fearful, and that it’s possible they won’t leave until two days’ hence, instead. He says that the timetable for Kal and Dennoryn may encourage the party to set out on the matter while they have the extra help.

Athdara returns to The Night’s Wisp, the tavern and inn, as dusk approaches. As she enters the common room, which is relatively empty, she notes Riggart speaking with the tavernkeeper (Mathias). The latter has his hand out, clearly expecting payment. The clergyman laughs and tells him that he has done well and should continue to walk in the Light. The tavernkeeper remains adamant, his hand pointedly proffered. At length, Riggart places a few daols in the outstretched palm and smiles before turning to leave the building. He catches sight of Athdara, nods to her, and then lets himself out. The young lad scurries over to Athdara’s table, apologizes once again for his intrusion the prior evening, and asks after her order. She requests something cool and non-alcoholic, but cider appears to be the only option without getting into the heavier drinks, so she accepts. The tavernkeeper strikes up a conversation with her. He asks her the typical questions – from where does she hail; where is she going; what does she think of Aoife’s Bow thus far; and so forth. He used to be something of an explorer himself, he says, but now he lives the adventures of others vicariously. She requests her room for another night and orders a bowl of the lamb stew.

After nightfall, Athdara sets out to visit The Elder Tree. She is spotted, however, when she is scaling the palisade around the village. The guard immediately asks her what she’s doing and to get down from there. She convinces him that she’s restless and wants to patrol the surrounding area. Because she isn’t a local, he doesn’t feel that he has the authority to keep her inside, so he finally relents and assists her over the wooden wall. She darts into the woods and disappears into the shadows, from which she watches the other sentries and gets a feel for their routine. Finally, she slips through the trees, circles around the village and proceeds toward The Elder Tree. The moon is half-full, so she has enough light to slowly make her way toward her destination. When she arrives, the visage of the old man’s face in the tree is profoundly menacing in the moonlight. The tree creaks in the wind, and the power in the area is nearly palpable. But, the sense of foreboding is overwhelming, and Athdara carefully retreats from the area, tactically keeping an eye on the tree and its surrounding area. When she returns to the edge of the village, the guards call out to her. Initially, they are somewhat threatening, but then they quickly recognize her and usher her into the village. They ask her why she is out there and a general sense of alarm is raised when they learn that she was visiting The Elder Tree. She discovers that her cheeks are wet with tears. Celli is summoned, and the Demorthèn chastises herself and then chants a small ritual over one of her Ogham stones before thrusting it into Athdara’s palm. No effect is visible, and, relieved, Celli retrieves the stone from the young woman’s hand and wheels on the sentries nearby, demanding to know who aided Athdara in leaving the village at night. One of the sentries confesses, and she scolds him mercilessly. Feeling markedly shaken by the night’s events – and somewhat ashamed that it resulted in a severe reprimand of the sentry – Athdara goes to The Night’s Wisp for something cool and refreshing so that she can collect her thoughts.

Awakened by the commotion, Kal rouses from his sleep in the stables and catches sight of Athdara heading toward the tavern. He recognizes her from the previous day but doesn’t think much of it. He decides, however, that since he is up, he might as well get something to drink, and so he, too, goes to the tavern. In the common room, only a young lad is tending the counter. He pours her a cider upon request and asks about what’s going on outside. She doesn’t say too much, and then Kal enters and orders mead. He sits down alone as he continues to wake up, while Athdara describes to the serving lad, briefly, what happened. Then, Celli enters and, somewhat chagrined, apologizes for leading Athdara to the tree in the first place. While the two women are talking and sorting through the events, the tavern door slams open and Grimn, the blacksmith, storms into the common room. He immediately sets to yelling at Athdara and Celli, blaming them for scaring the village and bringing the Feond’s attention upon them. He’s clearly intoxicated, and the serving lad comes over to timidly try to calm him. Grimn turns solidly and punches the young man in the face, dropping him. At that, Kal is immediately on his feet and confronting Grimn, telling him he needs to get out of there. The two men have an intense standoff before the blacksmith growls and leaves. Athdara hands a rag to the serving lad to stem the flow of blood from his face. It appears that he’ll be okay, and so the three of them – Celli, Athdara and Kal – exit the tavern to speak with the young woman who had been watching the children the day that Nirelle was taken. They get the idea from Grimn’s outburst about the Feond, and they still have many unanswered questions about how the young girl went missing.

The young woman comes to the door with minimal delay despite the late hour; the recent ruckus has awakened most of the village. The woman recognizes Celli and allows the three of them to enter her small house. They ask her if she can remember anything from the day that Nirelle was taken, but she sadly shakes her head. “I had looked away for only a moment, and she was gone!” Then, she remembers -- but she’s concerned she may have imagined it – that there was the strange scent of ash nearby. This coincides with some of the details of The Wretch that have traveled down, via word of mouth, from the north road. She thinks there may have been a sooty footprint, like a human’s; smaller than an adult’s but larger than a child’s. The three of them bid goodnight to the young woman and set out to investigate the area where the children had been playing that fateful day. They don’t have much hope of finding anything this late at night and after so much time has gone by, but they still want to check. When they arrive, Celli sets out her Ogham stones in a ritualistic arrangement, and then begins to chant over them. A creepy mist begins to rise from the ground as the Demorthèn recites her incantation, and they notice that there are brighter spots within the mist that take the shape of tracks. The three of them believe this to be spiritual proof that the Feond swept through and captured the girl, and Athdara resolves to accompany the hunting party at this point.

They determine that the sentries must know and that the hunting party should leave the next morning. The news has a solidifying effect on the villagers; namely, the ones who were reluctant or otherwise hesitant to join the hunting party. It is decided that they will, indeed, leave on the morrow.

(So, our characters, Athdara and Kal, are certainly finding that the community of Aoife's Bow is turbulent beneath the once-calm exterior. The fear that the villagers had for the Feond known as The Wretch is slowly turning into determination as the hunting party musters into action. But, for Athdara and Kal, there are still many questions to be answered.)
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