Bark glued to the Red Dragon

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    • Markshire PCs:

    [In the middle of the night, pieces of bark appear, one by one, attached to the wall of the Red Dragon with tree sap. Each piece appears to have been broken off carefully from a very large fallen tree, such that they would be as flat as possible. Each has also been laboriously scribed with a knife, and then etched with acid and alchemist’s fire, to read as follows.]


    Not make selfs viktums please. Heart strong and good but hands evil. Power in hands for needle, bow, ye do, trap. Hurts soul.

    Grippli Frank say hands demon-evil. Must long-think to take demon out. Tried much but demon not go. She greedy. And hungry. Now head hurt too.

    Demon talk when you close. So stay woods alone. Hunt for food, is okay. Maybe Kayla or Ryche help. They knew demon-heart yes?

    One you find kuridj to take hands, you come Kayla grove. Watch there when not hunt. Not make mess or fire there please. Tried figure way to do second hand by self and kud not. So did not try just one.

    Think maybe Odin done with deal. You saw Apa yes? We been talking in woods. Father make happy, cept for demon-hands. Thought he angry. Was but not how thought. Now he prowd. Cept for hands course.

    If Odin-deal done and bleed too much when take hands, please to give cotton to Frank, other tailor-stuff to Alec, gold to Aelswith and Bel, Anycetylaa to Durok, Ivan-dress to Keli, kidz toys to Faith, elf-cloak to Lipi if you can find him. One thing in pack for Dram, he know it when he see it. Malar bags to hand-cutter, rest to Horace.

    Oh yes–please to give one hand Walis and one Voran for member good of me. Think maybe Kamas know how keep from rot. Not bury rest of body in woods please. If Ryche say okay then bury on hill in Foot look over semetary. Dress in gray hanbok with purple belt please. Wash first if it bloody.

    [At the bottom of each piece of bark is a circle, bisected by a wavy line, with a dot in each half. The wavy line narrows at the top and broadens at the bottom very slightly, making it almost resemble a snake. A rumor of the gates opening and closing themselves at night passes through the ranks of Foothold’s guardsmen the same morning the bark is first noticed, and a number of empty potion bottles are found. The sage, when consulted, said the remnants in the bottles smelled like owl feathers, which opinion was seconded by Vanity and relayed by Whisper.]

    • Markshire PCs:

    [Attached to a six foot tall post erected in the roadside verge at the foot of the slope outside the west gates of Foothold, a small pendant banner of green cloth flaps in the wind. Interested passers-by, bored guardsmen and observant, wary, distance keeping individuals, will see a circular symbol inexpertly sewn into the fabric. Two colours, purple and white, separated by a sinuous curve of thin black, fill the circle with eye catching flashes as the banner flaps and idles. The especially observant will notice the smaller circles of opposite colour embroidered within each colour half.

    At the foot of the pole, its fastened flap facing down the road to Yar, an expertly crafted, rusty-orange bag with yellow trim rests on the ground; its straps looped around the upright allowing it to be swiveled but not easily removed.
    The terminally nebby, and anyone not fitting a very specific description, will be accosted with shouts of “Oi you! Keep yer thieving hands off it, Cully!”, with extra added crossbow bolt dissuation, because the gate guards are being Paid Extra to cover the expenses of Additional Duties. One person only will be allowed to access the bag and its contents which are :

    Some Roktfisk
    Half a dozen new sheets of parchment, bottle of ink, a handful of quills
    Three bottles of Cherry Lambic
    One dozen Honey Glazed Carrots
    A variegated assortment of coloured cloth, leather, fur scraps, threads, raw cotton , garlic, aloe and thin strips of softened leather

    A Letter
    : rolled up and tied off with a purple ribbon and addressed :
    To : ]

    {Written in a rounded, simple cursive script, indicating a feminine hand}

    My Dear Sun Ok,

    I have put together a few things from various people for your comfort, ease and entertainment by way of letting you know we are not forgetting about you. It also means we are not letting you go. Umm.

    Self imposed exile does not work. Believe me, I know, I tried it once. The circumstances were different, I was not trying to avoid killing anyone. I was trying to avoid being killed and trying to prevent others from being killed or harassed for our involvement in a group which was .. not wanted. By anybody. In particular by an individual who is best described as Frank’s Opposite. For the sake of protecting innocents, and this person is not too particular about who he considers guilty, I shall not refer to him by name or location; but I suspect I do not need to.

    Please, if I find you, do not waste your Invisibility Potion Trick. I have the trick of ” OH look! I can seeee yoooo !” I also have the tricks of “I can walk faster than you can run” plus “I can make you hobble like an Old Lady in Lead Boots”. I have other tricks that may surprise you. One that may interest you is to make you temporarily much wiser. More so than all those Wisdom Potions you have been drinking. Furthermore we have at least two druids who may both have an even better version than mine. Mind you they are both as mad as Ferrets In A Mushroom Patch so you may be stuck with me .. or wait for Moirin. Umm.

    And not to forget, please, I can make you a trinket or two for the same purpose. I may well have them ready by the time you read this. Also not to forget .. I am a Monk. I spent several decades in a monastery after my illness as a child. I learned many things there about the body and combat without weapons. I can break a strangle hold. I can also break thumb, finger, wrist, forearm, elbow and shoulder bones. There is not the pair of gloves in the world, or anywhere else, that can make you strangle someone with Fingers of Jelly. Not only that but you will not get far with broken kneecaps either.

    You know I would not want to do this sort of thing, it is not my true nature, but for the sake of saving a friend .. I will do it if i have to! So will others if they have to. If you make them by staying away. You know what Walis can do. He has told of the occasions he had to thump you senseless when you were forced to attack him and Voran. He seemed quite proud of the fact that he thought to put away his sword on all such occasions. Speaking of Walis .. he insists that I tell you about this; I shall attempt the conversation as I heard it.

    “She dunt need to worry abaht gerrin blud on anyfink”
    “How so?”
    “Liga.. erm ?”
    “Tied real tight around her wrists see? Stops the blud commin aht too much. Might even make her hands drop off by emselves”
    “And what makes you think .. ?”
    “It works wiv bull-ox an ‘osses!”

    “AH! But! How will she eat and fend for herself without hands?”
    “Iffen I have ter chop her hands orf then I’ll look arfter her”
    “And if she refuses to eat and be ‘looked after’?”
    “Pinch her nose real tight, when she oppens her gob ter breave .. shovel it in real quick like! It works wiv bulls an ‘osses.”

    Umm, so you see what you may be up against there? Quite honestly you will be better off coming home of your own choice, of your Own Free Will .. while you still have some.

    The writing materials (free gift of Portales) are for you to Keep In Touch. Put any letter back in the bag and turn it to face the gates. The guards will hand it on to me or Father Ryche who will give it to me unread. He is a Cleric, you can trust clerics to do that. Umm. Mostly. If there is anything for you, the bag will face toward Yar road.

    Durok thinks you will like the fish, Mezzano added the Lambics and for some reason that puzzles me, Tamar absolutely insists that I tell you that I watched her make the Honey Carrots herself. The tailoring things are from Aelswith.

    You can be sure they, and everyone else you know, all said the same as I do here .. Come Home, Sunny .. we miss you already.

    Panitha Diansdottir

    • Markshire PCs:

    [Reveling in their success at driving an inquisitive fairy away from the new post outside Foothold, the guards investigate with many an “Oi” when they see the bag attached to the post suddenly start revolving around the pole, tethered by its strap, falling promptly from the top of the pole to the ground. Inside are several sheets of paper, filled with large, beautifully inked letters that reflect years of patient craftsmanship with ink and quill, a stunning contrast to the haphazard manner in which those letters, words and sentences are combined. The pages are removed, and, after lengthy discussion, frequent shrugs and many a “Dunno” among the guards, the bag left facing the gates.]


    Flag-bag far from people-necks. Is good. But what stop anyone else go bag? Hope you get this. Guards there today, but they go lunch lots. Pretty sure they not see me when I open bag and take stuff. Just to check I made rude sign to them and they not say anything.

    Think I trick guards when I put this in bag. I maybe try purple potion I find in goblin camp. Last bottle turn me into tiny girl with wings and funny crown. Bet Durok like that better. Tiny girl probly weigh less than a nugget. Anyway see if guards say something if I look different.

    Wait! Maybe gloves come off if I that small! Fly right out of them maybe! [drops of a purple fluid are blotted on the page] No, not work but think it confuse demon for a minute. Not hear her over little wings and Apa’s laugh anyway. Just one bottle left for guard-trick now. Oh well.

    This paper much better than dead-tree-skin! Have magic papers but can’t make marks on them. Kamas probly explain that good, but not so anyone else understand. Papers make me want give Port big hug! Least I think it me that want that and not demon. Hard to tell sometime. Thank Port anyway, okay?

    Fishy thing was roktfisk? Strange word. Sound like spitting when I guess how say it. Make sense coming Durok. Roktfisk need spice lots. Put hot pepper next time too please. Know where I get rice. And tell Tam carrots is strong magic. Bring white stag right up to you. Stags take them from hand, mouth even. Demon not want stags I guess.

    Lambics good. Very good. Gone too. Tell Mez thanks. Make sleep long time. Not worry–stags and Apa watch then. Strange dreams though. Sleep maybe demon-time.

    Tailor stuff good too. Not much kits after Arik and beatings from friends. Hard to make right in woods though. Like to have kits cause there some bad stuff walking in woods. Know Faith and Sar kids play here sometime, so usually I try kill bad stuff. Tell Keli I finding plenty silk now. Think maybe demon not know how to choke spiders.

    Rest of letter not so sure. Has big Markshire-words I not know. Sound like you nice and scary same time. Not want hurt friends or anybody. Not want friends break more on me–cept maybe hands. Know you all have different tricks for hurting. Know that good. Last time Durok say put raw meat on purple-face. Been doing that. Jaguar meat better than lion by way. Least for purple-face. Both not taste so good.

    Demon not want cats either. Or bear. Or ogre seem like. Asked big ogre to take hands with his axe, but he just look confused grunt and swing at head. His axe and stuff over by Kamas nymph-friends if you want it. His armor probably all poked up though. Sorry bout that but is pretty smelly anyway.

    Sound like Walis know how keep alive when hands go. Ox medicine sure be good. Not so sure bout oss medicine. What an oss? Thought we just tie wrists and use lots of bandage but Walis maybe know better. Is okay if medicine not work too. I happy even if Odin-deal done. Not be sad, less demon-hands make hurt good peoples. That sound strange Markshire people maybe–you think like I new valkiree-girl if that help. I be one sing bad but not loud.

    If not need Odin-deal, then be happy if Walis feed me after hands gone. But must teach Walis use sticks. Rice taste better from sticks. Much better. Worry about Mez if Walis taking care of me instead though–Mez maybe hurt hisself.

    You really think you got spell can help long-think better than Vanity potions? Don’t say that in front of her I think. Maybe make her mad. Try if you want I guess–just have to be careful with hungry demon. Tried lots of potions already. Only couple left. Think I heard demon laughing at me. Not pretty laugh either.

    Trinket? That like pretty-jewels you make me? Got good long-think necklace already. Member find other maybe better with Elvawen long time ago. Not sure it better cause lots of orc-blood on it. Not sure about rings either. Already got some on under gloves and they no good for long-think. Wait be quiet.

    Sorry that silly thing to write course. Just used to saying that now when group go clanking around Arik and places. Thought I heard something here in woods. Was just demon laughing more.

    If you think druids maybe better for long-thinking I keep looking for Kayla. Maybe she help. Maybe not. Sort of depends but not sure on what. Did not know she like mushroom. Will find some for her. Even panther-Kayla eat fungus? Strange.

    Do know demon quieter when I near her grove so maybe that right. You see her walking or padding round Foot you tell her bout demon-hands and tell not come too close okay?

    Think she be happy me now. Friend to forest. No fire, push dead ogre-body into nymph ditch, sleep with stags. Barely smell like tanner anymore. She probly like that best. Course maybe that make her want leave demon-hands on. Hard to guess with Kayla.

    Oh. If druid can make magic paper for extra long-think I might read it okay. Got lots of time to try figure out anyway. Think druids not make magic paper much though. Too hard go shops and towns to find out. Lots of necks and sellers not understand how trade across room.

    Sorry, running out of paper. I miss you friends too. Worry about your souls a little you so ready beat me more, but miss you. This best Way. Can stay here long time if stuff to hunt, not hurt anybody. Durok’s ye do stay sharp when arrows run out. Is okay.

    You think way get demon out come grove. Not come close though, so better bring somebody talk louder than you. Until then use flag-bag. I try watch so no one steal. Need more paper and lambic and hot pepper most.

    [The letters are so large that they have filled the available space. There is, in the very bottom right corner of the last sheet, a barely perceptible circle drawn, with short lines radiating out from it.]

    • Markshire PCs:

    [Foothold’s western double gates swing open with their usual protesting creak, and a slender young woman steps out. Poised in self, sure of purpose, elegantly dressed in close fitting black pants and tunic faced in green, the brim of her floppy bright green semi-hood flouncing with each carefully paced step, she heads out toward the road to Yar carefully observed by the gate guards who, to a man, are watching the mesmeric lift and sway of her shapely hips .. for a tell-tale lurch that would indicate a nasty fall in the icy mud and slush of the road. She steps her delicate way down the slope to the pole with a fluttering purple and white pendant.

    From the bag on her shoulder she transfers some items to the bag at the foot of the pole and turns it to face west, towards Yar. Still carefully, totally, observed by the guards wary of a slip on that not to be trusted slope she retraces her steps through the gateway and on to the wind shunning warmth of the Temple of Odin.]

    Dear Sunny,
    Thank you for your letter. I t was very nice to read. The weather here remains cool and snowy. Which you probably already know. Umm.

    Well. I have been talking to several people. People who have seen you do your disappear trick and other people who know more about this than I do. It seems you do not need to use Invisibilty Potions at all. You have learned to make yourself ‘not there’ by way of skill not magic. Which makes my tricks for finding you .. quite useless.

    That makes me feel rather foolish now after what I said about finding you and stopping you from running away. Because I cannot, and I do not know of anyone who can. But hopefully there will be someone. I feel both disappointed and proud of you for having learned how to use your people’s skills by yourself. You have come a long way since Almonds and Nuggets in the Grove.

    We are getting a good response from people. Elvawen insisted you borrow the necklace you both found in the Bloodsprays. She has given it to Keliana to hold for you. Both Kyri Arri and Lily are thinking of tricks they could use on you. They may not even hurt. Which is nice. I do think though that you will have to come to us when we are ready to try this. It will not be good to have to go running after you all over the place. It might make it harder for you to want to get the gloves off. You must be able to choose to want to do this.

    Roktfisk. Yes it does sound like spitting. Funnily enough, that is what many people do when they taste it for the first time. Cats too, and cats like fish. There is a lot more parchment than last time. Elva made a lot of sawdust especially for Tamar to make into parchment for you, and some for Portales too. There is some Hot Peppered Sausage as well . Again from Tamar who again insists I tell you I watched her make them and the parchment. She keeps muttering about tyrants, “Ice Tyrants, Red Tyrants, Little Tyrants and now Bloody Stupid Demon Tyrants!” I am getting a bit worried about her. Maybe she is working too hard.

    Cherry Lambics from Walis this time. He says he “has a stash” of them. He suggested leaving them out at intervals for you, like a trail of breadcrumbs leading you into Foothold. He said ” she’ll be so off her ‘ead roarin’ drunk she wunt know wot’s hit ‘er when we ‘it her” and I said, “it is one thing to beat a slip of a girl into bloody senselessness when she is actually crushing your wind pipe but it is something else again to do so when she is drunk and incapable. So you will not, and if you do I will turn you into a frog. A big frog.”

    I cannot actually but he does not need to know that. It worked with Gunhilde’s boyfriend and he was about as bright as Walis. Though I have my doubts about Walis. I think he has ‘a couple more candles under his bushel than he is letting onto’ as my .. Apa .. would say.

    Anyway he stuck his thumbs in his belt, pursed his lips at me and said “Gizza job!”. So I think we have ‘got him sorted’.

    Enjoy the beer and sausage. Keep in touch and do not become a stranger.

    Affectionately yours,
    Panitha Diansdottir (pp Many Concerned Friends)

    • Markshire PCs:

    She eyes the gate guards for a moment, then stoops and stuffs a leather pouch full of almonds into the orange bag that’s attached to the pole at the bottom of the slope by the west gate. She’s tied a tobacco stained piece of parchment ’round the pouch and she’s scribbled a message on it. It reads:

    Hope you likes the nuts. They’s fresh picked. And thank ya fer the . . . uh, things ya made fer me. They’s just perfect! I’m wearin’ a pair o’ ’em right now! The blue ones with the letter ‘K’ sewn on ’em! Anyways I got a necklace fer ya what can help, I think. I’ll keep it till I sees ya.

    Your good friend,

    • Markshire PCs:

    [A Foothold guard stretches for a moment and turns his face up to catch a bit of the minutely warming rising sun. He’s being paid extra to watch a bag just down the hill, saving the money to buy his missus a fancy dress for the midsummer party they still throw every year, even with all the snow. He doesn’t notice the flap of the bag open briefly and then close.
    A little while later, deep in the woods near a ruined stone wall, two figures huddle over some papers, talking animatedly, scratching in the dirt with short sticks, and then scuffing the marks away with their feet. One of the figures repeatedly puts its hands behind its back. They take occasional pulls from some bottles containing a reddish-brown fluid. After some time, one of them produces more paper, a quill and some ink, writing for some time. The writer tries at first to hide the letters written from its own hands with a second sheet of parchment, and after a time gives up.
    That same night, a different guard is watching the bag in the flickering light from the torches mounted on the walls. An odd shadow flits across the bag for a moment, hiding it, but not raising any suspicions due to the firelight. Until the guard notices that the bag is now facing the gate. “Oi!”]

    Nitha and Keli too:

    Letter make me most happy and Apa too. Apa specially happy when read to him you stop talking hurt me. He not sure after first letter bout new Markshire-friends.

    He think maybe you worry it dangerous here or worry I go mad like ferret in mushroom patch. Tell me write bout what we do so you not worry. Also he make me make fishing pole cause mine in Chaz-box and he say just meat and almond not keep healthy.

    So. What Apa and I do out here beside talk and hunt and fish now? Lots of fun thing. One day we collect orc-shields. Tall ones yes? Then we stand them up all round Kayla grove make fort and laugh at cats try get us.

    Once cats go away we take shields and leave for grippli to re-build little huts. Kept two to take Pass for sledding. Is great fun. Go so fast giants not hit with rocks and darts. Not see any white tiger. Gotta member show Apa that.

    After that we went Arik. We hide good then Apa throw snowball to ring bells outside doors. Is very funny see flayer come out door meet visitor with squid-arms wiggling on face then look round all confused. Almost make me laugh out loud which probly be bad thing for hiding. Think they not getting nuff brain to eat cause they never figure out trick. Or maybe they just lonely and want visitor lots.

    When we come back woods we see strange thing. Ogre sitting gainst tree looking at something in hands. Walked up real quiet and he looking at mirror like one I traded Kamas-nymphs to go ditch and find grippli-staff. What ogre want mirror for? They ugly even to other ogre I think. Probly why they angry so much.

    Anyway Apa and I took mirror and went to nymph-ditch. Then I sit looking mirror while Apa brush hair long time just like when I little elf-girl. Make nymphs crazy course. They type girls like look self all time. We stop when they almost fall ditch try get over to us. That be too mean.

    Was nice having Apa brush hair though. Maybe nicer if face in mirror not look so beat up even after jaguar-meat. And if mirror-Apa look more like he use to.

    So you not worry kay? It not dangerous and I not mushroom-ferrety. Just almond-sunny like always. And got Apa care me.

    So. Friends help long-think with many spells. Apa say that good but only most good long-think spell work at one time. I tell you bout Apa long time ago yes? Was famous bowman back home. Good spells too. Real good. Made spelly arrows sometime almost like Stone firework. Not sure why he not use bow or spell now. Think maybe that stuff spill out back home and all gone now. Leave him hollow kind of.

    We talk long bout many thing. He prowed if I give hands then destroy glove all time. Say it Way with onner. I gree.

    But he look stuff I sew like dire leathers, see how I use ye do and trap and even bow pretty good. Not like him but still pretty good. And how I hide. He extra prowed of that. Say it a gift. Say I turn way from gift-duty before and that why he *text stops abruptly amid some small discolorations that have a light gritty texture*

    See? Is big job make me long-think good. But we gree too that better Way is beat demon bloody then destroy glove and use hands for more good and more onner.

    Not sure and not Apa either how destroy gloves. Maybe you know. If they got hands in them still maybe hands not go Voran and Walis like I want. Apa think with no body maybe gloves just fall off. Then Walis and Voran get hands. Or maybe if gloves apart one Walis-member-hand and one Voran-member-hand then demon get confused and not matter. Just not sure. Sure only is important stop gloves hurt anyone else.

    We try beat demon is some rules. Some rules is from Apa and some from me. Know if you all there you do what you want but is important me. More important than heal bandit-bear or elf-years or food for poor or beat Thrym. Is soul for me. All time. I only one care my soul not Odin not Thor not any them. Kamas maybe splain better. We talk long on it.

    Apa have two rules. One is cant try beat demon in town. Too many necks. He walk around with me lots and say Honey Valley pretty good. Peaceful mostly and no necks. Also say all that honey good if I must give hands. Say tie wrist and put honey on bleeding arm-ends. You listen Apa and not Walis on that. Apa smart and live long time most time in army where healer cut things off lots. You maybe meet him there in Honey Valley. Or maybe not. He always with me now but shy sometime. Maybe you not like him though cause you two lot alike.

    Apa rule two bout who there. He not sure bout Markshire-peoples cause he used to home. He see me shout-talk with Pellytes in woods and not believe they friendly. He curious too bout halfling gnome and dwarf. Like to see them there too if possible. Tell Port no willstealer if he come cause Apa hate that even more than me. Mostly though he want elf-bloods there. Many you can get. Specially Tam. He like her words from letter. He not mind humans there but want more of others.

    Kay. So I got two rules too. They simple and tricky same time. First is nobody gets hurt cept demon and maybe me. Second is if it not work then I decide what happen next. Might say Apa and I go back woods. Might say try again later. Might say take hands.

    Apa say long-think spell mean somebody have to touch me. Mean demon be talking me. Demon never sleep so no way stop that. Best way keep demon quiet is long-thinking. Mean first thing we do is get Elva necklace and anything else you find to me. Then Apa tie me up and give me potion so I fight demon better during spell. Maybe need some more potions. Demon loud sometime. Then spells. Apa say maybe need more than one best fight demon. He say either speller or him know when good try fight demon. He say I keep hands in fist and you know demon won if I open to choke speller. That happen we wait until demon quiet and try again. Apa say we elf-blood and got plenty time try. He write all that in dirt in home-letters so demon not know plan. Told you Apa smarter than Walis. But then I write letter cause he not know Markshire letters so good. So maybe demon know anyway.

    Think maybe we keep eye Walis. He look happy sometime when he beat me. Specially when he hit from low up into chin and make eyes roll in head. Sound like that not change so you find frog-spell and keep ready too.

    Oh. And tell Keli not buy pretty clothes from nice old ladies.

    Apa say one last thing. Say show how rules is serious us. He think best way write poem from home in old words. I tell him here Markshire elf-bloods write words down all time not like home and even some human know old words but he say not matter. So here poem from home made by important elf-blood live many many centuries go.

    Oem silla aailmla E amillwamaw
    E aneecaw fcaw illw lacatyan
    Ylanec ilan cillaan E nyilsa ane oelw
    Il anastyca celv oemveananal

    E lailan ilselv anira myella oem wilala
    Anirelnelv ilcc anira anesa
    Amirilan anirelaa selalaa fcenynla irilw laaal
    Anira lailwlalalaala illw queala

    Illw amiral E caoan E ceviranca anmew
    Il laam tyilanir ilselvlaan anira anmaala
    Nyilmmaelv ameanirel sa irailman
    Selalaa vcema ilcc ilan aillaa

    • Markshire PCs:

    A Foothold guardsman steps uncertainly into the unfamiliar quarters of the Sage. He carries a piece of parchment, the letters clumsily and hastily formed.

    “May I help you?”

    “Err, found this ‘ere poem and copied it. Was hopin’ you might write it out in common tongue fer me. Thought it might make a nice gift fer me girl.”

    “Here, let me see–ahh. Translated already, once, perhaps. Or…an elder or…different…variety of the language of our Markshire elves. Not really a love poem, though, if that’s what you’re thinking. Well, I can do it of course, though it may sound a bit rough without the touch of a real poet. Just one gold coin, if I may keep the original?”

    Not really following until the last part, and certain the copied words are worthless to him, the guard readily agrees, and hands over a coin of his extra wages. Still enough for the missus’ dress, too.

    The sage draws a blank parchment to him, wets his quill, and proceeds to laboriously, with several corrections, write out the following, which he then copies clean to give to the guardsman.

    For many years I wandered
    I toiled bled and slept
    Until at least I came to find
    A temple long forgotten

    I sat among the ruins for days
    Thinking all the time
    What those mossy blocks had seen
    The sadnesses and joys

    And when I left I lightly trod
    A new path amongst the trees
    Carrying within my heart
    Mossy glory all at ease

    “Eh? Not much to it, is there? No romance, no battles, no heroes facing terrible odds?”

    “I did warn you it might not appeal–it’s very…err… elven. Metaphysical.” Seeing the blank look on the guard’s face, the Sage points to his head. “Cerebral. Not really the way we craft poems, of course. Still, an interesting example.”

    • Markshire PCs:

    An elven girl walks up to the post outside the west gate of Foothold. She wears a simple, relatively shapeless, grey silk gown, embroidered with a pattern in darker grey of leaves of some unknown plant, with a wide floral sash in purple, tan, and white.

    She carries a shovel, and appears intent at first on digging out the post. The guards watch, slightly saddened that the extra pay associated with that post is at an end, but mildly curious all the same. As her shovel first bites into the trampled snow and earth at the pole’s base, a breeze stirs in the cool calm morning, and the flag at the top of the post flutters out. The girl glances up at the symbol on the flag, and stands there, thinking, one foot on the back of the shovel’s head, for several minutes.

    She is so still that the guards begin to get nervous, thinking perhaps that she has fallen under some enchantment or curse. The woman who had paid them to erect the post, after all, was quite mysterious and intimidating, with her whispered commands.

    “Oi, you alright there, Miss?” She turns to look at them and smiles happily, still poised half atop the shovel. The guards are relieved, if no less mystified, by her response. “Oh, yes, all good now. You nice boys ask.”

    She steps off the shovel and pulls it back out of the ground, leaving a smiling semicircular cut that will soon fill in with snow. She sets down her shovel, and lifts the bag from the base of the pole with one hand, then stands on her tiptoes to wrap the flag around the pole and lift the bag up over it and off. She turns, concealing for a moment what she’s doing from the guards, then picks up her shovel and walks up the hill to where they guard the gate.

    As she passes through, she hands the bag to them, and from within comes a muffled clinking sound. “Here, share with others please.” As she closes the gate behind her, the two gate guards look in the bag and find a half dozen bottles of a reddish ale, packed in snow. They spend the rest of the watch debating whether to wait until off-duty to drink them, and whether to actually share with the other watches.

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