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Jay
May 26, 2022
In Roleplaying
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove January, 3rd week, 2nd year Entry 9, 3rd Winter Council It is the anniversary of the founding of the Grove this past Winter Council. Two years ago four of us came together after a senseless war and have been tirelessly working for the people of Osterra and using our strengths and energies to rebuild a safer place for those who have been victimized by the Everwar here in these lands. And honestly... they have been the happiest two years of my life. I went from being raised into a cold blooded assassin with a disdain for gods and magic and everything due to being shackled by my birthright into an herbalist with a drive for discovery and small adventures and less disdain for the Gods and Magics of this land. It was a joyful council. Guilds were established and we the rogues very clearly wanted no such responsibility of having someone in charge of our ‘totally legitimate business’ as my new comrades called it. Wolfe is an agreeable man though and he will be ‘totally checking in’ every now and then our as Guild Master; especially since the number of initiates for the Grove is growing. Valos and Trez are my fellow ‘Shadows’, or rogues, in the Grove now and they are everything I delight in seeing with people in our fields of expertise. Trez has a mind constantly churning for coin and I believe Lady Gwion had mentioned appointing him as a treasurer of sorts, I can't be sure. It was him or Ayla, but whomever it will be it will be very much needed. The two towns within our territory are bursting at the seams with refugees and we can barely find the housing or room for the more that are arriving almost weekly. And Valos...well she is certainly a character whose backstory I would love to sit down and chat about. I think we may have a lot in common with that. Bryxal was at our table and I had a lovely chat with him reminiscing about our adventure with the Gray Mercenaries. It was something along the lines of Bryxal: I remember signing up for a scouting mission and then there was a fire. Me: Fires happen all the time, they’re quite natural He has a good sense of humor, and I hope one day I’ll get to amend his opinion of me and my scouting abilities. Probably not with my track record, but it would be fun to adventure with him again. Sir Talos asked to speak to Oonagh and I at one point in the day, I think after the light sparring that was had outside. He was questioning us about Fonti’s Fancy, the Definitely Permanent Dam we had built and used to combat the Demons back in August. He hadn’t been there but had heard about it. I was skeptical of his questions, honestly because I thought he was trying to spin the dam as a terrible idea and to blame her. Oonagh spoke with me afterwards and explained that he was questioning faction members about potential Knight Candidates. I felt bad for how I spoke to him after that. I guess I wasn’t as over my issues with Nobility as I thought I was, but maybe I could speak with him after I’m done writing about my behavior. I seem to forget that most of the ‘Nobles’ here within the factions are either appointed over time, such as the knights, or were noble in their previous world and still simple adventurers like myself now. None have the history and years to be as malevolent as the ones I’m used too. The day carried on with mostly drinking and meeting new people and discussing different ventures; Cedar Creek made a venture with some wererats involving cheese and I have to say that anyone who makes deals with Cheese is good people- both on the giving and receiving end. Trez was interested in the Blue Pheonix- my hopefully one day open apothecary- and we talked about pricing and logistics of the sorts for a bit. A new member had similar interests in the shop, or new to me as I have been unable to attend most of the previous adventures. Caefa asked me about my book that I kept referencing whenever the apothecary was mentioned. I had brought with me for some light studying and work my collection of herbs I have been writing about for the past two years ever since I realized that many of the plants here are similar if not the same from the Reverse. Most of my herbalism was only learned because the Princess I would double for hated her classes and it wasn’t unheard of to have the ‘Birds’ as they called us learn in their stead. It was helpful for my night duties when she called me to run her terrible errands. I’m spiraling now though, so back to Kaaphah. She is a magic student of sorts and was very intrigued by my notes below the herbs about the magical properties the plants were known for back in the reverse. I told her I would welcome any and all help with researching and developing products to sell in the shop id she wanted to add her coin and time to it. She seemed to take this into serious consideration. I’m seriously hopeful with more hands the Blue Phoenix can finally stand tall this year. As for the council meeting tonight it was an interesting mix of A raven flew into the window Jay was writing near, startling her into a battle ready position. It’s almost midnight, birds don’t fly this late. Knife at the ready she approached the window cautiously and saw the most disturbing bird she had ever seen. It looked like a raven. It was squawking and cawing at her like a raven. It was glowing bright purple and had a tiny scroll wrapped on it’s leg with glowing thread. Pixies. They had absconded her poor bird and sent it to find her to call her to finish her duties. Flying donkey's my hair is still growing out the blue I had woken up too from the last party! With a long sigh she opened her window to allow the bird reprieve from the cold night. As soon as it landed on her fprearm it stopped glowing and the scroll unraveled itself to float in front of her face with all its sparkly and bright nonsense. You have been cordially reminded Of your promise to dance and dine with our Lovely people three times before the summer of Next year. You have completed one such event And we are hosting another for the Winter Solstice That your presence is officially requested for. Mischief Maker, Annabelle P.S. Can you bring some of that peach wine again? There was a date on the scroll that made her curse and kick at the furniture as she began to hastily grab her things. No talking with Tanos, no time to pick her book up from Caipha’s examining eyes, she had four days to trek across half of Osterra to attend this blasted party these pixies sprung on her. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the revelry and madness a little bit; it was the fact that they had known she would be at the council and wanted to cause some trouble to her Raven and her schedule. But she would make it in time She always did. And she was probably going to have different hair color again too if the look of her bird was any indicator. A brief word with Trez and a farewell from Oonagh, Jay saddled up and rode out east towards Goldfield and the marshlands north of them, where the Pixie Mill was and the Exiled Court of Lord Delegoth awaited her arrival to begin the maddening Dance and Party she had promised to attend for their aid in fighting the demons. Sometimes you sell herbs to people. Sometimes you sell your time and energies to pixies to terrorize demons. Just another day in Osterra
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Jay
May 26, 2022
In Roleplaying
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove October, 3rd week, 2nd year Entry 8 I haven’t spent much time at Aspen’s Rest these past few months. Between the building of a secondary refugee town, Goldenfield, and Fonti’s Fancy, aka the Definitely Permanent Dam, I have been home for a total of 2 weeks. That was not altogether either. Luckily the house is still standing. It’s actually thriving pretty well without me. Who would have thought the two older ones would be so keen on organizing everything and keeping track of all the plants and herbs. Tristan documented and wrote up our ledgers and burned through almost my entire allowance for paperwork before our adventure with the mercenaries last year. He’s gotten alot better after he started working with the local bookshop owner. He is also trying to save up for a pilgrimage to the Order’s Library to see about learning more about these lands and his home world here in Osterra. I’ll be sad to see him go, but he’s got a hunger for knowledge and I am not one to stop growth. Rena and Vithi have been the real help with maintaining the gardens and plants as well as organizing the drying racks and placing them in bottles and packages. Verona and the younger boys have been keeping the water flowing, also thanks to Merrick. When the Dryads had left the local woods for an ambassadorial quest he had wandered into my street of Aspen’s Rest and offered a drunken helping hand to the little ones. He actually sobered up and keeps a good eye on them nowadays, I’ve been told by some of the local guardsmen. It keeps him out of trouble. It also makes the Dryads more attracted to him when they fetch water by their stream I’ve been told but I’ll take what I can get for now. Almost 2 years I've been here in Osterra and the echoes of the Reverse have all but faded from my mind and dreams. I’ve almost turned my once hopeless dream into a reality. An herbal shop for potions, poisons and first aid kits. Maybe this upcoming year will be the actualization of it all. I would be lying if I said I would be happy to retire from adventuring- it’s been grand going out with Oonagh to train the Hyenas, spar with Ayla, and sing and be merry with our vastly expanding faction members. Gwion has been an exceptional leader to follow throughout these adventures, no doubt, and I hardly hesitate when the Green Goddess works through any of us these days. A lot has changed since surfacing through the waters into these lands. Maybe I’ll have more adventures after opening the shop, maybe it will become something else. All I know at this moment though is that the whistle has been blown- time to release Fonti’s Fancy. ~ Jay Jay puts aside her journal and quill, gears up and takes her place along one of the lines of massive ropes attached to the damned up walls. Ja’Nuk was heading one of the other lines on the opposite riverbed, and her old friend Kar was behind her with a separate group of young fishermen and makeshift boats. The refugees of these lands had banded together like a pack of lions against the demons- building the dam and it’s release mechanism as well as building safe passage across the river when it flowed freely again. They were hardened and wary of being out in the open for these weeks but no scout had let anything in or out to discover there surprise for the demons. “You all heard it! To your stations, now! The demons are waiting to face your wrath and justice!” Jay called out. Fifteen men picked up the ropes behind her and on a second whistle blow everyone heaved. A massive grating sound echoed out across the empty river bed. “Heave!” “Put your backs into it!” “Ja’Nuk is buying us all that good peach wine if we get it open in 30 seconds!” “WHAT?!” “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAARHHHHHHH!” The roar of the water was deafening at the flood gates finally gave in. Jay released her grip on the rope and braced herself in case anyone got caught in it as the waters snatched it into the torrential currents. There were no cheers that could be heard of the floods, not for a while until a keening whistle sound was heard for the third and final time. They had succeeded. Demons had fallen prey to their trap. The cheers and triumphant hollering did not cease for many long moments after that. Jay let the men and women who had participated in the building and creation of this plan embrace and rejoice before noticing smoke and other eerie sounds penetrate the chorus. Glancing downstream towards the trap other flashes and sounds came to her ears. A flash brought her back to the Reverse, on her knees and angrily cursing towards the sky as a fireball hurtled towards her. Smoke filled her lungs, heat scorched her face and dried the cursed spit she hurled in defiance up towards the mages who worshipped those foolish and loathsome gods. A scream ripped itself from her throat as she was hurled over the cliff and into the gorge. She blinked and was standing stone still on a hill as black smoke rose up in the distance from where the demons were still fighting the adventurers for grounds in Osterra. “Combat magic? In Osterra?” Disbelief and dread began to fill her soul. “Everything al’ight Miss Jay?” Kar limped up behind her. He looked towards where she was gaping awith a confused expression. “Get everyone across the river Kar, and have those horses and carts ready for us to depart back to Goldenfield. I don’t know exactly what’s going on at the Fields of Sorrow, but I can feel it like I’m back in my birth world. There’s combat magic happening over there. We need to get to a fortified place and wait to hear from any Ravens about what’s transpiring in this battle,” Jay felt the man hastily turn away and start barking orders. His limp was less prominent with the new urgency but would return with a vengeance in the morning. No one else seemed to have noticed or heard her, but they knew that Demons schemed and were on board with leaving Fonti’s Fancy as soon as possible. Jay watched the skies and smoke until she was called over for the last ferry across. She hid her trembling hands from the refugees and soldiers and congratulated them on their accomplishment. The fireball loomed in her mind again, reminding her that retirement may have to wait for another lifetime. And for the first time in a long time, Jay turned to the woods and prayed. Goddess please, I may not worship you like others, but the Grove has listened to you much this past year and been fortuitous for doing so. Don’t leave them unprotected, please. I beg of you, guide my found family home.
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Jay
Oct 25, 2021
In Roleplaying
The Great Mischief from the Swamp A Day in the Life of Jay, Shadow in the Grove March, 2nd week, 2nd year in Osterra After our encounters with the Gray Mercenaries we took a break at Aspen’s Rest. My time with my plants were cut short as we were heading out almost immediately soon after for another expedition. We embarked in the same general direction as when we first found the Gray Mercenaries but headed more westward. Just within the swamps. Again. I loved getting the grime and slime all over the leather and boots. Really, why wouldn’t we want to build a town out here to commemorate it. Ja’Nuk, the formerly possessed Warrior of the Demon Wrath, rode as a secondary scout with me ahead of the others. Gwion was still hit or miss with her horse, and Oonagh and Ariel, Ari for short, kept her on track. Arion took up the rear keeping us safe. Four days out from Aspen’s Rest we scouted a seemingly abandoned Mill in the marsh. It had vines and ivy and overgrown plants all around it. One section of the thatch roof was dilapidated and caving in. If not for the fact the wheel in the waters was slowly turning I would have pegged it to be abandoned. Ja’Nuk and I dismounted and began making our way towards the building. We were quiet and approached the doorway from opposite sides. I took a cursory glance but saw no signs of movement or traps. I looked at the dark warrior and he nodded, signaling me he was ready. One step in- -And I was hanging upside down with rope tying me like a deer being drained of blood. Cursed Donkeys, how did I miss that trap? Ja’Nuk was right behind me and readied his sword to cut me down when we both saw a couple of lights burst out from behind some debris. Butterflies? I don’t know for sure, but they quickly approached the hardened warrior and he quickly turned tail hollering “Not Natural! They not natural! Lady Gwion!” Sigh……. Holy snow peas, that man could stare down a bull and our pack of Hyenas no problem but as soon as something produced an ounce of magic he was as helpful as a wooden sword in a barn fire. Be nice Jay, the man was brainwashed by demonic magic- focus on the real problem. Yes. One of the glowing butterflies had approached me and my not right side up composure. I blinked at it. And again. Bright blue eyes stared back at me on an impish face or pink and gold, honey brown curls just barely ghosting her shoulders- and I was assuming it was ‘her’ by the golden leaflet dress and flower pendant covering her chest. A mischievous smirk graced her small face as the five inch being spoke, “You aren’t very smart are you? Getting caught in our little trap.” PIXIES. Fox dung! “That does seem to be a true statement,” I calmly replied. Pixies were notorious in the Reverse for leading travelers astray in their ‘mischief makings.’ They would make you dance for days, rearrange your memories of the last few days, have you partake in strange and sometimes poisonous foods and drinks. People who went missing in forests because of Pixies would be considered lucky if their bodies were ever found again. “Tee hee hee! You’re funny, not at all like the last people we had over. What are you doing looking around our mill?” How tight was the rope on my ankle? I still had all of my knives sheathed. “Oh you know- just HANGING out. Interesting place you got here!” She laughed more maniacally this time. In her brief moment of distraction I made a quick glance back to see if the other pixies that had approached Ja’Nuk were coming back. I felt bad for my initial reaction, the man had every right to run away at the sight of them, Pixies were incorrigible. “You’re REALLY funny. I like you, you should come to our party tonight. You can be my guest- call me Annabelle.” Oh for the love of FIREBALLS NO! “That sounds like a lovely offer, but I would need to discuss it with my friends first. If you’ll excuse me,” and in a fluid movement I unsheathed a knife and cut the rope holding me up. Part of it was still around my ankle but it didn’t deter my landing or my sprint back to the cover of woods. Still no sign of the other pixies or worse Ja’Nuk. I headed for where I had left my horse and leaped onto it’s back, albeit ungracefully. I couldn’t see my scouting partner’s mount anywhere. Not willing to see if the little vicious butterflies were following, I kicked my mount to go back the way we had come, towards the main party. After a few minutes they came into view, Ja’Nuk nervously talking to Gwion and the others. My arrival was met with concern and gratitude. “Jay! Ja’Nuk said you were captured by magical beasts. Are you alright?” I dismounted, and waved for the others to do the same. “We stumbled upon pixies. I would say the mill we found is home to a couple or worse, a Court of them,” I announced. “The trap I was caught in was mundane, but you were right to head back here Ja’Nuk- Pixies are notoriously devils and lack no remorse for the amount of mischief they inflict on people.” The warrior seemed less ashamed of leaving me behind at my comment. He may not have been aware of what they were and only reacting to the sight of magic, but I knew that if we had stumbled upon a bandit camp he would have raged mercilessly at them. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, we just happened upon his weakness. Not so much mine though. My birth world was riddled with these pests and while I may not have had the tools to get rid of them I had an idea or two to keep them out of our business. “What are these Pixies? Ja’Nuk was describing them as small butterfly-like creatures that stung him on his escape,” Gwion asked. She seemed incredibly puzzled. Ari spoke in response to her question. “About this big, really cute looking and got sparkly or glowing wings but will make you dance your life away because they think it’s funny to make people do that sort of stuff. They can steal your name if you carelessly give it to them without thinking, and my god they will screw you over in any deals you make so for the love of god don’t make any deals. If there is a court nearby throwing a party we do not accept any food or drink from them or else you may never be seen from again.” I nodded in agreement with her statements. Her world must have had pixies as well and it seems no inter-dimensional distance could not change the fact they were mischievous piles of fox dung. Gwion and Oonagh seemed confused by our description of them. “How much trouble could such tiny creatures-” “Don’t! Don’t finish that sentence, just trust us- they are dangerous in their lack of morals. While not outright evil they certainly aren’t good,” I interrupted. Arion was shaking her head in agreement, seeming to be aware of the little miscreants nature as well. “Think of them as little trickster’s. They have only their own nest interest in mind and no one else,” Ari concluded. With that conclusion of their nature done and away with we decided to approach the mill again, much more prepared than before. I led the party while Ja’Nuk stayed behind with the horse. Better to make sure someone was with them in case the little buggers tried to strand us with them. With the mill in view I call out the name that was given to me by the little pixie girl. “Annabelle? It’s me again, the one who made you laugh while hanging out.” We didn't have to wait long, little glowing butterfly wings and mischief promising grins approached us. Annabelle and two other sparkling and glittering pixies swooped, swirled and flew around us. Oonagh and Gwion were mesmerized, Ari tried swatting at one, and Arion gracefully ignored them like they were beneath her- what a majestic aura. “Oh you came back! We are so happy, it’s been a while since we had guests! And just in time too, we are having a big party tonight,” Annabelle stated. Dancing donkeys, no. “A party?” Oonagh perked up at this. All three pixies grinned toward her, like they were hunting cats stalking prey. “What’s the party for?” Ari stepped in, tactfully turning their attention to her. “Oh we’re celebrating under the full moon for travelers lead astray and frightening young maidens! It’s a delightfully fun celebration, you all should join us,” Annabelle zipped in a circle around Ari and then landed on Gwion’s shoulder. She was rightfully wary of the little miscreant and that little sparkle of promised chaos in her eyes. “Well I think we unfortunately have plans already, but maybe we could come another night?” “Oh no, no, NO! The celebration is only for tonight to mark our arrival so many moons ago, you should really reconsider,” the little razzle-dazzle insisted. Guess it’s time to negotiate and investigate. “ We all won’t be able to attend the party, but some of us would be able to show up to help you commemorate your arrival. How long have you been celebrating here?’ I chimed in. I felt the odd sensation of magical energy bubbling around me as the pixies honed in on my words. I saw Ari out of my peripheral give me a look I interpreted to be ‘what in the hells, are you serious?!’ “Excellent! You will be our guests of honor tonight, and it will be wonderful! We have been here for so long and have only seen a few travelers but tonight will be a special night indeed,” Annabelle tactfully replied to my question. I glanced at the mill that was still turning slowly in the water. Gwion and Ari caught my stare and their demeanor's changed ever so slightly. “We will send representatives to this spot later this evening, we need to set up camp still and get ready for the party now,” Ari cut in. “Oh yes, I have some lovely fabrics we could use,” Oonagh added. “Until this evening, Annabelle, friends,” Gwion stated, nodding her head slightly to the other two pixies who had been wandering and flitting about us the entire conversation. They all waved excitedly and zipped around the abandoned mill before vanishing from our line of sight. “So we’re going to a party tonight?” “We’re going to send some of us to distract them while the rest of us investigate the mill,” Gwion answered. “I can go since I have dealt with pixies before. Jay you should as well since they seemed to have taken a liking to you,” Ari responded. I nodded, as much as I disliked the idea of partying with pixies I disliked the idea of sending in someone else who hasn’t dealt with them before even less. “Wait, why are we investigating the mill?” Oonagh asked. “Because they said it has been a while since they have had travelers,” I started. “And that mill is in no condition to be running. Given the previous description of these beings, it’s possible they could be milling people or worse out here. We need to make sure,” Gwion finished. Oonagh lost her sparkle at that thought and began checking her gear. Time for business. “We’ve got a couple hours to prep before then, let’s set up camp and make sure we have everything we need in case this goes bad,” Arion said. We worked out signals to communicate with the two teams in case one was in need of emergency assistance, code words for Ari and I if we get trapped in Pixie magic accidentally, and finally we convinced Ja’Nuk we knew what we were doing and to stay at camp for when we returned. “How is this normal? Glittery, deadly-butterfly people who are milling people,” Ja’Nuk mumbled to himself. “And that’s why we should attend this party. We don’t know what damage they have already done or how many pixies there actually are but we can’t leave them alone so close to our territory,” I finished. At sunset Ari and I set out towards the mill, our hair done to look decent for a party (ugh, I hate dressing up) our weapons limited to hidden knives. Gwion and company followed from a distance and waited for us to be escorted by the pixies when we arrived. “Welcome, Welcome! We are so happy you could make it, but where is the other one, the one who looked like they were ready to party?” Annabelle looked behind Ari and I. “Swamp took her clothes,” Ari hurriedly answered before she went off to look for the others. I chimed in with “And something terrible happened to our Leaders hair- they were both un-presentable so here we are!” I genuinely smiled, knowing the others could hear everything and would probably laugh at our comments if they weren’t hiding. “Well that’s too bad, but come along, please! Please! We have many foods and drinks and celebrating to do!” Annabelle swirled around Ari and I- we locked eyes and internally sighed as we began the precarious dance of ‘Don’t Get Tricked By Pixie Hospitality.’ We are led around back behind the mill opposite the wheel and front entrance and confronted with a beautiful pavilion and sunset. Ivy, flowers and natural plant life encircled the structure to add to the decadent view of finger foods, goblets, and crystal bowls on the wooden table. Colors streak across the sky and filter through the white lace and gauze of the magical pavilion the pixies have set up to celebrate under. Crickets and frogs have begun their dusk chorus and across the water fireflies begin to glitter within the swamp woods. Osterra itself can be breathtaking at times, but Ari elbows me back to the present. Nine pixies have approached us and Annabelle. “Welcome, Travelers! We here at the Exiled Court are most delighted to have you here with us for our celebration! I am Lord Delegoth, and should you need anything, Please! Ask away, but now- let the celebration BEGIN!” The Lord was plump, rosy faced and well spoken. I felt some sort of charming magic in the voice but couldn’t focus on it as I was immediately swamped in shiny dust. Glitter. FAIRY GLITTER. Fox dung on pork chops, this stuff does NOT come out of clothes or skin easily- “No more please! I’m allergic!” Ari called out hands raised to three of the pixies coating her. They looked apologetically to her but I saw their mischievous smiles as they fluttered off. We looked like a rainbow had been dumped on us. I hope the others were having a better time investigating the mill. Ari and I gathered vague information over the next hour; it was very apparent these little miscreants were used to queries about themselves. They all hailed from the fairy lands, they happened upon a portal here to Osterra in the middle of the swamp and have been unable to find it since. They have been here at the mill for moons and seen few travelers compared to their homelands but alas, there was no competition here compared to their homelands and they did not wish to return to them at all. Lovely. I had managed to get by without drinking from my goblet, pretending every once in while to ‘sip’ from it, but Annabelle and Delegoth were becoming more and more persistent about our names and partaking in the merry making. We were going to have to bail soon or risk being trapped with them for the night when the music took a turn from rambling and background noise to….alluring and irresistible. Charming magic. Too little too late to have noticed it- Ari and I both started shambling to the floor and swaying to the tunes. Giddy laughter escalated as the fairies joined us and great fireballs and griffins we messed up. We messed up big time. I don’t know how much time passed from when the magic took hold us to dance and sing, time was warped while being charmed- but eventually a terrible screech resounded from instruments. The magic faded from my head and almost dropped from sheer exhaustion, holy horses I was not used to that sort of physical labor. The pixies were a mixed lot of angry and concerned at the sudden intrusion of our investigative friends crashing the party. Arion has begun to play her Harp to counteract the pixies magic and they are not happy about it- Delegoth even hisses at her in outrage. If he wasn’t half a foot tall it might have been menacing but instead he looked like a hairless kitten hacking a fuzzball. Gwion and Oonagh had their weapons drawn and were on either side of Arion as she played, ready to defend her while she kept the charm magic at bay. “Jay, Ari- time to go. And you all,” Gwion pointed to the pixies, “I know not what you mill here in the swamp but if you do not swear to me now it is not humans I will have this place razed to the ground and enveloped by our Lady the Green Goddess and her earthly magic, for any such black magic and atrocious deeds” her sword pointed to each of the pixies momentarily as she spoke to them icily. I noticed both she and Oonagh had some glitter of their own mixed with an unusually bright green slime giving off an odor- oh. I guess investigating the Mill was an unfortunate miss. “No! You can’t leave, you HAVE to stay,” Lord Delegoth flew above Gwion and reached into his pocket. I lunged to push her out of the way and was given a face full of some acrid dust and UGH MORE GLITTER?! I couldn't voice my disdain though I was frozen still- Paralyzing Dust, fox dung. As I fell over in a clearly paralyzed state, the grove members began to fluidly counter attack. Arion attempted to smack a pixie with her harp while still playing, because Bards are incredible at multi-tasking, and Oonagh swung at two by the table. She upturned a plate of biscuits and caught one in her hand on reflex. She eyed it, put it in her pocket and swatted another pixie away from her face with a backhand. Priorities are always debatable with our group and I wouldn’t change a thing...except maybe being able to move that would be very much preferred at the moment. Gwion swung to keep another two pixies at bay and leaped over the table to deftly pin the Exiled Lord Delegoth with her sword point. The commotion in the tent froze as the pixies held their breath and the Grove members regrouped at the center around my toppled and frozen body. “I will ask only once more you glittering abomination- What do you mill here?” Gwion’s voice was ice cold and her sword caught the fading sun and loomed threateningly over the Pixie Lord. He audibly swallowed and replied, “We mill food of course. But we need to power it with magic and so we use travelers and mischief to do so.” Oh, oh this was making sense. Too bad I still couldn’t talk. “What do you mean you need travelers to power it? You have slaves behind that trapped door we found?” “No! No! Good heavens that wouldn’t be fun at all! We make people dance and act like fools and that sort of celebration powers us which in turns powers the mill. We aren’t monsters, we just want to spread mischief and fun, that’s all!” Delegoth held his arms straight up to show he was wholesomely terrified of the Grove Leader as he sputtered out his response. Which gave me an idea. I tried to cough and it came out as a decrypted sounding garble. Gwion looked back and motioned for the pixie Lord to do something about it. With a flick of his wrist, what looked like straight up glitter descended upon my face AGAIN. But I was able to move now. I stretched and tried to shake some of the hateful stuff off of me before turning towards my Leader and hopefully Miscreant Lord Ally. I let a cat-like grin grace my face. “So how would you and your fellow pixie friends like to have some demons dance to power your mill?” The Grove members mirrored my grin of unholy plans formulating, the pixies lit up like the afternoon sun and we spent the night on forming an alliance. The pixies and Arion played after it was decided they would travel to the plains of sorrows to wreck havoc on the supply trains and caravans led by demons. We assisted the pixies with some supplies and even agreed to celebrate with them for the night to help keep their mill running while they were away. I had to throw in a promise of three more parties for me personally to attend in order for them to fully commit to the mischievous endeavors we asked of them but it was worth it. These weren’t like the pixies of my birth-world seeking your demise for their fun and games. These fellows were obnoxious, for sure, and not the type of allies to expect grand and morally driven decisions from, but chaos and problem causing were very useful to wear down enemies who couldn’t be harmed by most of our weapons. We danced, we ate, we sang and come the morning we returned to camp and rested until noon time. Ja’Nuk kept a great distance from all of us and our ‘dreadful disease’ of glitter falling everywhere but Oonagh and I managed to trifle through his things on the way home and get plenty of glitter on his stuff for laughs. Mischief was contagious, and very abundant in the Grove.
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Jay
Aug 16, 2020
In Roleplaying
A Day in the Life of Jay, Shadow in the Grove July, 2nd week, 1st year A raven had been received hours after our mission in June calling for help from the Guild of the Black Sky. Seeing as how the next step for the Grove was to research and negotiate with this mercenary group I spoke with Gwion about going to their aid. The Black Arrow, Korrin, and Riastrad 'Fireforge' had been tremendously helpful in my arrival to Osterra and equally supportive in my departure to join the Grove. Since they needed help fighting a war party of Orcs I thought it the best use of my skills to assist them. Fonti’s ingenuity had given us something sort of like a small firework- it was great for startling horses and starting small fires but required a delicate hand to activate it properly. I took two of these mixtures and two packs of healing herbs. I sent my Raven to Black Sky, gathered some provisions, checked my gear and made for the rendezvous. The trip was long but uneventful. Very quiet given the last few days. I focused on my tasks at hand, keeping what needed to be dry dry and staying sharp as I traveled alone. Orcs and bandits had been seen much these last few months according to the other factions but the fates were kind to me as I made it by mid July to our meeting point. The plan was laid out before approximately 20 of us gathered there. The rogues would scout out the area the orcs were last seen, basic stealth reconnaissance. Seeing as they were Shagaresh followers from the last encounter the Guild had with them there was no room for negotiations. We were going to drive them out one way or another. Korrin, Zenric and I were the only rogues and headed out while the others worked out groups, formations, and heavy artillery movements. It was sunrise when we went out- about a mile in we saw our first orc by a stream bed with a fishnet. We slowly followed him as he turned to go back to his camp. As he went up a hill Zeneric noticed something odd about the skyline- towers. We went left towards a brush covered hollow and heard camp sounds not too far from the top of the hollow we were in. Korrin signaled for me to help him left Zeneric over the top to check the coast- it was extremely difficult as both men outweighed and out muscled myself. Why we were lifting him first and not me was beyond me but this wasn’t my mission and this isn’t the time to openly point it out. I gave Korrin a questioning look while we waited quietly for the coast to be clear. He noticed and registered what I meant but we both kept silent on the matter once the coast was clear. Zeneric pulled us up one at a time. I caught my breath at the top but not because of the 10 foot tall wooden palisades that were the mark of an entrenched camp of Shagerash followers. DRAGON BONES. I remember the alchemists and mages back in the Reverse willing to pay fortunes for a single scale of a dragon or a tooth because of the magical potential. Flying hedgehogs I cannot imagine what actual bones would be worth. I could see two skeletons on this side of the palisade, the main gate looked to be at the top of the hill of the orc we first saw, and to our left at the other end- SNAP. Cursed Donkeys. A watchtower was within earshot of my slip up. Korrin and Zeneric didn't hesitate and broke off in different directions back down the hill. A horn was blown and arrows started to fly in our direction. The camp was up and ready for us. There was only one thing to do now. I stopped just before the drop back down to the hollow, dashed past one of the dragon skeletons up a small incline and readied one of the flashbangs. An arrow got me in my throwing arm and I dropped it at my feet, setting it off. Good thing I'm used to things blowing up close range from brewing my herbs and mixtures back home. It was with my bad arm, it was about 20 feet from where I was standing, but by the will of fate my last flashbang hit the side of the wooden palisade just right that a small fire started. I felt the wind get knocked out of me and my legs crumpled beneath me. Two more arrows had hit me, pounding feet were within earshot and then it went dark. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I woke up with pain in my right leg and arm, which told me I had not died yet. I remembered the orc camp and throwing one flashbang at the wall in hopes of distracting the camp from Korrin and Zeneric. I felt a brief wave of panic and looked around the room. My hands and feet were bound, I was on a table with a pungent smelling poultice, something with yarrow and burdock for sure, and were those LEECHES?! Argh, amateurs. There was at least one guard. A cursory check of my body told me I would be better off not fighting anyone directly at the moment and I should be grateful that I have this opportunity to gather information. A group of three orcs entered the tent. One looked old and had a shaman’s staff, one was in armor and clearly a warrior, and one was white, mangy and downtrodden. The other two were speaking in gutteral sounds and words to the white one who spoke in what I know as Common. “Who are you? How many of you are there?” “I’m a traveling herbalist. I’m writing a book about the plants here in Osterra and stumbled upon your camp with my bodyguard. Is he here?” The white orc spoke in guttural to his comrades. The warrior roared. He knew I was lying, I knew I was lying, but there was no way I was going to give up information on my allies. I endured 20 years of torture with no hope of being saved in the Reverse- sooner rather than later the others would be coming for the attack or at least send a rescue party. I just need to stall for time, something I excelled at. “Is something wrong?” “We know you lie. How many of you are there? We will hurt you for the information we need,” the white orc translated from the warrior. I gave them my best innocent deer eyes- very convincing when covered in blood, smelly healing poltices and for all intents and purposes, stealthy attire and face paint. Vaguely the sound of running footsteps and gutteral calls outside registered through the open tent flap. A strange roaring sound too that was oddly familiar- was the fire spreading? Had they not put it out yet?? The guard walked up beside me and began to twist my foot. It was my unhurt side though and I realized they were not aware of their incompetency. I fake screamed to convince them they were effective- there’s a time and place for patronizing but this wasn’t one of them. The older looking orc with the staff gestured for the other to stop and they began to heatedly argue in their native tongue. Shouts from outside drew their attention away. They all rushed outside and I had the answer to my previous questions. The fire was still on the palisade. I am definitely going to ask for a title involving fire. I’m sure that will go over lovely with the other Grove members. The back of the tent had my weapons and I cut myself free. My medicine herbs were nowhere to be found but there wasn’t time to look for them. The other weapons in the area were all good but none of them were poisoned as I had hoped they would be. Daggers in hand, I stalk out and around the tent to the nearest wall and shadows. I can see across the grounds orcs trying to put out the TEN FOOT BLAZE THAT HAS DESTROYED A SECTION OF THE PALISADE to no avail. It is with great effort that I did not gawk out loud at the failure of these warriors to maintain a small fire from a meager flashbang. It’s good news for me, great for the warriors that are hopefully en route, but just in case….. Glancing around the rest of the camp from my shadowy space I see well lit tents along the walls, barrack like, the medicine and other officer tents and in the middle another trench. The hole is lined with pikes and skulls and a terrifying structure that is too obscured from my location. It was definitely suspicious and oozed mystery and being important. I made a direct beeline for a tent in the opposite direction of it. As a rogue I had made a vow of taking on as little responsibility as possible when it came to facing danger and being heroic. I was already injured, in the middle of the enemy camp alone at the moment, and while they were increasingly displaying more incompetency in terms of tactical operations like interrogation and PUTTING OUT A FREAKING FIRE FOR FOX SAKE I was in no way going to underestimate their fighting prowess. Better to remain hidden and look for a way out or small information tid bits than get myself killed by walking into the dragon's lair. I check my surroundings and slip into the second largest tent on this side of the camp. It could fit about nine or ten people, was well lit and had documents and papers spread out everywhere. I started on the lamps and prepared to burn the place down as means of another troublesome spot for the orcs. If they had problems with an accidental fire this long after the fact I anticipate actually preparing an oil base starting point in a wooden structure to light up would be horrible for them. My ears were perked for sounds outside, making sure no one was coming in directly to see what I was up too. I was so intent on the task at hand it was several minutes before I realized what the papers in the tent were. Maps. Plans. Tactical information for a larger plan at play. Cursed Donkeys. There wasn’t enough time to go back through and comb the documents for anything specific or pertinent. The camp was becoming more and more lively and anyone could walk in any second. An orc could realize their captive was missing and free because fox dung I left the bindings back in the first tent. No time for regrets, what’s my next move? There was a bag hanging from the tent frame lightly packed- a quick look around the room and I just started packing papers inside it. A good amount of information was still inside the tent but there wasn’t time to grab more. If I worried and wasted time I could be caught, and if I get too greedy now I could be slowed down even more. The loss of blood and my sneaking around had opened my leg wound but I ignored it. As much as I would love to stab and kill off some of these orcs I know securing the documents was more important. There was a lamp next to the exit. Bag on my back, dagger in my left hand, I threw the lamp onto the oil slick ground and stepped outside of the tent as it went up like a tinderbox. The gaping hole in the palisade was clearly visible, maybe 30 feet away and all the orcs around it had their backs to me. I sneaked over to the shadows of the wall as the new fire roared to life in the dying embers of the palisade fire- a horn went off near the gate entrance, about 100 feet or so east of where I was. A deafening boom and lights erupted on the other side of the palisade, maybe just below the watch tower that had spotted me in the beginning. Sounded like a fireball trap, which was odd because Korrin had that and he should have been long gone by now. Orcs began to gather at the gate with more horn calls. The attack was starting. Flying hedgehogs, how am I getting out of this? The orcs were preoccupied with the palisade blaze- my tent fire wasn’t really catching fire very well. The tents closest to the palisade however were catching fire no problem now. Gwion forgive me, it was never my intention to burn down an orc encampment but apparently it was meant to be my greatest acheivement here in Osterra. I backed away to the other side of the tent with my bag of info and checked my surroundings for another way out. The middle trench was definitely creeping me out and if i wasn’t running on adrenaline I would have checked it out. There will be time after we take the camp- BOOOOOM!!! That would be the ballistae. Warrior cries and orc gutteral shouts followed suit. The attack was officially on. They would most likely go for the watchtowers first to clear the way for the fighters. I peek around the side where the watchtower that shot me down was. I could see it over the palisade, at the intersection of two walls and well enough away from the blaze to be safe at the moment. I thought I saw arrows flying up into it but that wouldn’t make sense unless the luck of fate was on the side of our archers. Don’t get distracted, Jay! I need to focus. BOOM!!!! Another ballistae shot made a connection with something. A column of smoke at the other end of the camp, by the entrance, made it known they were taking out the watchtower down there. That left the other front watchtower as the only big obstacle for the Black Sky forces. The blaze on the palisade grew- SHOCKER- and in the receding shadows there was a lean too. Quiet as a mouse I approached it. Fish, plants, and other provisions were sheltering beneath it. I was more interested in the lean-to itself. It was placed right against the wall, had enough crates and boxes to help me climb up and with a little effort and internal screaming I was over the wall and landing graceful as a goat on the other side. Next up was to see how I could help in the attack if at all. Sneak up to the other side of the tower and draw their attention away from the fighters? Sounds stupid but hey, I’m useless otherwise so I may as well. There was a holly bush a pace into the woods in front of me and I stashed the bag of information underneath it. Foregoing all stealth I start to run towards the tower. I can hear fighting in the distance, see the light growing beyond the wall where the blaze was still raging and probably catching more tents on fire judging by the amount of smoke billowing upwards. I came up short around the corner prepared to shout at the tower when Riastrad and Zeneric almost ran into me. “What the fox?” “The tower was captured, we shot the archers down and killed the others at the base of it. We are heading to the one in the backside of camp while Sir Sigfried is in single combat with their chieftain,” Riastrad explains. He and Zeneric have their bows on their backs, swords at the ready, Riastrad with his shield and sword ready and they looked overall unharmed. “Oh, well in that case I’ll come help you guys.” I’m given concerned looks but none were raised. We were all warriors and knew the risks. As we started backwards I mentioned there was a bag of war documents in the bushes and almost ran into Riastrad as he came to a direct halt. “What do you mean documents?” “There was a tent of documents and information and war plans so I grabbed what I could and set the tent on fire.” “Why? We could use those!” He wasn’t wrong. “That’s nice, I wasn’t sure when the attack would happen or what time it was so I played it safe and tried to make sure it wasn’t helpful to the enemy,” I replied. “Change of plans, we’re going for the intel,” He turned like he was about to take off. “We can jump the palisade here- there’s a lean-to on the other side and the tent is just a few paces away,” I blurted before he got too far away. Zeneric made for the wall, Riastrad following and shield boosted him up over the wall. He motioned for me to do the same, then the two of us pulled him up and over. I was impressed with the fact the small structure held all of our weight. The tent had a small fire going but it was just towards the top of the structure. As we approached it a cheer went up- human sounding so our side. Siegfried must have won the single combat. Good for us, let's just hope they don’t come running back inside to get anything. We desperately started putting papers together and bringing them outside the tent but soon it started filling up with smoke. Cursed donkeys and my propensity for having a knack with fires! Not too long after we started a runner came in, one of the mercenaries Black Sky hired for the battle, and informed us that War Lord Siegfried has requested the aid of the orcs and goblins to put out the fires in their camp with the force of warriors that Black Sky had brought along. My jaw dropped and I didn't care. I had no energy to contain my confusion or disbelief. At this point I was exhausted and my adrenaline high had long vanished once I climbed back into the camp. I don’t even know what to think of it all but thankfully we got the fires out- was it mid-day?- and the others began to work out the nuances of how to run the camp given the drastic turn of events that followed the single combat. I found a shady tree by the stream and passed out. I was still covered in dried blood, healing poultice, thank Horses no more leeches, and had been in fight or flight mode for over 12 hours since this whole attack started. It was nap time, and oh hedgehogs did I deserve one. *please let me know if I misspell any names in this entry.
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0
50
Jay
May 11, 2020
In Roleplaying
A Day in the Life of Jay, Shadow in the Grove Entry 3 It’s been seven weeks since the first proposal of the shop was brought up- I’m still growing herbs in the front and the side gardens while we wait for the resources to be procured and then used to build the Blue Phoenix, Aspens Rest own Apothecary Shop. My excitement is not helpful when I’m trying to study the plants though. I accidentally burnt a brew with sunflower and cinnamon and forgot to write down what else so when it caught fire .IT DIDN'T GO OUT WITH THE WATER BUCKET. It burnt out after a few minutes but everything placed on top of it to smother it or put it out just kept burning away. I’ll have to take a stock of my supplies to figure out what the other ingredients were. If I were being honest I may have lost track of it due to also making coffee at the same time and I mixed up the timing for them but the results were amazing! I wish I weren’t so poor at organizing things and record keeping. I’ll have to start looking for a co-shop keeper or else this will end in bankruptcy within a week. Maybe Oonagh or Airel would be interested. On second thought, Oonagh has her hands full with the hyena pups so maybe Ariel? I could also ask Gwion but she has been pretty preoccupied with the Green Goddess buisness and I would hate to distract her from that. I would also hate to get more involved- I’ve had my share of interactions with gods and goddesses. I would like to keep them at arms length from myself personally. I don’t want to hold anyone back on their journeys, but if the choice came down to divine being interference or no divine intereferrence I would go with the latter, personally. Things get way too devastating when divines get involved. I need to distract myself from this trail of thought or I’ll end up with flashbacks again. Knock Knock. “Perfect timing Tristan! Come on in kids,” I call out. Seven scraps of little people barge through my front door. Tristan wasn’t the oldest in age, only 11, but he was with the village since the Winter Council and had a level head. Rena and Vithi were sisters, 12 and 9, and had only been at Aspens Rest for a week when they learned where the ‘odd’ orphans ran off too to stay out of trouble. Nidran,5, and Lum, 4, were the youngest ones and cousins, and then there was Lucienne, 6, and Verona, 10. The townsfolk called them’odd’ because they weren’t considered good farm children or hunters. They had the mindset of scholars, adventurers, whatever you wanted to call children who weren’t happy with fitting in with normal societal standards. They liked to listen to my stories of the Reverse. They also listened to me more than the other folk because I was an orphan like them, I had been a slave like most of them, and I was willing to give them attention when others were not. Lucienne was 6 years old at best guess, had wandered in from the alone, had a terribly infected and mangled arm that was eventually amputated, and was nonverbal. She was still recovering from her operation technically, but Verona, who was the second longest standing orphan resident of the bunch, dragged her along in a makeshift wagon. I provided comforts of blankets and pillows for the little one from my few possessions- the child had grown ill from being too cold in the cart once and I felt guilty since she had been visiting me. None of them would stay away though and I don't want to ask them because I fear they would end up similarly to myself. I know how orphans are treated from the Reverse- I’ve managed to contain my guilt and feelings of heartbreak from what I’ve witnessed and even worse, caused. I may have started anew here in Osterra, but this is the first chance for them and I don’t want them to have to wait to get a second one. “What are we learning about today Lady Jay? Griffons again? Dragons, like the one Leader Gwion fought a few months back? Can you tell us about your adventure you just got back from?” Rena was the oldest, being 12, and the most outspokenly curious. “I’ve told you not to call me ‘lady’- being a member of the Grove doesn’t warrant titles, grand deeds and proclamations by the king does. And you are doing some reading and writing today while I try to figure out what I made this morning because it burnt through 3 layers of blankets,” I pulled out some scrap paper and graphite for each of them except Tristan. “This again? That’s the third lesson this week,” he pouted. He had had the most lessons with me and new basic arithmetic and words. The younger ones were struggling as they had never needed to know anything except how to live off of the land before they came to Aspens Rest. Tristan’s father had been a merchant though, before perishing at the hand of Orcs back before the Council War. “It’s getting closer to when I’ll be running the shop and if you all want to learn more about the wonderfully magical world I’m from and all the fun man-eating beasts and their magical abilities then I’m going to need you all educated in basic reading and writing so we don’t have to back track later on,” I hand him a book I had bought about local wildlife- herbivores mostly and their behaviors but there were chapters on predators as well. Hyenas in particular. “You’ll be copying this chapter on these animals- since you all had shown such an interest before.” They brightened up at that. “Gwion approved the quest for the Hyenas?” “No, she approved it and we already have them. You will have no part in it though if you can’t read and write- so you all study, I’ll be over in that mess of a monstrosity over there,” I point to the kitchen where this morning's misadventures happened. They chattered and asked questions and I didn’t admonish them because I know it was how they learned- it had taken them awhile to realize I wasn’t going to beat, yell, or throw things at them like other folk had done in the past. The town was scared. The people were lashing out. And these kids had no one to really stand up for them when they really needed them too. No parents, no family, no real friends who would risk anything for them. No one but each other. Lucienne had been spotted and then left behind out there at first for an hour in the woods before word got to the Grove. That had been an... educational conversation with the man who had done so. Tristan had been pushed into the river by some other kids when I was out patrolling- the mothers nearby informed me it was charcter building and necessary for him to endure to be strong one day. Similar situations were happening all over Osterra and the mindset of a culture cannot be so easily changed. It was like that in the Reverse too, but I like to think that doing a little bit of change here at Aspens Rest was meaningful. It was a nice start. It’s what the Grove stood for. “Miss Jay, you already counted the mint- three times now. Are you alright?” That was Vithi. She was sharp- not just observation wise either. Technically she didn’t need to be studying and could help Tristan with the others but sometimes she mixed up the letters and her confidence plunged terribly. But she could draw an eagle-eye view of the whole town in under an hour with roads and houses with frightening accuracy. And she was only 9. “Yes I’m alright- I’m just distracted with my thoughts today. I don’t think I’m gonna get much accomplished over here, so scoot over. I’ll participate with you honey badgers today,” and they made a space for me on the hardwood floor. “What’s a honey-badger? Is it magical like those Griffins you were telling us about before?” Verona asked. “It’s not magical, unless you consider an indomitable spirit and being a kick-ass beast for something the size of my leg to be magical.” “What’s in-dum-nomable?” Lum piped up. “A word you are going to practice on paper and in person. Here’s the spelling…” We sat there until just before lunch time studying the book, the little ones writing out letters and sentences for the older ones. They helped me with the gardens afterwards and had to leave to do chores for the matron of the Orphanage. I checked Lucienne first before she and Verona left to make sure she wouldn’t get sick again- I knew no one would make their journey back hard after the last time. Being a member of the Grove had it’s perks among the townsfolk. Being able to sneak up on them in broad daylight and hold cheery conversations of where to throw their waste, aka not on other people or children, was also a nice factor in them being left alone. The townsfolk and refugees are a hodgepodge of nomadic tribesmen, mountainous village people and farmers. Their sense of community has grown leaps and bounds under the leadership of Gwion and with the Grove members modeling for them the mission statement of being a safe place for all. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than where they started from. I look to the north west, towards the Caste territory and the Plains of Sorrows. I can’t hear or see anything, but I feel the weight of despair wash over me. I feel the pang of abject horror and suffering that is being inflicted from that direction and let it pass through me- the feeling grips me for a few minutes as I relive various days from the Reverse. I hate it, but I know better than to try to suppress it once I’m caught. It’s aweful and agonizing, reliving those days of ‘Royal Servitude’ and murder and ‘majestic living’ and divine retribution. But then it passes. My eyes adjust to the sun filled sky and gentle breeze whispering through the gardens at my home, in Apsens Rest. I am breathing, I am in Osterra, and I am free. And Fate be willing, so will those people. A Raven comes to land on my shoulder- Persephone, my personal messenger bird. Her presence brings a smile to my face and I read the message she carries. “Guess we could go for a walk to visit Oonagh.” Oonagh has gotten help from townsmen for the Hyena pups she took. They were adjusting to the new environment well and she was doing wonderful in their training. Hopefully the demons won’t be expecting some wildlife defenses. Hopefully my knowledge will be helpful in the upcoming battles. Hopefully, I’ll be decent enough to not perish as many times in a fight. It was all wishful thinking, but I was becoming full of wishes since my arrival in Osterra. It wasn’t terrible to be wishful. Hopefully.
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22
Jay
Apr 25, 2020
In Roleplaying
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove April, the 1st year Journal Entry 2 Upon our April adventure we happened upon a pack of Hyenas. In our nightly watch and early morning departure we did not see any pups but the thought of having tame Hyenas never left my mind. Warrior Oonagh also had similar thoughts. After some concerning revelations about the Green Goddess’s subjugation and fighting similar shadow monsters at her temple we eventually claimed it and returned it to peace. I mentioned the pack of Hyenas on our way back and Oonagh revealed some intriguing information about taming wild animals. We began plotting for future pups to be brought back to Aspens’s Rest. Writing it down I realize this sounds heinous and terrible but if we are to hunt trolls and minotaurs and other beastly creatures hunting animals are extremely valuable then. The dogs in Aspen won't cut it as they aren’t used to facing monsters- Hyenas’ remind me of similar beasts from the Reverse and I think are similar in build as well. They will be taken care of as well, we both agreed- Leader Gwion gave her approval as well on the endeavor so fingers crossed and I’m burning some fennel for luck! Midnight update- OONAGH FOUND HYENA PUPS GOT THEM!! FORMAL WRITING CAN’T EXPRESS MY EXCITEMENT!!!! WE START BUILDING KENNELS IN THE MORNING!!!! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove May, 2nd week, 1st year Entry 4 This week was better. The kids have learned that I like to have a morning routine and free afternoon to do errands and tasks. Every morning at the crack of dawn I scout the edges of the town and the woods- have to stay in shape and familiar with the territory closest to us. Breakfast is warmed bread because I burn pancakes to a crisp if and of course- a hot cup of coffee with milk and a small sugar cube. I had been exhibiting terrible symptoms back in December when I was traveling with the Guild of the Black Sky because I didn't think it was something they had here in Osterra. I would pray to the God of Coffee in any religion as thanks for helping me survive so many terrible years in the Reverse and for being the literal light of my mornings here in Osterra. Off topic, getting back. The first two days I spent entirely in my home researching and trying to mix healing salves. I’ve temporarily put on hold on trying to decipher the amazing fireball misshap. I didn’t come close at all last week unless you consider a brief fiery explosion ruining my chimney to be a breakthrough. No, thankfully I didn’t lose too many materials or plants, and nobody got hurt. The carpenters were not happy but that’s not something I can help- too much. So I worked on the healing mixtures, gave myself some horribly heightened senses when I mixed the wrong herbs at one point, but overall kept a much better track of what I was doing this week. I’m grateful the shop isn’t built yet. I may finally have space to exercise more freely with my brews but at the rate that I’m recovering my skills I think slow is much better and effective. I at least have three completed recipes now to show the Grove members. And yes I’m ignoring the 30 incomplete ones in my report- they aren’t failures yet I just have to figure out if they will be useful or not is all. The third day was the kids day- they usually sit in my living area looking at the books I have but staying out of ‘the danger zone’ while I’m mixing plants. The third day though I had had nightmares the night before and didn’t want to be inside so we went outside to the gardens. Most of them were fascinated with what could be done with plants, although the fascination was mostly destructive or poison related inquiries. If I were normal I should be concerned with this, but given the state of affairs Osterra is in I have no qualms. The fourth and fifth days my afternoons were swamped with training. An ‘old’ warrior had requested my help as he was given a squad of what he thought were small and weak people. The warrior is called Kar, the same warrior who assisted me on both herb scouting missions back in march. The man is well muscled but slightly underweight currently but I knew he was a monster hunter still and had hoped to pass the knowledge on to others. Instead his group had people of similar builds to my own, petite, lithe, agile, but they lacked the tribesman ferocity he was seeking. They did however have plenty of spunk to learn and once we worked out to train them to fight in roguish tactics- stab, run away, harry from the sides in teams of two, avoid one-on-one if your opponent was CLEARLY in another league than your own like Kar was to all of us combined….He warmed up to them after the second day of training. My service request was removed and I alternated my afternoons with brewing, researching local flora, and helping Oonagh at the Kennels. Oonagh made it very clear they will never be domesticated like dogs but if they aren’t properly socialized and dealt with regularly they will go savage towards anyone unfamiliar to them. The last two afternoons I’ve been at the kennels, picking up feces and waste, working with the pups and their skills needed for the future, and enjoying the company of another Grove member. We talked about what we can do to make things better here at Aspens Rest, how we were coping with the cleansing of the Temple, and how different it was here in Osterra from our respective homeworlds. All of this work in town and information about the Plains of Sorrow make me forget to be grateful for the little things like I did back in the Reverse- Lucienne has been cleared to walk around but still cannot do too much physical activity. Verona brings her to my place in the mornings via a small cart but when she is inside Lucienne walks on her own and stares intently at all of us. She hasn’t spoken a word yet to anyone since her arrival, but she laughs and smiles and gets excited about new things like the rest of them. For this I’m grateful. Tristan has convinced the bookshop on the other side of town to let him work for them in exchange for borrowing books. They are fairytail books, stories of lore from Osterra, but fairytails are often riddled with truths hidden in between the words. He is definitely a merchant’s son though, he fixes my stock records of the plants whenever he comes in to help. The boy has a good sense for economics and business. And I'm grateful for the little accomplishments I’ve made as an herbalist from another land. It is small compared to what I knew in the Reverse but I’m starting to come to terms with the fact most of my life in the Reverse was greatly aided by magical energy that resided within every aspect of existence. Here every accomplishment is my own and nothing else- results of my hard work and efforts made to make something from nothing. There is no innate energy in the air or divine interference to aid in my healing salves but I am so grateful for this. Tomorrow I will be shoveling hyena poop again but I am still grateful for the life I have been given. I am home and I will continue to work in my endeavors for protecting the Grove. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________ From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove June, 2nd week, 1st year Entry 5 I started a fire. From all of my past experiences here in Osterra it was always unintentional or accidental but last week on the Grove’s search mission I officially and intentionally started a fire. It’s been a few days so my memory is slightly bogged up with everything that happened but I’ll try to summarize for record keeping sake. I just laughed as I wrote that but I’m exhausted and tired and cranky and honestly not feeling great but here goes. Short and sweet. We went off in search of more refugees with the hopes of capturing more demonically possessed pursers like Ja’Nuk- a man who was previously under the demonic powers of Wrath. With the help of Fonti and Aeriel we were able to free him from the demonic powers two months ago at least. Our most recent adventure included his little knowledge of some of the bandits working with the demons and hoping we could use that to capture and cure more to paint a bigger picture of what the demons might be planning. Anything to help in the fight against them. It took us a week of traveling before we found people- farmers who had not been touched yet by bandits or the demon army. I’ll spare you the details but information gathering is not my skill set. People are not my skill set. It was a disastrous conversation and looking back I definitely should have waited for someone else to do the talking. That night we camped elsewhere and moved on- that 7th night we found an encampment and set up the ambush plan Fonti had come up with for us to succeed. Bryxal and I tried to check out the campsites stealthily using the grasslands as cover, quite easy as it was a stall as me, but the guards heard us when we ventured too close. After they sounded the alarm Fonti, who was just beyond their sights halfway back to the ambush site, lit a torch and began riding away from us to lure the men away. She was shot and the torch fell into the dry grassland. A blaze started as she rode off and thankfully the horsemen pursued her- the footmen, not so much. Bryxal and I tried to put the fire between us and armed men, who were terribly organized, and I could tell we were both scoping the chances of getting another look at the campsites with stealth. We both also came to the conclusion that it would take a miracle for that to happen and booked it back to the ambush site in different directions. I had it in my mind that if the fire was bigger it would distract or deter the footmen- you know, because walking in the dry grasslands in heavy armor when a fire was raging would normally mean you should retreat to an already safe place like your campsite. I grabbed some flaming grass and booked it in a detour route back to the ambush site setting fire as I ran, hoping the blaze would spread between me and the footmen. I will have to ask Oonagh to help me ask the Green Goddess for forgiveness later since it was in vain. They started to chase me but thankfully they were so heavily armored, and slow, that I outpaced them back to the others. Who had two unconscious people bloodied already and Fonti chasing after horses with one arm while mounted still on her own horse. I will forever be impressed by her. Bryxal still hadn’t returned, and when I explained what had transpired two of the 3 men following me caught up. I saw Gwion rush off towards the direction of what later I realized was Bryxal engaged in combat, while Arion, Ja’nuk and I engaged the other two. One ran off cursedly and the one who stayed was wearing so much damn armor that he wouldn’t stay down or let us land a good hit. I took the first opening I could for the kill and hoped the other two men I had seen before were alive and useful for our cause. Gwion, Bryxal and Aeriel returned with a third man, unconscious, and the other two horsemen who had originally pursued Fonti and were in questionable health, were enough for us to say the mission was accomplished at the time. We all mounted up and rode off, hard- we could see torches and men yelling orders and knew we were being pursued. We stayed ahead enough from them to make it to some swamps where it looked like we might get caught but the Green Goddess answered the call from some of our devoted members and helped us find safe passage to a place to finally rest. Fonti, Gwion and Oonagh began their interrogation when one of the more awake prisoners attempted to charm us with flattery. ‘Pretty Lady.’ Worlds and civilizations away from my home world and men still have the same level of originality. I would say it’s disappointing but then again the expectations were never that high to begin with. I became agitated with the interrogation as did Ja’nuk- my reasons being we had barely escaped the men chasing us and I wanted to be on lookout, while Ja’nuk was having a hard time dealing with the prisoners as they reminded him of himself while under demonic possession and wanted to kill them. Except they weren’t under possession- they had said something about a contract with a Lady and the commander coming after them. That was all I heard before walking off with Ja’nuk to check the perimeter. By morning it was decided that two of the prisoners would be released, one of whom was trampled the night before and looking the worse for wear and needed serious healing that we could not provide. The second one was the chatty person who had given the others enough information and willing to convey to his leader that we would like to help them break free of their contract that is forcing them to fight on the demon's side. I was told they don’t have a choice in the matter, the contract is most likely magical or cursed based, someone in this group of mercenaries can captures soul and torture them, and something about a Lance and Standard. It was a lot of information given second hand and honestly- the mindset of this mercenary group, the Gray Brigade, reminds me of how I used to think before arriving in Osterra. Being held against my will, being forced to fight and do awful things for years, forcing all emotions and thoughts into a corner to allow the numbness that would let me survive to see another day be the normal. Nobody asks for that kind of life, it’s just something that happens and requires one incredibly powerful form of intervention to break free of it. Mine was divine- hopefully theirs will be done by our efforts here in the Grove. I guess we will find out.
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Apr 25, 2020
In Roleplaying
From the Journal of Jay, Shadow in the Grove March,3rd week, the 1st year Journal entry 1 The apothecary shop plans are coming along slowly, but that’s understandable considering the state of the realm currently. The refugees outnumber the regular townsfolk now at Aspens Rest and are only growing by the day- the plains of sorrow are giving me flashbacks of the Reverse and my servitude to the royal family. Correction, Royal Imprisonment. Being enslaved since the age of 5 means I may not have had the usual commoner upbringing, and the Royal Family of Adrela would fit in nicely with these demons seamlessly from the stories I hear amongst the refugees. The first princess alone had a castle dedicated to testing her potions and magical workings on people, other nobility who crossed her included. Being her body double had called for a special mindset that I thought was surprisingly easy to leave behind for day to day life here in Osterra- until the first demon encounter I had. The flashbacks and nightmares are easier to handle now, but the uncanny similar mindset these demons have with the Royal Family are despairingly the same. The Jay ‘Cindersky’ of the Reverse occasionally comes out every now and then, but most people see it for what no one back home saw it as- trauma. Survival Syndrome. I may be desensitized to gore and violence but the education they gave me to pass as royalty, my knowledge of plants and herbs and fighting, will not be wasted. For once I actually have a place to call home. And home is a two-room stone house with a loft for my cot and notes. Yes, I am much happier here with a purpose than I ever was back in the Reverse. The magic may be gone, the lore is new, and the gods may be absent or unable to reach me through the portal [thank you, Fate!] but the novelty of not being recognized as a monster for surviving or a symbol for propaganda gives me so much peace that I will selfishly take it. I will wait for the shop to be built and build up the herbs and trees, I’ll collect alchemical references, mix poultices and potions and fail with exasperating results, I will take notes and mark maps of locations that interest me or could be useful for the Grove, and I will finally do whatever the hell I please for me and for those who I think appreciate me for myself and never go back. I will not be enslaved again. I will not sit by while others suffer as I did for 20 years- I am going to be useful for my own purposes and for the Grove. I am going to be just Jay, a Shadow of the Grove.
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Jay

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