Ok, this is long, but if you've been following the story at all, which I greatly appreciate, this is an important chapter. Lots of info and hints of what is to come. I will post Vue artwork with condesed storylines later this week. My much appreciated Forest Oracle image led to this and was the perfect character to tie together some dangling ideas. Take your time and enjoy or you can get the RD condesed version later. As always, comments, suggestions and critiques are welcome.
Today was the day. Ilisadore had spent seven days meditating in a deep trance looking for the best solution. Right now she sat among her friends and enjoyed their company. Some she hadn't seen in awhile. On their own level they must have sensed that something was about to happen and so, gathered for a visit.
Ilisadore had lived in the Markon forest for about seventy five seasons now. Like her two sisters she was part of all the euhmynoid races. This was rare indeed. Couplings between Nubarians and Fomorians would produce children, but the union of euhmyns and either Nubarian or Fomorian were almost never fruitful. Her father was half Fomorian and euhmyn and her mother Nubarian and euhmyn. Oddly, whenever such unions created offspring, they almost always bear a look of the euhmyn parent, but have the longer lifespan of the other parent. Of course that is not always the case. Lord Savich of Vaalk'Aquaa was the son of a woman who had been taken by a Fomorian male during one of the many border conflicts that had plagued the two peoples. Lord Savich grew to be a large man and has obvious traces of his Fomorian heritage. His leadership of the euhmyns and acceptance by them, has been a main source of peace and diplomacy between the Fomorians and the northern ehumyns.
Ilisadore is the youngest of three sisters and part of a triad of mystics that are legends and the source of fables across Marra'Quaa and beyond. She is known more by her title of The Red Oracle. Her sister is The Red Wizard, who resides in a tower guarding the entrance to Marra'Quaa via the narrow landstrip between there and Falakaa'In. The third sister is known as the Black Warrior and has no known home or base. And only the sisters know her true identity.
Ilisadore thought of all of them now. Her father died in battle durring the last short war with the dragul and her mother now lived in Nubaria and was facing her final years. Each of the three sisters were high adepts that had been removed from the control of the council because they had bigger roles to play in the oversight of Marra'Quaa. As she moved through her memories and thoughts, a great bear known as Baan, shuffled up to wear she sat among some deer, songbirds and other forest dwellers. In the presence of Ilisadore, all animals made peace with one another, though outside her sphere, Tarrish's nature was the rule. Baan grunted and nodded his head up and down.
In joy Ilisadore scratched his head and behind his ears. "Hello, great Baan, it has been many turns since you have come to see me. Thank you for honoring me with your visit." The large head nodded and he gave a groan and grunt in his bearish language. Ilisadore smiled and turned as a small flickerwill flitted over and hovered a moment. The oracle held up a hand for the bird, who landed for a moment, head quickly looking about and chirping all the time. He flew from her hand, circling her head twice tweeting all the time and landed in tree branch overhead.
Smiling, Ilisadore looked about at all the friends that had gathered, even the fox had come. She was at once happy and sad, but after the long meditation, she saw no other recourse. She sensed her euhmyn forest protector comming and the animals began to slowly disperse. She bade them farewell and said they would all meet again in another place.
About half a bell later, Masden Greer showed. He was a young man who was in his early thirties and part of the Forest Corps of Ummbara'Quaa. The Corps was a group that was dedicated to protecting the forested lands. They were about protecting the animals and peoples alike. When bandit groups would establish a hideout, it was their job to dispel it. Likewise they had to protect people and animals from some of the more viscious predators that might appear, such as Drigers. Masden had discovered Ilisadore when he had come to the explore the ancient ruins of Farsight Temple. This was the original place where the first Red Oracle had been established over two thousand seasons ago.
At this site, a treaty was made among the three races of Marra'Quaa to establish a Union under a common council. Clans and urban states of euhmyns warred upon one another as well as with the Nubarians and Fomorians. Alliances were made and broken among all the peoples in an on and off war that lasted nearly two hundred seasons. This all ended when the first dragul appeared from Falakaa'In and invaded the lands. To the peoples of Marra'Quaa the dragul had appeared as true monsters and they were very ignorant to the sentient race that had come across the sea from the land bridge that connected the two continents. The dragul were just as surprised, but they did not come in peace. The looked upon the people here as barrier to their expansion and began to plunder and pillage everywhere.
The eastern lands, now known as Umbarra'Quaa and Vaalk'Aquaa were still sparsely populated and the dragul spread quickly. It was then that the three races knew they were in trouble. Ilisadore's great ancestor was an adept of the highest order and she foresaw things to come. She was the first oracle and soon all the races listened to her words and the treaty was formed that united all the peoples and allowed them to organize and drive out the dragul. They did not heed all her words though. The first Oracle said the lands must be protected, but do not take the war to Falakaa'In. Instead the leaders felt that to prevent another invasion, they must cross the sea and destroy the dragul where they live.
The peoples of Marra'Quaa chased the dragul into their homeland and set about slaughtering all they could, but Falakaa'In is vast and filled with dense forest and jungle. The diminished dragul spread out into the forest lands and disappeared, forced to live like the animals they were viewed as. Falakaa'In is a land inhabited by many large and dangerous types of fauna, so the races left it to the dragul thinking they had defeated them utterly. Some mystics and other explorers took the opportunity to map and take notes on the land. They were the ones who first found The Watcher and the great ruins at Crescent Bay, but it was too wild to establish a permanent base, so Falakaa'In was left to the imagination for the next two millenia.
Masden greeted Ilisadore with a broad smile of respect and affection. In appearance, Ilisadore looked to be about the same age as him, he was actually quite unaware of her heritage and had really fallen for her when they first met. When he had come looking about the ruins, he was on an exploratory mission to learn the lay of the land that he was now in charge of patrolling. This had been nearly five seasons ago. He was very surprised to find such a beautiful woman living alone in the woods. In time he learned she was quite self sufficient, but he came to visit often and would help her with some of the domestic necessities. He'd help repair the small structure made from the surrounding ruins that she used as shelter. He'd bring firewood and foodstuffs. He only brought meat once. He was proud of a great buck he had hunted and slain and he brought her much of the dried meat and the tanned hide. She then informed him angrily that she did not eat meat and that the forest creatures were her family. He felt ashamed for days, and so did she. She knew his heart was in the right place and she was angry because she had not forseen the slaying of this animal and the buck had indeed been a friend of hers. That was her first gap ever in seeing an outcome with anything so close to her. She was a true oracle and could see far in the present and could see many branches of the possible futures. She was more of a prophet than anything else. She kept a book of all her visions in meticulous detail. She could see the end results of many paths, yet many outcomes could be shaded in mist. She understood that no mortal could ever see all the future. This journal had become very important and could help decide the outcome of a future Marra'Quaa. Ilisadore saw the comming war and knew the devastation and death to come. She also knew now, about the dragon star that had appeared ten thousand seasons ago and had created the Great Cataclysm. In another few days it would be a dim and fuzzy dot in the night sky, gradually growing larger as the Hot Season and the soon to be war dragged into the Cooling Days. It would again bring destruction, but she saw a narrow path of survival for all the peoples here, even the dragul, and she must make the first step on that path to survival.
"Hello my sweet." Masden dropped his small bundle and kissed her on the mouth. He sat with her on the ancient stone bench where she was currently seated, and kissed her again. This time they embraced and kissed passionately. Hands caressing each other. His hands roved over her body, which was simply clad in a linen priestess robe Masden had brought for her. Ilisadore rarely wore clothes, but since taking Masden as a partner, she wore some of the clothing he brought for her. Partially because she knew it pleased him for her to display his gifts and because it appealed to his more modest nature. They were soon interuppted by a squealling voice. A little girl of about three came running yelling "Daddy!".
A few phases into their first meeting and after clearing the air about the slain buck debacle, the two had become intimate and decided to establish a relation. Ilisadore had indeed foreseen this, she just hadn't foreseen the face of the man. She was pleased he was at least handsome and noble in demeanor. She also knew he was of mixed blood, though he didn't, and this is how the next generation of oracle would come to be. Masden was aware of some of Ilisadore's ability, but was ignorant of the extent and importance to it all. This was the only part of her decision that pained her. Leaving her two loved ones. She knew Masden would do things right and eventually would find another to help him raise their little girl and in that she took comfort. "Hello my little dryad, have you been having fun with mommy?"
"Oh daddy you missed it! All mommy's animal friends were just here saying hello, and I'd never seen so many together before! It was soo neat!"
"Really?!" he expressed. He knew it wasn't just a child's imagination, because he had seen Ilisadore interact with the animals before, and it was still amazing to him.
"Oh Valla," Ilisadore said smiling, "don't give away all my secrets."
"No secrets mama, daddy knows." She took on an almost adult and serious look.
Mother and father both smiled and took pride in the bright child before them. Still smiling, Ilisadore gathered up Valla in her arms in a big hug then sat her on her lap. Valla started to look sad and said, "Mommy, do daddy and I really have to go soon and leave you?"
"Valla," Masden said, "we're not going for long, we'll be back in a turn or less and we'll bring back presents for her, you know like we talked about." Valla didn't seem convinced.
"Hush sweety. We already talked about this, remember? You'll keep daddy company and get to see what's beyond these woods and then you'll see me again later. You know I love you and I'm always with you no matter where you are." They hugged and Valla hung on a bit, afraid to let go.
"I understand mommy." Valla spoke quietly, but gave her mom a little smile. She was an adorable little girl with reddish hair, tanned skin and bright green eyes, like her mother. Clothed in a simple pull over dress and no shoes, she epitomized the orphan look with dirty hands and dirty face.
"Ok, my little dryad," Masden spoke, "you go wash up and get your travelling bundle ready and get something on your feet." She was only four, but she was quite mature and insightful for her age.
"OK daddy." She kissed them both and ran off to the stone hut she shared with her parents.
Masden watched her go and turned to Ilisadore smiling. "So bright and beautiful, she is her mother's daughter."
"You're in there too my protector."
"Hah!" he laughed. "You never needed protection, my sweet. It took me a couple phases to figure that out, but by then it was too late. I was hooked for life." He smiled and wrapped one arm around her waist and they kissed again.
When they separated she leaned behind her and picked up a heavy skin satchel. It was sewn and shaped to hold a book. She handed it to Masden. "This is important." Her look became never more serious. "When you arrive at Eagle Keep, you must find a woman, Ilona, and give her this. She'll know what to do with it."
Masden immediately looked worried. "This is your vision journal, though." It sounded partially like a question.
"Yes, but it's a copy. I have the original and their is important information that Ilona will need." That was in part a lie. This was no copy, but the original. Ilisadore would no longer need it after today.
"Ilona is the High Commander of the Raptor Elite, how am I supposed to get to see her?"
"You get a message to her that Ilisadore has a package for her and she will find you. She may even be expecting you when you arrive."
"Really. I guess she's an adept of some sort?"
Smiling she replied, "Yes, of some sort."
Masden looked in the bag and saw another smaller and thinner book. Ilisadore's journal was heavy and thick and parts looked like they were much older than himself. In his mind it was another clue to the mystery that was Ilisidore. Masden, after a time, realized there was much more to his partner than she spoke aloud. She never lied to him, but never shared all of what she was. He had heard of halflers, those that are part euhmyn and either Nubarian or Fomorian, but he'd never met one. It was well known that Ilona was one and here for the first time Ilisadore mentions her name and has him bringing her important information. He didn't care. He loved her and he loved the life he shared with her. Vision trances and all. Valla was the fruition of that love and he would do anything to protect the two of them. Ilisadore made him promise to protect Valla above even herself. Masden swore to do that never thinking he'd have to make such a choice.
"What is this other book?" he asked.
He removed the smaller tome and looked at the leather cover with script written on it. It read "The Life and Times of Valla Greer. Masden smiled, then looked serious and sideways at Ilisidore without saying anything.
Ilisidore took Masden's hand and looked him in the eyes. "Valla has my gift. She has already had a vision. This is for her and I want you to record everything she sees."
"I...Shouldn't you be helping her with that?"
"You will be on a long trip with her and if she has visions, it is important for them to be recorded. Anything she sees can be passed on to Ilona as well, just keep the journal for Valla and pass on only the visions."
He looked a little confused and concerned. "I've never been one to quite grasp what you can do. We all have some kind of empathy, but what you have seems beyond the High Adepts of the council. When you were in that trance for seven days I began to get real worried. You'd never been out that long before. But Valla kept saying, 'She's ok daddy, trust me.' and somehow I did. In fact she told me herself when you were about to wake from the trance. She just said 'I think mommy's back' and sure enough you woke up."
Holding his hand tighter and to her breast. She smiled. "Well, it's time for you to learn. You are smart, and her father, and this will be the perfect time for you to really bond. She's mature beyond her age and she needs the right people to show her the right morality and love, and then she can find her way and trust in her decisions."
He gave her a matter of fact look and replied. "Of course. We will love her and show her all that we can. I'm sure there will be bruises along the way, but we'll do it together."
"Not just us, it starts with us, but there are many people in the world and she needs to see it. That's what makes this trip so important. You both get to learn so much."
"And soon enough we'll be back." He smiled.
She smiled and hugged him and said. "Yes." And before he could say anything else she kissed him hard and long.
Masden and Valla were all packed up. They were going to walk to Osprey Keep and get a ride with a caravan to Eagle Keep. Masden had been called to report to the Corps headquaters at Eagle Keep and Ilisidore took this as a sign and knew this was the perfect timing for things to happen. That is when she settled in for her seven day trance to find the true path. She was initially unsettled by what she saw, but the conseqences of not taking this way showed world wide devastation. Tarrish would not endure the revival of her firstborn. After a few more hugs and tears, Ilisadore bade them a farewell and watched them as they walked the trail leading northwest.
She returned to the stone bench and sat a moment. She no longer had tears and only a mind for the task ahead. She went to their dwelling and opened the bottom drawer of a dresser built by one of Masden's carpenter friends. "Such a beautiful and noble woman needs a place to keep her special treasures." he had said. She sniffed and wiped her eyes again. In the bottom drawer was a fine silken robe of crimson with gold trim. A true cloth of station for someone with the title The Red Oracle. She removed the robe she was wearing and donned the light and expensive cloth. Masden had given it to her on their first anniversary. This would be the second and last time she would wear it. She enjoyed the feel of the cloth on her skin and smiled at thoughts of the man who had gifted to her. She left the hut and made her way to the trail that led to the beach below.
After about half a chime she arrived at the small and rocky beach. The ancient pedestal still stood, though crumbling and an ancient tree bereft of all foliage stood as a silent guardian of the beach. The Talaquaa Sea was calm, as she knew it would be and usually is this time of year. She removed her robe and folded it leaving it on rock and waded out to sea, a short ways out she dipped below the surface then remerged and floated on her back for a bit, enjoying the refreshing sense of the cool water. By late season the water would be quite warm and enjoyable to those who didn't like the sudden shock of cold water.
She returned to the beach, her hair wet and slicked back, water dripping down her curved and sleek form. She put on the robe again and sensed the invader had arrived. Less than a chime had passed since her husband and daughter had left. She thought of them again then set her mind to work.
Ilisadore walked to the ancient tree and murmured a quiet prayer. As she spoke the pedestal hummed and the tree limbs began to quiver. In the middle of the thick and ancient trunk a hole opened that was filled with liquid light. The substance flowed down the trunk and stopped at Ilisdore's feet where it formed a sphere of shimmering light then began to rise and flow all over Ilisidore's body until it coalesced again and floated into the air stopping to hover at eye level. Images began to form within it. She saw battles, people she knew and would never know and fire and chaos, then eventually peace. She smiled at this and held up her arm. The sphere hovered over her hand and as she turned to face the sea, the swirling liquid light followed.
This was the blood of Tarrish. It flowed through all worlds throughout the universe and for some worlds it tied them together, even across the vast expanse of the Void. To the few who were able to speak with their world the "blood" was special and to the ancient dragons who once lived here it was essential. To the great wyrms, the Grand Matriarchs, it was a vital substance to aid them in their transformation from worm to the grand being they could become. It could also be a deadly weapon if one knew the way and Tarrish had spoken to Ilisadore on the seventh day of her meditation and told her what she must do if she is to save the children of Tarrish. Tarrish loved all her children, but like any good mother could not allow the will of one to dominate all the others and Ilisadore was part of that solution.
As Ilisadore turned and faced the sea, the image in the floating sphere changed again and showed the grotesque form of a massive, decaying, blackened, zombie like form of an ancient Grand Matriarch. Ilisadore knew this to be Tiamat. The monster seemed to be smiling back at her in some secret triumph, but Ilisadore knew what Tiamat did not. At that moment a disturbance out at sea caught her attention and she watched as a large serpentine form rose from dark waters. It's eyes caught her immediately and it began to make its way towards the shore. It was worm like in appearance but had large wings and a head like the killer river fish filled with long pointed teeth. A crest rose from it's head and smaller wings acted as rudders guiding it through the water.
Ilisidore walked into the sea until the foam was lapping at her ankles and held her hand out, the sphere floating just above her hand with the terrible viasage of Tiamat still filling it. The great worm came to the shallows and made its way straight for Ilisadore and the winds began to pick up.
Jul 28, 2010 8:10:15 pmby DAM3D Homepage »
I really enjoy the effort and work and time you put into expressions on character faces. So many other people just throw clothes on their characters (or leave em naked) and they just pose and hit render. You put a lot of thought and time into your work and it really sets it apart.