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Sascha and Taral: Introductions Among Druids

Posted on Mon Oct 19th, 2020 @ 6:38pm by Bronze Taral & Bronze Sascha Delarosa

Mission: Short stories
Location: Western Woods
Timeline: Mission Day 0 at 1400

The Western Woods were Taral’s favourite place in all of Exonia.

Filled with the vibrancy of life, wonders and miracles could be found in every nook and cranny. The Vei Luba, the source of all magic, flowed freely here. And Taral, Druid of Exonia, member of the Circle of Phon and of the Marblevale Guild, graduate of the Meadows Ridge Academy, knew how to exploit and preserve the great balance of nature and magic.

Here, she truly felt home.

Today she was in hunter-gatherer mode. A rabbit carcass hung off her shoulder; dinner, fur, and the bones were valued by the herbalists. Her bag contained a variety of leaves and stems and berries. She knew not how to process them, but she knew what to look for.

She heard a footstep on a twig.

Head raised, she looked to find a young Human woman. Younger than Taral, she recognized her as a Druid from the Guild, though they had never met.

Taral decided to stalk her a moment. See how close she could get.

Sascha, not expecting any trouble in these woods, had not taken any precautions of being extra quiet. She wasn't hunting this day, but she knew others might be. No, today she was in search of forage; herbs and berries, mushroom and moss, among the list. And spell components. Those could be quite valuable, she knew, and she could really use more for herself.

She stopped a moment, near a tree, eyes closed and face raised to the sky. Sascha took in a deep breath as she 'felt' the woodland around her. Using her, admittedly weak, wild cunning to seek guidance from the spirits of the wood to find the forage she sought, Sascha stayed there longer than she should have. For when she opened her eyes, she felt another presence. Someone had snuck up on her.

Turning to face the one who'd managed to come within only a few feet of her, Sascha kept her hands where the other could see them. "Hail and well met," she said softly, giving the Ithiris woman a small bow. She smiled warmly at the teal-haired woman. "I love your hair colour! Is it natural? Oooh... it looks natural! Shame, I'd love to know how to achieve such a colour!"

Taral smiled at the girl’s excitement. “Hail and well met,” she replied. “And it’s natural.” She turned around to show off her teal tail.

“I’ve seen you before,” she added. “In the Guard Centre. Getting quests with another Druid. Is that right?”

Sascha nodded. "Yep! That's right! I'm an apprentice under Lady Rinmae! She's taken over teaching me the ways of the Druids! I was supposed to go to the Academy," she shrugged. "But my grandmother didn't trust them to teach me properly. Are you a Druid as well? You look like a Druid! Do you go to the Academy?"

Taral grinned. “I am a Druid, too. My name is Taral. And yes, I went to the Academy. I learned a lot in the wilds from my own Druid mentor, a man named Phon, but my Academy instructors taught me much as well.” She opened her bag to show her name friend its contents. “I saw you foraging for essential things for your personal use, but there are many things worth foraging that the Academy instructors value. They have herbalists and alchemists and any number of artists and craftspeople who need unique supplies. Their quartermaster is willing to trade these goods for things you might need. Perhaps I can introduce you to them?”

"Oooh, that would be lovely! I don't know many people there," Sascha nodded. "My grandmother had a... mmm... distrust of certain people at the Academy. But Rinmae has been very lovely and has introduced me to some people. She says I'm not ready for a circle yet though," she frowned. "I don't know what makes one ready to learn more? I've mastered everything she's taught me so far, but she keeps saying I'm not ready. Is your mentor like that too?"

She paused and shook her head. "Sorry... went on a tangent there. I would really appreciate you teaching me what to look for and who I can trade with for supplies!"

Happy to have made a new friend, one who was happy and energetic and appeared competent, Taral nodded. “Definitely. But another time. I’m due in Alderworth soon. But let’s go to the Academy and I’ll introduce you to Quartermaster Umerel. He’s an Elf and he’s been aligned with the Academy for centuries. And he likes meeting new friends who bring him things.” She leaned in to whisper something in the Human’s ear. “You need to bring him a small gift whenever you visit, but he’ll accept everything else you have for trade.” She gestured toward the path that led back toward the Citadel wall. “What’s your name, friend?”

"Sascha Delarosa!" Sascha said happily as she followed. "And what kind of gift? Can it be anything? Does it need to be something specific?"

“Something he’ll find useful,” Taral explained. “Something natural. Just one of your finds will usually do it, but you need to present it to him as a gift. He won’t ask for it, but he won’t be willing to trade with you unless you open with a present. I’ll show you when we get there.”

They approached part of the wall. There was no door here, but the wall was in disrepair, and tree branches got very close. The wall was too smooth and the branches too small for Human or Ithiris to climb here.

“So what sort of Wild Shapes have you mastered, Sascha?” Taral asked. “Because we aren’t entering Alderworth through the main gate.”

"I can turn into a small feline and a small bird," Sascha responded, looking curiously at the Ithiris woman. "What about you? How many have you mastered? I bet you've mastered a lot!" She bounced slightly as she walked along side Taral. "You seem really smart and you've been to the academy! Are you part of a circle already?"

“I apprenticed in Phon’s Circle,” Taral answered. “And I’m a provisional member. But I work more independently than I do with them. I go join them for big rituals and when they need help, and they’ve been there for me. But the independence that Druid life offers...cannot be surpassed.” Then she smiled again. “And I can be a cat, a butterfly, and a salmon, so your two masteries is impressive. I only mastered my butterfly form recently.” She gestured up the trees and wall. “Think you can climb this as a cat?”

"Well, I only just mastered the cat form. The bird was my first," Sascha said, looking up at the trees. "Oh, yeah, I can totally climb that as a cat! See!" She morphed into a short-haired silver tabby and began heartily climbing the nearest tree.

Taral grinned and morphed herself into a brown and black tabby. She followed the girl up the tree, trusting that Sascha could find a safe way across. If she didn’t, Taral knew a few that would work too.

Sascha's tail wagged happily as she stood atop a tall branch and watched her new friend. She then looked at the available paths that led in the right direction. She crouched and let out a small noise as she failed to see which path would be the safest. Having only just mastered this form, she still had plenty to learn about how to do certain things, like choosing a path that was appropriate for her size and weight. Instead, she waited and watched what Taral would do.

Taral saw the other cat's indecision and so she climbed along a large branch that was slightly lower than the one Sascha was using. Those branches that were higher reached closer to the top of the wall, but most couldn't support their weights. Besides, she wasn't trying to reach the top. She was going for a specific ledge.

The Ithiris druid in cat form jumped confidently and landed on an outcropping along the wall. Decades earlier there had been a hole here for archers defending the citadel, but it had been filled in. A ledge remained though, and it was wide enough for the cat to maintain her footing. From there, she was able to climb to another ledge and into a hole in the rock made by an expanding branch. She got to the hole and watched to make sure Sascha was following her.

With great admiration, the younger druid watched the path her new friend took and then followed along behind. She traversed the tree effortlessly, but hesitated a bit on the ledge. She climbed up, but slipped and barely caught herself with one paw. Scrabbling against the rocks, Sascha managed to pull herself up. She shook her paw and snorted at it, as though it was the cause of her troubles.

Inwardly, Taral smirked and continued into the hole. Moments later, she was in an empty alley between two middle class Alderworth houses. She turned back into her Ithiris self and brushed the dust off.

Though limping slightly, Sascha followed Taral out into the alley. As she turned back into her normal boring self, she rubbed her wrist. "Guess I need more practice," she said softly before muttering a few words as she examined the injured wrist. "Well crud... need more practice at that too... maybe I should have gone to the academy... think it's too late to?" She looked over to Taral as she asked the question.

“Most of the middle class students are about your age,” Taral answered. “But some are older. They have some mature students.” She gave the younger woman a grin. “Never too late to learn a new skill.”

Nodding, the younger girl grinned to her new friend. "I love learning! It's fun! So many neat things to do, sooooo many cool things to discover too!" She said, then shook her wrist again, whispering the healing spell she knew. It worked, for the most part and she could use the hand normally, though with a tiny twinge of pain. "So, how does one enroll in the academy? Do I need to convince my mentor to sponsor me or can I just sign up?"

"You'll want your mentor to sponsor you," Taral said. "I can vouch for you as well, if they ask. Lady Rinmae is very well respected, but multiple references help. Now, shall we head over there and talk to the alchemists? Sell my harvest for the day?"

Sascha nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! Let's go! I'll talk to my mentor later, about going to the academy, hopefully she agrees!"


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