Anafale Forest- Northeast of Faedale
We have come to the thicketed hills northeast of Faedale. We have only to follow the hilltops south and we should be in Faedale by sundown. A formidable wind has begun to rip through the boughs sending tiny cyclones of swirling leaves and pollen sprigs tearing along the Forest floor. The rain has continued and saturated most of our gear. Elam treats us to a veritable dissertation on the military strategies of every realm in Elan. Celas continues to grumble. Delandil recalls a lass he once knew in Wynden. Cada has been quiet, she seems lost in thought.
Elam ”...whoever these doghearted cankerous fiends are, I just hope they are foolish enough to walk the Wood at night, and awaken the Chan Eraid.” Una ” Or cross paths with a Hanefol.” Delandil “Or find their way into the belly of a vine beast.” Cada “Perhaps, this threat did not pass through Alluria, or the mountains, but passed over them.” Celas stopped in his tracks. Celas “You mean they flew, flying?” Delandil “Ah, Some sort of flying beasts.” Elam “But what?” his tone dripping with skepticism, “Dire bats all the way from the Deadlands? Lone wyverns suddenly deciding to form a flock? Next you’ll be saying its dragons” Celas_ “Dra..Dragons?” Una “Don’t worry Celas, there is only one Dragon left, Ajazuul, and that old wyrm has not been seen in these skies for centuries.” Cada “It could be something worse than a dragon, you may be begging to sit in the Queen of Dragon’s lap before this is over.” Celas “Why don’t you save that sort of talk til I have a tankard or 2 of thornblossom.” Una “What is it Cada? Have you had a vision? Do you know what awaits us?” Cada ” I am certain of nothing, I have had no visions.” Una “What then?” Cada “Just a memory, All I can tell you is the Forest has felt this presence before. I fear if we were to run all the way to Wynden, we would still be to late to warn the other settlements, and if we push ourselves to exhaustion we will have nothing left for the fight. There is no wisdom in rushing to our enemy only to collapse at their feet. Una “What do you suggest we do?” Cada ” I have an idea. A way that I may be able to get to southern villages faster than the rest of you.” Delandil “How is that possible?” _Cada “Una, have you noticed where we are?” _Una “You don’t mean the…” Cada “Yes, near to the east, just down in that gulley are the pools of Gywaibeath.” Elam “The Changing Waters.” Una “Cada, no…its too dangerous.” Celas “Changing waters?, the pools of what?” Delandil “Celas, have you forgotten your obscure and unlikely elven legends.” Cada “It is no mere legend, follow me and you will see the pools for yourselves.” Celas “Legend, or no what are we talking about?” Delandil “In the time called The Barrens, during the destruction of Galaan Gasrah, the great sorceress Gywaibeath witnessed the death of her lover. He was obliterated to dust before her very eyes. It is said she wandered the forest distraught, in a trance of despair, her falling tear creating the river Beathel as she passed. When her strength waned she collapsed in a flowered hollow, where from her weeping two pools were formed. Into these pools she opened her veins with her skinning knife, and left this world. Celas “How do you know all this?” Delandil “What, I can’t know things?” Cada “Gywaibeath was famed for being able to take on the shape, and appearance of any beast in the Forest…” Delandil “In fact the name Gywaibeath, in the old tonque, means fair beast…” Celas “Alright, we get it, you know things.” Cada ”...it is believed that anyone who baths in the pools also gains the ability to change into creature form, for an hour, or a day, or even a week..” Una “Or forever” Cada “Fear not Una, my spirit is strong enough to resist, I won’t lose myself to the beast. I will try to call forth something swift, a hawk, or a deer, or a panther. Elam “And what if you end up a slug, or a toad, or a tree snake.” Cada “Then you can carry me in your pocket, or wear me around your neck. Think of it Una I could have a force ready and waiting for you by the time you reach Wynden.” Una “And risk being stuck with a squirrel, or a badger instead of healer for who knows how long. Look, the few recruits we manage to squeeze out of each village are likely to have never seen action, or have not seen it in many springs. Your skills are going to be needed.” Cada “There are other healers between here, and Wynden….I am sorry Una, I can’t see any other way.” She began to slowly back away from us. Una “Cada?” There was a flash of thunderless lightning, all blinding white for a moment and she was gone. Una “Blast, that stubborn old witch. Quickly, that spell never takes her far, Celas, Delandil, run her down and keep her out of those pools.” The two young archers leapt away, over underbrush, behind the trees and down into the hollow. Elam and I followed as fast as we could. We descended the incline in kind an artful fall, or a series of short falls, bounding from each outcropping to the next. At the bottom the trees were sparse making room for emerald bushes spangled with violet, and indigo flowers. We heard raised voices up ahead, splashing water. Elam “Come on, hurray!” As we burst though the last bit of brush, and on to the bank the air was shattered by a long piercing howl. Before us were the pools. On the far shore was Delandil, sitting on his backside, sprawled out, looking rumpled, damp and bewildered. On our side of the pool, standing before was a large wolf, streaked silver, white, grey, and black coat, much like Cada’s own tangled hair. Celas was nowhere to be seen. The wolf stared at me and I held its gaze. Then it rushed past us, back up the gulley and was gone. We walked around to Delandil who still sat dumbfounded on the wet bank. Delandil “Its her, she changed, just like the legend said. She was already in water when we found her, but still herself. We tried pulling her out, but…” Una “Where is Celas?” Delandil “You know she’s a lot stronger then she looks.” Una “What happened to Celas?” Delandil “The old girl tripped him, the crafty old bird, and he fell in.” Una “Fell in!? Where is he?” I turned quickly and scanned the surface of the waters, peering into their depths for some sign. Una “Delandil! Did he get out? Is he still…still in there?” Delandil “He’s over there.” Una “Where? I don’t see him.” Delandil raised his arm pointing, and he said slowly with a heavy tone. Delandil “He’s there.” What Delandil was pointing at was a 2ft long rather plump lizard. Its scales were new leaf green and white, and it was peppered with purple spots. It sat motionless except for the occasional flick of its tongue. Elam standing over the lizard, “This is Celas?” Una “AAAAAAAAUARGH! I’m supposed to be GAINING people on this mission not losing them. Elam “Celas, my lad, can you here me?” The lizard blinked twice. Una “That witch better have a legion waiting for us, or I’m going to drag her back to these pools by her matted hair ,and drown her in them.” Elam kneeled down, picked up the lizard and brought its face close to his. Elam “Celas, talk to me lad. Why is not saying anything.” Delandil “Because he is a lizard.” Elam “But I thought one could talk in creature form, I mean Cada was going warn the settlements, and raise an army she can’t do that with barks and howls.” Una “Cada, is a shaman she can speak without words. If she wants she can put her voice in your head without making a sound.” Delandil got up and brushed himself off. Delandil “Well, at least we will be spared his constant grumbling.” Una “Yeah, well if we run into trouble we are also spared his bow. Come on, let’s move out.”