The Coming of the Zioth
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Game Turns

Turn Index

Book 1

Chapter 1plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 1: A Chance Meeting in Dunweig (Rewrite of turn 1)
Chapter 2plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 2: An Anxious Employer (Rewrite of turns 1, 2 and 3)
Chapter 3plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 3: Knowing All the Facts (Rewrite of turns 3, 4 and 5)
Chapter 4plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 4: Trouble in Grenzig (Rewrite of turns 5, 6, 7 and 8)
Chapter 5plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 5: Taking the Town by Force (Rewrite of turns 6, 7 and 8)
Chapter 6plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigChapter 6: Balban's Reward (Rewrite of turns 8, 9 and 10)

Book 2

Turn 11plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 11: In the Forest
Turn 12plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 12: Brininig
Turn 13plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 13: An Attempt to Continue
Turn 14plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 14: A Fight with Wolves
Turn 15plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 15: Ziedon's Adventure: Through the Fire
Turn 16plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 16: Ziedon's Adventure: Animal Moss
Turn 17plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 17: Ziedon's Adventure: The Maze of Foors
Turn 18plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 18: Ziedon's Adventure: A New Master
Turn 19plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 19: Ziedon's Adventure: Talking Cats
Turn 20plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 20: A Storm Will Lead the Way
Turn 21plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 21: Maelbourg
Turn 22plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 22: Nothing Gained
Turn 23plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 23: The Minstrel's Song
Turn 24plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 24: The Lost Scroll
Turn 25plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 25: Ziedon, the Necromancer
Turn 26plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 26: Kreemon the Ranger
Turn 27plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 27: Korisca the Thief
Turn 28plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 28: Townsman Ulan
Turn 29plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 29: The Message
Turn 30plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 30: Questionable Gains
Turn 31plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 31: The Last Night in Maelbourg
Turn 32plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 32: Departure
Turn 33plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 33: Another Approach
Turn 34plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 34: The Townsman's Dilemma
Turn 35plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 35: A Partial Resolution
Turn 36plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 36: New Arrivals
Turn 37plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 37: Ziedon's Day

Book 3

Turn 38plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 38: Dunweig
Turn 39plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 39: Ranes's
Turn 40plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 40: The Healer
Turn 41plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 41: A Week in Dunweig
Turn 42plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 42: The Butcher Moren
Turn 43plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 43: Master Johannes Eltermann
Turn 44plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 44: The Investigation Begins
Turn 45plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 45: The Temple of the Orithory
Turn 46plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 46: A Scene of Death
Turn 47plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 47: Johannes' Breakdown
Turn 48plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 48: The Healer and the Temple
Turn 49plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 49: A Dark Man, a Shadow
Turn 50plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 50: A Night to be Forgotten
Turn 51plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 51: An Eventful Departure
Turn 52plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 52: Korisca's Story
Turn 53plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 53: Johannes's Vision (Johannes only)
Turn 54plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 54: Osander River Village
Turn 55plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 55: The magic of Osander River Village
Turn 56plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 56: Discovery by Night (Johannes only)
Turn 57plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 57: Rielicca's Accusations
Turn 58plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 58: The Journey to Huerten
Turn 59plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 59: Kreemon and the Second Clerk (Kreemon only)
Turn 60plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 60: Tracking Kreemon (Ardith, Kay, Sahlman and Johannes only)
Turn 61plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 61: Inside the Walls
Turn 62plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 62: Below the Castle
Turn 63plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 63: The Swim to Shore
Turn 64plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 64: Sahlman's Adventure: Ulan's Soldiers
Turn 65plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 65: Sahlman's Adventure: The Brininig
Turn 66plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 66: Sahlman's Adventure: A Farmer's Trap
Turn 67plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 67: Sahlman's Adventure: The state of Maelbourg
Turn 68plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 68: Sahlman's Adventure: A Clumsy Stalker
Turn 69plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 69: Sahlman's Adventure: The Murderer of Dunweig
Turn 70plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 70: Sahlman's Adventure: Kgeih
Turn 71plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 71: Sahlman's Adventure: Searching for Ardith
Turn 72plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 72: The Return of Sahlman
Turn 73plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 73: The Zahiran (Kreemon only)
Turn 74plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 74: Kreemon and Sahlman
Turn 75plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 75: Johannes's Adventure: The Destruction of a Mob
Turn 76plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 76: Johannes's Adventure: Attacked in the Forest
Turn 77plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 77: Johannes's Adventure: A Burning Cat
Turn 78plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 78: Johannes's Adventure: Escaping to Brundash
Turn 79plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 79: Johannes's Adventure: Return Home
Turn 80plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 80: Johannes's Adventure: A New Vision
Turn 81plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 81: Johannes's Adventure: Uyithlyaw
Turn 82plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 82: Johannes's Adventure: The Knights of Huerten
Turn 83plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 83: Johannes and Sahlman
Turn 84plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 84: Waiting for the Trial
Turn 85plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 85: The Zioth Expert
Turn 86plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 86: Preparing for the Winter Fair

Book 4

Turn 87plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 87: The Winter Fair and Festival
Turn 88plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 88: Uyithlyaw's Prophecy
Turn 89plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 89: Dealing with Disaster
Turn 90plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 90: The Rift
Turn 91plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 91: The Creatures of the Rift
Turn 92plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 92: Meeting the Baron
Turn 93plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 93: The Zioth Institute
Turn 94plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 94: The Battle of the Rift
Turn 95plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 95: New Blood
Turn 96plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 96: The Captain of the Guard
Turn 97plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 97: Into the Depths
Turn 98plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 98: The People of the Rift
Turn 99plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 99: The High Baraderres
Turn 100plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 100: A Disappointing Conclusion (The game fell apart at this point, so this story line has come to an end. Read on for Ziedon's adventure!)

Book 5

Turn 101plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 101: A Mission from Rakbaven
Turn 102plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 102: Settling in Dunweig
Turn 103plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 103: The Butcher Moren
Turn 104plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 104: Sheep
Turn 105plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 105: Moren's Book
Turn 106plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 106: Rosteral
Turn 107plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 107: Creating Rumors
Turn 108plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 108: The Seven Question Dream
Turn 109plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 109: The Other Galpen
Turn 110plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 110: Preparing an Assassination
Turn 111plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 111: Caught
Turn 112plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 112: Hebabelt Forester
Turn 113plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 113: Dragged into Maelbourg
Turn 114plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 114: Townsman Galgewe
Turn 115plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 115: Working for a Townsman
Turn 116plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 116: The State of Maelbourg
Turn 117plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 117: Jerrakken
Turn 118plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 118: Ulan's Allies and Balban's Enemies
Turn 119plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 119: Townsman Silnquost
Turn 120plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 120: Velirra Dufowl, a Bad Omen
Turn 121plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 121: A Rap on the Shutters
Turn 122plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 122: Hewlard and Duddan
Turn 123plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 123: G is Catching On
Turn 124plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 124: The Public Guildhouse
Turn 125plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 125: Commanding the Guards
Turn 126plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 126: A Demostration of Power
Turn 127plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 127: Recconoisance

Book 6

Turn 128plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 128: A Friend
Turn 129plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 129: Korisca's Help
Turn 130plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 130: A Changing Year
Turn 131plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 131: The Shortest Path
Turn 132plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 132: Springing Ziedon

Book 7

Turn 133plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 133: The Disappearing Trick
Turn 134plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 134: Korisca's Claim to Townsmanship
Turn 135plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 135: The Northern Gate
Turn 136plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 136: Desecrating the House
Turn 137plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 137: Digging up Galgewe
Turn 138plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 138: The Hidden Army
Turn 139plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 139: The Transformation
Turn 140plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 140: Interrogating a Spy
Turn 141plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 141: The Merchant from the Eastern Kingdoms
Turn 142plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 142: The Battle of the Magics
Turn 143plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 143: The Song of Destruction
Turn 144plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 144: Gathering Support
Turn 145plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 145: Kreemon's Mob
Turn 146plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 146: Confronting the Sign
Turn 147plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 147: The Golden Priest
Turn 148plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 148: The Dream World
Turn 149plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 149: Spreading Rumors
Turn 150plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 150: Ziedon's Plan
Turn 151plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 151: The Earthquake, Again
Turn 152plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 152: Another Use for Galgewe
Turn 153plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 153: Vanquishing Evil

Book 8

Turn 154plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 154: The Sailor from Marais
Turn 155plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 155: An Unexpected Detour
Turn 156plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 156: The Army and Balban
Turn 157plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 157: The Preceptor's Day
Turn 158plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 158: The Andrithan Townsman
Turn 159plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 159: How to get away
Turn 160plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 160: Lelen Meretal
Turn 161plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 161: The Barrier
Turn 162plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 162: Balban's Camp
Turn 163plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 163: A Difference in Viewpoint
Turn 164plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 164: A New Friend
Turn 165plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 165: Rousing the Dead
Turn 166plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 166: Just a Lot of Books
Turn 167plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 167: The Door Behind the Ribbon
Turn 168plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 168: The Old Library

Book 9

Turn 169plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 169: The Foreign Tutor
Turn 170plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 170: A Job From F
Turn 171plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 171: Playing Politics
Turn 172plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 172: The Mercenary's Refuge
Turn 173plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 173: Two More Pieces of the Puzzle
Turn 174plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 174: The Oddest Storm
Turn 175plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 175: Meeting the Preceptor
Turn 176plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 176: The Sky is Falling!
Turn 177plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 177: Tala's Prophesy
Turn 178plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 178: The House Guard
Turn 179plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 179: A Footprint in the Wall
Turn 180plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 180: The Rotted Oak
Turn 181plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 181: A Dark Passage
Turn 182plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 182: The Glass Room
Turn 183plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 183: Averting the Signs
Turn 184plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigTurn 184: A Secret is a Secret is a Secret
Turn 185plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 185: Hidden Treasure
Turn 186plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 186: The Song of Eternity

Book 10

Turn 187plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 187: A Changed Maelbourg
Turn 188plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 188: Finding Old Friends
Turn 189plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 189: Following the Paths
Turn 190plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 190: Disguised as Priest
Turn 191plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 191: Followers of the Sorcerer

Book 11

Turn 192plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 192: The End of Eternity
Turn 193plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 193: Changes
Turn 194plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 194: The Mage and his Balowan
Turn 195plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 195: Taking a Stand
Turn 196plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 196: A Long Time Ago
Turn 197plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 197: The Initiate
Turn 198plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 198: Magic for Magic
Turn 199plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 199: The Andrithan Healer
Turn 200plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 200: Where to Find a Secret
Turn 201plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 201: Yunim
Turn 202plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 202: A Splash of Water
Turn 203plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 203: Risen Kanal
Turn 204plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 204: A Hasty Exit
Turn 205plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 205: The Death of the Spies
Turn 206plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 206: Never Touching the Ground
Turn 207plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 207: Eluding Enforcers
Turn 208plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 208: The Enclave of the Mad
Turn 209plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 209: The Blood Master of Gallia
Turn 210plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 210: A Question After All
Turn 211plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 211: The Legend of Zilgard
Turn 212plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 212: Waiting in a Clearing
Turn 213plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 213: The Meeting
Turn 214plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 214: Brundash
Turn 215plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 215: My Wandering Colleague
Turn 216plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 216: The Mad Mage's Curse
Turn 217plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 217: You must ally with one
Turn 218plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 218: Memories
Turn 219plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 219: The First Piece
Turn 220plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 220: Gaping
Turn 221plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 221: The Ancestor's Journey
Turn 222plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 222: Raven Children
Turn 223plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 223: The Dream of Faulkan
Turn 224plugin-autotooltip__defaultTurn 224: Strangers

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zioth:turn:222 [2018-09-06 16:04] (current)
eli created
Line 1: Line 1:
 +<​roleplay mode="​turn_data">​
 +turn: 222
 +title: Raven Children
 +start: 577/06/01 19:00
 +end: 577/06/09 22:00
 +played_date:​ 2018-07-20
 +posted_date:​ 2018-09-06
 +weather: warm
 +location: Gaping
 +xp_aldet: 41900
 +</​roleplay>​
 +
 +<​roleplay mode="​turn_start"/>​
 +
 +She visited all the Story Halls that night. The Halls weren'​t the only places stories were told, but they were the easiest places to find them. Finding a moment to speak with a Storyteller was much more challenging. The telling was a performance that was not interrupted except in prescribed manners. The listeners laughed together, clapped together, even sang together. It was an intricate ritual that Aldet was notably not a part of. When a Story ended, the teller would have a bite to eat or a drink, and then continue with another one, and when the night of storytelling was over, he or she would go home, surrounded by people. Storytellers were the priests of this town, but in the lowly, unholy way that Andrithan priests were priests, leading through lies that everyone knew were lies.
 +
 +It took three days for Aldet to get close enough to a Storyteller to talk. He was one of the older members of the community, perhaps fifty years of age, with an awkwardly shaped beard split by a long scar on the left side of his chin. His booming voice was just beginning to degrade, but he was still considered one of the better Storytellers. His latest story was about the origin of the Nitsies, the fey creatures about two feet in height which resembled Human adolescents with raven wings in place of arms. They were rarely friendly, and like many of the fey, had neither care for nor understanding of Human activities. Their brand of mischief was usually limited to theft and vandalism, but they could be dangerous as well. According to Storyteller Nahlarun, there had been multiple occasions when they'd lured a lone child into the woods, and that child was never seen again. This was easily explained -- children who wandered out alone were liable to become Nitsies. Aldet had her doubts that the moral lesson reflected reality.
 +
 +Despite the sometimes entertaining stories, Aldet was frustrated that she had to revisit these Halls so many times. The villagers'​ rituals were sloppy, their pitch frankly embarrassing. It was such a casual, disrespectful display. At least they weren'​t trying to worship something worth respecting. ​
 +
 +Still, on the second night, Aldet had found herself kneeling by her dying cook fire, whispering a song that had never been meant to be sung alone. The sky was too open, and the air far too clear. She was acutely aware of the grit and oil that coated her skin despite her efforts, but the House was... well, unreachable. Two months, was it? She wished she had paid more attention to the moons those first days out. It was unacceptable,​ but was that better than nothing?
 +
 +This third night, though, things were going better. Aldet snapped out of her idle reflection -- were the kidnapped Nistie-children'​s arms transformed or replaced? -- as she realized the story was coming to a close. She might get the chance to speak with Storyteller Nahlarun as he had his refreshments. If He granted any mercy in His world, Nahlarun would be willing to tell the story she sought tonight. ​
 +
 +Aldet waited until the older man finished his sip to try for his attention, "​Excuse me, Storyteller,​ I was hoping to speak with you?"
 +
 +The Storyteller turned around with a smile that was quickly lost. Aldet wasn't sure he was upset to see her so much as surprised. "You are the foreigner."​ The people around him, misinterpreting his expression, reacted more severely. Some backed away, and others came closer as if to protect him. These he waved off, but they made their disapproval,​ or their reflection of the Storyteller'​s presumed disapproval,​ known with the scowls on their faces. "Yes, I've noticed you in the Story Halls."​ Louder, he said to the room, "That was my last story for tonight. I will return tomorrow with the Death of Jihikal."​ He then stood and walked off, leaving Aldet confused. At the door, he turned his head, a little perplexed himself, and gestured to Aldet.
 +
 +The man had a presence. When he rose, the room changed. Many gathered their belongings and left themselves. Conversations picked up, but quietly and at a distance. A large group followed the Storyteller out, and Aldet trailed behind them all. Most of them dispersed right outside the Hall, but twelve, including two children, followed him. There was no chance for Aldet to speak. Nahlarun was surrounded, and was always either listening or talking, but one by one, people broke off to return to their own homes. When there were only three, Aldet thought her chance had come, but the Storyteller gave her a look that clearly said, "not now." The last couple departed at the door of the Storyteller'​s house, and Aldet was finally left alone with him. Rather than go inside, he continued to walk, saying nothing.
 +
 +So he would speak, but not around others? Aldet heard her boots crunch on the scrubby earth as she matched his pace, following closely behind him for what felt like eons. 
 +
 +"​It'​s awfully quiet here." Said mostly to herself, it was a traveler'​s observation punctuated by their footsteps.
 +
 +"​Listen more carefully. Insects are chirping. Plants are rustling in the wind. There are those who say that on a truly silent night, you can hear the moons sliding agaist the sky. Tirop in particular is supposed to be quite loud." Aldet glanced up at the sky. White Halkak and red Ilsupeich were nearly full, and Zabrigar was waxing. There was enough moonlight to cast multiple shadows on the ground, if Nahlarun hadn't been carrying a lantern. "Or do you mean that //we// are awfully quiet here?"
 +
 +Aldet smiled a bit at Nahlarun'​s willful misinterpretation. The past few weeks had made her acutely aware of how noisy and intrusive the more wild inhabitants of Gaping could be. She'd never run into someone saying the moons made noise though; maybe they had some story about that. No, they //​definitely//​ had some story about that. "The latter -- to a foreigner at least."​ Aldet echoed his word back to him. When she first arrived, the term would have seemed ridiculous for less than a couple weeks' travel, with townspeople that looked like they could be her cousins. But foreign was right. ​
 +
 +Nahlarun walked in silence for a bit. For a man whose profession was oratory, he didn't say much. Despite it still being summer, the night was chilly, and a steady breeze blew from the west. Aldet thought about the gloves she'd ordered as she rubbed her hands together. Finally, Nahlarun said, "You wanted to speak with me. Say your piece."​
 +
 +Aldet nodded at his command. Small talk with these tight-lipped people was a bit of a chore. If Nahlarun wanted to skip that she certainly wouldn'​t complain. "I would like to hear a certain Story -- the Dream of Faulkan. Had I waited more for it to be told in the Hall, I fear I would overstay my welcome even more than I already have."
 +
 +"I have heard tell of great cities where, if you walk too far from your home, no one knows you. That is not true here. Outsiders are different -- they don't understand the stories, or how to trade, or how we live, or even how to have a normal conversation,​ but that doesn'​t mean we hate them. Some of us are simply wary of people who act different and look different from us, who stay here even though they seem to have no place. You are not a Poli, or you would be with them, and you clearly have no Storytellers where you come from. And you ask about the Mouth, which you know would put the Polies on edge. So tell me, what is //your// story, and why are you so interested in the Dream of Falukan?"​
 +
 +No place. Aldet unclenched her jaw, unsure of when she had set it. "Back h- where I come from, a person'​s own story is unimportant."​ She paused, "​However,​ I know to value the stories that rituals tell. Coming of age is usually a very special type of ceremony. It teaches what adults should value, and what they should fear. I'd heard of your custom here in Gaping -- in the Mouth -- and I wanted to learn more about it. It sounds like the Dream of Faulkan is tied to both lesson and place, so should my interest not be obvious?"​ She let the words hang in the air, hoping to gauge the Storyteller'​s reaction.
 +
 +The Storyteller maintained his measured pace. Throughout their walk, he had kept a step ahead of Aldet, so she couldn'​t see the expression on his face. "I have heard tell of a man long ago who had a similar interest in this quaint ritual of ours." It was so difficult to read into these people'​s innuendo. 'Heard tell' usually meant there was a story involved, and leaving the statement open... Was there some implied threat? It was hard to say for sure. "There are many reasons one would be interested in such a story. There need not be any harm in it -- all stories have value, including yours."​ Aldet looked around. They were nearing an edge of town, where the otherwise evenly distributed dwellings spread out and faded into the hills. "What did you think of the Birth of the Nitsies?"​
 +
 +The Nitsies story? What did that have to do with any of this? "​I'​m not really one to judge, but I think the tale was well told. The Hall seemed to enjoy it, and were I a child, I'd think twice before setting off alone. I hadn't heard of the creatures before coming here, though I'd assume your people have more stories about them." Aldet glanced around at the thinning houses. Which edge of the town was this? The sameness of the dwellings made it so easy to get turned around here, and their lack of real signs certainly didn't help. She tried to quicken her pace a bit to see the Storyteller'​s face; hopefully it was more illuminating than his words.
 +
 +"​Indeed."​ He stopped and looked around, then picked a slightly different direction and continued. Aldet though she saw a bit of mischief in the man's face. "​Interesting creatures. They were led here by Ilsupeich long ago; they follow the moon. See how they still leap for it." It was only then that Aldet stopped trying to get a better look at Nahlarun and saw what from this distance looked like insects jumping in the air. Illuminated only by moonlight, the creatures leapt up high, then spiraled back down to the ground with their wings extended. Often, they didn't quite reach the ground before lifting themselves up again with a flap of wings. Nahlarun kept walking until Aldet could make them out more clearly, from one hilltop to another. They were still quite a distance away -- over a hundred yards -- but she could see how they were able to combine the strength of their human legs with a flap of their raven-like wings to jump much higher than would be possible with just one or the other. If she were to ignore the wings and the occasional avian squawk, they looked like gangly children playing in the moonlight.
 +
 +//Replaced. Their arms were definitely replaced.// The unwelcome thought seemed far more morbid now that the creatures were actually in sight. Aldet forced herself forward from her pause, falling in behind the Storyteller. She quieted her footsteps on the dry hills; the monsters were distant and seemed absorbed in their game, but there were quite a few of them. "Why did you bring me here?" She could hear hints of fear creeping into her lowered voice, but she supposed it wouldn'​t matter if Nahlarun thought her cowardly. More bewildered than upset, she added "This isn't what I asked."​
 +
 +As if Aldet hadn't said anything, Nahlarun continued where he'd left off. "They will never really reach the moon by jumping, of course. And one should ask, if they followed Ilsupeich this far, why not follow it farther? Every night, it crosses the world from side to side. If they follow the moon, they should not have stopped here, and if they had a reason for stopping, we do not know what it is. And so the story is incomplete. A new group of young people will enter the Mouth in two months'​ time. The Dream of Faulkan will be told then. But if you can uncover the story of the Nitsies, or else send them away, I will tell the Dream early."​
 +
 +Aldet stood and watched the strange creatures'​ leaps and swirls on the far hilltop, their whirligig motions as they fell back towards the ground. At least they were small, and they didn't seem very aggressive. Fey could be awfully mercurial though. Who knew how these would treat a lone person? Still, Aldet wanted that Story. She finally gave Nahlarun a polite nod, despite her frustration at his decision, "I suppose they really are a problem for your people, then. Very well, I'll see what I can do for you, Storyteller."​
 +
 +Two months would be far too long to wait around this village and scavenge for roots near her lean-to. Besides, as far as she could tell there weren'​t too many important things here. There very well could have been some overlap between whatever was in the Mouth and what kept the Nisties there. Maybe the story of the Dream of Faulkan wouldn'​t be useful, but she would hate to be unprepared for, well, whatever was in that cave. 
 +
 +She would need to think on this. It had taken so long to track down Behnai. Aldet felt that trying to wring more information from the villagers of Gaping might just waste her time. Still, she would ask around in the coming days and see if they might be more forthcoming about the Nisties, although she was less than hopeful that it would bear fruit. ​
 +
 +Even after living here for some time, Aldet was seen as an outsider. She supposed she'd be seen as an outsider even if she stayed here all her life, dreary as that would be. Still, she was familiar enough that her sudden curiosity about the nitsies over the next couple days didn't hurt her position. The people of Gaping saw the creatures as dangerous, and kept their distance. Even to watch their dance was seen as bad luck, though Nahlarun hadn't had any problem with it, so that could have been a superstition that was independent of the Stories. Parents were careful to educate their children, much as one would about a minx, badger, snake or any other dangerous animal, so of course it was the children who had the most curiosity about them, and could tell Aldet the most stories. The Nitsies almost never came into Gaping proper. When they did, they would steal food and break unattended objects of wood or clay, but they would never touch glass or crystal, no matter how rare, valuable or fragile. One little girl said her grandmother had had a collection of silver spoons that she'd acquired from the peddler over her lifetime, which had all been stolen by Nitsies one night. A boy of about twelve years of age said that a man walking alone at night had once been attacked by Nitsies, though Aldet guessed he had been the aggressor. The creatures had fought with sharp talons and had given the man long scratches which had become permanent scars, before flying off. Neither the man nor the Nitsies were severely harmed. There were other, less plausible stories too: stories of the Nitsies drawing children out into the wilderness, of them eating children, bending the light of Ilsupeich into spears or illusion or even an entire fey-touched world. The limit was only the extent of the children'​s imagination,​ inspired by all of the Stories they had heard.
 +
 +Aldet was grateful that the children were quicker to talk than their elders, even though their stories were less than consistent. It must have been amusing for them to teach an adult about such a basic danger. It didn't seem like the creatures were particularly violent, at least if you behaved yourself.
 +
 +While Aldet had her concerns about the creatures, she could only stand to hear so many children'​s tales. These little kids didn't know the answers that Nahlarun sought, and Aldet certainly didn't want to wait the months to avoid his task. So she resolved to head into the area of the hills late in the coming afternoon, where she had seen the Nitsies'​ strange reverie. Of course she felt apprehensive;​ her own knowledge of the fey was limited, and her understanding was that the fey were, well, not understandable. Their motivations were nonsensical at best, their reasoning was alien and potentially dangerous. ​
 +
 +She planned to trade for a piece or two of glassware from the townsfolk. Regardless of whether the Nitsies feared or respected the material, it might be able to get her out of an otherwise unfavorable spot. The silver'​s disappearance seemed the work of a common thief, and Aldet had coin if they actually did care about the metal, so she dismissed that errand. Ideally, she would see a clue in the area without needing to get close to one of the creatures, but she had to admit her life had been less than ideal lately.
 +
 +It took most of a day to get what she wanted. Glass wasn't made anywhere near here, so all of it had to come from the peddler. And since it didn't have much practical use, it was a prized luxury for those who did have it. Then there was the matter of trade. In this backwards region, not everyone was willing to part with their possessions for mere coin. And of course, most people were out in the hills during the day. By the evening, however, Aldet had acquired two pieces. One was a fist-sized chunk of unusable slag. The irregularly-shaped object was nearly opaque, and tinted in swirls of green and blue. For what was essentially garbage, it was actually quite pretty, and it had some sharp edges, which could come in handy. This she bought outright for a sum of three silver coins. The second piece was clear and of fine quality -- a magnifying lens in a metal rim. The owner was one of the elders who spent most of their time in the story halls, cooking, chatting and waiting for the evening'​s stories. At some point in his youth, he had learned to read, and he owned a single book. The lens helped him read it now that his vision was fading. To get the use of this lens, which she was expected to return, Aldet had agreed to spend an entire afternoon peeling vegetables for the stew. She also left five gold coins with the man as collateral, in case she was not able to return it. A hefty sum for sure, but it was a rare piece, especially out here in the hills.
 +
 +Due to all of her trouble, Aldet couldn'​t go out into the hills immediately as she'd planned, but had to wait two more days -- one to find the glass, and one to sit in a smoky story hall, peeling tubers and dumping them into a cauldron half as big as she was.
 +
 +Finally, on a warm but cloudy day that threatened rain, she headed out to the hill where she'd seen the Nitsies. She looked for tunnels, odd formations or any other features among the scrub. She had been ready for disappointment,​ so when she saw none of that there or in the surrounding terrain, she wasn't surprised. But the odd thing was, there was no sign of the creatures at all -- no talon-marks on the ground, nor the droppings she'd expect if they were as bird-like as they appeared, not a single loose feather. Musing on this, she stayed into the night to watch them more closely. Unlike the rain, which soaked Aldet thoroughly, the nitsies did not appear that night, or the next. On the third night, however, when the clouds broke and moonlight shined through, she saw them doing their playful dance. They were a few hills over from where she'd seen them last, and two of them seemed to be fighting in the air each time they drifted back down to earth.
 +
 +Interesting. So the creatures didn't appear when then moon was hidden by clouds. And when they did appear, they left no sign behind. Of course, Aldet thought, hugging her recently dried cloak around herself, they may just have enough sense to stay out of the rain all night. ​
 +
 +From her spot among the nearby hills, she couldn'​t make out what the fight between the Nitsies might be about. She fingered the heavy lens in her pocket -- a shame that it was for close reading. ​
 +
 +Aldet made note of her current hiding place and the spot where she'd stashed her crossbow (the one weapon too big to conceal on her person), then looked at the surrounding land for a path that would make her approach less obvious -- not that the scrubland and valleys offered much more than shadows -- and tried to quietly make her way closer to the hill.
 +
 +She crept up until she was a hundred feet away, then eighty, then sixty. She stopped frequently, to make sure she wasn't spotted, scope out her next inadequate hiding place, and listen. The sounds she heard were not what she expected. There was an occasional shriek, but at this distance, Aldet realized it was some small animal, not the fey. The wind rustled through the brush, and an occasional branch flapped back and forth, rattling against other branches or the ground, but she heard no sounds of birds, or Human children for that matter. The nitsies landed so quietly and disturbed the wind so little that she wasn't certain they were making any noise at all.
 +
 +Were they even there? Even a magical creature should make some noise and leave a trace, Aldet figured, so long as it was more than a mirage. She tensed up at the thought that these may be some ghostly fey creatures bobbing silently up ahead. What sort of rules would bind such things? Still, if they were breaking half the items in Gaping that they were blamed for, they surely did... exist? Inwardly, Aldet shook her head. She looked ahead at the rise of the hill, trying to find a closer patch of cover. She knew that she was pushing her luck, but with no further answers in the town behind her, forward was the only way to go.
 +
 +An old tree with drooping branches, slightly taller than Aldet, stood just twenty feet from the nitsies, on the slope of the hill. There were only a few scraggly shrubs between here and there. Aldet darted silently from shrub to shrub, waiting at each to be sure she wasn't noticed, until she reached the tree. There, she caught her breath, forcing herself to breathe deeply and slowly, and, ducking down, watched the nitsies through the branches.
 +
 +She was far closer now than she had been with Nahlarun, yet they were still silent. Aldet remembered that earlier night, when she'd heard the occasional squawk. This time, there was nothing.
 +
 +The nitsies were ugly creatures. Everyone said the fey were supposed to be beautiful, but these were decidedly not. Their child-like faces were distorted, with sharp features, black eyes, and long, pointed noses. What looked like straight black hair ended in sleek, oily feathers, which blended into their raven-like bodies and wings. Their lightly-feathered Human legs looked impossibly strong and bulky attached to the bodies of birds. They almost looked like people in costume, but the transitions from one body part to the next were too seamless, their wings were too thin to conceal arms, their manner was too avian.
 +
 +A cloud passed under Ilsupeich. Without the moonlight to illuminate them, the fey looked shadowy and transparent,​ their vertical play and dance barely visible. Aldet looked around her. The night wasn't so dark as that. She could still see the gravelly ground, the scrub, the tree, a few wildflowers. The cloud passed, and the nitsies were visible again.
 +
 +If they were tied to the moonlight, that could explain why there were no marks on the ground, and why they hadn't showed- or, ugh, weren'​t visible- the previous evening. From her spot behind the tree, Aldet marveled at how foul the things looked. Their bizarre proportions and inhuman faces didn't give them the air of playfulness that she had been hoping to deal with. 
 +
 +That being said, they hadn't noticed her, despite her uncomfortable closeness. The question nagged at her though: could they be disturbed from their dance? Would they even interact with this place, if they didn't touch the ground or make sound tonight? ​
 +
 +Aldet sought out a small rock near her foot, about the size of a fruit'​s stone. In her crouch, she fidgeted, passing it from glove to glove as she judged her next action. With a quick snap of her arm, she lobbed the stone towards a low bush at their periphery, hoping to mimic some night creature'​s darting. ​
 +
 +The rock struck its mark, rustling the bush loudly, then bouncing down the hill. Most of the nitsies -- there were eight of them now that Aldet was close enough to count -- continued as they were, ignoring the rock. The last, who was the highest flier, spread its wings to glide down more slowly, and stared intently in a completely different direction until the noise stopped.
 +
 +Well, they didn't seem angered or disturbed by the noise, and the curious one was... misaligned? Aldet'​s own curiosity was beginning to override her natural caution. She shifted from her crouch to kneel beside the tree, her weight still mostly on her toes. Finally in their view but guarded somewhat by the stooped branches above, she watched the high flyer come back to the ground. She smoothed the hem of her clothing as she waited for them to spot her, in whichever direction that might be. After a few minutes, she gave a polite cough to make her presence known. When that didn't get any of their attention, she coughed much louder.
 +
 +This time, two of them turned, again in that same wrong direction, slightly to the right and away from Aldet. They drifted down to the ground, and then beat their wings to rise again. After considering,​ they flew off in that direction, first one and then the other, and disappeared.
 +
 +These creatures were all turned around. Aldet craned her neck to see where the two had flown off to, but they were quickly lost to the darkness. She waited under her tree for a minute or so to see if they would return. When it didn't seem like they would, she quietly rose to her feet, stooping to avoid the branches, and approached the nitsies, circling wide around the edge of their hilltop as she drew closer. She did not go to great lengths to keep her footfalls as silent as a hunter'​s,​ but did not seek to startle the remaining six.
 +
 +Then she saw them, flying towards her from the left, and this time, she heard them as well. Their flight looked more like slow jumping, where they would launch themselves into the air, flap their wings to get some height, then drift down and do it again. Each time they landed and took off, their feet would scratch the ground audibly. Soon, they were approaching in a final, rapid descent, considerably faster than Aldet could run.
 +
 +Aldet drew back a half step from the hilltop, lifting her hands up and ducking her head slightly as the creatures swooped towards her. These nitsies were substantial enough. "I don't seek to harm you." Her voice seemed strangely loud in such a quiet night. She kept her hands up as she let the creatures close on her.
 +
 +One sailed right past her, and landed twenty feet away, then walked back awkwardly, its body tilting from side to side. That one eyed her curiously as it walked, but the other wasn't content just to look. It landed right in front of her, then leapt back up, grabbing at Aldet with its surprisingly strong talons as if to lift her into the air. With a quick twist of her body, Aldet freed herself, and the nitsie spread its wings to come spiraling back down.
 +
 +Such a welcome. Still, the creature hadn't tried to slash at her with those hideous feet. Aldet backed up slightly from the nitsie that had leapt at her. "I came to watch your dance. I've never seen it's like before."​ She smoothly gestured her closer hand towards the six leaping nitsies as she shifted her glance between the two close ones. Her stomach knotted as she realized these strange creatures may not understand her. Maybe she would have gotten more information had she brought the crossbow along.
 +
 +With a wicked and very human expression on its face, the creature leapt at Aldet again, this time sweeping her off her feet. The talons dug painfully into her shoulders as she was lifted into the air, bouncing up and down nauseatingly with each flap of the nitsie'​s wings. It was hard to tell how far off the ground she was, until she saw the top of a tree approaching,​ so she couldn'​t have been more than ten or twelve feet up at most. She was close to the ground, as long as she wasn't flown off the hilltop.
 +
 +Aldet shook the dazed feeling off as she got her bearings. She tried to ignore her stomach'​s lurch as her legs dangled in the empty air, hoping the creature'​s path would bring her close enough to the tree that it might be useful. The creature certainly had more oomph to its attacks than she had expected. She wasn't the heaviest person, but it shouldn'​t have been able to hold her aloft without some kind of foul, hidden strength. ​
 +
 +Better to assume it would avoid the tree. Aldet reached up and grabbed onto the creature'​s legs, digging her fingers deep into the sinewy muscles and oily feathers. It wasn't going to choose when she would fall, at least. She would rather be carried somewhere whole than dropped from higher up and dashed on the rocky hills.
 +
 +The nitsie squirmed in the air, trying to get Aldet to release her grip. She felt the muscles of its too-human leg contract. Maybe because of this, or maybe because Aldet was too heavy for a creature barely half her size to hold for long, it was losing altitude. It tried to turn in the air, but was losing control, and Aldet brushed against the tree, sharp, brittle branches jabbing at her skin. This set the creature completely off balance and it let go.
 +
 +Upon feeling its talons release her shoulders, Aldet let go as well and grabbed for the tree. She didn't really expect the withered thing to truly hold her weight, only for its brittle branches to slow her fall and keep the nitsie at bay. It went about as well as she expected, except that one talon was caught in the thick leather of Aldet'​s armor. When she grabbed onto a handful of branches, the nail dug into her skin, and the nitsie came tumbling down with her. With a shriek of pain, it wrenched its foot free, tearing a small hole in the armor and losing its talon in the process.
 +
 +The branches bent and snapped, dropping Aldet a couple feet into another set of branches, which did the same. By the time she reached the ground, she was moving slowly enough that the fall didn't hurt. The scratches all over her arms, legs and face, on the other hand, stung quite a bit, not to mention the black talon still lodged in her shoulder.
 +
 +The nitsie landed a ways away, in a clumsy tumble. Then Aldet noticed the other nitsie, who was standing close by, watching the scene and twisting its head clockwise and counterclockwise,​ as if trying to get a better view.
 +
 +Aldet scrambled to her feet, ignoring her pain. She again cursed her earlier intentions as her hand sought her missing crossbow. It then brushed the dagger at her waist, but then she remembered the sharp tailing of glass. If this had any other effect on them all the better, but at the very least it would hurt if it needed to. Still, it was better to not fight them; who knew how easily they could call for aid.
 +
 +She held the colorful lump up defensively as she emerged noisily from the tree branches.
 +
 +The fallen nitsie struggled to stand, then approached, more cautiously this time. It was limping. Aldet skirted around them so she was on the town-facing side of the hill, ready for the next attack. When the creature was ten feet away, it stopped and stared at Aldet'​s hand wrapped around the awkward blob of glass. It stood there silent for many long seconds, unmoving other than a twitching of its head, then it suddenly dashed forward in Aldet'​s direction.
 +
 +"You stupid thing!"​ Aldet slashed at the air as the creature darted towards her, hoping her raised voice and motion would keep the it back. "I was just going to talk!" She shifted her weight, ready to strike in earnest when the it attacked. ​
 +
 +It stopped short, just a couple feet away. Was it attacking, or just toying with her? Then it raised its wings and leapt forward, ready to grab Aldet again. This time, she was ready. She swiped at the nitsie with her awkward weapon, and scratched it along the inside of its left wing. Her hand brushed the oily feathers, leaving her feeling sticky and unclean. The nitsie flipped head over feet and tumbled through the air past Aldet, screeching in pain disproportionate to its injury. Aldet'​s ears rang as she felt the screech reverberating through her head, then the rest of her body. She closed her eyes and //saw// the sound. It had to be magic. Such a terrible noise could rip the trees from the earth. Aldet opened her eyes, the sound still echoing in her head, and saw that everything was as it had been. The other nitsie still stood on the side, watching, while the injured one lay still on the ground, breathing heavily. Aldet could hear that too, and it felt like //her// chest was rising and falling, not the nitsie'​s. She felt a wave of dizziness. Her vision was blurred -- no, doubled, like she'd been drinking to excess and couldn'​t focus her eyes. She looked at her hand and saw the chunk of slag glass glowing faintly from within. She also saw the glass from another angle, looking up at it from the ground.
 +
 +Eyes widened, she tried to focus on looking up at the glass. Her curiosity refused to let her already spinning mind dwell on what this meant. She followed it up along an arm and body, until she was looking at her own face, staring back at her. She felt a twinge of anger, and a healthy amount of fear, but she wasn't sure it was hers.
 +
 +Given how her mind seemed to feel its pain and breaths, she didn't want to strike it again. Aldet looked into her own eyes and thought. If she felt this creature'​s emotions -- although they surely overlapped her own -- perhaps it could feel hers as well. She tried to feel some measure of peace, the foggy feelings of floating in the baths, to create a starting point to her thoughts. ​
 +
 +"What is important to you here?" She heard her own voice coming back from somewhere in front of her, and instinctively looked for its source. The motion made her dizzy.
 +
 +Inquiry and confusion were simple to feel, given how the night was going. Important -- what would important feel like to these creatures? She struggled to call up the complex feelings of reverence, the fear and respect demanded by things of importance. Was that right? Her mind briefly flicked to the more painful, warm memories of her attendant routines. No... those were just mundane. Then frustration. The creature wouldn'​t understand this anyway. ​
 +
 +Thoughts swirled through Aldet'​s head. The moons. The light. The Mouth. No, that one was hers. Dancing through the air. Home. Aldet felt a comforting hand on her shoulder. No, it was a wing, and it wasn't her shoulder. The nitsie who had been observing had snuck up on her -- snuck up on it, and it felt calmer. All the nitsies looked like children, but this one, the one Aldet had fought, was younger than the other. Somehow she knew that.
 +
 +Aldet heard her own words echoed back at her again. "What is important to you here?" The words came from her mouth, but she was asking herself. The sensation of having her lips moved by another creature was unpleasant. It was a violation of her person. She thought she could resist it the next time if she wanted to. She had the upper hand.
 +
 +She tried to feel calm again. Maybe they understood her words a bit more now. "Why don't you follow the moon?" Her eyes, or at least someone'​s eyes, flicked up at Iluspeich and followed its path down to where it would eventually meet the horizon. The brittle grass and rocky soil crunched under them. "Why meet it here?" She pictured their futile jumps from the hilltop towards the moon high above -- a feeling of pity -- then thought again of the moon low on the distant horizon -- a feeling of hope surging in her. The Storyteller was fine with them just leaving, wasn't he?
 +
 +The nitsie looked up at the moon, and then to the horizon. Aldet grabbed at a low bit of scrub to support her through the dizziness, and realized just in time that the bush was next to the nitsie, not her. Then her vision got even more confused, as a third perspective entered her mind. This wasn't of the hilly land around Gaping at all. The earth was red like clay, but it wasn't clay. Impossibly tall, broad-branched trees were spaced about the landscape, with thick, yellow-green leaves as long as Aldet'​s forearm. Dim light trickled through, no brighter than moonlight, and Aldet knew that there was no day or night here; the light never changed. There was a familiar smell in the air. It smelled like... home. "​What'​s important to you here," she found herself saying again as the vision faded, asking herself the question she'd asked them.
 +
 +Aldet fought down a shiver that she wasn't sure she had felt. Was that weird place their answer? It wasn't around Gaping; at least she was certain of that. This dizziness wasn't helping her confusion. Her mouth closed from the question they had repeated. Fine. She pictured the entrance to the cave, imagining the muslin wrappings tight against her face as she looked down the black passageway. She could almost feel her wrapped boots shift carefully in the dirt. An incomplete answer, but there was surely enough truth for them. 
 +
 +Aldet'​s comprehension of the situation expanded, while her awareness stabilized to something that was mostly herself. She had power here. While the nitsie could put images in her mind and speak through her mouth, she knew she could resist if she wanted. And if she concentrated harder, she could probably hurt the creature, or even kill it. The nitsie was aware of this too. It reached a wing toward her, and she saw tiny, sharp-nailed fingers at the tip. She found herself reaching her own hand out in response, but she was able to hold it back without much difficulty. She saw the nitsie resuming its dance, leaping up and spiraling down with the others, though it was still there in front of her, and she saw herself smashing the piece of glass with a rock, and something hazy and unknown appearing in its place. The creature was offering to trade her something for its freedom.
 +
 +She paused, momentarily enjoying her return to self. Then she nodded and deliberately extended one hand forward towards the nitsie on the ground, still gripping the glass lump in the other. The nitsie lowered its wing and waited, staring at the glass. It was waiting for Aldet to break the glass, which would free it from this binding. It would then give Aldet a gift in return. She believed the agreement would be honored, or was the nitsie trying to impose that belief on her?
 +
 +Aldet looked at the creature, frowning slightly. She would have preferred upfront payment; these creatures were mercurial at best. Well, even if it broke the agreement, at least she would likely be rid of it for the night. She looked for a patch of rock at her feet and drove the thinner edge of the glass into it.
 +
 +A small piece chipped off, leaving white residue on the rock that sparkled in the moonlight. She looked up at the nitsie, and a wave of dizziness told her that wasn't enough. She brought the glass down several more times, sending tiny shards flying in all directions. Finally, annoyed at the effort, she placed it on the rock, picked up another rock, and smashed the glass, shattering it.
 +
 +Immediately,​ she had a splitting headache. The nitsie had it worse. Its shrieks exacerbated her own pain, but soon, both the noise and the pain were over, and the nitsies flew off. So much for the reward. But then Aldet looked down at the pile of broken glass, and in the center was a silver thimble.
 +
 +She stared at the thimble lying in the crushed glass and shook her head. A wave of laughter shoved her annoyance aside. A thimble. Aldet had used them before, but it didn't seem like what she was looking for. Still, she hadn't been tricked. Of course one of these addled creatures would think some humble household item was a suitable reward. ​
 +
 +Aldet scooped it up off of the ground, placing it on her finger to regard it in the moonlight as if it were a fancy ring. Her momentary jest over, she slipped it in her pocket. Might as well hold onto it; she already needed to repair her armor.
 +
 +Aldet trudged to the nearby hill where she had stashed her crossbow, fiddling with the thimble and detached nitsie talon in her pocket on the way. Despite the strange events of the evening, she felt little purchase on what the nitsies wanted. Maybe it would be enough for the Storyteller,​ but maybe not. Perhaps if he knew what that strange place was he could figure out how to move the creatures on from Gaping.
 +
 +Either way, she was tired from the night and was looking to pass back through the town to return to her campsite. In the morning she would return the lens to the old man; it would be a shame to have to break it if she needed to return to the nitsies.
 +
 +<​roleplay mode="​turn_notes"/>​
 +
 +<​roleplay mode="​turn_end"/>​