Tales of Shore Blossom

Odiri's Journal Pt. 23

Adventure 40 - Saru Signs

CW – Sex, emotions, graphic horse death

TW – Discussion of miscarriage

 

I have found myself in possession of or rather possessed by a tiny whining monster that has stolen my heart. Charka’s runt. About two weeks ago I was woken with a start on a crisp night by the overwhelming urge to check on Charka. I saddled Dusty in the dark and made my way to the cottage. I could hear her mutterings and cursing rattle in my head and knew I had arrived at the right time. Upon entering his home I was witness to a very frazzled slightly panicked elf trying vainly to comfort his lifelong companion who was in a right state herself as it appears this was a new experience for both of them. I might have laughed a little at Eucarion’s flustered glance when I arrived but I know that animals know what they are doing when it comes to birth much more than people do. I led him away to his favorite chair by the fire and told him to leave it to me. Charka’s whelping went smoothly but long through the night into the morning. Eight puppies take quite some time to come into the world. All eight were the stunning golden of a field of wheat at sunrise. There was no question of their draconic parentage. Charka and Eucarion both slept exhausted, though for different reasons, as I stayed to keep an eye on the pups. I drifted aimlessly about the cottage biding my time till Eucarion was awake again and I could return back to the Manor and my work. I left him that morning with a fresh loaf of bread baked with idle hands.

Charka seemed astoundingly happy to see both of us when we came <s>home</s> back to his cottage from the first adventure he’s ever left her behind on. But her puppies needed her more than Eucarion did so he made the hard decision to leave her home. I find myself now sitting in his bed trying to balance Lulu, the runt, sleeping on my chest and my journal on my lap. Eucarion is fast asleep next to me with Charka at our feet and the rest of the litter nested between us. How the 11 of us fit on this bed is a miracle but one I will continue to secretly enjoy as some imitation of a family while it lasts as I know he intends to sell the pups as soon as they are weened.

Our adventure started as nearly every other, with an argument in the Rose Shell. I don’t know how many times we will argue over this monstrosity of the guild hall that Oranssi and Naligor have undertaken in the farmlands, but now even Eucarion is in on my frustration as now that they have decided to add a second story and its visible from the back porch of his cottage. Which up until now was one of our favorite places to unwind after a long adventure. It pains me that one of the last few places we had to ourselves now has this eyesore as a constant reminder of the charter.

The arguments continued on through the night as the necessity of revising the charter was brought back to light in the aftermath of Buin’s illiteracy.  The charter members present in this argument were all those present at its inception so there was little disagreement it needed further protection with the addition of the clause it needed to be read to be signed. Where the argument came in was some cockeyed concept of enchanting the charter paper itself to nearly the point of sentience. That nearly started a riot at the table.

Somewhere in all of this the booming acoustics of my Lady Frivolity was introduced to the din and I about had my limits. I asked Adi very pointedly across the table if he had perfected the spell to ward my room of all noise from the rest of the house. As much as I adore my ladyship, her extra-curricular activities with Albion produce an almighty racket. Oranssi decided to invite himself into this conversation with an infuriating comment about their lovemaking being a “celebration of life”. I couldn’t help but turn bitter and cold. I retorted that there would be no “life” out of that union. Been there. Tried that. Crossing the borders of species was foolish and a useless try as I had already discovered. I was fuming and heated I wanted to slap Oranssi across the face for such a callous comment in my presence. Eucarion immediately bristled and moved away from me at my comments. I don’t blame him for his reaction. I was just a reminder to him of why I was such a mistake. There was an awkward quiet across the whole table. It wasn’t entirely wide known that I had failed thoroughly in giving Eucarion a child but I think enough of them knew to make the silence uncomfortable.

He’s pulling away from me more and more each time we see each other. I think he’s realized that perhaps we can’t come back from this. The cracks in our foundation may be irreparable. It’s like watching the wildlife flee from a forest fire you can’t even smell burning.

Bless Frivolity for her raucous interjection proposing we strike out to the “Tower of 1000 Devils” the next day. None of us were opposed to some adventure but our curiosity about this place was slaked when Madam Saru explained the rumor was this was a prison created by the Priests of Stars for devils of all sorts. Sounded like a place to sharpen my aim like fish in a very dangerous barrel.

What I did not expect was Madam Saru herself to volunteer to join us on this outing by grandiloquently penning her name to the charter. Madam Celeste Saru. We were all in a bit of shock but, I at least was wildly excited to have her as a travel companion. She and I have made a habit of a weekly tea. She is a rare friend in this town that I am honored to have. That, and her gossip is incomparable.

When it seemed the evening was coming to an end I, very intoxicated, convinced Adi to bespell my body into its elven form again with an excited rush. More steady on my legs now with this second try Eucarion and I rode to his cottage as quickly as we could to enjoy my temporary towering form despite his initial lukewarm reaction.

There is a violence in the dance that borders on disquieting when I am in that form. I thought it was just excitement the first time but with a second taste there is a predatory possessiveness that reminds me much too much of Garrick. All attempts at delicacy smashed in the throes of it. While these temporary romps are purely carnal in nature they were ultimately there as a way to convince Eucarion the body magic gave me was much more resilient than the one I was born with. I only wish his reaction to it all was more… considerate.

At breakfast the next morning we were greeted with the sight of Saru garbed for adventure. It was a shock to see her devoid of her hair trinkets and lavish cloth replaced with well-made trousers and a hapi coat and a unique holy symbol round her neck that appeared to be some derivation of Thanos. Of course though, she could not resist her painted face undeterred by the “roughing it” of adventure.

Rather than leer and flirt, Bob and Tim, treated Saru with the utmost deference and respect. Hmm so maybe they do have manners. Saru, astride a dignified white stallion, received the walls key as a small part of her holy symbol in its typical small flash. There we paused to, you guessed it, argue again, over how to get to the tower. Saru let it slip that Tempest and our R’kanna had ventured beyond the wall alone. I could see Eucarion stiffen in his saddle at that comment and I felt equally concerned that Tempest, her “guardian”, would even THINK it was safe for them to go beyond the wall alone.

After a comparison of a few maps including my copy of Ellura’s map we came to a consensus on our travel route. Out through First road to Hana’s Grove to the trail blazed by R’kanna and Tempest to the west bypassing Dark Mire. The goal was lofty but the company was ready and able. It had been quite some time since we had traveled that far.

The first day passed without excitement. The second day was a mess for Gryphon Bait. That poor horse. First we were brought to a screeching halt when his hoof fell through a poorly buried chest of goods. They seemed to be worth a fair amount but I let the rest of the party tend to the findings as I checked for damage to the beast himself. He lost a shoe in the incident but did not do any damage to the hoofwall. I will have to remind my Lady to have that tended to. While I could make play at a farrier it is not my specialty when it comes to my skills with animalkind.

Not too much after the incident with the crate Gryphon Bait came free from the cart. Eucarion and I bolted after him to bring him to heel between us. Upon returning to the cart with the spooked horse we discovered Saru “conversing” with the air. I only found out much later that evening a pixie had been the cause of the loosed horse. Makes me anxious about R’kanna’s new friend even more than I already am.

As the evening came, shortly before making camp, I could hear those disgusting grunts and croaks of bullywugs nearby so I snuck off through the woods to find the source. They seemed distracted by the hunt but there was a number of them enough to make me wish for something a little more secure than my bedroll. When I relayed to the party of our neighboring “friends” Adi suggested that we spend the night in his Mansion. I chuckled thinking he’d finally gone of the magick users deep-end but sure as the dirt under my nails that man had a damned traveling mansion. He conjured a small door that grew in a matter of moments. Once entered we found ourselves in a lavish palatial mansion.

I know I technically live in a mansion but I really don’t. I use the servants entrance at the back of the house and the small stairwell that leads to my room is directly across from the kitchen. I see the rest of Ramshackle Manor on my rounds but it’s not home to me. Home’s don’t have ceilings so high you need magic to sweep the cobwebs.

Adi’s Mansion was unsurprisingly well appointed for this man’s wealth there were even spectral servants in green and gold livery there to take our packs and guide us to a grand dining room where we were all fed ridiculously well. Most of them seemed at home enough in this mansion to be relaxed. Even Eucarion who seemed tense at first relaxed over the course of the evening. He looked like he belonged. And it made me remember that he did belong. This was the life he was used to. Rich foods and expensive fabrics. This was not for me, I felt like I was an imposter in this space. My simple clothes and unadorned face. I excused myself from the dinner table and found myself wandering through dark wood hallways trying to find which room my belongings had been brought to. Well… our belongs. It seems even without telling these invisible servants, Eucarion and I were given a room together. I climbed into the laughably large bed and drifted off into a restless sort of sleep. I did not find true sleep until I felt Eucarion join me in the sea of pillows and blankets.

The next morning is one that I will never forget. During a breakfast as fanciful as dinner one of the misty servants comes to tell Adi a package had arrived for him overnight. Odd. From my understanding this mansion does not exist on the material plane so…how? How did a package arrive? It put us all on edge. Curious, but on edge.  We gathered in the foyer and stared at this delicate velvet box wrapped in a blue foil ribbon, ominously beautiful. There was a sense that something living was inside. Eucarion and I reached out our magicks to see if we could discern what was in the box but it was neither a beast, fiend nor dragon. Adi sent the servant to open the box in case it was a trap and we were surprised by a hard-shelled iridescent egg. Saru used a spell to see into the egg to discover a small moth-like aberration. Out of curiosity or compulsion, who knows, I lifted the egg from the box to inspect it further. Upon lifting it into my cupped hands it hatched immediately and unfurled its chitinous body complete with iridescent mothlike wings matching its shell. My awe struck by its beauty was short lived as it crawled up my arm into my garb and to my back quicker than I could catch it. I squeaked and giggled ticklish from this creature’s invasion of my privacy. I was staring pleadingly up at Eucarion to help me coax the creature from his hiding place in the center on my back when it bit down. I shouted as I could feel its teeth? press into my spine latching securely down. I couldn’t help but let out a panicked whine as I felt it settle its body down the length of my spine becoming fully attached. In a shiver I could feel the creature’s wings unfurl behind me as tall as I. Curiously I could feel the wings now as if they were my own as easily as I could feel the presence of my own hand on my arm. Eucarion slid up behind me and asked if I had feeling in them as he gave the wings a gentle tug which caused the creature to tighten its grip on my spine. I yelped in affirmation and he backed away. With a short bit of concentration, I discovered I could manipulate the wings within a moment I was airborne. What a rush! Creepy spine munching creature be damned I was ready to accept my fate if I had the power to fly. I tested my maneuverability, by circling the foyer a few times ending in front of Eucarion.

I was so distracted by it all I did not notice the heated conversation of the rest of the group was having about my new “condition”. Saru, in a careful voice called to me and Eucarion reached up to snatch me by my ankle and bring me down to the ground. The madam explained to me in quiet controlled voice what the creature really was. Its intentions were to use me as a host to produce more of its kind like a parasite. As much as she tried to keep her voice calming and level I felt the anxiety built in my chest. She told me she could remove it and without hesitation I agreed she set to a quick grave looking ritual involving what looked like crushed diamonds. I grit my teeth as I felt it disconnect from me bodily and fall. Oranssi’s voice broke the silence of this terrifying moment with the utterance “But that was your chance to be a mother…” I could fill the rage build under my skin like lightning and let out a guttural scream. How fucking dare he belittle my loss. Our loss. Yes, hosting some extraplanar insect spawn’s parasitical offspring is JUST like having my own child with the man I have chosen to commit my life to. I stepped forward with my hand at the dagger on my hip but was quickly bypassed by Eucarion who stormed forward after pausing to squeeze my shoulder to give Oranssi a piece of his mind echoing every furious thought in my mind.

This event rattled both of us to the core but instead of finding comfort in each other’s company everything felt disjointed. The company traveled for several more days forgoing the mansion for the protective bubble when we came in to the invisible butler scrubbing a message written in blood off the walls. As we passed through the flower fields of Lady Hana’s Grove in search of the trailhead blazed by R’Kanna and Tempest I watched Eucarion pluck a few flowers here and there to start weaving a flower crown. I was flooded with the warmth of the happy memories. The smile on my face was wiped clean off when I watched him lose interest after a few chains and toss the flowers to the ground. I know logically, they were just flowers. But there was an undeniable symbolism in it all.

Not far into R’Kanna’s Trail we came upon a human corpse. After some inspection we discovered the source of his death was a dart laced with imp venom. What a foul way to go. I was ready to keep moving but Oranssi insisted we bring the poor corpse back to life to question it. Why?! Leave the dead, dead. But no, we had to be waylaid with this nonsense. The poor man came gruesomely shrieking back to life accusing us of being demons asking if we were there to cut him limb from limb. How did ANYONE think this was a good idea? In time he was calmed but then callously questioned on the nature of his death. (apparently by bullywugs) After extensive questioning we came to know that he was in fact a pirate of the ship Lulu Belle whom had been stealing shipments from merchant vessels coming into the bay. He tried to run but was detained by Oranssi for continued questioning resulting in some half truths about his captain hiding and/or retrieving chest of treasure for a “queen”. I can only imagine these foolish men had aligned themselves with the Goblin Queen. I was ready to slit this villian’s throat and move on but Saru insisted he be given another chance. She muttered some spell over him, bid that he follows all laws and regulations as an upstanding citizen of Shore Blossom and had him teleported back to Elder Yen’s Shop with a note pinned to his chest like a wee child traveling by coach alone.

That evening was particularly tense because it seems everyone had an opinion about how the pirate should have been dealt with and not quite everyone agreed. The tension was shifted when I could suddenly sense a wave of small forest creatures pouring through the forest out into the clearing we were camped in. My head was ringing with panicked cries describing the “earth swallowing them”.  In the moment it took me to rack my brain of what they could be talking about I felt the earth shudder below us. At the edge of the clearing I watched the earth open below a poor rabbit and swallow it whole. Naligor shouted it out before I could. It was a bulette. Natures scourge against halflings. No halfling child has grown up without their mother or aunt threatening them with the idea that a bulette would come eat them if they did not do their chores. I had hoped the predominant percentage of elves in the party would deter its attack as they are not fond of elf meat but I was so wrong. It honed in on my scent and came up through the earth directly below me. Its snapping maw came down on my legs and I was trapped there in its ever tightening jaws until in a group effort the creature was demolished.

Eucarion immediately knelt and lifted me into his lap still shaky and buzzing with energy from the fight as he tended to the deep cuts across my thighs. I could feel the struggle under his skin to stay calm under his dutiful ministrations. I dared not make a noise or move too fast under his trembling hands as I fear he would be undone. Originally, I was elated that he rediscovered his confidence with a sword after what he went through in the war. I can see how the detachment from death a bow affords could be comforting after being subjected to the horrors of the Wicker’s Ree massacre. Death at a comfortable distance, not the gore infused intimacy of melee. But, rather than confidence, the sword in his hand bred an undeniable frantic darkness in him.

While he tended to my wounds the rest of the party recovered a stunning gold-plated cutlass and another body bound by shackles from the belly of the beast. We made assumptions this corpse was the pirate captain we were told about earlier. Oranssi made to revive this corpse too and was met with negativity for his views on “casual necromancy” so he moved on grumbling the whole way.

As if this adventure was not bizarre and horrifying enough the morning of the fifth day met us with one last challenge before our white jade keys decided we’d have enough of this nonsense. The sun was bright and the air was invitingly warm. From above we heard a distant neigh. I immediately had the pleasant expectation of seeing a pegasus but was disturbed to see it was in fact a giant roc carrying a horse in its talons. Definitely not a pegasus. With a shriek the roc dropped its prey from such a great height. Albion was SURE he could save the horse by catching it. I don’t think he will ever look at horses the same after the falling steed hit him with such force it burst like a stewed tomato. The poor minotaur was soaked head to foot in offal. I shot off an arrow of lightning into the roc before running off to calm Albion’s hysterics. I watched as Eucarion tangled the bird in vines and pull it down to the ground for the rest of the party to finish it off. Saru landed the killing blow with her rapier. She is quite the talented fighter I would have her in my party any time. I did not think I could have more respect for her but I was wrong. She is as strong and smart as she is sensual and coy. The keys started to glow and I had only the briefest moment to hurriedly explain to Saru what was about to happen before we were transported back to the field by the gate and that was that.

Eucarion fusses in his sleep more and more lately. It’s not the violent nightmares he has had in the past. He’s not kicking and screaming and bolting upright. He sighs and frowns and his brows knit together in the deepest sadness. I haven’t asked what he dreams of because the moment he wakes he leaves the bed rarely to return to it. He will tell me when he’s ready just as I will tell him mine when I am ready.

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