Odiri wakes startled from her drunken napping to realize that once more the party has left without her. “Damn it all!!” She flags down a server who hesitantly asks her if she wants another bottle of sake, “No, actually, hot tea seems smart.” The server looks startled for a moment but bustles off to accommodate her request. Odiri notices a small beetle crawling across the wooden table and she scoops it up delicately to inspect its colorful shell. “Well since they’ve all left me behind, I supposed you will have to be the only one that hears my story tiny one.” She continues to address the beetle oblivious of the hot tea now steaming in front of her and its server sitting nearby. “Our last time beyond the wall was such an adventure. I’d like to say it was all positive but in reality in it was…sobering. The moment I move beyond that wall I always feel at home. Being in this city, as quaint as it is, is still foreign to me. The boys had some things to attend to at the Shrine of Stars but I am not one for religion so I stayed behind. But to my surprise when they came back with a new face and I was finally introduced formally to some faces I’ve seen about. Soveliss and Adi both seem to be intelligent men each of their own talents and I look forward to more outings with them. Then there was this MASSIVE fellow” She gestures wide gently as the beetle still lazily crawls across her palm. “Albion, the first minotaur I’ve ever met in person. What a KIND man and with skin as pale as the moon. I may have been, mentally obscured by drink and may have climbed onto his head. With his horns to steady me I felt like I could conquer a thousand armies. I will say though I was happy to be aloft when that sour grape of an elf, Eucarion, walked in. Immediately his great weasel nosed hound set to growling at me.” Odiri leads the beetle to her other hand to easier pick up her tea before it cooled too much. “I should have guessed by his dog’s reaction he wouldn’t be much nicer and boy, I was right.”
“The rest of the Table Troupe had come across a mine far to the north at the urging of Master Kenten, but, were outmatched without me by a number of foul meanies so I agreed after they begged me to go with them to help guide their way through the forest. My memories are….foggy to say the least I have snippets of memory for that morning I may have imbibed quite heavily.” She takes another sheepish sip of her hot tea and passes the beetle to the table where it sits still only flicking its antenna at her.” I remember going down Roth’s Road and I remember being tied with a rudimentary belt to Albion’s head via his horns to keep me still. I also remember at that height being able to see a totally different type of forest beyond the bamboo sea. My first clear memory is those damn boulders again! Kobold are the foulest of creatures. Cowards at best, always attacking us in our sleep. Fourteen of them total split even between the land and sky. In an attempt to prove my worth to that grouch Eucarion I miss that damn winged beastie by a hair and Eucarion steps around and takes my shot without even a pardon. Gods of all, he infuriates me. We, as a group, made quick work out of the rest but one that we beat into talking. That cursed tiger lass is the one behind the kobold attacks and now we know where her lair is thanks to that spineless cur.”
Odiri lays her head down on the table to get as close to the small beetle as possible and lowers her voice out of respect for the beetle’s tiny ears. “We found our way back to the Gaia shrine at first light with very little problem but instead of continuing on eastward like last time we went due north. We came upon a serene pond and before Frivolity could finish explaining what had happened previously at this place the white light of the wall called him back to town. The rest of the group filled Albion and I in on the water spirit that lives in the pond and to give it much distance as they say they saw it away with a boar right off the water’s edge.”
“Not even half an hours travel north and we were attacked by tigers. I wasn’t worried I knew their tactics by now I could face them without pause but then, Adi, our wizard casts a terrible fog so thick you could barely see your hand in front of your face. I’ll admit, I panicked. He shouted some tactical maneuver but with fog rolling in and a tiger about to swipe my wee self in halvsies I ran backwards out of the fog and waited for those shitty kitties to come find me. The sounds coming from inside the fog made my blood run cold. I was so scared my travel mates were in trouble I was about to dive back into the fog to do what I could but, instead a tiger came out of the fog at that exact moment. I took it down as I did the last with an arrow firmly in its skull. I took a moment to jeer victoriously at Eucarion as he appeared out of the fog. In an attempt to impress him further I went to nock another arrow and I just got all…wibbly” Odiri flails her hand floppily in demonstration. “That damn arrow just fell straight to the ground” She blushes hard enough that her ruddy skin almost matches her fiery hair. “Brightwood found that mighty funny” she snorts derisively. “When the final of the three tigers were felled we took our great care in appropriating the good worth something to Master Yen.”
She lays her hand down inviting the beetle back up on to the back of her hand and continues “The rest of my party assured me we were not too far from our ultimate destination of the outing. I couldn’t be more glad because I was still fairly shaken from the blinding anxiety of the fog. A ranger is nothing without their sight. Albion was a calming presence as we continued, again me atop his head. But, our surroundings very abruptly changed from the dense smoothness of the Bamboo Sea to the emerald crispness of a coniferous forest. The light reminded me of home so strongly it brought me to tears but I wiped them away quickly before anyone saw. We came upon a grassy clearing filled with spring flowers and in its center held our target. The mouth of what was originally just a cave but was obviously widened by man’s hand. We chose to rest that eve in the clearing because there was a general consensus that we would need that precious rest before we entered this mine. I found a quiet patch especially abundant in wildflowers and spent the sunset lit evening weaving chains of flowers. It was a calming technique taught to me by my grandmother. Just a simple mindless task that keeps your hands just busy enough. To my greatest surprise none other than mister salty pants himself, Eucarion, decides to join me in my craft. We spent what felt like hours silently making lengths of chains trading different colored flowers with each other without making eye contact. If we spoke whatever spell of kindness this was would be over and he would go back to hating me. Eventually he stood to tend to his bizarre leggy dog and watches were posted through the night. At my time of watch, I decided it would be a waste to just leave the lengths of flower chains to wilt on my pack so I decided I would give everyone a gift!” A nostalgic grin spread over her face “Ohhhhhh their faces when they woke up! I festooned both of Albion’s horns, wove what I could into Adi’s beard, threded them along Oranssi’s tabard, made bracelets for Brightwood, but Eucarion, that was my crowning glory. Literally! I had braided chains into a circlet atop his head and tucked all the remaining flowers into his dark messy hair.” She starts to titter to herself “He looked like a maiden ready for her handfasting. I have pulled many a friendly prank but none as glorious as this. Adi, Oranssi and Brightwood were understandably disgruntled but took the joke in stride. Albion was delighted which was more than I could have hoped for, but Eucarion was the biggest surprise. I was sure he would tear it from his hair immediately but, no. He left it there!” She finished her tea just in time to scoop the beetle up right before it toppled of her elbow.
“We set forth into the maw of that mine with warnings of a giant frog, evil spirits that inhabit inanimate objects and a very dangerous poltergeist. Immediately after entering the first chamber we caught a ghoul by surprise! Oranssi’s quick thinking showered the entire chamber with the light of the sun and the poor creature shrieked and ran. Without hesitation I clipped that nasty right in the back, felling him. A smirk over my shoulder was met by Eucarion tearing all my hard work from his hair. A shower of crushed petals fell in his wake as he stomped away.” Odiri sighs and frowns, then slides her neutral smile back in place. “In the following chamber was this massive frog I was warned about, Green as the forest, spotted in black, not actively menacing but large enough to cause worry if one got to close. We gave Mister Froggerton his space and continued on to the next chamber. To our surprise we spotted a Hobgoblin making camp. Brightwood, who I have come to learn is a phenomenal master of disguise, approached this nasty creature in the guise of a fellow goblin. Though they conversed in goblin I was later informed that this creature was on a reconnaissance mission from the Goblin Queen to insure that Blood Spattered Snow Tiger does not overtake the area. Thankfully, these hateful women are not aligned. Brightwood decided he had extracted enough information and we cut that hobgoblin down with little effort. Once stripped of his valuables Oranssi and Eucarion, visibly shaken by a rage I don’t quite understand, fed the corpse to Mister Frogertton who promptly fell asleep. In the next chamber we were faced with this dreaded poltergeist they warned me of. Adi’s skill with tactical magic is apparent because the ghosty nasty was dispelled before I even had a chance to nock an arrow. We discovered a well in the corner of the same chamber. I was eager to explore it as I am small and a good swimmer but Adi chose instead to send his familiar in the form of an octopus down the well to investigate. We discovered the well flows down to an underground river that eventually meets what looks to be manmade stone structure.
Odiri stands and starts to make her way out the front door of the Rose Shell cupping the beetle carefully. She starts to head away from the busyness of the port towards the farmlands continuing her tale to her beetle friend. “There was a chamber off to the left with a cart full of iron which was a relief because if we hadn’t have found that our trip would have been for not. But the chamber forward from the well was where the party really fell apart. Upon entering all you can see it’s the blanket of spiderwebs across the ceiling. While I may be partial to most creatures I am not a huge fan of spiders myself so I was already on edge. My skin crawled with the suggestion of my fears. But nothing prepared me for what lay on the back wall. A tapestry long and tall woven with great detail. Great detail of the vilest, most horrifying acts of violence imaginable enacted upon the elves by the goblins and their queen. I feel sick even thinking about it now.” Odiri finally reaches the farmlands and opens her cupped hands to reveal the beetle. While staring at the White Wall beyond the fields she finishes “The rage in the room was so thick I felt I would choke. Eucarion decided without a question that he was to destroy it with fire but Adi extinguished the flame as I tried to reason with Eucarion that an item this old should be documented regardless of its context. I truly feared for my life in that moment as Eucarion raged on with Oranssi and Brightwood joining in. Adi talked sense in into them as they respect his scholarly nature but I feel my decision to take the tapestry home with us may permanently destroy any trust I had gained with the Elves.” The beetle takes off from her hands and flies up and out of sight. She whispers to herself staring into the sky, “Why did I leave my forest?” She catches a bright flash out of the corner of her eye and suddenly the boys are standing midfield and she can’t help but smile. “Ah, that’s why.” She waves them wildly and jogs over to hear what she missed.