posted Jan 23, 2021, 9:09 AM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak

Propyltina 7th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The Empreczar sails down The Great Northern River, which flows into The Almebezbik River. About a day after leaving "The City," the ship glides into the great river.
Fennimore: Where is Rael?
Fennimore (worried): Did he fall overboard?
Perri Elastime: I hope not.
Perri Elastime: Maybe he is with his mother.
Fennimore: Let's check his cabin.
Fennimore: Oh, Rael? Time to rise and shine, you sleepy head.
Perri Elastime: Sounds like a plan.
Fennimore knocks on Rael's cabin door.
Rael Octavius: Come on in.
Perri Elastime: I hope he is not busy.
Fennimore: We found him.
Fennimore opens the door and enters.
Perri Elastime walks into Rael's cabin.
Rael Octavius: I am just finishing up daily prayers.
Perri Elastime: You pray daily? I only pray when I think I am going to die.
Rael Octavius: Being a cleric of Lehnbor, it is important to pray regularly.
Perri Elastime: I appreciate your sacrifice.
Fennimore: Just don't miss breakfast for your prayers. I like to pray over my meal.
Rael Octavius smiles.
Fennimore: Though, I have to say this ship thing has put me off my regular meal schedule.
Perri Elastime: So Breakfast?
Rael Octavius: Enough stuffy isolation. Let us get some food and see what there is to see from the deck.
Perri Elastime: I think you need to tighten your belt, Fenn.
Fennimore: I'll make up for it when I have solid ground beneath my furry toes again.
Rael Octavius climbs the stairs onto the deck.
Perri Elastime heads up towards the deck.
Perri Elastime: The view from the crow's nest is awesome.
Fennimore hauls himself up the steep stairs to the main deck.
Even in the darkness, you can see the snow-covered mountain range known as The Dragon's Tail in the distance, its peaks gleaming by the light of the five luminescent moons that float in the sky above.
Captain Elador waves from the wheel as you approach the mess.
Captain Elador: Good day.
Perri Elastime: Morning, Captain.
Fennimore: Good Morning!
Perri Elastime: Anything of interest?
Rael Octavius: Good day, Captain.
Captain Elador: Just the least the recent usual.
Captain Elador has begun expressing concern that the rivers are getting shallower with every voyage, and he is not sure how much longer the big ships will be able to navigate the rivers.
Captain Elador: Still smooth sailing at this point.
Rael Octavius notices the banks of the river where the high watermark is. It, unfortunately, is at eye level from the main deck.
Rael Octavius: Is that really the high watermark? It is above this deck.
Captain Elador: Unfortunately.
Perri Elastime: Glad to hear it. How are the injured sailors?
Captain Elador: They'll be recovering for a couple of days. Probably ready for the return trip.
Fennimore looks up to the high water mark and shivers.
Fennimore: Personally, I'm glad the water isn't that deep right now. We'd be swept away.
Perri Elastime: Wow, the water level has really fallen.
Captain Elador: It has been going down since the cataclysm over a decade ago. This part of the river used to flood a mile from the banks.
Perri Elastime: I should teach you to swim, Fenn. You'd like it.
Fennimore: Eh, if it's too deep to wade in, it's too deep.
Perri Elastime: A mile? Now it looks difficult to get up the banks.
Captain Elador: I haven't seen it at that mark in years now. I doubt it is coming back.
Rael Octavius: How much farther down this river before we meet Ambassador Geir?
Captain Elador: Two more days. However, we will be docking at a village today to let your mother off for her mission.
Dae'Kliesys ascends the stairs, stretching her wings as they clear the deck.
Dae'Kliesys: Good day.
Perri Elastime: Morning, Ambassador.
Fennimore: Good Morning, M'Lady.
Dae'Kliesys looks out at the mountains in the distance.
Dae'Kliesys: I do love The Dragon's Tail.
Perri Elastime: Really? Why?
Captain Elador: Good day, Madam Ambassador.
Dae'Kliesys: They are impressive and ancient.
Perri Elastime: They are beautiful.
Fennimore: Are there dragons there?
Dae'Kliesys: Several. White, red, and silver, primarily.
Dae'Kliesys points at a towering peak to the east southeast.
Dae'Kliesys: That peak is the home of an ancient silver dragon. Those clouds obscuring the top is actually a fortress.
Perri Elastime: A fortress made of clouds?
Dae'Kliesys nods.
Fennimore sucks in his breath.
Fennimore: Oh.
Perri Elastime: Maybe there are giants there too.
Perri Elastime grins.
Dae'Kliesys points to the south-southwest.
Dae'Kliesys: Those peaks are where The Rearing Realm lies.
Rael Octavius: That is where your journey is taking you, mother?
Perri Elastime raises her eyebrows.
Fennimore: You're going to visit the dwarves?
Dae'Kliesys: It is. I am going to see the Dwarven King Albarz in Matinia's Delve.
Perri Elastime: Oh, sounds like there are wonders to behold there.
Dae'Kliesys: It is one of the oldest cities in the world.
Rael Octavius: Shall we break our fast?
Fennimore: I thought you would never ask. All this talk of dragons, giants, and dwarves makes me hungry.
Perri Elastime: I will eat. I will always eat.
Dae'Kliesys: Me too.
Fennimore: What about the plains where Ambassador Geir's tribe roams. What manner of men and beasts are we likely to find?
The trio has breakfast with Dae'Kliesys as the darkday slowly passes.
Dae'Kliesys: There are the barbarians that roam the plains as well as many kinds of beasts.
Dae'Kliesys: There are mammoths and big cats. Lots of different types of herd animals.
Fennimore's eyes grow big.
Perri Elastime drinks some tea.
Dae'Kliesys: The most interesting is the giraffe.
Rael Octavius: Those are the ones with long necks and legs?
Dae'Kliesys: Yes. Some are nearly twenty feet tall.
Perri Elastime nibbles some bread.
Fennimore: Now you're just pulling this halfling's leg. That's nearly seven times my size.
Dae'Kliesys: You will see.
Perri Elastime: I hope so.
Fennimore: How do they stand up without falling over?
Dae'Kliesys: They manage.
Fennimore thinks the Ambassador is joshing him and sulks a little.
Captain Elador enters the mess.
Perri Elastime: I'll be happy to get off the boat. My tummy is still not right.
Fennimore picks at his breakfast.
Fennimore: You can say that again.
Captain Elador: Madam Ambassador, I have some news that may cause a change in your plans.
Dae'Kliesys: Yes, Captain, what is it?
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: We are beseiged by "giraffes."
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: By giraffes?
Captain Elador: The ferry from Realm's Wound has stopped operating. There isn't enough flow in the river there any longer.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: The Captain is trying to hide it with this tale of low water.
Perri Elastime snorts.
Dae'Kliesys: This is unfortunate. I guess I will need to fly to the Dwarven Gate then. There will be no need to stop at Fallbottom.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: But they are really just damming up the river when they fall.
Captain Elador: Correct. You may depart from either castle at your convenience, Madam Ambassador.
Dae'Kliesys nods.
Dae'Kliesys: Thank you, Captain.
Perri Elastime: Does this make your trip more dangerous, Ambassador?
Perri Elastime nudges Fennimore with her elbow.
Dae'Kliesys: Well, there is no hurry. Will stay aboard until you reach Ambassador Geir's camp.
Captain Elador: As you wish.
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: We will know if they do that because they will have brown mud splotches on them when we see them.
Captain Elador departs the mess.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: Don't doubt me. It is no taller a tale than a beast taller than a giant.
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: I don't ever doubt you.
Rael Octavius: Oh, good.
Fennimore: We are pleased you will join us for the rest of our sail. You know these lands well.
Dae'Kliesys smiles at Rael.
Perri Elastime sips some more tea.
Dae'Kliesys: When we are back on deck, you should look west at the mountains in that direction. That area is the Hinterlands.
Perri Elastime: I wish it weren't a darkday.
Perri Elastime: Maybe we will see something interesting.
Dae'Kliesys: The Hooded Mountain is almost terrifying in the darkness, looking like a great hooded figure rising out of the land.
Perri Elastime shivers a bit.
Perri Elastime: Is that in the Hinterlands.
Dae'Kliesys: Yes.
Dae'Kliesys: From the right angle, the mountain beyond it, Knife Mountain, gives the impression of the figure about to strike.
Perri Elastime: Maybe it is a Sleeping Titan.
Dae'Kliesys: Possibly.
Dae'Kliesys smirks.
Perri Elastime hair prickles.
Perri Elastime: I bet you are good at campfire ghost stories.
Dae'Kliesys grins a toothy grin.

Propyltina 10th, Year Two of the Reign of High King Ran

The ship sails for two more days before it begins to approach the barbarian encampment.
By the time The Empreczar arrives at the southern banks of the great river where Snorri Geir and a band of barbarians are camped, it is regularly scraping the bottom of the river. The drought's effects are clearly distinguishable.
Captain Elador approaches the trio after their rest on the third day.
Perri Elastime: Hello, Captain.
Captain Elador: It will be a near impossibility for this ship to return here when you are ready.
Perri Elastime: Should we make another meeting point?
Captain Elador: In fact, we may end up stranded if we are not quick to turn around and head back to "The City."
Fennimore: Or perhaps we should just walk home.
Perri Elastime: Maybe the goblin horde will have dispersed by then.
Captain Elador: I would suggest making your way back to Fallbottom and seek passage back from there. It is about a day and a half on foot.
Perri Elastime: That seems reasonable.
Captain Elador: I suggest you get your things together and prepare to disembark. Ambassador Geir is awaiting your arrival.
Fennimore is happy to gather his things and leave the ship behind.
Perri Elastime: I travel light and keep my things with me.
Fennimore: I just need to grab my pack from my cabin.
Perri Elastime: Do you need help with anything, Rael?
Rael Octavius: I have a second pack, but I plan on leaving it in the camp and get things from it when we need them.
Fennimore slides down the banisters of the stairs like he has seen some of the sailors do.
Fennimore throws his pack over his shoulder and clambers back up the stairs to the main deck.
Rael Octavius retrieves his packs from his quarters and returns to the deck.
By the time the trio has gathered their things, the ship is at the southern bank, and the gangplank is deployed.
Perri Elastime: Thank you, Captain.
Dae'Kliesys glides off the forecastle onto the land beyond.
Fennimore: Thank you, Captain. Safe travels back home.
Rael Octavius makes his way onto the gangplank.
Fennimore: Stay away from them, their goblins.
Rael Octavius: Thank you, Captain Elador.
Captain Elador: Will do. Good luck to you, as well.
Fennimore balances carefully down the gangplank.
Perri Elastime walks down the gangplank.
Snorri Geir and a group of barbarians wait at the end of the gangplank, prepared to help each of you off.
Fennimore: As soon as he's ashore, he sinks his toes into the first tuft of grass he sees and sighs deeply.
Perri Elastime: Snorri, good to see you!
Fennimore finds that the grass is scratchy and dry, almost withered.
Snorri Geir: Lady Elastime! Welcome to my home.
Fennimore plucks a few blades of grass to look at it more closely.
Snorri Geir: Rael and Fennimore! Welcome.
Perri Elastime: Thank you kindly.
Fennimore: Good to see you again.
Snorri Geir: Madam Ambassador, a pleasant surprise that you have arrived as well.
Dae'Kliesys bows to Ambassador Geir.
Dae'Kliesys: A pleasure, Ambassador.
Perri Elastime -> Fennimore: Why are my legs all rubbery and the ground shifty.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: Oh, I know how you feel. There's something wrong here. Look at this grass.
Perri Elastime, puzzled, looks at the grass.
The Empreczar begins to make its way back into the river when a great creaking erupts from its hull.
Perri Elastime turns to look.
Fennimore turns to the sound.
Snorri Geir: I was afraid that might happen.
Snorri Geir: Men! Gather the beasts and the ropes!
Fennimore: That doesn't sound good. Even to a landlubber like me. Was it a sea monster?
Perri Elastime: Oh dear. Are they mired?
Snorri Geir: They have run aground on the sandbar that has been building.
Fennimore -> Perri Elastime: It's the giraffes.
Snorri Geir looks sideways at Fennimore.
Snorri Geir: We prepared for this possibility.
Perri Elastime looks at Snorri.
Several barbarians dive into the river and begin to swim across, dragging heavy ropes with them as they go.
Fennimore looks aghast as the men dive into the river, afraid they will drown.
Perri Elastime looks around for danger.
Other barbarians can be heard hooting and howling. Shortly, the ground begins to shake as several mammoths approach.
Perri Elastime: Look at those creatures. Amazing!
Fennimore: I'm glad I'm nimble. Those beasts could squash me like an ant without even noticing.
Perri Elastime: Let's get out of the way.
Fennimore: Good idea.
The swimming barbarians begin to climb up the boat's sides and hand their ropes to waiting crew members.
Perri Elastime moves off to the side out of the way.
Rael Octavius moves out of the way with Perri and Fennimore.
Dae'Kliesys flies into the air above the ship and hovers there.
Fennimore looks for a hilltop to watch the commotion as he joins Perri.
Half a dozen mammoths are fitted with the other ends of the heavy ropes and begin to head back upriver along its banks.
The ropes become taut, and the ship begins to rotate in the water to point upstream, the hull still groaning as it does.
Perri Elastime: Since trouble comes in threes, Perri looks for more trouble.
Dae'Kliesys (shouting from above): They will need to pull for about fifty feet to get the hull clear of the sandbar.
Barbarian coax and prod the great beasts to pull with all their might. After twenty minutes of struggle, the ship breaks free of the sandbar.
Fennimore counts off the steps of the mammoths as they strain to pull the ship forward.
Perri Elastime: Woohoo!
Snorri Geir (shouting to Captain Elador): Good luck, Captain! This may be the last time we see you this far down the river!
Perri Elastime waves, dancing her feet.
Captain Elador shouts back something that you cannot quite make out, waving.
Fennimore: I hope they don't run into more trouble. Without you or us to rescue them, they will be hard-pressed.
Perri Elastime: I know.
Snorri Geir: Hopefully, they will make it back to at least Fallbottom. I hear the river is still navigable to the east.
Perri Elastime: I hope they will be fine.
Dae'Kliesys shadows the ship from above, helping the captain guide the ship through the obstacle the river has now become.
Fennimore: Which raises the question, where is the water going? We had enough water to carry us downstream. Why did it get so shallow?
Rael Octavius: I hope Ohmsevester does not make an appearance while my mother is so exposed.
Perri Elastime: You had to bring him into it.
Perri Elastime looks around for a dragon.
Snorri Geir: The dryness here is evaporating the river at an alarming rate. The lower the river gets now, the faster it loses depth.
Perri Elastime picks some grass to examine.
Perri Elastime: It sure is dry about.
Snorri Geir: This is the drought I brought to High King Ran's attention. I am to help you survey this area to see if there can be anything done about this.
Perri Elastime: Snorri, care to give us a tour of your home?
It appears that these plains between the mountains are drier than around "The City," and there is a constant wind blowing from northeast to southwest.
Fennimore looks around for any comfortable halfling holes.
The camp set up here near the banks of the river consists of one large hide tent and a score or more of yurts.
Fennimore: Hmmph, not a hole in sight.
Snorri Geir: You must all be exhausted and a bit wobbly-legged after your voyage. Let me show you to your tent.
Snorri Geir leads you to the yurt nearest the large tent.
Perri Elastime: Wobble-legged is right.
Fennimore: Thank you, Snorri. I'm happy to be off the ship, but why does the ground here sway so much?
Snorri Geir: Your body is still reacting as if it is on the ship. Give it a couple of hours, probably less, and you will have your land-legs back.
Fennimore slaps his legs.
Fennimore: I hope they never leave me again.
Perri Elastime chuckles wryly.
Perri Elastime: Maybe our land appetite will come back too.
Rael Octavius: I am already hungry.
Fennimore: Aye, that can't happen soon enough.
Perri Elastime checks out the yurt.
Fennimore starts mentally counting off the meals he missed aboard the ship.
Perri Elastime: The accommodations look perfect.
Snorri Geir: Our meal is almost ready. Unpack and relax a bit, and someone will be by with food soon.
Perri Elastime: Thank you.
Fennimore: I don't know how those sailors do it. As hard as they worked on sailing that ship, they should have been eating twice as much. No second breakfasts, elevensies, brunches, nor suppers.
Perri Elastime: I know, right?
Perri Elastime falls into a bed, wishing the ground would stop heaving.
Rael Octavius: You two eat enormous amounts of food. The barbarians will be astounded.
Fennimore: I hope I can live up to your expectations.
Dinner arrives, delivered by three barbarian youths.
Perri Elastime: Well, I am usually always hungry. Aboard ship, not so much, but supplies are scarce here.
Perri Elastime smiles at the youths.
Fennimore: You're right, Perri. We are here to help these folk, not eat them out of yurt and tent.
Fennimore grins.
The food smells so good that the three of you forget all about ship stomach and are ravenous.
Perri Elastime: That smells delicious.
Perri Elastime: Thank you.
Fennimore: Twice as delicious because it didn't try to roll away as I stabbed it!
The youths bow and set the large bowls in the middle of the yurt.
Rael Octavius: This is a lot of food. Ambassador Geir was paying attention at The Stag.
Perri Elastime: I think the ground has settled.
Just over an hour after The Empreczar escaped the sandbar, mirthful shouts can be heard in the camp.
Rael Octavius exits the yurt to have a look.
Fennimore: What's happening, Rael?
Rael Octavius: Mother is returning. Take a look.
Perri Elastime goes out to look.
Fennimore goes outside too.
Fennimore: Why is she back so soon?
Flying high above the camp is Dae'Kliesys escorted by two condors. They spiral down until the condors swoop just over the large tent and fly off towards the mountains to the south.
Dae'Kliesys glides into the center of the camp, landing in front of the large tent.
Perri Elastime: She knows how to make an entrance.
Dae'Kliesys: That was fun.
Perri Elastime: Hello again.
Dae'Kliesys: Hello. Did I miss dinner?
Fennimore: You just missed dinner
Dae'Kliesys pouts.
Perri Elastime: I think there is still some left.
Snorri Geir: There is plenty.
Fennimore: Did the Empreczar find deeper water?
Dae'Kliesys: It did. It is safely sailing back upriver.
Perri Elastime: Good. I want them to have a safe journey.
Perri Elastime: I thought you were off to the mountains.
Dae'Kliesys: Tomorrow is soon enough. I am ahead of schedule, so there is no hurry.
Perri Elastime: Great.