Close to dawn, I approach the grove where Oak is (likely) located. I thank the elf guiding me and wave goodbye. I realize that I must appear a bit bleary-eyed, but a feeling of urgency keeps me moving forward. I look back over my shoulder frequently.
Oak, covered in runes and a few spatters of dried blood. jumps out of his tree and runs after Arthur. “Arthur Miller wait. Let me get our horses and we can head towards rescuing Bess.” Catching up to the bleary eyed knight he gets in front of him. “I’m sorry… I have been wrong about many things. Saint Tarran is gone and I have acted foolishly. We are heading into a war and I’m dedicating myself to fight for the light. Many of the pagans don’t understand. We need the light to prevail. Without the light, my people will perish. Arthur, I love my gods and i need to embrace the light.”
After listening to Oak’s words, I can’t help but laugh, shaking my head. After a couple of seconds I stop, realizing how it must look to him.
“My apologies, Oak. It is just that … I was coming to tell you that I have been wrong about many things and to seek your assistance. I have spent the night praying and then talking to one of the pagan gods!”
I shake my ahead again, chuckling wryly.
“It is almost as though your words express the exact opposite, yet simultaneously the exact same sentiment I was going to express myself! I am now interested in fighting for Balance. I need to convince my fellow Mystics that battle is necessary … that to save the Light, we must join with the pagans in more than just philosophy.”
I look over at a small copse of trees. I point them out to Oak.
“But come, let us sit for a bit. You look to be as weary as I am. I was hoping to talk with you, before meeting the rest of our friends.”
“Some sense of humor, this legion of light, telling two devoted men that they know nothing and everything. "
“Balance is not the opposite of light. the world is dark so to obtain the goal of balance, we must fight for the light… We have the same goals … just as we have all along. "
Oak heads over to the trees.
Just before I take a seat I look up at the bird in the adjacent tree. “There are a number of things I want to run by you, but I would be remiss if I didn’t introduce you to my new friend. Er, I’m not sure what his name is, but … Oak, meet Raven; Raven, Oak.”
I rest my back against the tree.
The Raven looks right at Oak and caws loudly, briefly.
Oak looks up at the bird. “So nice of you to join us this morning.”
Oak studies the bird for a moment. “Perhaps the name is Tarrin?”
“He is observant.”
Oak sits on a rock near you and scrapes a bit of dried blood off his arm.
“I have a new friend also, but I can only summon the dove when I am in need…
“Alright. Let’s see … I should probably start from the beginning of the evening. While we had contemplated the plan to go find the Court of the King (and, thus, simultaneously, a possible link to Lady Bess), I feared that this would take too long … that we need to act more quickly. It struck me that too much concern for my own soul, my personal oaths, might be a selfish luxury. I thought there might be someone who could help us, if I wasn’t too proud to ask.
“I went to a clearing, prepared to make an offering to Odin. Since Lady Bess and Saint Tarran seemed to be quite close, I thought that there might be a connection between Bess and Odin. I started a small fire and began carving a spear (I felt that my eye would be an appropriate offering to the All-father).
“A god appeared and took pity on me, removing the spear from my hands so that I wouldn’t burn my eye out.
“Different manifestations of the god spoke, though the primary two were (what seemed to be) the wind and a raven.
“He told me many things. Some of these I will relate when we meet up with Sir Cael and Sir Cawdry again. However, I wanted to talk with you first about a couple of items.”
I start abruptly.
“Oh. Sorry, I should mention that the god was not Odin, but he named himself ‘Fury’. He did indicate that both he and Odin led the Wild Hunt.
“Anyhow, you know how Sir Cawdry and I have mentioned our encounter in Faerie, with the Lady Bizarre? Fury said that at one time she was greater than he, that (in some sense) she was the source from which his wife sprung, and that, if treated properly, she could become (again in some sense) an ally of ours.”
I fall silent for a bit, trying to organize my scattered thoughts.
Oak appears to be either confused or overwhelmed… Perhaps both.
“Sacrificing your eye would have been bad, We don’t have time to retrain you in the ways of battle to compensate for such an injury. You are the best warrior of our companions… You might not want to mention that to them… I would not wish them to feel embarrassed or that they need to prove something… I … you … Sacrificing … and Your devotion … though …” Oak gets a little teary eyed. " Arthur, you amaze me sometimes. My gods answered your call." Realizing that he may appear too emotional, turns his attentions to the Raven.
Not wanting to make Oak uncomfortable, I suddenly find my hands quite interesting and stare at them intently.
He looks up at the bird and speaks to it “Fury… huh… I suppose since names have power, there is a reason for the use of this one …?”
“Ah, good. I was hoping this would make some sense to you! For Fury, he said something like, ‘I am fury incarnate due to losing my identity to the unfeeling hand of Time.’”
The elf , having composed himself, lays back and looks up at the sky. “SO Lady Bizarre is the earth mother … interesting. I guess we will have to summon her at the pool then … If that is who Lady Bizzare is, at one time this area was thought to be hers …”
“Regarding Lady Bizarre. I would like to mend fences, but I am a little concerned that if we were to call upon Her at the Pool that she might want to smite Sir Cawdry, me, and anyone associated with us. Although maybe it is possible we could contact her in a way that would let Her know of our good intentions.
“Oh, I also wanted to mention that Fury asked me some questions, including something along the lines of, ‘If you could only save one person from the Storm, who would it be?’ I answered that my heart told me one thing (It won’t shock you to learn that this was the Marchioness), while my mind told me another (Here I said Lady Bess, since I think she will be the key to uniting the people and faiths to turn back the Darkness). I won’t say that I would gladly give my life for hers (The prospect of dying at the hands of the agents of Darkness does not excite me), but I would willingly do so. I believe her to be that important.
“Anyhow, a few other things were said, and then, right before he withdrew from the grove, he told me to ‘follow my heart’. I was hoping you might know more about understanding the words of gods. That is, I’m not sure if this is a directive that I should begin working on immediately or a general guideline for actions in the future. Also, given my response to his question, I’m not sure if it relates specifically to that or if it is just coincidence.”
I pause, embarrassed.
“I’m sorry. This is all kind of vague, I know.”
The gods are rarely direct … I suppose if they were clear about everything folks like us would bother them all the time … I am confident we will save both of them … Bess may be the easier save … I don’t know. I really don’t like the marchioness’ situation, but we do have to return there soon. Besides needing to rescue her, I had to leave something of great value behind there.
Oak thinks for a moment… looks over toward a group of mushrooms and speaks to it “quite right , but you would need to be much bigger to pull that off, it’s not that I’m ignoring you, I really need to talk with Arthur.”
He turns on his side towards Arthur. “I’m Sorry, part of myself … My ties with spirit are pretty strong. They don’t always comprehend that not everyone is in on the conversation.”
“No problem … Oh, that reminds me. One of the things I wanted to see is if you could communicate with our raven friend. I think he (or she?) understands us, but I thought maybe you could understand him.”
“Well in order for me to have an actual verbal conversation, I need to make some incense but it will take a couple days. It seems that I am not being given the luxury of replenishing my alchemical stock. When I am given time to work, I shall create some for you and then you will be able to speak with him yourself at great length. Oh yes that is a male bird. What I do know is that he is very attached to you and it is very trustworthy and observant. The spirits I talk with are not attached to living things. I can see plant and animal spirits but cant interact with them so much. I don’t speak their languages so there really is no way of understanding what they are saying.”
“Ah. I understand. That is too bad. Among other things, it was a thought I had on how to locate Lady Bess.”“Bess is not really… hrm… She is not the key, although she did bring me to you and she is very important to the scheme of things, She is no more the key than you or I.”
He suddenly sits up "The dragon is dying … Fire … Bess can travel by Fire … She is trapped … Iron bars and chains would keep her from being in tune with her magic, so she cannot escape … SO corrosives for the bars … and the single flame from the torch near her cell … that single flame should be big enough … I might have an idea of how to extract Bess … But why are they keeping her alive …?
“Arthur… I might have an idea about how to extract Bess from captivity.”
“That’d be great! What’s your thought?”
“My thoughts on rescuing Bess are thus … We know from Cael that she is in a dungeon with Iron bars and chains … This will prevent her from accessing her magick. There is a single torch outside her cell. Bess is able to travel through fire. My thoughts are that she is not the only one who we know that can do this. I make a corrosive, then we either have someone send me through the fire or perhaps they do it themselves. Use the corrosives to get rid of the iron then Bess can escape through the torch back here.
“The only flaw i have in this plan is not understanding fire travel… But Skathach would since she is also is attuned to the element of fire.”
“That sounds reasonable to me. Hmm. Will Skathach be able to locate the particular fire? I also wonder if they might have up some sort of … wards … or even traps or something along those lines.”
“Regardless, if feasible, it seems worth the risk. Let’s see … acids would probably suffice. Heck, if you had an adamantine charm, you could probably use the reverse to break her free of any iron. Then, either pop back through the flame or, if she isn’t up to that, maybe use a glamour to create anonymity and skulk out of the prison.”
“Well I have traveled with Bess by fire, that is how she brought me to you. Cael was able to reach her in his visions so it stands possible that we could locate Bess and use her as a beacon to the nearest flame source … Iron and my magick do not mix so well but i can use my alchemy.
“Wards and traps … It’s probable, but I would think that, strategically, they would be more likely to have entrances and such trapped but I am not completely certain of how they think yet..
“I think before we get to into planning further, we should find the others. Is there anything else you wanted to run by me before then?”
“No, that should just about cover it … Well, probably. I have to confess that my brain doesn’t seem to be operating at full capacity right now. However, I think you’re right that we should talk to the others. I believe anything else I learned pertains to us all equally.”