Minor Milestone: Changed “Storm Forged Raven Song, ancient blade of The Raven Queen” to “Raven Song, Dance of Wisdom”
Visemar has the stern grey eyes of his lineage, their good humor slowly fading the longer he bears Storm Forged Raven Song. He wears his sienna hair cut short. As the eldest, he was meant to join the Paladin Order, but the Song ended that career before it began. Still, he maintains a military regimen and a strong build. Beneath his breastplate, he wears the Grey’s colors: black lined with burnt orange.
Indentured Hexblade of Winter and Ash
“I will persevere because, if I don't, who will?”
“Beneath the skin of a Warlock lies the training of a Paladin.”
“I am bound by blood to my family, bound by honor to the Song.”
Raven Song, Dance of Wisdom
Because I swore a Pact of the Blade, I get a +2 when I Flashily attack when I use an eldritch weapon.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, I get a +2 when I Flashily create an advantage when I curse an opponent with a conspiracy of ravens.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, once per session, I can Forcefully
attack each opponent near my curse with a burst of cold.
REFRESH 3 / 3
STRESS O O O
Episode 5: What’s This Do?
When I got back to Laneira, I was greeted with a simple nod as she saw my newly acquired sword. I nodded back, reminded just how strange all of this was. The Dance of Wisdom had a scabbard and baldric that circled my shoulder. Something I wasn't accustomed to but salvaged from the dark skinned elf.
“How does all this work?” I ask, gesturing to encompass the leaf lined chamber.
“Do you know where you are?”
I wondered if this was rhetorical or a riddle. “A ship of some kind, I guess.”
“The world knows where you are. The world knows where you could be. I collapse probabilities so you are not where you are but where you could be,” she replied.
“Uh huh,” I mutter. “So you go from there to here by thinking about it. Got it.”
“Not so simple but about right,” she says while the leaves and branches shut out the light.
“You said something about ages gone and one of the last?” I probed, drawing the Dance and swinging it to test its weight and reach.
Her eyes turn wistful and focus on the glass orb. “The skies were full of ships once, then the wars started. Petty wars. Who owned which land and sky.” She turned and watched me spin through a couple forms. “Before the humans came.”
“What were the wars like? How do you fight if you can think yourself other places?”
“Put the sword away. I can show you.”
The constellations sprang to life. She held her hands over the orb and seemed to meditate. A web of lines appeared, spanning across the dark, intersecting with each other, and little ships appeared upon a few of them. My point of view zoomed in on one in particular. An enormous eagle of iron with wings spread and feathers carved like fire.
“My ship. Ha’ thi’tinothi. Light and Dark,” she said with a faint hint of pride but mostly sadness. “Each line is a path. A possible course given by speed and size.”
“Like a boat,” I observed not so helpfully.
She chuckled. “Like a boat.” The view retracted and showed another ship at the edge of my field of vision. The intersecting lines gained siblings, these in red. “Firing solutions. Anchors. Where the white and red meet, boarding actions.”
“Ok, but how does tha-”
“You have played games before, yes? Cards and such? When you encounter a potential sparring partner, you measure their prowess? Same thing.”
Lines began to erase themselves from view. “When captains meet in battle, we also measure our prowess. If you do that, I do this. Then a line of fate is cut. Back and forth, as fast as each captain can think, until…”
There was one line left. The Light and Dark had a white line arcing around and firing broadsides into the other ship. The view zoomed in on the battle. Bolts of energy erupted from Laneira’s ship. At first, the other ship lit with tendrils of lightning. An ovoid shield sprang to life and glowed a blistering orange. Then, Laneira’s lance started melting away the metal hull of her opponent.
“What is this?” I ask in an awed whisper.
Laneira glanced sidelong at me, reminiscing on her prior battle. “We were the first species. One of our lives is eight? Ten of your’s? And, like you, we have been here for many generations.”
I turn to Laneira when I realize exactly how alien she was compared to us. “If this is just an exercise in strategy, why not admit defeat?”
“How many fights have you turned away from?” she asked.
Point taken. “So, not only do you think yourself other places. You think captains to death?”
“Not quite. We collapse all avenues until only one remains. Their death. A skilled captain convinces the other to die for them. I have convinced many of my people to die for me. Some will surrender. Most accept their fate. Wa' setnalu.
“Then the humans came, and our wars stopped. We didn't dare show your ancestors what we could do, what we had. So we made peace with ourselves and the humans. We repurposed most of the old ships. The few that remain, well, some are still here. Like the Nofeilu here.”
I gained more respect, and a tiny bit of fear, of Laneira. Anyone that could convince a person to death is… disturbing. “What about the big ships, like the Light and Dark?”
“Waiting. We believe that Etnalu ta to Nothi still comes. When it does, we will be ready.” She cleared her throat. “Enough talk. Let’s get your garb.”
“If you are to be our emissary, and Ha’wasetta’s, you must look the part. Come.”
We disembark in what seemed the same large clearing we had been in a few hours ago. As we depart, the ship shimmers and becomes the large tree we scaled. I would have asked more questions, but Laneira was already at the tree line.
Thankfully, this trek was not nearly as long as the first. I knew something was wrong as her quick sure pace slowed. A hand went up, I assumed signalling for quiet. I wasn't nearly as quiet as she moving between the trees, so I remained where I stood.
“Scouts,” she whispered after making her way back to me. “Four of the scaled beasts. We should remove them before continuing in case they come across your tracks.”
Your. Not our. “Alright,” I whisper back, “What’s the pl-”
She was already heading silently toward them. I half sprint after her while I pull Song and Dance from their scabbards. I hear an anguished grunt and the air fills with the scent of burnt meat. I catch sight of her elven form spinning against a tree as darts pierce the air. Bursting from the trees, I ambush one, Song cleaves down into its skull. A second creature falls to the ground.
Laneira twirls from behind her cover and steps forward, fingers spread with thumbs touching. A gout of fire engulfs the remaining two things who erupt in whimpering shrieks beneath the flames. Two charred husks join their companions on the forest floor.
“Almost home. Come.”
It was a few minutes longer, maybe an hour, before I caught sight of the village. Trees with wooden bridges. Structures built into the trunks or the roots. The hum of activity: hunters, gatherers, farmers and even markets. I didn't have the opportunity to investigate as Laneira was already climbing wooden steps to a bridge.
“Your uniform is here,” she said over her shoulder. “Ha’wasetta suggests you gather yourself within two hours, attune yourself to the Dance, then return to her altar. Your horse will be under the tree. I must prepare.”
“Prepare for what?”
“My elves will keep the approaching enemy occupied while you speak with Ha'wasetta. Wa'wei, Nitaaru. Good luck.”
Nitaaru. The other elf said that. “What does nitaaru mean?” I ask.
“Nitaaru is dead, or, in your case, broken. You are broken, Nitaaru, because you have not been taught your duties. We will fix that when you return.” Laneira shared a friendly smile and hurried away.
The room was fairly spartan. A gambeson of earth brown lined in summer green vines was laid on the bed. A mail shirt laid on top of the gambeson. Brown leather boots of a more supple leather was at the edge of the bed. I was hesitant to leave my breastplate and boots, but the recent trek through the trees was still fresh in my mind.
I spent the next hour attuning to the Dance of Wisdom. My hand pressed against the base of the blade, and I gently press eldritch energies into the metal. Minutes pass as my pact blade permeates the Dance’s physical form. Almost a half hour later, the Dance glows within an energetic icy shell. Then… the Dance evaporates instantaneously. My off hand flicks out and plucks a dagger from the air. The glacial blade cocoons mithril lined with black runes.
I place Song in Dance's baldric so she sits more upright then head down to Sky. I don't see Laneira, but the villagers are briskly walking from one place to another. I head off in the direction of The Raven Queen's altar.
The graves were the same as I last saw them. Brencia’s mausoleum lay open. At my approach, the wind picks up. An apparition materializes in front of Brencia’s door. A woman floats upright, feet dangling toward the ground. The skin of her head is missing, her skull supported by a neck mostly decomposed. Her chest shows signs of having been flensed, exposing her sternum and portions of her ribs.
She shook her head in mock disapproval. “Back again?” the spirit asked, jaw unmoving.
“What have you done with my sister?” I growl.
The apparition looks down almost admiringly. “I needed to make some changes. You don't like it?” I could hear the faux pout behind her words.
I leave Sky and walk up to the spirit that hovers above me. To my disappointment, I sense a lack of fear. Dance snaps into my off hand, taking the form of a longsword. I draw Song with my main hand and glare into her fiery eyes. “I will find a way to free her.”
The skull leans forward, inches from me. “Only after I claim you,” she hisses.
I swing Song and watch motes of dust disperse for the effort. Brencia laughs cruelly. My hands tighten around the hilt of both swords.
Brencia’s laugh subsides as she begins to fade. “Shall we test your new toy? Willem?”
I turn, dreading what Brencia could have done to my great grandfather. Willem, or what I guessed was Willem, stood behind me. A suit of moss covered, dirt crusted, charred armor. A blackened, soot longsword was in his hand with a dark shield and a tarnished raven embossed upon it.
Without preamble, the decrepit suit of armor chops down with its longsword, which I beat aside with Dance. I return with a swing from Song, and the tarnished shield comes up to block the blow.
His response was to push against Song in an attempt to open my guard; his sword thrust forward, which I deflect with Dance, spinning away from his shield. The rotation brings me to his right, Dance completing its arc and biting through the breastplate at his shoulder. A metallic wrenching sounds as a hole appears through his linen and armor. There is only darkness underneath.
The dark longsword swings back in a back handed strike. Song and Dance flip forward to block his attack, but the swing was too powerful. He breaks my defence, the sword scoring a hit on my shoulder. I grimace then press back with Song, snarling. Dance skates across his blade and leaps up to strike at his helm. I drop to the ground, spinning into a crouch, and Dance slices across his knee. Willem gives a couple inches as he recoils.
Another chop, but I had expected that avenue of attack. Both of my swords cross over head and catches his. My warrior’s training comes to the fore. My right foot kicks out while our swords clash, and I strike him hard in the knee join. Willem comes down on one knee. I rise to my feet, flipping both blades into a reverse grip and drive them down into his shoulders. The suit of armor is pinned then grows still.
Brencia, Rachis, is nowhere to be found.
“Now you understand why you could not defeat her alone,” said the raven when I entered the chamber. “Place my Song on the altar, and your training begins.”
I did as requested. I needed a way to stop Brencia and free Abby. I may have imagined it, but it appeared the raven leaned forward and touched the sword with her beak. The blue glow of her obsidian orbs intensified.
“As you attuned the Dance of Wisdom, infuse Song.”
And I did. This was more difficult as Song was not meant to become something she wasn't. The Raven Queen leant her power, allowing me to channel more than I had been able to. As before, the icy energy enveloped Song. The two blades slowly merged. Black. White. Azure. Then…
I expected the dissipation, just as I knew Dance would do. When I brought the new sword back to me, I was greeted by a dark window into the starlit sky. I could twist the sword and see constellations move behind snow capped mountains. The opposite side was what seemed to be Ravenswood trapped in perpetual sun.
The raven's piercing eyes seemed to focus on me. “You are my Hexblade of Winter. You will become Ravenwood’s Paladin of Spring.”