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Aftermath


Beyond the Wall
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It was decided not to spend the night in the ancient elven hold and so the young adventurers made their way back out the way they had come. They made better time outward bound due to knowing the way and an uneasy feeling that they were being watched. Meara assured them it was not the demons that it was gone never to plague them again but that this was something else, something she thought better to avoid.

 

As soon as they left the boundary of the holds walls the feeling of unease left, still they did not stop until they had put some distance from the place. As the sun began to settle the made a camp, ate, and rested. There was little conversation mostly about wondering if they had been missed and whether the festival had begun yet and if they would miss it. Unspoken was their wondering how much trouble they were in.

 

Eventually they slept, with each taking turn at watch since they were in an unknown land. When it was Artoria’s time to watch she sat close by the fire and brought out the rune. Once in her hand it sang its silent song to her and her alone. She traced her fingers along its form and hummed the song which she heard in her head. With nary a cognizant thought she picked up her axe in one hand and, while still humming, gently rand the rune along the edge of the axe and once she had completed the outline of the axe she traced the rune on the center of the blade. When she was done the song changed and there glowing on her axe was an image of the rune which faded away into the metal of the axe.

 

Artoria had taken the first steps along a path few humans had ever trod.

 

In the morning they continued their journey, Ardan had found a stout branch and begun to fashion a new bow. After all he could not hunt with a sword.

 

The trip back to the village took longer than they had thought it would it seemed that they had traveled much further and faster with the elves, than they had believed but within a couple of days they found themselves back in familiar territory. When they arrived at where Meara had corralled her sheep, they found them gone, but from the signs it seemed that they had been led back toward the village.

They arrived at the village and found that more time than they had thought had past it was now the last day of the Autumn Festival, The Feast Day of The Turning, not the first, and all the village and surrounding farms and steadings were gathered. It was into this that the adventurous threesome walked into.

 

Before they could retreat, they were spotted. One of the local boys shouted their names and soon the festivities ground to a halt as the village faced the youths, they had thought gone to their graves on an ill-advised adventure.

 

Friends and strangers alike flocked around the trio, greeting them, and asking a dozen questions at once. Relieved (and angry) parents hugged them, even the local Cleric of the Three gave thanks for their safe return to the fold. Then the crowd parted and there was Jhan and the village council led by Jaspen Miller the spokesman.

 

“You three have missed the festival,” said Jaspen, “but the feast has only begun.” Then louder to all gathered, “Let us return to the reason for our gathering before the food grows cold. There will be time for tales later.”

 

Spoiler

Artoria has learned that the rune can be used to imbue a weapon already made with a magical property, in this case  a +1 to both hit and damage or a +2 to one of those traits. This magical property is temporary it cast upon a weapon that already is made. if used during the making of a weapon the property is permanent.

 

Feast day post give me a little family drama.

 

 

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Artoria was not a small girl, but the bear hug given by her Father made her feel small, Mordread Aching crushing his first and only living child against his chest with iron-hard arms shaped and burned by a lifetime at hammer and anvil. He released the hug enough to shift his hands to her shoulders, giving her a critical twice over, checking for new bumps and bruises. The short-cut beard and shaved head gave testament to a career working with fire, the faintest of squint-lines beginning to form at the corner of his eyes. He grunted.

 

"You'll be the death of me, Girl. I expect a full and complete tale explaining all this," he Stated, in the way he had that brooked no disobedience.

 

"Yes, Father," Artoria returned, knowing that he knew she knew no amount of her silver tongue would get her out of that conversation. She'd tried too many times growing up to not be aware he could see through her like a clear stream. But it felt good, especially with the exciting possibilities of the rune in her belt pouch. She didn't have time for much more thought than that before the rest of the extended Aching clan descended on her in a barrage of greetings and well-natured curses and further appraising looks. It made her smile, affirming why she had pushed for them to slay the demon outside the village rather than bring it home to her people, helpless against it without the right tools. Although, maybe that could change.   

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Kaylen Tarsin didn't smile as his son and his companions returned.  Like Jhan, he had faith in his son, that he'd return, hopefully abit wiser for the experience.  Still, with their  long absence, and little provisions, especially for three people, Things had been grim.  He was the last of the Tarsin family to greet Ardan.   Morgan and Sia, his younger sisters went running up to hug him.  Their big brother was their protector, and his stories of hunts with Jhan were still very exciting to them.  Rosalyn, his Wife, and Ardan's mother, was next hugging all three of her children, weeping unashamedly at the return of her presumed dead son.
 

"Don't you ever do that again Ardan."  she said quietly, though Kaylen heard.   Ardan's reply surprised him. "I'll try to give some warning if there's a next time."   Kaylen almost smiled.  His son was growing up.  There was a time where he obeyed his mother perfectly, but the woods had untamed Ardan, and the youth became a young man, coming into his own, in both status and reputation.   
 

When the girls released him, Kaylen hugged his son.  "I'm glad you're back, Ardan.   I'm sure you've got an amazing story to tell.   It can wait,  come, the feast beckons to us all.  The girls' stomachs growled, and that made Kaylen and Ardan both laugh.   "So I see, father. Let's eat, and then I'll tell you all the story of the adventure I shared with the two best and bravest friends I have."

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Meara’s greeting from her family was not as pleasant as those of her boon companions, indeed, they were downright frosty. Her younger sisters greeted her warmly enough but none rushed to embrace her and her older sisters either ignored her or in the case Dara and Shale, shot her with glare as sharp as daggers and as icy as a frozen pond at mid-winter. It seems that after hearing the tale of the Kobolds and where the three adventurers had gone from Jhan, the council had advised the men who were to be betrothed to her sisters to wait. Of course, they blamed her and not the council. But it was the reaction from  her mother and father that hurt the most.

 

She approached her parents and her mother simply turned away while her father waited until she was close before speaking, “You abandoned your duty, left your flock alone. That endangered our livelihood.” No greeting, no asking if she were alright, no fatherly hug. Only admonishment.

 

Unlike anything that the demon had done to her, or the kobolds, or the skeletons, this hurt. She felt both hurt and ashamed and alarmingly angry. Her fist tightened on her staff, “The sheep had food, they had water, and they were more protected than any of you could ever have made them. I saw to that. Other more pressing duties called duties to protect everyone of you and all who live in this village.” Meara seethed but she drew a deep breath. “I will not darken your doorstep any more father.”

 

Meara spun on her heel and would have stormed of but the Council spokesman barred her way.

 

“Meara, Jhan has told us what you have done, you are called to stand before the council to tell your side of the tale and to answer charges that have been made against you. We meet tomorrow, at the noon hour. Be there.”  The ‘or else’ went unsaid. Jaspen Miller spoke quietly but those near, including her father heard.

 

Meara fled the village not even stopping at her family’s home for she feared it was not hers any more. Instead she went straight to her cave.

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"You're the last and only gift of your Mother that I'll ever have, Artoria, and much as I'm glad you're an Achings to your bones in learning to fight and helping the poor ghost-addled girl... Don't do it again. Not without telling me first. It'd be the death of me to find you eaten by a bear or whatever other hexes that girl kicks up in her wake. Not all making's the same."

 

One long and exhausting interrogation in their cottage later, her Father's admonishment rang in her ears. Not the words so much, though the implicit condemnation of Maera put her hackles up despite a warning look from the man who gave her life, but the pleading exhaustion. Her father never plead, a rock, even deep in his drinks he got quiet and still rather than weepy or boisterous, but he was pleading then. At the end of a long explanation marked by her going through the events one more time prodded by his 'And then?'s or 'I see.'s or the rare 'Temper, Girl.' when she got wound up at some point or the other. He had grunted at her reveal of the singing elven rune, but couldn't hear it. 'Tomorrow, Girl' he allowed, giving her a future window to make something to test it on, something small and simple like a knife from their collection of scrap iron.

 

All said, the blonde bladesmith couldn't sleep despite her exhaustion, wired up by events and promises of future events. She headed into the forge once she heard her father's deep steady snores. More than a few broken tools hung from the walls in sacks, orders delayed by the village's uproar over their departure. Her lips pursed in displeasure. That *was* on her, so long as she couldn't sleep... Tugging on sturdy leather gloves and donning the fire-marked apron, Artoria started heating up the forge. She eyed the first job, a split hoe, and started rummaging for the best scrap to mend the injury.   

 

    

Edited by Exile_Jeane
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Once the alcohol and food were enjoyed at the feast, Ardan overheard the talk of the council about what to do with Meara, and his mood soured.  What they said about Meara, it made his blood boil, practically, and Meara's own family said nothing to defend her.   His father laid a hand on his shoulder, shaking his head.   This wasn't the time or place for him to  say his peace, he'd have the chance to do so the next day.   Kaylen looked at him, and sighed, recognizing the glint in his son's eyes.   Ardan was loyal if he was anything, and Meara had earned his loyalty. He resolved to stand with her before the council, stating that it was his decision to go after Jhan, knowing his friends wouldn't let him go alone.  He would share the blame for what happened, for only together had they managed to save Jhan, and end the threat.  He left from the feasting and went home.   He had plenty of provisions, smoked meats and such, that was a benefit of being the one who brought the meat home.  He prepared his pack, knowing that what he planned to do could get him exiled, or worse.   He made sure his sword was clean and sharp, and that he had his bow and arrows ready once again.   It was still well before the son rose, and he saw smoke coming from the Aching's forge, a light still coming from where the bellows was.  He took his pack, prepared as if he would be hunting again tomorrow, and made his way over.   

he couldn't knock, only wait for the silence between the striking of hammers, and called out to the one he thought was there.

"Artoria, is that you?"   He asked, in the moment of silence.

 

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There was a pause before Artoria answered, "Coming!"

 

A quick unlatching of the door that kept young children and chickens from scurrying inside while dangerous work was being done presaged it's opening, revealing the sweaty form of Artoria, still garbed for smithing, smudges of soot on her face. She had the serious, distracted look on her face she usually did when interrupted at the forge, counting out heartbeats as iron sat in the fire gathering heat, hot enough to hammer but not hard enough to lose it's hardness.

 

"Hey, Ardan. I couldn't sleep, so I'm making up for lost time and orders. My father hasn't touched the hammer since he found out we were gone," she explained with a nod of her head towards the glow of the forge, "What's going on? Looks like you're about to make up for lost chores yourself."

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"Nothing so pleasant, sadly."  He looked at her and recounted what he'd overheard at the feast, how The council was very upset with Meara, her own family not rising up to defend her, and shook his head. "She didn't come to the feast, and I don't know if she even went home.   Whatever else is going on, I'm not going to let her face them on her own.   After all, you two initially came along out of concern for me to help me find Jhan."

He smiled at her. "I'm going to go find her.  I figured you were busy, and I see you are, but I was going to ask if you would come too.  We're stronger together as a trio.   Besides, you're better with words.   Meara might listen to you if she has actually run away.   I want her to come back, to let her know her friends will stand with her, no matter what."

It was a big ask,what he was saying, and he knew it.   Still, he wanted to give Artoria the same chance, the same choice.

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It had been a long long time since the ugly night music of improptu community justice had marred the village, so much so that people didn't really talk about it. But people really didn't, did they? A bit of verbal poison in the wrong ears, and people would wind themselves up to terrible things. Artoria knew. She had been pouring that verbal poison in the ears of her peers for years. A burst of horribleness, and all that frothing terribleness came bubbling up and then... forgotten save by the very few save the victims and those who thought about aiming the headless beast that was a mob at it someone they disliked.

 

There really wasn't a choice, was there?

 

"My father is going to chain me to this anvil when we get back," she stated with the quiet resignation of one who has accepted that wading through a leech-infested swamp was the only way to their goal.

 

"Okay. I'll get ready and meet you by the swinging tree on the river. But I need you to try and pick me up something on your way out of town. I'm *not* fighting any bears naked this time if it comes to it. Again," she declared, walking away from the door and bringing out the embroidered pouch she'd inherited from her mother, home to all the wealth she owned in the world, pouring out the eight pieces of silver into her gloved hand, forge light catching the imprinted-crown on it's surface, "A shield and some leather armor in roughly my size from Old Man Machen. This should cover it, and you have a better chance of getting them than me with his Opinions about women and fighting."

 

Artoria personally thought they were Very Stupid Opinions, so sneaking something she'd wanted for a long time while helping her friend? Totally worth getting chained to this anvil.

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Arden was frustrated beyond belief he had lost Meara's trail and while he could have sworn he knew the way to her cave he just couldn't find it. It was infuriating.

 

“It's probably magic.” Artoria had trudged right along with her friend not really paying any attention toward where they were going. She was trying to get used to suit of armor which just didn't fit right and the shield which didn't seem heavy seemed to grow heavier every step she took as it shifted on her arm. And it was hot, she was sweating more wearing this than she did when she worked her forge.

 

“We should head back. She'll come to the village tomorrow and we can talk to her then.”

 

Arden took a deep breath. Magic. Humph. “Alright, “ he said reluctantly as he started to lead them back toward the village. They had only gone a few yard when Arden stopped and crouched down and studied

 

something on the ground. It was a mark such as would be made by a staff, he looked around and sure enough found a small foot print, there was still some bent over blades of grass in it. “Look here this must be Meara, and its no more than an hour old.”

 

He stood up “ but it isn't heading into the hills where here cave is it heading toward her family home. But we passed that and if she were going there we should have passed her on the way.”

 

Artoria looked at the incomprehensible marks Ardan pointed out, “Unless she was going somewhere else and turned off the main path.”

 

Ardan began tracking Meara again and sure enough the tracks after a short time turned off the patch soon they came upon a small homestead set in a tight copse of woods. There was a small pen with a couple of pigs and a small barn with a corral just large enough for one or two animals and some storage. There was no field for planting but there was a decent garden next to the house. There was no well but they could hear the gurgling of a creek they couldn't see beyond the house. They could also hear a whacking and thumping sound and a mans voice calling out some sort of cadence though neither could understand the words being yelled.

 

They made their way around the house keeping quiet and out of sight. Behind the house they now saw the creek about ten yards from the back of the house. And between the house and the creek were two straw men in leather armor lashed to poles, Meara was beating on one of them in time with the cadence being called out by the large grizzled man standing behind her.

 

Haygar called an end to the fighting cadence and turned toward where the two other youths were hidden. “I think we have visitors lass.”

 

 

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Ardan came out from the woods, no longer trying to hide himself.  "Good, you're not where I thought you were.  That was going to be a longer hike and likely mean tomorrow was going to be alot more difficult."   He had warned Artoria about the armor, and done the best he could to get the right size, but there were a number of inherent differences in their builds which required certain guesswork on his part, because all he really had to go on was eyesight.

Ardan looked to Meara, then the man she was with.   "I overheard the council members at the feast.  When I saw you weren't there, but your family was... I was concerned."   

He looked to Artoria.  "So was she, so we came looking for you."    Ardan wasn't the best speaker, but his intent, that of a friend concerned for another friend, was at least clear from how he stood and spoke.

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Haygar looked sideways at Meara as Ardan and Artoria stepped into view. “Those are my friends,” she said to him  a big smile replacing the determined look she had had while practicing.

 

Meara set the quarter staff she had been practicing with beside her own staff and ran to meet her friends throwing her arms around Arden then dragging him to Artoria to embrace both. “I’m so happy you came.”

 

Later after Meara had introduced them to Haygar the four sat at the old mercenaries table sharing a meal. Meara had explained how after going to her cave she decided that staying there was not a good a good idea but that neither was going home so she had come here told Haygar the story. Haygar for his part had asked the two newcomers a few questions concerning parts of the story that Meara had been vague or unclear about. After that he asked if he could see Ardan’s sword, at a nod from Meara, Ardan complied.

 

Haygar remained seated but examined the blade thoroughly. “Hmm.. it is old, this style has gone in and out of fashion, but the smiths always come back to it. They call it a battle sword, it can kill with both edges and the point. Most swords you find today are either single edged with an angled point, designed to be used as a slashing weapon, but the point is good for quick slashes but not stabbing weapons, or you have the knight’s swords, double edged but with a blunt or rounded point. Again, good for cutting and slashing. Not so much for stabbing.

 

With this  blade, it’s well balanced and light for its size, learn how to kill with the point and you will have advantage over most you might meet.”

 

He turns to Artoria, “Meara tells me you want to learn how to fight. Tomorrow is a day that will tell. If the council turns against Meara, I told her she can come here and stay if she wants at least through winter. As long as she is here you can come if you’re not afraid of the council and I’ll train you.” He glances at Ardan, “Both of you.”

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Ardan happily returned Meara's embrace and smiled at the introduction to her mentor.  Ardan nodded at the offer of training.   "We both stand with Meara, through whatever comes.   I cannot abandon my friends, those who saved my life, and shed their blood alongside me.  My father at least, will understand that."
 

He smiled slightly.   "I have confidence that'll we'll find a way forward, come whatever may."

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 Ardan and Artoria stayed and talked with Meara and Haygar until late afternoon then returned to the village. When asked where they had spent the day they both told that they had spent the day together at the edge of the forest. Neither mentioned Meara or Haygar.

 

The next day was grey and wet, Meara arrived at the village alone shortly after the cocks crowed and the sky shrouded in clouds lightened. Few who were up and out doing early chores did more than glance at her and for her part she made no sign that she even knew them even though she did.

 

She arrived at the White Hart Inn and looked inside there were a few patrons breaking their fast, but the council had not yet gathered. Instead of entering she instead choose to wait on the porch out front. As the morning passed villagers who would have gone into the inn to eat instead passed by upon seeing her sitting there with her staff on her knees, watching all of them. As those she had grown up with turned away at the sight of her, her mood grew foul.

 

Eventually the council arrived and everyone inside was chased away and Meara was called inside. Inside the inn tables had been moved and chairs set up, the whole council was present as was Jhan, Cleric Badro, and Cefela the village wisewoman. Two young boys, Meara didn’t know their names but thought they were the sons of one of the councilmen, were present to act as runners to fetch witnesses should they be needed. Noticeably absent were Meara’s parents and sisters.

 

Jaspen Miller called the council to order and asked Meara to stand before them. Meara walked stiff backed to the indicated place before the council, in her right hand she held her staff and she held her head high and looked each of them in the eye.

 

“Meara Atkyn, you have been asked here today to answer questions about your involvement with sorcery and threats this involvement have brought to the village of Havendale…”

 

It became apparent before the spokesman even finished his opening and long before Meara was allowed to speak, that fear was governing this council. Jhan was the major witness and his recounting of his encounter with the spirit and ambush by the Kobolds and his subsequent retelling of what he was told by Meara and Ardan was truthful but damning as far as the council was concerned. Other witnesses were called, villagers and folk from the outlying farms, people who had tales of sick animals failed crops and superstitious drivel, all blamed on unnatural spirits and such, with no connection to Meara, but that she was somehow responsible for anyway.

 

Meara answered when she was allowed too but they weren’t interested in what she had to say really and they didn’t allow her to call any witnesses for her own defense. They witch trial for that is what it was took all morning and well into the afternoon but was eventually done.

 

“Meara Atkyn, you have admitted to practicing sorcery, you carry a sorcerers staff and have admitted that you did summon this demon which caused harm to more than one member of this village. In your favor you did indeed send the demon away but we only have your word on that.”

 

“Only my word,” Meara interrupted the spokesman with the question? “There were witnesses but you have not allowed me to call them, other who shared the danger and did more than any of you here are willing to do.”

 

“Enough young woman, while the realm does not make sorcery a crime, you are not a court wizard but rather someone who has learned evil dangerous spells and your actions have placed all who live within our legal boundaries at risk. It is within the power of this council to act to protect this village and to act for its benefit. Will you renounce your practice of sorcery and give up that staff?”

 

“I will not.” Meara stood firm.

 

“Then it is the judgement of this council that you be banished from this village and its surroundings. You have until the next full moon which is in eight days to depart these lands. This is the most that we as the Village council can impose. If you disagree with our judgment you may petition the Lord, but take note that his judgment could come with a higher price.”

 

The wisewoman stands.

 

“The council recognizes Cefela, wisewoman of Havendale. What do you wish to say?”

 

The old woman stands beside Meara and sighs, “If this girl were a wizard from some great city all of you would be falling all over yourselves to ask her grace.” She shakes her head and looks at the cleric, “By holy law banishment can not be imposed on an unnamed youth, except by a member of the nobility granted special powers by the King.”

 

Badro the cleric nods, “This is true. All things great and small, alive and not, possess a True name given them by the Namer at their inception and revealed by those chosen by the Maker, The Namer, and The Nurturer. Justice on one who has not had her True name revealed is not true justice.”

 

Jaspen Miller sigh with exasperation, “Then give her, her name, and let’s get this done.”

 

Cefela smiles. Badro stands and comes forward to stand on the opposite side of Meara, “We cannot by royal law. The naming rituals may only be performed during the Feast Day of Falling. Which will not be until the longest night of the year, the winter solstice. She can leave of her own will, but no mortal punishment may given to her and she cannot be turned out.”

 

“You can banish her if you want after the Falling Feast but until then you can either lock her away or let the girl go about her business.” Cefela nods at Meara and returns to her seat, Badro does the same.

 

Jaspen looks at Meara, “We will not imprison you but while you are free to go about your business until after your Naming, you may not carry that thing,” he indicates her staff, “within the village walls nor may you practice sorcery within those same walls. That is the judgment of this council.”

 

Spoiler

Ardan and Artoria were not allowed into the council nor were they allowed to act as witnesses. they were if you wish able to eavesdrop and hear the proceedings and you may have them be there when the council is adjourned and Meara exits the inn.

 

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Ardan of course was livid that he hadn't been allowed to speak on Meara's behalf.   He was barely able to Stifle a cheer when it was pointed out they couldn't actually banish her until the Fall.    He resolved that if Meara wished, he and probably Artoria too, would do everything they could to show the people that while she made a mistake, she wasn't a bad person, and would be truly beneficial to have her reside in there, as the wisewoman had said.

When Meara came out, Ardan was the first to approach her, not quite openly smiling, but instead he did something just as rare.  He hugged her, and nodded.    "That went better than I expected, once I found out they wouldn't allow us to stand with you.   What are your plans going forward?"   Now he smiled at her, his intentions to stand with her now evident.   It was also the point where he realized he was still hugging her, and he released her, not looking away, but looking abit flustered.  "Er. sorry 'bout that."  

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On 3/16/2021 at 11:32 AM, Beyond the Wall said:

He turns to Artoria, “Meara tells me you want to learn how to fight. Tomorrow is a day that will tell. If the council turns against Meara, I told her she can come here and stay if she wants at least through winter. As long as she is here you can come if you’re not afraid of the council and I’ll train you.” He glances at Ardan, “Both of you.”

 

The blonde bladesmith was quietly furious. She had expected it. She wasn't surprised by it. But when the Council, with the exception of handful of the Elders pointing out the legalisms of the case, had ruled against Maera... It had hurt. Thank Gods for the King and his policy of official tolerance for mages or else there'd be a stake going up in the village square.

 

She was glad that she'd stashed her ill-fitting new armor and shield at the mecenary's home or else her Father would have forbid her from leaving the forge, not believing their improvised story at all, much as he had given her and Ardan a considering look, the kind she was used to seeing in other parent's eyes when the young men went a-courting. Ooops?

 

She chuckled at Ardan's abortive hug as she closed the gap, catching their last words, "Careful there. Don't want my Father thinking you're our next village bedswerver, Ardan. We have your back, Maera."  

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 Meara thanked her friends and turning her back on the rest departed the village alone. She stayed with Haygar who would give her shelter through the winter and longer if she wished; village be damned. While she appreciated this, she knew that regardless of what transpires over the next season she would in the spring leave this place and make her way in the wider world.

 

Adan and Artoria for their part were also determined to hold their to their loyal friendship and as time and the shortening season allowed both youths would visit and spend time with Meara at Haygar’s.

 

True to his word and knowing from experience that the world would be a terribly cruel place for those unprepared, Haygar set about to instruct and teach as best he could the three young people that had found their way to him. Over the course of the winter he showed them ways to fight and how to care for their arms and armor, how to fend in the wilds, even a hunter as experienced as Ardan, learned new and often surprising things from the grizzled mercenary. But war and wilds were not all he instructed. He told them of the great cities in the south, how men and women talked and acted in these far off almost mythical places. He taught them bits of language that would allow them to communicate in a dozen different kingdoms if need be. How to recognize money, it’s value, and how not to be swindled by unscrupulous traders.

 

Days and weeks passed, and the winter solstice grew nearer bringing with it the Feast of Falling and the Day of Naming. In the village both Ardan and Artoria were making ready for their name day, a solemn  ritual which would forever remove them from their childhood and place them firmly on the road to their future. A messenger was sent to Meara informing her of the coming name-day and when she would be expected in the village. It would be the first time since the elders had held their one-sided trial that she had entered the village or spoken o any save Haygar and her two friends.

 

The feast of Falling was a somber week of fasting and reflection and this year was made more so by a grey sky which sent cold winds and snow. The Fasting was broken on the last day by the feast which venerated the gods and called upon them to chase away the winter and bring forth a warm spring. The end o the feast was when the Ritual of Truenames was performed.

 

The village Cleric, spokesman for the gods, and the village Wisewoman (or man if that be the case), the healer and caretaker of the natural order, would erect a three-sided tent beyond the village wall and away from the villagers who would line the wall. Inside the tent was covered with symbols and a fire was built. Then One by one those youth who had been raised to adulthood during the feast of rising would leave the village and walk alone to the tent where they would enter and the Cleric and wisewoman would together perform the holy ritual and the true name would be revealed to either the cleric or the wisewoman, who would then reveal it to the youth by whispering it into their ear and once named the youth would be an true adult.

 

Spoiler

If you wish make a montage post for your training, end it with your characters heading to their  naming ritual . in a spoiler atthe end let me know what your true name shall be. when thats done i will do our naming post and we will be set for leveling up and the next adventure!

 

 

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Artoria could read between the lines and understand what was coming for Maera: her True Name bestowed and then a quiet shove out of the village followed by a not-so-quiet angry mob in the night if she didn't leave, and skilled as Haygar proved in their lessons, she didn't think he'd be the type to fight off that mob to let her stay. If he could. Not by the way he was training them in the ways of the lands outside of the valley. Achings had gone on walkabout for courting to avoid the unspoken problem of marrying a Cousin's Cousin for as long as there had been Achings, but the prospects of what he was teaching them... Dwarfed that. And the dwarves of the tales were actually a thing. As were gnomes. And warrior women. A whole queendom of them of them across the ocean if that tale was to be believed.

 

In a way that exhilarated and terrified her the same way ending spar after spar after spar panting on her back with Haygar's dry notation of how her (many) simulated injuries would have ended her life inspired and frustrated her.

 

Apparently she fought like she was in her forge, all force and no agility, so when he danced away from her swings, she was wide open again and again. Which was fair, the blonde bladesmith grumbled, iron didn't dodge. At least he had shown her how to wear the damn armor without chaffing and arranged for a discrete adjustment Here and There to let it fit her better over the inner layer of cloth, a 'gambeson' he called it. Still sweat like a pig in the sun in it, but now she knew. And then there was the Rune.

 

It had been a solemn day in the forge with her Father watching in focused silence as she crafted a simple knife, muscle memory and training driving her hands and arms as the personal music of the Rune played in her head and tweaked her process *just so* every so often. No rainbow sparks. No bonfire flare of light. Just a sizzle of super-heated oil as the finished knife was quenched and the final sharpening on the whetstone. The first sign of something different came when the blade cut through the corner of the rough rock, prompting a raised eyebrow from her parent. He took the newborn blade, pondered it's length, and repeated the cut. Same result. She decided then and there, Maera was getting that piece, just in case she attracted more spirits that needed extra magic to ward off.

 

"You may be onto something, Girl," he conceded with a nod, high high praise by the taciturn standard of their craft. 

 

That was permission to do it again with a boar spear for him. And permission, once she had done enough work to earn the scrap iron, to do it a third time making a great two-handed hammer for herself, hitting hard as she could make it hit. New demon bear she met was going to get it. And she always had the Rune to temporarily bless anything else, a little micro forging session as much prayer to the Maker as crafting. She could see why Maera loved her magic. Easy, instant, and yet... Rewarding in it's deceptive difficulty.

 

Which left the final dance of their twilight months in the village as their Name Day approached: the other villagers. She had her share of tells, she knew, much as she strived to cover them, and she knew he knew she knew he knew something was going on for her, something big was coming, so she maintained the white lie of Ardan and her's 'walks in the woods'. This led to wagging tongues and, to her vindicated amusement, jealous looks Ardan's way from some of the village boys also coming of age and out of the prejudices against a lady blacksmith. Would have been nice to have some of that acceptance earlier, a little more support that she wouldn't have had to fill playing the bully. It put a little extra satisfied strut in her stride, much as it saddened her to only get it now, so close to leaving, at least long enough to get Maera somewhere else safe to be. Beyond that..? 

 

The Ceremony itself was very much a blur, so much so, that she found herself headed to the three-sided tent before she knew it.

 

Spoiler

Okay.

 

So, Maera's getting a magic knife that deals 1d4+2 damage.

 

Artoria's father is getting a two-handed boar spear (lance stats, honestly, minus the crossbar to prevent the animal from running up the shaft and killing you) that gets +1 to hit and +1 dam.

 

Artoria gets herself a magic great hammer that deals 1d10+2 dam.

 

True Name: Haralda ('army ruler' in the norse)

 

 

 

     

 

   

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Hunting was still Ardan's primary job.  It was one he did well, and it kept him from the village for some days at a time.  Jhan still mentored him but he had a new teacher on his days at home.  Haygar taught the young man the way of the sword.   From the rising of the sun until it set, Ardan was run through fundamental swordsmanship drills.   The basics developed muscle memory, taught him timing, and how to look for the same in others, and what to do when it was different than normal.  Each day left him exhausted, though he didn't shirk his duties either.   He trained with sword and bow, and switching between the two in a moment, because that was all that could be spared in a battle for one's life.   He lost count of how many times Haygar had said he would have died in a real fight, but he didn't give up.   Ardan was nothing if not persistent, and got up every time he was knocked down saying only "Again." His skill with weapons would be essential going forward, fighting was a way of life beyond the village, that much had been made clear.   He knew basic math, and surprisingly, Ardan could read and write, His father had always insisted on at least the basics, even when it became apparent his son wouldn't follow his footsteps as a Guardsman.    While he was still learning, each day he got better, more at home holding a sword as he was holding a bow. By the time of the Naming Ceremony, Ardan had earned Haygar's acceptance.   
 

"You'll do.  You have much left to learn, but experience is going to be the best teacher for you now.  When you go forth from here with Meara and Artoria, I have some confidence in your abilities to stay alive, especially if the three of you go forth together
 

That last bit made Ardan blush just abit.   The tongues of many in the village were wagging regarding him and Artoria, they left together often, and spent much time together.  Some of the other young men were actually  jealous.   It was comical to him, in that they'd never expressed interest in Artoria to his knowledge, indeed most had feared her wrath.   The more either of them denied it, the more the people talked.  The sword is a powerful weapon, as is your bow, mastery of both is difficult, but it is not beyond you Ardan.   Practice your fundamentals daily, and you'll find they will not fail you."  Ardan had nodded at those final words from his second Mentor, and smiled.   "I won't fail you either."
 

Haygar smiled, and nodded, saying nothing more.   The three would do their best, and with luck, survive to make the village rue the coming day all the more.

Ardan made his way to the naming Ritual, knowing he would have his friends beside him after this, come whatever may.   His family would understand, and one day he would return.

 

Spoiler

Ardan's true name is Beowulf


 

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Meara spent much of the time with her friends as they learned what Haygar taught, she cooked and cleane and tended the gardens while they practiced and after her friends left to go home she and Haygar would stay up late and she would listen as he told her tales and lore of the lands beyond theirs and of the people there. She learned all that she could from him.

 

On the days Ardan and Artoria could not come she would practice some staff work but she also would go to her cave. It was there that she practiced magic, it was there that the book talked to her and from it she learned much of the sorcerers arts.

 

Before she knew it the time for the Naming festival came and on that day she found herself back in the village waiting with her friends.

 

She was the last called of course, another slight the village council decided to heap upon her. She watched as each of her friends went out across the field and into the naming tent, then it was her turn...

 

Meara stepped into the tent and into a cloud of incense and sage, the smell was overpowering but not unpleasenat. Before her was a fire pit with a small blaze going fed by the Wisewoman from a pile of sticks beside her. The wisewomen sat upon the ground on the other side of the fire and to Meara's left beside her, on Meara's right, sat the cleric.

 

“Meara Atkin..”

 

“It is only Meara, I am no longer an Atkin, thy turned from me so I have turned from them.”

 

The cleric and the wisewoman exchanged glances. “So be it,” said the wisewoman, “sit before us.”

 

As soon as she sat the Cleric intoned a prayer that was long and was given to the Three, as each section of the prayer was ended by the cleric the wisewoman gave and answering prayer not to the Three above, but to Nature and Creation and all that made up the world. The words were similar from each and ended with the asking of the blessing and revelation of this child before them.

 

Meara stiffend somewhat at the referance that she was achild but she realized it was so in the eyes of the greater powers.

 

The two holy persons then added items to the fire, the wisewoman tossed herds and sticks into the flames and the cleric empties severl vilas of colored liquids and place a cake of some sort into the flames. Clouds of smoke billowed up and change dcolors the tent filled and all three breathed in the smoke.

 

Meara's head began to spin, from the smoke and the humming the wisewoman made and then there was the sing song sensless words sung softly by the cleric. Meara knew that the gods would call one of the two to the fire and whisper to that one the name they had chosen for her. And that one would in turn rise and come to her and raise her to her feet and whisper the name into her ear. The god would reveal the name only to either the cleric or the wisewoman and that one was sworn to hold the name as sacred only to be revealed to is recipient. And from that day forward only the recipient could share the name with whom she chose. At least that is what was supposed to happen.

 

Spoiler

Spoilerwhat happens below to Meara is exactly what happens to both Artoria and to Ardan, just insert your own true name.. it is not normal from all you have heard for the ritual to go this way. after the naming you are each sent immediately out of the tent with instructions that the name is yours and yours alone.

 

The flames burned high and hot the smoke billowed the sounds from the cleric and wisewoman grew louder and more insistent, then both went silent. The wisewomann and the cleric looked at each other, eyes wide, both stood and came around the fire and stood on either side of the subject before them. As one t he reached down and raised her to her feet and leaned in and whispered into her ears the name the gods had bestowed... glød-veeg (ember-fey)

 

 

Meara stumbled from the smoke filled tent the word spoken by the cleric and the wisewoman had reverbrated through her the effect of the deepest magic. Both had spoken to her but only one was supposed to. What did this mean? Did it mean anything?

 

The name, she knew what it meant though she had never herd those words before nor what tongue they belonged to, if any.

 

She looked back up to the wall surrounding the village. It was not her home never had been. She had told Ardan and Artoria that she would return to Haygars after the ceremony and that if they wish they could come in a few days if they could but that she understood that they would have much to do. In truth she had already decided that she would not remain at Haygars longer than the night, she would not wait until spring but would leave before the next nightfall and spare her friends the uncertain future she chose for herself.

 

Spoiler

your naming gives you a trait, Traits can be found in this book  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cQx0DvGdj-naGmJXuZUjPaDaq54hQu_7/view?usp=sharing     on page 32, choose one from an appropriate category for your character. as you level you will be able to choose others.  you each also get enough xp to level up to second level. so you can do that as well.

 

 you may also post if you wish since you all may suspect that meara isn't going to come back to the village

 

im arou nd if you have any questions.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ardan's Naming ceremony was only like that of Artoria and Meara, the trio unique among any other ceremonies the wise woman and cleric had ever been part of.  With his True name, Beowulf, he had waited, wondering at why things were different.  With no answers forthcoming, he head home, saying goodbye.   If he knew Meara, she'd not be remaining, and he'd sworn to go with her.   His sisters made him promise to return, and in a rare show of affection, his father hugged him.   "I knew the day would come son, keep your head held high, I believe in your choices."  With those final words, Ardan left his home, and head for the Achings' Smithy.
 

He heard the Aching's Smithy before he saw it, the extended family having gathered to crack open a clay jug of mostly-apple cider to toast Artoria's coming of age. Artoria was basking in the glow of good attention, washing away the weirdness of the naming itself with a mug of the stuff. There was a round of laughter at one of her jokes, before Ardan was spotted by an Aunt at the edge of the cluster and gave a teasing call of 'Artoria, your Young Man is Coming..!'

Another round of laughter, this time at Artoria's expense, and the blonde bladesmith, dressed in the closest thing she had to finery in the form of the white ceremonial dress and cloak, was all but shoved in Ardan's direction, a fresh mug of cider passed to her hands and eyes rolling in bemusement. "This is yours," she offered, extending the beverage.
 

Ardan took the offered mug with what he was told was his best smile.    "Thanks, Artoria."      he lift his mug in toast.   "to the furture of a gifted smith, and a steadfast friend and companion."   hArdan smiled and took a long draught from the mug.
 

"To the best shot with a bow I know," Artoria offered back, returning the toast, draining her mug some more, "My Granny Ogg, Gods rest her soul, left my Cousins and I a jug of her best for our Namings. Going to save a little to bring over to Maera in the morning. Game to keep me company in case of bear?"
 

" I don't think she'll wait that long, honestly."   he himself was clad with everything he needed.   "I actually came to get you, before she decides to steal a march on us.   If you like i can go on ahead, and keep her there, so you can enjoy a night with your family."
 

Artoria's expression flashed guilty for a moment at that statement, voice dropping to a whisper, "You think so, huh? No, better to ask forgiveness than permission once we get her somewhere safe. If you're right. I've got my training stuff out there, and who knows if she has a trick that can put you to sleep with a wiggle of her fingers?"

He smiled.   "Half an hour longer we stay, make our appearances, and then we go, so she doesn't try to leave us behind."

(written with Jeane)

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The gate was closed but Artoria had the forsight to bring an extra flask of cider to bribe the gateman to let them out. It worked like a charm.

 

It was a cold cloudless night but with the moon lighting the way they made good time. They walked in silence, lost in thought. Would Meara be there still? If she were gone would they try to follow or go back home? These thoughts weighed on both their minds and though neither wanted to voice fears or doubts about what they were doing, though both stole glances at the other often as they walked.

 

They came upon Haygar's cottage soon after midnight and were a bit surprised to find a lit lantern hanging at the door. They approached and Artoria stepped up to knock lightly. Before she finished knocking the door opened and there was Meara dressed for the traveling not for bed.

 

Meara smiled crookedly at her two loyal friends and reached out grabbing both by the hand and pulling them inside. “Haygar said you would come tonight. I had planned to leave, but he said that if I did then the two of you would get here and follow and then we would all be out in the cold darkness blundering about.”

 

“Why would you leave without us,” asked Ardan? He looked around and saw no sign of Haygar in the small cottage.

 

“Because you both could still have a life here, if you come with me, I have no plan, I don't know where I am going or where I will end up. I know it will be dangerous and that it may lead to nowhere. I don't want to ruin what you could possibly have if you stay.” She looked down at her feet. “Haygar said that you would come because you would believe that I would leave before you got here. He said if you didn't come tonight then it would be alright to leave at first light because if you came after you probably wouldn't follow. But he said from what he gleaned of you from his training you, us, that you both would be here and would be angry if I had already left.”

 

She looked at both of them the guilt written on her face, “I just don't want to hurt either of you.”

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She owed Haygar a few silver pieces for talking some sense into her outcast friend, a shepherd and budding master of magic she might have been, but Maera was no woodswoman.

 

"Damned straight we'd be angry. Do you think either of us would be poor enough friends to not be willing to keep you company long enough to reach somewhere with a, what did he call it..? Oh, yeah. A trade caravan that'd keep you safe on the road. It's dangerous to go alone no matter how tough you are. I'd know," she responded a hint sharply, eyes narrowed to a glare and arms crossed over her chest, "Maker's Nails, you're not losing the pleasure of my company that easy. I want to see some of this world outside the chalklands Haygar's talked about. Oh, and Ardan can come too, if he wants. Just to confuse the village boys some more at least."

 

She grinned at that, nudging the slighter boy to take any sting out of her words and let him add his two scents to her remand.  

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Ardan had sighed when Meara  had spoken, she really didn't understand.   Then Artoria got her last comment andhe chuckled.  "Of course I'm coming.  Even though this is my home, I'd be a poor friend to let you leave alone and endanger yourself.   I didn't do all that training to just stay here." He smiled.   "Besides, It will let us get away from the rather incessant rumor mill that's in overdrive in town, surrounding not just Artoria and I, but you as well Meara."

He shrugged.   "We can come back another time, but for now you're stuck with the both of us."

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