May 1st, 2018

dungeons & discourse // no. 5, the greenwylde.

This is part of an ongoing series: (no. 1, saltwater // no. 2, avian // no. 3, reunion // no. 4, poison heart)

Osiria sat cross-legged on the cushions in her new state room — well, the state room that had previously belonged to a pair of recently dispatched ship’s musicians. They had, unenviably, turned out to be sea hags rather than bards. It was unfortunate, Osiria thought, because their music had really been quite good.

In their absence, her own status as amateur dinnertime performer had been distinctly elevated. The middling pan flute skills that had secured her passage on this not-particularly-musically-discerning vessel were in need of some polishing. It also did not escape her notice that all the bards she had thus encountered turned out to be evil.

“Thank goodness I chose not to join the Bardic College,” she mumbled, poking the area where the scorpion’s poison had seeped in. The wound was healed now, but it reminded her that wily bards were perhaps not to be trusted.

Despite the haunted origins of her state room acquisition, Osiria was grateful for the solitude, away from the constant preening and prattling of the sailors. She knew the rest of her traveling companions were employees of the guard — she had been offered a similar post based on her warrior’s merit, but refused — and anticipated they’d be too busy with menial labor to interrupt her self-imposed isolation.

Additionally, the previous occupants had left behind several sheets of harp music, a small lap harp, and walls draped in layers of strange and gauzy tapestries. There wasn’t much else of worth, but Osiria had moved in her own meager belongings, including the two druidic texts and a growing collection of local herbs, which she intended to spend the next two weeks at sea studying in earnest — well, that, along with the harp music. If she was to be the only musical accompaniment on board, she needed to practice.

She plucked one of the harp strings. It produced a satisfyingly harmonic sound that resonated somewhere outside of her musical abilities. She exhaled, then set herself to the task at hand.

In the corner, a samovar boiled hot water for herbal tea. Her Elvish drift globe floated just over her shoulder giving off an effervescent blue light, as though underwater, and illuminating the never ending pages of Frogon’s tight, cramped writing and accompanying etchings, filled with all the detail of a master druid.

Hours bled into one another as night passed into dawn several times over. She heard her hawks crying happily, racing one another across the open ocean. The bestiary had taken good care of them, but they were anxious in her absence. She wished, quite desperately, that she could accompany them on a hunt. But there wouldn’t be another chance like this, a chance for uninterrupted study. “Soon, my loves,” she whispered.

On the fifth day, her room was a mess of hastily taken notes, strewn about music sheets, and several flowers (origin unknown) laid out in a neat line across the low table. Pinned to the walls were various herbs in different stages of the drying process. Saltwater and humidity affected the leaves differently and she was still experimenting. The small port window was covered with a sheer tapestry and the room possessed an ethereal glow, further enhanced by the lingering drift globe. The samovar was long empty, but a strangely sweet smell permeated the still air.

Osiria’s head was bent in deep concentration, her fist clenched tight, her lips whispering barely audible incantations. Any additional light in the room surrounded only her, as though she were pulling it toward her on a thousand silken threads. Suddenly, her fingers sparked green and blue. Osiria jumped back, eyes open in alarm. Then, with even more focus than before, she seized upon the air, clasping her hand over nothing.

Her eyes closed and she slipped into a peaceful reverie, almost like the Elven meditative state she was so used to relaxing into, the sense of ease covering her entire body like warm bathwater. Her hand sparked again, then flickered — a firework that gradually calmed itself into a steady flame. This time Osiria didn’t react. In fact, the crease in her forehead had disappeared entirely.

When the azure sparkling ceased, she opened her hand. There, in her calloused bronze palm, was a single, perfect bloom.

“The Greenwylde,” she whispered. “I did it.”