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Yuletide 2015

Map

(Images go here)

Character

  • The Sealer(You)
  • Sorren
  • Willy
  • Rue Cally

Intro Scene – Glass Shop

???: C’mon kiddo, rise ‘n shine! 

Sealer: Ugh...wha—


A familiar, booming voice stirs you from your slumber. It was one that you recalled hearing before as you carefully push yourself up. Your body ached miserably at the action, your head pounding against your skull in retaliation at the sudden movement. As you try to speak, your voice cracks from lack of use, all while your vision slowly begins to focus and recognize your welcome surroundings.

Captain Willy: Well, look who finally decided to join us back in the land of the living? You know, this is the second time you’ve been dragged back here knocked out cold from some Ancient deity or other potentially deadly encounter...

Captain Willy: I approve! Can’t have a real adventure if you’re not cheating death at every corner.

Sealer: C-captain Willy? Wait...I thought I was in the Flickering Vales. Or was that all just some horrible nightmare...

???: I’m afraid all of it was real, Sealer.

Sealer: Sorren?! You’re alive! Immediately you jump up, which was certainly not one of your smarter ideas. You bite through the pain to greet your two mentors with renewed enthusiasm and utter relief.

Sealer: I was so sure something bad had happened to you when I saw Muzu get hurt back during our fight with Animus -- wait, that’s right...

Sealer: How on earth did I get back here in Silverport? Is Rue here? I think I collapsed at the end when the Necromancers attacked me, but...I recall someone with a warm voice wearing an ivory crown coming to our rescue. There were hundreds of crows there too with violet eyes that helped fight back Animus, and an evil tree that tried to eat me, and undead pets that rose from the ground that I’m keeping, and-

Captain Willy: Hold yer flippen’ Sleipnir there, Sealer. You’re talkin’ a mile a minute after just wakin’ up from a two month coma. Might want to take it easy or you’ll pass out again.

Sorren: Will’s right, you might still be suffering internally, so I suggest taking things slowly for the time being. Having Necromancers attack your soul like that may not show any physical damage, but spiritually you were assaulted by their dark magic. Caladaer will have to continue cleansing your spirit of their influence. If we’re lucky, maybe there won’t be—

Sealer: Wait, wait, wait...TWO MONTHS?!

Sealer: I was out cold for that long?! And who is Caladaer? And what’s this talk of my spirit being damaged? Am I sick?! I don’t want to turn hollow!!

Sorren: ...Continue to shout and interrupt like that and you may never find out.

Captain Willy: What Sorren means to say is that we missed ya, and we are just concerned for your wellbein’.

Captain Willy: Cally is an elvian who went out and rescued you from them nasty baddies. The guy’s been lookin’ after both you and Sorren since the both of ya got damaged from those Necros.

Sealer: I’m sorry. So...you did get hurt then? Are you and Muzu alright, Sorren? Everything that happened back at that haunted grove...it’s all my fault.

Sealer: I couldn’t do anything in the end. I failed both Seraphina and Rue, and you guys too...

Sorren: Try not to fret over all that for the time being, Sealer. For now, just focus on gathering back your strength and recovering from your ordeal. That is all that matters right now.

Sealer: Well, two months...doesn’t that mean the Festival of Lights is going on right now?

Captain Willy: Hahahahaha!

Captain Willy: Nope. Ye slept through most of it, so it’s fixin’ to be wrapped up soon.

Sealer: Darn.

Captain Willy: BUT, it’s still the Yuletide season! And I know just the thing to cheer you up.

Sealer: ...What?

Captain Willy: Why, collectin’ some glass shards for me that were stolen by our favorite little demonic hoarder, Azara, of course!

Sealer: No.

Sealer: Nooooo. No!

Sealer: Nope. Not gonna happen a third time, nope! Forget it!

Captain Willy: Ah come on, you should be a pro at it by now.

Sealer: Willy, I’ve still got scars from the last time I tried to face off against that crazy glass hoarding rune dragon! She went for my face last year.

Sealer: My. Face.

Sealer: I’m surprised I’ve still got my eyes honestly. She’s nuts, and she attacks me on sight now. I shall repeat: Not. Gonna. Happen.

Captain Willy: If I recall, you owe me one fer gettin’ you out of all that homework before ye left fer the Flickering Vales. Remember? I kept Sorren busy from tutoring you all throughout fall, and you got to be free from an endless sea of books and worksheets.

Sorren: Hold on, you mean that entire month of parkour was you keeping me busy? And here I thought you were actually interested in the training exercise for once. You nearly died from all that exertion you know.

Sealer: Willy! That was supposed to be a secret!

Captain Willy: Whoops! Looks like it slipped...oh well, guess you’ll have to make up for all that missed homework by gatherin’ them glass shards. I think that’s a fair trade, right Sorren?

Sorren: Will, I’m going to be mad at you later.

Sorren: You, Sealer, have a lot of homework to make up, but I agree with Will. Skipping out on your lessons like that just means you have double the work to do now. Gathering those glass shards sounds like an excellent reflex training exercise and a good place to start.

Sealer: Aw, come on! I just woke up from battling Necromancers, giant dragons, and evil man-eating trees, doesn’t that count for anything?

Sorren: Of course, it sounds like you’ve had a lot of practice in dodging so you should be fine. Perhaps next time you’ll think twice before making a deal with a pirate.

Captain Willy: Haha! He’s got ya there kiddo. And hey, I won’t leave ye totally high and dry. Sorren and I have a lot of new creatures to show you, so you know the drill.

Captain Willy: Bring us glass shards, and we give you pets for your uncontrollable hoarding addiction!

Captain Willy: Oh, and don’t forget to say hi to our new elvian roommate out back. Fixed up that old greenhouse for him, so you should find Cally near there. If you go outside, Fiore will show you where he is, down the alley outside the door here. That elvian has turned our back yard into a garden paradise since he’s been here, so he should be easy to find.

Sealer: *glares at Willy*

Sealer: How come I get the feeling that you got the better of both ends of that "deal" of ours...

Sorren: Anyways — you should also thank Caladaer when you get the chance. Without him, I doubt neither you nor I would be standing here right now.

Sorren: I also understand that you have a lot of questions after waking up, Sealer, but try to take things easy for now. Come and speak with us after you’ve gotten used to your surroundings once more. There is much to discuss.

Captain Willy: Oh! One more thing, kid. That glass hoarding beastie has made her roost in our attic it seems, so...yeah. Have fun with that!

Captain Willy: Just go outside, and look through the open window on the roof, and you’ll find her.

Captain Willy: Don’t forget to grab and run like I taught ye. Remember, use yer hands to shield your face, and enjoy the festivities!

Caladaer Introduction – Outside Greenhouse

You walk out to the back of the seaside abode, the short alleyway leading you to a tall side gate which was unlocked. Carefully you push yourself through, only to pause momentarily at the beautiful midnight paradise which lay before you.

You knew that Sorren and Willy’s home had a large back yard that they kept locked up. However, the few glimpses you had ever garnered was of an overgrown mass of thorns, brambles and what appeared to be a greenhouse in shambles and claimed by ivy.

Yet it seemed that the place was not only fixed up since your last conscious visit, but was filled with a gentle and welcoming aura that beckoned you. A different type of magic now lived within each leaf and blade of grass that seemed to have been tended to with great care. A few of the floating festival lights bobbed overhead, while a soft, warm glow emanated from the newly patched greenhouse, casting its light and illuminating the garden and its pristine plant life.


???: Do you like the garden, Sealer?

You turn sharply at the sound of another’s voice. You are somewhat startled since you had not heard anyone approach you, but you were even more surprised when you saw just what it was that was addressing you. Caladaer: I apologize, I did not mean to startle you, Sealer. We elvians are not often heard when we approach, but I am glad to see that you are finally awake and walking about.

You’re literally speechless. All you can do is stare for a few moments at this individual and their elegant ivory horns and cervine-like ears which distinguish his features as being elvian.


Caladaer: Ah, well...um– I suppose my appearance must be quite unusual upon first sight. I’ve tended to your wounds for the past two months now and I am already familiar with you, but I suppose we have not technically met on conscious terms.

Caladaer: Forgive me for my rudeness earlier, Sealer. I spoke to you without introducing myself formally. I am Caladaer Isilidilinsyr, seventh son and youngest prince to the seventh kingdom of Mirthwood...or at least I was. I don’t know if I should still be using that title now, though.

Sealer: C-Cala...I-Isilden...elvian! Prince?! Horns!

Caladaer: Heh, I suppose elvian names are rather hard to pronounce if you are not familiar with our tongue. Feel free to call me Cally if it’s easier, it is what both Willy and Rue have been referring to me as since I came here.

Sealer: Oh my gosh, I’ve never met an elvian! Do I need to bow? Is there some “deer etiquette” I need to use here? I never went over this in my homework, pretty sure it was in that pile I neglected...but it’s nice to meet you, Cally!

Sealer: Sorren and Willy told me that you rescued me back at that haunted grove. So much happened there, a lot of it is a blur at the end, but I remember hearing your voice in my dreams. You and that giant stag chased away the Necromancers. I don’t know if I’d be standing here if you had not come when you did.

Caladaer: I am glad I was able to get there in time as well, a second longer and I fear irreparable damage would have been caused. If not for my fleet footed elkrin companion, Vipen, we may not have made it in time to stop the Necromancers from damaging your spirit permanently.

Sealer: Sorren said something about that...am I sick? I feel fine, though, my dreams have been filled with nightmares lately. [Caladaer]: Both you and Sorren have suffered damage to your spirit, but it is a bit complicated to explain it all in one sitting. I promise to show you what I mean later on, but for now, I advise you to rest as much as possible. Feel free to visit me here at the greenhouse when your heart is weary, I will be happy to listen to any troubles you may have. [Caladaer]: Oh, and Willy said something about Yuletide? I understand that the festival is almost at its end, but I’d like to partake in your human customs and join in on the festivities if you’d allow me. In the meantime I’ll be here tending to the garden. Q&A with Sorren and Willy – Glass Shop Q: Can you show me some of these new creatures you talked about? Q: Hey Sorren, I wanted to check up on you and Muzu. How are you both holding up? [Sorren]: Isn’t that what I’m supposed to ask you? You care too much for others, Sealer...but we’re fine. [Sealer]: Well, it’s good to see that you haven’t changed at all! Maybe I’m asking the wrong crow here. Muzu, how are you and Sorren feeling? [Muzu]: Caw, caw—kee! Kekekekeke ❤ [Sealer]: I knew it. Why you gotta lie, Sorren? [Sorren]: You don’t even know what he said. [Captain Willy]: Don’t listen to him, Sealer! Sorren just barely regained consciousness himself about a week ago. Had me worried sick the entire time, no heart beat hardly or nothin’. Thought I was goin’ to have to fight the Reaper Ancient fer a second there. [Captain Willy]: You keelhaul on me like that again without a word, Sorren, and I’ll throw you out into the sea over ‘n over again till you have no choice but to wake up! T’aint no way yer goin’ to leave me like that after everythin’ we’ve been through. [Sorren]: Will... [Sealer]: What?! Sorren it doesn’t sound like you were fine. I knew something was wrong when Muzu died like that...yet, you’re both here now. Just what happened? [Captain Willy]: Mora, that’s what. [Sorren]: Will, don’t. [Captain Willy]: What? They are goin’ to learn sooner or later. There’s a hundred different reasons I don’t like that monster-in-law and this is one of them. Besides, Sealer’s already got one of her crow children blood bonded to them anyways. She sees everything through them blasted birds. [Sealer]: Mora? The mother-in-law? Wait, I thought you said you didn’t know who your parents were, Sorren? Is she connected to the Watch Crow group? [Sorren]: Morangwusnasomtaqa... [Sorren]: Or just Mora for those who can’t pronounce her name and do not wish to insult her by failing to do so. [Sorren]: She is the leader of the Watch Crows, and no, I don’t know who my parents are and I was not lying to you when I told you this during our first meeting. Will is just trying to complicate things before you are ready to hear them is all. [Captain Willy]: Pfft, the Sealer is goin’ to meet that woman eventually. Might as well prepare them for it. Trust me kiddo, yer goin’ to need all the preparing ye can get for that introduction. [Sealer]: I’m so confused...and growing slightly concerned. Sorren? [Sorren]: *sighs* I’ll tell you about it later, Sealer. Not now, though. Q: Hey Willy, so did I really miss the annual Festival of Lights usually held here in Silverport this year? [Sealer]: It looks like they are wrapping up all the floating glass orbs you make and taking down the string lights...was I really out that long? [Captain Willy]: I’m sorry kiddo, I tried waking you up so ye wouldn’t miss the festival, but you were out cold. Even Fiore tried to get ye to wake, but looks like her claws didn’t do much to stir ye — and I should know, she crawls up my back with those things all the time! I was so sure that would get you up. [Sealer]: ...So that’s why I’ve got prick marks all over me? That explains that at least. I hate that I missed the festival, though. [Captain Willy]: Just cause the festival is over don’t mean Yuletide is! We’ll celebrate here in the house! It’ll be like one really big, weirdly awesome family — with you, Sorren, Rue, Cally and myself. After all, that’s what Yuletide is all about. [Captain Willy]: I’ve actually been starting to call us the birdfamily, on account of all the crows around here and being a part of the Watch order. Has a nice ring to it, don’t ya think? [Captain Willy]: Maybe we could even all gang up on Sorren to make us lots of pancakes too! He’ll have to agree if we all plead together, he’s the designated momma bird after all. [Sealer]: That actually sounds really nice. Holiday pancakes with the birdfamily, has a nice ring to it! Heh, it’s nice to finally be back here...even though you’ve sent me to my doom again with fetching those glass shards back from that crazy rune. [Captain Willy]: Haha! Missed ye too, Sealer. Q: (You walk into Sorren and Willy’s shop to see Cally tending to Sorren) [Sorren]: I’m fine, Cally. Really. You should be focusing on the Sealer and making sure they get better. [Caladaer]: Forgive me for my boldness, Sorren, but if you are truly fine as you say then you won’t continue to object to me checking up on you. [Sorren]: ... [Captain Willy]: Wow, can ye teach me how to do that Cally? I’ve never seen him speechless like this but, what, maybe twice? And that was during the Festival of Bonds when we were just teens. [Caladaer]: I am only concerned because of your halfborn blood, Sorren. Since you are a being of avian decent, who has magic that is constantly at odds with your non-magical human self, you are having difficulties fighting back the impurities which inflict you. [Caladaer]: I promise I am not trying to impose, but the effect of the Necromancers’ dark magic on both you and Muzu seems to keep causing these episodes you are having with your... transformations. [Caladaer]: If we are not diligent those could get out of hand, and then even you won’t be able to control yourself, and from what I understand of avian halfborns, that is already difficult enough as is. [Captain Willy]: Listen to the doc, Sorren. I really think ye should be resting more than ye have been. Ye haven’t slept a wink since you woke up, and last night you nearly— [Sorren]: Don’t you think I know this already! [Captain Willy]: ... [Caladaer]: !!! [Sorren]: You don’t think I already know! I can feel the sickness inside of me...Oblivion’s curse effects all things with magic, even those with only half magic, and those Necromancers made sure to leave their mark. [Sorren]: I’m on borrowed time at the moment and I don’t have the time to be wasting it sitting here trying to heal the inevitable! [Sorren]: Gah... [Sealer]: Sorren!! [Sorren]: Sealer? Get. Back. Now! Don’t come any closer to me...ack— [Caladaer]: Sealer, it isn’t safe here right now. Come with me out back. [Sealer]: I knew it. I knew you weren’t well! Please tell me it’s not Oblivion’s curse! Please! I didn’t mean to open those cursed doors! I didn’t know...I-I didn’t know...I...I... [Captain Willy]: Cally, get the Sealer out of here now. [Captain Willy]: Sorren! Focus on me and me alone. That’s what you told me back when I nearly died out at sea when we were young, remember? It was just you and me back then and yer not going to ever be alone in this, alright? [Captain Willy]: Now I need you to do the same ‘cause I’m not going to let you go crazy to this blasted curse. So FOCUS like you always tell me to do! [Sorren]: Ugh!! I’m...trying... [Caladaer]: Come Sealer, he doesn’t wish for you to see him this way. He just needs time to calm down. [Sealer]: ... Q: Um, Sorren? Willy? Mind if I come in? [Captain Willy]: Sure thing, kiddo! Come on in. [Sorren]: Sealer... [Sealer]: I just wanted to come and check up on you guys since, you know...last night... [Sorren]: I am sorry you had to see me like that. I’ve been trying to keep it under wraps...but it seems I have failed in more ways than one. [Captain Willy]: Don’t beat yourself up, Sorren. I’m pretty sure the kid understands. [Sealer]: You’re sorry? Sorren, how can you say that when all this is my fault...I’m the one who opened the obsidian gates and released Oblivion upon the realm. Then I go get myself stuck in some haunted grove that trapped me only to have Muzu die trying to protect me! [Sealer]: And now you’re sick with Oblivion’s curse because of it—that horrible plague that chokes the very life out of anything with magic till it dies! [Sealer]: Every time I try to do something to help I just keep screwing up, and I don’t know if I can fix this! I’m supposed to be a Watch Crow, I’m supposed to be a good apprentice to you two, I’m supposed to ‘Watch and Protect’ but I just...I can’t... [Sorren]: ... You hide your head down in shame before you feel a hand on your shoulder that waits patiently for you to look up. [Sorren]: Even in the darkest of places, you are never alone. [Sealer]: Sorren...I don’t want you to die. [Sorren]: Do you believe that I will give myself up to death so easily? We are a family here. Or as Will likes to say these days, a ‘birdfamily’. [Sorren]: You sell yourself too short. You care for others who are undeserving of your consideration like myself, you help all those around you despite just being one person. You constantly take the blame for opening those doors till it haunts your every waking dream, yet still you are determined to fix it. [Sorren]: That does not sound like a failure to me. That sounds like an apprentice that I could not be more proud of. [Captain Willy]: I-I think I got sea salt in me eyes! Sorren finally made ‘birdfamily’ canon! Come ‘er you two! [Sorren]: Gah—Will, you’re hugging too hard. [Sealer]: I can’t breathe! [Caladaer]: Hey do you guys know where I left— [Caladaer]: Ah! What’s happening! [Rue]: Yay! Group hug! [Captain Willy]: Come on, Cally and Rue! You’re a part of this family group hug too! We’ve decided to keep you both so embrace the love! [Caladaer]: I-is this a common human ritual to partake in? [Sorren]: Heh, this actually happens a lot. Best to just go with the flow when it does. [Captain Willy]: This calls for pancakes! Sorren, make us pancakes. I want ten of them lathered with syrup and lots of love from you. No exceptions. [Rue]: Oh, I want some with pineberries please! And can mine be heart shaped? [Caladaer]: I actually would not mind some myself. I’d be happy to help you in the kitchen if you’d like, Sorren. Suddenly you don’t mind being crushed to death within this group hug of elvians, pirates, ghosts and halfborns. Where once year heart felt broken, now it feels whole, and you can’t help but hug back the odd group as you all clamor for Yuletide pancakes. Q: Sorren, I’ve had a question that I’ve been meaning to ask for a while... [Sorren]: Yes? [Sealer]: I’ve seen Muzu nearly everywhere I go, and back at that haunted grove in the Celtlands, Rue was able to speak to you through him, and then there were all those violet-eyed crows that wanted us to get back to you ASAP...basically there are crows everywhere I go and they all seem to know you. Is that a Watch Crow order thing or just a you thing? [Captain Willy]: Oh boy, is it time for the mother-in-law question? [Captain Willy]: All them violet-eyed crows are Mora, kiddo. They are her eyes and ears and little freaky child spies that make sure to let you know over and over that you will never be good enough for her son, or that yer just a loud, good-fer-nothin’ pirate who doesn’t even pirate things correctly anymore, or that ye just want her son for his pancakes, or— [Sorren]: Will, you do know she can hear you through Muzu now. [Captain Willy]: I know! [Captain Willy]: Hey, Muzu, come ‘er a sec. I know some really colorful pirate lingo that Mora would just love to hear from her favorite son-in-law. [Sorren]: *sigh* I really wish you two wouldn’t fight. You both make family reunions very awkward for me. [Captain Willy]: Hey, she started it! I had no idea back when we were street kids that your adopted mother was the Ancient of Shadows of all things. [Captain Willy]: Too bad for her not even a scary Ancient could chase me away from you, huh? Bet she didn’t see that one coming! [Sealer]: Whoa, whoa, whoa...whoa— wait just a minute! The Ancient of Shadows adopted Sorren! What?! [Captain Willy]: He’s also blood bonded to her as well, so that just makes things way better! [Sorren]: Yes Will, just go right ahead and tell them everything why don’t you. There are far better ways to say this than laying it out so bluntly. [Sealer]: WHAT?! You’re bonded to her as well? But that means...that makes you a summoner! [Sealer]: Oh my gosh, I’ve never met a summoner! I mean, I’ve read about them in tales and stories alongside knights and giant mythical rune drakes that blot out the sun, but you’re actually a real live summoner! [Sorren]: You think I can just summon the Ancient of Shadows whenever I wish? It doesn’t work like that. If anything, it’s more often I that gets summoned by her will, to complete the tasks she asks of me within the Order. [Sorren]: Only in the most dire of circumstances do I request her aid in battle. An example would be back during the fight with Animus. When my connection with Muzu was abruptly severed, after he was killed by the Ancient of Memories, Mora came to help in one of her many forms — which was what all those violet-eyed crows were. [Sorren]: It was the last thing I could do before I lost consciousness. Muzu and I acted rashly when he dashed in to protect you from Animus’ maw. Because of that, neither of us were able to defend you...that is why I requested Mora’s aid, since I was no longer capable of defending you from the Necromancers through Muzu. [Sealer]: I had no idea...aww, Sorren! You do care! All those times I saw Muzu was just you checking up on me. That’s why he always brought me those boxed lunches and little notes from you and Willy that helped me keep going. [Sorren]: Well of course, I told you back when we first met in Alabaster City that I can see and hear everything that Muzu does, no matter how far apart we are. [Sorren]: I wasn’t going to let you starve out there, but I also did not wish to hold your hand through those missions. [Sorren]: You were never truly alone. No matter where your travels took you, I was not going to let my apprentice die under my watch— [Sorren]: Huh? What are you doing? [Sealer]: It’s called a hug, Sorren! Embrace it! [Captain Willy]: Are we doing group hugs again?! [Sorren]: Ack, no, Will not again. [Captain Willy]: Too late, I want in on it! [Sealer]: Accept our love, Sorren! It is inevitable! [Sorren]: Ugh, what am I going to do with you two... Q: Hey Sorren, didn’t you say that having more than one blood bond with a creature is a bad thing? [Sorren]: Yes, I did. [Sealer]: But then, you made a pact with the Ancient of Shadows in blood as well as with Muzu...isn’t that bad then? [Sorren]: Yes, potentially, it can be. It was why I gave you that warning so long ago back when we first met. In order to create a bond in blood, all you need is a promise and a single, crimson drop. I tethered a piece of my soul to not only Muzu, but to Morangwusnasomtaqa as well. However, when I did, I was only around four or five years old. [Sorren]: Being a halfborn, there is no other way for me to create such bonds, since I am unable to make a stable, magical connection with others. [Sorren]: However, you must understand, there was no other way a street urchin my age would have survived back then on my own. I was a halfborn, I would have been killed despite being just a boy, especially since I am half avian—humans and avians are greatly hostile towards one another. No mercy or pity was shown to me. So I showed none in return. [Sorren]: I cannot tell you how many times someone would approach me on the dark streets where I slept alone. Once they saw my eyes they’d recoil in disgust and try to attack me...but none ever succeeded. [Sorren]: Anyone who dared to harm me would be feasted upon by a thousand violet-eyed crows. Or shadows from all around would drag them back into the darkness where their cries were abruptly cut off. [Sorren]: I was protected and kept safe thanks to my bond with Morangwusnasomtaqa. If not for her, I would not have survived to this day, and back then, surviving each day was all I really cared about. [Sealer]: Sorren...I’m sorry life was so difficult for you back then. You’ve never really talked much about it, but still, having two blood bonds is severing your soul twice isn’t it? You only have so much to give. What if you become a hollow like those Necromancers and Animus? I don’t want you to end up like that. [Sorren]: I was brash and foolish during my youth...and very bitter towards the world, Sealer. [Sorren]: I cannot say why the Ancient of Shadows offered such a binding, and rather powerful, proposition to me of all people. She has always been there when I needed her most, but she was more often than not purposefully absent, since she insisted on not holding my hand as I handled situations on my own. [Sorren]: However, it is her magic that is currently helping me to keep my accursed transformations under control. Instead of having the sickness feed off of me, she is instead siphoning it to herself as much as possible. It is a troubling situation for the both of us, and one I hope to rectify as soon as possible with Caladaer’s help. [Sorren]: I promise to you, though, I would die before I ever allowed myself to become an empty husk of anger and madness—I will never become hollow. [Sorren]: There are obviously many limitations to creating two blood bonds, but being what I am, being a halfborn, I garner more benefits than I do consequences. I will never know what it is like to make a magical bond with another creature, but at least this way, I have the abilities to protect what is most important to me no matter the cost. [Sealer]: Alright, I understand Sorren. Just promise me no more blood bonds alright? You’re not allowed to die on my watch. [Sorren]: Funny, Will said the exact same thing. [Sorren]: Don’t worry, Sealer. I’ve already made that promise to Will. But it if makes you feel any better, I shall make the same promise to you as well. Q: (You walk into the birdfamily home to see Willy, Rue and Sorren speaking to one another) [Captain Willy]: Sorren! We’re adoptin’ Rue. That’s happenin’. It’s already happened. [Sorren]: Did you even ask Rue before jumping to this decision? [Captain Willy]: ...Yes. [Sorren]: Rue? [Rue]: Um...yes? [Sorren]: Will... [Captain Willy]: Sorren. [Sealer]: Sealer! [Rue]: And Rue! [Captain Willy]: Haha, see Sorren? We’d all be perfect together! Did you not just witness that flawless family chemistry we all shared just then? [Sorren]: Ugh, Will that’s not how this all works. [Captain Willy]: What? Why not? You and I would be awesome dads! [Sorren]: We are ex-pirates, Will. [Captain Willy]: All the better to teach our kid how to ‘borrow’ things. [Sorren]: I’m an assassin for a secret order that watches every corner of the realm. [Captain Willy]: All the better to teach the kid how to smack down any who try to take their lunch baubles. [Sorren]: Their “grandmother” would be an Ancient deity of shadows and would more than likely have all the child’s friends eaten by crows if they even looked at them wrong. [Captain Willy]: All the better to...uh, okay you got me on that one, but I have a feelin’ miss mother-in-caw would be ecstatic for a kiddo. And since Rue’s already a ghost, any kids that get eaten will just become her ghost friends! It’s a win-win. [Sorren]: Ugh, Will, how long are you going to berate me about adoption? [Captain Willy]: Till it finally works or pancakes are involved. You know me, I can go either way. I’m relentless. [Sorren]: That last statement is true at least. [Sorren]: Besides, I have already told Rue that if she wishes to stay, she is more than welcome to. [Captain Willy]: Alright! Hear that, Rue? You’re a bonafide birdfamily member now. Cally’s next! Q: Sooo, there are a ton of cuttlefish near the docks by the seashore and I’m just wondering, like, what’s up with that? [Captain Willy]: What? They’re back! [Captain Willy]: Them blasted tiny sea krakens...they’ve found me again, Sorren! [Sorren]: Are we talking about that weird cuttlefish problem you have? [Captain Willy]: It’s not me that has the problem, it’s them! They won’t leave me alone. [Sealer]: Okay, I’m missing something here. Cuttlefish are a problem? Have you not seen how adorable those things are! I’ve been gathering as many as I can! Also, I think Azara has been too, but she might be hoarding them as food actually... [Captain Willy]: That’s just what they want ye to think, kiddo. They’re just plottin’, bidin’ their time and waitin’ to take over, actin’ all cute and squishy. But in reality, they’re just mini Cthulhu monstrosities who want more of Captain Willy... [Sealer]: That doesn’t really explain why you seem to dislike them, though... [Sorren]: Will kissed a cuttlefish when we were kids because he claims that kissing them gives you a single wish. Now they won’t leave him alone due to the wish he made. [Captain Willy]: It’s a pirate saying that my own Pa told me, and that man never lied once. Kiss a cuttlefish and you get a wish, so that’s what I did and I got my wish just like he said. [Sealer]: Oh my gosh, really? I need to kiss a hundred of them then! What did you wish for? [Captain Willy]: For more wishes of course! [Sorren]: I think that’s the root of your problem here, Will. [Sealer]: Haha, so that’s why there are so many of them down there? They are just waiting for you to give them more kisses so that they can give you a wish! [Sealer]: Aww, I don’t know why, but that just sounds too adorable. They are loyal little mini-krakens! [Captain Willy]: Ugh, no thank you. I’ve kissed enough cuttlefish beasties to last me a lifetime. I manage to lose them every few years out at sea on our ship, but it seems the cuddle hoard has found me again. You know what that means, Sorren! [Sorren]: Do we really have to take the Wicked Serval ship out to sea again, Will? Isn’t that a bit excessive? I don’t think running away from your cuttlefish problem exactly fixes the issue. [Captain Willy]: Sorren, you know very well that running away fixes almost all my cuttlefish problems. Besides, it could be like a birdfamily vacation! [Captain Willy]: We finally have an almost full crew now with Rue and Cally added to the family. It’ll be just like old times! You and I, young pirates out at sea, running from the cuttlefish and singin’ sea shanties along the way. Come on, I know ye miss it as much as me! [Sorren]: Hm, I suppose it would be nice to get away from everything for a while. [Captain Willy]: It’s settled then, next time you come back to Silverport kiddo we’ll get the Wicked Serval out to sea where she belongs and show you, Rue and Cally how to be real pirates! By escaping the cuttlefish epidemic. Q: Sorren, can I ask you something about Caladaer? [Sorren]: Like what? [Sealer]: He mentioned that you and Willy really helped him out when he was banished from Mirthwood, that you offered him a place to stay when he had nowhere else to go. How did you guys come to meet? I just can’t seem to get any straight answers out of him whenever I bring up the subject of his home. [Sorren]: You shouldn’t pressure Cally if he is not ready to speak about what transpired, Sealer. I understand you care about others too much for your own good, but whatever happened to him must have been fairly recent since he’s been with us for only a few months now. [Sealer]: I know...I just feel so bad for him is all. He is so easy to get along with, and we’ve become fast friends I’d like to think, but he seems so...sad, even when he’s smiling. I just want to do something to help him. [Sorren]: ...I suppose I can at least tell you of how I came across him. However, I don’t know myself what caused his banishment. I’ve just been giving him his space on the matter. [Sorren]: I happened upon Caladaer when I was looking into a disturbance near the northern borders that lead to Mirthwood, per Mora’s request. Scouting Watch Crow members had reported that cases of Oblivion’s curse were beginning to crop up within various towns and ports along the way. [Sorren]: However, I was stopped when I noticed something happening up the road a ways. I immediately took to some nearby trees to get a better vantage point of the situation, only to be caught off guard by what I saw. [Sealer]: What did you see? [Sorren]: A group of seasoned bandits blocked the path of a mounted individual farther up the road, an elvian rider and his elkrin. They fanned out to circle what was perhaps the rarest catch they’d ever come across in their short lifetime. [Sorren]: There were six in total. Their leader, a thin, pale figure with a deep scar running across his lower jaw, feigned a polite greeting in a hoarse and condescending manner. He told their catch who they were and what they were going to do while demanding the elvian to comply without a struggle and make the process easier for the both of them. A process he had no doubt done many times before, given his confidence in the situation. [Sorren]: The elvian refused with strained politeness in return, and gave them all one warning after another to let him and his elkrin pass so as to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. The bandits laughed and mocked his request...it was their downfall for believing their quarry was feeble and helpless. [Sealer]: What happened next? [Sorren]: The bandit leader signaled his men to advance with force. Within moments, the group dashed for the elvian in an effort to forcibly dismount him with practiced tact. However, they all immediately stopped when two of their men fell dead to the ground—a single, ivory arrow lodged deep within each of their skulls, the force of each shot snapping their necks in the process. The sight made the elvian’s assailants stop in their tracks. [Sorren]: The elvian cried out for the others to simply turn away and leave him be or he would be forced to shoot them as well. They were all frozen in shock, uncertainty now etched into each of their faces as they realized their prey had fangs of his own. [Sorren]: Such an unexpected turn of the tides must have infuriated the bandit leader, as he then called for his men to pull out their crossbows and shoot the mount down. Before they could even reach for their weapons three more whistles split the air with a piercing cry, and three more bodies fell, meeting the same fate as their two comrades from before. [Sealer]: ... [Sorren]: All that was left now of the bandit group was the scarred individual who took the elvian for granted, and in doing so, lost all his men within a matter of moments. The elvian desperately pleaded once more for the leader to simply walk away, to just leave him and his elkrin be so no more lives were lost, but instead the bandit chose a different fate. He drew his blade and charged at the other with a string of curses and a wild yell. The elvian fired one last shot imbued with whispered magic, his final arrow decapitating the leader and silencing him once and for all. [Sorren]: By this time I was already standing a few feet away from the scene. I wasn’t going to try and hide my presence from an elvian of all things, and held my hands away from my blades as he aimed his bow at me, warning me to stay away. [Sorren]: I could see that his features were racked with guilt and turmoil after what he was forced to do, but I was honest with him and told him who I was. There was no point in hiding anything. [Sorren]: Eventually I was able to convince the elvian that I was no bandit. After we traveled for about a week together, he told me his name was Caladaer and that he was a prince of Mirthwood. He also divulged that he was banished and could not return to his home, that he knew little of the outside world and the people who were constantly trying to take advantage of him in some way or another. [Sorren]: So, I offered him sanctuary at our home here in Silverport with Will and myself. It took a bit of convincing to get Cally to do so, but I think we can all agree that we are lucky he decided to come here in the end. [Sealer]: I...I’m kind of speechless. I had no idea Cally was capable of that sort of thing. He doesn’t come across as someone who would kill others, but I guess he really didn’t have a choice in that situation. [Sealer]: First he was banished from his home, and then he was just aimlessly wondering with no place to go while others were trying to exploit him...I feel awful that he had to go through all that. [Sorren]: Caladaer is a capable individual that should not be taken for granted – most elvians are. An elkrin stag has antlers for more than one reason after all. He was forced to defend himself, even more so, he tried to spare the bandits lives time and time again, regardless of their ill intent towards him. That alone should speak volumes about his character and who he is. [Sorren]: Even if he did kill those men, he did so swiftly and only when there was no other option left to him. Don’t take what I said just now and think any less of him, Sealer. Cally is not someone you should be frightened of, but I thought you at least deserved to know how I came across him. [Sorren]: Maybe one day we can both gain his trust enough to help him in his sorrows, but until then, the best you and I can do is simply be there as a friend where before none could be found. Q: Hey Willy, you’ve mentioned your pirate ship and your father recently, and I just noticed that I don’t really know much about your past or how you even became a pirate. [Sealer]: Is your father a pirate as well? Can I meet him? How’d you get the Wicked Serval as a ship? Why did you and Sorren become ex-pirates? I can’t believe I never asked you this before! [Captain Willy]: Whoa there, Kiddo. Is it my turn to be interrogated now? That’s a lotta questions ye got to pry into there. [Sealer]: Haha, I get excited when it comes to pirate stuff it seems. I guess I did ask a lot there, how about your father then? Isn’t he Wilhelm Amadeus the Second, since you’re the third? Who is the first? When can I meet them? [Captain Willy]: Sorry, Kiddo, but I’m afraid my pa passed away a long time ago. It’s the reason why I ended up on the streets as a kid with Sorren all them years back. [Sealer]: Oh...I-I didn’t know. I’m so sorry, Willy. [Captain Willy]: No worries, kid. Like I said, it was a long time ago, and stuff like that happens. I already went over that emotional mess and came out the better for it in the end, thanks to Sorren bein’ a part of my life. Fate works in mysterious ways, like they say. [Captain Willy]: He was a good man, though. He would have loved to meet the birdfamily! My pa was the type of guy to not care who you were or what yer past was, as long as you were a good crew member and had his back then he was your friend through and through. [Sealer]: He sounds a lot like you then. Was he the one who taught you how to be a pirate? [Captain Willy]: Sure did! The man would take me all across the eleven seas on the Wicked Serval. We practically lived on the ocean, but that ship has been in our family since my grandpa, Sir Amadeus the First, was stricken with a curse that has been passed down generation after generation ever since. [Sealer]: Your grandfather had a curse placed on him? But, who would do that to him and why? [Captain Willy]: Grandpa had a lot of enemies since he was a duke. Owned all of Silverport actually, held quite a bit of wealth since he oversaw the tradin’ here that led to Alabaster City. As the family story goes, Grandpa Amadeus apparently got too cocky fer his own good in his prime. A bit of greed and superiority had settled in his heart when he should have showed some humility for others’ misfortunes. [Captain Willy]: One night, he belittled and turned away an old woman who was seeking shelter from a terrible storm. Her caravan had broken down just out of town and she had gone to the duke to request his aid. In return, she offered to read his fate, but the duke refused to help if she did not have any baubles to give for his assistance. [Captain Willy]: She asked him a total of three times, advisin’ him that showin’ a bit of generosity could change his fate for the better. Each time he refused, and by the third refusal, he learned his mistake. [Sealer]: *leans in closer with an eager face* [Captain Willy]: Turned out the old woman was actually an Ancient of all things! She shamed the duke for his greed, chastised him for his uncarin’ heart towards those less fortunate than himself, and then placed a curse on him that made both him and all his descendants thereafter unable to use magic or have magic used upon them. [Captain Willy]: So, both my pa and I can’t create bonds! Kind of sad really, but eh, I get by just fine with Fiore bein’ my friend, and I understand somewhat what Sorren and halfborns go through. Plus it’s actually helped me out quite a bit when some other baddy or Ancient tries to use their magic on me...nothin’ happens! You should see the look on their faces when they realize that. [Captain Willy]: I’ve walked through a hundred barriers, opened countless magical locked doors, and nullified other curses without even realizin’ it! I’m like the ace in the hole, they never see me comin’! [Sealer]: Willy, I want to say I’m surprised by this, but you’re Willy. Jeez, I guess it makes sense that Ancients can place curses upon others. At least it’s nothing deadly like Oblivion’s curse, but what happened to your grandfather? Who was the Ancient that cursed him? [Captain Willy]: Don’t know the Ancient who did it, but grandpa used his entire fortune to try and cure himself. In the end he lost everythin’ and turned to piratin’ to find a way to reverse it on his own, as well as to find the Ancient who cursed him. [Captain Willy]: He never did find that old woman again, however, he did become a notorious pirate that everyone dubbed ‘The Red Liger of the Sea’! Man had a majestic fiery beard that I envy to this day. [Captain Willy]: Anyways, Grandpa Amadeus was actually quite the skilled adventurer it seems. His eyes must have opened up when he got some fresh sea air in him, cause after that he was more humble fer what he had, and began to live life to the fullest. [Captain Willy]: Spent the rest of his days sailing the seas and teachin’ my pa to do the same. Now all whose left is me really with the Amadeus curse and the Wicked Serval. Wouldn’t have it any other way! [Sealer]: Willy, you never cease to surprise me. It’s sad that you can’t create magical bonds, but honestly it seems like that curse was the best thing to happen to your grandfather and your family. If not, you might not have met Sorren and instead be some duke! [Captain Willy]: I know! Don’t remind me, Sealer. It’s scary to think about. [Captain Willy]: Me, not a pirate, or not havin’ Sorren by my side and being some fancy pants duke instead? Ugh, makes me shiver just imaginin’ it. If I ever get the chance to meet that Ancient, I’m gonna give her a great big ol’ hug and a kiss on the cheek. Curse or no, I’m glad fate was good to me in the end... Q: (You walk into the birdfamily abode to see Caladaer, Sorren and Willy speaking to one another happily as they appear to be plying some sort of dice game) [Captain Willy]: I can’t believe it! Cally’s kicking our butts at this. [Sorren]: It appears our elvian prince is better at lying than we previously thought. [Caladaer]: I am very sorry you two, I did not mean to take so many of your baubles. I must have gotten caught up in the heat of the moment. [Caladaer]: This game is actually quite exhilarating! If you’d like, can we play another round of liar’s dice? Double or nothing, as Willy says. [Captain Willy]: Haha-- should have known them doe eyes of yours was hidin’ a crafty side of you there, Cally. Remind me to take you with us next time Sorren and I visit the local pub. Them sailors won’t know what hit ‘em. We’ll be rich! [Sealer]: Hey you three, what are you all up to? [Captain Willy]: We’re playin’ a few rounds of liar’s dice. I thought Sorren and I could show Cally here how to do it, but it turns out our deer prince is a natural at this! He’s actually quite...dice-eiving, if you know what I mean. [Sorren]: Ouch. That pun was awful, Will. [Captain Willy]: Oh come on, you know you love me for my bad puns! It just adds to my pirate charm. [Caladaer]: Haha, well it is not too much different from some of the games that our people play within court. However, I must admit, I like your version much better. Winning baubles instead of a polite ‘Well done’ is far more rewarding in my opinion. Would you like to play with us, Sealer? [Sealer]: Of course! I’d love to play! 10 mintues later [Sealer]: Okay I don’t want to play anymore. I just lost a whole month’s worth of my allowance and then some. You guys weren’t kidding, Cally is crazy good at this game! [Caladaer]: Did you all wish to play again? It’s only twelve out of zero so far, thirteen is bound to be a lucky number for you three to win back a bit of what you lost. [Captain Willy]: Nope, I’m out! [Sorren]: Same, I’m good. [Sealer]: No way man I’m broke! [Caladaer]: Very well, thank you all for a wonderful time tonight. I promise I shall put your baubles to good use towards you all. [Sealer]: Huh, you’re not keeping them for yourself? [Caladaer]: I would never take so much from you three without giving back something in return, even if it is a game. However, it’s a surprise on what I plan to do so you’ll have to wait and see. [Caladaer]: Although, I would love to learn some more of your human games! Maybe next time we can try this ‘Blackjack’ that Willy is always on about. Q: Alright, food! Man this all looks so great! I’m starving, let’s eat! [Captain Willy]: I second that motion! Look at all these pancakes! And is that two whole jugs of syrup there with my name on it? [Captain Willy]: I-I think I might cry from happiness here, it all looks so good. Sorren, I love ya so much right now. [Sorren]: I know, Will. [Sorren]: Cally helped prepare a good portion as well. He was a big help in the kitchen. He’s becoming quite a natural at this. [Caladaer]: Ah, thank you, but it was really not much on my part. Just a few things here and there. Rue really helped me out quite a bit. Her knowledge of spices and herbs is surprisingly deep. She deserves most the credit I think. [Rue]: I hope you like it everybody! [Captain Willy]: A Yuletide feast fit for the birdfamily then. Alright, let’s dig in— [Captain Willy]: Fiore! What the heck are you doing! You watch as the magenta furred feline leaps atop the table, fur on end, as she begins to hiss furiously at the shadows. Suddenly a giant white blur jumps atop the table with her, snarling as food and plates are knocked in their wake. [Sealer]: What the—a dire wolf!? [Caladaer]: Delilah?! [Captain Willy]: Oh no, don’t tell me Scruffles is back again. [Captain Willy]: Hey! Get away from, Fiore! Go take your cat and dog fight elsewhere! Sorren, I swear, that wolfkin “friend” of yours is goin’ to ruin another meal together. He always does this. [Captain Willy]: Wait—not the syrup! [Sorren]: Delilah...that’s odd. [Captain Willy]: How is this an odd situation? This is a nightmare! [Captain Willy]: All that food, ruined...my dreams are shattered for tonight. Even the poor syrup and pancakes had to suffer. You stand back as the white dire wolf named Delilah continues to chase the sea serval across the table in a mass of food and chaos, before the feline jumps for the safety of the pirate captain’s shoulders, only to have him topple over as the large dire plummets into him. Willy lets loose a string of pirate curses as he is subjected to a few slobbery licks, only to have the dire look up sharply as Caladaer calls her name. Without hesitation she runs to greet the elvian prince, towering over him as she jumps and lands her paws on his shoulders. She gives him a few sloppy kisses to the face, her two tails wagging in a happy manner. [Sorren]: Delilah is alone and looks half starved...Fenrir would never allow her to get so thin. Something is wrong. [Sealer]: Fenrir? Is he the wolfkin friend of yours that Willy mentioned? Wait, if this is his dire wolf, then does that mean... [Caladaer]: So our mysterious alpha finally has a name...is this Fenrir in trouble, Sorren? Maybe once Delilah calms down I can ask her what might have happened to leave her looking so weary and thin. [Sorren]: Yes please, if you would. In the meantime the rest of us will clean up this mess. Hopefully it is just Fenrir being himself again. It is not uncommon for him to send Delilah here alone, but it feels as if something is wrong...let’s hope I am just being paranoid over nothing, though. Q: "Sealer, there you are. I need to speak with you." [Sealer]: Of course, Sorren. What is it? [Sorren]: It’s about Delilah. It seems Caladaer was able to connect with her. She said there is unrest in the deserts of Darak’i and that Fenrir has been trying to deal with the situation on his own. However, she was separated from him due to an assault by one of the clans who follow the Ancient of Wilds. [Sorren]: Apparently they have been hunting him down relentlessly for some reason. He was at least able to send Delilah out in their last encounter to run for aid, but I worry about what may have happened to him in the process... [Sealer]: That doesn’t sound good...is there anything we can do to help him? [Sorren]: Fenrir is a close friend of mine, and you know by now I rarely consider someone a friend. I know he sent Delilah to request my assistance in this matter, but... [Sorren]: I don’t know if I’d be much help in my current state. So instead I’m sending you. [Sealer]: What?! Me? W-what can I do? I don’t even know what Fenrir looks like and I’ve never even been to Darak’i! [Sorren]: You are a Watch Crow apprentice, are you not? You have already faced dangers that even a master of our order was barely able to endure on their own. [Sorren]: Besides, I am not sending you there on a mission for the Watch Crows...I’m asking you, as a personal request from me, please help my friend Fenrir. [Sealer]: Sorren...of course I’ll help you! Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had you rely on me for anything before. I won’t let you down! But I still don’t even know how to get to the deserts from here... [Caladaer]: Do not fret, Sealer. That is where I come in. [Sealer]: Cally? Wait, you’re coming with me? [Sorren]: Cally has done quite a bit of research on Darak’i from what I’ve seen. He’s asked a dozen times to read everything I have on the subject. That, and he insisted on going with you. [Sorren]: I feel more at ease sending you there with him accompanying you on the journey. You’ll both make it there much faster on Vipen, and Delilah is sure to lead you without fail to Fenrir’s last known location. [Sorren]: I’m sorry for placing this on you all of the sudden, especially after everything that has happened recently, but at least on this journey you will not be on your own. [Sealer]: It’s no problem, Sorren. This is what I do! Plus I get to have a traveling buddy for once, whoo! But wait, if Cally is with me, what about you? Are you going to be alright without his spirit healing? [Sorren]: I should be fine for the time being. Right now, what is most important is that you find and help Fenrir as soon as possible. Besides, Morangwusnasomtaqa will be dropping by to keep an eye on me...she was very insistent on that. [Sorren]: I should have my hands full with her and Will trying to fight over who can take care of me better, so that should prove...interesting. If I could have it any other way I would much rather be going with you two, but I have faith in you both. [Sorren]: Till then, try to rest up before heading out. I’ll be making some boxed lunches and packing the appropriate provisions to take on your travels. The deserts of Darak’i are unforgiving to the ill-prepared. You’ll want to wear somthing fit for the extreme heat there... Q: Sorren, Willy! I wanted to thank you guys. [Sorren]: What for? [Sealer]: For the wonderful Yuletide of course! I know I pretty much missed the town festivities, but spending time with you both, and Cally and Rue...it was way better than any Festival of Lights. I’ve really missed being back here with you all. Especially after...well, what happened back at the Flickering Vales...it’s just nice to forget all that and just spend time with the family. [Captain Willy]: Aww, yer gonna make us blush kid! We’re gonna miss havin’ ya around. It’s been so lively here with Sorren finally grounded by my side fer once, and with our new adopted ghost child and deer friend out back to add to our growin’ birdfamily. [Captain Willy]: I’m also goin’ to miss the sounds of you fallin’ off the roof as well. I was just startin’ to get used to all this family bustle around the house. Once you and Cally head off, it will just be me and my Rue girl up against the mother-in-caw ourselves... [Sorren]: Morangwusnasomtaqa simply wishes to help, Will. You should both try to work together for once, at least for Rue’s sake. [Captain Willy]: How you continue to pronounce that ridiculously long name is beyond me, but I’ve tried over a hundred times to “get along” with your crow mother. All them violet eyed, foul mouthed, so-called crow children of hers don’t really help either. Bunch of feathered jerks... [Captain Willy]: Don’t you trust me to look after ya at all? [Sorren]: Will...of course I do. Morangwusnasomtaqa insisted, though. When she insists something, it is going to happen, no matter what I say. [Captain Willy]: Ah, well, guess I’ll just have to prove for the millionth time that I’m good enough to be with ya, haven’t stopped at it yet not goin’ to stop now! Besides, like I always say, anything she can do I can do better—time fer Rue and I to show shadowmomma that we’re more than capable of takin’ care of ye. [Sealer]: Aw man, it feels like I’m going to miss a lot while I’m gone. I hope you guys don’t get eaten by crows or something! I hate that I don’t get to see the Ancient of Shadows yet, but I promise Cally and I will be gone and back before you know it! [Sorren]: Just...remember to stay safe, Sealer. You never know what fate may have in store for you out there. Always best to be prepared for anything and don’t forget to— [Sealer]: Focus, I know. Don’t worry about it, Sorren! You just stay here and focus on getting better. Cally and I have got this! [Sorren]: Heh, well alright then. Let’s hope so with all that confidence of yours. I’ll look forward to your safe return. [Captain Willy]: Stay safe out there, kiddo! Rue and I will hold down the fort while you are gone. [Sorren]: Be careful out there, Sealer... Q&A with Caladaer – Outside Greenhouse Q: Did you have anything for me, Cally? I can give you "traditional" Yuletide glass shards. Q: Hey Cally, have you seen Rue around? You mentioned her before but I have not seen her myself since I woke up. [Rue]: I’m here, Sealer! [Sealer]: Rue! [Caladaer]: Rue has been a big help since you were asleep, Sealer. She offered to aid me in the greenhouse and helped me collect the herbs I grew for the medicines I’ve been making for both you and Sorren. I was able to tend to you both with great efficiency thanks to her diligence in seeing that you both get well. [Rue]: Hehe, Cally’s really nice. He tells me lots of elvian stories of his home, and he gives me flowers! I like the blue roses the best, I put one in your window to help you get better, Sealer. I’ve been worried ever since the grove... [Rue]: I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I’m sorry about what happened... it was my fault. [Sealer]: Don’t worry about it, Rue. I’m just glad you’re alright as well. Thank you for helping to make me feel better, though! Actually, I’m surprised Cally can see you. I thought ghosts couldn’t usually be seen by others. [Caladaer]: Only humans have lost their connection to the spirits and magic which surrounds us. Many are blind to the lost souls that remain in this world, but elvian, wolfkin and avian alike can see these wandering lost spirits just fine since we hold magic within ourselves. [Caladaer]: Although it seems there are still a few of your kind that can see what you call ‘ghosts’ – yourself, for example – so perhaps it is not entirely impossible for there to be others who can do this as well. [Sealer]: I had no idea, you’re the first elvian I’ve ever met. I’ve also never met any avians or wolkin either, though. Well, except Sorren, but he’s an avian halfborn, so I don’t know if that really counts. [Rue]: Um, Willy can see me too. [Sealer]: ... [Sealer]: Of course, why am I not surprised? I’m starting to think half his tales about eight headed hydras and pirate ghost ships are not far from the truth now either. [Caladaer]: Haha, Willy and Sorren are quite unique I must agree. They seem to break every human stereotype I was taught and then some. If not for them, I do not know where I would be right now. They offered me sanctuary where at first none could be found. [Sealer]: Did something happen before you came here, Cally? Didn’t you mention before that you were an elvian prince? [Caladaer]: ...Yes, I suppose I did. [Caladaer]: Rue, would you mind helping me find more Dolos Root in the back? I need to prepare another remedy before the morning. [Rue]: Oh, okay... [Sealer]: Wha—he walked away without really answering. I guess I pried a bit too much there... Q: Oh, Cally! There you are. I wanted to apologize for yesterday’s question. I really did not mean to offend you or anything like that. I’m still getting used to there being an elvian here. [Caladaer]: It is no trouble at all, Sealer. I should not have walked away so abruptly during our first conversation together. [Caladaer]: It was rude and inconsiderate of me, especially after you had just woken up. I apologize for my behavior last night. You’d think I’d be better at this by now... [Sealer]: I get the feeling you are anything but rude and inconsiderate, Cally. But I’ve got to ask, what brings an elvian prince all the way out here to Silverport? I thought you guys rarely left your forest homes? [Caladaer]: We don’t usually, no. We only ever travel to other woodland kingdoms of our kin, but even those are only during special occasions every few centuries or so. [Caladaer]: This is the first time I’ve been inside a human settlement myself actually. My brothers would be greatly appalled at me being here, but then, I’ve always secretly admired you humans and your creativity. [Caladaer]: It is hard to stay away when you have things like cute plush dolls of creatures and sweet treats called muffins! [Sealer]: You mean you don’t have those things where you come from? [Caladaer]: No, none. Elvian society highly discourages keeping personal possessions that serve no purpose. It is believed to be part of a selfish, mortal nature that encourages bad habits...but I don’t know if this is actually true or not. [Caladaer]: Hmm... [Caladaer]: Can you keep a secret, Sealer? [Sealer]: (You lean in closely with an eager face) Yes! Totally! Tell me your secrets. [Caladaer]: I actually enjoy collecting plush creature toys. I had a whole hidden collection back home of otterlings, sea servals, dire wolves and more -- but sadly I had to leave it all behind. I suppose you could say it was one of my mortal sins, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. [Sealer]: *gasps* [Sealer]: You have a hoarding addiction too!? I have a hoarding addiction of real life pets that I find and keep! Oh my gosh, Cally, we can be hoarding buddies together! Finally, someone who understands me — lets go to the bazaar right now! We have to look at everything. Pets, plush pets, undead pets, let’s go~ [Caladaer]: Ah, w-wait! I don’t know what a bazaar is... Q: "Sealer, do you have a moment?" [Sealer]: Sure thing Cally, what’d you need? [Caladaer]: I wanted to check up on you to make sure you were faring well after such a long slumber. How are you feeling today if I may ask? [Sealer]: Um, I feel fine? I mean, besides the hundreds of random scratch marks from Azara and a few singed hairs, I’m pretty good I think. [Caladaer]: Would you mind if I took a look just to be sure? Like Sorren, your spirit was touched by the Necromancers. There may still be lingering damage unseen to the naked eye. [Caladaer]: If you would permit me to do so, I would like to connect our spirits for a few short moments to see if you need more purification. [Sealer]: Connect our spirits? You can do that? Does it hurt? [Caladaer]: Elvians have what you might call a sixth sense. Our spirits are sensitive to the living creatures and magic which surrounds us. We are able to create a magical connection with those who are willing, a connection that allows us to peer into the hearts and minds of others, and to heal or lay bare the raw emotions that lie deep within yourself. [Caladaer]: Not everyone is keen in having their faults and hidden feelings made known, however. An elvian can easily be scarred from the delicate experience if we are not careful, or the experience can become traumatic for the both of us if the other individual shuts them out unexpectedly. It is a fragile connection to make after all, since we will both be sharing in all our collective raw emotions as one for a few brief moments. [Caladaer]: Such a thing can mend broken hearts, heal the tormented minds of the lost, or bring back those at the brink of death, much like you and Sorren when I brought you back here from the flickering vales. [Sealer]: Wow, I had no idea you guys could do that! So you’re like mind doctors? You heal what others can’t see...does that mean I’ll be feeling what you feel as well, though? [Caladaer]: In a sense, yes. I’m very careful when I make such delicate connections, though. I’ve been trained in the art of spirit healing ever since my youth, so I promise the experience will not hurt either of us so long as you remain calm during the connection. [Caladaer]: I promise to be gentle in my examination, Sealer. I will not delve too deep into your own spirit, so whatever secrets or doubts you may have will be safe. I only wish to glance over to see if there is any darkness which hides between the seams of your heart and mind if you would permit me to do so. [Sealer]: Of course! I trust you, Cally. The experience with the Necromancers still freaks me out when I think about it, so do what you need to do... [Caladaer]: Thank you for your faith in me, Sealer. It will only be for a few short moments. So relax and keep your thoughts and mind open for as long as you are able. You close your eyes briefly as you try to relax and breathe slowly. You feel the gentle, cool touch of Caladaer’s hand on your forehead before a swath of warmth seems to envelope your mind and soul. Caladaer’s magic flows steadily between you both, and for a moment you feel as if you can hear and understand all that is around you as one. The blades of grass seem happy and inviting beneath your feet. The trees within the garden sway gently against the sea’s costal breeze, their rustling leaves singing softly at your presence. Miles away you hear the nighttime songs of rune dragons flying into the distance, the sky is so open and clear, the twin moon’s glow fill you with invigorating energy, the air is crisp and healthy—everything is so...alive. All of it. It’s all alive. [Caladaer]: Gah... But now something is wrong. You can feel your spirit touch Caladaer’s immortal one. It seems confused, and then suddenly very alarmed. You peer deeper, there’s so much pain, grief, regret... [Caladaer]: Sealer, don’t... There’s a flash! A memory? A storm thunders overhead. Rain pours down with a vengeance. You see Caladaer within a dark forest riding atop a pale stag with a red chest, bow and arrow in hand and aiming it at another with fear in his eyes. Brother, please! Don’t make me do this! You must fight the madness! You must! There is so much anguish within his voice. The one he called brother...you can’t see the man’s face before her lunges at Caladaer and his mount in a mad frenzy. NO! There is a flash of thunder. A sharp whistle as an arrow is released. And then silence... [Caladaer]: That is enough! Suddenly you feel your spirit-self being forcibly pushed back into your own body with great force. It feels so heavy compared to the elvian’s own. For a moment you almost feel deaf, only to realize that your mortal ears are nothing like Caladaer’s own. You breathe in sharply — confused and dazed as you awake from what felt like a horrible dream that felt and looked all too real... [Sealer]: W-what happened? What was all that! Who was that man? Did you... [Caladaer]: That was not for your eyes to see. I...I have never had another be able to forcibly peer into my own memories like that. Why did you do that, Sealer? How, did you do that? [Sealer]: C-cally, I swear I didn’t mean to! I didn’t even know what was happening. It just sort of...happened. I didn’t mean to look at anything I wasn’t supposed to—I swear! You got to believe me! [Caladaer]: ...I was unable to see your spirit properly before you invaded mine so suddenly like that. [Caladaer]: I...I need a moment to myself, Sealer. Please leave. Q: Um, hey there Cally. I feel like we keep getting off on the wrong foot with one another. Do you think maybe we could start over? I really am sorry for yesterday...I guess I’m just not any good at talking with elvians. [Caladaer]: It really isn’t you Sealer. You did nothing intentionally wrong yesterday. I was just...caught off guard, that is all. [Caladaer]: There is certainly more to you than meets the eye it seems. [Caladaer]: But I am more than happy to start over again if you’d like. I’m not particularly skilled at speaking with humans myself really — so perhaps we both need a bit more practice. [Sealer]: Thanks Cally, I appreciate it. Okay, so I’ll go first this time! [Sealer]: Ahem— hello elvian prince from far, far away! I am the Sealer who rarely seems to seal anything. How fair thee? [Caladaer]: Haha, hello Sealer. I’m Caladaer, and I fair well thank you. [Sealer]: Do you want to go get some muffins now? I think I saw a shop in the bazaar we visited yesterday. [Caladaer]: Ooh, yes! Come hoarding buddy, friendship muffins await! Q: Hey you know, I just recently noticed it, but what’s that little crescent moon shaped charm you have dangling from your antler there? [Sealer]: Did someone give that to you? It has just been catching my eye recently. [Caladaer]: Hmm, that’s a good question. I actually wonder that myself. It was rather peculiar how I received it. [Sealer]: Huh? You mean you don’t really know? [Caladaer]: Not exactly. A white dire wolf, with bright red eyes and four long scar marks across her face, gave it to me. She was sitting in front of my greenhouse one day, just...waiting there. She held the charm gently in her mouth and refused to move until I took it from her. [Sealer]: Wow that is really weird. Do random dire wolves usually give you gifts? [Caladaer]: No, this was most certainly a first. [Caladaer]: It was about a month ago, she would come and sit by my door each night, as if she were guarding it. After a while I asked if she would allow me to make a spiritual connection so that I may speak with her. She agreed, and I soon learned that her name was Delilah and that her alpha had requested that I’d be given the charm as a gift. [Caladaer]: I tried inquiring about who this alpha was that she spoke so fondly of, but she simply stated that she was not allowed to say at this time. All she would tell me is that the charm was a gift for me and that she was told to protect the ‘pretty deer prince’ and the birdfamily pack while her alpha was away. [Sealer]: Whoa, I still think it’s just so cool that you can connect your spirit to creatures to speak with them. [Sealer]: But yeah, that whole dire wolf thing you’re having is weird. Did she say what the charm was? It looks like some sort of symbol that I’ve seen in my history books actually, but I can’t recall where. [Caladaer]: Actually, I’ve done a bit of research myself. I asked Sorren permission if I could read through some of his massive book collection (he has quite the rare collection surprisingly) and I was able to find that the symbol is the sign of Hubris. [Sealer]: Hubris? [Caladaer]: Hubris is a wolf god to the wolfkin race. They are a people who are mostly indigenous to the deserts of Darak’i in the far east. [Caladaer]: This charm in particular is imbued with very old and unfamiliar magic. The moment Delilah dropped the trinket into my palm I immediately felt the protective ward that was imbued within the rare and delicate metalwork. [Caladaer]: You don’t simply give something like that away as a gift, so I’ve been very curious as to who this mysterious alpha is and what their intentions may be. [Caladaer]: However, Delilah left just before you woke up, and after I was just getting used to having her around too. She followed me everywhere, but rarely said a word unless addressed, a solitary, yet beautiful beast indeed. [Caladaer]: Even my elkrin mount, Vipen, did not mind her presence — I was actually quite surprised by that. Usually he is quite distrustful of dire wolves. [Sealer]: This is like some really cool mystery then! [Sealer]: Cally, we’ve got to work together to figure out who this mysterious alpha is. Do you know when Delilah may return? [Caladaer]: I have no idea. She left so abruptly and with barely a word goodbye or indication of where she was heading off to in such a hurry. She only said her alpha needed her immediately, and she was gone as quickly as she came. [Caladaer]: I’ve actually grown quite fond of the trinket myself, I don’t know why, but wearing it gives me a sense of comfort for some reason. I have not taken it off since it was given to me. [Caladaer]: I must admit, though, I’m quite curious myself to know who this alpha of hers is. Perhaps one day, you and I will be able to meet them. In the meantime, I will continue to do more research on that Hubris charm and its origins. Q: (You walk into the back garden to see Caladaer practicing with what appears to be an ivory bow and arrow) The sharp, sound of a whistle pierces through the air as the elvian prince releases a well-aimed shot into a makeshift practice target which hangs loosely from a nearby tree’s branches. His elkrin mount, Vipen, stands nearby with quiver ready at the saddle, grazing at ease within his rider’s presence, as you approach to spectate. [Sealer]: Wow, I didn’t know you practiced archery, Cally. Those targets are pretty small and really far away, have you been hitting all of them? [Caladaer]: Sealer, welcome. [Caladaer]: Yes, archery is a favorite pastime of mine, and a profession as well. Nearly any elvian you come across has practiced with a bow and arrow at some point in their life. I am no exception to this. [Caladaer]: I was feeling rather listless today, so Vipen suggested setting up a few targets to get some practice in and to help keep my mind off of things. [Sealer]: See, about a week ago I would have said you were crazy if you told me an elkrin suggested target practice as a method to help alleviate stress, but now I’m totally down with it. [Sealer]: Oh, oh, idea! Can you teach me how to shoot a bow and arrow? Elvians are practically renowned for their precision and skill with archery, I’d be learning from the best if you taught me! [Caladaer]: I had no idea the outside world saw us that way, but I would not be opposed to teaching you if you are interested in learning. Here— Caladaer gently hands you his own bow and a single arrow shaft. You grasp the cool, ivory wood, placing the arrow to rest across the silver string, just like all the elvian portraits you’d seen depicting this pose. You pull the string back with all your might... ...only to fail miserably. [Sealer]: Wha— I can’t even pull back the bow string at all. It feels as heavy as a boulder! [Caladaer]: Well, yes, you can’t simply pick up a bow and expect to pull back the string if you have never done so before. [Caladaer]: It takes hundreds of years of practice with an ivory willow bow to even pull back its string an inch. Ivory willows are one of the hardest known woods, and only grow within the forests of Mirthwood. My home is renowned for its willow wood among the other forest kingdoms. Our arrows are one of the few which can pierce through metal, stone, or scaled hide. [Sealer]: But I just saw you pull this string like it was made of noodles! You must have arms of steel or something! [Caladaer]: Haha, I suppose it might seem that way. I just had a very good teacher and many years of passion and practice to learn the art of archery. [Sealer]: Who was your teacher then? [Caladaer]: My eldest brother, Vaeril. [Caladaer]: I suppose I never really spoke of my siblings properly, but there are seven princes of Mirthwood, seven sons to king Isilidilinsyr, seven brothers in all. Vaeril is the firstborn, I am the seventh. [Caladaer]: Out of all my brothers he and I were the closest. I would follow him everywhere, beg him to take me with him when he went off with the other riders, play till the twin moons were high in the sky, and ask him constantly to teach me everything he knew. [Sealer]: Aww, he sounds like an awesome big brother then. [Caladaer]: Yes, he was. He helped keep me grounded and out of trouble, especially since I was known to be the most...rebellious of the bunch. [Sealer]: I’m sorry, you? Rebellious? You are practically the nicest, most sincere person I’ve ever met! [Caladaer]: Your words are too kind, Sealer. However, appearances can be deceiving. [Caladaer]: I was but frustration and disappointment to my father and mother. I refused over fourteen betrothals that they had set up over the past century, I’d constantly neglect my tutoring sessions to instead practice archery with the elkrin riders, and on more than one occasion I’d travel to our forest’s edge to interact and mingle with the human caravans that would pass just beyond our borders. A few times, I even spent the night with them to trade for my plush doll collection and get to know them better—an act that was strictly forbidden by my people, since doing so can place you in great danger. [Caladaer]: There was even this one time that I filled over twenty silk bags with water. I dropped them over a balcony out of spite for my mother and father when they set up yet another betrothal against my wishes. [Caladaer]: Needless to say, that one did not go over quite so well. After that, many of the princesses from the other kingdoms refused to come for fear of getting doused. I thought it was quite humorous, though! [Sealer]: Whoa, go Cally! You are a rebel! Teach me your ways. [Caladaer]: Haha, all of that was very wrong of me though, Sealer. [Caladaer]: I wanted desperately to see what lied beyond our forest kingdom, I lusted for freedom and release, whereas the rest of my brothers were content with their lives behind palace walls. It was maddening, how could they not be curious about the outside world? [Caladaer]: But I suppose in the end I got my wish... [Sealer]: You did? Is that why you are here? [Caladaer]: It was the start of what led me here, and the end of what I once was. [Caladaer]: Thank you for this chat, Sealer. It was nice to speak of the fond memories of my home. I should get back to what I was doing before. If you’d excuse me. [Sealer]: What? He just left again. I’ve really got to learn how he does that... Q: “Sealer, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” [Sealer]: What’s up Cally? [Caladaer]: I’ve been doing a bit more research into that Hubris charm and its origins. I thought you might like to know more about my findings. [Sealer]: Did you find out who our mysterious alpha is? [Caladaer]: Sadly, no, nothing about that. [Caladaer]: However, I did garner a bit more insight into Hubris himself and the wolfkin lore behind him. [Sealer]: Cally, if it’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I value two things in my life. Hoarding pets and hearing new bits of lore. Lay it on me! [Caladaer]: From what I understand there are two factions within the deserts of Darak’i that are constantly at odds with one another. Those who follow the sixed tailed wolf, Hubris, and those who follow the deity Ancient of Wilds. These two factions drastically differentiate from one another due to what beast forms they take and their views upon the subject. [Caladaer]: Those who follow the Ancient of Wilds take on a more humanoid beast form, a representation of being both man and beast without losing oneself to their wild nature. The image of stability while still having a foot in both worlds. [Caladaer]: On the other hand, those who follow Hubris give in fully to their more bestial nature and take on a large wolf form without shame or restraint, becoming the image of true strength and purity of nature, unlike their more civilized brethren. [Sealer]: Oh yeah, I think I remember reading about that a bit back in my studies of the Darak’i nation. That seems like pretty common knowledge to me. Everyone knows Hubris followers and Wild followers never get along and have two different forms. Just depends on who they follow really. [Caladaer]: That is the common knowledge, yes. However, what is truly interesting is when I translated an old scroll among Sorren’s collection from the Darak’i language. It referred to Hubris as Hin'skel which means, Ancient Slayer. [Sealer]: Ancient Slayer? You mean the scroll was saying that the wolf god, Hubris, slays Ancients? [Caladaer]: So it would seem. It spoke as if there were perhaps many of these Hin’skel at one time, but never really clarifies what happened to them or why Hubris is the only one mentioned to be left. [Caladaer]: What was even more interesting is that it specifically made mention that Hubris was no Ancient himself, but one who hunted Ancients for their treachery and sins. [Sealer]: But that doesn’t make any sense. There are so many Ancients that seem to do good. I know a few personally myself that would give anything to protect Eldemore and the people they watch over. [Caladaer]: Ancients are beings with great power and immense magic at their disposal. Often they are revered or referred to as deities themselves, even my own people are protected by an Ancient, Mythandian, who presides over life and longevity. [Caladaer]: We are taught that they are immortal entities whom cannot die, yet, recently one such Ancient succumbed to death. It makes you wonder if there is perhaps more to them than what they simply tell us. [Sealer]: You sound so doubtful of them, Cally... [Caladaer]: Perhaps I am, but only because I am bitter towards Mythandian myself. I don’t believe Ancients are as all powerful and virtuous as we make them out to be, but then, that is my own personal opinion based on my own personal experience. [Sealer]: What happened with Mythandian to cause you to be so distrustful of him? [Caladaer]: ...He was the one who banished me from Mirthwood and stripped me of my title, home, and family. [Caladaer]: I was punished...broken...put in my place. But it doesn’t matter now. I deserved it in the end. No amount of banishment can absolve me of the sin I committed that night in the forest. [Sealer]: Cally...you look so hurt when you talk about your banishment. I can’t stand to see you beat yourself up like this. I want to help you, but I don’t know what happened. Please, won’t you confide in me? [Caladaer]: I am sorry, Sealer. I’m just...not ready to revisit that memory. Q: (You enter the back garden to see Caladaer tending to his elkrin mount, Vipen, with gentle care) [Caladaer]: There you go, Vipen. All washed and clean, you should feel much better now. [Sealer]: Hey Cally, what are you doing with Vipen? [Caladaer]: Hello Sealer, I thought I’d groom and bathe him this evening since I have been unable to give him much attention like I usually do as of late. If you’d like, you are more than welcome to help. I was just about to start brushing him. [Sealer]: Oh, sure, I’d love to! Actually, I’ve been meaning to ask about your elkrin. I’ve never seen one like him. What breed is he? [Caladaer]: Vipen is what my people call a palehart. It is a breed of elkrin only found within Mirthwood. Each elvian kingdom specializes in breeding a specific breed of elkrin that is indigenous to their forest realm and its riders alone. [Sealer]: Really? That’s so cool. I’ve never seen an elkrin with chest fur like his...it actually almost looks like he is bleeding from the heart. [Caladaer]: The paleharts have quite a story behind why the mark stains their chest fur so. It is a tale shared among our young, and also considered the origin story of our Mirthwood mounts. Were you perhaps interested in hearing it as well, Sealer? [Sealer]: Ooh, yes, tell me! I love creature origin stories! [Caladaer]: paleharts are generally distinguished by the blood red mark which you pointed out before. It is a mark that gives them the appearance of one’s heart bleeding from a torn chest. [Caladaer]: The elvians of Mirthwood have a tale which speaks of how the paleharts received that striking mark. Long ago, an elkrin stag of our woods was hunted and pierced in the chest by outsiders who prized his horns for greed and vanity. The blood of the creature stained the pure white roses of our woods red when it fell upon them, its once pristine fur now muddied crimson, as it cried out in a dying breath, its life so cruelly stolen away from him. [Caladaer]: The Ancient deity, Mythandian, heard the child’s cries and found the broken creature stripped of its horns and heart. Stricken with anger and grief at the loss of such innocent beauty, Mythandian took the blood red roses and broken ivory willow branches nearby, and breathed life back into the young forest child. [Caladaer]: He took the willow branch and gave it to the elkrin to replace the horns which had been stolen from him, now curving and far more elegant than before. The rose petals, still wet and stained with the horrible sin committed, were given in place of the elkrin’s heart, turning the flower into a new one, its petals mending the damage done. [Caladaer]: The elkrin was brought back by the Ancient of Life’s blessing, reborn anew and made stronger and more beautiful than before. Thus, the palehart’s chest is now stained red, and its horns a curving crown of ivory, to reflect the tale of the broken forest child made whole once more. [Sealer]: That’s...so sad — but totally amazing as well! I’m so glad the elkrin got a second chance, and wow, Mythandian really is the Ancient of Life. [Caladaer]: It is but a tale, but I like to believe it to be true. Vipen is very dear to me, he did not have to join me in exile from my home, and yet, he refused to leave my side even when Mythandian commanded him to stay. [Caladaer]: My friend has carried me across many miles and through dangerous encounters that I would not have been able to face on my own. He comforts me and gives me wisdom when my heart is weary, keeps me company when I am alone, and even likes to play games of ‘keep away’ from his rider by prancing around like some silly fawn with his saddle blanket in his mouth. [Sealer]: Vipen sounds a lot like you then, Cally! [Caladaer]: Heh, you think so? He is one of the few gifts from my brother, Vaeril that I have left to remember my home by. Vipen is the first fawn to Vaeril’s doe mount, and is every bit as fleet footed and beautiful as she. I would be lost without him. [Caladaer]: Thank you for helping me tend to Vipen today, Sealer. If you’d like, perhaps Vipen and I can take you out later to practice some mounted archery if you are up to it? [Caladaer]: It is a strenuous form of martial art that my people have perfected over many years, but a wonderful exercise nevertheless that truly allows you to be one with your mount! [Caladaer]: Perhaps instead of my own bow we shall start you off with a simple wooden one of human make so you may actually be able use it this time. Q: Okay, clearly I’m no good at shooting a bow from the back of an elkrin at full speed. Especially when said elkrin, Vipen I’m looking at you, goes jumping off a seaside cliff! [Caladaer]: Ahaha, Vipen was just having a bit of fun with you Sealer! He had no intention of letting you fall, I promise. He just enjoys showing off to others is all. [Sealer]: And I am very impressed with him, but he just skidded down that cliff and jumped from boulder to boulder with me on his back like it was nothing! I think I dropped my bow back at the shore while I was trying to hold on for dear life. Maybe even shaved a few years off as well with that scare...I thought I was going to die. [Caladaer]: I’m very sorry about that, Sealer. Vipen does indeed know better than to go performing such stunts like that without a trained elvian Rider on his back. However, I was surprised with his behavior as well, he must be very comfortable with you to want to show you some of the tricks he’s learned over the years from the elvian knights back at Mirthwood. [Sealer]: Wonderful! Great. Glad he likes me. Maybe next time he can give me a warning before suddenly darting off random cliffs on a whim. But I’ve never heard much about your knights. Are they anything like ours? [Caladaer]: For the most part, yes. Both humans and Elvians have a monarch system, so each forest kingdom has their own riders to defend their home if the need arises. All of my brothers underwent the trials to become riders of our realm...I wish I could have joined them as well. [Sealer]: Why didn’t you become a Rider yourself? I saw you on Vipen yesterday, you both flowed so seamlessly together and hit all your targets even with him jumping about like a loon! I don’t think I’ve even witnessed seasoned sleipnir riders pull off the stunts and speed you two did back there. [Caladaer]: Your praise is too much for me, Sealer. There are so many elvians far better than I at the art of riding and archery. However, though I wished desperately to become a Rider like my brothers, I’m afraid I had no choice but to become a Spirit Healer instead. [Sealer]: Wait, you mean not all elvians can connect their spirits to others like you did with me and Sorren? Why don’t you just become a Spirit Healer and a Rider? [Caladaer]: I’m afraid it can’t be that simple. Any elvian can connect their spirit to another living entity to speak with the trees and creatures of this realm, however, only a few are born with the magical abilities that extend beyond that to cleanse and mend spirits which are broken or heavily damaged. [Caladaer]: Though I wanted desperately to ride alongside and train with my brothers as elvian knights, I’m afraid I was forced into training at a young age to study the art of spirit healing instead from one of the few elders in our kingdom who was also born with the ability. [Caladaer]: Only a handful of elvians can do this, so when the talent is realized at a young age all studies and free time are immediately put towards that. I was not permitted to become a rider since spirit healers are valued so highly within our society and must undergo many years of tempering one’s own soul and understanding of the art. [Caladaer]: If a spirit healer is not careful they could do irreparable damage to the one they are connected with, or may subject themselves to harm. It is a delicate process to master fully, and I am still not wholly trained myself, since I was forced to leave before my apprenticeship was even close to completion. [Sealer]: I had no idea that what you did was so special, Cally! Jeez, talk about fate. One of the few elvian spirit healers around stumbling into the birdfamily when we needed you most. I think you’ve done a great job at it so far, master or not. [Caladaer]: Ah, well, I’m glad you think so at least. Not completing my training is partially my own fault, though. Like I told you before, I would constantly skip out on my studies to chase after my own dreams and selfish desires, which meant going out to ride and do as I pleased despite my mentor’s desperate wishes. [Caladaer]: I hope I have learned enough to at least tend to you and Sorren without fail. But it is nice to think that perhaps everything that transpired to lead me here was due to fate rather than my own shortcomings... Q: Hey Cally, I spoke with Sorren about how you two met. [Caladaer]: ...Oh. I suppose he told you about what he saw then—with the bandits. [Sealer]: He did, but I know you were left with little choice. It seems like you’ve had it rough since you had to leave your home. I hope things have been better for you since you came here. [Caladaer]: ... [Sealer]: Cally? [Caladaer]: I did have a choice, Sealer. I could have easily avoided those men on the road. Both Vipen and I heard them a few miles up ahead, but I chose not to turn around. I chose to stay out in the open where they could easily see me coming. [Sealer]: But why would you do that? [Caladaer]: I was...upset. Angry. Vengeful. Emotions swirled within me that I had never felt before all at once. The outside world is filled with so much haste and desperation, I was beginning to feel it affect me as well. [Caladaer]: There was no place for us to go. Vipen and I, we just wandered aimlessly for months on end, it seemed like nearly every day there was someone trying to cause us grief. [Caladaer]: I decided to stand my ground with those bandits. I had enough running away, but the truth of the matter is, in the end, I simply wanted to vent my frustration onto others. Because of that... they paid the price for my selfish anger. It was wrong of me. [Sealer]: Feeling upset like that is very common, though, Cally. It just means you’re human. [Caladaer]: But I’m not a human. I am an elvian. My life is not short like your own. Death, greed, vengeance—these are things elvians were not meant to feel ourselves. It weighs upon one’s spirit, tarnishing it, plaguing it with doubt. I have never had to kill another simply to survive. There has never been a time where I was completely isolated and alone with no home to return to. [Caladaer]: Does this mean I am losing my immortality? Or is the true sickness being locked away in a world where death has no meaning and we are blind to its existence? [Caladaer]: I was so ill prepared for how different everything is out here. I have had to adapt, but I feel in doing so that I had to give up my innocence in return. And yet...I feel no regret in losing it...is this what being human means, Sealer? Is this what you feel? Or, am I perhaps doing this all wrong... [Sealer]: Oh Cally, I had no idea you were feeling like this. *glomps!* [Caladaer]: Ah! A-are we partaking in the ceremony of group hugs again? I was not prepared. Should I brace myself for Sorren and Willy as well? [Sealer]: No, silly, this is a Cally hug! Humans do it for their friends when they feel lonely or upset. It’s supposed to make you feel loved and accepted no matter what you did or who you are. [Sealer]: This is your home, it may not be your home, but this is your birdfamily home so it’s even better. We are hoarding buddies and muffin friends and nothing can change that! [Caladaer]: For their friends... [Caladaer]: Thank you, Sealer...for everything. Q: (You walk through the back garden to see Caladaer tending to Sorren once again) [Caladaer]: I apologize that tonight’s healing session took so long this time. I know it can be tiring for you, but it appears we are keeping the sickness at bay. [Caladaer]: You are very fortunate to be a halfborn, Sorren. Your human blood is actually fighting back against Oblivion’s curse and keeping it from spreading any further than its current state. If you were a trueborn avian your situation would be far grimmer. [Caladaer]: Couple that with the constant cleansing of your spirit, and I dare say you’ll live through this, albeit with considerable pain—but that is what I am here for. [Sorren]: Thanks, Cally. The pain I can take, it’s no different than the usual, but what about you? You are putting yourself at great risk tending to me like this. The curse could easily transfer to you as well. [Caladaer]: You are not the first I have tried to expel this curse from. I have learned its habits somewhat, and can take precautions with my own spirit before making a connection with yours. There is always going to be a risk, though, but it is one I am willing to take. [Caladaer]: You and Willy have done so much for me. You have both offered me a home, you have shown me kindness and understanding when I do not deserve it, and most of all, you have accepted me simply for who I am, despite my faults. I can honestly say you are all dear friends to me, I would do anything to help you if I am able. [Sealer]: Did I just hear that Sorren is getting better?! Sorry, I don’t mean to interrupt... [Caladaer]: Sealer, welcome. Yes, it appears your mentor is finally stable for the time being. Both he and Muzu have a strong spirit it seems. [Sealer]: That’s so great to hear! Thank you so much, Cally! I don’t know what we would have done without you. You have no idea what a huge relief this is. [Sorren]: I agree, Muzu and I owe you a lot for all you’ve done for us. If there is anything I can do to help you in return, don’t hesitate to let me know. [Caladaer]: Well, actually there is one thing I’ve wanted to ask you for... [Sorren]: Of course, name it. [Caladaer]: Could you perhaps teach me how to bake muffins in your spare time? I understand you are quite the prodigy when it comes to cooking delicacies of various kinds. I’d love to inherit just a fraction of such a talent, I promise to be a dutiful apprentice if you accept my request. [Sorren]: You...wish to make muffins? I’m not going to lie, that’s a pretty odd request, but I don’t mind teaching you if you want. Any particular reason as to why? [Caladaer]: I think I’ve developed an unhealthy fondness for them for one thing, but honestly, I think they taste better when they are made at home and shared with those you care for. From what I understand that is partially what Yuletide seems to be about. [Caladaer]: Also, they make great snacks on the road and Vipen loves to nibble on them. I can’t see a reason not to learn making such wonderful treats! [Sorren]: Heh, alright. I’d be happy to teach you, however, I don’t go easy on my apprentices, especially when it comes to the kitchen. [Sealer]: He isn’t lying, Cally. Be prepared to have him appear out of the shadows like a phantom when you least expect it! Also be prepared for a lot of focusing and homework. So much focus and homework...so much. [Caladaer]: Haha, I look forward to the challenge then. Thank you, Sorren. This means a lot to me. Q: "Sealer, may I have a moment of your time please?" [Sealer]: Hey Cally, of course, what did you need? [Caladaer]: Ever since our last spiritual connection, I have not taken the time to check up on you again. I...I admit that I was avoiding you somewhat since then. I wanted to apologize, what happened shocked me quite a bit. I was sorely unprepared for such a sudden intrusion upon my memories, I acted rashly when I forcibly pushed your spirit away from my own. [Caladaer]: I could have easily damaged us both with such a careless action. That, and I have neglected you by avoiding another connection since then. So...if you have a moment, I would like to try once more. I at least owe you that much. [Sealer]: Are you sure, Cally? I really don’t know what I did last time, but I also don’t wish to upset you again either. [Caladaer]: You have nothing to fear, Sealer, because this time I am going to openly show you that memory which you saw pieces of before. [Sealer]: What?! Cally, are you sure about that? What if I hurt you? Or what if I stumble over something else I am not meant to see? I don’t want to do that to you again... [Caladaer]: What you said to me before, of how this place is my home now with friends and family who care for me... [Caladaer]: Sealer, if I do not overcome the past, I may never be able to face the future. I am also afraid that I will be unable to connect with you and heal your spirit until I show you as well. I’d rather do so on my own terms, without fearing what you may see. [Caladaer]: However...please...no matter what you witness, I hope you will not think of me as a monster. I have not spoken of what transpired before my banishment, nor do I wish to revisit it, but if it means being able to help you in the end, then I wish to at least make an attempt at this. [Sealer]: Cally...if you’re certain you want to do this again then I promise to help you through it this time. No matter what. [Caladaer]: Sealer...thank you. [Caladaer]: If you will, try to relax and clear your mind. There is no need to worry about intruding this time, I’ll lead you through it willingly. Caladaer closes his eyes, and you follow suit. Taking a few moments to breathe and ease your swirling thoughts, you feel yourself begin to relax as the elvian’s familiar magic connects with your spirit like before. This time, however, it is not searching, but leading you gently along with purposeful intent. You can feel everything around you come alive through the elvian’s senses. Abruptly, a wash of bright light melts over you. Memories upon memories flash before you of the elvian prince’s immortal life, filling your vision of a forest filled with ivory willows, of intricate and stunningly beautiful architecture that intertwines with the oaken trees in harmony, and of faces that you can feel Caladaer recognize with remorse before they all fade away with sadness in their eyes. And then, like before when you first peered into the elvian’s heart unknowingly, everything went dark... This was the place you were not meant to see during your first connection. The foreboding aura and swirling emotions of anguish and agony immediately touch your spirit as you nearly recoil from its intensity, only to be steadied by a gentle force that keeps you connected. Thunder roars in the distance, its rumbling echo bringing forth a memory of a dark forest captured in a tumultuous sea of rain and wind. You peer closer as you notice an elvian and his elkrin riding swiftly through the storm... [Caladaer]: Vaeril, where are you?! A clash of vicious lightning tore through the sky above... [Caladaer]: Please, Vaeril! Whatever you are going through I can help you! You don’t have to run away, you don’t have to leave... Caladaer suddenly stopped as he saw a figure just ahead at the forest’s edge. Immediately he recognized his eldest brother’s form, as he urged Vipen to move closer. [Caladaer]: Vaeril, there you are. I was so worried when you left like that. I know you’re sick, I know you’ve been trying to hide it, but if you just allowed me to use my abilities we can work through this— The young prince reached out to his brother in a pleading manner as rain continued to pour from the heavens, soaking them both. The elder sibling shot him a glance which froze his heart and stuck fear into his very soul. [Vaeril]: Don’t...touch me. [Caladaer]: Vaeril, please, just let me— [Vaeril]: No! Caladaer’s eyes widened as his brother turned around sharply, eyes bleeding an inky blackness, his features paled and riddled with numerous, sickly veins, while he shook violently as if to stop himself from attacking his youngest brother right then and there. [Vaeril]: Caladaer...I’m dying. You shouldn’t have come. You shouldn’t have... [Caladaer]: What are you saying, brother? Elvians do not die, you are immortal...whatever you have we can fix it. If not me, then perhaps Mythandian— [Vaeril]: Mythandian won’t help. [Caladaer]: Of course he will, he is the Ancient of Life. Vaeril, just come back home with me and we can have Mythandian cure you— [Vaeril]: No, Caladaer! [Vaeril]: I’ve already gone to Mythandian...he turned me away. He said nothing can cure me of this curse...he said I had to leave. If I didn’t, you and everyone else would be affected as well. [Vaeril]: Gah! I-I can feel it clawing me from the inside out...the pain...I just want it to stop... [Caladaer]: That’s...that’s impossible! Mythandian, h-he would never turn a forest child away. [Caladaer]: Vaeril let me heal your spirit. I’ll cure you of this. I’ll do whatever it takes! I’m not going to lose you! [Vaeril]: No! Don’t you dare do it, brother! I’ll never forgive you, do you hear me? I’ll never forgive myself if you became cursed as well—Gaaah! [Caladaer]: Vaeril! [Vaeril]: Caladaer...please...make this pain stop. Do this one thing for me... [Caladaer]: Of course, Vaeril. Just let me heal your spirit— [Vaeril]: No. That’s not what I mean. [Vaeril]: Caladaer, my brother...take my ivory bow and a single shaft. I want you to aim it right here... right at my heart, because in a few moments I will lose myself to this curse. [Vaeril]: I refuse to let it take me this way. Ease my suffering spirit by taking it yourself...don’t let me turn hollow. Don’t let me hurt anyone...please...I know only you would ever do this for me...no one else, not even Mythandian would grant me this kindness. [Caladaer]: V-Vaeril, no. No, please, don’t make me do this. Don’t leave me like this...not with this...I-I don’t know if I can... [Vaeril]: Caladaer...my only regret is that I’ll be leaving you with such a horrible burden to bare on your own. Please, I hope you can forgive me... [Caladaer]: Vaeril... [Vaeril]: ... [Caladaer]: Vaeril?— Vipen reared in fright as Vaeril charged towards them both, his features now twisted in madness and pain-filled rage. Caladaer spurred his mount forward, dodging the attack as his eldest brother peered up at his quarry with now blackened, hollowed eyes which bled only darkness upon his pale skin. [Caladaer]: Brother, please! Don’t make me do this! You must fight the madness! You must! Caladaer cried out, his eyes stinging from the rain and hot tears as he aimed his brother’s ivory bow. Vaeril charged once more in a maddened frenzy. There was a flash of thunder. A sharp whistle as the arrow was released. And then silence... [Caladaer]: NO! Caladaer yelled the moment his fingers let the arrow loose. Though his voice rejected his action, his heart seemed to loyally grant his brother the peace he so desperately craved. The arrow sailed through the rain, landing deep in Vaeril’s chest, the force of the willow projectile knocking him back and bringing him to the ground. Caladaer immediately rushed to his sibling’s side. [Caladaer]: Vaeril! Over and over the young elvian prince cried out Vaeril’s name while holding his brother’s cursed corpse. As the rain fell deftly all around them, he wept uncontrollably, not caring about the blood which began to stain the white roses around them red and tarnished his own clothes till he was nearly crimson in color. He could only shake violently from the cold and anguish until the dull morning haze came, bringing with it a deathly silence. As the first light began to pierce the trees, a pale silver mist slowly filled the area... By this point Caladaer had no more tears to shed. He felt distant and numb to the world around him, his throat now parched and sore from his lone night prior. Still holding the now cold body of Vaeril in his arms, who could only stare at him with a glazed, silent expression. [???]: Forest child... Caladaer looked up slowly. Recognition filled his dulled gaze, as he now looked upon the holy deity of his people, the forest king himself... [Caladaer]: Lord Mythandian... [Mythandian]: What have you done, Forest Child? Such a terrible sin stains your once innocent spirit. [Mythandian]: Why have you done this, Forest Child? Why have you killed one of your own? Mythandian’s voice spoke from the mouth of a giant, white stag. His many horns curved and intertwined into a regal mass of crowns, his tail and feathers flowed behind him like that of a royal trailing cape, all the while plant life withered and grew in a never ending cycle of life and death where he stood. The tall, imposing cervine looked down upon the elvian at his feet. [Mythandian]: Speak, seventh son of Isilidilinsyr! [Caladaer]: H-he was sick, lord Mythandian. A curse plagued his soul. It siphoned the very life out of him till he was hollow and broken. [Caladaer]: Vaeril...he was in so much pain. He asked me to end it for him. To give him peace. Caladaer suddenly froze as the giant head of the great stag leaned down suddenly to peer into his eyes. His mouth slowly began to split farther back than any normal deer’s should, until it revealed an array of fangs and predatory teeth within a gaping maw, his eyes glowing with a deep magic. [Mythandian]: So then you did this willingly? You chose to take the life of the cursed one when I had already told him to leave. Now he has stained you with his own sins. Dragged you into this mess. [Caladaer]: Then...then you knew? What Vaeril said was true? You rejected him when he needed you most...you...you sent him away...told him to leave his home to die alone. [Mythandian]: There was nothing I could do. The curse which plagued the first born son of Isilidilinsyr siphons the magic from one’s very soul till there is nothing left. If I allowed him to stay, then the rest of my children would suffer the same fate. [Mythandian]: They must not know that Oblivion has returned. They will be safe under my care, here, in my forests, I shall keep you all safe. [Caladaer]: How could you. How could you! You’re the Ancient of Life, he was one of your own, yet you speak of him as if he were but a plagued beast and nothing more! You are supposed to have the power to give back life, yet, here you simply ignored him so as to keep his sickness a secret? The only sin I see is your own lies! Caladaer was too angry to back down. Too upset and filled with sudden hatred for the very deity that promised to protect them. However, he flinched slightly as Mythandian’s maw opened wide, as if he were about to swallow the prince whole for his insolent outburst, just like the foolish hunters in their stories. Just as soon as rage filled the creature’s eyes, it faded, and the Ancient’s mouth closed, returning to its normal state. [Mythandian]: My poor Forest Child...it seems the cursed one has dragged you into his sins which you must now bear alongside your own. If you were any other being in this realm, I would have not hesitated just then. Remember that. [Mythandian]: Leave this place, sinful child. An elvian has never existed before who has taken the life of one of their own. You do not belong here. Return, and I will not stay myself a second time...may fate show you mercy where I have failed. Suddenly, you feel the memory end. Your spirit is dragged slowly away, as if the one leading you could barely hold on any longer. Within moments your vision returns, and you feel the heaviness of your own body, only to also see Caladaer looking deathly pale and exhausted. [Sealer]: Cally! Are you alright? [Caladaer]: Sealer...yes. That just took a lot out of me. There was nothing more to see beyond that. There is no need to have you witness my months alone... [Caladaer]: I need rest. If you would, come back tomorrow. I will speak with you then. Q: Cally, I wanted to stop by to check up on you after last night. How are you feeling today? [Caladaer]: I’m feeling a bit better now that I’ve rested, thank you, Sealer... [Sealer]: Cally...you still look so sad. I hope you know that...I think you did the right thing. You helped your brother in the end. Heck, you even stood up to an Ancient of all things! You shouldn’t feel ashamed for any of that. [Caladaer]: Shame is all I’ve felt since then, Sealer. I should have never spoken in such a manner towards Mythandian. However, I cannot forgive him for ignoring my brother the way he did when he needed him most. [Caladaer]: It was not his fault that he became ill. He should not have had to suffer alone. Mythandian sent him away, and Vaeril obeyed without hardly a word to either me or the rest of our family—that was why I chased after him that stormy night. No one knew what was wrong, it was only afterwards that I learned of Oblivion’s curse which is beginning to plague these lands. [Caladaer]: Mythandian...he said that we could never know Oblivion had returned. That he would continue to protect us, but I fear it is our isolation which he guards so carefully from the outside world that will be my people’s downfall. [Caladaer]: They are oblivious to what is truly going on, that, and Mythandian...he sounded almost as if he were afraid. For some reason that frightens me more than any curse when the Ancient lord of my people, who presides over life itself, is fearful of death... [Sealer]: I’m sorry, Cally...this all stems from my mistakes... [Caladaer]: No, there is nothing to apologize for. Ever since last night I feel as if a great burden has been lifted off my chest. There were times where I could hardly breath, where waking up was too painful of a reminder of my life prior, but today I awoke at peace. [Caladaer]: Thank you for allowing me to share my burdens with you, Sealer. At first I feared it was too heavy to bare alone, but now that I have you all here, it seems so much lighter than before. I could never thank all of youl enough for that. The birdfamily is my family. You helped me realize that, and I will do whatever it takes to protect my friends from the trials that may come ahead. [Caladaer]: For now, though, perhaps you and I should go inside with Sorren and Willy. Sorren is preparing a big Yuletide meal for tomorrow, so I thought I’d help out in the kitchen and prepare some muffins in the meantime. [Sealer]: Yeah, I think that sounds nice right about now. But, oh, can’t wait for the big dinner! Ten baubles says half of the meal will be pastries and heart-shaped pancakes! Q: Hey Cally, what was Vaeril like? I don’t mean to touch on a sensitive topic again, but you two seemed really close. I wanted to know a bit more about him before everything happened. [Caladaer]: It is no trouble, Sealer. I have nothing but fond memories with Vaeril before the incident. I’d be happy to honor his memory and tell you a bit more about him. What did you wish to know? [Sealer]: Like, did you two ever get into trouble? How close were you guys? What did your other brothers think about him? Was Vaeril the older sibling type or a prankster like you? You know, sibling stuff! [Caladaer]: Haha, well Vaeril was the type of individual who knew how to be firm and understanding, yet, also kind and mischievous when he wished, especially towards me. I would get into trouble all the time for my pranks and rule breaking, however, most of the time it was Vaeril who took the blame to spare me any long lectures from our father. [Caladaer]: Whenever I was stuck for weeks on end studying spirit healing with my mentor, he was the one who would create an elaborate “royal decree” to send my mentor away long enough for me to escape so as to go riding with him. He was also the one who taught me mounted archery since I could not become a Rider like I had wished. Thanks to his teachings, I was able to defend myself in the outside world. [Caladaer]: Vaeril and I were closer with each other than with our other brothers. I believe he showed favoritism towards me since I was the youngest of the siblings, but also because we shared a loyalty towards the other that far exceeded even Mythandian himself. [Sealer]: Aww, he sounds like he was an awesome big brother to you. Wasn’t he also the one who gave you Vipen? Because I’m not going to lie, I have a mighty need to obtain a Palehart of my own one day. [Caladaer]: Yes, Vipen is the firstborn fawn to his doe mount Daleen. She was a beautiful creature, and was once hailed as one of our swiftest mounts. Seeing both her and Vaeril ride as one...it was a remarkable sight to behold. I often envied their grace and skill and could only hope to one day achieve the same level of unity with Vipen myself. [Sealer]: Was? Did something happen to her? [Caladaer]: ...When Vaeril passed away and I was banished, I did not see Daleen anywhere. I suspect Vaeril tried to keep her away from him by locking her inside her stall before he left that night...but as I was traveling in my exile months after, out of nowhere, I heard her melodious cry. [Caladaer]: Daleen must have escaped her stall when she felt her connection to Vaeril severed so cruelly. Such a thing would have killed any other magically bonded creature out of grief...and yet, she held on. She must have been searching for her rider desperately, and when she could not find him, came looking for Vipen and I instead. [Caladaer]: ...She was so thin when she appeared out of nowhere like that. Elkrin never leave the safety of their forest home, and yet she did so. She must have not eaten or slept for so long, for when she found us, she collapsed. I was completely in shock, I never expected to see her so far away from our home, nor had I ever seen such a graceful and powerful creature so weak and broken. She must have been traveling for months on end. [Sealer]: W-what happened to her? Did she get back up? [Caladaer]: No. Daleen...she did not have the strength to get back up. I held her head within my lap for what felt like hours. I could feel her pain and suffering as I stroked the dirt and blood from her still beautiful face. Her mournful whimpers and choking breath were too much...she was dying slowly without Vaeril...so, I granted her the same peace that I did for my brother. [Caladaer]: How long she had suffered and what she had gone through to find us I do not know, but Vipen and I stayed with her body all throughout the night before burying her at dawn, near a common willow in an open field. At least there her spirit could rest easy and find its way to my brother...at least in the end they were both no longer alone... [Sealer]: So much sadness and loss...I-I am so sorry, Cally. I can’t imagine... [Caladaer]: It’s alright, you need not shed any tears. If anything, I am thankful that it was Vipen and I who were able to place her body at rest. She could have died alone on her endless search, but instead she was able to find us in the end, despite the odds against her. Daleen was a strong and gentle spirit, just like Vaeril, and now they are both together again. I could not ask for any more than that... [Caladaer]: Forgive me, Sealer. I did not mean for the conversation to turn this way. We should focus on what we have at the moment, and take solace in the fact that those who are gone were able to find peace in their final hours. Q: How’s Delilah doing, Cally? Is she feeling any better today? [Caladaer]: Yes, after a bit of rest and a much needed warm meal, Delilah appears to be regaining her strength. It will take some time for her to put on a healthy weight again, however, she is quite insistent that we leave as soon as possible to find her alpha. It took Vipen and I nearly all night to convince her to eat and rest for just a few days at the least. [Caladaer]: Thankfully, she finally listened to Vipen’s counsel on the matter. The two have become such close friends while I wasn’t looking, he hasn’t left the white wolf’s side since last night. Just this morning I found him grooming her matted fur like a newborn fawn while she rested, it was such an adorable sight, and also a strange one. [Sealer]: Strange? How so? They sound so cute! [Caladaer]: Elkrin often fear or despise dires. Woodland dire wolves prowl our forest kingdoms and prey on the wild herds there. It is a common cycle of nature, yet, these two seem to defy it. For some reason I find it humbling to see both predator and prey so at ease within one another’s presence. [Sealer]: Aww, those two. I’m glad she is at least taking Vipen’s advice to get a bit better before leading us all the way to Darak’i. It sounds like it is going to be a long journey, even with Vipen carrying us. I can’t believe she travels that distance all on her own from time to time! [Sealer]: To tell you the truth, I’m really excited, but I’m just as nervous! I’ve never been to the eastern deserts of Eldemore myself. There are supposed to be a lot of roaming wolkin clans there, and the capital is said to rival the city of Alabaster itself in grandeur! [Caladaer]: I’ve never been myself either, and must admit I’m rather excited also. I have seen so much of the world since my banishment, I would have never dreamed I would be visiting places that I’ve only ever read about in tales and stories. [Caladaer]: To see the golden city of the dunes, to view the white walls of alabaster stone, to finally feel and touch the ocean shores...I am lucky to experience what most elvians are oblivious to for an eternity. [Caladaer]: Hopefully I can be of help to you in Darak’i, though. Despite my excitement I know we must stay alert for danger as we search to find Fenrir. I promise not to let either you or Sorren down, so, let us pack only the essentials and gather our strength for the journey ahead. We are sure to need it where we are going.

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