Yesterday was pretty busy but I managed to squeeze in some writing time before our 8 man night in Final Fantasy XIV. I had started this earlier in the day in a lag between meetings but only made it a few paragraphs before having to stop again. I have essentially lost the lead I once had and am hoping this weekend I can make it up again. This week I have felt under the gun to produce something each day. As always this is completely unedited and that will occur sometime in the future. Here is a recap of the story so far if you are wanting to catch up.
- Shadowed Stone
- Little Giant Girl
- Birthday Wishes
- The Gifts
- The Incursion
- The Watch
- Rough Landing
- Dragon Bone
- People of the Storm
- The Lady
- Cambridge Beneath
- Prisoner of War
13 – Woodbinding
Jace sat on a rock near the campfire trying to piece together just how many days had passed since he had been drug into the shadowlands by Kale. He found the day night of the shadowlands often times hard to perceive. Night time looked like night time to him, and while the ambient light varied it very much felt like a single hellishly long night to him. At his best guess he would say it had been three days since the events of the farmhouse. Kale agreed that this was likely the case. He would say they had been walking all day, but he was uncertain when the day actually began.
They had left the wildfae camp with Merowyn and a small band of sprites, comprised mostly of Dobin’s Wingard as he called them. The made a hard march for as long as their strength lasted and finally had stopped to rest near this stream. With the help of Dimcy they had a roaring fire in no time and Jace had settled down on the rock he was currently perched. After some time staring at the crackling mushroom logs he broke the silence. “I have no idea how we are going to find… mom” the word still felt odd in his mouth. He still thought her as Aunt Beth even though he knew the truth.
Merowyn spoke up from across the camp “If we follow this stream it should lead us eventually to the wildfae enclave that borders Valkore territory. From there we should be able to find our way to Hagengarde, and to the Trogjan forces on their border. The Queens crystal will be wherever the forces are preparing to strike.” she explained in a flat and even tone. Jace sat quietly for a moment before continuing “Why will the crystal be there? How do you know that?” Merowyn assessed the boy and spoke again in a very flat and even tone, as though this should all be common sense. “The only chance they will have to strike at the summerwall is during the equinox, the moment which the powers of summer begin to wain as the forces of winter begin to rise. With the combined powers of summer and winter, they should be able to take out the summerwall.”
Kale did some calculation in her head and burst out “But that is less than two weeks away!” She had sat patiently through many of these conversations but time was running out. “That doesn’t give us much time to get there, let alone do we really know how to defeat them. I know I am strong but I don’t think I can take on a single Ort and we will be facing an army.” Jace got animated chiming in as well “And I don’t even have half the strength Kale does. Benj taught me to fight, and he was dead set on me learning to sword fight, but it is going to take more than that to defeat an army.”
“Do you know nothing at all?” Merowyn exclaimed coldly “Jace you are the prince of summer, this makes you a formidable woodbinder. You Kale are an ortkin, you are capable of possessing far more strength can you could even imagine yet.” Mero motioned to the staff that was laying on the ground beside Jace “You use that as a walking stick, but it is a powerful weapon that you apparently don’t even know how to wield. In fact all of the gifts you were given were done so for a very specific purpose, to prepare you for battle.” Merowyn rose up from her seat “Put that cloak on, we will start with it.”
Jace rummaged in the pack and unfolded the cloak standing up, sitting the pack down on the rock. He pulled on the cloak, wrapping it around him. “Close your eyes, imagine yourself being wrapped in leaves. Imagine them pressing upon your body forming a tight mesh” Merowyn explained. Jace did just that, he imagined a huge pile of leaves stepping into it. He imagined the leaves flying up from the pile and coating his body. He felt warm and safe and as his opened his eyes, much to his surprise the cloak was morphing around him, wrapping his body forming a mesh of tiny silver leaves. The end result was a sort of scale male, with the tiny leaves making up the individual leaves.
Jace stood there a bit dumbstruck flexing his arms and watching the scales ripple to his movements. “How did I do that?” Merowyn laughed “Boy you are a wood binder and a prince of summer, you simply utilized the magic in the item to bend it to your will. This is far from the only form that cloak can take, but we will keep it simply to the armored form for now.” Kale watched in fascination wondering if her own gifts had a special purpose as well. “What do the other things do” he mused.
“That staff can be morphed into a grand weapon, and that lyre can turn into a shield or a bow to protect you. See if you can bend them on your own without my explaination.” Jace picked up the staff and reached into the pack for the lyre. He never really understood why they had given him a musical instrument, but if it was in fact what Mero suggested it all made a little sense. Once again he closed his eyes imagining the staff was a longsword and the lyre his shield. When he opened his eyes he watched as the staff shortened in length and morphed into a long skinny blade with a curved handle.
He knew that the sword was called a Scimitar. Benj had showed him about many different kinds of swords. At the time he thought it was just a hobby, but he never could have imagined that all the sword fighting was an attempt to prepare him for something greater. The blame gleamed in the firelight as he thrashed it back and forth. The lyre had turned into a long pointed shield. He knew that it was called a kite shield, and it was emblazoned with a ring of leaves that looked similar to the medallion that he was given. The primary difference was that instead of fall leaves they were brilliant green with a ring of fire in the center of them.
Jace was beginning to feel like a proper warrior. He knew how to wield the weapons thanks to the tutelage of Benj. He held the broad kite shield up to his shoulder forming a barrier and practiced taking strikes around the shield. While wielding the weapons he felt more powerful than he ever had in his life. It felt as though his muscles and even his focus were tightening in preparation. “So I really am a warrior aren’t I?” Jace mumbled slightly slackjawed. “Yes Jace, you were born to be a warrior for the court of summer. Benjanatos taught you in the ways of combat. He was the greatest court swordsman, so much so that he was given the coveted position of woodsblade, the queens protector.” Merowyn explained.
Turning her attention to Kale she looked over at the tall ortkin. “I believe you recieved gifts as well. Your cloak reacts the same way that Jaces does, and similarly you can use it to protect you. However the most special item you have is that mirror.” She said pointing at that pack sitting at Kales feet. “My sister had a mirror just like that, if I had to guess she left it for you. Pull it out of your pack and I will show you out to use it.” Kale did as the woman requested, reaching down and grasping the mirror by the handle. She was not sure how the mirror could be of any use to her. She was not really fond of looking at her own reflection, so she had almost forgotten it was in the pack.
She stood up turning to face Merowyn “What do you want me to do now?” Kale had serious doubt that she would be able to use the mirror. “Hold the mirror with both hands out in front of you. Imagine your anger welling up inside of you. Imagine that anger striking down your enemies.” Kale did as she said and remembered the way she felt the day the scatchers got to her. She imagined the anger washing over her as she struck the gobbley in his head causing it to explode in a shower of ichor. As the anger pooled up inside of her, the mirror began shifting in her hands. The handled expanded in size and the mirror itself flattened into a square and them morphed into the shape of a great silver hammer.
She remembered catching a glimpse of Morrow wielding a hammer that looked exactly like this one. The weight felt perfect in her hands and she swung it through the air like a baseball bat. She imagined what it would feel like to bring it down upon her foes. The anger still building inside her cascaded through her arms and she brought the hammer down on a nearby rock. The campsite was showered in a blinding white light as the rock exploded into shards. She stood there staring at what the hammer had just done, heaving slightly as she took long deep breaths trying to calm down. She felt powerful. She felt as though she had a chance against the army that awaits them.
“See, I told you that great power lay within you both. You simply lacked the tools to free it.” Merowyn returned to her rather flat tone. “Now you should both get some rest. We have a long way to travel before we reach the Wildfae enclave. I am sure you both will see battle before this is all said and done” Mero stood up and moved towards a canopy of shroomstalks where they had arranged some makeshift bedding. Jace and Kale stood there for a moment, looking at each other, their weapons, and trying to wrap their heads around what had happened. They managed to morph the items back into their resting form, stowing them away in their packs before joining Merowyn and drifting off to sleep.