This was Awdwyn's third vision quest--after this, she'll have two solo ones to complete the path! I had a lot of fun with this, and we were both creeped out by the end.
Grasses beside Moon River.
A heavy downpour soaks the area. This small area of grass leads from the Alabaster Road down to the banks of the Moon River. The road to the south is
a line of white stone, threading beneath the tall trees that crowd around it. Moon River to the northwest, however, is a wide expanse of water, a
massive river that cuts a path through the trees and forces them apart. Gravel lines the banks as they slope down to meet the river's edge. Two
concentric circles of stones are set out in the grasses here. A mature hornbeam tree stands proudly here. An elder moonhart tree towers overhead, her
thick trunk rooted firmly in the ground. Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw is here.
Awdwyn quietly makes her way toward where the fire will be and crouches down.
Everiine stacks dry kindling and logs in the burned center of the rings. Picking his tinderbox back up, he strikes the spark and soon, a roaring fire burns. He puts his tinderbox back with his other belongings, returns to the fire, and hooks the beaded and feathered charms woven into his head crest behind his ear.
Awdwyn watches the fire the flames reflecting the excitement and curiosity gleaming in her gaze.
You say to Awdwyn, "You have grown from a Cub to a Claw. Now, you seek the finer points of Brother Jaguar's teaching to become His Teeth."
Awdwyn nods solemly in understanding.
You say to Awdwyn, "If you are successful, this will be your last guided vision quest, little one. After this, you will have to go out on your own into the realm of the Warrior Spirits, first to test your worth as a Hunter, and then as a Warrior. Learn well these last lessons, for they may save your life."
Awdwyn nods again in understanding.
Everiine holds a crumbling parchment packet of dried herbs over the fire and looks into your eyes. "Are you ready?" he asks.
Awdwyn dips her head. "Aye I am ready."
Everiine sticks the packet into the hottest part of the fire, the burning coals, and quickly pulls his hand back before it can burn. Immediately, the crumbling parchment bursts into flames and the dry herbs ignite. A great billowing of smoke erupts into the air, so thick that it dulls the sound of the rain pattering against the grasses. It swirls around the two of you, filling your nostrils with its pungent odor.
Awdwyn closes her eyes and inhales deeply of the smoke surounding both of you.
The smoke swirls rather violently, whipping about as if driven by angry, hostile winds. It chokes you, threatening to cut off the supply of air to your lungs. It has a similar effect on Everiine and the place in which you sit, seeming to drain it of life. The grass withers, the flowers fade and turn to dust, and the light of the sun is blocked out entirely in inky darkness. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the cloud of smoke evaporates into a dark silence broken only by the distant "drip... drip... drip" of water; you must be in a cave somewhere deep in the earth, where no light has ever penetrated.
Awdwyn glances around her her nose twitching in the cold.
Everiine's breathing is the only other sound echoing in the perfect darkness of the cave, and it takes him a while to speak. "Awdwyn?" he whispers softly, hoping to find you nearby.
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "I am here this is the darkest place I think I have been before."
Awdwyn slowly reaches her hand out in Everiine's direction hoping to find him near by.
The touch on his leg startles Everiine and a flurry of flapping feathers can be heard in the dark. "Ah, there you are," he says, relieved. "This is like no place I have been, either," he adds, worried. And in the distance, faintly, just on the edge of hear, a deep chuckle echoes.
Awdwyn lets her ears twitch and swivel toward the sound of the chuckle before saying, "Did you hear that?"
Bringing his voice down to the lowest level, Everiine whispers, "I did..." "And so did I," the deep voice replies, having moved positions in the cave without making the slightest sound.
Awdwyn lets her head turn toward the strange voice while staying close to Everiine.
Awdwyn squints into the darkness before saying "Hello".
A strange breath whisks between you and Everiine as the voice speaks. "Hello," it says, and... that's it.
Awdwyn glances up and down between her and Everiine looking for the source of the voice in the darkness.
"Ah ah ah," the voice scolds from the other side of where Everiine is sitting. "If I wanted to be seen, I wouldn't be living here." The voice chuckles and drifts overhead to settle next to you, out of reach.
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "I can tell this is a unique place to live it would take me alot to improve my vision to be able to see."
"Vision is useless here!" the voice exclaims, almost angrily--you clearly touched a sensitive subject. A breeze brushes against Everiine and you, the only evidence that the creature, whatever it is, has moved again.
Awdwyn winces before saying "I do apologize I did not mean to offend.
Awdwyn glances in Everiine's direction as if asking for advice.
In the dark, Everiine cannot see your glance, and thus remains silent. After recovering from its outburst, the breeze dies to a deathly still, and the voice calls from another corner. "You did not intend, but intent means little. The world does not care what you intend, only what you do, and what you do with what the world gives to and takes from you."
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "This is true though there are other senses too this would be a good place for a keen sense of hearing or even smell and touch."
Suddenly much closer, right between Everiine and you again, the voice cackles. "You speak as if this is a great gift I have been given. How quaint."
Awdwyn moves closer until she can feel Everiine's feathers and then closes her eyes trying to use her other senses to get a feel for her surroundings.
Awdwyn whispers quietly to Everiine, "I wonder if I unintentually offended again."
Before Everiine can answer, the voice chimes in from high above, the unseen ceiling of the cavern. "If you have to wonder, then the answer is probably yes. Think, child, before you speak when others can hear you."
Awdwyn lets her cheeks glow with a blush that is most likely not seen before looking up and asking quietly, "I was hopinging you might be willing to help me and again I do apologize for my stumbling around your home."
The voice answers again between Everiine and you. "Help you? What help could you possibly want from me." And then, from the other side of your head. "Do you think I exist here to placate you and lead you along?"
Awdwyn bows her head before replying, "No of course not I well I just thought maybe you would be willing to share some knowledge with me about how to improve oneself."
Awdwyn fumbles around until she finds Everiine's hand and gives it a gentle squeeze.
Everiine squeezes your hand back to let you know he's still here as he listens for the voice's reply. It comes from directly in front of you. "I didn't ask you to come here. I'm under no obligation to tell you anything. Why don't you tell me? How did I improve myself after what they did to me?"
Awdwyn ponders the situation.
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "I couldnt give a firm answer I could make a educated guess I would say it took practice and quite a bit of it."
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "I mean you can learn some from others telling you and reading but the best teacher I would think is personal experience and practice."
Everiine has his hand pulled away with a startled gasp. The voice hovers right next to your ear in his place, so close, you can almost feel its cold breaths. "And it is a cruel teacher. Unforgiving. You will either learn, or you will die."
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "Aye I could see that having to learn something for yourself by experience would have to be the most difficult thing especially if you had no experience with itup to that point."
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "It must have taken alot of courage and determination to learn from experience like that."
Still in the place where Everiine once sat, the voice says, "Could you do it? Could you learn what I have learned? Could you cast aside everything you knew to improve yourself, to beat the odds, to become stronger than you ever were before?"
Awdwyn closes her eyes before pointing her head in the direction of the voice and saying, "Yes when it comes to survival I would do anything and everything I can to learn and improve to go beyond even what I thought I could to become better to keep myself and the people that count on me alive".
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "But I know unless I improve myself it is a false hope I would give to others that would count on my protection."
Something... unknowable, unidentifiable, brushes up against your shoulder, a strange touch, like nothing you've felt before. It's cold, unsettling, sending ripples up your spine. "And if you failed, what then?" the voice asks, so close it could almost be against your ear. "What if everything you fought to protect was stolen, destroyed, right before your eyes. What if I killed your Everiine right here? What then?"
Awdwyn gulps as she answers "I would certainly mourn for him he is not just my guide he is my father and dear to me, but if I could not save him I would have to do everything I could do to continue to improve to gain experience so that others I love and care for would not be lost to me".
If Everiine is still around, he is either incapacitated or otherwise unable to speak. A menacing presence, the source of the voice, closes around you without physically touching you; yet it suffocates you, making it difficult to breathe. "And if they were lost to you? And the next? And the next? And the next?" With each question the voice rises in intensity.
Awdwyn gulps as she continues to think "All I can do is try and improve myself I would mourn for all those I lose but I can only do my best to improve myself until I have nothing left to give I would go to the limits of my strength and beyond if I must to survive.
"And if your best isn't enough?!" the voice yells, shaking the walls of the cavern that encloses you and Everiine in its darkness.
Awdwyn stumbles backwards and falls as the cavern shakes considering her answer.
Awdwyn stammers to the voice "if if my best was not enough then I would deserve the fate that would befall me I would do all I can but if it wasnt enough then I would have to have the courage to resign myself to my fate.
Awdwyn lets her hands skitter across the floor as if looking for Everiine.
With Everiine's hand nowhere to be found, the voice snarls. "You would give up?"
Awdwyn gulps as she continues to consider the question carefully.
"Answer, or Everiine never leaves. And that will be your burden to bear for the rest of your life," the voice demands, hovering just in front of your face.
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says, "No I would not give up resigned or not I would fight until life had fled my body I would rather go down fighting rather than just give up."
Awdwyn tries to use her hands her nose and even her ears to get an idea of where Everiine might be.
And just like that, the menacing presence evaporates, letting you breath freely once more. Not a sound, except for that constant dripping can be heard, not even Everiine's breathing. Then, from far off, far away, the voice answers. "Then you know what it is I have been through. And what you need to do." With that, the presence of the voice disappears entirely.
Awdwyn takes in a deep breath before calling softly "Everiine are you ok?"
Everiine groans from somewhere next to you, with the sound of his feathers brushing against the floor. "Awdwyn? Are you..." He pauses, trying to get his bearings in the dark. "Where did it go?"
Awdwyn finds one of Everiine's wings before saying in a quietly shakey voice "It said I understood what it went through and then it left."
Everiine's wing presses securely against your hand, staying put so he doesn't lose you again. "And are you okay? Are you unharmed?"
Awdwyn sits as close to Everiine as she can as the cold of the cave penetrates her thick fur and she starts to shiver.
Everiine wraps his wing around your shoulders to keep you warm, and pulls you close. "I think... I think we should get home," he says.
Serenguard Awdwyn, Jaguar's Claw says to you, "I I think you are right."
Awdwyn gets to her feet extending her hand to help Everiine.
Everiine stands and wraps his wings around you again. "Here we go..." he says and concentrates, searching in his mind for the pathway home. It's difficult to tell if anything is happening, given the utter darkness and silence of the cave. But, eventually, the smell of a dying fire fills the air, and little by little, the smoke reappears, growing brighter and lighter. The wind picks up, the sounds of the forest come back to life, and finally the cloud of smoke dissipates unceremoniously, leaving you two back at the sacred circles.
Everiine is a man, and is very manly. This MAN before you is so manly you might as well just gender bend right now, cause he's the manliest man that you ever did see. His manly shape has spurned many women and girlyer men to boughs of fainting. He stands before you in a manly manerific typical man-like outfit which is covered in his manly motto: "I am a man!"
Daraius said: You gotta risk it for the biscuit.
Pony power all the way, yo. The more Brontaurs the better.