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Within the Nintoba Naos.
Regal oak trees converge about a small mound here, which rises to head-height without precedent from the forest floor. The mound is formed from packed earth into which a number of stone blocks have been set to bolster it, which are covered with a thick curvaceous symbols or runes. Although there does not appear to be an entrance of any kind to the mound from the level of the forest floor, you notice that a set of moss-covered stone steps have been cut into the mound. A clump of golden, four-leaf clovers sway in the breeze here. The Font of Nintoba stands here, infusing the naos with an emerald green glow. A deer skull has been placed upon the ground here, small offerings and charms strewn around it. A mature oak tree stands proudly here. Reaching up as high as the eye can see looms the awesome presence of a living totem. The marble sculpture of a male centaur, the Statue of Nintoba, towers before you.
There are no obvious exits.
She is a nimble faeling with antlers, her boyish figure twiggy and lithe. Olive-toned skin wears a proud, aggressive smattering of freckles constellating across the soft planes of her face and shoulders. Streaked by sunlight, reddish brown hair crowns her head in whimsy, cut androgynously short and sideswept just above her thick brows. The grey of gathering clouds dominates her large eyes, irises flecked with shards of onyx storm; these are found in a rounded countenance marked by a turned up nose and pert lips the colour of peach blossoms. From her back springs a set of pellucid wings, veined and delicately painted with shimmering pastels resembling a dragonfly's. Her ears are small, close to her head and pointed at the slightly elongated tips, vaguely reminiscent of twin leaves. A braided leather cord sits about her neck, close to the throat, and threaded to its very centre are several mis-matched gems: a pair of opal beads, a sanguine ruby, a single fire opal, a glimmering pearl, an amethyst, a bright sapphire, and a proudly glittering emerald.
She is wearing:
a clover-etched garnet brooch
a small hard leather scabbard
an elegant sapphire brooch
a royal blue leather moondust cloak
simple, elevated beech wood sandals
a lightweight kimono robe swimming with fanciful koi wrapping her twiggy body with artistic modesty
a translucent crystal bindi faintly illuminating her brow with prismatic colours
a mazarine pack broidered with iridescence
a tiny pink cowslip
the Flame of dae'Seren hanging from her wrist, its blossom held there by the silver chain wrapping her forearm.
Standing little more than five feet tall, he is a graceful elfen, his lithe body corded with the beginnings of wiry muscle. In contrast to his otherwise delicate features, a prominent, bent-bridged nose protrudes from his face, contrasting bleakly against the high cheekbones to its either side. Irises like yellow ochre adorn his large, serious eyes, tiny bronze flecks suspended in their depths between coruscating striations of lime green. Gathered into a topknot above his head, nut-brown hair shears close to his scalp on the sides and back, leaving his pointed ears to sweep upward unobstructed by wayward locks. A scar snakes its way up from under the left one, parting his buzzed strands in a narrow, sinuous trail of uncovered flesh.
He is wearing:
a forestal camouflaged tunic
long, comfortable trousers of ebon black
an earthen-hued beaded pack.
You smile and say to @Lief, "Thank you again, Lief. I truly appreciate all you're doing for me."
Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon says to you, "Absolutely! You've helped me so very much."
Warmly, Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon says to you, "It's only fair."
You put the Moonstoned Spear of Nintoba into the hand of Nintoba.
A golden glow suffuses the Statue of Nintoba.
The eyes on the Statue of Nintoba light up with an emerald light.
As no centaurs are in danger, the Spear of Nintoba fades away.
The Blessing of Nintoba causes the leaves of the Moonhart to tremble in joy.
(Serenwilde): Lief says, "Good work, @Naevari!"
Ducking his head and bringing up a hand to scratch at the nape of his neck, you say to Lief, "Oh, well... That was... nothing, really. I wanted to do all of that."
(Serenwilde): You say, "Thank you, Lief."
Wings humming behind her, Lief smiles merrily at you. "Soon," she says, lifting her wrist to show the Flame of dae'Seren, "you will earn a flame as well."
When Lief lifts her wrist, it draws Naevari's gaze to it as though by magnetism. He cocks his head, ever so slightly, knitting his eyebrows pensively together and saying, "Yes. I suppose so. Although I think I'm hardly worthy of it. Especially compared to some others who haven't earned theirs yet."
Lowering her hand, Lief cants her antlered head with curiosity to one side. "Why do you say that, Naevari?"
The question scrunches Navari's eyebrows together all the more fiercely. Pushing his shoulders upward in a sullen kind of shrug, he explains, "Well, your father, for instance. He's done so much more for the Wilde than I ever have. And I've barely even been awarded the rank of Gardener. I just thought that..." Here, for a moment, he averts his gaze, pressing his teeth into his bottom lip as though to stem the flow of words. But then he finishes more softly, "...that perhaps, with the Flame, I would be better equipped to protect those around me. To protect the Wilde." Slowly, bashfully, he looks up again, once more finding Lief's grey eyes with his own yellow ones.
Though her wings are a constant, quiet hum, Lief listens to you in silence, never interrupting - not even when it seems there might be a lull in the conversation. "Perhaps my Father would do well to earn his," she muses aloud when it seems the point's been made, a hint of amusement touching her words. "But your earnestness, your desire to help - and your lack of other means such like my Father has - I think that makes you worthy."
"Yes," Naevari answers, simply, sullenly, once more pushing his shoulders upward in a half-hearted shrug. "No doubt you are right, Lief." And then, something within his eyes of yellow ochre lights up, and he brings up a hand to knead at his forehead with its fingers. "Perhaps..." he muses aloud. "Perhaps we might help him to earn his. Or at least set him upon the path."
"After you earn yours." Lief sways back and forth in mid-air, wings humming more furiously to keep her aloft in the building wind. Thoughtfully, she adds, "We could help Elexia as well - I know she's been working toward earning hers."
Naevari bobs his head in agreement. "Certainly. I would be happy to help your sister, Lief. We could..." Here his words slow, some of the faint, easy brightness of his response seeping out of them. "...we could do it together."
Though Lief nods her head in immediate agreement, the smile she offers you is just a touch quizzical. "Of course. Together with any who also want to help, we'll lift other Seren higher."
Something in Naevari seems to falter at Lief's smile; there's a tensing of his shoulders - of the muscles in his face. But even so, he returns the faeling's nod with another, shallower one of his own. "Yes, certainly," he agrees mildly, in a voice that sounds almost cautious. "We'll defend these woods together, after all. To help them is to help each one of us."
"It takes more than one petal to make a flower." Her smile more certain, Lief lifts the Flame of dae'Seren to study the blossom which burns with dancing blue fires. "Like the Flame itself." Her eyes skip to meet your own again, their greys smiling. "I think you're absolutely right, Naevari."
The corners of Naevari's mouth twitch upward again when Lief finds his eyes, his own gaze itself darting up from the Flame to quickly meet them. For a moment - not a long one, but one that perhaps stretches awkwardly even so - he just holds those eyes with their grey of gathering clouds, the smile on his lips wavering but not fading, the tension in his shoulders still pulling them visibly taut. But then, finally, he ducks his head, lowering his gaze to the ground again and once more bringing up his fingers to knead at his brow. "You'll be pleased to know that I'm thinking of writing a book of my own now," he says softly, changing the subject.
A shamrock blows in from the northwest.
A shamrock blows off to the northwest.
A shamrock blows in from the northwest.
Lief suddenly scoops up a shamrock.
At ease with her surrounds as ever she is, Lief doesn't seem to notice the awkwardness; if she does, she doesn't act on it, simply waiting for acknowledgement. Yet she takes to the change in subject with equal ease, like a hummingbird darting from one flower's nectar to the next. "That *is* wonderful!" she says as she dips idly to claim a shamrock. Twirling its stem betwixt her fingers, she considers it, then offers it forward. "What will it be about? Tell me everything."
With a smile, Lief gives a shamrock to you.
Naevari takes the shamrock delicately with his thumb and forefinger, turning it between them more slowly and carefully than Lief did. His expression growing pensive as he watches its leaves spin, he answers, "The origins of the Shofangi arts. That recording you showed me - it made me think. I know so little of Bull's ways or how they came to be. I think I'll research those things and write a book on what I learn, for my own betterment and that of all the monks in the Wilde." And then he lifts his gaze from his hand, settling it once more on Lief's with a faint smile on his lips.
A shaft of moonlight shines down from the heavens and bathes the Ellindel Arboretum in soft light.
Lief offers you a warm smile as she listens, but the moonlight piercing the nearby Arboretum catches her eye, distracting her. She tilts her chin and spies the full moon overhead, at which she brushes you along with a, "I will help however I can, but now is the time. Go!"
Naevari blinks, then bobs his head in a nod of acknowledgment. "Yes," he agrees, glancing back over his shoulder in the direction of the Ellindel Arboretum. "I should go."
* * *
A comforting smell of grass and dew emanates through the air emanating from a war shrine of Charune nearby. Tall oaks cluster together here about a large fractured stone plinth. On closer inspection, this great rock was once the top of a dolmen - the three supporting stones have crumbled, causing the larger roof to fall and crack. It must have been in this position some time, grown over as it is with strands of ivy and brambles, and wrapped in moss and lichen. Leafy branches descend from the forest canopy downwards, as if wishing to gather this structure into their embrace. A clump of golden, four-leaf clovers sway in the breeze here. A birch sapling clings tenaciously to the ground here. Reaching up as high as the eye can see looms the awesome presence of a living totem. A cairn has been raised here amongst the burial mounds.
You see exits leading north, northeast, south, and northwest.
A song sparrow jumps out of your hands and alights on the cairn.
A song sparrow suddenly bursts into song, warbling out a complex melody, telling tales of times long past, peoples since forgotten, loves lost and victories painfully bought. Indeed, a song sparrow sings of the ancient histories of the Serenwilde.
Silvery figures arise up from the burial mounds, slowly coming forward to listen to the song of a song sparrow. When it is done, they bow their ghostly heads.
One of the ancestral spirits steps forward, raising his translucent hand in greeting.
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren says, "Thank you for the song of our past. It brings me great joy to know we are remembered. Do you come bringing us an offering?
You give the golden antlers of the White Hart to Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren.
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren gazes off into the forest around him, his brow creased in a frown.
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren says, "When Glinshari burns, the Seren waxes in power."
You have earned a new honour in the Serenwilde Forest!
You have received a fine firefly net ikon as a quest reward!
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren bows his head somberly.
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren says, "We cannot stay longer."
Chuchip, the Great Spirit of the Seren drifts away, finally fading into one of the burial mounds.
Lief tells you, "Excellent work, Naevari."
You tell Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon, "Thank you, Lief. I should go and meditate now, but if you like... if you like, I *am* willing to speak more of the book. Later, I mean."
Lief tells you, "I would like that very much. I was considering working with Nimailt's spirit to call upon Old Man Bull, and knowing what you plan to do, I think it'd be wonderful to work on that together."
You tell Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon, "Yes. Yes, certainly. I would like that. I think I would like to do it at the first opportunity."
You tell Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon, "If you're willing, that is."
Lief tells you, "Excellent! Let's plan on it."
You tell Awanydd Lief Myeras-Silvermoon, "Excellent. I will, then."