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Kel'Var

"I serve the spirit of my master, and the moss on my back."

0 · 351 views · located in Whispering Woods

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by CaptainGrue

Description

Image
Drawn by Josh Corpuz (i made the eye blue tho mweheheh)
Name: Kel'var
Ethnic Group/Race/Species: Golem
Gender: Golem :)
Age: Unknown*
Date of Creation: Unknown*We may find out ;)
Height: 8"1/2.46m
Weight: 610 lbs/280 kg
Eye color: Light blue.
Skin tone/color: Is tree
Appearance quirks/other: Treee person/creature. Moss has grown all over it. Light blue light emanates from its eyes and the core inside its chest, escaping through cracks in its barklike skin.
Personality: Stoic. Wise, but not very booksmart. Above all values loyalty and the pledge of allegiance to its master.
Quirks: Generally calls things by their behaviour, rather than the noun prescribed to them.
Likes/Hobbies: Flora and fauna.
Dislikes/Nopes: Fire and unnatural magic.
Family: The wind, the forest and all that hoo-doo.
Place of Residence: The Whispering Woods

Profession/Skills:
Treebeard: Kel'Var holds some amount of the forest's spirit and as such holds certain knowledge and wisdom in relation to it.
Wood Hammer: Kel'Var holds an immense amount of brute strength behind themself. Runs up to 88 km/h. Smashy smashy.

Abilities/Gadgets:
Gaia's Awareness: Kel'Var can detect poisons and impurities with the nature around him, so long as Kel is on Gaia.
Forest's Favour: Kel'Var can embiggen himself for more strength or to extend roots for the purposes of snaring or utility.
Whispering Spirit: So long as Kel'Var is connected to its master, Kel'Var may communicate with them telepathically. This communication goes both ways enabling its master to issue orders instantaneously over immeasurable distances.

Life Goal: To serve its master. There might be more ambition lurking in there.
Crippling weaknesses/Fears:
Golem: As a golem, Kel'Var must follow the orders of his master. He may offer counsel, but can never choose to directly/indirectly avoid a given command.
Fire: Weak to it.
Any sort of unholy/black/decay related magics.

Backstory:
Kel'Var was created as a magical construct from fey and faerie energies, inseparably connected to the Whispering Woods they came from. Whomever it was must have been someone with great power, and Kel'Var remembers journeying with a previous master for quite some time. The details about those adventures have been lost to Kel, however. For at least one hundred years Kel'Var has remained buried beneath the surface of the Whispering Woods covered in moss and topsoil. Its blue spirit has all but died out. His wooden carapace extends out of the ground, perfectly disguised amongst the rest of the forest.
However, disturbances in the forest have called to reawaken Kel'Var. Perhaps it would only take some lonesome wanderer to sit in precisely the right spot on a suspiciously comfortable looking rock to reawaken the old soul. That would certainly make for quite the adventure, as coincidence usually does. ;)

So begins...

Kel'Var's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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A young dragon of glowing neon scales instantly transformed back into his humanoid state as he touched down to the ground after a long glide. He landed in a crouch as his tail and wings were sucked back into his body. The forest was getting denser the farther he traveled east of his village. He had been traveling for days. It would have been faster and easier to go up above the canopy, but there had been too many predatory beasts prowling the skies where he had been. He could not risk it or he would surely have become a meal for some behemoth.

As he rose to his feet, the pale-skinned dragon man stood 6’2” tall in a breechcloth made of expandable woven tree bark. His dark eyes surveyed the new environment, looking for any signs of danger. There were bioluminescent lichens on the trees that his people traditionally used for ceremonial face and body paint. The lichens took on slightly different hues as he went farther and farther away from home. He was used to a pale blue glow. Yet still, no matter where he traveled, the lights of fey glittered along the game trails on the forest floor. It was a part of the natural beauty of the woodland that he had enjoyed since early childhood.

Why was he here and what was his goal, one might ask? It had been two weeks since his Out-Turning, a rite of passage from whence young adult males were exiled from their villages of birth. He was expected to go exploring the far reaches of the woodland for a few years before settling down in a new village, but this particular individual had something else in mind. Indeed, he wanted to see the world outside of the Whispering Woods, though doing so was practically verboten. Wide open places meant exposure to the many dangers that Gaia had to offer. Predatory dragon species preyed on smaller species and they were a constant threat.

But Joragon was foolhardy and he was not about to let danger stop him from seeing the world beyond his woodland. Maybe he would never return to settle down and start a family, it was hard to say. All he really cared about at this current moment was adventure and he did not bother to even contemplate the future, for it was beyond his current cares. Having traveled all day, the young man had become tired and was ready to find a place to sleep for the night. After walking some ways, Joragon found what appeared to be a perfectly comfortable spot on a rock. He plopped down and yawned, glancing around in hope of finding something to eat.

Finding food, at least for Joragon’s people, the Halo dragon clan, was never an issue in the Whispering Woods. The place was brimming with food of all kinds. Nobody went hungry in the vast and rich forest land. Buzz, buzz, buzz! Joragon caught an insect about the size of his hand right out of the air as it zipped by. He paused to make sure it was not a fairy. Indeed, it was a sort of oversized ciclid. He ripped its wings off with his other hand and bit the head off to kill it before beginning to devour the creature bite by bite. It would make a decent dinner, especially if he could find some sweet rainwater trickling down from the canopy to wash it down with. After eating, Joragon yawned widely and settled down on the mossy rock to sleep.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Life dragons, as those whose existence necessitated tacit neutrality from nearly everyone, had a particular habit of just sleeping wherever they liked. Landscape inevitably overtook their bodies even during scant hour naps whenever that should be. In such a case the mossy 'rock' scattered a clump from one side where within an amber eye looked about then centered on Joragon. While she may be a particularly restful spot he had a foot in one of her nostrils this eventually woke her up.

A caregiver rather than the vengeful she tried not to shake him too much upon her forehead the soft rumbling draconic voice from below, "Little one. You've your feet in my nose."

A carpeted mossy snout wriggled trying to shake the heel loose as bark-colored scales appear between small crevasse. Moss flared with rhizomes shooting across to patch over cracks. Her aura one of healing if not raw creation quickly spawned plant life.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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An unexpected voice in his dreams roused Joragon from his slumber. He jumped to his feet on the mossy rock, peering around the dark forested landscape. The oversized amber eye, being behind him, he did not notice at first. He sniffed the air, detecting the scent of something or someone unfamiliar, before jumping down from his sleeping place and pacing around. "Who goes there?" he charged. Had it simply been in his imagination? Maybe he had dreamt it all. Then again, his dreams did not usually wake him up.

He snorted and plopped down on a different mossy rock some short distance from the first one. When he looked up, he found himself staring into a large amber eye. His mind failed to process what it was at first, but when it blinked, he was nearly bowled over.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Creak and snap screamed the plants atop Zervi eager to constrain the dragon. They hardly contained her however as the flat boulder rose. Underneath it more greenery alive in spite of crushing tan scales. As moss fell off in sheets Zervi shook her head violently to get the itchy material off of her body. Green curtains flung in sprays away from Joragon behind Zervi. As she freed her head revealing long translucent amber horns undamaged by combat. A mark of a female. Nearby a careening sapling belted one angry screeching animal from a branch by happenstance. Though quieted rather for a very temporary moment.

Her laughter had the pound of a waterfall hearing it, 'Ha Ha Ha Ha, sorry little monkey. I need a good brushing after sleeping out here.'

A long snout leaned down to speak as her hind half rolled straight, "I apologize for waking you, smaller-kin, but your foot was in my nose. I am Zervi, the Gentle. Mine is to tend dragon-kin."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Eyes shut, lights out. Today was going to be one of those days.

Wind wasn't ever all too harsh in the forest. Wisps of breeze and ancient aromas would blow past in hues of blue, weaving between the trees towards some unknowable destination. The lower forest was protected by the canopy's blanket of trees from any disturbance Gaia's winds could cause. As such, the forest floor was covered in a layer of fallen branches, leaves and other such debris left by decaying matter that would be reabsorbed into the forest.

Still, perfectly still.

This layer would provide a suitable disguise for any small creature waiting for predator or prey to pass by, hidden from the dim blue light emanating around them. As Joragon made his way, each critter may decide to scamper off to a new hideaway or put their camouflage to the test and remain perfectly still. One such insect lost itself to Joragon as he found himself a meal. Something remained under the brush, however. And it did not move. Dead or alive roots of all sorts would tunnel through the ground providing their services to the forest.

Supposedly for the dragon who had just woken up, the forest would provide shelter as they slept. It would be quite the coincidence for anyone in the forest to have specifically ended up here of all places. It would be an even greater coincidence to end up here at the same time as the Life dragon Zervi, choosing her back as the best place to rest. This being said, it would be an evermore incredible coincidence that as all of this took place a giant wooden golem lay embedded into the ground a few metres away. Yet perhaps it was some sort of preordained fate that lead Joragon to actually sit on it.

tsssst WRRRRRRRW
Joragon hears a voice inside their head.
The link is made. I serve you now.

From where he sat, a light blue aurora sprung up around Joragon in a spiral. The earth around him adjusted, clumps of moss and debris gave way to reveal a wooden carapace. A couple more critters decided to run somewhere else at this point. As the wooden behemoth rose to about 8-9 ft, four powerful limbs pulled themselves out of the ground to lift itself up. The blue light seeped out from cracks in its bark. A mane of leaves surrounded what could look like a face, a wooden plate resembling lower lips to the effect of a large underbite. A single antler-esque branch extended out where a nose should be, sitting in between two eyes that glowed a bright blue. A chorus of crunching twigs and dead leaves could be heard from within its dreadfully low voice.

"Who do I serve? What must I do?"

It looks toward Zervi, currently unaware of Joragon's presence.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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When the tree-like behemoth had risen out of the ground, Joragon had tumbled off of it and fallen back to the forest floor, landing in a soft pile of leaves and moss. At this point, he was fully discombobulated and even frightened about what was happening. He had heard words spoken in his head, "The link is made. I serve you now." However, he had no idea what that meant as the second mossy giant rose to its full height. The young Halo's first instinct was to find something to hide under or behind, and so he did. Scrambling in the opposite direction, he tripped and fumbled a few times until he reached the down-turned limb of a massive tree resting on the forest floor. He stealthily dove over it and then peered back out cautiously, curious as to what was happening.

There appeared to be a second giant, a golem. He had only heard tales in his village, but never seen one with his own eyes. It was an awesome tree-like beast with bark skin and lots of foliage. Thank goodness for its arrival, lest he might have been eaten by the larger dragon. He had always been warned about the large species and what a danger they were to his own people. Some, it was said, were peaceful and non-predatory, but it was too dangerous to get close enough to one to learn the difference. Many of the more intelligent types might pretend to be friendly until a Halo was close enough to get snapped up. Then it was all over.

'What have I gotten myself into?' Joragon thought anxiously as he watched the scene unfold. 'I'm a fool! I should have listened to the elders! But what is a dragon that size doing inside the dense forest? She won't even be able to fly out with her massive wingspan. Maybe she's hiding from even bigger dragons out there...' he mused, only venturing to guess how big some dragons could get.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Zervi pointed a tan claw at the large tree and spoke to the golem with a smirk, "I'm just a walking Ley tap and I will be fine on my own. Things gravitate toward me. Protect the smaller-kin trying to hide from a life dragon behind a dead tree."

A playful sort mixed with the dragon sense of humor raised a brow with a curl of her lips at an impish idea. Golem left to its thoughts creatures scattered behind as the dragon leaped out of view from behind the log with deep chanting that sculpts tan dirt coating to a ragged cloak. Underneath an amber-tressed human female with a long oval face wearing little else. The same wide grin as she landed on the tree to plant feet far softer than the crash of scale to dirt he might expect.

Instead a playful mocking voice came from above, looking down, "You've not got in the dragon I'd say. You'd have to be considerably braver."

The eyes, definately not human, were grey with a gleaming slit-eye though a darting examination him not a fixed stare, "Besides, I don't eat things that talk. It's bad form for a healer. Well, not without permission anyway."

She turned to the golem thinking out loud, "Mother's garden is around here somewhere but she never kept good records. I suppose you're a good sign, wood servant."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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"You are not my master, life dragon."

Still, the wood giant slowly turned around, hitting the ground with an unglamorous thud as its legs pivoted round. It has been a long while since this golem has been able to freely move and an even longer while since it had felt lost in the forest. An overwhelming sense of familiarity swamped over Kel'Var. The life dragon's voice seemed like a distant memory but the golem could not make out any specific details. Still, it could see the difference between a lopsided tree husk and the eyes of a young Halo dragon. Presumably invisible to Zervi, Kel'Var could see its own blue glow in Joragon's eyes. The golem's eyes opened wide as its mouth followed suit.

"Frightened child…" Do you hear my voice?

It was at this point Zervi played her little stunt.
Kel'Var remained still, slightly tilting its head to get a better view of her. A garden nearby seemed about right. Most of these trees seemed recognisable although they looked a bit different. Oh but, those trees certainly weren't here yesterday. How long had they slept? More importantly, how could this boy have the link in his eyes? Through all of this, the wooden golem felt a twisting disturbance beneath this confusion.

Kel'var would reach out and grab the dead branch with its massive three fingered hand. With ease it pulled the carcass aside to get a better view of the boy in front of him. Hoping he wouldn't run off, Kel'Var spoke with grumbling timbre.

"I promise neither of us will cause you harm." What is your name?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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At first, all Joragon could do was stare. Golems were not said to be dangerous, per se, unlike large dragons. This was the first time he had ever seen a large dragon who was not prowling the skies above and the first time he had seen one up close. Same with the golem, except he had never seen one and only heard legends. He pushed himself up from the ground as his cover disappeared and rose to his feet, dusting himself off as he looked up at the tree creature. He was just as puzzled by the life dragon's transformation into a humanoid woman. Had she just called him a coward? He drew his brows together. Well, excuuuuse him for being startled by a couple of random giants waking him up from a peaceful slumber. If anything, Joragon was stupidly brave. At least, that was what the other Halo in his village had always called him. His parents had long since dreaded the day of his Out-Turning as much as he had anticipated it with glee. "I am called Joragon. I come of the Halo village of Towsa in the deep forest. How is it you can speak into my mind?" he asked aloud, feeling a strange magnetic tendency toward the beast that he did not in the least bit understand. He stepped forward as if drawn to it.

Moments later, he cast a glance at the dragoness-turned-woman and looked her up and down. She was not unattractive to the eye, but at the same time he knew she was not his kind. Interracial attraction was verboten in his culture. Once he remembered this, he quickly cast his gaze away. "Forgive me for sleeping on you. I mistook you for part of the landscape. Had I trusted my senses more, I might have smelt your presence and found a different spot. I have always been told to rely more on senses other than sight," he reluctantly admitted.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Zervi spins her arms keeping balance a gleeful tone in her bemused smile, "A strong new friend you have there! A forest servant knows many things I haven't yet learned. If the forest's servants speak to you then trust it!"

It was good perhaps that Joragon averted his eye as the impromptu robe hid little as she leaped down from the top of the upraised branch. Wood servants certainly wouldn't care though she appreciated the token of respect from the other. Both bare feet pounded into the earth with a sprout of forest plants and fungus instead of dead leaves. A supply of power making contact with dirt again. She sighed and sidestepped out of the small thicket.

Zervi shrugged then responded while tightening the straps on her conjured robe, "I'm always part of the landscape but I am an aquifer, not the forest. I've only been sleeping for a few hours and such you saw was I. If you could smell something other than life and dirt in the pile it would be odd! I just can't sleep human so I give you no blame."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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In response to Joragon's question, the answer appeared in his mind as well.

I speak to your mind because I believe we have become irreversibly linked.

The wood giant half-tripped, catching itself mid stumble in an attemot to stand stoically on all fours. The wooden face stretched into a grin, looking quite dumb with age if anything.

"I am Kel'Var, spawn of the Whispering Woods and the power it provides. As much as it confounds me to say it, I serve you now, young master."

Vervi spoke, supplying testimony to the golem's words. And it certainly wasn't lying. This really did confound and even irritate the old soul. It was bound to the fact that this random child had stumbled into possession of its soul. There was no denying it. The forest had selected Kel'Var a new master, and returned it very little memory of whomever they served last. If it weren't a product of fate, Kel'var would find this extremely disrespectful. Surely their previous master was deserving of being remembered, no? The one who had brought them into existence had no place in Kel'Vars artifact mind.

Still, they could determine what arcane properties the plants around them would create and how they safe they were for eating. As Vervi and Joragon had their flustered exchange, Kel'var looked deep into the forest all around itself. There was that feeling of a rushing primal disturbance fueled by ill intent. Kel'var could feel it in the wooden fibres that intertwined with its core. Finally agitated enough to interrupt, Kel'Var spoke.

"It is pleasant to be acquainted with you both, but I feel we should all choose someplace else to meander. This forest has obscured itself to me in my slumber and a dark presence approaches." Turning to face Joragon, almost completely cutting Zervi out of its sight, "Young master, what would you have me do?"

Prepared, Kel'var would be willing to do whatever Joragon should ask.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Joragon’s eyes widened when the answer to his question appeared in his mind, saying that he and the golem were now irreversibly linked. That could not be a bad thing, now could it? Joragon could not think of any disadvantages to having a longterm travel companion, unless said individual tried to hold him back from doing something he wanted to do. Somehow he suspected that would not be an issue with this fellow. He listened to the rest of Kel’Var’s words and nodded in agreement. “Yes, it must be fate that brought us together. I sense it is so.” Joragon nodded again when Zervi spoke her testimony in favor of forest servants. The last thing she said caught Joragon’s attention in particular, ‘I just can’t sleep human so I give you no blame.’ The young male raised an eyebrow in curiosity. “Why is that? I find it a bit odd. I rarely if ever sleep dragon myself,” he admitted. “Not for any particular reason, really.”

Zervi had, perhaps, been about to answer the innocent question. However, Kel’Var interrupted their exchange with a rather flustered note to his voice. “A dark presence?” Joragon repeated, his demeanor turning alert if not almost fearful. “Can you sense anything beyond its darkness? I should like to know more if possible. Perhaps we should move. For many days now, I have been on a journey east to the end of the forest. Technically, I’m not supposed to leave the forest, but I have always wanted to see the world beyond. I’ve heard tales of the beauty of the wide open Golden Vale. From which direction approaches this evil? Please, lead us away, even if that means leaving the forest altogether. Perhaps you can help me defend against the dangers outside of my native home. Maybe we should notify a forest guardian.” He turned his attention to the life dragon. “Will you accompany us, Gentle One? Having proven your peaceful intent, you are invited if you’d like to come our way, at least until we’re beyond the danger.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Zervi removed her hood while they talked her rosy pale hands revealing the draconic sigil on her forehead ignited red by exposure to sunlight. Her sense of the world muted by her own nature couldn't see what the wood servant did though with a squint she did try. Her skills lacked a tutor but learned well enough from her mother's habits of journal-keeping. A long road yet and her kind too few for one to come and teach her.

She sighed as Joragon asked for her to follow, "I am a bonfire of life contained in this set of fragile human bricks. I can only see the light of the fire. Mother died to the wasting that sleeping as human form brought. I buried her here decades ago. The wood servant can probably see her well mired in dragon bones. My ancestors are all in this forest."

Amber hair brushed back behind her shoulders smiled though eyed the forest gesturing toward Kel'Var, "A threat comes that concerns? Then I will go gladly. I intend to outlive my mother of three hundred. If you have Guardians perhaps they would know as I am a visitor from the exalted mountains."

She looked at the wood servant, "If it relates, wood servant, mother's garden was a sinkhole of shadow roses and small mobile Irastar. Woody mobile flora that glows red in their dark. I know more of them than the shadow roses. It was said someone was looking after it."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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"As you wish, master."

Kel'var plunged its feet into the Earth and took root. Small tendrils of twig wove into each foot, then glew that same neon blue. Eyes shut and now tapping into Gaia's Awareness, Kel'var searched the forest for this trespassing entity. Only a moment later Kel'Var reopened its eyes and spoke quicker than it had previously.

"Surely this is no coincedence. It is heading west, obstructing your path to the forest's border. It feels much like myself but... Corrupted. Fast, but not faster than I. You may both climb on back.

Regardless, Kel'Var would begin to lead them west, away from the creature but deeper into the forest. Should they climb on its back it would break into a gallop.

The golem listened intently to Zervi as she spoke about her ancestors. As soon as she mentioned it, Kel'Var had an increased awareness of the dead that lay under the forest. The dragon's tomb brought a greater feeling of loss to the golem than it had expected. It wasn't just her mother, too. It was every woodland beast and unwary wanderer that made themselves one with the woods. Kel'Var had a kinship with all those souls, for the golem was also a memory of some era lost to time and those who can recall it. Even if its last master could be remembered, they too would likely be buried somewhere in the forest.

By now its eyes looked downward and voice somber.
"Life dragon, my dearest condolences. May your memories of them hold strong.

Kel'Var was glad to have Zervi with them. It felt that because it knew- Or rather, if it knew one of Zervi's ancestors there might be memories to gain in travelling with them. It wasn't long for this hunch to pay off, too. Once Zervi described the garden Kel'var was able to pinpoint its exact location. A smile came upon its face as it tried to remember just who might be tending the garden. Oh, it was hard not to get hopes up that it could be someone the golem knew.

Trying to hide its excitement, the golem spoke.

"Yes... Yes, I do believe I have been there before. If you think it wise, life dragon. And by your command, master. Shall we take refuge there? I do worry that this presence tails us and would disgrace the garden with its being."

Closing the distance, something just under the earth rampaged towards the three uprooting trees in its path. Should the order be given, Kel'Var would change direction toward the garden. Joragon may not have fully realised it yet but they really could command the golem to do anything (to the best of its ability).

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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The Whispering Woods flashed brighter than day for a crack!
As the shade returned, it darkened. A thunderclap echoed above to follow the brilliant display of lightning. Once again the rains began. Their cold drops beat down on the Whispering Woods- where the rain was usually warm. The trees whispered of their discontent, of dark forces, of change throughout the lands, of an awakening.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Joragon turned his attention to the golem as it spoke. Feeling alarmed at the news, he hopped up onto Kel’Var’s back without delay, making room for Zervi should she choose to accompany them that way. “We should probably get out of here then. I’m sorry about your mother,” he said to Zervi as they traveled. “So you come of the Exalted Mountains? I have always dreamed of venturing there, among many places outside the forest. And this garden you speak of sounds intriguing as well,” he noted. He was surprised to learn that Kel’Var thought he might have been there before. “Yes, let us take refuge there if it is indeed a refuge. I fear that…” he began, only to be interrupted by the arrival of something quite sinister. Whatever it was was very strong indeed, uprooting massive and ancient trees as it came toward them. The cracking of trunks and limbs alike was deafening and echoed up into the affected canopies. “To the garden, now!” Joragon cried. As they fled, he turned around and watched as the evil pursued them rapidly. “What is it? And why is it after us?!” he bellowed over the rush of wind.

The Oracle in his village had mentioned the coming of a great evil, but she had never implied that it was somehow linked to Joragon himself. Besides, he had never really believed her. Until now. He was the type of skeptical young man who required proof of prophecies. Now, he felt guilty for having spoken about the old woman behind her back disparaging remarks. For indeed, it seemed their had been some kind of awakening of an unknown but powerful evil and Joragon knew quite well that he owed someone an apology. It seemed he really would have to grow up after all and he dreaded it. He wanted freedom, not responsibility. But if the Whispering Woods were in trouble, then he would be damned before letting anything bad happen to them. Though he had been turned out of his village, he still had kin back there that he cared greatly about. His sisters, mother, childhood friends, he was compelled to fight for.

“Strange things are happening!” he blared. “Cold rain?” He grabbed an over-sized broad leaf as they raced through the forest and used it to cover himself. He was cold-blooded and his body required external heat to function. Cold coming to the rainforest was definitely a sign of worse things to come. Whatever it was, they would need to regroup and find a way to stop it.

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Once Joragon was behind him Zervi leapt up adept and quick to follow. The rangers trained her in human skills for whatever way she allowed. A warm blooded sort the cold rain did chill her somewhat. Soft pale hands wrapped about Joragon to hold on looking up and around at the sky. Her robe smelt slightly of petrichor from dry earth.

She replied first to Kel'Var as he offered to go to the garden, "My thanks, wood servant, she is remembered by humans as well as myself. Then to the garden! I hope the woody herb Irastar mother left to mind pests do not bite us. ... Is it getting colder?"

The crashing noises started to reach her attentive ears as a crack from the sky deafened them. It sent the golem at greater speed away from some greater horror even through her pyre now sensed. Legs clamp tightly to the golem to keep atop it she held tightly to Joragon. The human form needed less to feed but also quite fragile and light was it. Dry leaves rattling in the breeze was not something she much liked feeling as.

Her power bellowed voice forward despite the thunder and rain, "The garden should be safer! There should be an entrance to a sanctuary I can find there! Life follows death, death follows life. As much light as protected in this forest it casts deep shadows. I fear if that is what is now behind us!"

Zervi knew mother put her gardens at the entrances to the misbegotten sepulchre. Unsure her heart was ready to enter that place she offered it anyway. If safety was needed it was one of few stronger. The wood servant once there, if it remembered what the sepulchre was for, would help keep their secret.

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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It would be a bumpy ride for Zervi and Joragon, the sort of activity that would make one's bones ache in the morning.

The lightning came as if on command accompanying the group's tailer, and the golem did throw itself further into increased speeds. Kel'Var was aware that the rain presented a real threat to its new Halo dragon master. It really did seem like Gaia herself was trying to do away with them. Rain like this should have been shielded by the higher canopies. Either the forest was growing slack or the rain was unnaturally harsh.

"May the trees lend me their guard!" Kel'Var spoke, and the arcane core from beneath where the two dragons sat glowed through its bark. The antler on its head grew longer, thicker and bending back above the golem's passengers. Two giant jungle leaves sprouted either side, serving the purpose of a makeshift umbrella.

Kel'Var could hear the forest crying out from behind, saddened by its half brothers and sisters grief. Still, it hurtled onward to the garden. "Hold strong, now!" It shouted. In all tbe commotion, it may not have been clear they had reached their destination. Kel'Var plunged its legs into the ground for an ungraceful but efficient stop. It would not alert the golem if either of its companions dismounted at this point. It would also break off its leaf-umbrella-antler to shelter Joragon on foot.

A brief clearing in the forest gave way to a conchord of shadow roses and in the overcast shade, a red glow. Looking around, Kel'Var searched the garden for Zervi's sanctuary. Whomever was meant to be tending the gardens would be a later priority. The golem tapped into Gaia's Awareness once more. In an instant, Kel'Var located the structure which weaved below the ground into a...

Kel'Var opened its eyes. It had definitely been here before. Alert but hesitant, the wood servant looked toward Zervi and pleaded.
"I... I really must protect the young master, life dragon. I apologise. I would wish to guard its entrance from inside as you two take refuge." Beckoning for approval, Kel'Var turned its eyes toward Joragon. Young master. This place means a great deal to our ally here. I advise that we both tread wisely. Should nothing else prevent them, the golem would allow Zervi the respect of leading them into the sepulchre.

"My wish is that the one chasing us lacks the gaul to enter here as I do..."

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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“Yes, I’m pretty sure it is getting colder,” Joragon confirmed in a sluggish voice. He was not shivering, but he felt himself moving slower than normal. As a cold-blooded dragon species, he was not accustomed to such low temperatures. Zervi’s proximity provided scant heat, but it was not enough. Cold was very abnormal for his neck of the woods. “Kel’Var, are you sure we haven’t strayed north by happenstance?” he inquired. “There is a line past which the Halo do not cross.” He looked around, observing the environment. “But these parts of the Whispering Woods look strangely familiar. Such weather cannot be normal for these parts. This weather seems to be in pursuit of us, just as the evil entity which now follows us.”

Joragon nodded slowly when Zervi spoke again of her mother’s garden. It sounded like a good place to regroup and come up with a strategy to combat the strange occurrences. Relief came when Kel’Var sprouted an umbrella-like appendage. The cold rain droplets could no longer reach them. The young man shook the moisture off, recovering somewhat from the effects of the cold water. He chuckled lightly. “I don’t think we came dressed for this. Perhaps in the garden there are cloth trees waiting for their bark to be woven into garments. They are quite common where I am from. It is what my breechcloth is made of and it does an adequate job of repelling moisture. When we get there, I will tell you both what I know of the prophecies concerning these unfavorable events. Perhaps if we put our heads together, we can shed light on these phenomena,” he shouted loudly over the sound of the winds and rain.

As they arrived at their destination, the world around them fell silent and the rain became no more than a drizzle. It was as if they had crossed a line that their pursuer could not. Something about the location seemed almost sacred. Joragon hopped down from the golem’s back, offering a hand to assist the female should she desire it. “Methinks we’ve arrived.” Kel’Var broke off his own antler, using it to shield them both from the drizzle on the ground. “I thank you, wood servant. I will tread carefully indeed.” He reached out and took the antler from Kel’Var’s grip. “Allow me,” he said, using it to shield both himself and Zervi. “Shall we enter?” he asked the life dragon. “Kel’Var, will you remain here as guard?” he inquired.

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Once tended by a life dragon into black thorned arbors the garden had long since overgrown. As they arrived the plant life became grey then black thorned. A yellow if cloudy sunlight dims to pervasive twilight orange the world deprived of most contrast. Red petals of flower stars faintly luminescent to hide their red-glowing not-stars that lived among the ticket. Finders of fertilizer with unblinking lidless eyes and their own red glow of camouflage. As Kel'var pounded into the Earth the walls of the sinkhole above them erupted in cosmic movements.

A sullen voice came to the wood servant Kel'var in response, "You will have to come to the furthest view of the sitting room down the mourning path at least. One can only return to the gate they entered to the misbegotten's sepulcher. This garden has not seen a life dragon in some time I do not know how long so disorganized it will hold the enemy away. I can make the Irastar understand you are with me at least. They will make war for us as they can."

Zervi took Joragon's hand nodding in approval with eyes that looked away to hide her tears. A moment to collect herself eyes a galaxy of dim lights dart between new and denser formations among flowers. Each look away convincing some Irastar they were not observed. Careful eyes quickly see wrath outnumbered blooms within the thicket.

Zervi took position near to Joragon facing a thicket wall. Lights combed inward from the labyrinthine arrangement of high vines. With a bite to her pale rosy thumb pressed it to Joragon's forehead to draw her mark.

Dry eyes and a thin smile Zervi replied as Joragon put the leaf over them both, giving him a hug, "You are very cold, smaller-kin, must I warm you up? There are many leftover cloaks beneath and piles of sacks to use."

Wrath poured free with that small six-legged stumps from red vines with angry red fissures streak from labryinthine walls. Beady-eyed Irastar held to cover skittered through red twilight. Ankle high chunks born of insatiable hunger within Gaia. They broke from vines to charge then retreat to safety. Six barky wooden pointed stilts pointed small head upward. Gleaming teeth gnash a flood of angry snaps. Each paced back and forth within thorny vines even gnashing at Kel'Var their duties given to small minds. They'd recognize him if he made the effort but were quick little biters. Joragon likely 'tasted' with small scratches but largely left alone. They immediately knew him was marked.

In the embrace with the cold Joragon she pointed to a small circular stone fireplace that lined the walls. This one with groups of five small holes in it. The rest had but four and large or ornate holes each intent for incense.

Her silver eyes glanced at Irastar then said simply with a hesitated broken tone, "Sacrifice one of the Irastar in that censer for the way to open for you. You are marked and given right by me. I trust that your wood servant will keep you honest."

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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"I could aid in providing you new garments, young master. My connection to the woods allows me to weave what shapes you require." Said Kel'Var upon Joragon mentioning breechcloth garments. While possibly unnecessary, the young master would need to learn his golem's capabilities.

Kel'Var let off a janky smile when Joragon lent a hand to Zervi and grabbed the umbrella to shield her. A sign of kindness and intuition that gave the golem a strange amount of faith in their master. It wouldn't take too long for a new antler to grow. While the golem could use its Forest's Favour to regrow, such gifts from nature should not be used in excess of what is necessary.

Still, Kel'Var would undergo constant maintenance as the Irastar creatures nibbled at the golem's wooden chassis. As they walked to the sepulchre entrance, wood would be stripped and devoured, then quickly reinforced with a new sheet of wood. While of vastly different origin, Kel'Var thought of the Irastar as like little brothers, small children to their lumbering old self. The golem bare no ill will towards them.

Looking around, Kel'Var did their best to recall what connection they had with this forest, and more specifically this garden. It could help it in understanding this threat they were under. After wincing at a particularly chunky bite from an Irastar, Kel'Var had wondered why they had not been marked as Joragon had been. By then, they had been given instruction by Zervi how to open the path and Joragon to guard the entrance once open.

"By your command, master. Go, rest some with your friend the life dragon. There is much to discuss, I'm sure. I shall remain on guard."

Wincing once more, Kel'Var grabbed an Irastar that attempted to climb too far up their front legs and took a bite from their shoulder. It attempted to writhe out of its grip but the wood giant's hand was far too tight. Offering it to Joragon to place into the altar's fire, Kel'Var spoke."Hold it tightly now, master." Then turned to Zervi and said with a quiet voice "My sort should not have the honour to enter here. May your ancestors only serve to guide and strengthen you, life dragon."

Bowing, Kel'Var then took position outside what would be the structure's entrance. They appeared still, although uncamouflaged to the Irastar who continued to bite at them. Finally the golem's voice spoke in Joragon's mind once more. You may communicate with me by willing it, should anything occur inside.

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Joragon cleared his throat. “A cloak cannot produce heat, but it can help to retain it once it is created. I am cold of blood. A fire would be more useful,” he explained. When she gestured to the stone fireplace, he smiled. “Yes, that is what I need.” He took the Irastar from Kel’Var, holding tightly onto the wriggling entity, placing it near the altar. “What are these strange things?” he inquired, pointing them out to Zervi. “Do they serve as guardians to keep strangers out of the garden?” He approached the fire pit and loaded some dry logs into it from a nearby stack. Briefly transforming into his bioluminescent reptilian form, he breathed fire onto the logs long enough to cause them to ignite. After returning to his humanoid form, he sat beside the fire and used a stick to poke at it. “Will you join me? I thought I should tell you what I know of these phenomena. I cannot claim anything for certain, but a wise woman in my village foretold a prophecy about future events on Gaia when I was but a small child. I did not believe her at the time, but after recent occurrences, I’m starting to reconsider.”

“You go by the name Zervi, do you not? Tell me, have you heard anything of such prophecies? Perhaps together we can start putting together the puzzle pieces. What I was told involved a false-king claiming a throne to which he had no right, that this event following a series of murderous assassinations would anger Gaia and bring about a barrage of terrible events involving the land itself. Gaia is not just a dead thing on which we walk, she is alive, sentient, and intelligent. Perhaps even omniscient. But there is a ray of hope, for in the legend it is foretold that Gaia’s destruction will be halted by the actions of a righteous king and another unrelated man and woman. According to the village Oracle, this man and woman would be of dragonkind, but I always assumed such a prediction to be wish fulfillment. At least with the Halo, we are a humble breed who have rarely had any impact on events outside our villages.”

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Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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Zervi let go of Joragon reluctantly though her eyes lingered on the delicate and dense pattern upon the stone wall behind them. Amber eyes did not leave their fixation upon the markings even as leaves of the shadow roses turned snuffing out the light pushing the light closer to its source. After closing her eyes hard looked back to Kel'Var after hearing the Irastar still munching. Anything to keep her thoughts moving went to the wood servant and shooed a denser group of angry stilted wood chunks away. A curious finger brushed one of the torn areas with her hand gathering the faint spittle of an Irastar to smell it.

Zervi turned her gaze between them both with a sigh bit her thumb once more to answer as she marked the wood servant, "There have been many kings and the life dragons have held court with most of them. One asked us to deal with a plague of furtive biting creatures that raged whenever they were laid eyes on. Hives of Irastar moved carefully by the life dragons to one spot, to a plant if foreign that suited our purpose and the needs of Irastar."

She bent down and poked one that snapped angrily then retreated as did the others near Kel'var, "They are loyal to Gaia but do not obey her. I do not smell disease in their bites but our little rose bees are so angry they would even bite other servants of Gaia?"

A pat then apologetic smile Zervi turned to walk to the fire chatting to calm her nerves, "The elves called them something that meant liminal acolytes which I cannot rightly pronounce. What they eat fertilizes the roses, whom cleanse the shadow, by a new whole destroying undeath, and protect what that king once called 'the doors to ten thousand tears.' A deal with the life dragons to make both peace and war in the twilight hedges where these doors lie that these creatures of once small hives honor to this day."

Sat at the fire pit upon a small stone patch near where the Irastar wavered entranced by dancing light, "Many little things that do not give up once riled are used by Gaia to balance. You should see what she does to the grasslands with locusts. The humans fear the might of small grasshoppers should they take from the forest without replanting. If they try to conquer the locusts then life finds another way."

The glow reflected in Zervi's amber slit-eyes even still that she looked back to Kel'var, "That mother is now buried and I live her carin is done and you will be the first to collect a servant's heart in many years. I have not been here since I was a two year old wyrmling. I hope you remember what it does as I know little else."

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Character Portrait: Smaragdos Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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A swift shadow passed over the Whispering Woods.

There was a soft rumble not too far away as something-or someone- rather large and green gently landed in a small clearing not far off from the Twilight Hedge. Smaragdos was happy to get a break from the beating of the rain in the trees, though the drops that made their way through were still unusually cold.

Yes, the satchel was still safe. Smaragdos had himself a little rest, surveying the land, listening to the trees. The trees were not happy and were all too eager to lament to the dragon. Silently Smaragdos listened. Yes, time was definitely of the essence.

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Character Portrait: Smaragdos Character Portrait: Zervi, The Gentle Character Portrait: Joragon Faentaris Character Portrait: Kel'Var
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The path to the sepulchre unveiled itself as the altar rearranged itself and opened up a pathway underground. Zervi and Joragon were free to move onwards. The Irastar reacted with caution, edging away from the entrance. Kel'Var nodded as Zervi marked them. They were happy to learn of the Irastar's origin, as well as more of the world they inhabited. Rather than seeming like new information, it felt as though Kel'Var was merely being reminded of these things. They all seemed to fit, and by now the golem considered Zervi a trustworthy ally to Joragon who had explained his village's prophecy to the two of them.

"I would place faith in your elder's prophecy, young master. Wisdom is experience, if you wish to gain it yourself. It would do good to see this prophecy through. Coincidence is hardly so generous." Kel'Var's wooden brows furrowed. "This was where I came into existence. One stood just over there, in the center. I was created and given a job to fulfil. I only wish I could remem-"

A rumbling and rustling through the forest could be heard by the three in the garden. From two different directions this time. There was another disturbance in the forest, and while it was not of corruption the trees were in quite the commotion.

"Into the sepulchre, you two! There is another, besides what follows us. Its allegiance is unknown to me. I am of old wood but my oak holds strong, and I may guard your refuge downward." Kel'Var had wanted to give Zervi their deepest sympathies for having caused this place to become so defiled. But there was little time for that now. They had rested too long.

Outside the vague ring of trees that encircled the garden, the thunderous rumbling came closer and closer. The crack of lightning was indistinguishable from the breaking of branches and uplifting of roots. A shape underground threw up the earth above it as it charged underground, now visible to the three in the garden. Kel'Var took no notice if they had gone into the sepulchre or decided to stay and face this menace.

Firing up out of the ground was a mass of mud, earth and rock held together by a deep red glow. It quickly sculpted into the shape of a humanoid, and the Earth Golem finally made itself known.

It let out a roar that seemed to synchronise with a chorus of thunder in the forest. The rain would put out any flames, but the flashes would be blinding white. When the rain landed on the opposing golem, the earthen armour that covered it would soften and change shape. In its centre embedded was its arcane core, which sent red light through its eye-holes and any cracks, akin to Kel'Var's blue glow. I recognise this one, master. It seeks to kill us.

It circled the garden, not giving one iota of interest to the Emerald Dragon who had landed nearby. If Smaragdos really could hear the trees, he would soon learn that this creature was the source of their grief.