Fall 797- Spring 798
The events in the jungles of the Free Towns had bought all our plans to a grinding halt. How to deal with the potentially powerful stones we discovered was one of the major issues holding us back. Eventually a vault was constructed based on Bodwinn’s plans and Dakarev’s skills. It took two months to finally put together, and involved hiring different teams of skilled workers so that no one group knew exactly the full nature of the completed vault. When completed, we decided it had been worth the wait, and might be considered Dakarev’s magnum opus.
Even when we were finally all settled, we seemed pulled in different directions, and were very seldom all at the society chapterhouse at any one time. In fact, we wouldn’t even start planning our next expedition until the summer of 798 AT, and even then, we had to postpone it for other very important reasons…
Jayden found himself more and more engaged with Helmmshol’s affairs of state, and performing his role as Hereditary Grand Duke. Agoth was called away more than once to Kettin’s Gorge, the largest town in western Helmmshold and one we would visit a year later. The Holy Orders had him investigating the possibility of the Children of Celde operating in the area, and hopefully to preempt them from gaining a foothold among the Zielgfoke population there. Starfyre spent much of his free time travelling the wilderness of Northhold, learning the lay of the land, which would prove quite important in the years to come. Bodwinn’s election as new society chair caused a minor change in our priorities, and led to the implementation of old ideas that he thought we might have put off for too long.
And then…well then there was Huginn. The original plan involved him travelling to Redoubt, to scout out a location for our second chapterhouse. After that he planned to return to Harmon’s Stand, where he had hoped to unlock the mysteries of the old Magister’s house Jayden had purchased. Understanding his penchant for wanderlust, and having sent us a letter from Harmon’s Stand describing his discoveries, we had no worries when a month had passed and he didn’t return. The ‘Orcish invasion’ dominated our attentions for a while, and we had every faith that he would just show up out of the blue. We’d find him watering his garden, sitting under a tree sketching plant life or something.
It’s when three months had come and gone that we had begun to worry. Starfyre had just returned from a small sojourn, and upon finding that he had not returned, took it upon himself to go looking for him. The house at Harmon’s Stand contained a single but important clue, delivered from the odd painting above the fireplace in the main room, a clue only Starfyre could possibly understand. He made his way east, to the lands of the Telis.
Upon arriving in the Telis Protectorate, he visited establishments frequented by travelers, but came up empty handed. It was purely by luck that he met a man that seemed particularly inclined to notice and speak with outsiders. He said that he remembered a Human meeting Huginn’s description heading north, which seemed unusual to him, as outsiders were unwelcome in Telis’ouvania. Starfyre was undeterred, and continued his search there, following the road until it became a thin, wooded trail. There was one thing that reassured him he was on the right track; the trees that filled the forest here were just like the ones he had seen in the painting.
Not far into the woods, Starfyre encountered Telis druids. When he gave them a general description of Huginn, the first words out of their mouths were, “We knew someone would eventually come.”
He was led back to their encampment, and invited into a large domed tent. Lying on his back, attended to by a young Elven woman, was Huginn. The druid explained to Starfyre that Huginn had arrived at their camp one day, seeking to learn more about connecting with nature. He claimed that he had become aware of ‘forest spirits’ at a young age, which seemed to take an interest in him, and that he had become more and more attuned to as he had grown older. The druids though it unlikely that a Human could possibly possess such a connection, but the humility he demonstrated when he failed his first test convinced them he was serious about his intent.
His progress was astounding, showing immediate aptitude in learning the Telis language, as well as meditation techniques, though he showed resistance to accepting the existence of E’phese, or any other Telis deity for that matter. Ysella, a younger Felusian Elf, had helped him to adjust to life in the druid camp, pointing out what Huginn should and should not do to avoid offending the Telis. She met him the first day that he had arrived, and was one of the last to talk to him.
The day before the incident, he had discussed with Ysella the nature of a meditation exercise in which one spiritually would join with another life form. Humans that have attempted to perform this usually can sustain it only for some long before experiencing a sensation of fear, which breaks the trance. Ysella explained to him that the sensation he felt is akin to a ‘loss of ego and identity’, something that Humans associate subconsciously with death. To truly attuned Telis, this sensation does not serve as a barrier, as it is immaterial whether the Elf returns to their body or joins with nature. They trust that they will find their way back, be it the will of E’phese.
Ysella told Huginn not to worry. “I haven’t seen anyone die yet. But I haven’t seen a Human try this before you. I suppose your fear is healthy anyway. Only the insane wouldn’t want to come back, right?”
“Right,” is the only thing Huginn said.
The next morning, Huginn was absent from the morning discussions he would sit in on. Ysella and another druid investigated his tent, and found him lying unconscious. All attempts to rouse him normally failed, and the elders had determined he was ‘walking the path’. When asked if Huginn would come out of his coma, the elder replied, “He will decide when it is the proper time, if it is ever that time at all.” The elder’s only regret was not believing him in the first place, now realizing exactly how gifted Huginn apparently was.
Starfyre asked if he could arrange to have him taken back to Helmmshold, but the elders recommended against it. “This is Huginn’s journey, and it would be improper, as well as very dangerous to interfere with it.” He assured that Huginn would be taken care of until he ‘returned’, but restated that there was no guarantee he ever would. Ysella had taken it upon herself to attend to him, spending most of her free time in his tent seeing to his needs.
There was one strange thing Starfyre noted before he left that day, to begin his trip back to Helmmshold. Normally, Huginn wore a simple pendant around his neck, a small section of branch adorned with a few tiny leaves. Unless the druids had replaced it with something else, it appeared to have sprouted numerous small bluish-white flowers, ones which grow in the spring on the Te’all Pine.
By the voice of Vei, recorded by the hand of Berugi, I attest this to be my true and faithful account of the events I have witnessed.