Evening, 10 Twilight, 30 A.F.
The night was cool, and growing cooler. The large fire down by the beach did much to keep the chill away, though, as the two dozen people who had traveled to this distant shore sat around it. It was a night for companionship and contemplation, and though many of Araen Horizon’s crew sat with them, this night was for the settlers and they all knew it. They had made it this far through trial and hardship, and though all knew more challenges awaited them, tonight was a time for quiet celebration and thanksgiving.
Beriana and Tolfgar played quietly, her lute and his drums mingling in a soft melody of calm. Some of those gathered chatted in muted tones while they drank of the mead and ale that had survived the journey with them. The only other sounds were the hiss and crackle of the flames, and the gentle sibilance of the surf on the shore. A quiet cough cut through those calming sounds, the clearing of a throat that made conversations pause and people turn to look up at the young barbarian woman who had attached herself to Tolfgar. She did not look up from her contemplation of the flames, though it was clear that she had desired the attention she had gained. Her eyes had a faraway look to them, and if there was a wistfulness to her gaze…a longing for home…it was a look that was shared by many who sat there, as was the steely determination not to let that longing gain anymore of a foothold than it already had. Her voice, when she spoke, was just loud enough to carry over fire and waves, and carried a strong trace of the eastern Elvedonian plains.
“I am Tehya Satinka, of the Emerald Lynx tribe, and though I am far from my people, it is said that the ancestors and the gods may hear our words wherever we may roam. There is a tradition among my people, when great deeds have been done, to mark those deeds in a tale, told around a fire like this one. I am no bard…no teller of stories…but it is my wish to speak to my people’s tradition.” She paused for a moment, and when no one spoke against her, she gave a slight nod and cleared her throat again. The music of the bards playing fell even quieter, though they did not stop. The melody drifted, as if waiting for Tehya’s tale to guide it and give it form. She spoke again, and this time her gaze drifted around the fireside, taking in those who had come on this journey with her.
“I am Tehya Satinka, of the Araen Horizon sept,” she said with quiet pride, "and this is a tale of my people.
“We met as strangers, all of us boarding this small vessel for our own reasons with little regard for those who would travel with us. The journey would change that, as all journeys must. It was pirates that blooded us, and bound us one to the other. It was boredom that wakened us, and led us to explore that bond. It was a storm that drove us, and taught us to fight for one another. It was a god…” Tehya paused and found those special few in the crowd. The half-elf and the Northman. The pair of Firaliesti. The gnomes, so different despite their shared heritage.
“It was a god,” Tehya continued, "that touched us, and gave us those who would lead us. And was death that might have claimed us, had they not led us from it. It was thus that strangers became companions, and companions became a people. And it was a people who saw their journey end when this far land was sighted.
“It was the fourth of Twilight, so named in ancient times to denote the dimming of summer’s light and the rise of winter’s long night, when we arrived here. Our leaders, as was right, were the first ashore to explore this new land. Tolfgar rode out to scout the area while the others explored the landing site. At first it appeared that this land was virgin, having never known the touch of man. That appearance was in error, however, as little by little the leaders discovered evidence of an ancient people who had made their home here long ago. Rotting pylons in the water, the last remnants of building foundations, and small fragmented artifacts gave a hint of ancient civilization. Daziel used his gift to speak with the stones, which told him of a thriving community that had stood on this very spot. A community that had died in blood and fire long, long ago.
“Once it was determined there was no threat in the immediate area, the rest of us disembarked and explored our new home. Those who led determined that they would explore the two offshore islands we had seen on the way in while Arean Horizon remained with us. The rest of our people were tasked to building us a shelter, something that could aid us against the coming winter should all else fail. Having sworn my shield to one of our lords, I was blessed to accompany them to the islands. We sailed to the closer, and larger, island, and took a boat in to land on the forested end of the island. We spent the rest of the day exploring the forest, discovering some herbs that were useful in healing remedies and a small vein of moderately valuable gems. As the day lengthened, it began to rain and we sought shelter in the hills. A cave offered a dry place to spend the night. Unluckily, it was already occupied by a flame drake who took offense to our presence.
“Daziel reacted quickest, and as the drake belched it fire at us, his small bolt sped into the creature’s open mouth and buried itself in the drake’s brain. Though some of us were singed, we were victorious. We rested the night there, and began exploring the rest of the island’s mount the following morning. It soon became evident that there were several other drakes that called this place home. The group contemplated their next action, and determined that the drakes were too large a threat to leave alone this close to our budding settlement. We began our climb higher up the mount, slaying the drakes as we found them. They were cunning foes, and we took our own wounds, but in the end, the creatures posed little challenge to those touched by divinity, and the mountain was cleansed of their presence. Zazumet and Daziel, especially, were instrumental in their defeat, though all of our leaders fought well. In recognition of Daziel’s sharp eye and keen shots, it was determined that the mountain would bear the name ’Daziel’s Aerie’, and thus it shall be known by our people.” Tehya smiled as she glanced at the unobtrusive gnome, imagining his blush of embarrassment even in the darkness.
“We spent the rest of that day and most of the next two thoroughly exploring the mountain. No other threats we found, and the seabirds will likely claim the heights for themselves in short order. With the drakes gone, and once we have grown to sustain ourselves as a people, the mining of the ore, and harvesting of the herbs found there should pose little challenge. With the Aerie tamed, we turned our attention to the other island.
“We sailed around the smaller isle, seeking a place to land and finding none. Ultimately, it was Lord Mournwyn who used the innate abilities of his people to magically scale the cliffs, carrying a rope so that the others could follow. Once atop the plateau, we walked over miles of featureless rock before coming to a large lake. Tolfgar, in his…wisdom…sought the simplest way to determine if the lake was fresh or salt water, and touched the surface with a finger. Immediately, a huge being made entirely of water rose from the lake and towered above us. The creature showed a patience that few mortals could match, as we sought a way to communicate with it. We quickly found a way to understand the creature, but making it understand us was a much larger challenge. Ultimately, Zazumet was able to…repurpose?…Zero to accomplish what we needed. Had that failed, Zane had a spell ready to use that stood a good chance of succeeding as well. As it was, Zero was able to provide translations for us.
“The creature, a being from the Elemental Plane of Water, stated that the lake, in addition to being a source of fresh water, was a conduit between its home plane and ours. The conduit was a natural phenomenon, though the plateau that surrounded it was not. The cliffs had been magically ripped from the seabed by draconic mages during the Second Dragon Wars in the hopes of stopping the servitor races from utilizing the elementals against them. The conduit had been largely unmolested ever since, until we arrived. The being politely answered our queries, and stated that those ‘with a reverence for nature’ would always be welcome. It seemed to recognize the resource that the lake provided for us as well, and was willing to work with us in this regard, so long as the lake remained unspoiled and the conduit unthreatened. Having established this beginning of a relationship with the being, we said our good-byes and returned to the ship, and ultimately to the mainland.
“The people had been busy in our absence, and had built a solid shelter for us all. Those who led us were thankful to those who had built the hall, and to those who had begun taking the first steps toward building a home for us all. Today, the tenth day of Twilight, we set aside as a day of feasting and rest. This then, is the tale of our arrival, here at Horizon’s Landing.”
Tehya fell silent, and after a short time the music and conversation rose once again. The fire burned long into the night, and the camaraderie around it burned long and bright as well. Winter was coming, and with it cold and hardship, but for tonight that was laid aside. Tonight, a journey taken had ended well, and deserved a little celebration.