Chapter XII Of My Current Campaign, Which Began A Year Ago, As Written/Retold By My Player Who Plays Vilven
“Are you sure you’re doing alright, Jaren?” Vilven asked behind her, her exotic voice clear as she walked in front of him in the dark forest.
“I’m fine.” Jaren said in a slightly irritated tone, since he had been asked that question almost non-stop since they were forced to leave their camp in the middle of the night.
They were all quite tired, their sleep having been cut short by two intruding Rangers. Cho and Beaden, they called themselves.
Grid offered to carry Jaren, as he had done earlier that day, but Jaren refused. Jaren was considerably embarrassed when he heard about his unconscious body being carried around, so he simply said he could just lean on Wiendle if he needed. Which he did.
But to his credit he did seem much stronger, and was walking close to normal, most of the time. So Vilven figured it might be best to fight the urge to check on him too much. A man’s pride did count for something. Though, at times, it did count for too much. As was the case of her father and many water elemental she had met throughout her upbringing. Memories of the Water Plane filled her mind. But she quickly brushed it off. It wasn’t the time to ponder such things.
So she looked ahead.
“What do you think those men wanted from us anyway, Grid?” Vilven inquired quietly to him.
The tall Tigron looked back at her from the head of the party, his frame quite frightening in the darkness, the many weapons they had taken from the Rangers hanging over his back. Her night vision dulled the golden of his fur so that he looked like some untamed, nocturnal beast.
“Difficult to say.” He said after a short pause. Then he looked forward again. “They are no thieves, I know that. But they definitely got that gold from somewhere.”
Vilven’s large, black eyes furrowed with pensiveness at his response.
They walked on, through the night. The sun slowly rose creating heavenly golden streaks through the breaks of the branches, the many varieties of small birds chirped happily to meet the morning.
They were all very relieved to be out of the dangerous veil of the night. Especially Wiendle and Jaren who did not benefit from the night vision Grid and Vilven had. But the vibrancy of the day did reveal to them how tired they were. It seemed the more gleeful the environment, the more exhausted they all became.
Vilven was very silent staring at the ground, forcing her legs to take step after step. Her tiredness was perhaps moving her into delirium, and perhaps it was an unfounded confidence she was feeling, but she was stricken by the quick growth she had gone through. She could feel how tired her legs were from travelling, but she could also feel her muscles adjusting and adapting, her physical strength catching up with her needs.
She also felt strength from trust in her magic, though she didn’t know much about it yet, and understood it even less, it was there for her in the moments she needed it most. It was something, she knew, she would soon rely on everyday. It was scary, but it was also becoming a part of her identity and what she thought of in moments of deep, self-reflection.
In a quick burst of energy, that threw her out of her thoughts, she could feel Areiden. She could feel her elemental blood. She could feel the water. The feeling made her shiver in excitement.
“There’s water. There’s a body of water somewhere.” She announced to them as she stopped, Wiendle and Jaren nearly walking into her. Her head shot to the left and the right, then the left again.
“It’s that way!” Vilven said with delight, pointing to the left of her. “Grid, let’s check it out.”
Grid sighed heavily with tiredness, but then responded, “We could use some water anyway.”
Without thought, Vilven shot toward the direction of the water. Her stomach tight with anticipation, her smile broad as she headed for it.
Then she saw it.
The trees of the forest halted to reveal a large, fierce river. The sound of the water was loud and turbulent, but was somehow still very soothing and bright. The water was clear, almost painfully so, which made everything around her look like some sort of hyper-reality. She never spent much time in rivers, as there were only a few on some of the islands scattered in the Water Plane, but she admitted to herself that she loved them.
They always seemed so busy to her, like they had to overcompensate in strength and quickness what they lacked in space compared to lakes and oceans. But it made them exciting to her, and the fish that lived in them were so unique.
She happily dived in with limber and grace, meeting the water with gratitude. Her muscles eased instantly. She couldn’t believe that it had been almost a week since she had swam last.
She held on to a rock against the harsh current as she peered over to see Grid, Wiendle, and Jaren arriving. She waved her arm over her head at them.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it!” Vilven shouted to them as the fish hustled around her.
Grid dropped the multitude of weapons to the ground, then walked over to the edge of the river to splash water on his face. He then stood tall, looking around to assess the safety of the area.
Jaren slowly sat, a hand to his side, while Wiendle girlishly laughed with exhilaration.
“Isn’t it just beautiful, Jaren! We would have never been able to see this if we had stayed at the castle!” Wiendle said to him. Jaren smiled and nodded, but he was only looking at her.
After about half an hours rest, Grid stood up authoritatively, picking up the discarded weapons.
“Vilven. Come. Let’s get on our way.” Grid called out to her in the water.
“Already?” Vilven called back to him. “Aren’t we heading in the same direction of the river?”
“For now, but at some point it will turn north again.” Grid replied.
“Well, until then…” Vilven said as she began to swim with the river in the direction of Warden.
Grid sighed tiredly again, then turned to the princess and Jaren.
“Princess, Jaren, Come.”
They traveled this way for the rest of the day, Vilven swam while Grid, Wiendle, and Jaren walked on the river’s edge. When night came, they stopped, had a quick dinner, then all rested. Vilven offered to take watch for most of the night, which Grid agreed happily to. He was a very strong being, but he knew and accepted that even he had physical limits, especially with such little sleep.
And though Vilven was still tired the next morning, the rest of them seemed remarkably refreshed and alert. Vilven thought, without regrets, that it was a fair price to pay to be able to swim all day.
And that is what she did, for the next two days before the river finally did start to make it’s way North. She helped them cross the water, then left it behind. Her heart renewed as she made her way forward.
All of their spirits were high, as the traveled the final days to reach the long awaited village of Warden.
The four of them walked through the edge of the trees to meet the small village.
“Warden, at last.” Grid said with a flourish
Vilven’s eyes grew wide with surprise at Warden’s beautiful structures. The wood was sanded down with careful precision, and there were intricate carvings adorning them, some of nature and some more abstract, which must have taken many years to complete.
She also reveled in the deep, penetrating depths of the ocean calling to her, as Warden was on the west coast of Varamore. She smiled as she saw a few ships in the docks, floating and swaying in the awaiting sea.
And as they made their way closer, she then took note of the people which resided there.
They were surprisingly tall. Not all as tall as her, but much taller than Jaren and Wiendle. All of them seemed to be lean and slender, which made them seem even taller. They had fair skin, sharp, long features, elongated with lengthy, pointed ears. Their dress was simple and elegant. Vilven thought, almost absentmindedly that they were quite an attractive race.
She watched fascinated as two of the males, who appeared to be some sort of guard, approached them in a nearly meditative, beautiful gait. They stopped solidly in front of them to halt their progress.
Both had rich, brown hair with alluring grey eyes, though their features didn’t strike Vilven that they were related.
One of them spoke, his voice clear and musical, though somewhat harsh.
“You there,” He said to Grid. “What business do you have in Warden?”
“Nearly passing through, supplies and passage South” Grid responded automatically.
“What about those two?” The other said in a denigrating tone, his eyes narrowing as his arm motioned disrespectfully toward Jaren and Wiendle.
Grid looked apologetic, though Vilven knew Grid well enough by now to know it was a ploy. “We’re putting them on the first boat out of here.” He responded with mock disdain.
The guard looked at Grid for a moment, then nodded in agreement.
“See that it’s done.” The guard said sharply, then moved aside to let them pass.
As they walked by them, though Vilven was purposefully silent, she did take a curious glance. They noted her look, slight smiles coming to their faces as they took in her beauty.
“My Lady.” One of them responded with an approving nod.
Vilven was somewhat surprised at his warm demeanor, but her face didn’t change expression.
When they were some distance away, Vilven looked at Wiendle and Jaren, who both seemed a bit offended.
“What was that all about?” Vilven whispered to Grid.
He shot her quick glance, then responded matter-of-factly.