Chapter VII Of My Current Campaign, Which Began 11-12 Months Ago, As Written/Retold By My Player Who Plays Vilven
Chapter I: Ouroboros
Chapter II: Pact Magic
Chapter III: Choice And Notice
Chapter IV: Meeting Wiendle
Chapter V – Catlike
Chapter VI – Encountering A Wizard
Vilven woke around midday, sluggishly, almost drunkenly. The events of the previous two days having made both her mind and body fatigued, even after a full nights sleep. She had a thought that she would probably have to start training to stay sharp, both physically and mentally. With a groan she sat up to rub her face. As she looked around at the lake that had become strangely familiar to her, she had the realization that it really was real. Wiendle, Zed, Varamore, all real. The most real part, however, she thought to herself as she smiled, was her deep connection with Areiden. She could feel , and had a peculiar confidence in it, though still so alien, it was a part of who she was now. And despite herself, she was quite eager to help Wiendle and Jaren escape. It would give her a chance to make a difference for someone. She wanted the princess to be able to live free to be who she wanted to be, and with who she wanted to be with. And though part of this desire she knew came from her own suppressed and painful past, she tried to not dwell on it. That life was, and had to be, behind her now.
Vilven swiftly swam to her feet, and despite her tiredness, stood model like in the twinkling water, the afternoon Sun making everything dance. She half swam, half walked on the bottom of the lake, looking absentmindedly around. It occurred to her that this was such a large lake and that it may hold some secrets. In fact, she was certain of it. Large bodies of water were always filled with mystery, for good and for bad. She lived in the sea her whole life, and knew that even she had little clue of all the creatures and treasures it held. The thought excited her so much that she decided she would try to explore at least some of it, and see if she could find anything.
So Vilven swam the lake over, occasionally asking the fish if they had seen things of value or mystique. Some knew very little, just the location of some gold coins and some lost jewelry. Other fish, the majority actually, just avoided the question, and frighteningly swam away as fast as they could. This alarmed Vilven, but she also knew how skittish fish could be. And after quite a few hours, with still nothing that interesting discovered, she abandoned her search. She realized her hope to find something was probably a false thought, but yet…
Those fish did seem rather frightened.
Vilven felt goosebumps and looked over her shoulder. But there was nothing. Just the swaying water.
Forcing herself to ignore the feeling in the pit of her stomach, she realized that nightfall was nearly upon her. Though the plan wasn’t entirely clear, as Wiendle had to rush her out of the room quickly, she did assume she should wait near Wiendle’s window. Vilven expected that that would be where Jaren and the princess had planned to “break out”. So Vilven swam in the direction of the castle, quite a distance from it now from her failed search, though it wouldn’t take too long for Vilven, as she was an obviously avid swimmer. Especially now with her ability to see in the dark.
And when she reached a shallow part near the water’s edge, Vilven peaked her head above, just enough to look up at Wiendle’s window. She saw Wiendle there, nearly just a cloaked frame in the darkness, staring intensely down at the water. Vilven noted the change in Wiendle’s stance as she recognized her in the water. Wiendle spoke to someone behind her, most likely Jaren, as she let the curtain fall. Vilven could barley make out shadows shifting for a moment behind the cover of the curtain, then she saw nothing.
Vilven had a moment of fear. Could this have all been a ploy? A set up? Could Zed have told King Beaumont about her and invented some trick to catch her?
Just then she heard the slight sound of a door opening, Vilven immediately dropped under the water, hoping the guards, or worse, weren’t coming to get her. But as she looked toward the castle, she could make out through the water the blurred figure of Wiendle standing near the edge of the lake. Trust making her, nearly forcing her, to move toward the pretty, blonde princess. When her head was again above water, Wiendle spoke urgently to her
“Vilven! How are we to escape? We don’t have much time.”
Jaren rounded the corner, barley visible in the darkness of the night, to stand behind Wiendle, a loving hand covering her shoulder.
Vilven knew this wasn’t a game then. It wasn’t a trick. It was love, and it was desperation.
“Can you swim?” Vilven asked quietly
“No, neither of us can. Plus…” Wiendle lifted a small, but essential, bag that she was holding.
“Plus my armor” Jaren said, looking cautiously over his shoulder.
Vilven nodded, “Do you have a boat?”
Wiendle’s eyes grew wide, “Yes! yes, on the other side of the castle.”
“I’ll meet you there.”
“We don’t have much time”
“Then we have to hurry.” Vilven spoke with unexpected authority, then made her way under the water to swim rapidly to the other side of the castle.
She resurfaced just as Wiendle and Jaren’s silhouettes came into view. Jaren grasped Wiendle’s hand, nearly pulling her to keep pace with his quick strides. It hit Vilven as deeply romantic, to another perhaps not so, but the fierceness and strength he displayed came, she could tell, from protectiveness, responsibility, and love for Wiendle.
It was there that Vilven learned that love, every kind of love, came with gravity. Love was love, but it was also a duty. Vilven swore to herself that she would love like that. She would love like that.
She watched as Jaren helped Wiendle into a row boat, pushing it into the water a little, before pulling himself onto it. Vilven swam to the front of the boat, trying to think of a strategy to get them out as quickly as possible. Then it hit her. She was an avid swimmer after all.
“Is there rope?” Vilven asked
Wiendle looked down into the boat to lift up rather frayed looking rope, but Vilven decided it would work.
“Tie either side of the rope tight to the hoops where the oars go.” Vilven commanded.
Jaren grabbed the rope, to tie with near fluidity, very neat, obviously tight, knots. Vilven reached in to grab the rope, pulling it over the front of her body, under her arms, so she could swim.
With all her strength she began to pull the boat, she groaned with strain, it was almost too much for her, but after relentless effort, the boat was able to get some momentum and she was able to pull it quite easily. Jaren tried to helped with the oars, though it didn’t do much, as the boat was moving fast. Very fast. Vilven was like a jet, her arms and legs moving expertly through the lake. Wiendle even had to hold on at times, the wind force making the hood of her cloak fall.
It was a very big lake, and even Vilven began to get tired trying to reach the other side, but she dare not stop. This was her mission, and she would not give up. She could hear Wiendle laugh with joy as they began to get closer to the edge. That gave Vilven the extra push to get there.
When they reached the other side, Vilven looked up to see the wall of enormous trees she had seen before. Shocked even more than before, they were taller than even the castle had been. Despite her gaping, Vilven was able to remain focused. She released the rope to stand, the water very shallow around her legs.
“Come on, guys, you have to hurry before someone realizes you’re gone.” Vilven said forcefully, waving them to get out of the boat.
They awkwardly jumped into the water, walking sluggishly to the edge.
“Vilven! Thank you, so, so, so much! I knew you would do it. You’re my hero” Wiendle said with tears. “Take this.” she reached into her bag to pull out and hand Vilven a sack of coins.
“Are you sure?” Vilven asked.
“Money is not a problem.” Wiendle said sniffing the tears away, “We have to go, but we are so grateful”
“Yes, thank you. For everything” Jaren said meaningfully.
” Yes, go, be happy. Where will you go, if you don’t mind me asking?” Vilven questioned.
“We are going to try to find a village on the coast west of here called Warden. Maybe there we can catch a boat. They might find us if we stay close to here” Jaren said.
Just then a flame emerged to their left, sparking to life like an explosion.
“Run!” Vilven shouted to Jaren and Wiendle, and they did, into the dark, impending forest. Vilven jumped into the lake, swimming out just enough to be able to flee underneath if she needed to. Standing near the fire, adding a few more logs to it, was a lion. Was it a lion? Vilven swam a little closer to take a better look.
He was tall, taller than her. He had a lion face, down to the tan fur, sharp teeth, and luxurious, large mane. But yet he was wearing clothes, a long brown cloak, blousey shirt, and maroon pants. He was even standing on his hind legs. He was like some sort of lion man. But not just man, Vilven realized, he was adorned with thick, fabric armor, a long sword, but most impressive, a large elegant bow. He could be very dangerous. His large, glittering, yellow eyes moved to look at her.
“They’ll never make it out there, you know.” The lion man said, as he sat, lighting a large wooden pipe.
Vilven was slightly shocked at his response. She decided that she would be safer retreating into the water. So she turned to swim away.
“But it was nice of you to help them.” The lion man continued.
Vilven began to swim back toward the castle, looking every so often behind her at the fire that gradually become more and more distant. Vilven stopped when she was quite a distance away, looking almost dreamlike at the firelight, retreating into her thoughts. What would happen if she did stay here? Would they find her and punish her for helping Jaren and Wiendle leave? And even if they didn’t find her, was she supposed to stay in this lake forever? Perhaps this lion man could help her understand more about where she was. Help her find another place to be. She was scared to be foolish and make rash decisions, but perhaps this person could be of help to her. He didn’t seem that unfriendly, did he?
With caution, but resolve Vilven made her way back toward the lion man, until she was at the spot she was before.
“It seems rather suspicious,” Vilven called out to him. “You sitting out here at the edge of the lake of King Beaumont’s castle. Makes you look somewhat…villainous.”
He looked at her, then laughed robustly. “I have my reasons.” He said with humor.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” Vilven countered.
“Never let fear run you, girl, think of the adventures you’ll miss.” He said with a smile, as he put his pipe down next to him, serving himself some sort of food from a pot on the fire.
Vilven was quiet for a long while.
“Are you really a lion?” Vilven said, almost innocently, breaking the silence.
“A Tigron, now come join me. You must be hungry.”
Vilven was, she had survived the past two days licking algae and other vegetation off of rocks, aside from the pastries Wiendle had given her. What this…Tigron, had cooking seemed much more appealing.
Vilven swam toward the fire. Her stomach winning the fight, forcing her to trust this stranger. She surfaced the water, walking toward him, using her magic to make herself dry.
Her frame and face became visible to him for the first time in the swaying light of the fire. As he looked up at her, the Tigron’s eyes widened. He was struck by her uniqueness, and yes, her beauty. He had never seen anyone that looked like her before, and it stunned him for a moment.
“Have a seat” He said as he waved his paw lavishly next to him, and poured her a bowl, of, what she could assess now, as some sort of vegetable stew.
She did take a seat next to him, taking the bowl graciously. She looked at him curiously, “Should I call you Tigron?” She then took a big spoonful of the food into her mouth, making her almost moan in delight at the flavor.
“The names Grid.” He said. “I come from a village some twenty miles east of here. And what, pray you, species of being are you?
“Grid, I’m Vilven.” She said, after a few more spoonfuls of food. “Nice to meet you. I come from…” Vilven trailed off. Looking at him again with distrust. “Why are you here, anyway? Won’t the guards see your fire and catch you?”
“I’m no threat to them” He said with confidence “And if you must know,” he continued “I come here from time to time to eye the behavior of a large dragon which lives within and beneath the lake. Her name is Sabot.”
Vilven dropped the bowl of stew in front of her. Her shocked eyes staring at the lake she had been living in the past two days. “It can’t be…”