[Fensalir] The Tournament of Plants and Potions, Challenge Two Topic is solved

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The cities and villages of Melrath are as varied and diverse as they come. The capital of Raelia is the the jewel of this western kingdom, playing host to a merchants, artisans, Aesir priests, as well as a cut throat political landscape dominated by the nobles of Raelia. To the south in the depths of the Myrkvior Forest lies Melrath's second largest, and oldest city, Fensalir. Here people have learned to live alongside spirits and the natural world by maintaining their loyalty to traditions laid down the first Melrathi. To the east lies the small fishing village of Noatun, and to the western mountains rests the Mer city of Verimeer, the brewing town of Alivilda and the alpine village Vormund.
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Re: [Fensalir] The Tournament of Plants and Potions, Challenge Two

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Later in the first trial of the second challenge


In the afternoon the first trial, Ashling and Tristan were back in Fensalir and ready to craft. The walk back had been peaceful. Once in awhile it had felt like "something was there" but nothing had happened. They had gathered the ingredients they needed, even the Moukou. (Needless to say that Ashling had been praying like obsessed when Tristan had decided to dig up the whole smale tree and bring it with him. Myrkvior hadn't seemed to disapprove of his rescue action though.)

Many participants in the tournament had not passed to the second challenge. Also, some of the participants in the second challenge were already giving up. They left due to bad luck (or insufficient skill) at finding the ingredients they needed. Hearing them sign out, Ashling felt happy that she had gone for very common ingredients.

“You are free to pick any tables you prefer in there. First come ...” said a functionary at the door of the contest tent.

Inside the contest-tent the work tables formed a wide half-circle, facing the stage at the inner "wall". Each of the remaining contestants would get a personal workplace. To prevent cheating, every second table was for alchemy, every second for herbalism. All thinkable things the crafters might need was available there. Braziers on metal tripods with tall legs stood beside each table. They ready to lit and use for heating, if needed. There were flasks and boxes, platters and bowls, mortars, knives and scissors, spoons ... anything you might need. The items on the alchemy tables intrigued Ashling.

So far, all the tables were free. Ashling and Tristan didn’t want to be impolite so they didn’t go for the tables close to the stage. Instead, they settled for a couple of tables right in front of the stage but also at the longest distance from it.

The jarls Magnus and Namdalen weren't there but stand-ins sat on the throne-like chairs. Ashling had to smile because one of them was a well-known young boy. Jorg Magnus waved at them, jumped down from the stage and ran over to them in a most un-jarl-like manner.

"Hey! You are the first to come back! You are my favourites! What are you..."

Ashling was going to answer the boy but at this point, more people arrived. It was their constant adversaries, the alchemist Biarne and his companion the herbalist "Buxom". (It's sad to say it, but Ashling didn't know "Buxom's" name, only the nickname she had given them. Biarne was the significant person in the duo, that much was obvious.) Ashling gave them cold eyes and Biarne looked daggers at her. As Tristan was an outlander who had almost not passed to the second challenge, Biarne ignored him. Buxom also ignored Tristan but gave Ashling a very hostile stare.

"Hello, Jorg!" Ashling turned her back to the new arrivals. She wasn't going to engage in a new quarrel. It annoyed her that those two were back as early as she and Tristan though. Why couldn't they be among the participants who were still wandering around in the wilds? (Even better, why couldn't they get lost in the wilds and never come back!)

"Boy!" Biarne spoke to Jorg in a harsh manner that made it clear that he had no idea that Jorg was a member of Jarl Magnus family. "Don't stand there and look stupid! Show me and my partner to our tables so we can start working!"

For a moment Jorg stood still, his eyes wide and his mouth a bit open.

“Hmpf!” Biarne lost patience at once and called Jorg a “dense lout”. Before the boy got time to answer Biarne followed up by taking over. “We will do it ourselves!”

To Ashling’s surprise, the pair took the tables flanking hers and Tristan's. Buxom, being a herbalist, took the table to the left of Tristan’s. Ashling had the table at his right side and Biarne took the table at the right of Ashling. She didn’t like it one bit but there was nothing she could do about it. People were free to choose tables. Still, she wasn’t able to ignore it so she asked Biarne why he didn’t want the table on the left side of Buxom’s. "

“Why would I want that? I’m an alchemist and my partner is a herbalist. Our crafts are different and there’s no reason to...cling to each other, like some other people tend to do.”

“Cling?” Being a healer who had dealt with many a troublesome patient , Ashling retorted at once. She gave Biarne her coldest hawkish stare and took a small step toward him.

The man didn’t back down but shrugged and turned his attention to the equipment on his alchemy table. “I have no time for aggressive forest fools. I’m here to work and win!”

Somebody tugged at her sleeve and Ashling turned away from Biarne to see who it was. It was Jorg. “You have better not get into a brawl again,” they boy said. “One time is one time, but if you do it again the jarls will not let it slide. Sabotage of another contestant is against the rules, so stay calm. Don’t let him provoke you into doing something that can get you dropped from the contest.”

“Thank you, boy, for telling her the rules! “ Biarne’s tone was smug.

Seething, Ashling turned to her work table. So, this was how it was going to be, was it? Biarne would taunt her and try to make her lose her temper and have at him. He would try to get her her dropped from the contest for foul play? This was a consequence she hadn’t thought of when she had “given Biarne a knee” to get rid of him in the morning. As she saw it she had only been defending herself against his attempt to team up by force. But, it appeared that one time could pass as self-defence but two times would mean leaving the contest.

Tricky situation! But, I’m not going to let that bastard use his well-deserved kick in the balls against me...I’m going to control my temper whatever he will say or do!

She was going to make a hot oil infusion of the herbs, to begin with, so she lit the brazier and put an iron tripod over the fire. On top of the tripod, she put a small kettle. She filled it with the neutral cold-pressed oil the table provided and began preparing the herbs.
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Re: [Fensalir] The Tournament of Plants and Potions, Challenge Two

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Quite a few of the other participants had already given up or not made it to the second round in the first place, Tristan noticed when they returned to the contest tent. He almost felt sorry for them, until he remembered that their leaving would increase his chance to win, and he really, really wanted to win the tournament, preferably with Ashling by his side because his victory would be a lot more fun if he could share it with her.

“They’ve really thought of everything. This looks quite nice”, he remarked as he entered the tent behind his fiancée and let his gaze drift over the tables that had been arranged in a half-circle for a few moments. He noticed that every second table was for alchemy and every second table for herbalism which was something that he was pretty happy about. It meant that Ashling and he would be able to work next to each other!

He’d kind of expected the Jarls to be there again, so he was surprised to find Jorg Magnus on one of the throne-like chairs instead. The young duke raised an eyebrow questioningly for a moment before he smiled at him and waved as well. He had not been particularly fond of the boy when he had first met him – Jorg had threatened to shoot Ashling and him with a crossbow – but he had come to realize that he had just been scared. He had begun to take a liking to him. For that reason, he wanted to tell him a little bit about what he had in mind.

It was just then that more contestants arrived though. While Ashling looked at Biarne and Buxom coldly, Tristan momentarily looked a little sympathetic, at least when it came to Buxom. He still remembered how they had cried that morning (and he would never forget it again due one of the abilities that he had gotten from Vri). It had been unpleasant, but also quite sad. Biarne on the other hand was met with indifference. The man was rude and uncultured, and he treated Jorg who was not only a nice young man, but also a Magnus, like some sort of slave!

“I wonder why Buxom doesn’t simply leave their partner”, Tristan whispered and leaned closer to Ashling as he listened to the pair talk to Jorg. “They don’t seem to be particularly happy.” Due to what he had observed earlier that trial, the young duke assumed that the two were not only business partners, but also romantically involved. It didn’t look like a particularly healthy and happy relationship to him though. Why did Buxom let their partner treat them like that?

When Buxom took the table next to his, Tristan furrowed his brow a bit, but didn’t do anything else as he didn’t mind them as much (despite their being a terrible xenophobe). Upon hearing Biarne call his own partner clingy and his beloved Ashling an aggressive forest fool, the look in his eyes darkened though. He found it hard to just ignore that insult. That man was talking about his beloved fiancée! He couldn’t let that slide!

He was just about to tell him what exactly he thought of that comment of his, and how rude it had been (and make him apologize to Ashling), when Jorg warned them about the rules, and he forced himself to calm down. He met Ashling’s gaze for a moment before he remarked, “You know, maybe the best revenge would be to just win this tournament! Besides …” He broke off abruptly as he realized that even implying that the rules were only in effect for as long as the tournament lasted might get them in trouble with certain people, so he just smiled at his fiancée instead and remarked, “Good luck, Ashling!” before he focused on his own work (even though a part of him just wanted to look at her instead because she was so lovely).

The Moukou Beans came first. First of all, he washed the beans, in case they still had a bit of dirt on them, and then he placed them on a cutting board and looked at them thoughtfully for a moment. Two Moukou Beans usually put an adult to sleep within bits. He didn’t want the drinker of his potion to fall asleep though. He just wanted them to become a little more relaxed. So, what he did next was to look at a bean appraisingly before he cut it so that he would end up with approximately a fourth of a bean which would hopefully lead to the effect that he desired rather than being a glorified sleeping potion.

He did not simply dump the little Moukou Bean piece into a container as is though, but crushed it before he put it onto a small plate and turned to the next reagent. He had decided to prepare all of his reagents before he made the actual potion. While he had crushed the Moukou Bean, he put the peppermint leaves into a pot and boiled them which caused Biarne look his way for a moment, sneer and remark condescendingly, “That Outlander is just making tea! How does he expect to win this round with tea?”

Tristan decided to just ignore that comment as he knew better. His potion would be awesome, and if people couldn’t see it, it was their problem! With that thought in mind, he turned to his next reagent – the willow bark. He chopped the willow bark that he had harvested into very fine pieces which was a little time-consuming and hard work, to be honest, filled another pot approximately halfway with water and added four teaspoons of willow bark to it.

He boiled the mixture for approximately ten bits before he turned off the burner and allowed it to steep for another twenty bits. Over the course of that time, the bark dropped down to the bottom of the bot, and the water took on a deep red color that he found very pretty. He wasn’t sure if the look of his potion mattered, but he wanted it to look interesting anyway!

He wanted a potion that was useful and looked interesting and smelled good and tasted good!

Once he had strained the bark out, he turned back to the peppermint tea and strained that, and then he mixed the two liquids carefully. Following that, he mixed the Moukou Bean mush with the tree sap. Peppermint and willow bark were more or less herbs, so they wouldn’t negate each other without a binder (there were enough teas that contained several different herbs). The Moukou Beans might be a different matter though; besides, the maple tree sap would improve the taste and the color of his potion!

Of course, he didn’t use all of his willow bark and peppermint tea mixture. He filled a small amount into a smaller pot and added the Moukou Bean mush/maple tree sap mixtures to that. An accelerator (to make the potion work more quickly) and a lot of vigorous stirring in order to blend the various reagents later, his potion was finally ready, and he filled it into a vial and held it up triumphantly – before he crushed the rest of his Moukou Beans and mixed them with the remaining tree sap in order to produce several more vials of potion. More than one person might want to give it a try, after all, and besides, if the potion was a success, he might be able to sell the rest!

Then and only then did the young duke whose cheeks were a bit flushed and whose hair was a bit tousled now, take another look at his lovely fiancée’s table and asked, with a smile on his face, “How’s your salve coming along, Ashling?”
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Re: [Fensalir] The Tournament of Plants and Potions, Challenge Two

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It was still only the first trial of the challenge. The deadline was dawn after the second night. So, Ashling knew that the time left until she must hand in her salve was approximately forty breaks! This was important for her strategy. The ingredients she had collected were not complicated or rare but they were potent. But, before she made the salve she had to prepare a herbal oil of the herbs. They needed to steep. The longer steeping-time, the stronger medicinal properties the herbal oil would gain. Hence, she wanted to wait as long as possible before she would mix the oil with the spruce resin to make the salve.

Making a cold oil infusion would take at least forty trials, But, it would be best to give it more time. A steeping time of up to sixty trials was not uncommon. A cold infusion would give the most beneficial medicinal effects. With dried herbs, it would be even better. Had it been her ordinary work, Ashling would have gone for cold infusion. Now, she needed a faster method. She would make a hot oil infusion instead. The infusion would be ready to use after twelve breaks, but she would give it more time.

This called for a solution for how to spend forty breaks in the contest tent. If a contestant would bring their work in progress out of the tent they wouldn’t be allowed to continue. Fortunately, there were guards and other functionaries. Those would work shifts supervising the contestants and helping out with practicalities. Ashling could get a guard to keep an eye on her infusion when she would need it. In the night, there would be mattresses and blankets for those who wanted to sleep beside their workbenches. She could wave down serving staff if she wanted to order food and drink.

All the participants would of course not use this service. How long time they would stay depended on how they had decided to do their crafting. There could also be contestants who wouldn’t arrive until the next trial. Some had gone for rare ingredients that took a long time to find and could be more complicated to harvest.

Although Ashling was focusing on her work she saw the others in action. The alchemists at the tables that flanked hers were working at a speed a herbalist could only dream about. Tristan and Biarne both engaged in a lot of vigorous stirring. It was quite flamboyant shows! Ashling was (of course) partial and felt sure Tristan must be the best of them. But, she had to admit that Biarne seemed like a worthy adversary in alchemy. It worried her a bit. The man had after all passed the first challenge with way higher score than Tristan. What if Biarne would turn out to be even more skilled than Tristan? She didn’t want to think of it, but she couldn’t help doing it. Biarne, rude and haughty as he was, appeared skilled for real!

And Ashling? She was what a patient back in Cylus had called a “hedgedoctor”. She followed the old folk medicine traditions. An important principle in Fensalir medicine was to use the whole plant (or almost) and not only parts of it. So, Ashling didn't pick the leaves and flowers off to use only those. Instead, after making sure the herbs looked clean she added them to the oil. She put them into the kettle as they were, stems and all and even some small pieces of roots.

It earned her a loud laugh from Biarne and a comment about how absurd he found her crafting. "This is entertaining! You are doing it like a child mixing wilted flowers with sand in a bucket and saying they are cooking. Hah! I'm happy that I'm not the one you will test your bad salve on!"

Ashling clenched her teeth. She had been warned and she wasn’t going to let Biarne make her lose her temper. Instead of retorting she focused on the work. It was great for helping her ignore the rude alchemist. The infusion was warming up a little bit. Now, she moved the kettle from the brazier to the workbench. This way, the warm steeping could begin a bit while she moved on to make hot water. She poured water in a bigger kettle, put it on the tripod on the brazier and waited for it to get hot. Meanwhile, she watched Tristan. Alchemy seemed fun! She felt amazed at how many things he had going on and how fast he was working.

It made her smile a bit. He was quick as a rabbit but she was slow as a snail.

Tristan...oooh, Tristan...the very best man in the world...and the most good looking one too! Not that his appearance alone would have been enough to make her fall in love. Just like the whole plant was important to her as a herbalist, Tristan’s whole person was what mattered to her. The water was almost, but only almost boiling and the fire in the brazier had almost burnt out. Good, because now she would place the smaller kettle inside the bigger kettle and let the water warm it. The oil must stay warm enough but not too warm. From now on she would only add enough fuel to the brazier to keep the water hot but not boiling (and keep the oil warm, but not too hot).

Biarne laughed out loud again. "And now the forest fool is going to boil a kettle in a kettle? Better and better! Hahahaha!"

Ashling felt sure that Biarne knew the simple method she was using. She found it hard to not respond. It was nigh impossible. Harsh and acid words were burning on her tongue. But, as she was right now handling hot water and warm oil she couldn't afford to quarrel. It could cause an accident and she might get serious burns and have to drop out. All her attention must be on the work. She made sure that the smaller kettle (with the oil) had water up its sides but avoided to get water in the oil. Next, she put this double kettle on the tripod and so, the long steeping began.

"How long time will it take?" It was Jorg Magnus. He had come to watch her work.

She told him her plan to camp in the tent until she would make the salve in the early hours before deadline. Jorg's eyes widened. "That long?"

"Yes. Making a good herbal salve takes time."

"I'll stay here with you! " The boy sounded excited. "Camping in the contest tent! Much more fun that sitting on that chair!"

Ashling laughed. "Why are you sitting on the jarl's chair? Shouldn't Jarl Magnus sit there himself?"

"The Jarls can't sit there on the stage for two trials and two nights and wait for people to hand in their potions and salves. They have stand-ins. "

Except for more annoying remarks from Biarne, everything was going well. With the nice young Jorg there to keep her company and cheer her up and make her forget the rude alchemist, what could go wrong?


Later, the first night of the second challenge

The breaks had passed by and it would soon be midnight. Other people were leaving, but Ashling didn't know if that meant that their work was already done. Tristan had crafted more than one flask of his potion and so had Biarne, but none of them was present now. Buxom was also away and a guard kept an eye on their work in progress. Speaking of ... now, Buxom returned to their workbench to have a look at whatever they had going on there. They took the lid off from a jar and a weird smell spread in the air. The herbalist gave a shrill scream and slammed the lid onto the jar again. They looked around in a panicked manner. Then they grabbed a pitcher of water. They opened the jar again and poured in a generous amount of water. With a wheezing sound, thick dirt-green smoke arose from the jar and Buxom slammed the lid in place again.

"Help!" they exclaimed in a small and thin voice when a functionary arrived to ask what was going on. "Somebody has ... sabotaged my work!"

Soon, Ashling found herself accused of being the saboteur. She had been the only person around for a while so it must be her, Buxom said. Ashling was getting red hot angry and ready to attack, but in the last trill, Jorg Magnus intervened. "I've been here all the time. Ashling hasn't left her workbench. Besides, it doesn't need to be sabotage. It can be bad crafting."

"I did everything exactly as Biarne told me to do it," Buxom retorted.

The people who had gathered around them fell silent. Everybody looked at Buxom who still didn't seem to understand what they had said. Then, a man who seemed to have more authority than the others spoke up. "Are you telling us that Biarne, an alchemist, gave you, a herbalist, instructions for how to do your crafting in this contest?"

"No! I didn’t mean that!” Buxom seemed on the verge of beginning to cry.”Biarne just told me to make sure that jars and herbs are clean. I already knew that so I don’t even know why he said it. He...uses to take care of everything and not count on me being able. What I meant is only that I used clean jars and herbs and the oil and other things available on the workbench.” Buxom paused to draw breath, but the next trill they added “It must be her! She lured Biarne away from me just to attack him and try to injure him so he would have to drop out! She should have been dropped from the contest for that! But, she was allowed to continue and now we all can see her attack again, this time by sabotage of my moukou bean salve! ”

The functionary looked a bit overwhelmed by Buxom's river of babble. "What's moukou? I never heard about it before!"

Buxom pointed to the remains of several plants that lay on their workbench. "There. That's moukou bean tree."

They offered no more explanations. Ashling was now close enough to see the plants. Oh my. There were still a few defect bean-like pods left on them, but it wasn't moukou. Instead, it was ...

"That's not moukou bean, it’s the common laburnum," she said. "Golden chain tree. The whole tree is very toxic, every part of it. Bark, root, leaves and especially the pods, all are poisonous. Seems you picked a harmful ingredient by mistake. If I were you I would get rid of the first batch of whatever you are making. Then start over without the golden chain. You still have the time to craft something else. Any salve you can make without the poison will be better than the toxic disaster you have crafted right now.”

Buxom stared at her, looking dumbstruck. They tried to say something, several times, but all that came over their lips was a sad croaking sound. The functionary told them to stay back. They had routines for dealing with this kind of mistakes! Why the poor Buxom watched, tearful and pale, the functionaries did their job. They took away the reeking jar and the golden chain plant parts and left, with a warning to the herbalist. “Don’t accuse other people of sabotage when it’s your fault that your crafting failed. If this happens again you will be dropped from the contest!”

The immediate risk for more complications from Buxom seemed over. Silent and with slow movements, they inspected what was left of their ingredients. With slow and jerky movements they started over. It didn't look so promising. Ashling couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for Buxom. But, there was also one thing she found intriguing, and not comfortably so. Mokou Bean Tree was not common in Melrath. Still, not only Tristan but also Buxom had decided to use that plant. Why? The memories of how she and Tristan had felt watched in the wilds left her no peace. Could it be ...

After a while, she spoke to Buxom, in a neutral voice. “I can understand that you felt stressed out, so no hard feelings. But you know, the golden chain could have killed you, do you realize that? You could have died.”

Buxom glanced at her but didn’t answer. Ashling spoke again. “Biarne seems to keep telling you that you are no good. As you said, anybody knows the very basics, like using clean jars and herbs. You passed to the second challenge. That speaks for itself. You may very well craft a winning salve. I wouldn’t feel surprised if you do way better without Biarne's kind of advice. He seems to not have been able to differentiate between moukou bean and golden chain by the way. I suppose he “helped” you do the mistake?”

Buxom snivelled. “Biarne is brilliant. I had no reason to doubt his ability to identify moukou. He called me dumb when I felt unsure of it, so I guessed I was only being ignorant.”

“Why did you decide to use moukou?”

“I had heard that it had interesting medicinal properties. I mean, Biarne knew about the plant and told me about it. He wasn’t looking to use it himself. But when he spoke about the moukou it seemed amazing and I felt that I ought to get it for my salve. We could collaborate about finding ingredients - you know that - and then Biarne found the tree with the pods. The...golden rain tree...” Buxom’s voice had been low all the time but in the end, it broke.

Ashling waited a bit and finally Buxom spoke again. They had an unexpected story to tell...

“You said the golden chain is a common tree here in Melrath.” Their voice was only a whisper now. “I’m not from here and so I’m not familiar with all the flora yet. I escaped from a toxic nightmare of a city named Rhakros. When I arrived in Ne’haer I met Biarne who was there in business errands. I had nobody, nothing. He took me in despite that I’m an outlander. We travelled to Melrath, his homeland. Biarne told me to never reveal that I’m an outlander. He said we are inferior people and his kin would kill me if they knew. He would keep me safe though. I...trusted Biarne...he told me to watch out so you wouldn’t sabotage my work...”

Buxom broke down and cried. Ashling didn’t have the heart to say the unspoken words that were hanging in the air. Biarne had sabotaged the work of his partner and set them up to see Ashling as the one to blame for the failure. He had also put Buxom’s life at risk. Not to mention what might have happened if the salve had been tested on people... The man was even worse than Ashling already had found him. It would hardly be possible to prove anything though. According to the contest rules, Buxom was responsible for their ingredients. No doubt, Biarne would say that he had suggested that it might be moukou and Buxom had decided that it was. It would be word against word and Buxom would be the loser.

Ashling took a decision.“Biarne isn’t the only one option you have in this world,” she said. “You passed to the second challenge. You may also pass to the third if the new salve you make is good enough. My mother is a herbalist and runs a healing house here in Fensalir. Sol’ange, a woman of knowledge, always in need of people to work with her. You could leave Biarne any time! Or are you so in love with him that you accept that he deceives you and puts at risk your life and the lives of others?.”

A long silence followed. Buxom worked and as the bits passed by they seemed more and more focused and sure of everything they did. They stopped crying. Instead, there was something else, something new, in the atmosphere ...

RAGE!

Ashling’s spiritual familiar whispered to Ashling in her mind the trill before Buxom spoke again. The herbalist's voice sounded thick and raw. “Poison! I hate it! That was what I fled from! I thought Biarne was my saviour and felt I owed him loyalty and even ... love, despite that he was violent to me. But, he betrayed me! All this time he’s been putting me down and in the end, I felt worthless. But, I’m going to leave him now, whether I have somewhere else to go or not! If they kill me for being an outlander, so be it!”

“Nobody is killing outlanders. Look at my betrothed, Tristan, he’s an outlander and people know it.”

But, even as Ashling spoke, a chill went up her spine, because Myrkvior’s Kin came to her mind. Rumour had it that they had more members and sympathizers than those who were open with it. What exactly had Biarne meant with “his kin”? It could have been a lie about the Melrathi people in general...or...the truth about the kin. Was he a member? A silent supporter? There was no way to know...

“I still have the other ingredients. I picked some extra... I’m going to work with what I have and do my utmost to create the best salve I ever made.” Buxom worked on, their voice till raw with rage. Ashling could see that they acted like they were at least an expert now, not as insecure as they had seemed before.

Oh...she might have encouraged a competitor who might be better than they had seemed! Still, she couldn’t regret it. Buxom’s fate at Biarne’s hands had been horrible. Winning the contest would be fun if it happened. But, freeing the abused Buxom from their slavery-like relationship was more important!

“I’m grateful.” Buxom looked up and met Ashling’s gaze for a moment. “And if Biarne tries any more foul play, I’ll be on your side!”

The conversation ended there. Ashling looked at Jorg. The boy’s eyes were wide and his mouth was open. She smiled at him. “Don’t run around and speak about what you have overheard this night. Accusations without proof tend to backfire on the one who makes them. For now, I advice you to not say anything.”

The boy nodded. Ashling tended to her hot oil infusion and put a small amount of new fuel on the brazier. It was after midnight and she waved down a guard who would keep an eye on her work in progress so she could sleep.


A break before the deadline, at the end of the second night.

After the crisis the first night nothing more had happened except for the contestants continuing their work. Ashling had strained the herbal oil and let it cool down. Then she had mixed it with spruce resin. The salve was neither too hard nor too soft. It had a soft yellow colour and smelled pleasantly of mint, chamomile and blue spruce. She put it in a clean jar, put a lid on it and handed it in. Tristan was there alongside her, handing in a batch of potions. She saw Biarne and buxom hand in their potions and salve too, then walk out, Biarne first and Buxom a step behind him.

All their work at challenge two was done. She smiled and hugged him with all the love she felt for him. “Now all we can do is wait for the outcome. I hope it will go well, but if not, I’ve still achieved something good during this challenge ...”

She put her arm around his waist as they walked out, his arm resting around her shoulder. Once they were alone she would tell him the whole story about Buxom and Biarne and how Buxom had now changed side.
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Re: [Fensalir] The Tournament of Plants and Potions, Challenge Two

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Tristan

Experience: 15 no magic xp

Knowledge:

Alchemy x2
Gardening x9

Renown: 15 for making it to the finals.

Skill Usage: Appropriate to level.

Loot/Losses: litlte moukou tree (poor quality, but can be upgraded by tending it with gardening skill)

Injuries/Conditions: none

Consequences: Advancement to the finals.

Ashling

Experience: 15 no magic xp

Knowledge:

Detection: Detecting Wild Chamomile
Detection: Detecting Blue Spruce
Detection: Detecting Moukou Tree

Discipline: Focusing on the work despite a potential threat
Discipline: Withstanding taunting from an enemy trying to get you shut out
Discipline: Going for high quality despite begin tired

Field Craft: It's best to harvest herbs after the morning but before noon
Field Craft: Spruce resin is natures own candy
Field Craft: Maple sap can be harvested from the tree's trunk

Medicine: Making a hot oil infusion for good extraction in short time
Medicine: Raw spruce resin has medicinal properties and can be use as it is
Medicine: Blending spruce resin and herbal oil to make a salve [/b]

Renown: 15 for making it to the finals!

Skill Usage: Appropriate to level.

Loot/Losses: none

Injuries/Conditions: none

Consequences: Advanced to final round.


Comments: I'm very glad to get the chance to review this stage of the tournament as well, so thanks for requesting that I do it! I'm very happy about that. Now onto the review...

Tristan's musings about why he failed was very funny, it's clear he was unable to accept his misses in the past round as an alchemist. Yet at the same time he's not bothered overmuch by it, or doesn't seem so. Still very much the prideful lord he was. In the end, he seemed reassured at least to think that he was one of the best alchemists in Melrath and with Ashling on his arm he couldn't lose. Which made the next scene all the more amusing while also adding an element of suspense.

Biarne locking arms with Ashling was a very amusing twist, he was such a pretentious jerk, explaining to Ashling how them being perfect partners for the gathering was 'Simple mathematics.' That had me giggling, honestly. Yet Ashling was adorably stubborn the way she fought him and insisted that he go with his own partner, Buxom. Yet in the end she put her anatomy knowledge to good use on Biarne's anatomy. While she doesn't have any unarmed combat experience, it was delivered in a believable way since he had locked arms with her (was completely open to attack) and probably wasn't expecting the smaller woman to be willing and able to bring him to the ground.

In the end, Ashling and Tristan get to support each other in their efforts, which would probably end well for them, as their talents would compliment each other.

Tristan's advice that they ignore the two and forget about them was probably a good idea. Also a good idea to make a single trial trip to gather what they need, and then have more time left over to make something as perfect as it can be.

The detail that went into Ashling's selection of ingredients was appreciated. I wouldn't have known the effects of these common herbs and such without that, so it was helpful.

Oh and I didn't know this thread was set before Sol'ange and Tristan had met!

The ending of the post with a branch breaking was pretty tense, is it a bear?!

The actual gathering of the herbs was done in a very entertaining and reverential way that just drives the point of Ashling being a wilderness witch/healer/medicine woman. It was quite well done in my opinion, and the prayer to Myrkvior was a nice touch!

Still, the sense that Ashling is being watched is persistent, and adds to the tension.

Tristan is cute when he starts finding reagents, 'It smells minty' :lol: Still, this happens to be one of the ingredients that Ashling needs for her salve, so all to the good.

The spruce resin sounds delicious, somehow I imagine it tasting like a mix of licorice or maple. Myrkvior certainly is generous to this couple :)

Ashling's tripping on a stone was a bit of serendipity too, when it caused her to find another special ingredient, a moukou bean tree. How did one get all the way in Melrath? How it got there must be a pretty interesting story in itself! Then again, the Ojogbon tree was also brought presumably centuries ago from Desnind, it's possible a population has arrived from that migration?

And Tristan's idea to adopt the tree was an interesting idea. I hope he makes good use of it. It is rare in places not Desnind, but since it was an unhealthy specimen it's not a big deal to grant you that.

Ashling's feirceness and fire as she has to endure the crassness of Biarne and his shrill partner is very adorable, yet scary at the same time. I wouldn't want to get on the bad side of that fiery healer!

Now onto the actual results of the contest.

For ingredient selection, I chose your closest applicable skill relating to ingredient finding. Tristan's highest was Detection at expert. Ashlings's highest was expert detection. For process, I chose your crafting skills most associated to what you were trying to create. For ashling that is medicine which is expert, for Tristan that is alchemy at master. In terms of final score after testing, I gave the average of each of the prior rolls.

That means 1d4 rolled for each phase. The base handicap is -4, which is offset by the skill level bonus, which is +1 for novice, +2 for competent, +3 for expert, +4 for master.

So ingredient phase is -1 for identification for each of you. Rolling for Ashling first:

Ashling and Tristan average score: 1.75

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:40 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (3)-1 = 2

and Tristan:

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:40 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (3)-1 = 2

Now for process phase: Ashling first at a modification -1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:42 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (3)-1 = 2

and Tristan:

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:42 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (1) = 1

So each of you scored 1.75/4 for the final. I'm going to roll for the other teams (using comparable adjustments). There are three other teams at this stage, let's say for sake of simplicity.

Team 1: 1.75 average score

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:45 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (4)-1 = 3

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:45 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (2)-1 = 1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:45 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (1)-1 = 0

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:45 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (3) = 3

So far team 1 is tied for first place with Ashling and Tristan at 1.75 average score.

Team 2: 2.25 average score for first place.

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:47 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (4)-1 = 3

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:47 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (3)-1 = 2

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:47 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (2)-1 = 1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:47 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (3) = 3

Team 3: 1.75 average score

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:49 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (2)-1 = 1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:49 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (1)-1 = 0

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:49 AM
@Pig Boy: d4-1 = (4)-1 = 3

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:50 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (3) = 3

Team 3 Team 1 and Team Ashling and Tristan are tied for second place. I will break the tie with a roll for each. Starting with team 1, then team 3 then team Ashling/Tristan

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:51 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (1) = 1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:51 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (1) = 1

Sidekick
BOT
Today at 3:51 AM
@Pig Boy: d4 = (3) = 3

Team Ashling and Tristan advance to the final round in second place. The other two teams are squared off for third and fourth place, but who cares, about them, they don't advance :P

If you have any concerns about this review, please PM me about them.
word count: 1417
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