• Solo • Rare Flowers, Chapter Three

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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Ashling
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Rare Flowers, Chapter Three

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Rare Flowers
81-123 Ashan 720

CHAPTER THREE


Ashling is working in the healing house in Fensalir this trial. It's in the evening and it's time for the last patient.


She sat at a table by the window in a separate chamber, a withered old sev’ryn woman with white hair and a face that spoke of very high age. As they stepped in, the familiar spiritual side of Ashling, Kyrie, woke up and became aware in her. The old woman turned her face to the young healer and smiled at her.

Sol’ange was already there. She introduced them. “Siri, this is my daughter Ashling. Ashling, this is Siri, a friend of mine and the most knowledgeable herbalists I know.”

The old woman laughed a bit. “You are too nice, my girl. And this is your young one ...” She made a brief pause and turned to Ashling. “You have grown. Last time I met you, you were tiny. I’m sure you were too small to recall me. But, let’s speak about the present...”

“I have brought her to you as you asked me to do,” said Sol’ange, her voice very respectful.

“And for this, I thank you, Sol.”

“Do you need me here, or ...?”

“No. You have work to do, people to help. We can speak later.” This was to Sol. Then Siri spoke to Ashling again. “Please take a seat. I have many things to say, a long story to tell ...”

They were now alone in the chamber. The aged woman smiled at Ashling. Kyrie stirred again, strange awe spreading out inside Ashling. It felt like the spiritual familiar opened its beak and sang without a sound. Ashling had no idea why it happened. It was enigmatic and it was beyond her to understand it. But, maybe it was because the woman was sev'ryn and had a spiritual famiilar...or maybe she just was a person Kyrie liked. Who could know?

“My life has been very long and now I’m at the end of it. There are things I need to pass on to people who will come after me in this world I have loved for so many arcs. I give knowledge to each person I want to inherit it, depending on what they are currently able to understand.”

“At the end?” whispered Ashling. The old woman seemed neither ill nor injured. “What ails you?”

“Nothing. Only old age. My trials are running out. Like all other ... mortals, I will die when my time comes to its end. I will live here in the healing house until then. Your mother insisted on taking care of this old bird.”

Siri's voice was frail and kind, but Ashling still felt like a baby sparrow facing an eagle, a raven or a giant owl. There was no rational reason for the feeling. The little old woman was small and thin. The hand which rested on the table looked gnarled and frail. But, Ashling still felt like she was the weaker person here.

“Grayhawk.” Old Siri nodded when she said it like she was speaking to herself.

The presence of the spiritual familiar Kyrie overwhelmed Ashling. For a moment she felt she was all Kyrie, only Kyrie ... but the old woman’s voice interrupted the feeling.

“I have understood that you are familiar with the wilderness as well as with the city, Ashling.”

Ashling nodded. It was true.

“There are things I want you to do ... things I want of you.”

Ashling nodded again. It felt like obliging was the only option.

Siri smiled. "In the old Ruin's outside of Fensalir there is a place that looks like an ancient herb garden. The plants have long ago grown as they like all over the place. But, if you give the ground a closer look you can see the stone borders that once framed the beds. They are organized in a wide circle, on a low hill and the paths between the beds and up to the top of that low hill form a labyrinth."

Ashling's eyes widened a bit as she heard this. "I have never heard of that herb garden before... I mean, people don't use to go to the ruins."

"It's a very ancient place. It can be wise to avoid ancient places. But, it can also be useful, for the right person. Many interesting plants grow in the herb labyrinth, poisonous as well as beneficial. It can be dangerous for the ignorant to go there. Many toxic plants are beautiful and som have an intriguing appearance or a pleasant smell. In the early days when they colonized Melrath and found the old ruins people were curious about them. Some were also greedy, hoping to find old treasures of valuable metals, ancient art and such. Unfortunately, some uncautious explorers found death instead and others simply disappeared. And so, the ruins gained a bad reputation and people stopped going there."

"I knew only that it's a place people don't use to go to."

"Old events turn to tales and simple warnings as the arcs pass by. People forget the details. You should visit the House of History Ashling. That's where you can find out more about the past, things you never knew and never thought of. It can be very enlightening."

Ashling was silent for a while. New and worrying thoughts had begun to trouble her.

And the stormtouched people who were hiding in the Old Ruins in winter? Are they still there and are they still alive? I haven' t heard a word about them since I returned to Fensalir for the tournament. And now she's telling me that people died in there, in the far past...

"How dangerous are the Old Ruins?" she asked.

"It depends on the people who go there. Toxic plants, for example, are way more dangerous to somebody who doesn't know them and haven't learnt how to handle them than to a person who is knowledgeable. That is not to say that knowledge makes people infallible. Even at the pinnacle of their proficiency, people can do mistakes and the consequences can be enormous. I would say that the higher competence people have at one thing, the more damage they can do when they over-estimate their insights in other things and overlook something they don't know is crucial."

"Oh..."

"Yes. Mastery at one thing doesn't mean mastery at everything. Vanity is dangerous. It's a temptation we all encounter and all have to deal with and to deny it is a kind of vanity too." The expression on Siri's old face shifted and the tone of her voice changed a bit as she spoke about this.

Ashling didn't know what to say so she just nodded.

"Vanity is my affliction," continued Siri. "And so, I'm looking for a cure. This is one reason for why I want you to go to The Old Ruins and look for a plant some call Pride's Downfall and some call Ruelse. It goes by many other names too. But I don't want you to rush there at once. Take care to learn as much as possible before you go. Prepare well. Don't over-estimate yourself. Take your time. Think before you take action." The old woman smiled again. "If you want to do this. You are free to decline."

"I will do it." Curiosity about the Old Ruins, interest in the herb labyrinth, ambition to learn, worry for the stormtouched and the allure of adventure made it impossible to not accept the mission.

"I thought so. It is settled. But, before you leave for this time, please join me in mediation."

"I would be happy to do so, but I know very little about meditation."

"What you don't know are things you can learn. We will only do a short meditation. If you allow me, I will guide it. I have done this so many times that I can meditate a bit even when I give instructions."

"Yes please."

"Let's begin. Make sure that you are sitting in a comfortable position on the chair. A position you can hold without effort. Shut your eyes. For a start, you will sit still. No more physical movements. There is nothing you need to do. Nothing to achieve. No strife. Sit still and let allow your body and mind to find peace and stillness. "

Ashling followed the instruction. Sitting totally still was easy at first but it felt more challenging the longer time she sat there and nothing happened. But, Siri supported her with soft reminders and thanks to this Ashling was able to withstand the urge to end the stillness. She sat immovable until it felt like she had lost her sense of time and could sit there for an eternity. Eventually, it felt like she merged with that feeling of eternity and became one with it. Once in a while, Siri spoke in a low and soft voice, words that kept Ashling aware of the stillness and stopped her from falling asleep. In the end, the old woman told her that the meditation was over and it was time for Ashling to open her eyes and look around in the room. They would not speak.

Silent, Ashling left the room feeling as refreshed as if she had been sleeping awake for several breaks.
word count: 1585
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Doran
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Re: Rare Flowers, Chapter Three

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Ashling:

Knowledge:
Skill Knowledge:
Meditation: Make sure to sit in a comfortable position you can hold without effort
Meditation: Shut your eyes while you meditate
Meditation: Keep your body still, no physical movements
Meditation: No strife to achieve something
Meditation: The experience of eternal peace of mind
Socialization: Socializing with a person of awesome age and knowledge

Non-Skill Knowledge:
Siri, an old herbalist
Siri's story about the secret herb garden in the Old Ruins
Siri's quest: Find the plant Prides Downfall also named Ruelse in the Old Ruins
Siri's instructions about being well prepared

Loot: -
Wealth: -
Injuries: -
Renown: -
Magic XP: -
Skill Review: Appropriate to level.

Points: 10
- - -
Comments: Sol’ange taking Ashling to Siri was a good way to start the thread in my opinion. It instantly made me curious and wonder why this old woman wanted to talk to her. Siri was an interesting NPC, and you conveyed her being old and wise quite well. I look forward to Ashling's travelling to the Old Ruins and doing what Siri asked her to do now!

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 183

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