User:Arrow Quivershaft/Selene's Grove

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3P story universe

Selene's Grove

Author: Arrow Quivershaft


The next morning we set out early. It was a quick movement, and we encountered a few groups going the other direction. Pleasantries were exchanged, but nothing much occurred. Once the sun came up and the thermals started, stormwings were visible on the horizon, but they left us in peace. It seems that the bribe was good, after all.

I had to keep an eye on Blossom and made sure she stayed hydrated, since she had all that fur and it was warm. Alex was walking along and enjoying, and then we came over the rim of a small mountain, and there was Selene’s grove.

The whole thing is a forest, and it’s very distinctive, because it has excellent maintenance from its wardens. Everything looked vibrant and healthy. As we descended into the valley, we could see the entire boundaries, set against a backdrop of rougher terrain. The entire thing couldn’t be more than fifty square miles in total, I guessed. Blossom took a moment to admire the sight as we approached, but kept up, nodding slightly. Seems she approved.

"Looks nice." Alex commented.

"Selene has interests in keeping it well maintained." I mentioned.

"Then we should be careful not to disturb anything." Blossom stated.

"That would leave a bad impression, yes." And decrease whatever chance they had even further, I thought to myself.

"Roger." Alex said. He and Blossom nodded and followed me as I took the lead. I placed my weapons in storage and advised the others to do the same.

The main path continued into the forest, overgrown a bit, but clearly marked. In keeping with Selene’s “peace and love” philosophy, there was a lot of hippie-related things approaching the entrance. Painted peace signs, bandanas tied to a sign post. One rock face we passed had a big VW emblem spiked into it. Blossom growled slightly at that, but I shushed her, explaining this was accepted here.

Once we got under the canopy, it was like a Disney movie. The wildlife was present, abundant, and perfectly willing to approach an individual. Heck, if you could call it that, the animals were even friendly. Selene’s not a god with wide influence, but her presence is hard to ignore.

"I wonder if marijuana is grown here..." Alex mused after a while.

"What plant is that? I haven’t heard of it.” Blossom inquired.

"It's a recreational drug." I stated.

"The dude said it." Alex nodded.

"Recreational?" Blossom seemed confused.

"You use it for fun." Alex said.

“Fun...what do you do with it?" she pressed the issue.

"You smoke it and it makes you relax." I stated.

"The world becomes a better place.” Alex nodded.

“Why would you smoke a plant?" Blossom seemed confused.

"Well, when you smoke it this stuff in it goes into your blood and it makes you relax,” ALex explained, slightly exasperated.

"I’d rather drink tea." Blossom said, turning up her nose a bit.

"Tea is better for you, yes." I stated, closing off the conversation.

We passed a few hippie camps on each side, pretty stereotypical things. Guitars, music, weed, long hair. There was a circle of people talking off to the side; only about half of them were human. They noticed us and waved enthusiastically, greeting us in a variety of languages, which we returned in English.

We kept walking on. It was about a third of a mile later when the trail broadened and split, with a huge stone structure, like an artful combination of an Aztec pyramid and Stonehenge. It was overgrown, but in a specific way that told you it was carefully maintained. Around and nearby were several statues or large-scale wood carvings which served the same purpose.

Blossom looked at it with admiration. “Its pretty.”

"Well, this is where you were looking to go. You people ready?" I said.

"As ready as I ever will be,” Alex sighed.

"Yes, I’m ready.." Blossom nodded, and bowed and offered a small prayer to a nearby statue

"Do you wish me to accompany you inside, or would you rather go alone?" I asked.

"I would like to go alone.." Blossom said.

"Then I shall wait." I nodded. Selene isn’t into the forcemark business so I knew she’d be fine in here. Violence in Selene’s grove is...frowned upon. There’s a reason hippies like it.

"I'll also wait outside then?" Alex asked.

"Well...you can come if you want Alex." Blossom said uncertainly.

"But is that a good idea? I'm not a follower of Selene."

"Just go ahead." Dawn spoke, finally breaking her silence of the trip.

"I don't know, I’m sure it would be okay... but if you want to stay here it may be best?" Blossom said.

"Nate and I will watch things out here." Dawn stated. I nodded in agreement.

Alex nodded. "Okay, I'm coming along."

"Alright." Blossom took a deep breath "Shall we go, then?"

Alex nodded, and followed Blossom as they headed up the steps of the pyramid as I watched from a distance. I kept a focus on this to see what’d happen.

There were three dryads standing at the entrance, chatting amongst each other. Blossom walked towards them, and greeted them with a warm “Hello.” Alex just stood by near her, looking like a bodyguard.

The dryads fell into line and bowed, the middle one speaking. “Welcome, travellers, to Selene's domain. The land is open to your use, so long as you show it peace and respect."

Blossom nodded. "Thank you. I promise we shall give it the respect it rightly deserves."

"Thank you." Alex echoed Blossom.

Blossom got straight to the point. "Can I ask to see Selene?"

The left dryad spoke. "See her? Oh, Elysium no, dear. Concerns are handled through the attendants of the grove."

"Then could I speak with the attendants...unless you are the attendants?" Blossom asked. She was decent at being polite when she wanted to, it seems.

"Today that is us,” the left dryad spoke with a giggle.

"Is there somewhere..we could talk in private?" Blossom said as she pulled back her hood.

The center dryad nodded. "There most certainly is." She offered her hand to Blossom.

Blossom took her hand, and the dryad started to lead her around the structure and out of my vision.

Alex stood there awkwardly, waiting. He looked back to me. I met his gaze and shrugged. He nodded and tapped his foot, looking down.

The right side dryad spoke again. "You've come all this way to accompany your friend?"

Alex looked at her. "Yeah, kinda."

She nodded. "That is very sweet of you. Perhaps you might learn from your visit and enjoy our glade."

Alex nodded. "Yeah, it's very nice here."

"The springs are down this path here, as is the orchard. They are a good place to start."

Alex nodded again. "If you don't mind I think I'll have a peek then."

"By all means. Enjoy yourself, and carry no anger."

“Thanks for the tip." Alex said. He turned and headed off, glancing at us with a nod.

I took a seat on a nearby rock and looked at Dawn. We both shared a glance, and then started making some small talk.

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After a while, Blossom came back to the two of us. I greeted her as she approached.

"Hello, I have something to tell you." she said.

"Yes, what is it?" I said, curious.

She took a breath. "Well, I've decided to assist Selene in her duties here in the grove."

I quirked a brow. "This is your choice. However, if you want to save your friend, this may not be the fastest course of action. You realize this?" I stated. As I did, I noticed Alex approaching from the corner of my eye

Blossom nodded. "I know, but this might give me time to come up with a plan."

Alex had some fruit juice on his face as he returned. "Hey Blossom, how did it go?"

"I’m going to help selene in the grove for a bit." she repeated.

"And she's going to fix Nick?" Alex sounded hopeful.

Blossom sighed. "No..she said we need both halfs of him but we can’t get Nkosi to leave Bast.."

"Ah." Alex frowned. "Well, that isn't going to help us much."

I scratched at my chin slightly, glancing to Dawn as they spoke. She wingshrugged at me.

Blossom nodded. "They also said Selene would help me hear the truth with something called communal ears.."

"The truth?" Alex asked.

"I’m not sure what she meant but i just hope it doesn't take too long... I want to help Nick, no matter what." Blossom resolved.

"Sounds like a polite way to say 'spy network' to me, really." Dawn stated.

I nodded to Dawn, and glanced to Alex. "I would say that this course of action would be a long-term one."

"Yep, and our money is running out quicktime." Alex noted.

"I’m going to ask her how long it will be," Blossom said, starting back to the dryad without another word.

"So, we need an alternative plan..." Alex mentioned.

I shrugged. "I offered one...that's all I can do. This gives a bit more info to work with, though."

"And I'm liking it more every minute." Alex mentioned.

"If they need both halves of this friend of yours...well...hmm. This Nick works at the embassy in Britain, right? Perhaps we're due for a phone call at some point before or after seeing Athene." I mused.

"Getting Nick isn't much of a problem, Nkosi is what I'm worried about." Alex said.

"For good reason...but perhaps Nick could provide more information. Or serve as bait... Nkosi has left the realms before. Which puts him several steps above other major Realms figures. At least in ease of capture, because it implies there are circumstances under which he will leave the realms." I explained.

"Then what would be our next destination? We have to be outside the realms for telephone to work, right?" Alex nodded.

"Indeed."

"What would be best: Going out and getting some info from Nick and then talking to Athene or going to her while we're in the realms anyway?" Alex asked.

"I could argue it either way." I pointed out. "On one side, you're getting useful information that may help in any attempts to petition Athene. It would also cost more for the boat trip. On the other hand, you're getting your pledge or refusal of assistance before you play your cards based on a certain answer; but you may not have the info you need.” I paused for a moment. “Do you want what I, personally, would do?"

"Yes please." Alex nodded.

"I, personally, would go back to Lecce, get any information you could, restock supplies, and then go to Athens." I stated.

"Let's hope we have enough money for that." Alex sighed.

"This also gives the chance to check events on the computer and get to-the-minute updates, rather than the sometimes-weeks-old word of mouth news in the Realms."

Alex nodded again. "Smart."

I looked to Dawn for a moment, then back. "I'm interested enough in you, and how this is going, to cut you a deal. It's not all the time I get to talk to people as interesting as you." I smiled.

Alex smiled. "Thanks."

I shrugged. "Not a problem. Just keep me interested, and you've got a guide."

Alex glanced in the direction Blossom went. "She sure does take her time... oh well, this is a pretty damn nice place,”

"Selene does keep a very nice area, yes." I nodded.

"Just a pity about everything outside it." he noted.

"Well, I wouldn't trade it for anything."

"It does have a certain frontier something..." Alex admitted, as Blossom returned to our group. I could feel the Selene aura on her; she’d gotten a voluntary mark.

Alex glanced towards Blossom. "And?"

"She was Marked." I noted to Alex.

"Well, I've decided to stay and help here, I will be able to learn to know where Nkosi is through the wind of the mother." Blossom nodded. So through the spy network.

"Ah ..." Alex said uncertainly.

"You can stay if you want to, the sister druid told me so." Blossom said.

Alex frowned.

"It will only be for a few weeks...”

"Nate and I have to get back to Lecci long before then." Dawn noted. "We're only hired for the next day or two." She paused. "Or he is... I was never hired in the first place."

Blossom nodded, looking to Alex. "What about you Alex?"

Alex looked mildly worried "I don't like the idea of leaving you."

"I'll be okay, I have my sisters and Selene to help me." she said with confidence. Man, that was a huge change in her demeanor.

"But ... okay, but be careful." Alex said.

"I'll be fine, I need you to go back to Nick and tell him for me, okay? Tell him I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Blossom said.

"Okay, but keep on being you, don't let them change who you are." Alex warned.

Blossom giggled a bit. "You worry too much."

Alex nodded. "I do."

Blossom moved in and hugged Alex, as he gave a one-armed hug back to her. She released him after a moment, and turned to me. "Thank you, Nathan and Dawn, for getting us here safely."

I smiled. "It's no problem."

Blossom came over and gave me a hug as well, and then one to Dawn, who humored her with a winghug.

I looked to Alex after the hugs were done. "May I suggest a course of action?"

Alex nodded. "Yes."

"The short version is we go back to Lecci, get info, contact your friend, move onto Athens, make things happen there, and then return to Selene's grove." I said.

"That sounds good to me," Blossom nodded.

Dawn was the voice of realism. "Which leaves the question...Whose coin is this happening on?"

"Mine as long as I have any." Alex said.

"I can give you the last of mine." Blossom offered helpfully.

"I already mentioned I was willing to cut them a deal." I reminded Dawn. I was a bit surprised; Dawn's usually sharper than that.

"A deal is one thing, but you're talking about a fair amount of travel here... Are we putting together a real party of this?" Dawn explained.

"Can you do me a favor Nathan?" Blossom said.

I looked at her. "What is it?"

"You have to promise me you'll keep Nick safe. I know he might not approve of this but just keep him safe for me." Blossom nodded.

"I'll do my best. Difficult to do at this range." I said.

"When you get back to him is what I mean." She clarified. She had a few more cards in her deck than I thought she did.

I nodded to Blossom in affirmation, then turned back to Dawn. "I don't know, that's up to the client. Mayhaps we just tag along with another group as far as we can."

"I imagine he'll try to come get me..which I hope he doesn’t." Blossom said. I presumed she meant Nick.

"I'll do my best,” Alex said to Blossom.

"I would worry if Nick did..." Blossom trailed off.

"Are you sure that going back to Lecci is entirely neccessary?" Dawn asked. "We can send messages from Corinth, and save a bundle of cash."

"We also can't contact Alex's friend from Corinth...it's his choice." I pointed out.

"We need to discuss a couple of things with him." Alex nodded.

"I shall miss you all." Blossom said...then she smiled. "Selene light your path, wherever it leads."

I nodded back to her. "Goodbye, Blossom."

"Thanks Blossom. Be careful," Alex said.

"I will; don't worry about me. It’s really safe here." Blossom smiled one last time and then headed away.

I turned to Lex. “We’ll leave tomorrow. Until then...take some personal time. I think we all need a bit of a break. We’ll all be fine.”

He nodded uncertainly, but tried to hide it.

Preceded by:
Campfire Chat
Three Pantheons Succeeded by:
Birds of a Feather