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Papa Goob

On The Freelands (ooc)

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(This thread is a continuation of this one.)

 

The sour smell of grass soup has washed away all memories of the scent of pine, cooking at the Inn, or the cloying perfumes of the Snow Goblins. In an effort to stave off anymore thefts, the refugees have begged kettles where they could, and have begun endlessly boiling grass and roots into a sour mash to feed themselves. At first, some took it upon themselves to collect mushrooms or wild onions from the surounding forest. Then, they stopped coming back. It's an open secret that the Inn is being looked at hungrily, and that some of the less ethical refugees are fashioning shivs from sharp stones.

 

As disturbing was the recent discovery of Dopplegangers sheltering with the refugees. Mistakenly taking the faces of those that had already died, two of these creatures were found prowling amidst the refugees; for protection or as predators, has yet to be decided. They were quickly run off, but no one seems sure that they haven't come back.. or there aren't more here already...

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The grass stew is gone; the field greens picked clean. Three children and an old grandfather died this week. A burial ground for the starved has begun in the fields near the Inn. It is marked only by mounds of earth, and sobbing. At night, the dogs root through the shallow graves looking for food. They should be chased off.. but none dare the dark to do so.

 

Of the thefts in Pinedale, food is first, but closely afterwards are daggers. A leader has arisen among the hungry, a man called Rustav. Rustav is quietly preaching that there is no succor left in Pinedale and that they must take what they can and flee for Vlean. It is only Vlean which has ever showed any sense of wanting the Freelanders, it is to Vlean they will go.

 

Word has stopped coming into Pinedale, as have any further refugees. The night is alive with stalking figures, though no more attacks have come. What are they planning?

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..And one night, they're gone. Armed with torches, shivs, and crude spears, the Freelands refugees pack up what they've scrounged or stolen, make their goodbyes, and set out to Vlean. They leave their dead behind, in shallow graves. They leave their monument of stones behind. And for all those that helped them, tokens are left: A ribbon tied to a door handle, thanks carved into a tree, a braided lock of hair left at the cabin door.

 

Drawn in the dust before the inn, they leave a crude map of the route they plan to take. Should any wish to follow.. or should they never reach their destination. Lord Archibald sends some of his retainers to escort them, but with orders not to return to the Freelands until he sends for them. His reasons are his own, but it nevertheless becomes a popular matter of gossip and conjecture.

 

A quiet tension comes to Pinedale, after Rustav leads the rest away. The trails are empty again. The days have lost their endless chattering. And the nights have lost their extra campfires and sentries.

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These days in Pinedale, everyone stays on a trail and never walks alone. These days, no one speaks above a whisper for fear of being noticed. These days in Pinedale, fear and hunger rule. There's no pride, no defiance, no strength left in Pinedale.

 

And at night, the doors are barred, locked, and barricaded. Windows have been boarded up. And very few can sleep.

 

With no news coming in any longer, conjecture and imagination have turned into bitter poisons. And these rumors are only fueled by the way the Eldirloch churns at night. In the morning, dead fish people are scattered along the beaches, their gills leaking a foul puss. The trees along the shore have begun to wilt, their leaves growing black and dropping to the forest floor.

 

And worse, fresh tracks are openly left in the dusty trails every night. The "Dark Elves" have been keeping a close eye on the town at night.

 

The inevitable answer is chilling: Pinedale isn't being spared, Pinedale has not been forgotten. It's being kept.

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They're seen now from a distance, scouting the edges of town during the early and late hours of the day. These 'black elves', with their speechless hate, are tracking the residents of Pinedale carefully. Perhaps like shepherds, perhaps like wolves. In either case, we're the sheep.

 

At night, they walk unseen. Only the tracks of their booted feet are found in the morning's grey light. And the white hand prints.

 

Outlying farms have been burned. Outlying fields have been salted. Important bridges are watched. No news or provisions have reached Pinedale in months. Stored food is running out, and very few are willing to go hunting for game.

 

Trees bordering the Eldirloch have begun toppling into the water, their dead trunks are found rotted from within. No new fish people have been found washed up on shore.. perhaps there's none left now? A vile mist can be seen hanging low over its flat surface at times. It no longer has any reflections to offer.

 

There's a building sense that something is coming. A confrontation. A reckoning. Something.

 

And it's coming soon.

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With the beginning of a new year, the farmers and workers of Pinedale have begun taking stock of their new situation. Mothers and fathers are passing the story on to their children, orphans are carving their experiences into rocks and tree trunks, and merchants are gathering and repeating these tales along their new routes.

 

How a war was fought in the Freelands.

 

The name of Night's Children has become well known. How these Black Elves came from the ruins beneath the lake, driven forward by their dark fae master, and laid waste to the Freelands. The murderous ritual that destroyed Lootsville forever, and turned it into cursed ground. The burning of farm fields and attacks on refugees. The destruction of every hamlet and village in the Freelands.

 

Save one.

 

In Pinedale, there were heroes to fight back and protect refugees. Good men were lost to this fight: Xavius the Innkeep fled with his wife amidst other refugees -- their fate unknown. Lord Archibald, long time friend of Pinedale, was mercilessly cut down during a daylight siege. One of Archibald's sons was killed -- though the stories on what exactly happened and who was involved were too incredible to believe. Vergil, a fighter for the band of heroes known as Mystic Shadow betrayed his compatriots and sided with the things in the night. A long time champion of Pinedale, Nai, has gone missing. But through these sacrifices (and despite these tragic losses), Pinedale remains.

 

In the wake of this disaster, Pinedale has gained a new sense of prominence in the Freelands. The only town left untouched, trade routes and messengers have rerouted all their travels to pass through Pinedale. This has led to a boom in the local economy, as these travellers stay at the only Inn there is. As they have bought food from the only farm fields left. As they have sold their wares at the only established place of commerce in all the Freelands. New heroes and adventurers have begun moving into the de-facto "capital" of the Freelands, and refugees from other destroyed towns have begun moving into farmlands and forests surrounding Pinedale as well. Lord Archibald's heir, Lord Martin -- a gruff and martial man -- has begun re-establishing the Henderson name as well, and has been sending and receiving many messengers from the outer world of late.

 

With coin and travellers, has come gossip and news. As the great nations of the world were sealing off the Freelands, a peace was struck between Vlean and Civen. After many years of endless war, a fragile truce has been brokered by the Elves. Family lines, long separated by the rebellion, have begun reconnecting. Rumors of the Guild working to establish permanent trade relations with the longtime enemies have surfaced. There have been sightings of Elvish rangers in Freeland forests working to ensure the peace between these two bitter enemies remains enforced. And there are rumors that the residents of Pinedale may, perhaps, embrace the notions of law and government at last.

 

As if awaking out of a dream, Pinedale has defeated the ancient evils to find that in the meantime, the world has changed. Quietly, everyone wonders the same thing: What happens next?

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The freelands continue to rebuild, though the process is tenuous at best. Large numbers of refugees from the Scorching of the Freelands at the hands of the Night's Children refuse to return to the ruins of their homes, the Elemental factions hold major roads and bridges and tear through any belongings that might aid them in their hunt, and with winter beginning to close in the majority of the Freelands lies empty.

 

Pinedale, alone, stands fast. The only town. The only population center. The only heroes. The last, best hope to see the day through.

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With the arrival of spring, despite the numerous rains and the accompanying army of insects they produce trade and commerce one again returns to Pinedale, with merchant caravans plying their trade between the nations of Novitas using the Freelands as their highway to foreign lands, free of tariff and taxes. With the caravans and their guards comes gossip and news, some of the highlights talked about in the inn are:

 

  • Reports of food riots in the Civen town of Chade, river traffic was late and the grain stores were exhausted, troops were dispatched from Narrows Gate to restore order and guard relief stores.
  • The Prince of Anthatal, son of the Queen, has announced his engagement to Lady Airedhiel of Vilyatil, and all of Evenandra is celebrating the news.
  • The Dell has been called in the tribe-lands! Part great party, part political maneuvering, Dellins all across Novitas are returning for the great gathering. Disturbing news that large numbers of Warcallers are emerging , rallying all to their banners- is there a war chief strong enough to unite the tribes once again?
  • A great slave galley convoy bound for Gersh has run aground off the cost of the Great Forest in a storm. Hundreds of corpses washing up on the shores of the Elven kingdom, but hundreds of others, slaves and slavers alike were saved. The Slavers, most of them Snow Goblins, have been detained and are awaiting transport to return them to their homes, the slaves, by Elven law, have been freed and after they have recuperated form their ordeal will be escorted to Terra or the Freelands.
  • The Freelands stink with Fay! You cant stake two steps without tripping over a pixie or bantering with a brownie. Not to mention the dam bogerts and worse at night!
  • The celebration of the great Victory of the Terrin people over some unnamed enemy is finally winding down! No one can throw a celebration like the Earthkin, I think I'm still drunk and I left the Kingdom 3 weeks ago!
  • A great earthquake has hit the Vlenoan town of Norgard over the winter, destroying much of the town. Many who did survive the quake perished in the cold and snow of starvation and exposure before any word or relief could arrive. The Church of Vlen has called a national day of fasting and Prayer in remembrance of the victims of Norgard.

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News and rumor continue to flow into the inn, some of recent note are:

 

Gersh has issued a formal request to the Great Forest to return the "property" that washed up on their shores recently. This has been rejected out of hand by the elders and rumor has it that there is a large Snow Goblin army moving toward the border of the Great Forest to "better protect our southern border and improve the readiness of our solders by conducting training exercises with some of the armies of the lesser houses."

 

 

The Dell is just getting into full swing, but there are still tribesmen gathering. It is said that a young warlord is attempting to gather the tribes under his banner, such as in the days of old, but is meeting some resistance. It is said that he already has 5000 blades at his command many wearing the face paint of Grak. It is said that the counsel that keeps the dell is not pleased by this perceived threat to the purpose of the dell.

 

 

Trade goods are beginning to flow freely again from Terra, after shortages over the last couple of years.

 

 

 

Local farmers report strange men about some of the outlying homesteads, signs of camps, remains of stolen or wild animals taken as food in the deep woods.

 

 

 

The fields and orchards of Evenandra are overflowing, it looks to be a banner year of crops for the High Elves.

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With the snows of winter a long memory, news has flowed into Pinedale from all corners of Novitas, filling the inn with fresh rumors.

 

While he Septons of Evenandra were able to negotiate an end to the open fighting around Hallenton tension remains high, with regular skirmishes being fought between the border patrols. Funerals for the fallen on both sides are now a regular occurrence.

 

The border of Gersh, while never inviting nor pleasant to outsiders has been nearly sealed off to all outsiders. While no one talking knows exactly why rumors abound ranging from the Fissure melting and falling into the sea to a virtual decapitating of several of the major houses within Gersh, their elders falling dead for no apparent reason, a red rose appearing in the ground where they fell. Stories of armies on the move, battles fought continue to trickle of the snow kingdom however.

 

There has been no news from Forrester’s Reach since its fall to the Dellin Horde. The rest of the Freelands are preparing as best they can for war, forming Committees of Safety within their villages to organize militias, store supplies and make defenses. These committees have almost become a de facto government within the communities they represent, made up of prominent townsfolk, merchants and ex adventurers. Messages from Mountain View and Elfmeet report some limited fighting with patrols and raids near their communities already, and all feel it’s a matter of time before the horde moves south, deeper into the Freelands.

 

 

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