GM: A calming breeze blows gently over you as Whiteflower goes to sleep. Overhead the stars twinkle, occasionally being obscured behind a thin cloud. You watch and listen to the grass rustle softly. The only disruption from the peacefulness comes from the reappearance of the prairie dog who walks up to your knapsack with only a slightest skittishness. He sniffs through it, bypassing the stinky cheese and going straight for the berries, which he begins to gnaw on with a few clicks and chitters.
Your shift goes uneventfully. Your sister takes over the watch and you drift off to sleep, the prairie dog making a bed within your knapsack.
Sometime during the night you wake and see that Whiteflower had fallen asleep on watch. The prairie dog leans over her head preening her hair.
With the stealth of a pirate ninja, the Elder from your village walks up to the circle of your camp site directly opposite you and looks down surveying the scene. The prairie dog looks up and chitters pleasantly at the figure.
No surprise or fear fills you with the sudden appearance and you sit up lazily, wiping the sleep from your eyes.
Slowly the first rays of daylight begin to make their appearance in the sky.
The Elder spreads his hands. To his left a sprig sprouts from the ground and grows to a tall majestic oak. To his right you see a hawk soaring high above the earth, swooping with the currents. Beside the oak a raging fire roars, consuming the grass and blackening the earth. Next to the vision of the hawk a swift river flows etching its mark in the earth as its surface glistens in the growing daylight.
The Elder looks at you and says “Choose”.
Tok: I choose the right hand, the hawk, and the river. As an artist I like how it etches its mark, water is powerful and cleansing. I stay away from the fire.
GM: With a wave of his hand, the visions are gone. The prairie dog sniffs. Another wave of his hand and a square area of ground is cleared of grass, leaving a bare area. He kneels on this and pulls a few leaves from his satchel by his side and lays them on the ground. Then he pulls a small variety of food items and sits these on the leaves, as if preparing a meager meal.
From his side he takes a small rattle in hand. Shaking the rattle he begins to extol the virtues of the water and air, beseeching the gods of both to come partake of the feast he has prepared. For a full 10 minutes he shakes and sings. Then a large splash and a screech are heard upon the wind.
To the left of the Elder a large carp appears, swimming in midair, circling and swimming in figure eights. From high above a man-sized hawk descents swiftly and lands with a powerful flurry of wings and wind.
A greetings of praise and thanks issues forth from the Elder’s mouth.
“This is one of those who will carry on the lineage, and the one who will intercede for those are are left” he says, motioning to you. “The two of you he favors. Which of you favors him?”
“This one has not seen what lies within the sky and beyond,” the hawk says with a howl, much like that heard during a summer storm. “My words would only confuse him.”
“I will take him,” the carp says with the sound of a distant roar. “Listen to my song, son of Adam.” Continuing his swimming in circles, he begins to sing a lengthy song of words, sounds, and images. As he sings the world fades from sight and thought and your identity is lost within a raging river, a calm pond, a trickling brook. The song comes to an end. “Create for yourself a rattle made of a dried gourd, the pebbles of a stream, and sealed with clay from a river bed. Sing my song and give offerings, and my children will come to you.”
“Tok, the day has come. We must go,” says Whiteflower, leaning above you and nudging your shoulder with her foot. “Wake up, let’s move.”
The prairie dog chitters excitedly.
Tok: “Right on.” I say to the Prairie dog. I’ll get up and quickly gather my things so that we can set off. I’ll tell PD that we have to go with speed, and that I’ll talk with him later. We’ll leave for our village. We’ll save our brother, and then I need to find a dried gourd!
GM: If you look at the map, a straight line will take you through part of the forest. Will you do that, or will you take the round-about way?
Tok: How are we on time, if we go the roundabout way will we get there in time? If so we’ll go that way, but if time seems like an issue we’ll try cutting through the forest.
GM: You skirt around the forest, keeping your pace up throughout the day. You arrive to the outskirts of the village at dusk.
The scene in front of you is one of carnage. Most of the huts have been burnt to the ground, or trampled. Of the approximately 30 huts that there were, only a handful remain standing. A few solitary figures move through the wreckage, picking up the broken pieces.
Tok: Our first priority is to find Strongleaf to see if he is still alive so we can give him the medicine. We’ll be looking for the Elder and our family as those seem the most likely places he might be.