Flowers: The Hidden Path (The Stream)t is a day just like any other day. The sun seems to be shining a little brighter, the trees seem a bit greener. It is nearing the end of spring, after all, and every day seems longer and warmer. You have chosen today to escape your studies and spend the day outside, soaking in the good weather. The last few days have been rainy, and it is a relief to be outside. As usual, your feet lead you towards the river, to see what eggs are available.
The river is shining in the sunlight today, and several students are sitting on its bank, looking at the eggs floating by. You contemplate joining them, perhaps dipping your feet into the waters, but decide not to. You continue on, past the river, interested in some odd looking flowers. They seem to be different from others around the castle, their colors more brilliant. You are now some way from the river, and your curiosity is quite piqued.
The flower nearest to you is a vivid orange, with many pink dots near the center. You bend down to smell it, and recognize it from southern lands. What is it doing this far north? It is surely no coincidence that this flower is so close to the castle. You walk on, pondering the plants, when you notice a trail heading off into the forest. The path is almost completely covered by branches and grass, and only someone looking at the flowers near it would have noticed it.
You are never one to pass up on an adventure, so you proceed into the woods and begin to follow the path. The shade from the trees hides you from the sun, and you get ready for a long trek. Instead, the path quickly widens and ends abruptly in a clearing. You had no idea this place was so close to the river, and wonder how many others know of its existence.
The clearing is fairly small, and is bursting with life. Vines, flowers, and all manner of exotic grasses grow here, a sight you would have thought impossible. In the center of the clearing a large tree sits, its trunk incredibly thick. It is old and twisted with age, but its branches still hold many green leaves. The large branches bend towards the earth, and twist together in such a way that they form a living wall. Birds chatter from the top of the tree, busy building nests and preparing for summer. You do nothing but stand still for a moment, trying to understand how this location came to exist.
Soon, having taken in enough sights, you hurry forward along a well worn path towards the tree, wondering what is encompassed within. You have no difficulty pushing branches aside, and you quickly duck inside. The first thing you notice is the smell: a fragrant scent of a thousand flowers. The floor seems to be made entirely of them, a soft, beautiful carpet. You see roses from Synara, and the ice blue violets from the far north. Out of the earth grow tree limbs, bent in such ways as to form tables and chairs. It seems to be a place made for many people, but you see only one person.
Against the huge trunk of the tree is sitting a young man. He is wearing dark green robes that hint he is a healer. He was playing a soft tune on a flute, but broke off when you entered. Now he rises to his feet, a smile coming easily to his face.
"Hello. I don't think I know you," he says, approaching you and holding out a hand. His hand has many calluses; he clearly works hard. "No, I don't think I know you either," you say, and introduce yourself. "I was just taking a walk, when I noticed this path..." the youth shakes his head, sending brown hair into his face. "I don't think so. No one notices the path without first seeing the flowers. You did see them, right?" You nod, wondering why that is important. "Anyone who is interested in plants is drawn here," the healer continues. "You've found the Herbalist Guild's meeting place." You did not know such a guild even existed, but are excited nonetheless. "My name's Jarald," the young man says. "If you'd like, you can join this guild. There are of course a few requirements first. Do you want to join?"
Flowers: The Hidden Path (The Stream)"It's important that you know what our guild stands for," Jarald replies. "To prove your dedication and desire to belong to this guild, there a few tasks you must accomplish first.
To begin with, bring us three eggs: a vosmari, a moss snail, and a vasant beetle. These creatures have special powers that allow us to heal more effectively. After you have brought these three companions here, we can discuss the second requirement."
"Hello again," Jarald says to you from his seat on a wooden chair. "I see you don't have the three creatures we agreed upon. Have you forgotten what they were? I require a vosmari egg, a moss snail egg, and a vasant beetle egg. I shall see you again when you bring me all three."
Flowers: The Hidden Path (The Stream)"Excellent," Breyion says. "all you must do to join now is pay a small sum. This sum runs a small group of healers who travel, and give out their talents for free. Many villagers rely on them." You nod, liking the sound of this new guild. "How much gold must I pay?" Jarold replies: "Ten thousand gold." Thinking that that is hardly a small sum, you wonder whether or not it is worth it.
"I currently lack the funds," you say to Jarald and Breyion. "I will return when I have the gold. Ten thousand, wasn't it?"
You place the pile of money on the table. Jarald turns and opens a small, cleverly hidden door in the tree and places the gold inside. "As a new member of the guild," Jarald says, "you are free to come to this place whenever you chose. If you have any need of healing, either Breyion or I can attend to it for free. Likewise, if you wish for more training, I would be happy to teach you. We also have our own shop, which you may care to visit." Breyion approaches you and presses a small wooden necklace in your hand. "By this sign, we know another from this guild," she says, and with one last smile, ducks beneath the wall of vines and is gone. When you turn back, Jarald has stood up. "Welcome to the Herbalist's Guild," he says, and departs.