Foenara: In Need of Ink (The Keep)faint buzzing comes from nearby, and you jerk out of your restful daze on the Keep's lawns. There's no way you're going to be caught unaware by another of those annoying wasps Talyn saw fit to mail to everybody.
As you sit up, you realize the buzzing isn't from wasps at all, but is coming from a din of voices near one of the Keep's towers. Curious, you get to your feet and head toward the sound, making out distinct voices as you do.
"It's gotta be the word 'here.'"
"No, it's clearly 'help'. It's Talyn, after all. Maybe he's in jail again."
"Why is the ink green?"
As you join the crowd, you make out what everyone is staring at. It's another letter from Talyn - but this one is completely illegible. It looks like he dunked it underwater before sending it. All you can make out are a few words, especially the phrase "I hate boats" in the beginning, and the second paragraph down does indeed look like he might be asking for help. Other than that you can't make heads or tails of what he wrote. You wonder if he tried to send this letter in a bottle. Maybe he's across the ocean.
The crowd hushes as Master Belmos wades through the throng of people, and you respectfully take a few steps back. The master has a resigned look on his face, and he sighs when he sees the note.
"I can restore this," he said. "But I'll need help. Ink will be required - stop by my office at the Keep with an ice kraken hatchling or an ice octopus hatchling. It may take a few tries, but soon enough I'm sure I'll have a solution."
Once you arrive in Master Belmos' office, you notice that several other students have gathered around already. Everyone has a jar or a tank with an ice kraken or ice octopus hatchling in it and you realise you should've brought one along as well. Quickly you scatter to remedy the situation.
Once you arrive in Master Belmos' office, you notice that several other students seem to have beaten you here. Master Belmos has a bottle of ink on the side of his desk, next to a fish tank where several tiny ice octopus hatchlings swim with contentment. Carefully, he tilts the bottle over, splashing some of the ink on the parchment containing Talyn's letter. When it fades, the writing is just as unreadable as before.
Master Belmos frowns, then looks up and notices you. "Ah, another young creature - excellent. May I?"
You hold out the small jar with your hatchling, and Master Belmos sticks in a thumb, the small creature wrapping its tentacles around it. Before he can place it in the tank, it lets loose a squirt of ink, perhaps in protest to leaving your side, and it hits the parchment dead center.
You freeze, about to stammer an apology, when words begin forming on the letter. Master Belmos smiles and extends his hand, your ice octopus plopping back into your jar with a pleased chitter.
"Well then," Master Belmos says. "Let us see what Talyn has sent us this time."
He urges people to step closer.
Foenara: Into the West (The Keep)Having successfully revealed the contents of the note Master Belmos holds up the parchament and starts reading aloud what's written on it.
I HATE BOATS! I had to cross an ocean to get to a place called Foenara, and man was it awful. I felt so sick the whole time. It was just like the time I tried to learn to fly, and I spent the day dizzy. I just can't deal with riding on things. I got better when I got to Foenara, though. It's super pretty here, and they have a special kind of ocean - a grass ocean!
But maybe you'll get to see it for yourself. I need help. So, listen, there's this weird thing where apparently a bunch of people from Alveus - yeah, those guys that don't like us much - decided to settle in Foenara since, you know, no food and all from the mage wars. They even decided to smuggle food and stuff back to Alveus. Well, the Foenarans sure weren't happy about that. Apparently they've been trying to kick these guys out forever, but they won't leave.
Anyway, recently some guy named Jonthan gave the Alveans an ultimatum. A bunch of smugglers stole something precious from the Foenarans a while ago, which messed up the climate somehow. Maybe that's why its so hot here. Anyway, I'm not too clear on what it is, but they say if the Alvean settlers give it back, Foenara will be more "open to talks" about the settlers staying. Otherwise, they're gonna kick the Alveans right out with soldiers and everything!
I sure don't want to see a war the first time I get here! I told the Alvean settlers I'd help them find the things, since they said whatever it was that got stolen was dropped in the grass forest a long time ago, because the smugglers didn't think it was valuable. It wasn't food, I guess.
Anyway, I kinda told them magi could fly and search through the forest easier than a guy on foot. But... uh... I'm not the best flyer, really. But I'm sure you guys back at the Keep are!
So what do ya say? Bring on over some pegasi, hippogryphs, or anything that can fly, and search through the grass forest for some treasure! Foenara is just past Alveus, over the ocean! Meet me at the encampment, a day's flight from the port!
"Well," Master Belmos says, rubbing his forehead as though he's getting a headache. "I will certainly make an announcement to the Keep. And if you want to head out to Foenara, I'm sure you'll have plenty of company. Going sooner is probably better than later. I'd rather Talyn not be our only representative in a case like this."
"Be sure to take a steed that can carry you and is fit enough to stay airborne as long as is needed. I have a feeling this is going to take a while. A gryphon, pegasus, manticore, hippogryph, enox, or torveus dragon would suffice."
You are eager to get on the journey but still lack a creature that could carry you all the way. You need something big and strong to take you there, like an adult gryphon, pegasus, manticore, hippogryph, enox, or torveus dragon.
Eagerly you get your companion creature ready, take one last glance at the Keep and start heading west to the new exiting lands.
Foenara: A Token of Good Will (Grass Forest)The journey to Foenara is far, and made longer by the frequent stops you have to make to let your flying companion rest. After the frigid air over the mountains you are glad to reach Silva Forest, but after a while, the monotonous green of the tree tops under you make your eyes droop from boredom. Soon enough you recognize the orderly city states of Alveus below you. Though you know magi are no longer banned from this area, you keep away from the more densely populated areas. The few people you do meet watch you suspiciously upon noticing your companion, but they leave you in peace.
You land at the coast, the ocean stretching ahead on to the horizon, and purchase passage to Foenara from one of the small towns dotting the coastline. The ship is small and crowded, but you're relieved to see others from the Keep on board. Your creatures keep each other company, either flying above the ship or relaxing on deck.
Two days later, as the air around you grows hotter and more humid, you spot land on the horizon, which soon turns into a seemingly endless line of green. You entertain the idea of taking off without waiting for the ship to port, but considering Talyn's letter mentioned Foenarans not appreciating people entering their land without permission, you wait and go through legitimately. After registering with the port authorities and paying a small fee for a passport, you can finally continue on your journey. As you fly inland, signs of inhabitation quickly fall behind and all you can see are endless, undulating waves of grass under you. Here and there, the grass is broken by large swathes of brown, the vegetation looking almost burnt, and the larger patches have no grass left in the middle. You wonder if these are signs of the destruction the Alveans supposedly brought to the region.
The sky is cloudless and while the wind at this height keeps you cool, you soon feel the beginning of sunburn on your skin where it isn't protected by clothing. Luckily, you then spot the encampment Talyn spoke of and you guide your mount into a gentle descend that lets you have a good look at the city. Dirt roads wind in circles, and the houses are constructed of the giant grass stalks of the region, lashed together. You do notice, with a tightening of your stomach, that a short walk away are rows of orderly tents. Those must be the Foenaran soldiers.
Talyn isn't hard to find. His makeshift tent, constructed in a style you recognize from your lessons, sticks out like a sore thumb. Pegasi, hippogryphs, and gryphons surround it, most of them asleep. You land a short way off, your mount's feet throwing up dust as they hit the ground with a thump. Kepper, Talyn's Rekel companion, raises her head from where she was lying in the shadow and gives a short bark. Her owner steps out of the tent, squinting at you while shading his eyes from the glare of the sun with his hand.
"Did ya find any...Oh, a new arrival!" Talyn grins. "Great! Go look for stuff!"
You just stare at him.
"Er, right. Maybe you should talk to Litha." He runs a hand through his hair, wiping away sweat. "She's at the tent closest to where the grass ocean starts. She'll tell you a little more about what we're looking for. Thanks for coming to help!" He beams. "So many people have already signed up! I'm sure we'll help these two groups reach an agreement! I would search too, but I'd probably just get dizzy and puke if I tried to fly."
Resisting the urge to roll your eyes, you head toward the area Talyn pointed out. As you approach the grass tent, which is large enough to rise above the surrounding huts, you can hear loud voices. In front of the tent, a group of men and women wearing colorful woven cloth stand, facing another group of people who are clearly recognizable as soldiers by their attire. Their leader, a man with a face darkly tanned by the sun where it isn't covered by a short beard, is talking angrily to a woman sporting a long, grey braid.
"This is taking too long, Litha! More and more of the grass forest gets burned to crisp in this sun. There is no telling how long it can endure until permanent damage is done. Your people caused this and you promised you would fix it. I have yet to see any progress on that. If you destroy our livelihood with your careless ways, I promise there will be an accounting!"
"I know it has taken some time, Jonthan," the woman replies. She is talking quietly, far less agitated than the Foenaran soldier, but there is a firmness in her voice that tells you she will not be browbeaten by his boisterous ways. "We will do what we can to undo the damage, you have my word for that. But you cannot hold everyone here accountable for what one person did. Our livelihood is as much in danger as yours. We should be working together, not throw blame at each other."
Jonthan is just about to reply when you step up to them. "Excuse me," you say, as the heads of everyone turn your way. The soldier looks angry at the interruption while there is a curious look on the face of Litha. "If I may, I would like to offer a token of goodwill on behalf of the Alveans. I have companions that can make plants revive and grow strong again. They won't be able to heal the whole grass forest on their own, and it will only help so much if the problem isn't solved at its root, but it will give all of us time to find a permanent solution."
Litha's grateful look tells you that she is happy to accept any help to diffuse the situation. The soldier looks doubtful, but then he gives a gruff nod and gestures toward the grass forest. "There is a small patch of burnt grass only a few minutes from here. If you can indeed do what you say, you can prove it there."
You and Litha follow Jonthan toward the place he indicated. While you walk you carefully pull out your Vasant Beetles from where they are hiding inside your clothes. When you arrive at the place, you judge its size. "I think a dozen adults should be enough for an area this size. Everyone step back, please!"
How embarrassing! It seems like some of your vasant beetles are hiding in your clothes so well that you can't find enough of them to heal the burned area. You swiftly apologise and promise to be back in a minute. You hurry off to see if the rest of your beetles are within your travel pack or if you need to actually get some new ones to have a full dozen of adult vasant beetles.
Your vasant beetles scuttle out and across the burnt area, starting to work their magic on the plants. Soon, new shoots of grass break from the cracked soil, tiny at first but quickly growing until they reach far above your heads. After half an hour, you can barely see where the dead grass was, covered as it is by new growth. The vasant beetles crawl back to you and as you put them them under your clothes again, you can feel their exhaustion. It has taken a lot of power out of the insects to regrow that patch of grass.
Jonthan looks impressed, although he seems reluctant to show it. "I guess you were as good as your word," he says at last. "Very well. I will accept that token of goodwill and give you and your brothers and sisters from the Keep time to solve the problem." He turns to Litha. "But don't think we will wait forever. I doubt even the magi can keep the destruction at bay indefinitely."
As Jonthan and his soldiers return to the military camp, you and Litha go back to the big grass tent.
Foenara: Seeds of Peace (Grass Forest)"Thank you," Litha tells you, as you both sit down on mats laid out on the floor of the big grass tent, her gratitude palpable. "If you hadn't shown up to smooth things over, I don't know if I could have calmed him down this time. Not that I don't understand his anger, mind you. Now, I haven't seen you around before. Do you know what happened?"
You shake your head. "Talyn told me you'd let me know what to do."
"Blasted Talyn, he's so disorganized… but without him, none of you would even be here, so there is that at least. We Alveans began to settle here a long time ago. The grass ocean is enormous, and food is easy to grow here as the soil is lush and fertile. We made a living for ourselves, and sent food home to our families, who were suffering after the mage wars." You shift your weight uncomfortably. "Yes, we know it wasn't your fault. We aren't like those from the mainland. The point is, we've been here for generations. At first the Foenarans were welcoming. We even were about to sign a treaty with them. But then a new queen rose to the throne and their attitude changed. They pushed for us to leave, although we still had hopes for a diplomatic solution. Then, a few months, ago, the incident happened."
She sighs. "We need food, after all, and want to keep in contact with friends from home, but the Foenarans were making things difficult. So some of us took up smuggling. A short while ago, an enterprising young person saw fit to enter the capital, Turril, and steal what she thought was a special kind of seed the Foenarans use to grow larger plants."
You tilt your head.
"As you might have already guessed, they weren't seeds - or if they were, no seed like she'd known. She fled, but the Foenarans pursued her, and the chest of seeds was lost, its contents scattered across the grass. Ever since, the government has been pushing hard to be rid of us."
She frowns, her gaze distant. You break the silence. "So what am I looking for?"
"Like I said, they weren't seeds. They're eggs. No Alvean would know anything of magical creature eggs, and we don't know what would hatch from them. But if we find them and give them back, they will let us stay, or at least be open to discussion. So we're asking you, Talyn, and any other magi who have expertise in these things, to search for these small silver eggs. I would steer clear of the Foenarans for now; you might have calmed Jonthan down for the moment with your display, but there is no telling how long his newly found patience will last. When you find any eggs, bring them to Talyn. He's going to orchestrate the exchange with Jonthan. Once we have found enough, hopefully we can put this foolishness behind us."
You nod and get up from the woven mat you were sitting on. "Alright then, I will go search for those eggs. Let's hope they aren't too difficult to find."
Litha gets up as well and shakes your hand. "Thank you and good luck!"
Foenara: Egg in the Haystack (Grass Forest)You and your steed are exhausted from the day's search. You decide to get some well deserved rest and continue the search tomorrow.
As you fly over the undulating grasses, you keep your eyes on the ground, constantly scanning the long stalks for a sign of the treasure. Since you don't know if anything dangerous lives in this region, you also keep several protective spells at the ready. As the day goes on, you grow tired, and the wingbeats of your companion grow heavy with fatigue. You're just about to turn back to camp when you finally spot something odd - a shimmering shell, nestled in the grass.
It's an egg!
You land and pick up the egg, noting how warm it feels. What will you do?
Take the egg to Talyn
Take the egg to Jonthan
Keep the egg yourself
Foenara: Take the egg to Talyn (Grass Forest)You approach Talyn who eagerly looks up at you. He notices you don't have the egg, and rushes you back to find one.
You decide to bring the egg to Talyn. No use risking angering anyone.
"Thanks!" Talyn says, taking the egg. He puts it in a basket near his desk, Kepper sniffing it with interest. "Here, for your trouble, I found another cool egg in the area. I hope you like it!"
Foenara: Take the egg to Jonthan (Grass Forest)You don't have an egg you could bring to Jonthan so you decide not to bother the soldiers.
You decide to bring the egg straight to Jonthan at the encampment. He's going to get it anyway, and Talyn is disorganized and will probably lose it.
Your heart pounds, but you drive on anyway. You hover for a while over the Foenaran encampment, looking for a good spot to land. A few people watch your progress, and finally you spiral downward to an area of grass trampled flat by the feet of many soldiers.
"You there!" someone shouts. You whirl, to see the scowling face of a man in a green uniform. "What are you doing here?"
Hand shaking, you hold out the egg.
"Ah ha!" his scowl fades. "For once, an honest person. Perhaps those Alveans will keep their word after all. Thank you." He takes the egg, and reaches into his pocket. "Here. For your trouble." He hands you an egg. "These eggs you’re looking for are necessary to keep the climate here stable. Once we hatch them, you'll see what I mean."
Foenara: Keep the Egg (Grass Forest)You don't have an egg you could keep. The heat must've messed with your head. You decide to take a little break and get some water.
You decide to keep the egg yourself. You've never seen an egg like this before, and you can always find more for Talyn some other time.
Foenara: Rainmaker (Grass Forest)The dry heat is unrelenting, and sweat drips down the back of your robes. You long for the relief of some shade. Insects, invisible in the tall grass, drone and drown out the sound of the gathering crowd. Litha and her fellow Alveans, along with many magi you recognize from the Keep, have grouped together under the hot sun, warily watching Jonthan and the Foenaran soldiers. The two groups stand separated by a patch of grass newly grown by the work of the vasant beetles.
Jonthan carries a chest, in which you see dozens and dozens of the eggs you have spent the past weeks searching for.
"Time to see if your efforts have paid off, mages," Litha whispers. Jonthan walks forward and begins to set the eggs down in the patch of fresh grass while your heart begins to pound. You and so many at the Keep spent so much time searching for them. Surely they were still alive.
Jonthan takes a few steps back. The eggs gleam like silver coins in the grass, and the insects keep droning on.
At first you think it might just be wishful thinking, or a trick of the hazy heat. But no, one of the eggs has cracked, and mist drifts out of the shell.
Not just mist. You hold your breath, watching as the water vapor, obvious in the dry air, curls like steam up into the sky. As it rises, it grows more obvious, paler and fluffier. A tiny cloud, with the form of an animal--maybe a horse, maybe a dragon, you aren't sure.
Everyone, Alveans and Foenarans alike, is silent as the rest of the eggs begin to hatch. One by one, the tiny cloud-like dragons ascend into the blue sky and begin to spread out, until the sky is covered by tiny marshmallow puffs of cloud.
Then you sense their magic, and a wall of larger clouds comes into view over the horizon. Now even the insects have gone silent.
Soon, a chill wind kicks up as the sky goes from blue to slate gray, banishing the dry heat of the grass forest. Goosebumps rise on your neck and shoulders as the sun is smothered, and the silence is broken just as a light rain begins to fall.
"So," Jonthan says. "I suppose now talks can continue." He might be smiling, or might be rain carving away the dust and stress on his face. "And thank you, also, to you mages from the Keep. I encourage you to explore our country of Foenara. The grass forest is also yours to explore--I am sure there are more treasures to be found."