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Suwit

Legends of the adventures
By: Raneth

Suwit: That Tale You Never Heard (The Keep)

< cold wind slices through the warm coat you wear, and you pick up your pace. The skies overhead are deep grey and growing darker. You want to get to the meal hall quickly before the weather gets even worse and the rain that's predicted begins.
     
      As you turn the corner around the gardens, though, you hear a soft "psst!"
     
      You pause. It almost sounded like...
     
      "Hey! Hey, over here!"
     
      Thoughts of the warmth of the meal hall and the hot soup within it vanish as Gwendolyn pops out of the bushes, brushing dirt and twigs off her clothes. Her direwolf puppy Pip circles her ankles and wags his tail.
     
      "You don't look busy!" Gwendolyn says. "And Pip and I found something really cool, so if you could help me, I would super appreciate it."
     
      "Oh?" you say. "And this wouldn't be for an assignment, would it?" You remember well the trick she pulled on you before. "I'm not helping you cheat again."
     
      "This has nothing to do with classes!" Gwendolyn says with a dismissive wave. Pip barks an agreement. "It's more just... weird. You've traveled a lot, and seen a lot of strange stuff, right? I figured you would be a good person to ask."
     
      "Ask me what?"
     
      She leans in close, as though about to reveal a secret. The wind whistles as she does. "Do you know the tale of mad professor Suwit?"
     
      You blink. "No. Did you just make that up?"
     
      "No!" Gwendolyn crosses her arms. "Every first year knows it." You certainly hadn't heard about it your first year-then again, in your first year your classmates shared the tale of the bone Direwolf, who's howls could be heard echoing from the Silva forest at midnight on the winter solstice. Some people still believed in it. You supposed every year had their legends and stories.
     
      "Alright," you say. You could at least humor her. "What's the tale of mad professor Suwit?"
     
      "A hundred years ago, Suwit used to teach potion-making." Gwen pitches her voice low, and the dark grey skies and cold breeze raise goosebumps on your skin. "He was famous-or infamous, really-for asking his students to get all kind of weird ingredients. Poisonous mushrooms, stinging nettles, blackberries mashed to look like blood... stuff that no potion book ever called for in a recipe. Even weirder, Suwit never actually used the ingredients in class. A student even searched his office and his laboratory, but the ingredients were never found. It was like they vanished."
     
      "He hardly seems mad, though," you say.
     
      Gwen holds up a finger. "But it got weirder. One day, a student wondered if Suwit was taking all the ingredients somewhere else, doing some dark experiments that he didn't want other magi at the keep knowing about.
     
      Pip whimpers, and Gwendolyn pats his head.
     
      "Suwit lived outside the gates of the Keep, right on the edge of the Silva forest. The student... "
     
      "What was the student's name?" you ask.
     
      Gwendolyn huffs. "It's not important! Anyway, the student told all his friends that he was going to follow Suwit to his house and see what he was doing with all the weird stuff he was collecting. He set out with his loyal companion, a kitsune, one evening after class. It was autumn, and bad weather, just like today."
     
      "And?"
     
      "And he never came back. The student vanished. Suwit claimed he had never seen him. But the student's friend found the kitsune days later... the body drained of blood. And Suwit always said afterward that no one should ever follow him home."
     
      You shiver, and tell yourself it is just the cold. "Creepy story. Would likely be better if you gave the student a name."
     
      "It's not a story!" Gwen points at the bushes she had appeared from, and Pip darts toward it, pointing his nose at a small hole in the hedge. "Follow me. I'll prove that Suwit was real. I found his house!"
     
      You peer at the hole. Humoring Gwen has gotten a little old... and a little scary. But you have to admit you're curious.
     
      "Okay, fine. I'll follow you."
     
      You make a mental note to bring something fierce to defend you-maybe an adult Nandi bear, and nothing would mess with an adult Paervem. "Let me get prepared, and then you can show me this house of yours."
Gwen waves at you frantically but you still have preparations to do. You ought to fetch your adult Nandi Bear and your adult Paervem before getting mixed in Gwen's crazy plans.
All ready and set to go you follow Gwen to the bushes and onto the Silva Forest.

Suwit: Wait, Maybe She's Right (Silva Forest)

You're careful to avoid spiky thorns in the overgrown tunnel Gwen leads you through. At least your paervem is small enough to fit, and your tough nandi bear doesn't seem to mind the scratching briars.
     
      The tunnel leads past the gates and out to a completely overgrown part of the forest. "I thought you said Suwit lived outside Silva," you said.
     
      "It's expanded since then, obviously," Gwen said. At least you can stand here, although there are trees and bushes and high ferns everywhere. Gwen shoves them out of the way, and you continue on.
     
      It seems to materialize out of nowhere, a boxy shape hidden in overgrown grasses. A house, most of the wood rotted and drooping and covered in mold.
     
      "Okay," you say. "But there's no proof that it's..."
     
      Gwendolyn points at a faded brass knocker on the door. You can make out the letters S and T, with enough room in the middle for the uwi.
     
      "Well alright then," you say. "You're right."
     
      "Let's go inside," Gwen says, but her voice wavers. The house is big, but looks ready to collapse at any moment. Not to mention Gwen's story, which may very well actually be true. Who knows what Suwit was doing in there with…what was it, stinging nettles and poisonous mushrooms?
     
      "Alright," you say. "We'll explore a bit each day. If there's anything in there, we'll find it, but let's be careful. I'll have my creatures guard the area. And let's make sure to get out before it gets dark."
     
      "Got it," Gwendolyn says.

Suwit: Break a window into the library (Silva Forest)

You peer through different windows, most of them too dark to see through. But a small light shines from one room, and you use a force of magic to shatter the window that leads to it.
     
      You end up in a room that looks normal. Almost. Shelves are stacked with books, and the light you saw was a faint, glowing stone on a small side table next to a comfortable looking reading chair. It reminds you of the library in the Keep, only on a much, much smaller scale. Even the glowing stone is similar to the ones given to magi students who cant figure out how to call light yet.
     
      Maybe this Professor Suwit wasnt so frightening after all.
     
      Your heart picks up at the pitter-patter of small feet, and you spot a group of amberspice mice heading through a hole in the wall. Just mice. Nothing to worry about.
     
      Youre more curious about the books. Every shelf is coated in a layer of dust, and you blow some away with a gust of wind magic, the dust swirling into the air. Some of the titles look like something youd find the Keep-"Potions and air magic-a bad combination?" and "Migratory patterns of Cervinus Deer."
     
      But on the bottom shelf, you find titles you wouldnt expect most professors would allow. "Poisons-the importance of dosage." "Dangerous plants of Silva." "Creature venoms and applications: From Abeoth frogs to Voltarian Krotalos."
     
      You swallow down fear. Its just old books. Suwit isnt here now to use these books, at least.
     
      Near the end of one shelf, you see something curious-a piece of paper poking out of one book. It may just be a torn page, but you pick it up anyway, blowing dust off the cover of a blank, leather-bound book. Excitement fills you. It looks like a journal.
     
      You open it, and see its hollow. You find a piece of chocolate, somehow preserved, along with one paper that was the piece sticking out. Fingers shaking, you unfold it.
     
      You spot a diagram of a strange machine, and a stick figure with its mouth open in an O like a scream. Then the paper crumbles into dust, leaving just the chocolate.
     
     

Suwit: Break a window to the basement (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
You spot a row of windows just above the ground. Most windows are cracked, and what panes remain are frosted over with ice, despite the day not being cold enough to freeze water. One, however, has lots its pane almost completely, and you loosen it the rest of the way with a hard kick.
     
      Glass shatters inside, and you freeze for a moment. Your nandi bear lifts its head, sniffing the air, then relaxes. It still seems safe.
     
      You're careful as you climb through the newly-created hole. Small white grains of something you can’t identify litter the wooden window pane, and more of it lies on the floor.
     
      Inside, the first thing you notice is the giant wooden machine, like some sort of spinning wheel but with a part clearly meant to crush something. The next thing is the impossibly thick cobwebs, as though a whole family of tarantula-sized webspinning spiders has taken up residence here. Thankfully you don’t see any sign of them, or even a keep spider. Just lots of strange white crystally powder, the cobwebs, the machine itself, and...
     
      You move closer to the corner, where long tube-like poles are propped up away from the light of the sun streaming in the windows. You call up magelight, and then you see how pale and thin they are.
     
      Bones.
     
      You jump back, heart pounding, the story of the vanished student flashing through your mind. Your light wobbles, the light in the room flashing and glinting off the machine. More of them are wedged into the apparatus, in the middle of being crushed, white powder spilling onto the table.
     
      You turn and move back toward the window, ready to leap out. When you look down, you notice something that makes your stomach turn-a group of decessus licking the white powder off the floor.
     
      But one of them looks strange. You lean down, peering at its back. Something is stuck to its matted fur.
     
      It's a small lens, maybe a piece of the machine. You pluck if off the decessus, who is intent on licking the powder off the ground. Tucking the glass into your pocket, you head back outside. You've had enough of this place for the day.
     
     

Suwit: Go through a hole in the side (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
As you walk around the ancient structure, you hear a strange whistling noise, like a creaking moan. Hair standing on end, you trace the source.
     
      Instead of a hungry direwolf, you spot a collapsed piece of wall. A broken tree branch lays on the ground next to it, and a vasant skitters off the rotted wood as you come near. The hole leads straight into the back of the house.
     
      The first thing you notice as you push past cobwebs and moss that hangs off the side of the shattered beams is the smell. It's something musky and damp, with a tinge of coppery spiciness, but definitely not a good smell. At least it isn't the smell of rot, though there is an undercurrent of that scent as you step into the room. Most likely its from the wood of the house itself.
     
      And maybe the kegs that line the walls. This room is filled to the brim with small kegs that look like they should hold beer, much like the kegs at Remy's. But there are no taps installed to serve the drink, if drink is indeed what's inside them.
     
      One barrel has a hole in it, and you see dark stain on the floor beneath it where whatever it was inside had dripped out. The smell grows stronger as you approach, and you call up mage light. The stain is definitely red.
     
      Swallowing hard, you search over the barrels, looking for one you can open. You spot something strange on top of one of them—a small metal object that looks a bit like an animal bone, but sharpened. You pick it up, noting the pointy edge is red.
     
      With a hard jerk of your wrist, you dig the bone into the side of one of the barrels. You expected to cut a small hole, but instead the ancient wood splinters, and the barrel bursts.
     
      Liquid splashes everywhere, and you leap back as blood laps at your feet. It reeks of sweetness and spice, not like blood you've ever smelt, but you're fleeing before you can think, the bone still in your pocket.
     
     

Suwit: Climb up onto the roof (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
The house is so lopsided, you don't think it would be an issue to climb up onto the roof and see if there's a way inside from there. At least then you could get a good vantage point, too, and see if you notice anything odd.
     
      You enlist your Nandi's bears help. Stepping onto the bear's dinner-plate sized paw, you keep your balance as the bear stands up to full height, and from there you carefully jump onto the roof. The wood here is old and damp from rain, and in places the thatch has fallen off or turned green with mold. You're careful to balance your weight as you climb up higher.
     
      The house's place in the woods is so hidden you see little other than tree trunks in the distance, not even this height enough to give you a real view. The Keep isn't even visible through the trees. Why would someone live here, in this isolated space?
     
      A flock of talvars darts by, and darts expertly through a hole in the roof, then back out, landing on the beams and pecking at something. It picks it up, then drops it, tilting its head curiosly before re-joining the flock. You move closer, noticing a square shape. A caramel nut cluster.
     
      Where did it find that? You peer into the tiny, bird-sized hole in the roof. Sheets of paper are strewn all over what looks like an attic. You can spot a few that look like diagrams, and one that is clearly a list, but you can't make out the words. If the papers were ever organized, wind had clearly ruined it. Or maybe the Professor was truly crazy.
     
      As your peer closer, you make out stains on some of the papers, rusty red-brown marks. You could punch a hole in the roof and go see, but decide there are probably better ways to explore.
     
     

Suwit: Use the front door (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
You push open the front door, silently hoping it's locked. It's not.
     
      The wood creaks open, light shining into an entranceway. Thick dusts cakes the floor, and your nose twitches at a strange, sickly-sweet smell that's a mix of wet earth and mold. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, but the candles are melted down into puddles of white goo. Some of it has dripped down onto the floor.
     
      A wooden hutch is against the wall by the door, along with a fallen piece of wood that may once have been a hatrack. Cobwebs trail from the ceiling, and you duck to avoid them. Dust plumes beneath your feet.
     
      You head further into the room. A staircase twirls up to the second floor, but clearly something collapsed further above, as fallen beams and debris block access. Dust motes dance in a sunbeam that comes in from outside, illuminating a table by a door in the corner.
     
      You pull on the door handle, but the knob comes off in your hand, along with something skittering. You shout, shaking your hand, and the centipede falls onto the table and crawls away. It runs over a small drawer on the dusty table.
     
      Being more careful this time, you gingerly grab the drawer's handle. This time it doesn't pop off, and the drawer opens with a creak and a snap of wood on the inside. A small scroll rolls and bumps against the edge of the drawer.
     
      You pick it up to find a drawing of what looks like the human digestive system, as though drawn by a child. But the stomach is clearly outlined.
     
      Disturbed, you look further through the drawer. Other papers are blank, but you do find one last thing—a small vial of liquid with an even smaller bone inside. The vial has a tiny skull and crossbones on it.
     
     

Suwit: Explore the yard (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
You decide to explore the yard itself. Sure, the house might have some information about Professor Suwit, but the yard might hold clues as to what happened to the poor student who disappeared. Not to mention his kitsune...
     
      Hiding a shiver at the thought, you walk toward the house, circling around and picking out the change in growth and grass types, the vegetable marker that delineated what once may have been a well-kept lawn or garden from the uncontrolled growth of the forest.
     
      Most of the yard itself has been overgrown with weeds that you recognize from your botany courses—ragweed, crabgrass, creeping thistles and ivies, and a whole slew of dandelion stalks. But as your steps take you into the backyard, you see a strange plant you've never learned about in class.
     
      It's tall and has thick stalks, and at first you think its bamboo. But the tops of it have long, splaying leaves, and they rattle in the breeze, giving off a strange scent. As you get close, you realize each plant is nearly twice as tall as you are, the height of your Nandi bear.
     
      You move closer, studying the roots of the plant. Long leaves tickle your face. There's no sign of any missing student, not that you expected any. Other than the strange plant, it all seems rather safe and calm. Maybe Gwendolyn was making that part up.
     
      You spot something on the ground, and what you at first think is a rose in the middle of nowhere resolves into a very old piece of candy. How it got here, you have no clue, but you pick it up.
     
      Then hear an unmistakably dangerous growl from within the plants. Something moves, sending the plants rippling like waves in an ocean.
     
      You nandi growls back, a clear warning and growl of caution. Not wasting any time, you run the other way. Maybe Gwendolyn didn't make it up after all.
     
     

Suwit: Tail of the Tale (Silva Forest)

You are too weary to explore more and decide to return the following day.
"So you saw it all, right?" Gwen says, eyes wide. She's been exploring too in her off-time, and now you both are meeting to go over your findings. "You saw the blood in the barrels, and the bones in the basement, and the weird drawings and plants and poison books?"
     
      You nod. Part of you still thinks there could be some other explanation, but you're definitely freaked out enough to believe her. "We should ask someone who may know something."
     
      "But he was a professor like a hundred years ago!" Gwen says. "Who's going to know?"
     
      "Thane, for one," you say. You don't quite feel right bothering the archmage with something like this, though. "Or maybe..."
     
      The bushes rustle, loudly, and both you and Gwen jump in fright. You ready your magic, and your Nandi steps forward.
     
      Then a Keep rat leaps out of the bushes, peering at you. You let out a breath of relief.
     
      "Just a Keep rat, Gwen," you say. But when you turn, she's already gone.
     
      The Keep rat tilts its head, the feather on its metal helmet drooping, then shakes it. You get the message. "She'll be back," you say. "I think."
     
      The rat beckons you, then runs a few feet forward, then beckons you again. You don't recognize this rat, but you know well enough from your studies that keep rats are smart. If it wants you to follow, there's likely a reason. You head after it, back down the path your Nandi following along as well. It pauses for a moment once you reach the house.
     
      "Back here?" you say. You realize, for the first time, the feeling of being watched is gone. "You were the one watching me?" The rat nods and gives you a thumbs-up. Then it beckons you further, back toward the basement.
     
      You swallow hard. There's clearly something weird about this house. But you shove past your fear, following the rat past the strange machine and the bone-like things on the ground. The rat darts into a hole in the wall, one far too small for you to fit. You wait, tapping your foot, until you hear a scuffling, dragging noise.
     
      Your heart leaps into your throat, and then the rat emergies, carrying a book like the one you saw in the library. But this one is clearly marked with the letters "Prof. Sweet's Journal."
     
      You blink. Suwit. Sweet?
     
      The rat struggles to hold it up, and you take it carefully. As you read the first page, you suddenly feel very foolish for getting wrapped up in Gwendolyn's first-year superstitions. The bone direwolf wasn't real.
     
      And neither is Mad Professor Suwit. But Professor Sweet sure was, and his house was where he made candy.
     
      The pages lay your fears to rest. Nettles add a zesty zing to fruit taffy's. Too much hensbane is poisonous, but just a bit makes the consistency of certain gummies wonderful. I love experimenting with flavors!
     
      The sugarcane is growing well this year. You spot a drawing of the plants growing outside, and you put two and two together, the bone-like things on the floor of the basement simply sheared stalks. The machine presses them into pure sweetness, and you swipe a finger through the white powder—sugar.
     
      The barrels of dye have sprung a leak! There's red all over the floor! Not blood. Just crushed berries.
     
      "You must have been laughing at us both," you say to the rat. It just shrugs, but you can tell its amused. It waves goodbye as you head out.
     
      You take the journal, intending to show it to Gwendolyn."I guess there's nothing scary here after all," you say to your Nandi bear and Paervem. The whole story about the missing student and the kitsune drained of blood must have just been a fan-"
     
      Your Paervem suddenly stands on its hands, preparing to spray, and then you hear a rippling, rattling sound of something moving through the stalks. You freeze, and your Nandi bear moves forward, growling low.
     
      You're tired of being scared. For all you know, it could be Gwendolyn. You push thick stalks out of the way, the scent of sugarcane stinging your nose. But nothing's there.
     
      It's only when you turn back that you spot the eggs, a species you've never seen before. They sit next to the clawed footprint of something huge.
     
      You exhale a shaky breath. Professor Sweet turned out to be harmless. You hope whatever hatches from these eggs is too.