It is finally time to continue our social story, Wisperwood! We left off with Aurane being teleported to the Guardians of the forest by the group of trolls she was led to by the unicorn. Want to know how the next chapter of the story continues on? Well here we go!
Aurane landed on her back with a thud. The breath whooshed out of her lungs the whiteness faded into color. As she rose to her feet, pleased she had no injuries aside from minor bumps and bruises. She looked around and the colors made her eyes widen. The troll’s portal had spit her out inches from a stone archway, carved with arcane runes. It was similar to the archway she’d seen when she met the trolls, she assumed it was some kind of portal device although it was not active now.
Beyond the portal was the ruins of what had once been a great castle, built into the hillside with winding staircases, dark halls and crumbling turrets and towers stretching as far as the eye could see. Aurane leaned back and looked up, jaw dropping at the stone tower whose shade she stood under. It was as tall as the great trees near her home!
At the thought of her elven tribe built over the Eternal River, a twinge of sadness went through her. How was her tribe faring? Had the darkness spread? Would she be able to find the source and go home again?
“What are you waiting for?” An impatient voice broke her thoughts.
Aurane stifled a cry and whirled, her hands going for her walking stick which she’d dropped during her brief journey through the portal. Behind her, a green hill cascaded down to a flowering meadow where dried wildflowers had grown. Now their brown stalks were dried up and once vivid colors had faded to gray and black. The meadow was quickly swallowed by the forest again where leafless branches pointed skyward, as though crying out for help.
A shudder went down Aurane’s spine, not simply because of the dead meadow and forest, but because of the creature who had spoken to her. The wild unicorn. For some reason, it had come with her through the portal and the little fox she’d met in the beginning of her journey had all but disappeared.
“What are you doing here?” She asked the beast, as though it were a monster who came to eat the Protectors of the Forest.
The unicorn snorted. “Same as you. My quest to help the trolls recover their stones is complete. I am reporting to the Protectors of the Forest for my next duty.”
Aurane almost fell over in surprise. She’d assumed the unicorn was dangerous, potentially evil. What little she knew about the creatures of the forest and the alliances that formed between species.
“Don’t look so surprised,” the unicorn continued in his none-too-friendly tone. “I’m not a good unicorn but nor am I completely heartless. If you’re just going to stand there all day, at least move so I can get on with my business without trampling you to pieces.”
Aurane clamped her jaw shut and leaped to one side of the archway. “I…I…” she started, but the unicorn trotted past without looking at her.
Feeling foolish, Aurane checked her bag of supplies, squared her shoulders, and followed the unicorn to the first tower. The clopping of hooves faded as the unicorn entered, and Aurane climbed a wide expanse of stairs up to the dark archway of the tower.
When she ducked inside, torchlight met her eyes and a man stood by the door. He was dressed in a simple blue robe and his white hair and beard cascaded down his shoulders to his waist. He stared at Aurane out of filmy eyes, taking in her appearance.
“An elf of the Eternal River,” he broke the silence with a quavering voice. “Tell me, young one, why do you come?”
Was this who she needed to talk to? The elder looked as though he might pitch forward and die at any moment. “I have come to help,” she said. “There is a darkness spreading through the forest, and I want to help stop it.”
“Are you a warrior?” The man asked in the same shaky voice.
“No,” Aurane lifted her chin, proud of her abilities, “I am an alchemist.”
The old man shook his head. “An alchemist. Back in my day, the way of the warrior was the only way. Young ones. Thinking they can save the forest with alchemy. What we need is brute strength!”
He made a fist with his hands and for a moment, Aurane thought the blood vessels in his neck would burst. “Regardless, go up the staircase and as for Master Wickem. He’s in charge of the recruits.”
Aurane wanted to protest and announce she wasn’t a recruit, but it was likely the elder was confused. To him, it sounded as though they were fighting a war!
“Thank you,” she said, ending the conversation, and moved further into the tower.
She stood in a wide hall and towards the end of it was a winding staircase. Behind it were other passages, and as she walked, her footsteps echoing off stone, she saw the unicorn again. He had moved down the hall and carried on a conversation with what looked like a human woman. Surprised and curious, Aurane inched forward, wondering if she should eavesdrop on their conversation or continue up the stairs to visit Master Wickem.
Go up the staircase to visit Master Wickem OR Go down the hall to eavesdrop on the woman and the unicorn:
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