Chapter 1, Part 2: Anomalous Auras

  • Post category:Midlands

(editor’s note: This is a continuation of Iosha’s previous note as it had become very long)

The pleasantness of the Flower Festival was only darkened somewhat by our own apprehension at the events. Readers, should you find yourself blessed with the chance to experience this festival, I might suggest that you take precautions when attending. Very little of the customs of the festival are explained to outsiders of Taigon Falls. At least, that was our experience. Eddie and I were not given much information at all about what was happening here. When people eat of the food at the tables, they simply drop their scraps onto the ground instead of a waste receptacle. We heard drums and saw dancing, as one might expect from a festival, but everyone seemed overly blissful here. It is a strange sensation. It is not that their bliss was making us uncomfortable. No, what made us uncomfortable was the fact that no one in this festival was willing to say what was being celebrated or why.

Thus, going back to the three maidens who were leading us into the field, we were very confused at what was happening. They led us further into the fields just as a fog had begun rolling out. The flowers at our feet, beautiful as they were, were becoming crushed beneath us. Lights from torches were around us everywhere, providing enough light such that we could see and walk without stumbling. We saw dancers frolicking all about. But the three maidens guided us wordlessly. It was both eerie and comforting. I asked them, “Where are we going?” and their only response was a silent wave to the fields. I tried to see if they meant a specific point, but when I turned back to them to clarify, the three of them had vanished. 

What kind of magic causes one to vanish in this way? Be wary, reader, of those that would cast magic near you without speaking. Most magical powers require a series of natural commands to cause magic to occur. These are made via components. The verbal component of a spell is obvious: it requires speech, usually saying the command words to cause the spell to take effect. The somatic component is one that usually throws people off. It is a series of hand gestures or movements required to channel magic through your body or the world around you. The last is the material component, often a mundane item that becomes temporarily magical as your magic passes through it. The reason I bring this up, readers, is that it is very strange work to produce magical effects without any of these components. Sorcerers may be able to make such a thing happen. Or, as I will explain later, spirits.

I instinctively remembered the training that my father forced upon me and began to draw my sword, alarmed by their disappearance. Were they going invisible to attack us? Or perhaps something less sinister? I could not say, and I felt ashamed immediately as my hand when to the grip of the blade. Eddie saw this and drew a knife. We were alarmed (understandably so, in my expert opinion), but otherwise we seemed safe. The few people who saw us react this way stared for just a moment before going back to their revelry. 

I quickly cast a spell to see magical auras around me and we approached a group of dancers to ask them about what had just happened to us. The auras of the fields of flowers around us were so dazzling and fantastic that I almost tripped into the dancing circle, stumbling into an unclothed woman while I was thus distracted by the magic around me. She caused me to dance with her while I babbled apologies for tripping into her, quieting me when I began asking too many questions. While dancing, I saw Eddie pick a flower. A magical aura erupted from it as she did so, bathing her in a wisp of green and purple colors that only I could see with my spell.

I excused myself from dancing with the woman and tried to dance with Eddie, doing our best to blend in with the revelers while trying to tell Eddie about the magic I saw around us. I may have come off a little too giddy. For one, the woman I was dancing with previously was, as I wrote, unclothed and that made me a little uncomfortable. Two, the magic in the fields was becoming almost blinding to me, but seeing Eddie washed over in a magical aura had me excited. I have never seen an aura explode like that!

While we were talking, we heard shouting. Upon investigation, we found a stout dwarf arguing with a gaggle of girls. They were placing flowers in his hair and beard against his will, though his protests were a feint. His name was Seagerd of Clan Battlehammer, and he had traveled a great distance from the Eastpeaks to deliver ale to the Flower Festival. We sat and drank with him for a while, happy to find a friend here who was willing to explain a little bit of the lore of this festival. 

The Flower Festival is a celebration of a woman named Anara, whose garden was made up of the fields all around us. When she passed, she was buried below a great oak tree. There are many tales of travelers finding refuge beneath this tree when no one else would take them. Every night of the Flower Festival is different and the revelry and music changes. Those with long lifespans (Elves or very powerful magicians) may be able to attend the festival twice and see the parties every night, and no night would ever be the same. For his part, Seagerd’s family brews the ale, aged 300 years with Festival Fruit, and brings it each time the festival occurs. Be warned, readers! The ale is exceedingly strong.

I should go back to the oak tree in the center of the field. It’s height is great, far higher than any tree I’ve ever witnessed. The fog on the fields was hiding most of it from our view, but I can surmise it extends at least one thousand feet up. The roots of the tree twist and spider all around its thick trunk.Interestingly, there are all sorts of food items hung on the tree from its roots and very low limbs. Seagerd explained that this was a kind of sacrifice. To what were the sacrifices made? He was not sure. They could be to Anara, the tree itself, to nature, or to the Trine. The Trine, he explained, were three spirits in the form of women who watched over the fields. I can only guess that Eddie and I met the Trine when we came into the field. Once again, I felt ashamed that I reacted so brashly when they disappeared.

Seagerd helped us hand sacrifices of our own onto the tree. He gave me part of a hammer-shaped bread loaf. Eddie used one of her scones. About this time, we heard singing. The three maidens we saw earlier – the Trine – were making a wonderful melody, enchanting the onlookers. As they sang, vines from the tree began to hang down, each bearing a number of bright blue fruits, all emanating nature magic. The fruits had a sparkle in them, almost like a light source, illuminating the faces of the people. People were picking the fruits and gesturing thanks and goodwill to the Trine before eating them.

Being the researcher that I am, I felt compelled to do the same. I am a religious man, and I can see a spiritual ceremony taking place around me. I gestured my own thanks to the Trine – and a bit of an apology as well – before eating the fruit. It’s hard to describe the feeling I felt when eating it. An explosion of power? Of goodness? Of life? But I heard a voice in my head saying, “You are quite welcome, son of Enos.”

Interestingly, Eddie’s fruit turned ruby red when she touched it. She felt an overwhelming emotion as she bit into it, but it gave her an awkward feeling and she dropped the fruit, excusing herself from mine and Seagerd’s company, and dashed away back towards Point’s End. I picked up her fruit and tried to follow. I met up with her again back in our room at the inn. She was very distraught. The fruit made her happy and passionate, but in a way she had never felt before. 

Eddie told me that the times she had with her family in Stillwater were not always pleasant. Since it was not my place to pry, I did not ask for elaboration. She said that her family was sometimes on the wrong side of the law, and these good feelings from tasting the fruit were making her very confused. I did my best to explain that perhaps this uncomfortableness she was experiencing was for the best. I worship a god of order, but to believe that order is better than chaos is very naive. Order and chaos are the same thing, just different viewpoints on what is, what was, and what will be. There is beauty in chaos – like the feelings Eddie was experiencing – and there is disgust in order – my unbridled desire to study and quantify everything, desires that I sometimes cannot control.

Changing yourself to become better, either for the sake of order or chaos, is not something to fear. If one’s experiences cause growth and learning, was the experience good? Was it bad? Again, order and chaos are just viewpoints. For her, I suggested to Eddie that she embrace the feelings she had when eating the fruit. We can learn from such a thing, and it can make us better if we allow it.  I explained why I became a priest and what has driven me to learn magic and study the natural world. Eddie can use the fruit as a means of becoming stronger, in whatever way she sees fit.

We decided to rest for the night and look into the color changing fruit in the morning. Why had it turned red at her touch? Why did mine stay the same blue color as everyone else’s? We had a lot of questions and Eddie chose to stay with me to figure it out. It is late and I should be tired. Strange that I’m not, though. That might be an aftereffect of eating the blue fruit.

I’ve a brief chance to write some more notes from today. First off, something struck me as strange this morning. My blessing to detect magical auras found plenty in the field of flowers and in the strange blue fruits. But I now detect a green and purple aura around Eddie herself. That was not there previously. The aura of the flower she picked washed over her in the field. Did she absorb the aura somehow? Eddie seemed very concerned about this, so I tried to explain that magical gifts were exactly that: gifts. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise for her?

Anyway, back to the research at hand. Here’s a study, readers, in how scholarly research can be done in the field in a very impromptu way.

The question is this: why does the fruit change to a bright ruby red color when Eddie touches it?

We came up with a few ideas. Eddie suggested that perhaps it has to do with her innate feelings of unpleasantness due to her familial upbringing, or her penchant for stealing my coin pouch when I’m not looking? We chose to disregard that hypothesis as it was not testable or quantifiable. Maybe the color change has something to do with her half-elf blood? That seemed to be the most reasonable theory so far.

Thomas, the bartender of Point’s End, helped us find a full-blood elf. Ardvarius was his name and he agreed to help us with our research. At his touch, the fruit remained blue. He ate it and said it made him feel very good, refreshed, and pleasant. He called it an infusion of life.

Eddie went back to her former idea and asked Ardvarius if he knew of a full-blood elf who was of a more surly disposition. Ardvarius volunteered his brother, Illy (his true name I cannot pronounce, but Ardvarius said this nickname would suffice). Just like Ardvarius, Illy’s touch left the fruit unaffected. He claimed that it tasted bitter and that he does not care for it. Later when he and Ardvarius took their leave of us, Eddie suggested that he may have not been entirely truthful. Thus we can see, readers, that first-hand reports from people may not always be quantifiable data. They can manipulate their responses and reports, often unknowingly, causing their data to be unusable. Illy’s report may not be trustworthy.

Eddie and I split up. She was going to stay in the room and contemplate what had just happened – that is, we are no further along in our research about the color changing fruit or her anomalous aura – while I went downstairs to try to find a half-elf. Perhaps half-elves were the ones who caused the fruit to change color? I must have missed Eddie pass me by as she darted outside. Apparently she spied a half-elf from the window of our room and went to speak to him. Alin (that was his name) agreed to help. At his touch, the fruit remained the same blue color, and he thought it tasted very pleasant and refreshing.

Back in our room together, Eddie and I decided to stay in Taigon Falls for one more night. We want to visit the Flower Festival again and see the color changing fruits. Perhaps we can observe the fruit changing color for someone else? I admit I’m also interested in continuing to observe Eddie. Her new aura is alarming to her, but I find it very agreeable. I hope we learn more about it. I wish to put her mind at ease on this.