Orathian walked in the brisk morning air, giving himself and his pack some distance from the harsh and rueful eyes of Brescia and the coughing dwarf woman and turned his gaze towards the solemn Ironcrags to the north. The sun was on the rise, its unyielding rays causing Orathian’s weasel to jump from the light to the druid’s other shoulder. Orathian smiled, summoned his will and transferred his senses to his raven companion Zoltan flying overhead trusting the white wolf Ghost to guard him while the druid was temporarily distracted. They followed his every direction, the druid’s companions, even into slimy dungeons; getting away from civilization would be good therapy for the pack before traveling to Zobeck.
Using Zoltan’s senses, Orathian looked for a glade or other suitable place of solitude on this the first day of Orathian’s retraining, leaving behind his old warrior ways of Northman raiding to fully embrace the druidic path. Ghost seemed to sense Orathian’s discovery because the wolf howled as his master found a location that fit the druid’s needs.
A half hour later, the Weasel now sleeping in Orathian’s hip sack and Zoltan perched on the druid’s shoulder, Orathian found what he had seen with the raven’s eyes from over a mile away; it was a tree seemingly grown independent from the soil of the earth. The curving tree’s green leaves were tinged with red and sometimes brown, and provided a natural habitat for each member of Orathian’s pack; tree boughs for Zoltan, small dark holes for Weasel, and a canopy of roots over dry cool flat stone for the druid and Ghost.
Orathian set about immediately drawing power within him before opening a dialogue with the tree, a meditative exercise that gathered his will, but before he could continue a ripple from the tree caused the druid to look closer. Orathian stood transfixed as a green light that began as a pin hole parted the tree bark like heavy curtains as a beautiful green eyed woman stepped lithely from the green light emanating from the trunk of the tree and stood silently before the druid. The woman had small twigs, feathers, and leaves weaved into the braids of her red locks; she wore a green gown magical boots and a simple stick as a weapon. Behind her, the light was gone and the tree appeared as it had before. She was a wild child and the druid loved her at once.
Orathian’s mouth went dry, “Who are you?” Orathian said without any measure of decorum and corrected himself. “I’m sorry, where are my manners? Good morning my lady, I am the druid Orathian of the Northlands and these are my pack.” He said as he motioned to Ghost and the rest. “May I have the pleasure of knowing name?” At the druid’s side Ghost stood passively.
Several uncomfortable moments passed as Orathian struggled to stay silent; Orathian was not very well spoken in the best of days, but in front of this woman, he felt compelled to speak. The woman looked to his pack and Orathian detected a glint of a smile and when he did it occurred to the druid she was fey born and likely did not immediately understand him. Orathian considered and instead addressed her in the druidic tongue, the effect was immediate.
Her name was Brighid and she too was a druid and once the language barrier was breeched, they talked into the night. She explained that the night before she came to this very tree seeking to call her animal companion because her path to that achievement deviated early in her travels. Brighid was a cohort to Yngvi druid of the White Forest to the south following him instead of following the call of the wild. Brighid eventually would explain how Yngvi died successfully defending the Scarlet Citadel from dark beasts leaving her behind and alone. Since then she has been looking for a ley line to tap into its power, which is why she came here to this same tree.
Later that night lying naked under the canopy of stars and the light of the moon, both druids, their legs and arms wrapped around each other, “I can teach you how to call your companion and create a bond with a pack of your own.” Orathian said offering his expertise in exchange for her help in the remaining days before his travel to Zobeck.
“Thank you, but you too came here for a reason,” Brighid said slyly. “Orathian, you did not tell me why you came here.” A look of concern on her beautiful features.
“I must train, refocus my talents, harden my resolve, and at the same time build a better bond with Ghost.” He replied as it occurred to each of them they could help each other out in ways neither of them could have dreamt.