She seemed an ordinary elf woman. Beautiful? Oh yes, very much so. Possessed of an ageless grace? Yes, absolutely. Her brow speaking of wisdom, her eyes bright with intelligence? Yes, yes, yes. As I said: ordinary. An ordinary high elf of some status. There was no nimbus around her, her accoutrements did not shout with power, she was not surrounded by a grovelling court of flatterers. She gave audience alone, in a simple clearing in the forest. Perhaps the only clue might be that where she was, the moon seemed brighter and the night grew pale; where she walked, the trees whispered low. And to Lednor, another clue: his own power did not stain the grass here with wrong, so greatly overmatched and overawed – it seemed – that it dare not.
“So, Lednor, you are welcome. Your studies progress well?”
“Yes, my Queen.”
“Perhaps you might apprise me of them?”
She already knew, of course. But nevertheless: “I have studied the dark half of the cycle my queen. And the toxins with which the plants defend themselves from weeds and vermin.”
“Weeds and vermin. Apt.” Before her feet, the ground moved. Moss budded and roots grew, becoming into a map. “Here, to the south. Weeds and vermin.”
She sighed. In patience? Irritation? “Four centuries. How quickly they forget. They have crossed the river again. The usual – tree killing, earth raping, arson. Land clearing, farming, mining. Only a few handful just yet, but more will come if we do not act. They breed so quickly.”
Lednor studied the map. “Yes, my Queen. I understand. I am ready.”
“Are you? Very well. Go weed them, Lednor. Root and branch. Quietly. It might be best to join them, live with them. But do not grow comfortable. The fewer babies among them, the better. The High Druid must not know – he would disapprove of your studies. Many of our own would be uncomfortable with them. The Emperor will know, of course, but he will say nothing. North of the Silvermere is mine and shall remain so.”
Lendor bowed low, and his Queen dismissed him with a motion of her wrist. As he left her presence, his own power began to reassert itself. A subtle odour of tannin-rich water, dank moss and toadstool, rotting wood, and just on the edge of identification, the faint smell of a corpse tangled in the roots below the waterline. He began to make plans. They had not enough human prisoners to properly test the toxins, so he would need to improvise in the field.
His step quickened with anticipation.
Lednor is a “Dark Alleys and Twisted Paths” 13th age druid. He is an adept of the Circle of Decay, with talents “Blighted Stench and “Life Leech”, and a novice of the Circle of Life, with talent “Font of Life”. Unless someone else wants to healbot, in which case I might go Circle of the Land instead.
Still need to do his stats.