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 Wolfsholm 
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Post Wolfsholm
[OOC: Wolfsholm is a new location I am developing for my RP. Currently, I ask that others please do not post here without contacting me first.]

The axe-head gleamed in the light of the morning sun, a shining arc of steel swinging through the air to bite deep into the target. Muscular arms hauled the blade loose, pulling it back for another swing. Again and again the crescent blade arced through the air, biting deeper and deeper with every blow.

As the tree toppled, Brand wiped the sweat from his brow. The woodsmans axe hung loosely in his other hand, a casual grip, fingers loosely-wrapped around the top of the plain leather handgrip. As the tree crashed into the ground, exactly where Brand had intended it to land - he strode over to the fallen oak. The branches, once stripped off, would make good firewood. With a practiced snap of the wrist, he swung the axe up, left hand snapping out to catch the bottom of the handgrip. Within a heartbeat, his grip had shifted from a casual hold, the axe hanging loose, to a double-handed grip, fingers wrapped tight on the haft, the axe raised and ready to strike.

And strike Brand did. Powerful blows sliced the thinner branches clean off the trunk. The larger, thicker branches required more swings, but those too were cleared. As the sun climbed overhead, Brand stripped the last branch off of the trunk.

He smiled. While his youth was long behind him, it was good to know that he was still as handy with an axe as ever. The tree had been felled quickly, and would not take much work to saw in two and convert into two thick stakes to add to the settlement's defenses. Jumping up onto the fallen trunk, Brand settled down, fishing in a belt-pouch for the bread roll and sliced meat of his lunch. Unwrapping the meat from the broad leaves that protected it, he began eating, basking in the warmth of the sunshine and the verdant green of the forest around him. Behind him, partially obscured by the forest trees, the palisade wall that surrounded the fledgeling settlement of Wolfsholm could be seen in the distance.


Mon Jun 14, 2004 6:08 pm
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She swept the besom across the wooden floor though there was precious little dust to be moved. A few motes drifted in the beams of sunlight that cut through the building, dancing slowly towards the ground. Other than the soft brush of the broom all was silent within the room. There were others in the building, a couple of women in the back room quietly ensuring that all the healing supplies were stored correctly.

Kelda stopped and straightened up, her lower back protesting at the movement. She ran one wrinkled hand through her hair, the ebony black of her youth given way to almost total grey. She'd been beautiful once, tall, straight and thin with hair as dark as blackest night trailing down her back. She'd looked upon the world with grey as grey as the stormiest of seas set amid skin the colour of pale peaches. But that was long gone now. Her hair had paled and her skin had grown weather-beaten and whithered. The days of her youth were long gone now, replaced by the gifts and curses of age.

She looked about the room, appreciating the silence and emptiness more than any casual onlooker would have realised. It had not always been so. But she liked it this way, silence, peace. The old woman sighed and smiled to herself.

Tapestries were hung from every wall, some new, some old. Scenes of things that had happened long ago, remembered events from when she had not been so old. There were even a couple that she remembered putting a stitch or two herself. For some strange reason she had never been good with the embroidery needle even though she could sew flesh together with the same tool. Somehow the sewing of the tapestries had always seemed more crude and less precise than when she had worked with the bodies of those that had sustained injuries.

There were few wounds that required her stitching anymore. Just the occasional bump and bruise, a birthing when they were blessed. It was better that way, she nodded to herself. But even so now and then one would come in and look at the tapestries and she would see the longing in their eyes. The longing for the past, for what had been.

Kelda gripped the besom again and swept the dust towards the door. Yes, for all her age it was better now.

_________________
[center]“The world is for those who make their dreams come true.”

“We live in deeds, not years; In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs...”
[/center]


Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:26 am
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Rodan whistled jauntily as the hunting party marched through the forest. The hunting had been good, and the hunters carried several deer with them, as well as a brace of coney. Setting the traps for those had been time-consuming, but that time had been well-spent. The people of Wolfsholm would eat well that night.

The hunters neared the settlement. Home. It felt good to have somewhere to call home once more. Somewhere permanent. Somewhere durable, a place to settle down. A forest to grow to know, to explore, to understand. A stable community to dwell in. No more tents, no more traveling.

As the hunters neared the palisade wall, the elven ranger smiled at the sight of Brand perched on a log, taking lunch. Although well into middle-age - as humans measured the rapid passing of their lives - Wolfsholm's headman still seemed as vigorous and active as ever. No hint of grey streaked the brown hair or neat, short beard. From the looks of things, the headman had felled the tree alone, and would probably fell several more before dusk. With the palisade wall complete, the people of Wolfsholm had started creating additional defenses. Already, stakes had begun to sprout outside the palisade, and there was discussion of digging a moat around the village, diverting the sparkling river that flowed through the forest glade.

The thought of the river brought another smile to Rodan's face. Tomorrow, he would take his hunters up-river, deeper into the heart of the forest, to the lakes. Tomorrow, they would go fishing. Tomorrow, the people of Wolfsholm would dine on fish as well as meat.

The hunting party passed through the gates of Wolfsholm. The village inside would, to a visitor, have seemed surprisingly orderly. The log houses were laid out in an orderly fashion, the people, a hundred-odd families, soberly dressed, going about their business in a calm, methodical fashion.


Wed Jun 16, 2004 7:03 am
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She threw the staff from one hand to the other, one end upon the ground the other moving between her open hands. Made of oak and re-enforced with bands of steel at either weapon it was a study weapon. It had been given to her by her foster-father. She had always wondered why he hadn't prefer that she learn the use of the sword. Not that it mattered, somehow the staff had always felt somehow right in her hands. It was as if her body already knew its weapon of choice and it had just taken her mind longer to realise.

Trú looked about the houses in their almost regimental lines and sighed. What was the use of having a weapon of choice when there was nothing to fight?

The young woman's shoulders sagged. Everyone would tell her the stories of the old days but that was all. She wanted more than that, she wanted...she wanted to see beyond the forest, she wanted to see the world beyond. She wanted to live in the times that the old stories spoke of. But that wasn't about to happen, her foster-father and the others were content as they were.

She leaned against the staff, holding tight to it with her right hand. It was just so quiet in the settlement and there were so few others of her own age. Didn't her foster-father understand that? Didn't he understand that she wanted excitement and adventure, glory and all that came with it? She didn't want to spend her life behind the palisade, never knowing what lay beyond their reach.

Walking slowly she came to the place where Kelda saw to the sick and the injured, though it was more the former than the latter. The worst injury that the old healer woman had to deal with was when someone fell over and scraped their knees. Trú frowned. How could the old woman be satisfied with her current life if even a faction of what she had heard about in the old stories was true? It seemed impossible that the old healer woman could be happy, didn't she chafe at the restrictions of their life as the younger woman did?

She crossed from the light of the outside into the dark coolness of the long wooden building. The old healer's voice came to her out of the shadows before her eyes had adjusted to the difference in light, Have you come to help an old woman, young Trú? I can always do with a young strong back to do the sweeping for me.

The young woman sighed, sometimes she thought that she would waste her life away with chores rather than earning the glory that she longed for.

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[center]Hurry to meet Death before your place is taken.[/center]


Fri Jun 18, 2004 10:45 am
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The work team drove the stakes into the earth. The ground outside Wolfsholm's palisade wall now bristled with them, jutting out aggressively. Brand worked alongside the others, each of them labouring for the common good of the new community. It would take but a few more days work for the next stage of the defenses to be completed. As the stakes were driven into the ground, a second work team took axes to the protruding end, cutting it down to a shart point. The forest of stakes would not keep any attackers away from the walls entirely, but it might slow them down and hamper their ability to close in on the pallisade
defending their ...

Home.

Brand smiled. Home. A good word, that. After so many years, it felt good to finally have a place they could call home. After everything they had been through, it felt good to have a place to call home, a place they could settle down. A place to call their own. So many different people, different races, different upbringings, different beliefs ... all coming together to make something of this place, to turn it into somewhere they could all call home.

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[center]War does not determine who is right
It determines who is left

Retired and loving it[/center]


Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:17 am
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Kelda sat on the low wooden stool and watched the younger woman sweep the floor. She envied Trú, envied her youth and her energy. The old woman remembered what it felt like to be young and to have a whole lifetime laid before her. But now that time was long gone, she had lost her youth in places far from Wolfsholm. Of course back then Wolfsholm had been only a dream to them all.

But Kelda also worried for the younger woman’s sake. She saw how Trú listened to the old stories with rapt attention. She saw how she looked at the tapestries upon the wall eagerly, wistfully. It saddened her to see the young woman so interested in the old ways. To her mind those things were best left in the past, in a place where they could no longer bring harm to anyone.

She shook her head sadly and wondered if it wouldn’t have been better not to put the tapestries on the walls. It wouldn’t have fired up the blood of the younger woman, wouldn’t have turned her imagination to things that were better left well alone. Kelda would have to have words with the girl’s foster father about it. The girl’s ideas had to be nipped in the bud before it all went too far.

One of the other woman came out of the back room and handed Kelda a clay mug. The old woman nodded and smiled her thanks, taking the mug in both hands and feeling the warmth of the liquid within seeping through. She was grateful for the warmth as much as the drink itself. Her hands always seemed to be so cold, as if the heat of her blood no longer quite reached them anymore. Just another sign that she was getting old.

The span of days allotted to her was running out just like the grains of sand in a timer. It didn’t bother her, not really. The length of her life had been set before she was born just as the moment of her death had. It was just that…she had never thought that she would get so very old. In her youth it had been so different, death had always seemed just round the corner. But somehow death had never claimed her, it had always been someone else’s time, never her’s. When would she finally be called to finish her life and travel across the great bridge that waited all who died honourably?

She looked towards the girl as she took a sip of the hot drink, the bitter taste of the herbs making her flinch as she drank. Kelda hoped that the girl wouldn’t do anything foolish, she would not wish for Trú to traverse the bridge before she did.

_________________
[center]“The world is for those who make their dreams come true.”

“We live in deeds, not years; In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs...”
[/center]


Thu Jun 24, 2004 4:46 pm
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The work-team strode back into Wolfsholm, tired but satisfied, Wolfsholm's defenses that much more reinforced by their labours. Granted, a younger group of men might have finished placing the stakes more rapidly, but the times when this group of men had needed to work so rapidly were past, now. Why rush? Why push their bodies to the limit? What would that prove, that they were still the same foolhardy young men they once were?

No, for they were not. The days when any among that group entering the Wolfsholm had felt the need to prove anything in such a fashion were long gone. And so they had simply worked, concentrating on getting the job done, wasting no time on pointless "provings". A strange grouping, this, to be sure. Men, elves and dwarves, working alongside each other? Working in defense of a common home? Indeed it was so.

Working together, looking out for each other ... just as they always had done.

Brand wandered through the neatly laid-out settlement, the buildings designed with the same careful consideration as the outer defenses, the designs making as efficient a use of the available resources as possible.

It felt good to have a place they could call theirs, a place they could call home, after all this time.

Brand's destination was the longhouse where Kelda tended to the sick and injured of Wolfsholm. The grey-haired healer sat perched on a wooden stall, sipping at a drink, as Trú swept the floor. Inclining his head in greeting, Brand spoke.

Greetings to you, my ladies. Do you know if Rodan's hunters have returned yet?

_________________
[center]War does not determine who is right
It determines who is left

Retired and loving it[/center]


Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:14 pm
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She hated the drink that the other woman had prepared for her. The mixture of herbs tasted awful, stewed in the boiled water till the only flavour possible was one to turn the stomach. but it wasn't the taste of the herbs that caused the real source of the dislike. The drink was a preparation of her own to stop the aches and pains in her weary bones. No, the taste wasn't the problem, it was more a matter that it was just another reminder that she was getting old.

Older.

Kelda was glad that there were few reflective surfaces in the healing house. She didn't like to see the withered old woman that she had become. Not when she could still remember the feeling of energy and youth flowing through her body. But that was all it was now. Just a memory and nothing more. Just a reminder of all she had lost and could never regain. All she had left now was a slow decline into frailty and death, all the while watching the young make the same mistakes that she had once made.

She looked at Trú, the bored expression on the young woman's face making it quite clear what she thought of being given the menial task of cleaning. There was much of herself in the younger woman. Kelda could see the same fire and spirit that she had once possessed. Of course with Trú that fire was directed in another way entirely to her own. When Kelda had been younger she had been driven to aid and bring comfort to the wounded. Trú, on the other hand, longer for far more dangerous things than that. The young woman was like a caged bird at the moment, longing for the freedom of the outside but never seeing the hunter that would strike her down if she left the safety of the cage.

Kelda smiled a little as Brand entered the room, nodding her head in his direction at his greeting. She had been glad when he had decided upon a home for the odd grouping of races that they had been. Her old bones had been too tired to carry on the old ways for much longer and she would have hated to have been left behind. A good day to you, young Brand. I must admit to not having seen Rodan. If he has returned then none of his hunters have required my skills.

Everyone was 'young' to Kelda. She treated all those of Wolfsholm like her extended family, loving them and chastising them as needs be. Even those that were in truth far older thanthe human woman like the elf Rodan were still treated as though they had only lived a small fraction of her years.

_________________
[center]“The world is for those who make their dreams come true.”

“We live in deeds, not years; In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs...”
[/center]


Tue Jun 29, 2004 7:54 am
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Oh, I wouldn't worry, Mother, none of your children were injured today, despite our encounter with a most fearsome group of deer.

Rodan's voice rippled with laughter as he spoke from the doorway. Just as Kelda viewed the people of Wolfsholm as a sprawling extended family, so did the people of Wolfsholm view her. Whether human or not, despite, in the case of Rodan and several of the other non-humans, being somewhat older than Kelda, there was not a resident of Wolfsholm who did not consider the old lady "Mother".

Some ties were forged too strong to ever break. The ties that bound the disparate peoples of Wolfsholm together were ties such as those. Ties forged in the fires of adversity. Because they had stood as one, they had endured.

Throughout it all, Kelda had been there for them. A gentle touch, a healing hand, a voice of comfort when things had seemed dark.

And if Kelda had been Mother, did that make Brand the Father of Wolfsholm? Rodan's smile deepened at that thought. In a way, he had been, perhaps, watching over them, directing, encouraging, possessed of not just determination, but an unshakable belief - not in himself, but in them all. A belief they had all learned to draw on. Bolstered by that belief, so many things that had seemed impossible had become merely ... difficult, cut down to size by one man's calm certainty that his people could handle things.

Father? Yes. Even if Trú was the only one to ever call him that. But then, Brand had always been more than just a leader to the young woman, standing as her foster-father after the death of her parents.

Addressing Brand, the elven ranger continued.

We've brought back deer and a several braces of coney. Tomorrow, I'll be taking the team up-river to the lakes, if you've no other orders for us. I figure we can land enough to start smoking some for winter supplies if we camp a couple of days, and while we're up there, I'll take a look around. Only managed a quick scout around there when we arrived, and I'd like a better feel for the terrain.


Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:48 am
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The old woman clucked disapprovingly at the elf, frowning a little, Young Rodan I do despair of you. You haven’t brought back any injured you say? Not this time, certainly, not this time. But sooner or later if you’ve not careful…She left the rest of the sentence unspoken. Kelda did not care for anything that put any of the members of her ‘family’ in danger. To her mind the elf was far too reckless for his own good, even if he did claim more years than her to his name. One of these days he was going to get hurt and then she would certainly lecture him about the dangers that he placed himself in.

Still, no matter how much she disapproved of Rodan’s ‘wanderings’ through the forest, she knew that it was necessary. There were always hungry mouths to feed, no matter what race those mouths belonged to. They could only trade for so much, the skills of the hunters were needed to supply the majority. Besides the meat that Rodan and his men killed was always a useful bargaining ship with the traders. There were always those that the traders could do business with who wanted the salted meats and pelts that the hunters procured.

You may jest about ‘fearsome deer’ but mark my words, one of these days young Rodan, one of these days you’ll meet your match in the woods. She waggled her index finger in the elf’s direction, a most serious look upon her wrinkled features. But the frown soon gave way to a soft smile, I don’t know whatever will we do with you. If my hair wasn’t already grey I’d swear you’d turn it so with worry over you and your hunters.

If worry alone could truly turn a woman old then Kelda should have been withered and grey as soon as she had met up with the others who made now made up Wolfsholm. The heavens only knew how many times they had set her to worrying with their antics and their actions. Oh they might joke and tease her for her worrying but she knew that none of them wanted to get themselves into so much trouble as to deserve a scolding from the old healer.

Still they all knew, deep down inside, from the oldest to the youngest, that Kelda cared deeply for her family. They knew her worrying and her fussing only came from the love that she felt for all of them. None could deny her, even when she lectured them over the risks that they took. They knew that she only had their best interests at heart.

Not to mention that she did not think her old heart could take losing any more of them. Not to silly risks and foolish ventures. She’d buried too many old friends, outliving them all and unable to save them from death by her skill with poultice and needle. Though Kelda had learned many things over the course of her life she had never learned how to simply accept the death of those younger than she was.

The young should never be buried by the old; it was a phrase that she had been often heard to speak in the old times.

You take a care young Rodan when you go up-river. You make sure you keep them young ‘uns warm and safe. I don’t want to have to deal with all of you spluttering and moaning because you’ve fallen into the waters and caught a chill. I don’t want a healing hall full of sniffles and soughing. Truth was that she liked her healing hall quiet and empty of all others. Though it meant that there was little for her to do it also meant that they were all safe, each and every member of her ‘family’.

_________________
[center]“The world is for those who make their dreams come true.”

“We live in deeds, not years; In thoughts not breaths; In feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs...”
[/center]


Mon Jul 05, 2004 6:45 pm
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The younger woman had kept her silence as her foster-father, Kelda and Rodan had spoken. She just kept making half-hearted movements with the broom, not so much cleaning up as just moving what the little dust there was from one side of the room to the other. Trú didn't want to waste her life away sweeping floors and doing other similar chores. There was a whole world beyond the palisades of Wolfsholm that she had barely even glimpsed. That was where she wanted to be, out in that world, out seeing everything that she had heard in the old stories. She wanted to live her life, savouring all the things that she had yet to experience rather than being cooped up inside Wolfsholm.

Sometimes it seemed like the older ones were deliberately trying to ruin her ruin. It certainly seemed as though they were determined to turn her into a old maid before her time, one who had never had the chance to experience life. It was so unfair, they were being so selfish. Didn't they remember what it was to be young?

In her darker moods Trú could almost imagine her foster-father and the others being all withered inside, all joy gone from them. She could believe that they were deliberately trying to stop her from having fun just because they were envious of the younger generation. They were unkind thoughts and she had chided herself silently for them more than once but still...still wanted to go outside, she longed for a glimpse of the world. She didn't want to grow as old and grey as Kelda without ever tasting the richness and sweetness of life outside of Wolfsholm.

What an awful thought. Though she loved Kelda as dearly as if the old woman really was her grandmother she did not want to end up like her. She didn't want to end up wrinkled and old. Not unless she had the chance to experience life first. Oh she knew that Kelda had travelled with her foster-father and the others in the old times. But still the old woman had always just tended the sick and seen to everyone's welfare. it was a noble enough task, Trú supposed, but it was not the life for her, she knew that in her heart. Her life, her destiny almost, had to lay outside the walls of Wolfsholm, out in the wider world.

Still perhaps Rodan's trip up-river would give her the chance to petition for some of that freedom that she desired so. Maybe her foster-father would consent to allow her to travel with Rodan and his hunters. After all it was only a little way up-stream and she would be in the company of the elf, what harm could come to her? Surely her foster-father couldn't refuse her the trip?

Father?, she asked softly to gain his attention. Father? Could I go with Rodan and the others upstream? I've done all my chores and, look, I was even here helping Kelda before you arrived. It's been ages since you last let me go outside and even then it was just to the near woods. Please father? Please?

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Fri Jul 09, 2004 9:15 am
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Please father? Please?

Was he being too protective? Was he guilty of stifling his daughter, protecting her to the point of crippling overprotectiveness? Watch out for your people. A lesson learned the hard way, time and again. He had seen too many friends fail to come home, had buried too many comrades in the past. He hadn't wanted to have to do the same for his daughter. What father, even an adopted one, would?

So he had tried to protect her, to shield her from danger, telling himself it was nothing more than his duty as a responsible parent. Had he held her back, hindered her growth from child to young woman, in his attempt to shield his daughter from the harsh life they had abandoned?

Well, my daughter, I have a task for you. A task with a certain amount of responsibility, that may take you a few days to complete. As you grow up, you will learn that sometimes we must put responsibility above our own desires.

He watched his daughter's face intently, attempting to keep the smile from his own, for it would have spoiled the teasing.

I need you to look after Rodan for me and keep him out of trouble when he goes fishing. The broad grin split his face as he stepped forward, strong arms drawing his adopted daughter into a tight embrace. You'd best go sort your kit out, Trú. You'll need enough for a couple of days.

Stepping back, the headman of Wolfsholm turned to Rodan. Can you manage with a reduced team, Rodan? I want the palisade stakes dug in as soon as possible, now, so we can start on digging a moat and diverting the river. If I give you Trú, can you manage without Eric and Sven?

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[center]War does not determine who is right
It determines who is left

Retired and loving it[/center]


Sat Jul 10, 2004 6:29 am
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The elven ranger grinned mischeivously at Brand's words, at the obvious delight on Trú's face as the young woman realised her father was teasing her. Sometimes, that young lady takes herself far too seriously. Getting out of the settlement... yes, he could empathise with that.

If that's the case, why don't I leave you the whole team? I'll take Trú and the older children. It'll do them good to get out of the settlement for a while, not to mention giving you more bodies to throw into defense-work.

Brand nodded gravely at that. That's a good plan, Rodan. The faster we fortify this into a properly-defended camp, the happier I'll be.

You're overcautious, old wolf. The Wolfsholm is well-concealed. Few know of our lairing here and fewer still speak openly of it. I'll take the children upriver at first light, and leave my people to dig your ditches for you.

The elven ranger watched with a smile as Trú dropped her besom, racing off, presumably, to begin organising camping and fishing kit. His own, of course, was already packed and waiting. Ready for use. Old habits died hard.

Ah, the energy and enthusiasm of youth. I still remember you at her age, Brand... and you were every bit as bad as she.


Tue Jul 13, 2004 3:23 pm
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At last!

Finally a chance to get and away from Wolfsholm. It was exactly what Trú had been waiting for, praying for, hoping for. She had been worried for a moment that her foster-father wouldn't let her go, using some excuse that she was needed within the settlement to cage her in Wolfsholm. The village was a nice enough place, she supposed, for the old people but she was young, she wanted to see the world and all it had to offer before she became as wrinkled and grey-haired as them.

Perhaps going fishing with Rodan and the children wasn't exactly going out into the big, wide world, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Secretly Trú hoped that one day her foster-father would let her ride with one of the passing traders to see the lansd beyond the forest. It was an ambicious hope, she realised that, but it was a hope nonetheless and one that she kept alive in her heart. Let the old people grow older within the reaches of Wolfsholm, she wasn't ready to set down such sturdy roots yet.

Besides it could get lonely within Wolfsholm for one of her age. There were plenty of people of her foster-father's generation and although Kelda was the oldest of all, or at least acted that way, she still fitted in with the others. The younger children had one another, playing their games with one another, games that she had long ago grown out of. But people her age? On the verge of adulthood? Painfully few indeed.

She rushed across Wolfsholm to her foster-father's home, barely remembering to pick up her staff on the way out of Kelda's healing house. The young woman hurried through the low building to the place that she could call her own. Trú grabbed her camping equipment, packing it into a small pack that she could easily carry. She packed quickly and she packed light, knowing that she could only take the bare minimum with her. If nothing else her upbringing had taught her a few tricks about readying herself for travel. The older ones were always willing to sit down and pass on what might seem to be the most useless information, but now and then it certainly came in handy.

Shouldering her pack she took one last quick look back at her room. She couldn't think of anything else that she would need but still there was that nagging feeling that she had forgottem something. The wooden doll that her real father had made for her when she was still a baby stared back at her from the bed. It's dark lifeless eyes watched her as she shook her head and dashed away to the gates of Wolfsholm to wait for Rodan and the others.

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Mon Jul 19, 2004 8:44 am
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Oh, Rodan?

Bring them back safely.


Brand's voice was low, intended for the ears of the elven ranger and no other. Rodan smiled.

I make no promises, old friend, but this: I'll do my best. The same as I always do.

Turning on his heel, the elf wandered towards his hut, whistling jauntily as he passed through Wolfsholm's neat, grid-like layout, the log buildings reassuring in their uniformity. From the outside, Rodan's hut looked much the same as any other, a neat log-cabin constructed of close-fitting logs. The inside, though, was somewhat different.

Inside the cabin, uniformity gave way to individuality, Rodan's personality expressed through careful choice of decor. The rude log walls were concealed behind wall-hangings. Plain though they were, the hangings gave the cabin's interior a vibrancy it would otherwise lack. The furnishings were simple, utilitarian. There would be time later for luxuries.

Deft hands scooped up a pack and donned it, unhooked a quiver from whence it hang and donned that. Nimble fingers lifted a pair of long daggers from whence they sat waiting, attaching the scabbards to the belt.

Still whistling that jaunty tune, Rodan scooped up the fishing-rod that stood in the corner of the room. Once clear of the hut, he strode, quickly, light-footedly, through the settlement in search of his hunters, his scouts. Wolfsholm's rangers. Quickly, concisely, the elf explained the change of plans to his team.

By the time Rodan had finished re-assigning his rangers, the settlement's older children had gathered at the gates with their kit, clustering around Trú, waiting with what, in another village, might be considered uncharacteristic patience.

If you're all ready, children, let's move out.


Thu Jul 22, 2004 5:43 am
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She could barely contain her excitement. So maybe it was only a fishing trip but it was better than nothing. And it was definitely better than hanging around the settlement waiting for someone to grab her to do chores. Trú was happy enough to do her fair share about Wolfsholm, growing up had at least instilled the idea of working together in her. For all to be happy everyone had to do their share, everyone had to ensure that they looked to their duties and didn't let others down. She understood all that and knew that, however small a part her chores seemed, they were still necessary. It was just that when she had finished her own chores and had nothing to do it was all too common for her to be roped into helping out others.

Helping was alright but she didn't want to be mopping floors or looking after some of the younger members of the community. No, she wanted to be out beyond the forests that surrounded Wolfsholm. Doing her bit for the settlement was one thing, exploring the world was quite another. She was young and the world should have been just waiting for her. The world beyond her home should have been like a ripe apple upon a branch, just waiting to be plucked and experienced.

Instead...instead she was stuck in Wolfsholm. She was stuck as the oldest of her generation and yet always viewed as a child. Trú hated to think of herself as a child, she was a woman, or at the very least on the brink of womanhood. She didn't want to be coddled and protected by her foster-father or Kelda or Rodan or anyone at all. She wanted to be out in the world forging her own way through it, living her own stories of courage and bravery. Hearing the stories of the old times from her foster-father's generation was fun but it only fanned the flames in her heart more.

The stories that she got told were wonderful, but she had heard the same ones for years. And they were never her tales, they were someone else's. They belonged to someone else, figures that seemed almost legendary to her, heroic and strange. So maybe she saw those same people everyday in Wolfsholm but in the stories of the old times they were somehow better, more than merely flesh and bone. She wanted to follow in their footsteps, she wanted to claim that birth-right.

As she grew older though it seemed that the only steps she would be following them in would be those that traced a path about Wolfsholm. Still, there was no need to think of that, her foster-father had allowed her to go with Rodan and the others. It was freedom from Wolfsholm, just a taste perhaps but all the sweeter for it.

I'm ready Rodan, and I think everyone else is too. It rankled a touch to be grouped in with the rest of the 'children' by the elf. But there again Trú supposed that just about everyone in Wolfsholm was a child compared to the elf. Even old Kelda. It was very strange to think that, to know that Rodan had probably been alive when even Kelda's parents weren't alive. Even stranger to think that he would probably still be alive after she had passed on.

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Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:24 am
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I'm ready Rodan, and I think everyone else is too.

Rodan carefully suppressed a smile at that, at Trú's careful wording, that subtle distinction between herself and the others gathered at the gate.

The children, not to put too fine a point on it. As Trú ... had been. Any by the standards of Rodan's own race - not his people, for his people were the people of Wolfsholm now - one of her years would still be but a child.

By the standards of humans, though ... no, she was a child no more, stumbling towards adult-hood. Something that, perhaps, it was time to acknowledge.

Very good. Come then, children, if you will follow Trú and myself, we shall get started.

He paused.

As soon as you tell me what you've forgotten to pack, because there's always something... what, no-one's forgotten anything? I am impressed. If anyone has overlooked something, we'll just have to improvise.

~

The journey up-river could have been completed in a much timelier fashion than it was. Rodan's rangers could have reached the lakes in just a couple of hours. This, however, was no patrol, and Rodan took a much more leisurely pace, pointing out the tell-tale signs of game tracks, which trees and bushes bore edible fruits, which shrubs were worth harvesting for their roots, which flowers a skilled alchemist could utilise, and a myriad of other pieces of the wilderness lore that was part and parcel of the ranger's calling.

The forest greenery gleamed in the sun's light, the river's water sparkling as Intop's blessing shone down. They followed the riverbank as closely as they could.

Eventually, the little group reached the edge of the woodland as the river opened out before them into the lake. The vista was spectacular, the lake water a clear blue, the trees bordering the water reaching towards the heavens and the brilliant blue of the sky.

Well, we're here. Let's get a camp set up in that clearing over there. Tents first - once you've got your tent up and your kit squared away, we'll sort out the rest of the camp, and then ... we can go fishing.

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Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:56 am
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She had practically burst with pride when Rodan had told the children to follow himself and her. Yes, the elf did realise, he knew that she was no child, not by human standards at least. She was a woman. Well almost a woman, she had admitted to herself as she almost stumbled over a tree root. Even women had to look where they were going when they were out in the forest.

She had to remember that as wonderful as it felt to be acknowledged as something older than a 'child', there were times to be thinking about it and times to be paying attention to the world around her. Her foster-father had told her to look after Rodan, to keep an eye on him. Certainly he had been saying it as a way of teasing her but still she had no intention of letting anything go wrong. She promised herself that she would return to Wolfsholm with everyone safe and sound, with herself the very model of a grown-up and responsible adult. That would show her foster-father, that would show everyone in Wolfsholm that she was not just the little girl who had played and laughed among them. She would prove to them that just because they all remembered when she took her first steps or spoke her first word, did not mean that she could be accepted as an adult and equal.

Trú had tried to pay close attention to Rodan after she had almost tripped over the tree root. She had listened to the words of the ranger, trying to remember everything that he told them or pointed out. Growing up she had learnt that often more could be discovered from listening that speaking. Those that kept their ears and eyes open were often rewarded in kind by what they could learn.

As she listened though the awful thought came into her mind that the journey up-river was simply her foster-father's way of training her in the skills of the ranger. She hoped that it wasn't true. Although Trú admired Rodan and his rangers she did not want to become one of them. When she moaned to her father that she wanted to travel outside of Wolfsholm she had not meant simply to become a ranger for the settlement. When she said that she wanted to see the world outside the palisade she had meant beyond the woods and the forest, out into the world that the people of Wolfsholm had come from.

She pushed the thought to one side, praying that it wasn't true.

Setting up her tent was easy enough, she had grown up around such things and had been roped into helping put tents up as soon as she was strong enough to secure a line. The younger ones had not been as fortunate as her, they barely remembered the world outside of Wolfsholm, let alone the tents and the old ways.

Trú set out the few belongings that she had brought with her; just enough to survive and no more. She had learnt well enough that it was better to travel light and never to carry anything that could not be left behind in a hurry. That was the way to survive in the world, or at least in the world that did not include Wolfsholm. Once she was happy with her own tent she wandered around the others, helping where she could, pointing out and correcting mistakes that had been made. It felt good to help the younger ones, it felt good to realise that even if most of the adults didn't, at least the children of Wolfsholm acknowledged her as an adult in her own right.

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Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:56 am
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Muscles rippled under skin as Korvath drove the shovel into the soft, rich soil, bunched as he shovelled the soil clear of the trench, lofting it up onto the mound at the lip. Sweat formed, the droplets gleaming like gems on green skin as the he bent his back to dig out the moat to surround the settlement, for Korvath was a troll, not a man. The fingers that gripped the handle of the shovel were long, green and talon-tipped, on arms that would have seemed disproportionately long on a man, rippling with bunched muscles like braided cables. The bare feet that stood in the warm soil of the trench were clawed, too, three talons digging in to the earth.

The fledgeling settlement of Wolfsholm was already defended, by pallisade wall and by driven stakes, but such measures, while adequate for a temporary encampment, were not enough. Not for a settlement. Not for a place for the gathered people to call home, and so the work-crews continued their tasks, carving out a trench around the outside of the pallisade. The men went first, of course, cutting away the turf within the boundaries that had been laid out, and shovelling clear the first of the soil. Others prepared the wooden dam that would hold the river in its course until the channel linking moat and river was complete.

That completion would be some time in coming, though, even with the majority of the able-bodied amongst the residents concentrating on the task, for the settlement was not small and the moat, once completed, would be a man's height deep. For the men and elves of Wolfsholm, that meant the deeper part of the trench was at head-height or beyond, necessitating the removal of the earth by wheelbarrow and ramp, carried clear of the deepening scar upon the lush greenery of the glade.

Korvath, of course, suffered no such problem. Half again as tall as a man, the moat reached no higher than his chest even at its deepest point, allowing the troll to simply stand and shovel the soil clear to the lip. A dozen trolls would have made light work of such a trench, but the green-skinned figure, in his furs held in place around his chest and secured by a pair of skulls, was but a solitary troll. Still, he mused as he worked one troll is better than none at all.

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Fri Sep 03, 2004 7:32 am
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