Chapter 6

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Chapter 6: Tor

Selayne walked along the marble corridor, golden spider on her shoulder. Her blue crystal cat had grown to the size of a mountain lion, walking beside her, its feet clicking against the stone floor.

She reached large double doors guarded by two soldiers. They pushed them open.

Her aunt, Queen of Tor, sat on a marble throne which seemed to rise up directly from the stone on the floor.

Her aunt’s pet, a clear crystal falcon, sat on the back of the marble throne, gave a short screech as it eyed the cat.

The queen was clearly

  • Angry 18%
  • Frustrated 18%
  • Disappointed 24%
  • Happy 40%

A broad, genuine grin spread across the Queen’s face as she saw her niece.

“Selayne! Come! Come sit with me for a while. How was your visit to the lodge?”

Selayne had just returned from a few nights at the Queen’s hunting lodge in the woods just north of the mountain range.

Selayne frowned. The visit to the lodge had been eventful.

“Something strange happened” she explained. “Something came through the Portal and dropped to the ground beyond the forrest.”

“This hasn’t happened for some years. What was it?” the queen’s face changed to worry.

  • It looked like a child 52%
  • It looked like a rock 5%
  • It looked like a giant 14%
  • It looked like an animal 29%

“Aunt, it was some distance away but it looked like a person. A child. Is that possible?”

The Queen paused pensively. “There are records. But not for some few hundred years. It was called the Star Child. And it caused some… turmoil”

Another pause.

“We need to find it”.

“I can help” said Selayne confidently. “I saw where it came through.”

The Queen looked at her niece with trepidation. “Yes, I suppose so. But you must take an escort. I suggest you take a team led by…”

  • Eden, the Tracker 56%
  • Jes, the Hound Master 22%
  • Lev, the Hawkmistress 11%
  • Bal, the Climber 11%

“Yes take Eden and his team. They should be able to assist you in tracking down this new… Star Child.”

“Yes, Aunt” smiled Selayne, struggling to hide her excitement.

Now 16, it had been a year since she’d received her pets and they were well attuned to her, now.

Her first official task! She felt some pride in that she was clearly coming of age in the Queen’s eyes.

Selayne walked into the outer courtyard some hours later to meet with Eden and his three trackers. All had the same breed of pet, though in different crystal colours.

  • Bears 27%
  • Snakes 7%
  • Opposums 20%
  • Foxes 46%

“Lady Selayne” nodded Eden, a tall, slender man wearing comfortably worn brown leathers. A silvery fox wrapped itself around his left shin.

“Please, just Selayne” she smiled back. “We should head to the Lodge where we can reprovision. I can point to where I saw the Child fall.

He nodded in agreement. “Let is ride, then.”

The group mounted horses already tacked for riding, setting out through the North gate of the city, through the mountain passes and towards the forrest.

Her first official task had begun.

The little girl woke in a clearing surrounded by trees. Well, a clearing now, the ground scorched in a ring about 100 strides from where she lay.

She looked unharmed and rested, as though she had wakened from a good sleep.

Her hair was long & white, her skin like porcelain.

She looked afraid and confused, unsure of her surroundings, and tears welled up in her eyes. She had the appearance of a 6 year old. Vulnerable & alone.

She got to her bare feet and looked around. The ground sloped downwards to the North and she could see mountains in the South.

  • Wander South 21%
  • Wander North 43%
  • Go East 29%
  • Go West 7%

{note: correction made to tweet : error in geography}

The girl bit her lip & started to walk down the slope. It just seemed easier and those mountains looked a bit daunting.

She entered the tree line & started to feel calmer. She couldn’t remember how she got there, just that she needed to find her way to people. A town or city.

She’d walked for a long time but the scenery was unchanging. She knew it was cold but it didn’t bother her. She was hungry, though.

A twig snapped and she spun around.

There between the trees stood

  • a bear, looking at her 0%
  • a man, looking at her 10%
  • a deer, looking at her 90%

Both girl & deer looked at each other for a moment. The deer’s eyes rolled upwards & it fell to the ground, chest still in death.

The girl approached & a searing heat enveloped the deer, cooking it where it hit the ground.

She ate until her hunger passed & continued downhill.

Eventually the sky dimmed and it became too dark to easily make it through the trees. She felt tired but also didn’t want to stop moving.

She sniffed the air, shrugged her shoulders and

  • opened a portal 53%
  • kept walking 16%
  • decided to sleep 31%

The trees were getting thicker, and travelling in the dark was getting difficult. The girl lifted her hand and a portal spun open.

The hole in the air showed that the trees on the other side of the portal were much more sparse, the forrest opening up to a field.

She stepped through the portal and saw, just beyond the field were some lights. Flames flickering in the windows of

  • a farm. 53%
  • a small town. 13%
  • the gatehouse of a city. 34%

The girl walked across the field & through a break in the fence surrounding the farmhouse.

It was quite a large building, with lots of smaller outhouses dotted around the plot of land. Just to the right of the yard stood a large barn.

She stopped at the door to the house.

Sounds of laughter & singing filtered through the windows. Voices of children made the girl smirk. People!

She approached the door & rapped on it lightly.

The sounds stopped & footsteps approached before the door swung open. She looked up at the man who stood there.

  • “Hello”, she smiled. 75%
  • “Help me”, she whispered. 25%

The man at the door looked over the girl’s head, confused, looking for who was with the child but the night was empty.

“Hello,” he said with a slow smile. “Where have you come from tonight?” His eyes darted behind her too.

“From there” she pointed at the woods behind her.

“Are you lost?” he said with concern?

“No.” She replied, and shrugged.

“Your parents? Where are they?”

She shrugged.

He sighed thoughtfully and said “you need to come in from the cold so we can figure out what to do.”

He ushered the girl into the warm farmhouse kitchen.

The four crystal foxes dashed around the crater, sniffing and searching. It had taken them two days to find the place after reaching the Lodge. Nearly a week since Selayne had seen the child fall from the sky.

Eden knelt at the northern edge of the crater, his fox at his leg.

“She went downhill” he called. “Entered the trees here,” pointing.

“Let’s go” Selayne said. “She may be close by. Perhaps hurt!”

“There may be something we can do to help us find her, now we have her…scent. There’s a ritual we can perform but it will take a day.

  • Perform the ritual 53%
  • Carry on immediately 40%
  • Selayne go on ahead alone 7%

Selayne nodded in understanding. She’d heard of the Tracker’s ritual & was curious to see it.

Eden & his three trackers prepared an area of ground at the centre of the crater where they said her scent was strongest. They sat cross-legged in a diamond facing each other.

They closed their eyes & breathed in time with each other. As daylight dimmed over an hour, Selayne was able to make out a web of power connecting the trackers to each other, as well as to a cloudy substance at the centre of the crater.

Time dragged & Selayne became impatient.

  • Wait out the ritual 43%
  • Try and follow the child 57%

The Trackers were still as stone. The mist at the centre of the web of power started to blend with the lines connecting each of them. She could see that they were slowly being attuned to the child’s essence.

The sky had fully darkened now & the image of a hurt child nagged her.

She decided to take a look around. Selayne wandered into the woods, her cat stalking by her side giving her confidence. She walked for an hour, scouting as best she could, relying on the cat to help pick the trail.

Cat & spider jerked alert. Some ten paces away stood a bear.

  • Slowly back away 71%
  • Run, cat distracting it 13%
  • Fight it off 16%

Selayne froze & slowly started to back away from the bear. It stared at her intently, growled & started towards her, first with some trepidation, looking at the large cat, but then with some speed.

Selayne panicked & stumbled backwards, tripping on a tree root, crying out.

Her cat stood between her and the bear defensively but her spider leapt from her shoulder and reared in threat. It glowed suddenly with a bright light and

  • spat a shining web 38%
  • sprayed a cone of poison 15%
  • projected a giant spider 47%

Halfway between Selayne and the bear, a giant golden-yellow spider appeared. It was a size similar to the bear, appearing even taller as it raised its front four legs up to show enormous, wicked looking fangs. It made a loud and agressive chittering sound. The bear started back.

The bear circled the spider & took a swipe at it which passed through what was just a projected image.

Selayne ran back, not stopping until she returned to the clearing & the Trackers who were completing their ritual.

She caught her breath and settled down to wait.

The following morning, Eden led the party to a dense wall of trees, stopped and frowned. The trail had ended. Or at least weakened significantly. The strong scent had ended but a general impression of the child still remained. It must have used a portal to travel.

  • Follow the weak trail 65%
  • Go to Tor and use a portal 35%

Eden closed his eyes & concentrated. “North” he said. “Quite far North. If we go back to Tor & find a mage to open a portal we will lose the trail. We must travel on foot. The ritual will lead us to the child.”

Selayne nodded. Being away from Tor for a week was quite appealing.

Days later, the trees began to thin. Quite suddenly they reached the edge of the forrest. Across a field to the North stood a farmhouse. A strong smell of smoke hung in the air.

The team crossed the field, their pets subdued. The farmhouse now a smoking, empty, lifeless husk.

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