River Guardian [Complete]

A roaming Druid uncovers a curious beast guarding a waterway

Home to the wildest breeds of flora, Ninraih's entangled jungles cover southeastern Khy'eras. Ajteire, city of the Fae, is situated in the middle. Here, an overwhelming amount of magic and unexplained phenomenon has materialized. Read more...
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Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level 01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
50c
Elemental and Shapeshifter / Druid
Posts: 127
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
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River Guardian [Complete]

Post by Harroc Crownegrove » August 7th, 2019, 1:50 am

Harroc loped freely through the thick undergrowth, his soft paws thumping a slow but relentless rhythm on the forest floor. He'd been running since before the dawn in pursuit of a new, and possibly dangerous, beast. He'd heard its keening cry in the grey pre-dawn, and felt its scent on the gentle morning breeze. It was almost a compulsion, drilled into him over decades, to know the woods he roamed as his hunting grounds.

His eyes noticed a change in the brush a moment before he broke into a wide sunlit clearing. With all the dexterity of his wolfen form, the Druid slid to a halt amid the lightly trampled grass. Harroc tossed his head to check for nearby threats with his eyes before lifting his snout to the wind. The scent was still there, still to his north, and still growing stronger as he went. All signs he was approaching his quarry. With a wolfish grin, he built up speed before dashing back through a thicket and into his pursuit.

Before long he came across a stream, one of the many he knew would feed into the great Ordinuad River. Yet the stream's banks were dry and the waters barely a trickle across the loamy soil. Harroc slowed his pace as worry began to creep into his thoughts. The waters were vital to the lush vegetation and prolific wildlife of the area. Then a keening screech broke his concentration, followed by a short and powerful bark.

Harroc knew those sound, they were the call and warning shout of a large elk. His eyes darted around, his ears swiveled wildly, and his nose took heaping gulps of air as he searched for the now on guard animal. He smelled something, and close, but all he heard was the rush of water splashing against rocks. He started to turn his ears more slowly, honing in what he was beginning to suspect was not the sound of a river at all. All the while his nose worked to pick out the offending scent. The smells nearby indicated a predator, but no prey. Which didn't at all fit with what he expected from the elk wails still echoing in the trees.

After several inwardly frantic moments of searching the Druid decided he was outmatched. With a short leap he shifted his form, exploding and then collapsing in a burst of leaves and green pulsing light. Where the wolf had been now stood a man, green of eye and sandy of skin. He was clad in armor of leather and hardened wood clasped with bone. He held a gnarled staff adorned with feathers and a short hafted spear sat high on his shoulders.

Harroc dropped to a knee and shook his shoulders as he adjusted to the lingering changes to his senses and balance. There was always that moment of weightlessness when he changed his form. There was another shriek of an elk in the near distance and the Druid focused his thoughts again. He'd seen a flash of something up the rise ahead when he was shifting, but it was hidden by his crouch. With a careful step, he crept forward to the side of a large tree at the crest of the rise.

Peeking around his cover he had to blink in surprise as the sunlight reflected off a brilliant blue stream filled near to bursting. Harroc's eyes darted around the still waters until they landed on a large blue elk. There at the edge of the gully stood a translucent, but still very majestic, elk. The elk, seemingly unaware of its observer, glanced around before slamming its horns into a large log that lay across the stream. The log, clearly a recently felled tree given its still partially submerged roots and lack of decay, refused to even acknowledge the elk's effort.

Harroc studied the creature closely as it continued futilely crashing into the obstruction. The elk's body appeared to be made of flowing clear water, but it's stomach and neck seemed to contain undulating clumps of water wisteria. The horns, large and imposing, glistened like damp river rock. The Druid frowned at the creature, it was if someone had taken a section of the river and simply poured it into a mold.

Harroc was a Druid-Shapeshifter, and so striving to understand the wiles of nature was something ingrained in his every action. Every beast spoke a language and he'd not encountered one he didn't understand. This creature though, it was like listening to the babbling of a child. The words, or at least the meaning of the cries, came in starts and stops as if only understood for their sound. Harroc was certain this was not a beast, even those taken by sickness kept some reason.

He was also more, he was a half-elemental, and the magic of the earth the lived deep inside of him hummed as he looked over the creature. It was not made of the earth, but it held similar patterns. The longer he watched the more he could follow the threads of power that ran through the elk's form. They writhed in the chest, pulsed along the horns, and dipped into the water through the legs. It was a creature truly of the water, not only made of the materials but infused with the magic.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on August 10th, 2019, 6:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Word count: 889

User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level 01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
50c
Elemental and Shapeshifter / Druid
Posts: 127
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by Harroc Crownegrove » August 8th, 2019, 4:55 am

Combat Section:
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Sure of his assessment Harroc stalked forward into the gully. As he slipped down the damp leaves and mud he pulled his spear from his back and gripped it in his right hand, keeping his left firmly on his staff. As soon as his foot reached the water the elk snapped its head up, let loose a sharp aggressive bark, and angled rock horns in Harroc's direction.

With a shout Harroc swung his staff up and pressed it forward, just catching the stone antlers before they stabbed into his armor. With a jerk, he tossed the elk's head aside and hopped back sloshing through the ankle-deep water. He tried to sweep his spear forward but the monster reared up and stuck out with impossibly thin hooves. Harroc was forced to dive deeper into the water to avoid the attack.

Soaking wet he rose slowly from the water, once again lifting his staff into a defensive stance. Once again the elk barked, lowered its antlers, and charged, dashing through the water as if it were simply air. This time though the Druid was ready. With a tug at his own magic and a thrust of his spear hand, a spike of earth erupted from the streambed. The spike slammed into the monster's neck, turning a charge into a crashing stumble and cry of surprise.

Harroc circled the fallen elk slowly, taking care with every step to keep his footing on the slick river rock. With a violent shake and thrashing the monster rose to its hooves and prepared to charge. The elk charged twice more in quick succession. Both times the Druid was able to use his staff to deflect the blow and strike with his spear. Unfortunately, it seemed his spear was only glancing the creature's hide. There appeared to be no lasting damage, and as the elk wheeled around to charge again Harroc began to wonder just how much longer he could fight waist-deep in the cold stream.

Deflecting another charge, he decided to make a short retreat back to land. Turning his back on the elk, Harroc used a short burst of magic to toss himself towards the slopped bank. To his chagrin, the monster reacted with more speed than expected. A rock antler slammed into his left shoulder, pressing his ribs against the muddy bank and sending a sharp burst of pain through his chest. He gasped as the antler was pulled free, blood welling from a puncture through his armor.

Still facedown in the mud, he could hear the elk raising up on its hooves to strike him. With a surge of effort and pained grunt, Harroc rolled to his uninjured side and tossed his hand outward, yanking hard at the magic knot inside his chest. Sharp and thick roots burst from the loamy bank and speared the elk through the chest and neck. The monster stood frozen on its hind legs, no sound but a faint wail and the flowing water of its body. Suddenly, it burst like a jar smashed against a rock. All of the water and other materials flooded outward, drenching Harroc anew.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on August 9th, 2019, 4:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
Word count: 524

User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level 01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
50c
Elemental and Shapeshifter / Druid
Posts: 127
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by Harroc Crownegrove » August 8th, 2019, 11:52 pm

Chuckling nervously Harroc dropped his head back to the mud and simply lay there panting. After finally catching his breath he looked himself over and touched gingerly around the still bleeding puncture in his shoulder. A slow but steady trickle of brown blood leaked from the wound while his magic-infused body worked to seal the skin. He'd need to clean the wound and seal it to speed to process.

With a sigh, the Druid carefully wiggled his way free from the sucking mud of the bank. He picked up his staff and spear, which were tossed when he unceremoniously met the dirt. While searching the water, now clouded with sand and mud, he came across the rock antlers. Curious if they could reveal more about the monster, or even be traded for supplies, he strapped them to his pack. His gear gathered, he checked his surroundings to make sure he was safe, or as safe as one could be deep in the wilderness.

Finally confident, Harroc stored his gear in a hollow outside the gully and sloshed his way over to the large fallen tree. The bark was damp and scarred with gouges and scratches from the elk's antlers. Around the trunk, large balls of mud, leaves, branches, and other detritus had formed a dam. Beyond the dam, the stream already lapped at the gully's banks attempting to force past the blockage.

The druid turned his head to look at the antlers now strapped to his pack safely out of the gully. "Don't worry fellow, I'll get the job done," he said. With slow deliberate motions, he spread his feet and planted them firmly in the river rocks. Anchored, he planted his palms flat against the scarred trunk and took a deep breath. Feeling the magic coursing through his body, channels of power running from his head to his toes, he began to coerce and tug. Threads of earth flowed from his feet, spreading outward like roots into the rocks and mud. While he grew his tethers Harroc pushed magic from his hands, slowly filling the faint channels of wood lining the fallen tree.

Several minutes of focused breathing and mental effort passed before the Druid felt comfortable with his work. He took in a large breath, held it, and then released. While his lungs emptied he tightened his muscles and pulled at his magic. River rock and mud flowed upward to his knees, hardening and bracing him. The dam before him shuddered and creaked as the tree trunk slid up the gully slope. He lifted his hands from the trunk as it passed him, letting the spell continue under the power he'd pressed into the tree's channels. The waters came slow but insistent at first, leaking over the cleared dam top and forcing small clumps of mud and branches away. Finally, the dam collapsed, debris flew outward as muddied water burst through. The last of the great trunk continued to crawl out of the gully and Harroc pulled his arms close and sucked in a final breath of air to weather the flood rushing at him.

Almost a minute passed before the flow of water slowed enough to be safe again. Harroc blew out mud and gasped heavily as he finally began to breathe again. He was caked in mud, small rocks, and clumps of sticks and leaves. With a laugh, he dunked his torso into the water and released the anchors of hardened stone he'd formed around his legs. With slow sloshing steps, Harroc made his way to the bank before stretching his shoulders and back with a groan of satisfaction. Tiredly he sent out a small trickle of power and sloughed off the remaining mud, rock, and wood before reaching down for his armor's buckles and straps.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on August 13th, 2019, 2:31 am, edited 3 times in total.
Word count: 630

User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level 01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
50c
Elemental and Shapeshifter / Druid
Posts: 127
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by Harroc Crownegrove » August 9th, 2019, 4:36 am

A shiver ran through his muscles before he could even unhook a single strap and Harroc laughed at his tired thoughts. He needed to form a fire first, or the cold of the stream would continue to sap his remaining strength. He out of the gully and wandered about dutifully collecting wood for a fire. Several minutes later he had a respectable pile of kindling and larger logs. He assembled his wood into a small frame and concentrated on his Druidic training.

There was a magic in him, separate from the kind in his channels. This magic came from years of training and rituals. Drawing on the Rites of the Druids allowed him to encourage a small spark of flame to leap from his palm. The campfire immediately caught and began to crackle and smoke. With practiced rote motions, Harroc stripped off and laid out his armor on a nearby low hanging branch. He swept his hands across his skin, sweeping off as much water as he could before taking a seat before the fire. Wincing as he washed his wound with canteen water, the Druid moved onto making a poultice. He doused a small sachet of herbs in water before crushing them into a paste. Then with tender dabs, he covered the hole in his shoulder before settling into rest.

The sun was well across the sky before Harroc felt rested and dried. He was pulled out of a light doze by the snapping of his campfire collapsing. With a shake, the Druid rose from the ground and stretched his back and legs. He comfortably donned his armor, tightening the buckles and straps, before hefting his pack and spear. Finally, he lifted his staff and planted it firmly in the dirt.

It was only as he started his first stride that Harroc realized he had very little idea where he actually was. From his time resting, he also knew he was out of food, though fresh water certainly wasn't an issue. He needed a place to rest safely and food to recover his depleted magic and muscles. Harroc frowned and chastised himself. This was far from the first time he'd gotten lost in a hunt far from home.

Sighing in exhaustion, the Druid let his magic trickle into the dirt beneath him. It flowed along the ground, faint and weak, but persistent. He felt along with the flow of his magic, feeling for gaps in the elements. They usually meant places where the undergrowth and trees had been cleared. Either a field den or more helpfully a place where people roamed. After a long while, he came across a small gap running in a line. Heading towards the gap he continued to sense outwards to find similar gaps joining the line. Several minutes later Harroc found a cleared trail heading northward with another smaller trail joining it.

Trails tended to join closer to their origin and branch outward, not unlike a tree. He felt sure of himself as he began to briskly walk down the trail, and grew ever more confident as other smaller trails joined it. Harroc pulled back his magic, gaining some small strength from the earth, but far from enough to overcome his exhaustion. He simply followed the trail, occasionally stumbling, and leaning heavily on his staff as the sun continued across the sky.

As the sun dipped below the distant forest canopy Harroc encountered his first person. A hunter, roaming afield given his lack of equipment. The Druid called out to the man, "Ho there friend. Are we far from a safe place?" The hunter started, as even exhausted Druids left little indication of their passing in the wilds. "Aye, mayhaps a short talk from Ajteire," the hunter said looking over Harroc. The man seemed to relax when he saw the spear safely strapped to the Druid's back.

Harroc fell in step with the hunter, his stride revitalized by the knowledge that his journey was near an end. "What brings you this way woodsman?" the hunter asked nodding to the Druid. "I followed an elk, from the south," Harroc responded. Pointing at the antlers on his pack he continued, "Strangest thing though, it wasn't a beast. It was made of water even." The hunter's eyes widen as he looked over the clearly stone antlers. "I've never seen such," the man said rubbing his chin in thought. "Neither I," responded Harroc. "It's why I plan to take it into the city and see if someone with more wisdom can recall such a thing."

The hunter nodded in agreement at the thought and they continued their trek in companionable silence. The sunlight was waning when they reached the first signs of civilization. Trees with glowing plants and lanterns attached, cleared spaces in front of hollows, and a vague sense of order as the wilderness faded away. "Head straight onward and you'll find your way to a place they call the Preamble," The hunter said pointing with his hand. "Safe travels woodsman," he finished with a nod before stepping off the path to leave. "And bountiful pursuit hunter," Harroc responded as he continued along the proffered trail.
Word count: 859

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