“Strange creature,” Kay whispered after the Brining scurried up the tree, “and an even stranger pet.”
Sahlman was amazed at the revelation of the Brinninig. In his desert home, one might find the occasional Dwarf, but the desert variety of Dwarf resembled nothing so much as a short, weather-beaten human. This Brinninig, though: why, there was no resemblance at all between it and a man. And the way it paid him not the slightest bit of attention, even though Sahl must have made enough racket to wake a deaf man in his tent! These Brinninig were either the most capable fighters in the world, or the most foolhardy beings in existence, and Sahl was of no mind to take chances either way.
Speechless, the shrouded warrior accompanied Galgewe and the others in staring after the vanished being and his rodent.
“Yochra be'atabba”, whispered Sahl. He took in the huge trees and the all but invisible dwellings nestled high up in stout branches. Seeing these things, he even still did not comprehend them. The desert had no analogue for any of these things.
“Ardith, it is my thought that, if these Burnnig live in the forest, it may be that one of them could show us the shorter way to Maelbourg”, said Sahl, his eyes still glued to the spectacular sight overhead, “though how it is that we might make our wishes known to them is a thing I cannot make the sense of.”
Ardith said, “Perhaps they do, but knowing it may not mean they will show _us_.”
“Are they enough like these Teef that you have the knowing of, do you think?”
“I'm not sure, Sahl,” the cleric replies. “I have heard that their language is like that of the Tiiph, but I have never seen these people, much less spoken to them. Perhaps one of them can speak the Common Tongue, or perhaps I can make myself understood in the Tiiph language.”
After a moment, Sahl was able to shake off the edginess that came over him, and proceeded to the bottom of the tree their ersatz host disappeared up into. He considered climbing into the dwelling, but discarded the idea as hasty and ill-considered. Instead, he casted about and found a fist-sized stone lying nearby, which he used as a knocker on the uneven surface of the maple tree.
Kay stood back a few feet, leaning on her bow, an arrow ready behind her back. “I don't know if I like this idea,” she muttered.
Sahlman stopped knocking, and all waited for a reply.
For several minutes, not a sound was heard. Ardith knew how quiet an elf could be when it did not want to be heard. The first time she visited an elven village, she thought it deserted. Not a sound was to be heard anywhere. It was late, and only two moons shone in the darkening sky, but there should have been be something. It was not until her companion anounced her that she knew how skillful those creatures were. There were suddenly dozens of little Tiiph all about, coming to greet the visitors.
“Cha!” exclaimed Sahlman suddenly, tearing Ardith from her thoughts. “These timid creatures are not to be any help. We should be on our way. The light is going to waste.”
“We have already wasted an hour or more. A few more minutes will not matter. Try knocking again.”
Sahlman shrugged his shoulders and began to pound once again on the tree, when Ardith's hand touched his shoulder.
“Wait, Sahl. Look.”
Sahlman followed her glance up the tree. In between two branches, almost hidden from view, the Brinninig stared out at them. They stared back for a few moments before Ardith spoke, greeting him with a polite phrase she learned from the Tiiph, “Arathene, coh. Ga fos seth fuis,” which translated literally to “May your hands bear more than I am not, but a tree hold you forever,” the closest equivelant in the Common Tongue being “Greetings, kinsman, your presence lends us grace.”
The Brinninig remained still. After a minute, he grabbed a handful of maple seeds, and sent them fluttering down to the heads below.
“That's the feeblest attempt at an attack from above I've ever seen,” Kay whispered.
“I doubt that it was meant as an attack, Kay, but I admit I don't know what it was meant to be,” Ardith whispered back.
Not knowing whether the gesture was meant to offend or to greet, Ardith stopped and thought, wondering whether to do anything about the seeds. As she stood, with the seeds atop her head, she noticed an odd shape out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head and saw another Brinninig. When she turned completely around, she saw that their small group was surrounded by nearly a dozen armed elves.
Ardith extended her open hands palms up toward the nearest Brinnig, smiled, and repeated the elven greeting. “Arathene, coh. Ga fos seth fuis.”
“Vi spa! Coft lo mep rew!” shouted one of the Brinninig. Ardith did not recognise all the words, and found it difficult to understand anything through the unfamiliar accent, but the elf seemed to be questioning why they were here.
Ardith was about to reply when the Brinninig from above shouted a few words too quickly for Ardith to understand. There were shouts of approval from all those who hadn't spoken yet. The first speaker looked at Ardith angrily.
Ardith signaled to the rest of the company by shrugging her shoulders. Then she turned back to the elf in front of her and repeated the open palm gesture and spoke in the elven language she knew, “Ge fariste po Maelbourg na kor rits bwedid, ko geffin ra. Nek was gofrik. Ne parkames noffika, kofrike gothik,” which translated roughly as “We are on a journey to the place called Maelbourg, and wish to find a shorter way. We have no need of traffic with you or your people, we only stumbled on you on our way.”
The elf shouted quickly in his own tongue to those around him, who pointed their weapons menacingly at Ardith. Sahlman quickly raised his scimitar, and Kay drew an arrow, while Galgewe lifted his sword and prepared to lead the battle.
Suddenly, a strange sound was heard by all. It was as if the wind was trying to speak to the two groups. “Ahhda, sahaa, hay.” The windy voice sounded strangely familiar to Sahlman, but he could not decide why. The sound was a unique one, one that he had never heard before, but it rang faintly with something Sahl recognized.
Neither Ardith nor Kay recognized the sound. It did not seem to be forming words, at least none in any language either was familiar with, but it seemed to be directed to their group specifically.
Ardith, Sahlman, and Kay looked in the direction they thought the sound was coming from, but saw nothing. The elves looked about nervously, many of them dropping their weapons.
“Va! Coot! Hod't!” shouted the elf they were speaking to. Eight of the elves closed in faster than any of the party could react, and grabbed them, two elves to a person. Barely conscious, each was dragged over rocks and sticks for an indeterminate amount of time. Before Ardith, Sahlman, Kay or Galgewe knew what was happening, they were dragged back to the path and dropped to the ground. They recovered in time to see the elves run away as fast as they could.
I was thinking of proceding beyond this point, but it didn't seem fair to you. My guess is that the next turn will contain a lot of thought and discussion (please use the internet liberally for this turn if you want your characters to discuss matters, which I expect you do. Remember to cross-post to my email address and/or to FIDOnet), and not much action, but, as usual, you're welcome to do anything you want. If you don't specify any final action in the end of your response, I'll assume you continue along the path to Maelbourg.
Sorry for the shortness of this turn. It's only 2/3 as long as the last two.
Ardith: I changed your elvan speech a little. What you sent me wasn't quite what I expected for their speech. You can still ask me any specific questions about the Tiiph or Brinninig, and I'll answer based on what I decide your character knows. Again, if any of you have questions about what your character knows, please ask me.
Regarding Ziedon: Still alive, and the turn supplement has grown quite large so far. I hope you enjoy reading it when it comes out. (Aaa! The suspense is killing me!) :)
To any non-ZIOTH players: I'm looking for more players. If you are interested in joining, please contact me here or at my E-mail address (below).
Remember: A copy of all public ZIOTH-related messages that you use the internet to send should be posted on Fidonet. A copy of all private ZIOTH- related messages you send to each other should be sent to me so that I know what's going on.
I now have a web page where I store old ZIOTH turns and the rules supplement: [removed]