Mar 29, 2019

The Twilight of Navi

The Immortal Cleansing: Backstory Chapter 1

775 AC, Flaurmont (April) 15th


art by TL Jeffcoat
Navi Moondragon - by TL Jeffcoat
  Life in the Feywild was perfectly serene until that satyr came to the Twilight woods. Navi ran her diminutive purple hands through the soft black fur of the panther. On a branch above the purple and green undergrowth of the forest, the panther purred as Navi buried her face in the softness. Her tiny pixie body was weightless on the proud animal.
  Moonbeams shined through the eternal twilight of the forest. This part of the Feywild was forever trapped in the moonlight just beyond sunset on the edge of the seasons between summer and spring. A sky that never turned black but was filled with deep blues and sprinkled with stars.
  Navi's troupe had lived here for many millennia between the great Fey courts of Spring and Summer. The lords of both rarely ventured into the shadows before total darkness. Here, the village of Twilight had existed in solitary peace.
  About a century before, a satyr named, Al'faerill befriended the elders and told stories of the distant parts of the infinite Feywild. After a few years, the elders gave him permission to pass through the barrier that the magical stones produced.
  He was always gentle and friendly, never stepping on any of the toadstool homes scattered around the clearing in the center of the barrier, but Navi never trusted him. She was always very shy, even for a pixie, and had never spoken a word to the strange horned creature.
  When he visited, she would leave the village and pretend to practice her druid training. She never really tried too hard, preferring to just explore the woods, and visit the two hamadryad sisters that lived a few miles away.
  She had been on her way there when she found this lazy panther lounging in the trees just a few yards from the barrier. She dreamed of transforming herself into one of these nocturnal hunters and tracking the satyr back to wherever he had come from. Navi always wondered about the origins of the Satyr’s stories that her sister excitedly shared after Navi would return from her wandering.
  Tonight was one of those nights. The music from the satyr's panpipes drifted on the breeze. Usually it was fast and exciting but tonight it was slower. The notes urged her to close her eyes, until the music was drowned out by the purring of the magnificent bed.
  Navi dug into the fur, completely hiding her body, with only her purple butterfly wings slowly opening and closing above the blackness. If anyone had passed by, they would have seen what appeared to be a giant butterfly resting on a panther.
  After a few minutes, the purring stopped abruptly and the panther jumped to his feet so quickly Navi nearly tumbled off. She caught herself midair and searched the area for whatever spooked her friend.
  After a few seconds, she noticed she did not hear the music anymore as the panther climbed higher into the massive tree. Navi hid behind leaves and listened to a strange sound. It approached fast and careless with the sound of branches snapping.
  Trembling, Navi shook off her fear and flew as fast as her wings allowed to the edge of the barrier. Once there she scanned the forest towards her village. The lights were dim from this distance but no sound reached her.
  How strange of the satyr to leave this early and without the usual flamboyant exiting parade. The sounds of whatever marched towards her brought her back to the would be intruder. She watched the woods, slipping into the underbrush to get a glimpse of whatever approached.
  A tree swayed and splintered as something shoved it over, ripping it up from the ground, roots and all. The giant humanoid shaped creature towered over Navi, even as the hunch on its back forced it to lean awkwardly forward at an angle. One arm was longer than the other and dragged a massive tree trunk club behind it. The face was gnarled and uneven and the mouth opened in a broken toothed smile as it stopped on the edge of the barrier. With one eye twice the size as the other, it rotated around staring at the shimmering field blocking its path. Its skin was a leathery purple and smelled as if it had never felt water its entire life.
  Navi gasped at the musky smell and covered her nose. Not even the satyr left a stench after a night of dancing, drinking, and sweating. The giant turned to her immediately, with its oversized yellowish eye, and chuckled.
  “Oy, the taste of fairy flesh will be so sweet after so long. We’ve waited so long.”
  Navi glanced around but did not see any more of the grotesque beings, and realized that meant either he was insane, or “we” included friends waiting all around the barrier. An emptiness filled her as she thought about the quietness of the village at the center of the barrier.
  Without any further thoughts, she flew off through the trees towards home. As she rose up to avoid dodging branches, the light from the bonfire at the center of the village burned brighter.
  The sound of grass rubbing together above stopped her. Navi glimpsed over her shoulder toward the sound that was so odd to hear this high above the ground.
  The silhouette of a woman hovered just beyond the barrier. Her body covered with swirling grass and long white silky hair blew up and around a face hidden in the waves of her hair. Navi saw no mouth in the face, but she felt the wicked smile.
  Wind blew hard against the barrier all around the hovering creature. The strange flying woman zoomed quietly after Navi as she flew on as fast as she could. She flapped her tiny butterfly wings with all her might, but the grass covered form passed her above the barrier, its face never turned away.
  Navi dove down below the trees again to hide. She peeked up through the high branches as she zoomed around trunks and the woman eventually fell behind to continue her watch across the top of the barrier.
  She saw two more grass women before she reached the edge of the village. Breaking from the trees into a circular clearing, she hovers to take in the scene. Three stones carved in the forms of the setting sun are evenly placed around the cluster of pixie sized mushroom buildings. The bonfire in another clearing at the very center of the village burns with more ferocity than before.
  In the clearing, the satyr stood growling at the bonfire in the center of the clearing. His hoofed feet stamped and the hairy legs and back swayed as he moved around the flames to face one of the barrier stones.
  Al'faerill raised a reddish glowing orb in one hand. The satyr would have been handsome if not for the darkness that shrouded his curved horn head. His eyes filled with blackness in the firelight. He ducked away at something Navi could not see and pointed the orb at the stone. Shadowy jagged streaks burst out and covered the top half of the stone before sinking into it, transforming the symbol of the setting sun into a blotch of shadow.
  Al'faerill growled again and spun around to face another stone, plucking a tiny needle arrow from his cheek, “Devilish pixies and your illusions. You almost fooled me, but it won't matter. I will have all of you, there is no escape.”
  I small hand grabbed Navi's foot. She let out a startled cry before catching herself and looked to see what has a hold of her ankle. Another pixie, her sister Heria, zipped up and covered Navi's mouth. They both turned to the Satyr who was too busy muttering to hear them.
  Navi closed her eyes and tried to will herself to become a panther. She imagined growing larger and sprouting fur. Her hands curled out into paws with razor sharp claws extending from her fingers.
  A shake from Heria snapped her out if her fantasy and Navi frowned down at her tiny pixie body. She decided instead to find her sword but Heria flew into her path and whispered, “Where are you going? The elders are this way.”
  Following after her sister who favored more greens than Navi's red and black clothes, they flew close to the ground, weaving through the tall bluish grass and into the woods.
Navi realized where they were going and pulled Heria to a different direction to angle around the giant at the barrier.
  “A twisted giant was that way. He wants to eat us.”
  Heria nodded, “A fomorian.”
  A squealing scream echoed from the direction of the giant and Heria picked up speed going around. After a few minutes, they arrived at a circle of trees. The branches were curved and bent to create a cage, with only room enough for a pixie to pass through easily.
  Inside the circle stood two twisted oaks that rose up and touched underneath the canopy of the trees protecting them. The Feywild forest protected its most valued places. Between the trees stood two beautiful women wearing nothing but bark covered skin. Their green hair trailed down their backs, twisted and tangled with twigs and leaves. Navi smiled at the sight of the hamadryad sisters.
  Surrounding the hamadryads were hundreds of pixies. Most fluttered around the sisters. The six elders hovered in front of them, deep in discussion. On the ground, dozens of pixies lay injured. Some were warriors, and many others were druids that Navi studied under. Several more pixies tended to the wounded.
  Navi turned to Heria with tears in her eyes, “Sister, what has happened?”
  Heria looked down and put her face in her hands, slowly fluttering to the grass now that they were safe.
  “He was telling us a story about some strange cave he'd found. He wanted to play us a song to set the mood.” Heria stared up at her, “He… we… we all started to fall asleep. Then something woke everyone up. I think one of the elders broke whatever spell Al'faerill had cast on us. When we woke...when...”
  The tears in Heria's eyes swelled and her lips trembled, her mouth opened but no words came out amongst the sobs. Navi held her sister for a while, watching the elders and realized someone was missing.
  “Where is our Queen?”
  Heria burst into a fit of horrible wails, drawing the attention of other pixies nearby. The only thing Navi understood from her words was “When we woke… it was too late…”
  Navi shook her and repeated more firmly, “Heria, where is our Queen?”
  One of the approaching pixies answered, “She is gone. When the elders realized what was happening, one of them counterspelled the sleep, but by then, Al'faerill had broken her. He had crushed her in his hands before the spell was broken. She never even knew what happened to her.”
  A burning filled Navi's chest and she zipped off through the woods to where the hunched giant had been waiting. As she arrived, hearing the calls of her name trailing behind her, she found the barrier down, glittery blood splattered on a tree, and thick footsteps leading to the village.
  She followed the steps and almost flew into the calf of the stinking giant. She extended her fingers, imagining herself transforming into a panther and cutting the muscles at his ankles to cripple him.
  Instead, thorn covered vines whipped up from the ground and wrapped around the giant’s bare feet, slowing him down. The giant howls as the thorns dug into his thick hairy foot hide.
Someone grabbed Navi and pulled her back from the giant as his massive club swung down through the space she had been. She glared at the twisted, uneven, and broken toothed smile. His head tilted so that his one massive yellow eye stared down at her. The vines snapped like paper strings as he stepped towards her, raising his club up over his head again.
  More hands grabbed Navi and as she tried to resist, she felt her body go numb and limp. She tried to cry out but only a hiss escaped her lips. Two pixies dressed in armor held her and flew back towards the hamadryad’s trees.
  Navi stared at the giant, as a black dire bear appeared before him, barely reaching his chest. The bear rammed the giant before being thrown aside by the massive club and barely slowing down its charge.
  The giant continued its chase, gaining on the pixies before tripping face first to the ground as the bear tackled him from behind. It was at that moment, Navi recognized the bear was her sister, Heria.
  Navi tried to call out but the spell cast on her only allowed another hiss. She realized then that the thorns that had attempted to tangle the giant were not hers but her sister's spell.
  As they fell behind, Navi watched the giant shove the bear aside with ease. They rose up to face each other and he swung his club striking the bear in the head. The form of the bear vanished and Heria hovered before the fomorian. He grabbed her tiny body out of the air and opened his mouth bringing her struggling form towards it.
  The trees blocked Navi’s view and soon after they arrived in the grove again. She was left with the injured as the hamadryads held hands with the elders who began chanting.
The trees around them swayed as a powerful wind howled between the branches. Navi looked up to the purple canopy above the oak trees, watching a humanoid shape float above and wailed.
  Several warriors floated above the elders as they continued the ritual. More of the hovering silhouettes arrived and the wind around the protective trees pushed in from all sides. Leaves blew off the creaking branches. The now bare branches above bent and snapped as one of the creatures pushed through.
  Two of the warriors flew up to meet it, punching it with streaks of flame from their hands. The plant-like form recoiled at the heat and screeched.
  As more slipped through the breaking branches, the world shifted and swirled. Still paralyzed, Navi watched the purple trees fade into a grey fog. The oak trees still stood over everyone except the two warriors that had flown up to protect them. They had faded with the forest.
  Then as fast as the fog had swarmed around them, it was gone. Replaced by a bright full moon above and a forest of oaks surrounding them on a hill.
Navi's fingers tingled as she regained control of her body. She flew up into the sky above the trees to look around.
  The hope of seeing their home faded instantly as the cold air blew across her. The air was colder than anything she had ever felt in the Feywild. To the north, mountains rose up with peaks covered in whiteness. She heard tales of mountains with frozen water in the Winter court of the Feywild, but she had never gone to see herself.
  Between her and the mountains, the land was filled with rolling hills covered in trees. To the south, she saw the forested hills continue until they flattened out to the horizon.
Navi looked up to the moon as more pixies flew up and around to survey their new home. For a moment, the feeling of safety overwhelmed her. Then she remembered her sister's sacrifice.
  Navi never took her training seriously and now her sister died because she could not help her, because she let her temper get the best of her and she put herself in a position that her sister had to sacrifice herself to save her.
  She floated down to the hamadryad sisters who were talking with the elders. Soon after, the elders announced that they would make their home near the hamadryad trees and erect new barrier stones. The remaining warriors were sent out to explore the area and find a suitable place to start over.
  Navi sat on the ground, the grass was stiffer and the sky was getting brighter. The elders did not show concern over this but several pixies watched in awe as the moon shifted away and a bright yellow sun rose up into the sky.
  She flew up again, shielding this bright new light from her eyes and watched as this new and strange world came to life. Birds sang and animals migrated through the woods.
  By the time the sun had reached straight into the sky, the air had grown warmer. The forest here was almost deafening with all the insects and animals calling to each other. Everything was green and brown, no shades of purple or blue anywhere except the occasional flowers found in clearings.
  The warriors eventually returned with news of settlements of elf-like creatures called humans to the east. Elf-like because of their pale skin and size but otherwise were different. Building a city of cut wood and stone and carving roads to other places. They were also taller, and heavier than the elves of the Feywild.
  To the south and west, the news was of small encampments of monstrous grey creatures that sounded similar to the humans but called themselves orcs. They chopped down trees and ate animals, but unlike the humans, they were fighting each other. The elders decided to stay away from them all and settled in a secluded area between hills where a stream had carved a deep ravine.
  To the far north, the hills were taller and the trees thinned out towards the mountains. Giants lived there, not misshapen like the cursed fomorians that had joined the satyr. They were smaller and dumber, but just as hungry to eat anything that moved.
  The valley would be difficult for the giants to find. The underbrush was overgrown and offered the darkness they were more accustomed to.
  Navi focused on her studies from this day forward and constantly visited the hamadryads. She missed her sister and reminded herself of her sacrifice any time she felt the urge to play instead of communing with the trees and animals.
  Someday, she would return to the Feywild and avenge her sister, but first she had to become a powerful druid.

All of the The Chronicles of the Immortal Cleansing Campaign are or going to be organized in chronological order on the The Immortal Cleansing page. Thank you for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment