[The Chronicles of Frith] Demon Thrones: A Song of Wren and Briar

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Astaroth, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. "In the shadow of a Prince's passing, a maiden shall walk across the waters to Deridia's shore. Vermin shall flee her path, and Demons will fall at her feet. Only by her hand shall Deridia be shepherded from the darkness."

    -Serendra, Haruspex of Sheolhinom
    "The Prophecy of Lerrynde's Hope"

    There is a land whose history has been forgotten.

    There is a land that has become taboo.

    Between the shores of Karridran and the Empire of Byrynyn, in the middle of Frith's Great Sea, lies the Forbidden Continent. Long ago, the Nine Nations and the Empire forbade their peoples to travel there for reasons lost to the sands of time. Legend speaks of sorcery and strange beings; rumors whisper about riches and adventure, of the fantastic and the unimaginable.

    And yet, no one has ever been known to return.

    Ships disappear in those waters, never to be seen again... or only to be found empty and gutted with no sign of the passengers. Expeditions sent by the crowns of Malvia and Kordith have vanished without a trace. Perhaps, the people of Karridran say, it is no mistake that the land was once forbidden. Perhaps some secrets are not meant to be learned.

    There is a name that has become synonymous with fear, and that name is Deridia.

    Even so, the siren call of potential greatness and the thrill of danger is strong for the adventurous of heart. To be the first to bring back real proof of travel to Deridia would be the ultimate prestige.

    It is this glimpse of glory that beckons one particular brave soul toward her destiny...


    A Song of Wren and Briar
    A Fantasy Epic by Ozzie Chanter and Diana
  2. "There it is." the gruff old sailor grunted out as he stood on the deck, pointing a mangled finger towards the horizon. Out in the distance a shape was coming in to view. Mostly shielded by the hazy tint of fog or mist. Even the ocean seemed to turn a darker shade of emerald as it reached out towards the continent.

    "Great! How long before we dock?" With her hands planted firmly on the rail, her face lit up into a wide grin. This was the unseen. The unknown. The mythic and the forbidden. It was Deridia. And Wren Norina Rosalinda Alvetica, Seventh Princess of Charbiq, Tamer of Kanterbryn, Scourge of Felweiss, Unprofessional Adventurer, and now Ambassador of Karridran was going to be the first to step foot on the Forbidden Continent and live the tell the tale.

    "We're not docking. You're getting off here." He responded, moving away from the rail to a stack of cargo tied down to the dock. There was a bit of rustling. Shouts from the other sailors, and even the Captain was barking orders. Suddenly there was quite a bit of activity.

    Wren frowned, turning and resting a hand on her hip. "Huh? Why not? What about a boat? The agreement was transport to Deridia. It's along your trade route."

    "That places is strange. We never dock there. Now off you go!"

    "Wait a sec-OOOAAAAAHHH!" SPLASH!

    Wren surfaced moments later, coughing and sputtering. There was a splash as her trunk landed in the water nearby. Shaking a fist up at the sailors, she made sure they got to hear all of those curse words she'd learned off of them in the past week of traveling. Had Wren known she was going to get chucked head first in to cold ocean water miles away from shore, she might have prepared better. This was not an acceptable way to conduct business!

    Oh well. Nothing she could do about it now. Pushing her trunk in front of her, she kicked her feet to get through the water. The trunk seemed to be protesting it's watery bath, choosing to try and sink beneath the waves instead of floating like a proper trunk. Wren let out another growl as the blasted thing tried to take it with her in to the depths. She wasn't sure if the thing understood her under water threats, but the kick she gave it sent it bobbing back to the surface.

    With the waves working against her, half the time it was a real struggle to swim for the beach. By the time she touched the shallows, she was already exhausted. Grabbing the handle of her trunk, she lugged it behind her until she was a good ways up on dry land then she plopped face first in to the sand.

    "Ugh. Uuuugh, you are the worst travel companion. You could have swam for both of us, you don't have any lungs." she grumbled at the trunk that so lifelessly sat next to her lodged in the sand. Once she caught her breath she would light a fire to get warm and dry. Maybe she'd light it under the trunk.

    But she was there. Deridia. Wren grinned and rolled on to her back, knowing that the moment she opened her eyes she was going to get her first real up close look at the Forbidden Continent.
  3. Deridia's northeast shore was not particularly remarkable.

    The beach was rocky and grey, devoid of vegetation or any other sign of life. It sloped slowly upward to meet the treeline of the towering forest that seemed to span the coast. The trees were unlike any in Karridran, giant and gnarled and ashen-toned or broad-leafed and ruddy-barked, but trees all the same. A chill wind whipped up from the sea, rustling branches and tearing at Wren's hair and clothes. It was a lonely sort of place, wild and untouched, as if she truly were the first soul to set foot there.

    That illusion was soon broken by a voice.

    "You're not from around here."

    There was a man sitting on a large rock not ten feet away from her, chin propped in one hand as he grinned at Wren. If he'd been there before, Wren hadn't seen him, but it didn't seem particularly likely that he'd have been able to approach unnoticed on this barren beach... and there were no footprints in the sand. He was dressed in a hooded tunic and breeches that seemed to both be leathercraft, though they had an odd texture and a blue-grey hue that marked them as not coming from any animal native to Wren's homeland. Beneath the hood, his face was handsome; he didn't seem much older than she was, and his eyes were a vibrant green. A few stray locks of brown hair curled at the edges of the hood.

    "Shipwrecked?" he asked with a hint of laughter, tilting his head. He didn't move to rise from his perch. Instead, he pulled an ivory flute from the belt at his waist and spun it idly between his fingers. "Or have you been marooned?"
  4. Wren sat up immediately, turning to the voice with a mix of surprise and interest. Not a sound had heralded his approach, nor did there seem to be a physical sign of it. This didn't alarm her too much. Karridran had it's fair share of magical and sneaky people. Grins and laughter were always a good sign, though Wren remained wisely wary just in case. After all, danger was universal. She found the color of his eyes a remarkable contrast to the color of the scenery. Such a bright, rich green compared to all the grey and brown hues of the beach and trees. The landscape certainly gave a sense of foreboding to match it's dark reputation.

    "You speak Karridran, that is good to know." she responded, immediately casting a wide grin of her own. Wren shifted to her knees and inched over to her trunk. With a quick pop of the latch it opened up and she dug around inside. "Not a shipwreck, nor marooned. Though, I did find myself unceremoniously flung off the ship. It seems no Captain worth his salt wants to risk making dock on the Forbidden Continent no matter how much you pay him to. I can't wait to find out why."

    Through her words she had pulled out a belt and cinched it tightly around her waist. A sheathed dagger was snapped in to place at her hip, followed by a smaller knife she tucked safely away in to her boot. Next came out a sword. Small, light, and finely made sat down next to her on the rocky sand. Last was a heavy cloak made of a study weave and colored a warm red. This she flung around her shoulders and pulled the hood up. Wren had managed to keep from shivering so far, but the cold wind was starting to bite in to her fingers. That would not do.

    The trunk closed and she leaned over it with her hands splayed on the top. Wren flashed a bit of teeth with her smile, gesturing her head to the side at the beach. "I am Wren. Now, do you want to help me build a fire or would you prefer playing me a song? I want to travel, but not sopping wet."
  5. "They're still calling it that?" Now he definitely sounded amused. He leaned forward, peering at her as she rummaged through her trunk, still toying with his flute in one hand. When she'd finished, he straightened and sprung to his feet. "You don't seem terribly surprised to see me."

    A few long-legged strides brought him to her. He was tall and rangy, all limbs. Perhaps more than a foot taller than Wren, even. Although it was hard to tell what sort of build he might have under his thick leathers, he moved with an ease that belied a certain amount of athleticism. His grin turned toothy as he stopped, nudging her trunk with a foot. "This is cute."

    He stuck his free hand out to her, and now that he was closer she could see the coarse linen that was bound around his palms, the callouses on his fingers.

    "You can call me Briar. I think we'll save the music for after you're warmed up, don't you?"
  6. "I assume anything so vehemently Forbidden there had to be a group of people or a group of monsters. Or even more likely a nice combination of both." Wren stared at his hand, already filing away her first impressions, guesses, and theories. The easiest thing would be to ask a million questions, Goddess knew she had them. But it was ever so much more fun to wait and discover.

    She took his hand and stood, then shook it firmly. He knew customs too. She held on to his hand a bit longer, giving him a good examining stare. "Which are you? A people or a monster? Either way, the trunk is a menace and I would mind your feet."

    Finally letting go of his hand, she took the time to dust off her knees for all the good that did her. Wren was still wet and shoving sand around on her clothes and skin was not getting anywhere.

    "The trees burn as trees should, I hope? I'd like to save the near death experiences for a little bit later in this expedition." she was already stepping away from the trunk in search of good pieces for kindling, but was slyly keeping an eye on him and within sight.

    He didn't seem all the surprised to see her either.
  7. "Do I look like a monster to you?" Whether his answer was glib or cryptic was difficult to say. It might have been both.

    Stashing his flute securely back into his belt alongside a dagger with a bone hilt, Briar took a step backward and glanced toward the trees. His lips twitched.

    "They burn," he agreed. "I wouldn't use any greenwood, though, if I were you."

    That was as much explanation as Wren got, about any of it.

    In companionable silence, he helped her gather up some of the driftwood that was scattered around the beach. Most of it appeared to be native, but one or two pieces looked more like something of the Karridrani variety. One long, flat log even looked suspiciously like a weathered bit of ship's siding. They piled their findings a healthy distance from the waves. When there was sufficient fuel to burn for at least a few hours, he turned to her with an expectant look and sank back on his haunches in the sand. The wind picked up just then, knocking his hood from his head and exposing his short, chestnut brown curls to the setting sun.

    "You do know how to light a fire, right, princess?" he teased, looking boyish and slightly tousled and carefree, as if he often found himself making camp with complete strangers on the beach. Then again, for all Wren knew, maybe he did.
  8. One would think in the time it took to gather suitable pieces of wood that her clothes would be dry enough. Wren blamed the chill and the wind, for most everything was a very uncomfortable kind of damp made worse by the constant wind forcing it's way under her cloak. She knelt next to her trunk to push it open again, casting her new friend a feigned offended stare.

    "What kind of proper adventurer would I be if I came unprepared?" she smirked. Wren leaned in to the trunk and did her digging. Leaned further in until her upper body disappeared inside. Out came a couple pieces of flint and a few matchsticks. The trunk was closed and within moments she had a very nice fire roaring.

    Oh Great Goddess fire felt so good!

    Wren plopped on the ground and crossed her legs. Her hands went forward to finally get some heat back in to them. Any longer and she couldn't snapped a finger off like a brittle frozen twig.

    "I've decided, if you are a monster, you aren't of the immediate danger variety. Perhaps even friendly if you're in the mood to be. So I hope that means you're amiable enough to answer questions as you are to help? Like which direction should I head first, and what animals should I avoid eating? Those are the most important ones."
  9. If Briar disagreed with her assessment of his nature, he didn't show it. He just scooted in closer to the flames, warming his linen-bound hands and returning her smirk in eye-for-an-eye spirit. Without the hood, he looked much less mysterious and much more decidedly rough-and-tumble. There was even a smudge of dirt on his cheek.

    "Since I'm in the mood to be friendly," he began easily, "I might tell you that it would help me answer your questions if I knew what you were hoping to find. After all, there are plenty of different directions to choose from, and all of them will take you somewhere you haven't been before. Other than back into the sea, that is. I'm guessing you don't want to go that way."

    His eyebrows wiggled as he gave her still-damp form a significant once-over.

    Booted feet practically bumped toes with her when he stretched out his legs, making himself more comfortable on the rocky ground. Personal space clearly didn't mean much to Briar. At least not Wren's.

    "Now, as to the rest..." He hummed thoughtfully. "Well, there are quite a few things you shouldn't eat or that are more likely to eat you, so that's a very long list, too. In fact, I'm thinking you might be very badly prepared for the wilderness of Deridia. Not that that's your fault, of course. Nobody is, not even the people around here. So don't feel too bad about that."

    As if afraid that she might in fact need reassuring, he leaned over to ruffle her hair. Given that it was still somewhat soaked, he mostly succeeded in making it clump more to the left than to the right.
  10. Wren didn't seem to mind the subtle invasion of space. It was simple, if a slightly over familiar closeness that she found to be perfectly harmless. Of course, it didn't stop her from being attentive or from staying aware of any sudden shifts of mood.

    The hair ruffling completely threw her off.

    She tilted to the side out of reach, casting him a cross look. Her scowl was faint, but definitely there, and she was reaching to fan her fingers through her hair to smooth it out. The wetness was making it look a few shades darker brown than it should be and the salt water wasn't making combing through it very easy. Her scowl faded while she pulled it all to one side and over her shoulder and started braiding.

    "Lucky for me, I'm not a nobody nor am I an anybody or an everybody. I've traveled over every single known body in Frith without being eaten, flayed, trampled, crushed, seduced, set aflame and most definitely not killed. Deridia for all it's tales of terror will be a nice challenge."

    Normally she wouldn't be so cocky, but Wren had the feeling she was being condescended to. And where she was aware he was likely doing it for the sole purpose of irking her, he had to ruffle up her hair as if she were a twelve year old child. Wren was a grown woman.

    "But as to where I want to go, I would like to see everything there is to see. Flora, fauna, people, places. Preferably in an order that doesn't get me immediately indisposed."
  11. He leaned back and away from her glare, holding up his hands in the universal sign of surrender. Despite the clear recognition of her distaste, there was still a faint grin on his face... but he looked almost approving as much as he did amused. Then the expression was gone, smoothing into a disarming smile.

    Briar propped his chin in one hand, studying her, as he waved the other in an expansive and sweeping motion toward the trees. "In that case, you have a lot of ground to cover. Deridia is larger than Byrynyn, in terms of landmass. Not as large as Karridran, of course. I don't think the variety will disappoint you, either. But then, you also say you want to keep yourself alive, so factoring that in makes things a bit trickier. Deridia isn't the most hospitable place, especially for Karridrani."

    It was the most straightforward that he'd been with Wren so far. Perhaps it was his way of apologizing.

    "You know," he went on, smile broadening. "What you really need is a guide. At least as far as Sheolhinom."
  12. "I suppose that means you're offering." Wren commented wryly. She was still a bit miffed for the hair-ruffling, though now that he was being much more straightforward she was more inclined to forgive. Still, she was weighing the possibilities of him being a nuisance against her need of having a Deridian guide. A guide was always paramount during the first legs of an excursion. If he wasn't just up-playing the dangers because she was a woman, then traveling without a little help would be a bad idea.

    "The question is, are you a good guide?" she asked carefully. "Do you speak the languages? Known the cultures? Can tell me when something might be grievously offensive? Know the best roads to travel and the most amazing things to see?" Her check list could go on longer, but he would get the picture. Wren had done enough traveling to figure out there could be a lot of complications if you weren't prepared.

    Of course, he could also be a beach stranded rouge having a bit of fun with her. She was eying him again, looking for some sort of clue beyond just the strangeness of his clothes. For a dweller on a forbidden land, he truly did know a lot about the rest of the world.

    "And more importantly, what you'd like to be paid. A good guide costs a bit, doesn't it?"