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The Grouzhina Floodby Robin from Threshold Magazine issue 7
The Grouzhina Flood
by Robin D
Grouzhina was originally created by Christian Constantin here: http://pandius.com/cconstan.html and depicted in this map: http://pandius.com/h1000ac.jpg
8 Yarthmont 1004 AC
Within the Kingdom of Grouzhina, several miles East of Djuhra, near the Azhdakan standing stones. Late Spring. It was dark that night. The storm clouds blocked out the stars again, yet no rain did fall for three days.
The Wildwood druid Glashbar frowned deep within his beard, being sure not to awaken the gerbil babies hiding within it. He took a sip of Dalarquian Brandy, glanced up again, and frowned even stronger. “It is that I know this be no magic cast from a fallen cleric from Hule, or a decrepit adventurer from the East. Not even a foul sorcerer from over the Silver Sierras, nor a demonic Lich from the Kingdom of the Dead in the North. No. None of these had been seen in the region for over three years now. Not that there was no magic. No. Adventurers enough; Fighters and Clergy from Kyurdukstan, Thieves from Grouzhina, and even Dragonhunters from the Wildwoods. Some Orcish Shaman from Hule, perhaps…, but neither of them … no, neither of them would be able to lock the weather down in this region, without making it rain. No. Nobody would be able, or so stupid. The source must be natural. But where?’’
The Mother gerbil arose Glashbar from his pondering. The creature looked deep into his eyes, as if a question had been asked. No sadness, fear or anger was in its tiny bead-like eyes, but there was no happiness either. Then it rapidly scuttled between the strands of beard, climbing up to its litter, a squall briefly arose, as the pups fought for their nipple to suckle upon, then fell silent again.
Glashbar, felt the warm fur of the critters on his chest, now and then the tiny claws scratching his bare skin. He looked again at the dark foreboding clouds. The storm’s center was near, somewhere above the village Illishian. “Tomorrow, yeah, tomorrow I‘ll be there and find the source….. yeah, tomorrow, it must be tomorrow!”
9 Yarthmont 1004 AC
Marla looked up from her stand. Between the chalked spires of Kouriani, the dark green clouds in the South seemed as solid as a rock, which became brighter for a moment with each lightning burst crawling inside. “No sorcerer had been seen in Grouzhina the last year, or several miles around, yet it felt as if…”, here her thoughts stopped, frozen. For less than a mere blink of an eye, within the fluid moment between two seconds she felt as being adrift. The world around her seemed to change. She saw fish and trees flying through the air, sand and stone above and air below. Softly a voice spoke; “Prepare to leave, meet me at the Crystals of Merat. You have two days.!!”
Then all was as if nothing had happened, the people around here were still selling their wares as usual. The pigeons she used to send messages were feeding upon the corn seeds. The storm still raged on. “Weird, isn’t it?” A voice broke her reassining reasoning.
“Huh? Ehmm… Yeah. Yes …. Weird”. “They say in Illishian that it started three days ago. Three days, and still no drop of rain. It must be dem wizards beyond da desert plateau to da east”.
Worried she looked upon the merchant, a local from Isiliath selling magic sand to merchants travelling far away. She knew the sand was used for magical creations, like sandhours which always revealed the true time, or sleeping sand for the sleep spell research, or even the creation of Sand Golems.
His eyes dark and covered in dirtied wrinkles, yet friendly. His mouth, dirty and almost without any teeth. The wooden mouthpiece as replacements hung on a rope beneath his chin. The dirtied clothing revealed clearly his Sindian origin, one of the few still roaming around here.
“Yes, still no rain!...?” she answered, voiced more like a question than an affirmation.
“Nahh, no’ even a drop”
“But, Hey... cannai send a message to Illishian? I wanna know if me brats continue digging up enough sand. I just gotta new order. 15 bags o’ sand. Fifteen!!. That’a bring me at least a 1000 gold. A 1000. Yo’ve eva seen a 1000 gold? I’m becoming rich ya know, and then I……”
Slowly Marla looked back at the clouds, and tried to mix it with her vision. Nothing came out.
“He Ya… I canna write, ya know. Grab da feather anna start writing kid, ya wanna earn ya money aren’t ya?”
“Ehh..Yes, sir. What is your message….30 words is the limit, since my pigeons aren’t weightlifters, for only 3 silver…..”
10 Yarthmont 1004 AC
The Storm raged above Isiliath. Yet no drop had fallen. Four days now. No strange magic, no hard wind, no humanoids or dragons. Nothing at all. Only the complete covering of the sky. Blocking almost all daylight that passed over the valley walls. Logan saw the people, foreign as he was between them, foreign they were to him. Most of them were hauling crystals and crystal–like sand in sacks and carts. Yes, he was a foreigner. Far away he came. His clergy ordained him to go to a sorcerer who could teleport him here. In Glantri he found one. 500 gold pieces. 500!! Expensive. Why did the clergy want to spend such an amount just to send him. He unsurely looked around. His new warhorse reined, and saddled, the merchant checking another 80 gold pieces. Logan pondered; Horses were rare here. Apparently. Some other creature was more common. Some kinda big bird. He saw many nests lining the rocks, but the birds were gone. None remained. The population was frightened, yet hungry for more magical sand.
“Thank You Sir” said the merchant as he gave the money.
“Do you know a place of crystal known as Merat?” he asked.
“Yeah.. o’course. Go North. Along da river and ya see it clearly. Its druid territory though. I dunna think they wanna have metal-bearers there. On da horse ya can reach it in a day o’ two. Hope I Helped ya….” With a greedy outstretched palm, eagerly for a coin extra, he looked beggingly into the face of the Paladin.
Logan frowned; “Of course, here best man, may the Immortals be with you”, and placed a silver piece in the dirty hand. As he arose the horse, the merchant mumbled something under his breath, something unfriendly. “Greed in any form, is never good, but always wrong, Mister.” “Yeah, yeah, ya surely wanna never get another rich, mister goodytissue…..” further he could not, nor wanted to, hear the words the man said. The horse itself suddenly walked forwards. And outside the village limits, it started to run. Northwards…along the river.
In the cave of the Malet Mountain, north of Djuhkra, Vertigeribiil Darastrix suddenly had a strange feeling. He was being summoned, with his hoard. A sort of druidic summon, yet he never was requested to do such a thing with his hoard. Yet Glashbar had always kept his promise. Never he sent hunters, thieves, or other kin to slay him. He even awarded the dragon when he helped. Vertigeribiil Darastrix cast a few spells and his treasure disappeared in a huge sack. Then he lifted it and spread his wings. He looked over the valley. In front of him he saw the river Merat. And even the sparkles of the Crystal Vale near it. The faint light from the north broke through the dark-green and purple clouds. Not even Vertigeribiil Darastrix did like this. He felt the magic tingling in the air. Something was amiss, so much for sure. His wide wings spread, he took a step over the edge, and jumped into the sky. A small circle, as he looked back upon his lair. His home. He had a feeling it would be his last moment with it. Then he turned East. The 30 miles were done in a few hours, and at nightfall he landed near the Crystal Vale. He liked the magic coming from it. It charged through his muscles, giving him strength and healing. Of course as a dragon he had more affinity with nature than most species, yet it was always weird to see how he could accept its powers already at a distance, while humans and such had to wear a Crystal shard.
Nobody here, he thought as he looked around. I wait. The sack placed in the Vale, for he knew humans would not dare to enter a Crystal Vale. Then he stepped just outside. Folded his mighty wings and tail. And sagged down. Slowly he fell asleep.
11 Yartmont 1004, Early morning.
Marla had traveled by moose now. Horses were way too expensive, and since moose tended to function better in woodlands, this tamed version would suffice. Or at least it has too. With a bottom like a rock and pains in her lower back she travelled day and night. It was weird, as the moose was neither hungry or thirsty, and did not get tired. As if something important was to happen and the beast knew it. Marla wished she had brought her pillow, as the back of a moose was not built to ride upon.
Then the first crystals could be seen. Single elongated elliptical strands growing like flowers from the ground. The Crystal Vale was near. Very near. And then the glow of the main source could be seen through the crystalline trees. She halted the moose. But as soon she grabbed her equipment, (the tent from her grandfather, the dagger from her sister, and the pouch with food from her mother) the creature staggered back and ran away, back into the north. The strings of the bedroll securely strapped, the equipment fell to the ground. Marla kneeled, and while doing this, she sensed a strange smell. A scent of chlorine, somewhat acidic, yet not chemical, but still a strong natural smell. Something she had never smelled before.
Logan tried to slow his horse down, but all attempts were fruitless. The beast ran forward like as if in a panic. As soon as it had left the village Isiliath, it took up several notches of speed. Only his experience held him in the saddle. He saw the small village disappearing from sight. In the darkness against the rockwalls it was soon no more to be seen. The forest itself was strangely easy to pass, as if it helped. There were no branches, no bushes in the way that seemed to hinder the horse. And where they were, it jumped over it. Then he noticed something. He didn’t spot it directly, but during the day, he found out what was different; it was silent, really silent. No birds singing, or other beasts making sound, not even insects. He did notice animals, but all were in some kind of haste, though a clear chosen direction could not be seen. The whole day and night passed on this way. It was the morning sun piercing over the mountains from the Northeast that broke his dreary eyes. He was completely awake instantly. Looking around, the horse was still running. Panting it suddenly fell. Logan tumbled over the horse. The ground and his armor met with a loud crash. Dizzy from the impact Logan arose, directly turning his eye towards the horse. With a last gasp of breath the creature looked frightened back into his soul. “What… the beast is dead? How?” The horse had not broken any legs, but was soaked in sweat, and spilled foam from its mouth. Its body was still feverishly hot. A Heart attack. Purely from exhaustion. Logan hoped he was near his intended destination, and grabbed his equipment. With a stroke of his hand he closed the horses’ eyes. “Rest well, beast, Rest well.” The animal served him only once, but he felt as if they were long friends, one able to give life to save the other. In the north he saw some smoke rising from above the trees. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, there is intelligent life. About a mile or so, he estimated. It was in the main direction, so why not.
Glashbar had ignited a fire, a secure spot, only rocks and no wood within 50 yards or so. He disliked it still, but knew it had to be important. It was as if nature itself told him what to do. He sat down. Ate some berries, gave some to the gerbils, but they didn’t want to leave his safe and warm beard. He drank some brandy, but it didn’t taste as well as he remembered. The cloud was darker than before, he noticed that the rain had started above Isiliath. “At last. And yet… still…” he was bothered, something was still amiss.
The mountain Fisher Amras was just south of the great lake. He had said farewell to his family, but couldn’t understand why. His thoughts were at first that the dangerous climb to the lake could be his downfall, but when he canoed over the lake he was sure it was something else. Thousands of fish, were jumping up from the water. A sight he had never seen, carps as large as a horse were jumping like a goldfish in hot water. Within the ruckus he succeeded to reach the southern shore. Then the lightning bolts struck the mountain. The purple sky was lit for several moments as the several bolts hit the northern side of the lake.
“That musta be it...” he mumbled “...they musta sensed the weather. No moment for me to return home. That’s a thing o ‘sure”. He unpacked his canoe and set up his tent. Then the rain fell. It was as if the heavens opened and released a downpour. Within an hour Amras noticed the water level had risen a full yard. ”Thadda not normal. I’d betta hike up da mountain and find a dry cave or somethin. Or I’ll be needinn to learn ta swim.” And so he did. After strolling for a hour up the mountains he found a cave a hundred yards or so above the water level, here he was at least dry and safe.
Vertigeribiil Darastrix suddenly awoke. He heard something and his keen senses told him his food had come. His favorite dinner; Moose. But as soon as he arose, and stretched his sleepy wings the scent was gone. “ A Pity, such a fine dinner”. Normally he would have flown after it, but he knew it was somehow important to be here, remain here. He noticed the rain falling. “That must be the beginning of…,” here he stopped, not knowing what to think or to say. Then a young human female came from around the Crystal Vale. And behind her something else, something big, very big.
Rumbark Questinor had been the local protector of the region. All his life, but he knew that was to change. The humans had depleted the magic point south of Isiliath too much. The balance was disturbed. The magic spread, drawing upon the energies of the sky in a balance to the powers of time it had in itself. It sought for water, for time, but the humans had diverted the river so it didn’t reach the crystal sands of the magical area. Then they also stole away great amounts of the crystal sands for acquiring yellow metal. “Pah”. He had called a mighty summoning spell to ensure the seeds of the forest would be saved Two humans were called. One druid and a maiden. Vertigeribiil Darastrix was also called, and he succeeded to request help from Ordana. She explained a hero would be there too. Most of the animals he urged to flee, away from the area, yet many, so he knew, would not be able too.
He saw the girl, when she climbed down from the moose, and as fast as a Treant could walk he followed her to the Dragon. The wait was only for the druid and the Hero. Vertigeribiil Darastrix knew Rumbark and settled down. Though they were not friends, they had great respect for each-others’ Might. The woman, however, was something completely different. He knew her as the Thief-merchant who sent sold messages by pigeon, but often sold the messages to those she saw profitable. He knew as he had noticed her often in Kouriani in a human shape. Why was she the maiden summoned? Why? Rumbark noticed Vertigeribiil Darastrix settling down, and cast a Calm spell on the girl, just before she saw the dragon.
Logan noticed the rains too. A complete downpour came down, dowsing the fire he just saw. In the darkness of the rain he stumbled further, when a greenish light almost beckoned him further. A Druidic Continual Light he thought, and removed his helmet. And indeed he noticed a human figure where the fire just was. A hunchbacked bearded fellow who probably had never seen the good use of a razor and a piece of soap. Typically a druid.
Glashbar noticed the paladin long before he was noticed himself. And cast a spell to ensure they would come together. The rain was so heavy, without light, you could pass a house in 10 yards without noticing it, let alone meeting one another. "Hello there. Come. I made cover". He called, and directed Logan to a makeshift roof of branches and leaves. Before the man in armor could respond he cast yet another spell transforming Logan into a squirrel. “That would surely hasten our travel”. He grasped the animal and shape-shifted into a deer. A bearded deer, but a deer nonetheless. Rapidly he ran forward, and in the middle of the night the magical lights of the Crystal Vale became recognizable. He was baffled when he saw the Treant Druid being there together with the green Dragon Vertigeribiil Darastrix and some unknown human girl.
When he halted, and returned to his self again, he also transformed Logan back to his human shape. “Sorry for that fella, but when Rumbark calls it’s important”.
Rumbark acquainted the party and explained to them how they could help. Rumbark was slow and could not really help himself, but he gave them a huge sack of seeds and seedlings of rare and unknown plants. “Go North. Just west of the hills of the Wild Ogres and south of the Wildwood. Find a good hidden glade and plant the seeds, when fully grown plant them here anew"
They went north as rapidly as they could, using all their skills combined to reach the specific destination Rumbark had given to save these precious plants. He said farewell, and then they suddenly knew. He was not surviving this, whatever was going to happen. With all the speed they had they moved north. Hindered here and there only by humanoids too stupid for knowing what they should not do.
12 Yarthmonth 1004 AC. about 12:00
It was Amras who first noticed a change. It was a faint rumble within the mountain. The water had risen 15 yards in total, and only now the rain was somewhat lessening.
The people of Isiliath awoke in their richly decorated houses. A minor shock awoke them all. They remembered the words of a Treant a week ago to leave, but almost torched the thing for daring them to leave their wealth. Was there something in what he had said? But before they could act upon these new fears, a great explosion broke down the mountain. Millions of cubic feet broke through the mountain destroying everything in its wake. The first were the inhabitants of Isiliath and their precious ownings. The wave slammed into the Malet mountain, destroying all that was the lair of Vertigeribiil Darastrix. The water rushed onwards, filling the complete valley.
Rushing over the Crystal Vale only a single turn after breaking through the wall of the mountain. Engulfing the valley with several yards of torrentuous water, destroying all in its wake. Trees flushed away as if not being there. Amras saw the lake literally disappearing. The water slowed down near Meratnishi, but left no stone unturned, no building intact. Within a moment the second village of the valley was completely destroyed with almost all of its inhabitants. The onrushing water fell back upon the side hills of the valley, and flooded Kouriani. Even here hundreds died in the massive wave of water, mud, muck, trees, dead creatures and evermore. Rumbark reverted back to a dead stump of wood, was one of them.
When the night fell, the water calmed down a bit and slowly fell back into its riverbed, the river had created over centuries winding side by side. The high water lost most of its destructive force north of Slashina in Grouzhina, but the sudden high wave of water was noticed far away in Gallanor and even the Kingdom of the Dead. The dead it brought with it were found all along this tract of river.
The strange party succeeded in their quest. Logan saw and spoke while the others were just awed;
“Greed in any form, is never good, but always wrong.
They caused their own downfall by their own greed. Nature can’t be plundered without repercussion. These are the words of Ordana. Great Mother of the Forest. Pleased she’d be for saving us.
Image: Grouzhina Flood Map
The Druid and the party returned to the area, and helped spawn a new forest with the use of special magic granted by the Immortal. The body of Rumbark was discovered and returned to the ground. Within 8 months the first trees sprouted up, and the Crystal Vales, hit by the wave broke through the mud, showing of their new splendor. The Young Gerbils left the beard of Glashbar. Soon other animals would accompany them, chased by the dragon's awe into the valley.
A weird Party. Indeed.
A Good Cause to come together. Indeed
Note; mister goodytissue…..” This is a local Grouzhina slang derived from a small sentence Goody two-shoes, Local meaning; A dandy rich individual, (hence the tissues), presenting him/herself as overly virtuous, and morally superior, at least in the eyes of the user of this sentence. Further see; http://nl.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=goody+two+shoes