Friday April 24th
The Grizzly Cubs gathered together in the peaceful Spirit Valley of Kuruk to share their stories. The small campfire was packed by those who had come to share in the celebration of lore. Daemon, Audie, and Tanner of the Grizzly Cubs told tales of how they got to the valley. They spoke of grief, determination, home, and family. Then came Nat’s story that slowly changed the tone of the stories and grew darker.
He spoke of the Hare-Bear that was slain by the Water Panther, a once wise elder of his people. The next story by Tepic was about a creature of the same name that scattered the tribes when the world was new. Freya and Brisby told of the wicked bear that turned into a Yeti and the great battle of the Valley long before. And last the coyote told a story of how the Water Panther slew a guardian of old by mesmerizing a child into poisoning their target.
Strifeclaw, Guardian of the Earth Stone arrived at storytime late and the camp descended into chaos. Some of the Fairelanders knew her from years before, but the Grizzly Cubs suspected she was the Water Panther of legend – an enemy of the Valley and servant to the Unweaver.
Many allies from across the Fairelands denied this allegation, but strangely Strifeclaw herself did not. She told them instead that she was! They chased after her with spears and weapons in hand and discovered their Great Medicine Bear murdered.
Many suspected the Water Panther, but the ax and spears suggested another evil had done this deed. Theories roared through the camp as cubs and allies new and old wondered what had happened. Had the Water Panther driven a peaceful person to murder? Was Strifeclaw herself confused? Had one of the cubs done this?
Some of the Grizzly Cubs called to lock up all visitors with feline blood and anyone who had spoken to the Panther. Cale Firesong, Guardian of the Firestone, quickly flew to the High Chief of Kuruk. He assured them that he would do everything in his power to find the killer and uncover the truth. He bid everyone return to their huts while he took his fallen comrade away for their final rights.
The Cubs went to sleep with questions and worry in their hearts. Clouds of uncertainty now billowed in the skies over the Valley.
Saturday, April 25th
Trial By Charity
The sun had just dawned over the peaks of the Valley when the Grizzly cubs began rounding up those with feline blood and had spoken with the ‘Water Panther’.
Softpaw Summer a writer and friend of the Children of Stories, Lynx Tree who bears a fragment of the Water Stone, Nat Merit and Daemon of the Grizzly cubs, and even Star of the Pawficers were all locked away simply for being felines and having consorted with the Panther after orders not to.
The High Chief then arrived and said that the council decided that ALL the Grizzly Cubs would be put on trial as well as all others already rounded up. At 10 am till 11 am they would put on trial to determine their innocence.
Evidence and stories were gathered, but the evidence appeared to be insubstantial, but it did not matter. This was a trial by charity. And the guilty kiosk was far ahead of the innocent kiosk at every moment!
It started off at a disadvantage 7400 guilty to 400 innocent. From there the cubs made their cases and argued. Lynx Tree and Softpaw spoke on the behalf of the children rather than themselves, which many recognized as it occured. Morkus Dreg, a ‘humble’ trader of the Fairelands, reported that he had seen the children with weapons drawn chasing the panther and then cries of murder.
The Cubs and Cats cried out that the true culprit was the one feeding the guilty kiosk. Also, the children argued, that Morkus himself was suspicious as well as the High Chief himself. But the High Chief did not rise to the criticism and kept the trial by charity moving as the numbers rose. It was up to the Fairelanders charity to decide their fate.
Others saw that one cub was not a cub of theirs at all! Lilith’s spear was missing. Distrust ran through the cubs, but they couldn’t call one guilty without all being guilty! It looked like things were bad at the end. With the last 10 minutes the High Chief closed arguments and the total of guilty had reached 50,000 to the innocents 42000…there were last minute bids and finally in the last minute the totals read:
108,470 combined for charity
….and still the number was growing after the announcement ending at 109,082!
The relieved children were freed and so were the other Fairelanders locked away with them. The cubs had learned a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions and locking away entire peoples. It was suggested the High Chief may have planned that lesson from the start.
Later, Cale of the Firestone laughed as he informed others he had been putting treasures into the guilty kiosk to make the cubs sweat and work harder.
But all was not right with the land. Posters had appeared all over the valley saying the Medicine Bear was poisoning the land and killing her patients. Slander the apprentice cried out, but there were more!
The apprentice went to inform the High Chief as the children realized that whoever the killer was must be spreading the lies. And they had to do this while everyone was distracted at the trial. The hunt for the true killer was on, while the skies got ever more dark in this once calm Valley of Healing.
Sunday, April 26th
The Cave of Destruction and Tunnel of Hate
The Grizzly Cubs woke up to unsettling news. Even more posters had spread in the night, and this one claimed they had been found guilty instead of innocent! Even the radio announcer said the High Chief of Kuruk was calling for their arrest, but he wasn’t doing that at all. Had someone impersonated him? With all the misinformation being spread it seemed likely. Softpaw Summer, seeing the posters informing them felines were not welcome, departed the valley in fury.
And then tragedy struck again, the apprentice of the Medicine Bear fell from the elevator and lay dying slowly. She could barely speak at all, but she mumbled out the last thing she had seen. The Water Panther had finally left its cave it seemed and it shook the elevator sending her to her doom. The Panther seen long afterwards with blood on its maw and on the floor beneath it.
Many tried to help Kasa and had her drink from the healing waters mixed with borage root. Her life was saved but she had fallen asleep with a terrible concussion. They did not know if she would wake. The secrets of the medicine here would be lost forever it was feared.
The cubs were sent by Sunshine to go see the High Chief who welcomed them to his home atop the central cave of the Valley. The High Chief lamented Kasa’s fate and the cruelty of the Water Panther trying to take her from them. He noted that only one in the Valley could still know the story of Medicine. One being who hadn’t just tried to kill their Medicine apprentice.
The insane Tah-Tah-Ike. An owl woman, a witch, a creature who lived in a cave of bones that was in the northwest corner of the valley. Hard to see from a casual glance, but impossible to miss if you go to that corner. Bones litter the ground at the Cave of Destruction which she guards the entrance towards. The Bear Chief warned them that if they wanted to learn anything they must go without weapons and do what she said, though she was dangerous. It was the only way to learn what they knew of medicine to save the apprentice, Kasa.
While their new friend Lynx Tree and their more dangerous friends such as the dragon Nisha stayed behind to treat their fallen ally, the cubs went to the cave. The mad owl tricked several of them into getting in a cage willingly. They had not however, been told doing so would get them what they wanted. Brisby instead offered to make a trade. Something the owl woman wanted that was difficult to gather on her own. She thought about this and let them out to gather the supplies for her shish-kabob including a sharpened stick on both sides five feet long.
They returned with the ingredients and once Nat offered to be her meal, and got back in the cage as a sacrifice, she honored her deal as the Chief and Sunshine had told them. She shared the forgotten history of medicine in the Valley:
Before the time of the Yeti there were many spirits. Fish, water, plants, animals, rocks and more. When the spirits first allowed the two legs into the valley, they offered these lost beings shelter and food from the many sources of themselves. But the two legs got greedy. They took too much and so the spirits influenced by something wicked brought sickness and death into this world.
The water took pity upon the two-legs and asked the plants for help, saying they would give all their power to help them grow stronger. Some of the plants agreed and were transformed into something new, medicine. Since then the medicine of the Valley has been powered by the waters blessed by spirits and Guardians from the Fairelands becoming far more potent than ever.
The water however appears to be losing its power as it did not yet heal their friend Kasa nor the borage root grown from it. Thus the water must be losing its potency as the clouded valley became darker with every passing second.
The only thing that could be done then, was to find the Water Spirits cave and learn the truth. To open the way, the Tah-Tah said they must find the spirits and the follow the path. First however, they hurried to give Kasa more water and then returned with their more dangerous friends to save Nat. But the crazy Tah-Tah-Ike scoffed at them and their massive allies and said she would shoo them away with her broom. While she fetched it they released Nat from the cage.
They found their way to the secret door, but Strifeclaw blocked their path. They begged her to move and called her the Earth Panther to which she scoffed and called herself the Water Panther. She then warned them with cruel harshness only madness awaited them if they proceeded and then moved to watch.
The doorway was before them but it would not budge till they said Water Spirit. Then a second door was revealed. The group had to travel to each of the spirit statues and return with the image hidden upon them somewhere. The path was open and they rushed inside to discover the Water Spirits story.
They had been commanded by the gods to freeze the bears heart and turn it into a Yeti they learned. That she regretted this action and hoped they would learn from her mistake. But something was blocking their path to the frozen heart of the Yeti. A magical wall recently added prevented them from going beyond.
Strifeclaw growled that she could destroy the wall, but that she did not want to help them. However, she then warned them to get back as she was going to force the way open. Tepic, her fiercest opponent, screamed at her and said she should have defied the gods and never frozen the heart in the first place. That all the anger and hate and terror was her fault. Strifeclaw ordered him to move or be killed as she was to destroy the wall. The Grizzly Cubs and Lynx all begged him to move as well but Tepic stood his ground without fear.
Strifeclaw unleashed their spell sending spikes of earth sticking out of the rock that blasted Tepic away and shattered the barrier from beneath and broke the recently added spell. Tepic lay broken in a corner as the cubs ignored his plight. Worse, they were turning on themselves. They began to shout at each other, and threatened to disband and quit the cubs. Even the peaceful and calm Lynx Tree began to scream at the children filled with an unnatural rage.
Strifeclaw purred gleefully at her handiwork as the children went for their weapons and tried to kill one another, “Do you want to know a secret? I have always hated children. I warned you that madness was all you would find. A madness I knew all too well. Enjoy where it takes you.”
The panther left the cave and the children to their doom, her opening the way had not been for their benefit at all. Lynx Tree growled as the hate seeped into her heart as her piece of the water stone shone…and then acting from instinct raised it above her head and a calmness spread through her. The cubs too slowly seemed to realize they must escape the cave. They ran out, many crying and apologizing that they didn’t mean any of the horrible things they had said or done in there.
It was then that they came to realize the Heart was the source of the Miasma of Hate in the Valley. The murder, the suspicion, the cruelty, everyone turning against one another was all caused by this infectious heart deep inside the Yeti. It was also then they realized they had abandoned Tepic and retrieved him quickly before the Heart could affect them. He was hurt badly and they rushed him to the village to be cared for by Sunshine. They gave him the water from the stream but it was no faster healing than it was for Kasa who had finally woken up but could not move.
Lynx called on the children to perform a cleansing ritual should the Bears know of one. One with much dancing, charity, love, and cheer. Only then could they pierce the Miasma of Hate and return the Valley to its senses. And hopefully Strifeclaw herself, who came to the village to see if Tepic survived her attack.
The Miasma is too powerful for the children to defeat alone. Join them, without weapons and instruments of war, and in love and charity and cheer tomorrow from 1 pm to 3 pm slt so they may cleanse the Heart and unfreeze it once and for all.
Monday April 27th
Cleansing the Frozen Heart
Fairelanders gathered into the Spirit Valley of Kuruk at the foot of the Yeti Mountain to discover the truth. News had spread about how the cubs path would lead them to salvation or destruction. Heading the call of the minstrel Madonna, the Faire folk joined the cubs with trust and hope. Even Softpaw Summer slowly made the long trek back after losing her temper the day before.
They were told not to bring their weapons and carry only peace, love, and charity. Some did not heed this warning and so their dance to cleanse this place was much harder than it would have been. They were oblivious that the charity needed to offset their violent potential rose with each weapon and each living weapon present.
But that charity was forthcoming. Soon they lit the first of the story stones. When the second stone was lit Strifeclaw prowled into view to the terror of some, but she sat to herself and watched them all. She wondered how many of them would regret their choices soon.
Some could not resist their fear and hatred for the Water Panther or Earth Guardian or whatever she truly was. They left so that the spell would not be impeded by their negative feelings. The others did their best to let it go and let the music and love elevate them beyond that feeling.
Dogstar of the Lesser Sidhe visited briefly and noticed something strange the fresh markings that had been made on the floor. Runes of Concealment he called them where the wall had been. The elder noted someone had intentionally tried to hide the heart, but the cubs had already broken through it. He congratulated them on their good work and wished them luck, as the cubs beamed at his praise.
The stones lit up slower, even after they had passed their records outside the cave. They passed 100,000 and still only 4 of the beams had been lit. The Fairelanders were running out of time for the cleansing to work so they rushed in the last few minutes and reached 125,000. Finally, the Heart began to melt!
Strifeclaw reminded them that they might regret a few of their decisions soon. Being in a rapidly filling pool under a melting heart was definitely a regret to some. There was a mad rush out of the basin.
The heart was melting but they couldn’t stop yet, and once the water had settled they turned it into a pool party.
They danced, sang, and spread more love to the kiosk and finally the ice fully melted and vanished, the Heart cleansed and seemingly gone now. All that was left was a floating crystal of energy.
‘Hear me, Fairelanders and Guardians for my time is short! The Water Spirit of Olde froze this cruel heart to prevent its evil from infecting others as it infected this valley so thoroughly! To do this it drew heavily upon the power of the Water Stone carried by the very First Guardian of Water!’
‘Half the power of the stone has been focused here ever since. The original bearer of the Stone passed away in a victorious battle against the servant of the Unweaver, the Water Panther. But not before the stone was cracked and split! The power of the stone is returning to its split halves. One with a feline of peace, and the other hidden in the realm of the Forgotten.’
The cubs now had much to think about from what the crystal had said, but they had repressed their negativity and were too happy to dwell on the words now. The Cubs thanked everyone for helping them melt the Yeti’s heart and went back home to heal and recover from their injuries, convinced that the worst of this was now behind them.
((The Grizzly Cubs with your help raised a total of 131000 linden by the end of the day and passed the 2,000,000 linden mark for the Children of Stories as a whole since they began raising lindens seven years ago. They want to thank everyone for coming and being a part of their stories as we fight the Unweaver together))
Tuesday, April 28th
The Quest For Clarity
The Grizzly Cubs awoke to a new tragedy. Bears who drank the water from the river were falling sick. Kasa, who had accepted the cleansing water the night before, had relapsed. The Cubs were confused that their efforts seemed to have made things worse. Had melting the frozen heart unleashed an evil they would regret just as Strifeclaw had claimed? Had Tah Tah, the child-eating owl woman, deceived them after all?
Reconsidering that last one… maybe that wasn’t a shock. There were too many questions, conflicting answers, and lies. They needed a plan.
They gathered together to share what had happened and planned their way forward. They discussed the murder of the Medicine Bear, the posters or misinformation, the trader Morkus Dreg, the Tah-Tah, the Frozen Heart, the runes of concealment they found, and what to do about Strifeclaw. Wild rumors, beliefs, and events were shared over the campfire. They even suspected the Medicine Bear had set the warding and was slain as someone went mad from the hate. Finally, they came to the conclusion they had no answers just suspicions.
Their only lead was an offer of two questions Strifeclaw had agreed to answer in the future. One for Tanner of the Grizzly Cubs, and one for Lynx the now acting Guardian of the Water Stone. Despite this, they began to get off track discussing possible motives and possibilities more wild than the last. Finally the Guardian of the Firestone (Cale Firesong) grew impatient and began to push everyone towards the cave and to think of the questions later. Several had seen the panther at the Heart cave and made their journey there.
They kept a respectful distance but her face was contorted with rage. Tanner asked how the bears could be healed. The great panther did not know they were sick and demanded their next question. They tried to push for more information but she never promised them good answers.
Suspecting Strifeclaw was under a spell now, Lynx sent away everyone who wore their weapons and refused to remove them. She then asked where to find and restore the lost half of the water stone. ‘Strife’ said it was lost to them unless they desired to be Forgotten themselves.
They had wasted their questions. As she turned to leave, Cale and the others begged for another question. They wanted to understand what was wrong with her. Nat and Tanner wondered if she would even know if she was under a spell.
Strifeclaw paused and told them her tale. She admitted she was once an average panther who was ensnared by the Unweaver. She was just one of his servants he turned into his personal monsters to do his bidding. After a terrible illness, she became Nén Miaulin, or ‘Water Panther’, as her very element shifted to his wicked desire.
Nén Miaulin committed many of the crimes written in the stories. She was tasked with hunting down the Guardians of the Elemental Stones, and caught up to them after the Battle with the Yeti. The Guardians were weakened by the battle and one of their number fell in a sacrifice that rendered Nén unconcious. Rather than being slain, the Guardians recognized the touch of the Unweaver on her and instead cleansed and released Nén Miaulin from his hold. Renewed and filled with regret for her actions, and having nowhere else to turn, she asked to join her rescuers as one of their defenders. She would only become Earth Guardian after proving herself long after the tragedy had passed and the original passed on.
She was given a second chance, but here she could feel his influence again. Somewhere the familiar evil had spread out, and Strifeclaw suspected it was whoever set the runes of concealment recently. The Cubs realized in sorrow that she was just another victim of the sickness. Softpaw Summer offered a hug, which the panther didn’t resist even as her growl deepened. Their forgiveness seemed to reach her ears and before the cubs went she told them to seek out those within the valley who would know the runes.
The kids returned to camp and shared the panthers story to mixed levels of belief. They did take her advice to heart and journeyed to the High Chief of Kuruk to ask about who in the Valley may know the runes.
He ordered them back to their camp for interrupting his grief as a plague was spreading through his people. He did not want to hear about their fanciful tales of runes or their talk with the Water Panther/Nén Miaulin. Rejected the group retreated back to camp and asked Sunshine the bear. She knew nothing of who may have set the runes either.
Tah Tah welcomed them back to her cave where she offered them child stew. As Daemon of the Cubs tried to draw the runes for the woman, Nat was overcome by his trauma from his last encounter with the owl woman. He lost control and in a rage attacked the Tah-Tah. As she cried in pain and anger Cale flew forward and tried to hold him back. When that failed he used his massive wings to knock the lad back on the bones.
The lad fell unconscious and impaled on the bone floor, and Cale apologized as he helped Lilith pull the lad free. The Tah-Tah looked at them, and perhaps thankful for Cale’s assistance told them anyone could have used those runes. Cale in desperation shouted there was no one else but the dead who knew anything to help them then, and they couldn’t ask them! The Tah-Tah responded cryptically, ‘Kuruk has its ways.’
Suddenly they remembered that this was the Spirit Valley of Kuruk, and the bears of the past had spoken with the spirit realm! They thanked the owl woman and returned home with Nat bleeding out. Without understanding his plight, the children rushed for the path to the spirit realm which was said to be found near the blue mushrooms.
The children were lost in the bright paths and reflective beauty of the place. It was nearly indescribable like a fever dream for them. They followed the path and eventually found the path to the Medicine Bear!
She greeted them warmly and asked why they were here. After a time she told them the truth. The High Chief had been drawing the runes of concealment around the heart. Discovered, he chased her down and put his ax into her back. Her spirit knew nothing else but they realized the spears were added to frame them.
She begged them to cleanse the High Chief or he too would turn into a vile Yeti. The water crystal being completed would aid them greatly in this task. With a final message for her apprentice to believe in themselves she let them depart. They were trapped in the spirit realm with her, but she told them the way back would be to find Kwa-Kuruk. Cale thanked her and led the children back through the maze and called out when he found the statue of the great chief.
They returned to feelings of sickness and fell over disoriented. Only Softpaw seemed to have found the journey somewhat familiar as a fae creature. They slowly made their way back to camp and realized that Nat was dying!
With so much sickness in camp they had not realized his weakness was from blood loss. Kasa and Lynx worked hard and managed to stop the bleeding and saved his life. Cale apologized again and informed them Strifeclaw was usually their unofficial leader, and he had just been trying to fill her massive paw prints…and failed. The group tried to reassure him, but he didn’t seem comforted. Instead they focused on what they had accomplished and what was to come.
The High Chief was their enemy all along. They would have to capture him, and then recover the lost crystal, and finally cleanse the evil from this valley once and for all.
Wednesday, April 29th
Grizzly Cubs In Hiding
The Grizzly Cubs had to run away from their original camp to escape the ever watchful gaze from the High Chief. The cubs crept back and forth between camp across the bare valley until they had made a proper secondary camp near the waterfall.
They hoped even if the High Chief saw them do this early in the dawn he would figure they were trying to capture the Tah-Tah-Kle. Still there were always much bigger things to watch in the Valley thanks to the bright and colorful traveling Fairelanders. A passing dragon from a far off realm was good distraction for the much smaller children.
They had to leave some of their injured and sick within the medicine hut, but not without treatment and words of encouragement. The cubs still had allies, but not the allies they had expected in this once peaceful valley. Tepic of the Grizzly Cubs lamented those they trusted most had betrayed them. The Bears would side with the High Chief whom they had respected most. He and others were upset to note the legendary evils the carnivorous Tah-Tah-Kle and the Nén Miaulin/Water Panther that had given them the most help beyond Sunshine the Bear.
Meanwhile, as the cubs were finishing their camp, Softpaw Fae-cat and Cale the Fire Guardian overheard Tanner of the Grizzly Cubs struggling to convince Lynx Tree to follow the Coyote’s plan. The ‘Yote’ appeared in his dream suggesting the Water Guardian needed to go alone and place the Water Stone into the river while singing a cleansing song. The dream suggested the water could then heal everyone again. He offered to be the guinea pig as he desperately wanted to see and hear clearly once more.
Lynx did not trust the Coyote’s ritual. Tanner asked her to consider it and eventually she refused outright and he stormed away from both camps. Cale suggested she was right to doubt the word of known tricksters. He then asked the two felines help in convincing Strifeclaw to get out of the Valley. Softpaw and Lynx agreed and made their way up the mountain.
An unfamiliar child was waiting outside and watched them pass with a curious gaze at each. Inside they found Strifeclaw in her foul mood but willing to speak with them. She confessed she may have withheld some information before, but the group assured her she was forgiven. Lynx also begged forgiveness, as she had wasted her own question for selfish reasons and nearly left them all without guidance or knowledge.
They discovered the panther had barely eaten in six days. She had been caught enjoying a meal of rabbit and accused of being a villain for it. They asked Strifeclaw to leave the Valley and travel the Fairelands to recover. Despite protesting her duty was here, they convinced her healing was her only duty for now. Strifeclaw told them she would rest at the Isle of Shadows and perhaps visit the Fairchylde again. Giving her some space to go alone the companions were happy that had gone well. As they stepped outside the cave, the fox-child ran up and snatched the purse Lynx hid the Water Crystal within.
They chased down the child with cries of dismay. Cale saw where he was from the air, and Lynx smelled him hiding in the tall grass. Grabbing the lad, they attempted to question him but discovered him mute. Lynx, in a fury, held him over the river and asked him if a ‘Bard King’ had put him up to this. The lad nodded.
Demanding he return what he stole, the scared lad upended the stolen purse and dropped the contents and crystal into the cursed waters! Softpaw dove in and came out a wet cat with fur and hair matted to her. It had been too shallow to transform for her. Cale hoped she was disease resistant, and the fae-cat assured them that unless she began turning different colors she was not sick.
Lynx bared her teeth and threatened the lad into running off with a warning to never trust someone saying they were ‘Bard King’. The true king was gone long before and only the Queen reigned now. After he ran, the Guardian noted the angry corruption of the valley getting to her. Just then, Softpaw sneezed and her tail turned green. The Fae-cat realized she better get home quickly as Cale went to check if Strife had similar trouble, though he suspected they would regret bothering the upset feline.
The children had finished their new camp and had started to relax. The cubs remained oblivious to what had transpired. Lynx kept the brief moment the Unweaver had both halves of the Water Crystal, and the Panthers departure, a secret. Softpaw returned after some time, but with a much more green complexion and sparkling. She too mischievously kept the truth of what transpired to herself.
Tanner returned saying he was sorry to have stormed off. He was just scared and confused as he was going blind and deaf again. Everyone was quick to forgive him and move on. They all knew now the Valley’s corruption was getting to all their hearts. They suggested a pact of trust and forgiveness with themselves and o be the family they had nearly forgotten they were.
The group plotted quietly about what should be done. Much preparation was needed. The High Chief would smash through any wooden cage with time. He may grow as powerful and destructive as the Yeti. They also needed to find the Water Crystal’s other half but none understood where to find it. It was possible the Bears and Fairelanders would think they were the evil ones capturing the High Chief. Some wanted to go after the other half of the water stone first. But not knowing where it was yet made that impossible.
They considered using runes of concealment to hide his capture, but instead figured runes of containment would be best. None knew those runes so when Cale Firesong returned they begged he make the flight to Dogstar’s side. The Guardian of the Firestone groaned at the task, knowing how difficult it was to keep Dogstar focused on the journey.
But he agreed and the plan was set in motion. Tomorrow they would capture the High Chief with Dogstars help or…they would fight some other way against the Unweaver’s spreading influence.
— LokiEliot λ (@Demonkid) April 29, 2020
Thursday, April 30th
The Grizzly Cubs And The High Chiefs Trap
Rise and shine and smell the day old stew.
The Grizzly Cubs woke in their camp to somber feelings and a very tired Loki. He had spent the entire evening whittling away and had new totems for them to wear. Brave Kwa-Kuruk had become a spirit himself after the Great Battle. His totem would remind them to have courage. A reminder they were family.
Cale arrived before Dogstar, who had been left along the road by the impatient phoenix. While being berated for his carelessness, Dogstar of the Lesser Sidhe arrived at their camp. He told them they needed something to strap the High Chief against. A cage would not do, but rather some kind of tree or pole was needed for this kind of runework.
Loki, in his infinite insomniac wisdom, had carved a massive pole out of Kwa-Kuruk in the night meant for their victory celebration. The thing was massive and hard to push, but they made it there. Once they pulled it up enough the magic of Dogstar’s runes planted it perfectly into the ground.
He warned them that the spell would activate when the Chief drew near and would trap any soul nearby with the Chief. They may even bind them to him. Dogstar also cautioned the need for the other magic using creatures to hide away for now. They would be needed to give the runes extra power but before that may just warn him away.
The magical creatures hid behind the mountains, except for Cale and Softpaw who wanted to hide behind the huts instead. Three cubs went to deceive the chief into coming see their new totem. The High Chief saw through their ruse and called out his murderous intent. He attacked the cub trio as Tepic and Daemon drew their spears to defend themselves feebly. As the cubs attempted to dodge away and almost fell off the side. Cale, abandoning the original plan, flew forth to distract him. He batted the chief with his wings till he was painfully flung aside by the powerful bear.
The cubs made it down the elevator as the Chief leapt from his perch to corner them. The Cubs ran back to camp with spears in hand followed by the angry bear.
The High Chief called out in defiance, he was no longer the chief but something far more. The Yeti would be reborn in him. The children taunted him until he finally charged. The group surrounded him and attacked with their weapons and pushed him back. Finally he was captured by the runes. The magical creatures began to dance and power the runes to hold the creature. Even Dogstar felt the creature would overwhelm his binding without aide. He had not bound such a creature in a very long time!
Still the cubs rejoiced at their victory, but he told them it was too late. He was no longer the Chief who was merely his vessel. He was in every rock, tree, and spirit. Every wave and breath of air. The Valley was his and it did not matter if he was a mere pawn of the Unweaver now. He was the Valley, and he would turn it into a land of black sand, distorted time, and destruction.
Watching his body shudder as it was beginning to show signs of transformation the cubs began to worry. Without the Water Stone they couldn’t heal the Valley. They had the Chief contained but for how long?
The Cubs wondered if they should ask the Nén Miaulin/Water Panther if she knew anything. It was then that Cale told them they had sent her out of the Valley to recover from its effect.
The cubs were dismayed. Secrets? When they were supposed to be family and trusting each other again. Cale admitted he didn’t even know why that had been a secret. He blabbed the other secrets too about the Water Crystal being stolen and Softpaws daring rescue that got her sick.
The cubs journeyed to the Isle of Shadows to Nén Miaulin’s newly chosen cave home. Her claws and teeth were covered with blood after a recent meal. As intimidating as she was, they asked if she knew the way to the realm of the Forgotten.
She knew the paths as she had lived there once long ago. She warned them of the danger, that the realm sucked all memory and light away from those who traveled there. It started small like where did they put their spear that morning. But with time they would forget everything and turn to the Unweaver to survive in a diseased land they forgot how to escape.
They asked her if she had forgotten her own name by traveling there recently. She replied she was Strifeclaw, Guardian of the Earth Stone. She was also Nén Miaulin the Water Panther. She denied neither and seemed pleased with the name the Unweaver had once bestowed upon her. She knew it was wrong to feel that way, but that did not change her feelings.
“If the Water Crystal is there that half is lost forever. Be happy you have a half left to you.”
The cubs asked if there was another entrance, a side entrance that was faster to enter and depart. The panther considered them and said there was such an entrance and told them of a secret path. The cubs left with their clue excitedly, but the journey ahead would be long and would require them to prepare for the journey ahead.
Unlike the explorers in her story, they weren’t hapless and curious. They knew what they were getting into and would be ready. Tomorrow, they would travel to the Land of the Forgotten. And pray they wouldn’t join their number…
— LokiEliot λ (@Demonkid) April 30, 2020
Friday, May 1st
Traveling to the Land of the Forgotten, a Realm of Tragedy
The Cubs would journey today to the Lands of the Forgotten and packed many things to prepare. Torches, totems, and Tanner held a feather from Cale the Fire Guardian . They heard the lies spread about them once again with resentment. Delivering the ‘innocent’ High Chief to the Unweaver? It became apparent that someone was spreading the lies outside their realm, and it had not been the High Chief. Suspicion of the panther, who had set them on this task, grew.
The day began with Tanner, Freya, and Kiyiya the Coyote asking Lynx to not risk the Water Stone. They warned her pride may be the downfall of many, but she refused to heed words of tricksters hiding from the group. Kiyiya growled and showed her true spirit form to them proving herself the Coyote of legend. Her tricks were done, because she did not want both halves of the stone in the hands of the Unweaver.
The Children gathered at the campfire heard the Coyote’s plea. Lynx asked everyone trust her despite when it was revealed she was keeping ever more secrets from them. She simply insisted it was time to go. Nat grimaced as he got atop his bear cub, ignoring the medicine apprentice, Kasa, to stay in bed.
The journey across the Fairelands was difficult, but in some circumstances deadly. The pathway across one bridge was enchanted to drag the children into the depths to drown. The Unweaver had undone the protection that would allow them to breathe. The wooden beams of Kwa-Kuruk protected them and kept most their heads above water. Brisby, who had seen so many vanish before her eyes tried to warn all who passed, but the tiny rodent was too small and easily overlooked. One of the bears knocked her onto the bridge and her tiny lungs did not survive the trip back up to the surface.
The Children were scrambled. Some swam across while others waited for a new spell to allow them to breathe safely. None understood what was happening but crossed that expanse of the Fairelands. The group spread out wildly until they reached their destination. A land of black sand and broken time filled with turtles. It was a long wait for some, but eventually they regrouped. They were unaware that, once again, they had left someone behind.
The Panther was already at their destination and cursed them for the fools they were. She warned them that the place they intended to go was not of the Fairelands but of the Unweavers domain. Still they insisted with brave growls and determined faces. They could not open the unseen portal without her help and she knew this. Eventually she revealed it took knowing the correct words, but also meaning them.
“I belong to the Unweaver, the only True King” Her expression instantly darkened as she growled at them like never before. The portal was closing and the group rushed inside.
As the Panther promised there was no light in the sky and the trees were blighted. Pus filled sacks littered the ground expanding and contracting. The frozen landscape made them shiver and wish they had warmer clothing. Just then a massive dragon approached them. They raised their spears as it filled them with terror, its flesh was infected and hanging off frozen in this terrible tundra.
But the dragon welcomed them politely. He invited them to come inside and find the Water Crystal. The group instantly suspected a trap, but the dragolich whose name was forgotten stood confused. Why would this place need a trap? They were already trapped. Some of them did not even remember walking with the dragon as it showed them the entrance to their new home.
They entered an underground chamber filled with children who welcomed the new kids to their number. The small fox-lad who had tried to steal Lynx’s crystal was being bullied by a larger child. He failed his task and so was to be punished. Tepic tried to convince his fellow fox that there was a better world than this one, but the children of this realm scoffed at him with disbelief.
The group was lost, each pathway appeared to be a dead end as they tried every door. One path lead to the false Bard Kings hold which some were convinced was the correct path as they were warned not to go that way. The Unweaver had learned long ago that telling someone not do such things made it easier to trap his victims. More of the party vanished and separated, Forgotten.
Finally, one of the children noted that there was a path deeper down one of the dark tunnels. The group followed it and found a massive bear guarding a bridge over acid. The group tried to convince it to let them pass, but it had forgotten how to operate the Bridge. Eventually someone with wings flew across and pulled the lever as the bear slowly moved aside and let them go without a fight.
The Last chamber held a malevolent dragon spirit known as Corruption. As the mortals approached it taught them humility by repeatedly throwing the party against the walls. Even the other dragons were knocked aside and thrown about. Nat was knocked from his bear cub repeatedly. His broken body flung into the water as he slowly drowned. The impacts left him in a state between life and death.
His only chance at the edge of death would be if the water stone healed him. They begged Lynx to use her half, but she confessed she had buried it back at camp and only held a fake. The cubs were angry and Lynx felt her pride crumble as the group watched their comrade slipping away helplessly.
The Cubs and their allies, beaten and bruised by the power of the beast, yelled out from the bridge outside to treat with the dragon. They were frantic now and needed to get to…to the…the…stair? They were looking for stairs right?
NO! The Water Stone! They had to keep reminding themselves as they looked at Nat’s broken frame. Corruption revealed its true form, a child who wanted a new friend forever. Tanner of the Grizzly Cubs offered, and she giggled. She would be seeing him again in the future, she promised, and opened the path of madness ahead.
They felt themselves pulled into the void. In their minds they could see the space where light was being sucked out of one reality and devoured. Everywhere mirrors floated with the cruel gaze of the Unweaver glaring back at them. They learned from Corruption that the Water Crystal had been thrown into this realm of madness, and then down the portal, no wonder they were simply invited inside! Were they willing to jump?
Nat needed the crystal and they had no other choice, they had forgotten the way out of this mad realm! They were losing their light even faster here so the group leapt and fell through the portal, to a realm without light save their torches…and they found a crystal that had Forgotten its power, and a mer child who held it but could not speak or recognize anyone. It was Corruption who introduced her as the former Guardian of Water. The Forgotten Mer.
They were trapped in the Oubliette in the land of the Forgotten and would be until they served the Unweaver. The group looked about hopelessly, the only entrance was barred and their magic was not working. Not even the dragons could escape, and the few who looked out the bars saw no light, no escape. Lilith and others forgot who the Guardians were, who they were, and why they were even afraid in the first place.
Corruption taunted them, saying there was only one way out of here. And that was the same way they got in. The words stirred the memory of what the panther had said, and the words came to many mouths. But they had to mean the words and few did. Lynx, the acting Guardian of the Water Stone, spoke the words and let herself go to open the path for the others. “I belong to the Unweaver, the only True King”
But the words did nothing at first. Nat, watching on the edge of death knew something the others did not. This was the land of tragedy. In order for the Unweaver to be satisfied here someone had to pay the ultimate price. The boy let go of his small tether clinging him to life to allow his friends to escape.
The group found themselves transported back into the Forgottens den. The lost group rushed out bringing the mer child, and dragging Lynx after them. Tanner begged Lynx to remember, but she repeated to herself, “I belong to the Unweaver, the only True King.”
Desperately Tanner put the feather of Cale over Lynx’s head and the passion of the Fairelands entered her broken heart once more. The group fled carrying the fallen Nat and exited the way they came. They looked to Strifeclaw, her teeth still bared in rage at them. She told them the child had passed on to the spirit realm. He had died to save them. They demanded why she hadn’t told them that before going.
She narrowed their eyes and informed them she had warned them not to go at all. They were the ones who had brought Nat in his weakened state and failed to stop him. Still, they owed him their Light and their lives. The Panther left them to their mourning and their bitter sweet victory as she forever sealed that pathway they had used. The cubs had both halves of the water stone now. With some help they would help her remember who she was.
Nats grandmother had told him the story of the curious cub who rushed into things and was slain by the Panther. The boy had shared the story that his granny told him all tales had the highest highs and the lowest lows. This was their lowest low, but perhaps the world would be a better place for it. The crystal would be reformed. The light of their souls repaired. The Valley saved. But not without help. Now, more than ever the Cubs needed their allies in the Fairelands to help them heal.
Join the Cubs Saturday, May 2nd, 1 to 3 pm SLT to restore peace to the Valley.
Saturday, May 2nd
The Fairelanders and Grizzly Cubs Try to Heal the Valley and Themselves
The Bard Zander arrived to find his friends with angry hearts, sickness, and the work of the Unweaver in every crevice of the Valley hidden from sight.
The Valley, a place of healing under seige by lies and misinformation. A place overwhelmed with sadness and grief. What was lost on their journey left the Cubs shaken to their cores. They mourned two of their own lost in the journey, and many had lost their light and memories. Lilith, Lukas, Kawabata, and others looked about dazed and confused. Nisha the dragon scoffed at the idea of the celebration and wanted to sleep instead. Lynx, bearing half the water stone, struggled to resist repeating her dedication to the Unweaver. Others requested to go back home to the Forgotten.
Cale Firesong, Guardian of the Firestone, vehemently denied that they belonged to the Unweaver. None of them were his servants, not Strifeclaw, not even the Chief! …Although, that would not stop him from pecking Strife on the head after this.
The pegasus of the Faireland gathered ahead of time to raise the Cubs spirits and rally them before the celebration. As they flew by Cale and a few others saluted them for their efforts. With the shouts of encouragement driving her to action, Lynx was able to conjure a bubble for Miranda the mer-child. She would be able to dance with them when they time came now.
But the Unweavers hold was powerful in the valley and their mood fell as the Pegasus departed. The possessed Chief scoffed at them, “Dance and celebrate all you want you weaklings, it wont destroy me, and it wont bring your friends back.”
Their Bardic friends and Fairelanders arrived expecting friendly faces and found only those in desperate need. Strifeclaw growled while baring teeth covered in blood, even her closest friends could not approach her.
The Fairelanders gathered quickly, Zander was ready with his music, and it was time for the spell to begin. Cale looked to Strifeclaw, Guardian of the Earth Stone and a confessed terror of this realms past, to begin the spell.
The Panther looked at him and dug her blood stained claws into the ground. She was resisting the urge to stop this ceremony completely. Lynx was likewise struggling to resist the Unweavers control and Miranda could not speak at all. Avariel was so upset by yesterdays outcome she had decided to travel away for healing of her own.
Cale ruffled his feathers, pulled on the power of the stone, and spoke loud and clear, from his heart: [Bold and Italic: We have lost much and been at each others throats this week, but it is not our doing! It is the Unweavers influence on the High Chief, and through the Chief the Valley, and through the Valley he got US! But we’re not going to let him win! We’re going to heal the damage! We’re going to heal! We’re going to show the Unweaver that when he hits hard we hit back harder helping each other! By the Power of the Firestone, by the Fiery passion in our souls, we will burn brighter and the power of our spell shall rise! And through it the Water shall RISE! Rise and cleanse this realm of its anger, its hate! Zander, hit it~
And the music filled the air as the Fairelanders danced to help heal the Valley in song and music. Too many of the Cubs and Guardians could not remember how to dance, but the Magic began to fill the air. Generosity like never before came to the cubs, the Guardians, and the Valley. The kiosk rose above 160,000 in just the opening twenty minutes.
Cold hearts melted as the number rose and memories were unlocked. Generous donors from afar wanted to help the Cubs fight back against the Unweaver. Everywhere people began to dance as the music and charity moved them, even Strifeclaw found herself doing so without knowing it.
They began with the Faire standing at 8.7 million. As the Fairelanders danced Cale set a goal, to get the Faire to pass 9 million total raised. By 1:37, they helped the Faire hit that goal!
Healing long overdue was coming to the Valley. Miranda’s voice returned and she begged Lynx to give her the other half so she could restore the Water stone. Lynx rejected the Unweaver as her the corruption weakened and memories began to return. Nisha roared and danced with joy swarming in their heart once more. The anger and resentment of the past was fading away. They had lost much, but together they were strong. Together they would stand. Together they could fight the Unweavers touch, the False Bard Kings lies, and their own mistrust.
The cursed waters of Kuruk were being charged. The Guardians, the Fairelanders, everyone was putting their energy into the cleansing spell. Their efforts were rewarded as the water rose as Cale had promised. The Healing Waters of Kuruk would be restored and purge the taint from the land, but it was still not enough!
And still the charity grew in defiance, as they passed 608,000 linden in their first hour spurred by donors moved by their cause. Miranda cried out in joy as the Water Stone suddenly shone bright. The two halves came together fully restored by their generosity. Its power shone and now rather than draining their efforts it was ready to help them.
By now all the foes they had faced in the past would have been crushed by such a powerful wave, but the Chief was undaunted. What terrible evil yet lurked within him? What had driven them to such hatred?
But the Cubs number rose and soon they hit 800,000 with the generosity of the entire Faire and donors standing behind them! The cubs had raised 1 million linden for the entire year combined by that point and Strifeclaw’s heart soared. The Guardian had been struggling, but finally rejected the Unweaver and purred loudly to the happiness of all gathered.
The Waters rose and surrounded the cubs and their allies. Some looked at the rising tides with fear, but Cale Firesong assured them they were safe. If Fire was not worried they should not be. The party continued and the scars of the past healed.
Water enveloped the chief as he tried to defy it. But as everyone celebrated a terrible creature emerged from the Chief. Finally they could see the evil in its true form.
The group trembled from the creature towering above them, the voice that had influenced their hearts and minds. A servant of the Unweaver present in every rock, stream, plant, and being living in this Valley. They could feel its power pressing against them but stood defiantly even as they grew nervous.
The music rallied them and united them together as the money in the kiosk grew. Finally the number raised in less than two hours passed 1 million linden dollars and suddenly the spell came to life!
— LokiEliot λ (@Demonkid) May 3, 2020
The Creature let out a roar of pain as it slowly fought the spell, but the power of the Fairelands was too much for the creature. Voices cried out that this was for the Medicine Bear, Brisby, and Nat! The creature twisted upon itself and faded into nothing. The Waters washed all of Kuruk and everyone felt their illness pass. Kasa the apprentice was restored, Softpaw the Fae-cat returned to a cream color, Strifeclaw washed the blood out of their fur, Tanners hearing and sight restored! Everyone but the fallen were washed free and flooded with happiness and health. Tears of joy were cried as the number on the kiosk continued to soar.
As the people rode their high spirits Miranda turned to Lynx and spoke for all to hear….she was bequeathing the title of Guardian and the stone to Lynx Tree. The speechless Lynx cried softly, having lost her pride just the day before so thoroughly and now coming to this. She accepted with humility
But of all the changed none were as shocking to the gathered Fairelanders as the change that overcame the Chief. The wise and old chief had been reduced to the age of a small child! Strifeclaw then revealed this was exactly what had happened to them long ago when she was the Water Panther. They had both been given a true second chance and restored to their youth. Hers had left scars, her ritual less powerful, but she thought the chief would have a better chance than she did. Finally, the full truth had been revealed. Many came to hug her and for the first time since this Faire began she allowed it.
Cale cheered and many voices thanked him for keeping them together through this hard time. The passion of the Firestone had been a beaken for many, and he cawed happily.
…He then charged Strifeclaw to peck her on the head. It…did not go well for him.
The Cubs broke 1.15 million in two hours in a record smashing event and helped pass 10 million for the entire Faire during their ritual! The Cubs, the Guardians, and their allies want to thank everyone that helped them in their fight. Who stuck with them even when the Unweaver swayed them to be cruel, and when the darkness they fought seemed too hopeless to defeat. We all can make a difference together, even a child living in a story. Fantasy makes a difference…and we hope to see you all again next year.
Sunday, May 3rd
Grizzly Cubs Say Goodbye – Epilogue
The cubs partied long into the night, the healing of their hearts bringing them energy. Even Strifeclaw felt like a kitten again as she danced beside tiny pawlice officers and cubs.
While they celebrated, their medicine apprentice worked into the night. After a brief trip to the spirit realm, Kasa got to work preparing the final rights. The next day, the somber children gathered to lay the fallen to rest so their spirits could move on. They were shocked to find a new statue resting on the mountain beside the wrapped bodies.
Loki stepped forward and shouted for all to hear, “I PRESENT THE SPIRIT STATUE OF COURAGE! THEY STOOD BESIDE US AND FELL IN DEFENDING THEIR FRIENDS AND THE VALLEY! HERE THEY REST AND MAY THEIR SPIRITS RISE AND FIND THEIR WAY TO THE SPIRIT REALM WHERE THEY JOIN OUR MEDICINE BEAR AND ANCESTORS!”
And the people mourned and talked of their memories, and regrets. Strifeclaw, and all the others, regretted their failure to prevent Nat going on that last quest. For letting him be bait for the Tah-Tah. Tanner and Lilith spoke of how caring Nat was, and how he had never left them behind.
After they spoke, Kasa stepped forward and told Nat’s tale once again. How the world got its Dips and Bumps. The adventure of Hare-bear, rushing from one adventure to another, and finally through bugging the Water Panther reaching his untimely destruction. Strifeclaw turned away growling softly to herself, but did not interrupt.
The story concluded as it did before, that though the hero had fallen the world was a better place for their sacrifice. The world was better with its dips and bumps, and that all tales had both highest highs and lowest lows.
The children cried as the story ended and made their way back to camp, but Lynx paused to apologize to the Coyote. She had been right about leaving the water stone behind, and had come to mourn just like the others. The Coyote looked at her a moment and went on her way, distracted.
Back at the fire, Kasa told them there was still time. Brisby, Nat, and the Medicine Bear had not passed on just yet. They had one last chance to say goodbye, in the Spirit Realm.
The children and their allies went to the spirit realm by eating the nearby blue mushrooms. Passing out, they made their way through the maze. They came face to face with those lost to the living while the Coyote waited nearby to take them beyond. There were many tears shed as they shared their adventures. Lynx asked their forgiveness as she had lead that last quest, which both of them granted.
The tears of the spirits floated gently nearby as Nat and Brisby thanked each of those gathered for all the memories. To Lynx for leaving the stone and leading with wisdom. To Loki for his hard work and the totems of bravery. To Tepic for staying true to himself and seeing through the Chief faster than the other children. To Cale, for his heart and stopping Nat before the Tah-Tah killed him outright giving him the chance to save them later. And then they gave two messages, one for Nats grandmother and another for Nén Miaulin. He wanted her to know his story, and to thank the Panther for always being honest. And for showing them there was always a second chance.
Before the children left Brisby added, “There is hope for those forgotten you met. But they…they will be in another story. Stories of Children not yet told.”
The children, who were worried about those they had seen trapped there, were relieved by this promise. They said their goodbyes and made their way back home. As they left the Coyote turned to them and asked if they were ready. With a grin both followed her to their next adventure, Children of the Yote who revealed in tricks.
Back in the waking world, the Guardians bowed and said goodbye. It was time for them to make their journey back to Wiggenstead Morring, and the Rickety Weasels. They promised to visit again, as they were all children of the Fairelands beyond the Veil.
The children waved goodbye to the Guardians as they walked up the mountains towards the sunset. The four Guardians were together again even though Avariel had kept away the last few days. They no longer needed to leave the safety of Wiggenstead Morring and risk their stones. Their story could be over now as they went back into hiding…but they had made friends in his realm and with people beyond the Veil. Not one of them would give up traveling to the Fairelands going beyond again. With a nod between the four of them, they knew that the Children of Stories would return again to fight the Unweaver. And they would be there to guide the heroes.