As he prances and cavorts, Terrence falls so far behind the rest of the group that Quiberron Libran catches up with him. "Intent on the natural world are you? Hey nonny, nonny." Terrence skips along next to Quiberron's horse. "You know, my agent told me that the astral plane resonates at low C. She said you can hear it if you listen quietly. I've never heard it myself, though. Hey nonny, nonny. Have you noted anything of interest?"
“Oh, hi Terrence. I’ve never heard the astral plane resonate either. Planar travel was an entirely theoretical series of lectures at the library. Maybe one day I’ll be able to find out myself though.” He says this brightly as he walks along beside his own horse.
Quiberron decides Terrence looks interested, and continues excitedly, “Did you know that I’ve already seen three different species of butterflies that I’d only read about! Not to mention two ferns and a species of oak that I don’t recognize at all. I’m not really that into plants, however. The beasts and peoples of the world are much more interesting. And on that front, unfortunately, our journey from Haleford has been slightly disappointing. There were so many specimens of different races at the party, and then drow and ogres during the attack. And meeting a that half-scorpion late last night was the capstone. I haven’t even finished writing all my notes from that encounter. Other than the aforementioned butterflies, a few birds, a squirrel or two, and a couple of admittedly very interesting beetles, I haven’t seen anything comparable.
“I’m certainly looking forward to running into more interesting things in The Wilds, aren’t you?”
With that, a peculiarly large beetle with incredibly long, curled antennae lands on Terrence. The bug rubs its forelegs against an antenna as if cleaning it, uncoiling the appendage. The process makes a strangely disconcerting noise that likely insults Terrence’s musical sensibilities.
"Well, this little fellow has offended my musical sensibilities... but he's re-stimulated my poetical ones. To wit:
“Like humanoids the beetles do
have parts that number three.
These parts when duly scrutinized
make them just like you and me.
“Like us, they have an abdomen,
to store food when they graze;
their thorax only serves to guard
the heart that drives their days;
“and finally it shows we're kin
and share a pedigree
that we've got these sweet antennae...
and we... oh, wait! Nevermind."
As the motley crew sallies on, Terrence wonders whether Lady Arabella had given him the gift of the lute knowing that it would fascinate him and might thereby spare his companions from his sudden preoccupation with poetry. No matter, he'd catch up on that later.
Terrence styles his new lute Phoebe. He has been infatuated with that name since he was a boy, when his agent, Calliope, told him that it belonged to a powerful and wise matriarch in his family. He had never met this family, but stories of them sparked his imagination back then. And while he wasn't a boy anymore but he still loves that name.
He had hoped to get off his feet for a bit, still drained as he is from his recent eldritch food poisoning, but he finds it uncomfortable to play in his saddle. Terrence drops to the earth and stomps along clumsily next to his mount for a while, staring intently at his fingers as they play on the strings--stiffly at first because he's out of practice. As they loosen up, so does his gait and he throws in a few skips and spins here and there. He tries a forceful falsetto, "Hey nonny nonny! Hurrah! Hurrah! Lackaday lackaday, and so forth..."
During their travel, Quiberron tends to fall behind as he stops often to look at or point out some plant or creature, many times whipping out his new magnifying glass to take a closer look at a leaf, rock, or animal droppings by the trail. The group tries to get him to keep pace, but he nonetheless falls into a pattern of dropping behind and then getting on his horse and galloping to catch up before getting off and falling behind again.
When Arabella first shows them the horses and wagon loaded with supplies, Quiberron excitedly investigates everything. He opens all the sacks and barrels, takes note of how everything is packed, and looks carefully at all the horses; at one point he just watches the horses, fascinated, as they swat flies with their tails. He is just starting to count the number of tail flicks per second when the rest of the group gets fed up and tells him they need to get moving.
He approaches one of the horses cautiously, and grabs the reins just under its chin. “I think I’ll call you Castor,” he says as Bart settles on the horn of the saddle. Quiberron puts his things in one of the saddlebags and stows the other supplies that Arabella gave him, with the exception of the slim wooden wand and the magnifying glass. Both of these he stores in his belt, carefully protecting the glass with fabric.
As the group departs, he leads his horse rather than riding it.
Within an hour, a wagon packed with everything the group has asked for has been arranged in the grounds courtyard. It is drawn by a team of horses rather than cattle, and it appears that the two mounts will be used with the other five horses for future travel. No creature is provided for Tyrects to ride, given his stature and odd build.
When everyone assembles, Arabella hands a case to Terrence. “Take good care of it. I couldn’t find any of the specialized equipment you all asked for, but I am willing to part with this. Instruments like that are not to be mishandled or abused. If you wish to replace it, I ask only that you return this instrument to me.” When Terrence pops the case open, laying nestled in the velvet is a stunning lute made of incredibly pale wood. It is etched with designs of forest creatures and has the faintest golden dusting.
Terrence gives the lute a few good strums, then fiddles with the tuning. "I've never seen one like this! And an angelique at that--how apropos! Good gods, my lady! You'd entrust an instrument like this to ME? You must be quite mad, but I admire your style. Be assured, I'll treat it like kin. Better."
“I expect nothing less.” Arabella then waits for you all to get mounted up or take your seats in the wagon before she waves you off on your exciting journey.
Lord Fennix does look much improved from the previous night; however, he is still unconscious. Flynn sits and watches Fennix quietly for a while, words playing in his head, trying to put together what it is he wants to say. He leans down and rests his elbows on his knees, hands folded.
"How did you find me, old man?" There is no venom or disrespect in his voice, only tired curiosity. "I've tried to hide for so long, but you knew where I was." He takes his ring back out of the pouch, twirling it slowly between his fingers as he speaks. "Did you know about me, about how I left? Did you care?" He closes his hand around the ring. "You have to know who I am, right? Is that why you picked me? To come and maybe to lead? You had to know I wouldn't want that."
He sighs, then sits in silence for a while longer.
"Your child has some fire in her belly. I wonder how she'll fit into your big picture. Rubs me the wrong way, but your lot always has, just a bit."
He mumbles a quick apology.
"I should go. I've only ever been good at following orders and fighting for my men. I can do that for a while longer, I think."
As he stands, he sets his ring on the nearby nightstand.
"Hold on to that for me. Me or mine will come for it, one day. Maybe then we can have an actual conversation. I might like that."
He leaves the room to rejoin to expedition.
"I am satisfied with the arrangements,” Tyrects says, bringing things back to the topic at hand. “And Quiberron seems to understand the supply needs well enough. I grow tired of the bickering and negotiations. When we are ready to leave, I believe you all know where to find me."
With that Tyrects pulls his chest harness and manica off, wraps them around his maul, and tosses them with the rest of his gear by the door. He opens the door to the garden and walks back toward the pond.
"I have a personal matter as well,” Flynn says. “Would you show me to your father's bed? I have some things I need to speak to him about, even if he can't hear me." He frowns, arms crossed. "Please."
Sabal interrupts. "Lady Arabella, I'm wondering if you could see that a message gets delivered to a friend." He offers Arabella a letter in an envelope. "She lives quite remotely with her clan, in a woodland area some distance away in the south. Your father knows them, I believe…."
Arabella takes the letter from Sabal. “Of course,” she replies. Then, she shows Flynn to her father.
Arabella takes everyone’s equipment orders, then says, “I will have this ready for you all in a couple of hours, then you can set off.”
"Where will we be meeting once everything has been gathered?" Flynn asks.
"Excuse me, Director,” Terrence politely interrupts. “If you'll give me your indulgence, I'd like to offer the group a ballad I threw together while we were filling out our wish list. May I?"
"My indulgence? You're only indulging yourself." Flynn pinches the bridge of his nose, annoyed. "If I told you not to, would you even listen?" After a moment, he sighs. "Please. Share."
"Thank you for that introduction. In Praise of Vehemence... Ahem...
"In ancient days, at times like these,
when hearts and minds and backs and knees,
were braced against the winds of fate,
and destinies achieved their weight,
Then poets stood to say a word,
enthusiasm’s loins to gird.
For it was known (and still it's true),
that zeal's a mandatory brew,
For those who wish to reach for goals,
beyond the grasp of meager souls.
Vigor! Verve! Esprit de corps!
A keenness opens wide the door!
For though we end up under sod,
that lever still can move a god!
Release the hounds and sound the horn!
Adventure here this day is born!
"I take your silence as tacit approval! I have another if you like but it's much longer...."
Roland smirks. "Oh please, grand puppeteer, regale us with more of your beautiful poetry."
"Sorry, first one's free. The rest'll cost you!"
Del grins. "I'll pay you in cheese."
"I thought it was really quite good," Málean says, eyebrows raised.
Terrence slaps Málean on the back. "Do you see the power of art to bring people together? We're already in complete accord!" Terrence turns to Del. "Barter is always an acceptable currency, friend, but I'm flush with cheese at the moment. Do you have any walnuts? Maybe some prosciutto?"
Quiberron does some quick calculations and says, “Perhaps we would be better off without the mounts and with a wagon instead? We could end up spending a considerable amount on feed, not to mention that carrying all of our rations and equipment plus the food for the horses may limit our range.”
Roland stands up and says, "I, too, defer to you judgement, Lady Arabella, and do not mean to question your father's wisdom, but I also have reservations about Alexandros as leader of this sortie."
Flynn shrugs. "A wagon is good, yes, but we should have at least one horse. It will generally feed itself on grass and opens up opportunities for a quick scout of open areas. If we are mapping, that is invaluable."
“The wagon will make it to the outpost, but I doubt it will make it in the Wilds,” Arabella says. Then she looks to Roland. “As for the leader, Alexandros does have the most experience as far as I know.”
“But a leader cannot lead if those who follow choose not to.”
“I suggest you all speak amongst yourselves. Or you could always have dear Terrence step up,” she says with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
Flynn's face darkens. "I've already chosen to pass on that. Even without your reservations, leading a sortie is not the same as leading an expedition. I know what I'm good at. The games behind making decisions are not on that list."
“I believe Arabella said that the Wilds includes forest and desert,” Quiberron argues, “which will make feeding horses off the land very difficult. Also, we must not forget Tyrects here; I think he would find prolonged time in the saddle uncomfortable. As would the horse.”
At the mention of his name, Tyrects looks over. "I have never ridden anything before. I am willing to learn if the beast is willing."
“No offence, but I think it would be a rare beast that would be willing to allow a seven-foot-tall carnivore on its back. And your tail would present a problem as well. Although perhaps we could design a custom saddle... and with the right training program...” Quiberron trails off, lost in his thoughts.
"Well, Tyrects can drive the wagon!” Terrence shouts. “Look! I made my first leadership decision!"
"I am still who I was yesterday this time,” Flynn says. “Your father knew who I was when he chose to have me. Given the circumstances, I ask you to remember that. I will defer to your judgment, though, since that seems to be your wish." He shrugs, watching her carefully, before turning to Terrence. "Maybe you shouldn't be such a gobbler?"
"Perhaps not, but I don't see what that has to do with... OH! I SEE! Very good, Director!"
Arabella looks around the room. “Any other questions before I order the items you’ve asked for and fill out the necessary paperwork? Then you can set off.”
"I'd prefer a wardrobe that isn't haunted. And an entertainer's kit. They're very handy when one is in the diplomatic professions. Oh, and for transportation? Mounts of some epic variety, I'm assuming.
"And a lute—the plain toast of musical instruments, but they stand up to adventuring. And if a bear eats it, it's no great loss."
“I can provide you with horses. If you want something more epic, you might have to find that for yourself. The lute and entertainment items will be very difficult as they aren’t normal equipment but actually much more specialized. If I can only get one, which would you prefer?” Arabella asks Terrence.
“Oh, definitely the entertainment items. The humanoid voice is the greatest instrument the gods have wrought!”
"Will we be able to make a brief detour to the farm?” Flynn asks. “My equipment is there, and I need to make sure everything is in order for my absence."
Arabella nods. “I’m sure that will be doable. It is only maybe a day or so out of the way, and I understand that need. I’m sure your comrades will too.”
At the prospect of A Trip to the Farm, Terrence's eyes sparkle with delight.
"The tally quick, the answer clear,
a thousand boons and not one harm.
He needs his gear (though time is dear),
we'll visit now the dairy farm...
"I took some license there. I don't really know what kind of farm it is."
In a dangerous political climate, several expeditions are made to the infamous Wilds in hopes of expanding the country, Urbane, and avoiding an all out civil war. But, when the lord in charge of the excursions is almost assassinated, tensions increase and put new pressures on the brave explorers.