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Remnants of a Circle

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Remnants of a Circle

Prologue: Meeting the Students

Just yesterday, Una was told that she would start training her first student as soon as she retrieved the young child from its home in Ord. By now she had finished all her preperations for the trip there and began decending the moutains. As she heard the rustling of feathers, Una turned her head, revealing a few strands of her red hair from beneath the cap she was wearing, to see the three Griffons she had chosen to accompany her.
The beasts each stood on a pair of powerful cat-like legs, their fur-covered upper bodies connected those to a pair of arms ending in bird-like claws. On their back they each had a pair of magnificent wings, while their avian heads were, except for their eyes, covered in hoods not unlike those a falconeer would put on his falcons head.

She had decided to bring them with her incase the parents tried to either refuse to hand the child over to her or were trying to killed it like some followers of Menoth[1] tried to do when a child underwent the Wilding. With a short mental command from the redheaded Warlock, her three warbeast took to the sky, while she had to traverse the rough terrain of the Scarsfell mountains with nothing more than her polearm, shaped like the talons of a brd and once serving as roost for her by now lost falcons, to aid her decent down the mountain.
She was making her way towards the hidden grove of Shifting Stones closest to the nesting places of the Griffons she had been tending to these past months since her return from the harsh northern wilderness beyond Khador. The traditional heavy black cloak she wore, which caused many people to refer to the druids simply as Blackclads, hid some of her green armor plates, and protected her against the cold winds howling over the mountain.

Thanks to her familiarity with the terrain surrounding her, Una could keep a quick pace and soon she passed by a pillar covered with arcane sings members of the Circle had enchanted to act as both sentries and protectors of their lesser ritual sites, like the ley line node the young woman was about to reach.
When the redhead arrived in the clearing containing the trio of roughly man sized, rune covered pillars that were used by the druids to make travel through the ley lines both quicker and easier, she was surprised to find someone waiting for her. As he approached her, she quickly recognized him as Bradigus Thorle, who carried the title the Runecarver due to his mastery of crafting the myriad constructs made of wood and stone the Circle Orboros used for many tasks.

Three such constructs stepped out of the forest behind the elder druid. Two of them were Woldwatchers, animated golems about seven foot tall, that were able to disguise themselves as piles of rock to stay hidden when guarding important sites of the order. The last one was a Woldwarden, a towering construct completely covered in rune augmented stone used to assist the Druids in battle and to channel the magical energies of both it's controler and the ley lines beneath its feet.

"Greetings Una the Skyhunter, my fellow potents informed me that you would head towards Ord soon to retrieve your first student. As I was not yet able to travel there to survey the damage caused to the ley line network in that region, both by recent event as well as the despicable Cultists of Cyriss[2], I would like to offer to you that we travel together. This would reduce the damage your less refined knowledge of the ley network could cause and the strain on them by only traveling across them once."

"I can hardly refuse the offer to navigate the ley lines for me made by someone as well versed in their nature as you, Potent." Una replied begrudingly.

He gave her a short nod to convey his acceptance of her decision, before he began to channel his own mystical energies, causing glowing green runes to circle around his hands and arms, to subtly influence the titanic energies flowing through the ley lines below them. Sooner than Una had it ever seen done, the two Warlocks and their six Warbeasts vanished with a clap of thunder.

Normally travel through the ley lines was over in the blink of an eye, with a near blinding yellowish green light the only thing one could notice, before the group of druids would appear at their destination. This time though, instead of appearing on the surface of Immoren immediately, Una could see what appeared to be the night sky through the walls of a translucent green tunnel, which she felt like they spent multiple seconds traveling through, then the normal experience of green light resumed for the shortest of moments before the group of eight reappeared with another rumble of thunder and, to their immense surprise, a spray of water.

As the redhead regained her senses fully, she noticed that they were standing knee deep in the water sorounding a sizable, forest covered island, where they should have arrived on the outskirts of a small forest on the main continent of western Immoren. She quickly noticed more strange things, for one where it had been shortly before noon when they began their longer than normal journey through the ley lines, here it was late evening, as evidenced by the moon cresting over the trees. Which itself was the more shockingly discovery, because where Una was used to three whole moons gracing the night skies most parts of the year, here she could only see one shattered moon shedding a pale white light where the last rays of the sun had already left. Overwhelmed by confusion, the younger of the two druids dropped to her knees.

Bradigus seemed to share most of her reaction, except that he did not actually fall from his feet as the sand beneath him shifted to keep him upright.

"What in Urcaen[3] happened, where are we?" Una aked, shock and confusion filling her voice as she slowly got back on her feet.

"Well my young companion I believe the ley line I tried to send us through was rerouted by the cult of Cyriss to fuel one of their dread machines." The elder Druid began to voice his best guess as to what they had experienced. "This disrupted the route my spell had laid out for us, so I am not sure where we are. But if I had to guess we are probably where the messages from their 'goddess' originate." Bradigus finished before he began walking towards the coast, his long cloak slwoing his movment through the water considerably.

Unsure how to react to the Potent's theory, Una simply asked. "And what does that mean for us? How can we get back home?"

"I don't know answers to either of those questions right now, but for now let us see if we can find some shelter in these woods before us."

Having nothing to add to his suggestion, Una followed him out of the water and, with a hand wave and a set of glowing runes of her own, she summoned a short but strong breeze drying them off quickly. After the runes faded, she mentally riled up her griffons so she could draw on their rage to replenish the magical energies used to summon the wind as the group of eight traversed the forest, to silent for the size of both their party as a whole and the Woldwarden.

It took them a while, but they managed to find an abandoned wooden hut they could spend the nigth in. Bradigus made good use of his affinity with stone when he carved a small fire pit into the uncovered earthen floor. Meanwhile Una had taken one of her griffons to help her search for suitable firewood in the vicinity of the hut as quietly as they could to avoid attracting whatever predators prowled this forest at night. The two druids were unsure how to actually tell the passing of time accurately on this foreign world but after the first half dozen or so branches had burned down in the firepit, one of her griffons alerted Una to someone approaching the hut they had taken shelter in.

Closing her eyes to make it easier for her to see with the beast's eyes, the redhead saw a young blond girl pulling a small, blanket filled cart after her. Una quickly had the winged creature turn its head to make sure their fire was hard to notice from where the girl was coming. Once the young druid had confirmed this, she had it look back and follow the girl's journey further, having nothing better to do for now.
A moment after the young girl had finally arrived and started lookign around, missing the druids presence in the back of the hut, she fell to her knees and began crying, which caused a second, even younger, girl to poke her red haired head out from beneath the blankets that filled the cart, looking around confused and still slightly asleep.

But before the younger girl could wake up fully, a pack of black furred, wolf-like creatures came from between the trees and moved to attack the two girls. If it weren't for the bones covering their faces, Una would have believed them to be a breed of Warpwolves with especially big bone spikes. She was ripped out of her musings when her Griffon heard something she had not expected. The younger of the two girls had opened her mouth, presumably to scream in terror, but what actually escaped her mouth was the screech of a hawk.

This turn of events prompted Una to send all three of her Griffons out to protect the girls, while she expanded her more mystical senses out towards where the two girls were frozen in fear. What she could now feel confirmed the suspicion started by the younger girl's surprisignly accurate bird call. At this very moment, the connection to the magic of the wilderness as well as the ley lines every druid in the Circle Orboros possessed, was growing inside the younger girl as she went through the wilding[4]. When she saw the same potential inside the other girl too, she reopened her eyes and began to speak.

"Potent, there are two girls outside the hut under attack by some native beasts, they seem to share our connection to Orboros so I ordered my Griffons to-"

In the middle of her sentence, the young Warlock was assaulted by a foul taste on one of her griffons tongues, which was vile enough that just the echo of it spilling over from the 'beast's mind was enough to cause her to vomit out all the contents of her stomach.

Even so her superior could guess what she would have said and moved outside, the smaller two of his warbeast following him, to rescue the two girls. Once outside, he began to assault the black beasts with all the boulders he could reach in the soil beneath him, his hands illuminated by runes as he guided the missiles towards their targets.

The small battle was over not even five minutes later, with the only casualties the druids had suffered being the contents of Una's and her Griffon's stomach. When the beast began to smoke and seemingly melt down, the druids were utterly confused, but making sure the girl they saved were alright was a more important task than sateing their curiosity.
But as the young blonde opened her mouth to presumably thank them, or ask who they were, the druids realized that despite the wisdom of the older and the near animal like instincts of the younger one of them, they had overlooked one major problem they would have in this foreign place.

"D-Danke dass ihr uns gerettet habt, aber wie habt ihr das alles gemacht?"(1)

Neither of them understood the language the local people used. They tried each language they knew, which between them amounted to most of the human languages spoken on western Immoren as well as those of the Trollkin and the Tharn, but each language they tried only succeeded in confusing the girl before them further. While they started to try to communicate through gestures and pantomime, Una noticed a small bird arriving and quickly hiding behind a tree. After a moment and a small burst of magic, a middle aged man wearing black pants and a loose grey shirt stepped out from behind the very same tree. Before the Blackclads could approach the newcomer, the blonde girl had already started talking.

"Onkel Qrow, die zwei hier haben uns vor nem Rudel Beowölfe gerettet."(2)

The delighted tone of her voice could mean that she was either related to the man or knew him quite well, the younger girl's actions on the other hand left slightly less room for interpretation. She ran up to the newcomer and hugged him, before she too spoke to him.

"Papa warst du unterwegs um uns zu suchen?"(3)

"Ja meine kleine Blume."(4) He replied before patting her on the back, which prompted her to release him so he could take a step towards the older of the two girls.

"Sag mal was hast du dir dabei gedacht einfach mitten in der Nacht mit deiner Cousine im Schlepptau im Wald zu verschwinden?"(5)

The obviously chastised girl looked down seemingly unsure if she should answer him at all.
As the man seemed satisfied with that as an answer he turned towards the two strangers and began to speak in a friendly tone:

"Danke dass Sie meine Tochter und Nichte beschützt haben, wollen Sie den Rest der Nacht nicht lieber in unserem Gästezimmer verbringen als hier allein im Wald?"(6)

Based on the tone the man had employed the druids assumed he was thanking them, but without knowing what his words meant they were back to where they left off with the girls.

After another unsuccessful attempt at finding a language all parties understood, they were reduced to trying to relay their conversation entirely through gestures, enough of which were so similar that they were pretty sure they meant the same things.

In the end the man, who had managed to convey that his name was Qrow, had wanted them to follow him and the girls. Not wanting to be more suspicious than armored strangers followed by big beasts and towering golems were anyway, they did so. When the Griffons and Wolds began following as well, Qrow panicked for a short moment, until the Warlocks managed to communicate and demonstrated that they had them perfectly under control.

When they arrived at the natives home, all of them were greeted by a Blond man and a small dog. Seeing that the dog obeyed what sounded to be commands issued by both of the native adults, Una tried something she had only done with her own falcons before, trying to touch the animal's mind with her own.
It took her a moment but when she had finally managed to do it, she could communicate with the dog using thoughts and concepts much like she did with her Warbeasts. After prodding around the dog's mind for a few minutes, she had managed to associate some of the words of the local language to actions the dog was supposed to do. Hoping she had guessed the meaning of those words correctly she began to speak, supplementing with gestures where her extremely limited vocabulary failed, trying her best to make the words sound right.

"Zwei lernt Una gib Laut. Una, Bradigus bleib"(7), she gestured downwards to indicate here,"lernt"(8), she gave her best to mime the word more,"gib Laut."(9). After the two native men understood what Una wanted to covey, they used the same limited vocabulary of dog commands to supplement their gestures, and managed to tell the druids that yes they could stay with them for now, and they would try to teach them more about the language they spoke. They were shown to the guest room and before Una fell asleep she suddenly realized, that she did in fact arrive near her new student, she just had to learn how to tell that to her and her father before she could start instructing her.

~~~~~~~~~

[1] Creator God of mankind who sorta just came to Caen(the owrld where the iron kingdoms setting takes place), met an old crone, starting attacking one of the two gods that were on that world befproe him, created mankind and then chasted the God he was fighting to Urcaen[3].
[2] A cult of engineers and mathematicians that put their souls and conciousneses into clockwork bodies after recieving 'divne messages' through a steampunk/clockwork/magictech Zuse-esque Computing machines faulty equations.
[3] The afterlife from the Ironkingdoms dependign on hwere you end up can be anythign between hell or heaven.
[4] To make the settings to fit together better, the Branwen non-semblance 'magic' stuff (turnign into birds and what ever raven can do) is working through the same magical connections to nature the druids have.

(1) Th-Thank you for saving us, but how did you do all that?
(2) Uncle Qrow, those two protected us from a pack of Beowolves.
(3) Daddy did you travel out here to search for us?
(4) yes my little flower.
(5) So what did you think when you dragged your little cousin out into the woods in the middle of the night?
(6) Thank you for protectign my daughter and niece, would you liek to spend the rest of he night in our guest room instead of alone in the forest?
(7) Zwei learns Una speak. Una, Bradigus stay
(8) learns
(9) speak