Interlude - Winter Solstice

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Interlude - Winter Solstice
Meeting on Winter Solstice by Replig8r.png
December 30, 2017
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Chapter 3.42

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Interlude - Winter Solstice is the 53rd and final chapter of Volume 3, as well as the 25th and final chapter of Book 4, Winter Solstice.

tl;dr[edit | edit source]

Three apparitions appear to Erin and three others to Ryoka and Ivolethe. They offer gifts, but are refused. Erin gets a coin from the one named Tamaroth for the food she has served the three.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The morning after christmas, Ryoka leaves Riverfarm after breakfast. She says her goodbyes to the villagers and Yesel gives Ryoka a scarf as a present. Ryoka accepts because Ivolethe tells her that refusing a gift on the Winter Solstice is bad luck.

Ivolethe explains that Winter is two-thirds over but the day of the Winter Solstice has significance and power - a day when spirits and magic mingly with the mortal plane. Ivolethe gravely warns the runner not to enter uninvited, ask for favors from those she meets or make any bargains or promises and to tell no lies this day.

Erin wakes up alone in the inn with all her guests and Lyonette and Mrsha having left the inn, to give her time alone. Erin sits by the fire until three guests arrive.

Ryoka, following Ivolethe, realises that the two have been going in circles through forest, when she points it out to Ivolethe the Faerie snaps at Ryoka and tells her to keep following but Ivolethe turns back the way they came. Unsure of what's happening Ivolethe flies up to see where they are leaving Ryoka. Ryoka loses sight of the Fae and calls out to her, eventually the two reunite but not without Ivolethe realising that something is happening. Realising that even the road they were travelling on has disappeared, Ryoka builds a fire and Ivolethe tells her to ensure it does not go out.

Erin's three guests are: a tall man with a beard and a grand presence, an even taller man who is scholarly and the third looked like a guy, that Erin thought should be beautiful. Erin invites the three inside and she serves them food. They ask her to join them and sit, which she does.

The scholarly man mentions that their companions are out in the storm, but when Erin asks if she should go out to find them the bearded man tells her not to worry, that all of them are equally lost. The bearded man gives his name, Tamaroth. Tamaroth tells Erin that for her hospitality the three of them are going to give her a gift, Erin isn't sure but they tell her that they will offer an exchange of gifts, she merely needs to pick one of the three and trade for her soul.

As Ryoka and Ivolethe sit around the fire, three people appear in front of her: A woman who looks like a warrior, an old grandmotherly woman and the third was something that Ryoka couldn't describe. The three intruders ask if they can sit by the fire but Ivolethe warns Ryoka to turn them away. Ryoka, seeing the snowstorm, let's them sit with her.

The old woman asks to sit next to Ryoka before Ivolethe warns her again. The warrior woman reaches out to Ryoka, offering to show her triumph and battle if she takes her hand but Ryoka declines. The last is so mysterious and asks Ryoka to reach out if she wants to know what it is, Ryoka's curiosity gets the better of her and as she reaches out Ivolethe bites her hand.

The intruders send Ivolethe away somehow and the old woman reassures Ryoka, offering her hand once again saying that she'll be free of worries. The other two also move closer to Ryoka and offer their hands to her but Ryoka suddenly realises that the three of them could see Ivolethe, but before they can answer the fire begins to die out.

Instead of three people, Ryoka sees three dead things sitting in front of her, dead but still moving. Ryoka tries to cast [Light] but it fails and with the things in the dark encroaching the three Trespassers ask Ryoka to choose one or let the fire die out completely.

The first gift that is offered to Erin is from Tamaroth: an umbrella made from the sun's light, where everything beneath it would be as warm and bright as day. The second man, the one with the book, offers a hangman's noose that makes everyone believe she is dead. The third offers an ancient bone horn that could call her friends from all across the world.

Ryoka looks up and hears a horn call in the distance. She manages to rekindle the fire with an alchemical potion but she knows it won't last due to the lack of wood available. The three intruders once again offer to protect Ryoka from the things in the dark just as long as she touches one of them. The thing gives Ryoka a gift, freely given, which Ryoka takes as refusing would be ill luck. It's her fingers, the ones she lost when escaping from the Goblin Lord's army.

Ryoka refuses all three of them and takes one of the burning bits of wood from the fire and attempts to leave using it to keep the darkness at bay.

Erin picks up the umbrella, but then she hands it back to Tamaroth and hands back the other two gifts as well. She tells them that she wants all three but she declined because she doesn't think she should have them as she's just a mere innkeeper. She doesn't have enemies to hide from and she has enough light so someone else could use these gifts better than her. The three men thank her and decide to leave after her third refusal. They leave behind a small metal coin and Erin falls asleep after adding more fuel to the fire.

Ryoka tries to run through the darkness but the light slowly fades away until Ivolethe calls her name. She runs towards her voice and the light but the scarf she was gifted gets grabbed by something and a part is torn away from her, but Ryoka sees a woman with a sword with Ivolethe's voice. She urges Ryoka to run as she slashes at the thing following the runner. As Ryoka runs away she sees some armored beings rush past her towards the darkness to keep it back.

Ryoka manages to escape into the light an reunites with Ivolethe. Ivolethe sees the freezing girl and turns from frost into flame and creates a fire for her. The part of the scarf that had been touched was warped and altered and Ivolethe warns her not to touch it and not to speak about those things. Ivolethe gives no answer to Ryoka when she asks what those things were and Ryoka burns the scarf and leaves as quickly as she can.

Erin is woken by Lyonette and all her guests to discover that the kitchen is empty of all her food. Erin tries to mention her dream but Lyonette and some of the hungry adventurers head back to Liscor to buy some. Erin goes over to her money jar and sees the coin, realising it wasn't a dream and pockets it.

Erin looks outside and sees that the snow has finally stopped falling, and now that the shortest day of the year is over she realises that it's much like a New year.

Characters[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Items[edit | edit source]

  • Scarf (Twisted - Burned)
  • I offer an umbrella made from the sun’s light. To bring day into blackest night. -
    • "So long as Erin held the umbrella open, it would always be bright around her. The light would burn away her fears, burn away untruths and falsehoods."
  • "I have here a hangman’s rope. For those who live without any hope" -  
    • "He handed Erin a long, thick rope with a noose on the end. Erin tossed the end over one of the beams in the rafters and the others helped her tie it securely. She stood on a table, and put her head in the noose. Then she stepped off the table and hung there.
    • She was dead. Erin hung in her inn, dead. Minutes passed, then hours. Days. Years. When she took the rope off her neck, Erin smiled. No one had known she was alive. They all thought she was dead. While she hung there, no enemy would find her. It was perfect. She let the noose hang over her head as she turned."
  • "I hold a horn made of ancient bone. A thing to protect both hearth and home." -  
    • "He handed Erin a horn of pure white bone. It was cold to the touch, but when she put it to her lips and blew, the call echoed through her inn. It was a call that rose above the loudest horns of the battlefield, which traveled the world. Erin knew that in any part of the world, her friends would hear her call."
  • Ryoka's two lost fingers (Burned)
  • Coin that shone white and silver

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • This Chapter has some Hidden Texts that needs to be Highlighted to be seen. They are found were the text get darker and darker, right before and after a clear visible “Ryoka!”, which are:
    • Nothing…Ryoka closed her eyes. Something was next to her. It reached for her, and she knew it was over. She saw the last flicker of light die.
    • “Ryoka!”
    • And then there was light. Ryoka turned in the darkness and ran for it, ran for the voice that cut through the howling oblivion around her. She turned, searching for the source of the voice.
    • “Ivolethe?”