It was dusk as we got tree shrine. I was exhausted from the travel. Eevolertu and Chloe reported back about our trip to take out the shrine, which had turned out to be shrines, both cold and time, taken out by ashes and the bag of light, respectively. We told them of Oreshalore's loss and Woveshancor's injuries. The rest of our party is quiet.

The valley has more popping sounds and smells of chemicals, rather different from when we left.

Marguerite said that they'd reached out to the shrine network and talked about connecting to the gracknel, which caused some of the physical changes. Marguerite had had a vision in many parts. One showed her a memory of a blessed interacting with a guard who keeps her out of the keep he's guarding, because there are far-away guests visiting the young lord and his variant old advisor. She got the impression she could return to the shrine after dark. And then there was a bit some human siblings, after nightfall. And another one where she talked to two old women working on a fractal pattern thing, and they were sort of beetles.

People here were pretty prepared.

Eevolertu and I pretty much fell over to sleep. I made sure I was near Woveshancor, in case his condition changed.
8/14/17


[I got 4 hero points.]

Orehalore was dead. I couldn't quite grasp it, but knew I had to help Chloe with Woveshancor if I could. Quintillian was sitting by Oreshalore's head; I said the traditional condolences, then went to Woveshancor. I was able to help.

Eevolertu returned, and talked with Quintillian about Oreshalore's body.

I knew that one of the ways Elix bodies can be released into the trees, letting her bones return to her family. And if a group of Elix went into the trees, it's easier to keep focus.

Eevolertu said that the winter shrine is rubble, and the time shrine is a shadow in the shrine's shape. Chloe asked if he wanted to shine a light on that. We talked about how to do that while not breaking our blessing.

The closest trees are about a quarter mile away, perhaps an hour away, down. Eevolertu took the lantern to throw on the shrine while the rest of us headed for the trees. There was a weird *hitch* in time. We kept on after that. Eevolertu came over the ridge, and seemed to be moving a bit strangely, slower than I would have expected. The snow wasn't falling at the right rate under his feet, either. He seemed to be under a time effect. The wind around him was strangely slow. It seemed like a wave of whatever the time effect was was coming down towards us. None of us wanted to be caught; we wouldn't be as fast as Eevolertu in his large state, and even he was slowed.

We made it to the trees. There was a snap that yanked through, and the snow went backward momentarily. There was a thunderclap back up the mountain, and it seemed like the wave was broken up, though there were eddies of the time effect left.

Three of us weren't up for three hours of running back. Discussion of whether going through the trees is feasible for at least some of us or not.

Eevolertu started to talk about that, and I pointed out that we should put Oreshalore into the trees to return to her family. My focus for that was not just the usual ritual, but whatever Quintillian needed to help her.

I spoke first, about he silver city beyond the wood, Vueleshaharon Chacalathur, through the All-wood, on the other side, how Oreshalore's journey should be an easy one, and that we should meet again there. Chloe spoke about the how we've learned from Oreshalore. Eevolertu spoke about her light-hearted spirit and humor under stress, and he will look forward to enjoying that again in the silver city. Quintillian spoke after a moment, about Oreshalore's bold foolish heroic death, in saving us all, about saving us all, and how her story will live on. And then we put her into the woods, to be taken to the silver city.

We rested for half an hour, then managed to travel back to the valley, though I was wholly tired out when we arrived.
I yelled to the archers to shoot at the sakken that was still above us, while Quintillian, Oreshalore, and I attacked the flaming sakken writhing on the ground. Unfortunately, neither were taken out, and then the sakken that had been upslope was next to me and attacking strongly. I took a hard blow, then ducked behind the line of archers so they could get a sight line (and because I was just about out of vigor). Basbran moved up to hit at the one that was still down. The other sakken were killed.

Then we waited. We weren't sure what to do, nor how long to wait. I started the conversation with Quintillian about what we should do. There was some talk, and Woveshancor, Quintillian, and Oreshalore went up to the top. Apparently Eevolertu signaled them about sakken below them, because Woveshancor rushed down, and grabbed some flaming stuff, and threw it over. Then our people were rushing back down, and a sakken was following. The archers shot at at it before it could teleport down, and it died. The others from that triple did not come over the slope, however.

We talked about what to do to get more sakken over. Chloe had a lot of ideas; we went with making noise by singing, coordinated by Chloe. Something changed, and Chloe sent the three up again to drop ash as we continued singing. They did, then immediately started coming back, as several sakken, at least three, appeared at the top of the slope as our people scrambled down.
The archers started shooting immediately. The sakken started acting more like regular sakken.

Three more sakken appeared at the top, and seemed to be acting more normally for sakken, not the strange teleport ones. I tried to pull Oreshalore out of the line of fighting, since she was hit and bleeding badly, but I didn't have the strength to get her out as I'd wanted. Basbran pulled me out of the way. Oreshalore went down. Woveshancor went down still holding the closed lantern.I rushed in, stabbed at the last sakken, and it went down. I turned immediately to the people who'd gone down. I was on Oreshalore, Chloe on Woveshancor. And then I realized Oreshalore was gone.

I was stunned; I couldn't quite believe, after all this time, that she'd fallen.

We heard a crash , and there was snow blowing, and the clouds blew away, and chunks of ice landing below us. Not long after, the heavy chill comes off, so it's a regular level of cold.
Discussion about how to attack the sakken and attack the shrine. Back and forth, figuring out what can be done. In the end, the plan was to draw the sakken over to us while Eevolertu, invisible, put ash and such on it while we noisily fought the sakken, including traps with rope soaked in oil that the archers could flame.

Chloe inspired us.

Eevolertu headed out to ash the winter shrine.

The ones going to get the sakken attention headed up. Quintillian and I were in front. We ran at them, attacking the one closest to us first. I managed to dodge its attack. We went a few rounds, then Quintillian called time for us to head back. Oreshalore attacked the last sakken as she headed back, as did Basbran. As we retreated, three more sakken ambled over. We backed towards the rest of our group. The injured sakken stayed, but the other sakken kept up with us. We kept heading back to the others, helping each other as we went.

Two sakken fell past us, and were on fire, blocking our path. Oreshalore and Quintillian get to the sakken first and climb around it. I did too, as did the others and the sakken were making noise now; being on fire was not good for them.
The path wove a bit more, and the visibility was far less, due to the spires of rock and heavy mist that got everywhere. We continued for hours, climbing. There were some gaps in the clouds, where the wind spirits seemed to be dancing. There was a hard cold, which definitely felt noticeable, but not in the biting way it would have been without the blessing. We stopped to make a plan. A scout went ahead, and found a sakken in a pass not far above us, while we were figuring out how to use the ash, oil, and liquid light to attack the center of the shrine. Eevolertu got invisible and went to fight the sakken, trying to minimize any sound, to avoid alerting any others that might be around. Not long after, a sakken body fell to where we were, and was hacked up. Eevolertu came back down, and sent the scout out again. He came back, reporting that there were six sakken around, and he described the ice flower of the shrine, which is quite large.

More plans, to split the group, having one deal with the sakken coming through the notch one by one, as the other group attacks the shrine.

Woveshancor scouted the other side, and there were two more clusters of three sakken, and a second smaller shrine as well. More discussion of how to attack, whether shooting at the shrine can happen due to distance challenge, whether there are more sakken around, how to hit at least one shrine (which? will one explode when hit & damage the other?). Are there sakken just over the ridge? So Evolertu went invisible and sneaked to check out the other side and the slopes.
I asked Eevolertu if we could leave, and he wanted to check in with the others. He asked Chloe if she were coming, and she seemed reluctant, because she gets tired faster, so I made a rope harness Eevolertu could use to carry her some of the time, to balance that out.

The sun was up when we left, around 10 low bells, and I could hear the gracknel's song, which seemed different than before, which changed from the sleepy song to something more about doing things. I started sticking a branch in the snow at intervals, so we'd have a path to follow back. Eevolertu said we should do a mark higher up, to follow if we're running. In the end, some of the scouts did the same as me, and the path was clearer.

We continued through the pine forest, then up slope for some hours. Up ahead, there was a place where the snow was turning opposite the direction of the wind, like a manifested spirit of winter wind, which has many ways it could damage us. We stopped. It seemed to be fairly stationary relative to the landscape. Not sure what to do; some talk back and forth. Eevolertu and Oreshalore volunteered to approach and see what happened, whether it sensed us with the blessing on. They made it by, not disturbing the little spires of snow around it. The rest of us followed.
It was pre-dawn, and we had time to talk. Last night's fighting wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worried about. Chloe told us about how the gracknel's actions had helped by doing effective ash venting and other things to keep attackers from making it to the shrine. Eevolertu pointed out that there was the attack by the friendly-sakken against one of the winter shrines outside the valley.

Marguerite had had a vision, that included an old man and a fork in the path. One direction lead to a fiery volcano. The other branch led to Evolertu and others fighting on a snowy mountain. There was a third choice, the path behind the tree, and he showed Marguerite two nuts in his hands, then made them disappear. When she talked with Ofeshia about this, they thought it might be about the lord of secrets.

The time bearer's blessing could be put on up to 20 people, and last 3 days, providing cold resistance, and facilitates travel in the snow/other effects of winter. It would still be a hard day's travel, even if there's a way to put a light gourd onto the shrine from above.

Chloe said that Darren had told her that we should leave the valley by a day and a half after Darren left (ie by tomorrow sometime).

There was more planning talk about route (I asked Chloe if there were an easier route, and she drew a beautiful map, showing there was a way up the side of the valley that would be much easier), and who would go for the winter shrine, and so on).

I took a moment to assess how I was doing with reiteration. It was odd. I could hear Darren talking inside. I took a moment to listen, and the thoughts were about gracknel, production and such. I didn't stay listening long, and when I assessed after, it seemed to have decreased integration, but I thought that now that Chloe was out of the gracknel, we might need some connection to the gracknel at some point.

Chloe and Eevolertu went off to talk to people near the gracknel. I took the time to do my daily meditation before they showed up again.

A group of us went to the entrance to the caldera, where the TimeBearer was waiting for us. As we approached, we passed through a veil, and the natural sounds faded out. Eevolertu talked with her. The shrine from last night had a veil of swirling around, so it would be hard to attack from a distance. The containers of sunlight could remove the blessing, so fire arrows will be better. The blessing will allow us to get closer than normal, given the wind. If we lose the blessing within 30-40 yards of the shrine, we could be killed. Chloe remembered she had a bull's-eye lantern, and that could be useful.

We gathered, and there was a swirl, and we all looked like we had snowflakes all over us. We had a few words, and then she left.

I tested out how walking and running worked, and it felt normal, but I was on top of the snow, and I able to stop easily.

The sun was going to rise soon; I put my hood up to protect from the light. As we headed back, we stayed in the shade as much as possible. We went back to get oil, and borrow extra cloaks to put over our blessed ones, which helped a bit.
We were holding the ritual, the bridge starts to connect, and the ritual veers just a bit off the intended distance. The other people helping are working harder than they can, really. The ritual was driven a bit by something else. The energy comes, and rebounds, and goes past to where the point of connection was. The others around were still singing the ever-so-off ritual, which is harmful to the people doing it. We decided it would be better to have people doing maintenance, calming them down from the intensity.

I told them I could help more if I could sleep for a bit.

A couple of hours later, Woveshancor woke me to tell me that there were collecting things out, and Chloe was going to go to the village to do... something. I went with them. Chloe played her flute some of the time. There were weird gracknel constructs. A couple of times Woveshancor kept me from walking into a tree; the gracknel was playing a very somnolent lullaby. I tried to keep myself awake by skipping, hopping, weaving around rocks, etc. When we got to the village, there were more gathering-constructs, working their way into houses to get at the Crages bodies within. I was torn: Crages tend to burn their bodies, and would hate to know that their dead were reused, but the gracknel did need more stuff. I could see both sides. Chloe stopped noodling around on her flute and started singing, which made the things stop for a moment. I joined her song. Chloe got them to follow. When she paused, it took about a minute until they 'woke up'. Chloe's plan was to gather the rest of the gatherers around the village, and bring them to the southeast where the slain walking dead were. We sang out way over. When we got there, there was another 3-pod creature with a staff for a head. It came over, though it tried to approach Chloe. I got between her and it, and block it trying to get at her, and we continued towards the walking dead. When we got there, they went over, even 3-pod, but after a while, it decided I was more interesting. I kept blocking the stick. Chloe came over and let it touch her with the stick, and soon after one of the ones collecting the walking dead came towards her. I quickly started up singing. It stopped, but remembered her if I paused. So I kept singing.

Eevolertu arrived, figured out the situation, left one of his guards with us, and headed back to the shrine. Slowly we worked our way over to the huge pile of dead, and process it quickly. The sleeping people were woken by the sounds of bodies being squished. When things fill, they meander back towards the gracknel. Unfortunately, there were two left that weren't filled. Eventually Chloe sang something else, and they meandered off.
I'd helped people who were injured, so took the time to get a short nap.

I got up not so long after, but I wasn't in charge of myself, though I was able to watch. I offered to help with the ritual, but Marguerite said things were ok. I said I'd do a little sweep, checking on people, helping people who needed help with the ritual.

Marguerite and Ofeshia were talking. I went over, and they were talking about the comm link with the south, that had a big backup of energy, so was potentially dangerous. I said I could help her resist magic better, like the manipulation of energies I've done before. I watch this part that the Gray Lady does this, and try to understand, as much as I can, how she covers Ofeshia in a web of energies. Interestingly, GL hadn't been sure she could do it, either. I tried to learn what I could, but there were layers of perception that were far beyond me.

Ofeshia went back into the shrine space to open the comm link so the shrines could link. There was a sound, and lights, then Ofeshia slumped towards the ground. Marguerite and I caught her. She was alive. GL said that she'd try to pull off the tangle from around Ofeshia while Marguerite held the ritual. The net caught a bunch of tons of energy. GL folded it up, layer by layer, quickly and carefully, into a small, lacy burning triangle, leaving her natural frame structure unenhanced, and in poor shape. I took the triangle's energy into myself. GL didn't want Ofeshia in this poor shape for her plan, but she also didn't want her to heal so quickly that she would interfere with her plan either. I told Marguerite that I'd done something to help Ofeshia heal, turned down the offer of some tea, and went to do another check on people. It was odd, watching.

The door to the GL's room, where I was sitting, was open. She said to come out, and I did, and she took my hand, and we were out past the fires. She said that in a moment, it would all happen, and things would work out, and our agreement would be over. I asked if there was a path we could find towards our plan working out without a lot of death. She said there would be an attack, at their weakest time, leading to the best chance of survival. She said that things had worked out well, coincidences that could be ridden a long way. I might experience some confusion/disassociation for a while. Difficulty remembering who I was, thoughts of being another race. I asked if there were something to be done to further both our plans, and she said that that would mean a renegotiation, which she knew I didn't want. And her lord already had claws into the situation.

She said "it's happening now." I say "fare thee well."

She played with the lacy triangle, then folded down into candlelight and was gone. And then there was a huge pain in my side. I fell over, but didn't pass out. I kept swallowing, and the pain branched out and diffused. I was covered in sweat, and didn't feel like myself.

Oreshalore and Eevolertu came out and got me. Oreshalore picked me up and carried me back to camp, near the fire. She'd asked what happened, and I said it was complicated. I asked Eevolertu about resisting pain. I put a hand in, and it wasn't blood, but some kind of slime, in a row underneath my ribs. Once it was clear I didn't need a bandage, we sent the person with the bandages away.

There was a bit of conversation after that, about protecting Ofeshia, and connecting to the comm link, and how Darren might not be anymore.

We headed back towards Marguerite, and Chloe came back from the gracknel. She said that Darren wasn't, and she'd gotten out of the gracknel before that, because being in the gracknel without Darren would be bad. And apparently people didn't want to talk about Darren anyway, so that conversation slid away.

The gracknel was making different sounds.

Chloe said that they fixed the parts that let the gracknel fix itself.

The ritual changed to the connecting ritual, with a number of us holding it together. Marguerite asked if I'd talk to the people I'd worked with before (as GL). I thought about what the GL had taught to two of the people holding the ritual before. This was for bridging and netting energy that would come out of this work when Ofeshia went in, and sent off to use, to interject the GL into the gracknel. I said I wasn't sure I knew appropriate things for this new ritual, and left it at that.

It took an hour for this ritual to take hold.
Evolertu rushed out to fight the sakken near the shrine area. I ran after him, and slashed at the odd sakken that had ice spears growing out of its back. There was a blast of awful cold from it. Quintillian attacked as well, then it picked her up and threw her. It rushed off, followed by Eevolertu and Woveshancor. I heard sounds that implied they got it, so I pulled Quintillian up, and asked her which direction. She pulled me farther out, then pointed out another of those sakken.

I attacked it, then she did, and we got a blast of the awful cold. We attacked again, then there was a whoosh of cold air past me. Basbran and Vahoogar arrived and attacked, taking it down.

I heard Eevolertu call to move away from the body that might explode. I found myself by an icy patch; I yelled back to the others not to come on the icy patch, which hadn't been there before, and had icy spikes. I came up to Quintillian, and saw what she'd noticed, a line of about eight walking dead drifting by. Woveshancor went to the last one, and the others started attacking as well, so I joined them, and got one out of commission.

I heard Eevolertu call from far off on the other side of the shrine that there were walking dead there. I hacked at one of the two left near me. Quintillian and Woveshancor headed back to camp. Once the rest of the dead were downed, the rest of us headed back to the shrine area. I heard Eevolertu yell again that there were walking dead.

We all met up again in the shrine area. Eevolertu said that the saken he'd taken down blew up when he put ash on it, and that caused the seeding of the winter shrine. I told the people holding the ritual, and for them, they've felt nothing pushing on the ritual. Oreshalore and Donjerwen went outt and came back from checking on the other sakken, which was still pulsing with cold even though it was just lying there. Eevolertu said that we should get fire onto it. They also reported that the ice spines seemed to be growing. Eevolertu said to cut them down by using a light of a gourd. Donjerwen went to put daylight onto the ice spines that were growing rather quickly. It didn't look like it did anything, but Ofeshia said that it was working, and it needed to cover every bit, because it would start to grow back if anything weren't covered. Ofeshia checked out the unexploded body. It was too far for a light gourd to reach, but an arrow dipped in light could. That made the body explode faster, causing a larger area of shrine that people started casting light across.
At midday, I woke Ofeshia and Marguerite so they could lead the new shrine in connecting to the other linked shrines. We talked about connecting them, and I asked whether they intended to ask the tree shrine to do this on its own, or we were doing a ritual to help it. Marguerite and Ofeshia talked, and realized that we don't have enough power, unless the tree helps us project the whole way. I wondered whether we could make some map of how to go to the shrines at High Grove. There was the possibility of doing it in stages, rather than one energy leap. Marguerite and Ofeshia weren't sure how far it got in its attempt this morning.

They went in, and I could hear their speaking to each other. When it sounded like they were coming out of meeting the shrine, I reached out to hold Ofeshia's hand, to see whether I could project to her. I sent her a picture of the big tree shrine in the previous valley, and the little shrine we'd planted. She was able to see that, so there is a way to communicate between someone in the shrine space and someone out of shrine space.

I put my hand on the trunk of the shrine, it was much more like a person than a plant. It had flows of energy that reached out in all directions, past were I could perceive. I could only see part near me. There were flows of energy going in and out.

Ofeshia brought me into the shrine space to introduce me. It was disconcerting, like being in a dream that was unraveling, with an Elix in a flowered glade. Ofeshia sent pictures to introduce me, and it sent back pictures that included me. I sent a picture of me going over to put a hand on him. The shrine sent it back a couple of times, and Ofeshia clarified that it was now, not previously. I approached respectfully, and then touched. The energy flows were disassociated from the body, and I could see the flows and coils of the structure. It was engaged with another being, holding its hand. It was vigorous and youthful. It's growing at an unnatural pace. When I described this, Ofeshia wondered whether the other being

Most of the growth is reaching south, with one tendril of growth touching the entity I'd felt before. I couldn't tell how far things were, just direction. I was ready to come out of this confusing space, so I bowed my thanks, and Ofeshia brought us out. When I described the entity, Ofeshia said that the place to the south was the place of suns she'd mentioned before, that is a place of broken energies.

Marguerite took the ritual over from me while Ofeshia did some research on magic. I went to sleep, to recover focus from this encounter, and perhaps to get some new idea about how I could do something towards getting the shrines linked.
There was some talk about what to do tonight. I said I'd go in a group lead by Eevolertu to fight later. Marguerite and Ofeshia went to make sure there weren't dead bodies that could be inhabited, and I held the ritual while they did.

Eevolertu and I did our daily practice, and when we were done, Ofeshia and Marguerite came back saying the gatherer was out, and they were afraid it would start bringing the dead of the valley in to use their parts.

Ofeshia reached out to talk to Chloe, but got Darren instead. In the course of conversation, she found out that there are a fair number of sakken around. She told Darren that any sakken inside the caldera could be collected.

I had a thought I mentioned to Eevolertu, that if we do the attack on the tower tomorrow, it could be helpful to use the gatherer to fight the sakken so it could gather them while we deal with the winter shrine.

There was more discussion of connecting our new shrine to the shrine network, which would require having 2 rituals going at once. But the growing could happen now.

There was red lightning off to one side. Not sure what that was.

I tried to sleep, and managed it for a bit, until there was extra ashfall. I woke up, and Eevolertu said he'd seen a sakken bearing ice, moving slowly nearby. I followed him out to find it.
Marguerite woke me up in the late afternoon. We talked about me putting Swulanee's energies back in alignment with her body before she headed home. She was sleeping now, so we went to talk to Ofeshia before doing the healing.

Ofeshia said that she now knows about fixing the communication network temporarily. She said that the copper patterning on the ground I saw in the introduction of tree in dreamtime. If that can be made to touch the baby shrine, then there could be communication, though it's not good for the point of breaking through the skin of the shrine, as it were. If that connection to the gracknel communication system is made, it would be only a short distance to join to one of the other shrines in the network. Ofeshia said that the shrine needs to know itself, have a name, to stand for itself as the gracknel's energy can be overwhelming.

Ofeshia and Marguerite were going in to talk to the shrine. I fixed Swulanee's energies first, and she definitely felt better; she headed back home.

I held the ritual while Marguerite and Ofeshia went to talk to the tree shrine. I said that I'd touch Ofeshia if it got close to actual dark, since the sun was already lower than the level of the caldera.

There was some sound of popping, and wind, and the smell of sulfur, like when the ash venting happened yesterday. People stood, concerned that there was an attack. I reminded people that this was like the gracknel's ash system, just without ash, not like an attack, that likely wouldn't come until later.

Eevolertu returned. He said that there's a winter's shrine directly south on the caldera that he and Oreshalore attacked with fire. On their way back, they met with someone Marguerite knew, the time bearer who'd arranged our sakken travel. She was glad we weren't eaten. She had news: the big winter spirit is coming now, following the path of its towers. It will be in striking distance tomorrow night. There are three towers in striking distance of the caldera. One is huge, south of here. One is east and younger, and one is southeast and younger. The time bearer is going to attack all of these, but wasn't sure she had enough resources to attack all three before the spirit arrives. We could make an attack party for the one on the southeast, a 5-6 mile hike with a climb, then we destroy a tower and fight sakken. She would bless a bunch of us to endure the cold better, and the blessing lasts 3 days. She can cast it on 20 people. She's going to attack the big one tonight, and we can meet tomorrow morning. We discussed this, and realized that no hard decisions can be made until after tonight's battle. Eevolertu pointed out that anyone in a shrine-hunting party would have to know we were working with the Winter's King. I pointed out that this was restoring the balance, which Marguerite might be able to use to persuade people.

Ofeshia said that the shrine now has a name, Jereayesov. It's working on connecting to the gracknel, which is losing its mind and might blow up the volcano/valley if it's not connected soon. That connection could make it easier for the shrine and the gracknel to link to the shrine network. Having a peer group could help the gracknel, as well. It might help with it getting the resources it needs.
I was napping to recover from holding the ritual for so long, then woke up to a shrill whistling sound all around.

Swulanee was there, pierced by some kind of gracknel thorns that were hurting her. I looked at her energies, and could see the symbiosis, even with the thin connection, and how it was pulling threads of her energy structure out, like pulling her bones apart. Ofeshia was communicating with Chloe and Darren about me doing work on Swulanee, and apparently I'm a body worker.

They sent Eevolertu out with fish to the gracknel.

There was some talk about me becoming a Keeper, so I could touch the thorns in Swulanee. There was also the warning that touching them could go down a path that would lead to death.

I realized that Ofeshia might be able to help me with her energies to work on Swulanee; I was nervous about doing this very different thing with manipulating inner energies. I didn't want to start on Swulanee with working together, so I said we should figure out working together first. I put my hands on her to show her how it worked, then on me, to show her how it was in another person. And that seemed to work.

It was time for Ofeshia to let Chloe know that Eevolertu was by the front door with fish.

Then I talked to Swulanee, telling her what I wanted to try. She was having a hard time focusing due to pain. Then I tried to see what was going on. There were lots of little tendrils pulling her apart. I thought about possibly pulling her energies just a bit to one side as a stop-gap. I told Ofeshia, and she said to go for it. I did, and it was really difficult, but it worked. A minute later, the thorns chirped, and dropped off Swulanee's body. A minute later they started chirping.

Ofeshia contacted Chloe, and found out that the chirping would get a gathering coming to get them. She asked Quintillian to escort her in dropping the thorns off near the gracknel, so the gatherers wouldn't come to this shrine.

I went to sleep to recover from this healing.
I was holding the ritual while Ofeshia and Marguerite talked to the new tree shrine. It started glowing with a beautiful light, waking those who were asleep due to its brilliance. Interestingly, it was drawing energy in, and it was getting colder. Which is something I don't want to point out. Then the light changed, and the chill vanished. Eevolertu spoke to a bunch of the people around.

Ofeshia and Marguerite told me, Eevolertu, and Donjerwen what had happened with the new tree. They described how they suggested it reach farther out, but that it should grow until midday before reaching out that far. Eevolertu said that the locals are not doing well. They didn't fight in a unified way last night, and had more losses because of it. Eevolertu said that we need to give them a task that would pull them together. He thought building a big bonfire would be a good idea. Marguerite said that if they had a flask of light, that would help too. Ofeshia wondered if they should move towards the gracknel, with all the shaped houses there. I wasn't sure whether that would bring more fighting towards the gracknel, whether it would take focus from the gracknel doing something else. Eevolertu said that we should tell the locals that the ash is part of the gracknel's defensive system.

Ofeshia contacted Chloe. There was a kind of circular conversation about whether it was safe for people to move to outside the gracknel, and how they shouldn't be used for parts, and how the ash-venting system has to be turned off within a few days or everyone dies. And then there was something about Ofeshia going to be an engineer at the gracknel if they don't figure out the venting system in the next hour or so. Eevolertu asked whether dead fish could be used for parts. Darren said that they might be useful, so yes, they should bring the fish to the entrance to the gracknel.

Eevolertu took some people to Kenelu's hut. I continued to hold the ritual so Ofeshia and Marguerite could nap until midday. In between times, I thought about how to combine energies for Kenessho can help, but other people who don't have training can't do that. Some specialized warriors , foci, or blessed could help. Which cut down severely on how many people's energy could help. But! If the shrine connected to the other shrines, then it would be linked with the Crystal Shrine, which is a center of healing, and perhaps would be able to help in itself, through the shrine network, or somehow connect the foci at the Crystal Shrine to us. More to think about...
I slept part of the morning away, and felt a lot better when I woke up, though I could still feel the touch of the piece of night on me. There was some food already made, including some fish stew. Basbran brought it around, saying that a lot of the fish in the pond died, first a big piece of ice landed in it, then it heated up too much, killing a lot of the fish, so people are cooking and drying them. A lot of villagers died, and the villagers are taking care of their dead. A lot of people were touched by the pieces of night. I started thinking about how I might be able to help heal more than one person at a time from the pieces of night, using mental energy from more of us to heal more of us at once, since otherwise it could take weeks to make sure everyone recovered. At least our group is used to pooling mental energies at this point, and Eevolertu knows Kenessho things. Still, it would take a lot of work to make this reasonable, and I have to think about how this could be possible.

Marguerite said that she and Ofeshia want to talk to the our new tree shrine in preparation to linking it to the other four shrines in our network, since our tree is already flourishing and healthy. Being with the network could provide more defense if attacked tonight, and also shore up the shrine before introducing it to the gracknel, which can be overwhelming. I wasn't sure how the link would happen, and neither were they. I knew that the Grey Lady did something, showing me a map she unrolled, showing me the links between the shrines.

I took over maintenance of the ritual while Ofeshia and Marguerite went to talk to our new tree shrine.

The gracknel's song sounded briefly, then faded away.
Ofeshia and Eevolertu went out to look at the dead meat bridge thing. Eevolertu brought Ofeshia back; she'd collapsed after connecting with Chloe, except she connected with them at another time, and she was another person, back in the past, when there were three gracknel in the valley, and where the stone shrine is now, there was a garden. It sounded confusing. Anyway, she said that there was an option for the people at the gracknel testing using the ash systems, or to use the collector to gather the dead people parts near us. I was definitely in favor of testing the ash, because that would affect the other ice people roaming the valley.

There was a shiver, then several pops, and something whistling and landing nearby. Now there was a metal disk standing out of the ground. I could taste ash in the air, and in the distance, a hissing noise.

Ofeshia was really tired. I told Marguerite I could help with the ritual for a while so Ofeshia could sleep. After some while, Ofeshia woke up and Marguerite went to sleep. When she woke up, I was finally able to sleep.
I was out with Eevolertu and others at the huge mass of frozen dead that was moving towards the shrine. There were now-unfrozen dead climbing down on all sides, and I could hear sakken out past it. I was holding two torches, which wouldn't do much against the dead (and then be used up), and there were lots of pieces of night swooping around; I waited to see what would attack, which turned out to be on Eevolertu. There was a wave of cold from the mass, as Oreshalore swept the light back and forth. Eevolertu pried one loose that was still moving; I hit it until it was gone, then hit the one piece of night left nearby. Quintillian was on the mass, prying dead loose and stabbing into the hole. More night came in and attacked, and I ended up with one on me briefly, until Oreshalore blazed out some more light. Then there was one on Quintillian, which I got off. Eevolertu said something about the ash not being in the right place, and I said to try some other joint/node, handing him the bag of ash I had. Quintillian moved around and opened up the hole more so Eevolertu could stir the ash more. He stuck his arm in with his halberd, there was a flash, it fell over, and icy liquid came spilling out. Quintillian managed to leap off before it fell. We all got back, and went into the area of the shrine. Eevolertu had said there was a blessed sakken and two helpers out there, but none of us were strong enough at this point to do anything about it.

I started healing people, too physically tired to face more fighting if I didn't have to.
The night was flowing through the camp, and I was attacked, with one of them landing on me.
It took some moments to get it off me. I heard Eevolertu call to move over to the light, so I did, swinging torches as I went at the pieces around me. They got smaller as they neared the light.

Eevolertu ran out to attack a huge thing of lots of dead bodies and ice. It kept moving as he attacked. I ran out with some others, and attacked the night around him, keeping away from his strike zone on the thing. Oreshalore brought a container of light, and shined that inside, which looked awful.
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