Vlad rose early, since that day the trade ships from the East should be arriving. Not for the first time he wondered if he should start pursuing true sorcery since it would make dealing with demons and other supernaturals a lot easier than going through the elaborate rituals and ceremonies that thaumaturgy calls for. Still, for now thaumaturgy is the only option available, and a bribe is needed for a wood elemental.

Wandering the docks, Vlad at first thought the ships had been delayed, but he finally noticed what he had been looking for – a merchant setting up to sell various exotic plants. Looking over the various plants, seeds and shrubs he noticed a small plant, nicely potted and shaped, that he didn’t immediately recognise. The merchant, looking typically shifty, opened asking for a kings ransom (well, the price of the ship he had arrived on). After much haggling, the merchant ended up with a reasonable price for his plant, though Vlad couldn’t shake the idea he had overpaid. Still, he had the plant, now for the hard part.

Walking across town he found the hovel the hunter lived in while in town. Knocking on the door, Piotr eventually answered and between his pale/green complexion, and the offensive odor emanating from his clothes, it was clear he had spent last night in one of the worse bars. Making arrangements for a trip into the forest to Maiden’s Grove the next day, Vlad hurried away before the smell made him sick.

The next morning, pre-dawn, found Vlad prepared and ready on his horse at Piotr’s house. He was slightly surprised to see the Doctor was joining them, in need of rare herbs and such for her poultices and potions apparently. The 3 set out just as the sun came up, since they had a fair distance to go. Enjoying the ride and being out of town, Vlad wasn’t really paying attention to where they were going, relying on the hunter to guide them correctly. All that changed when he noticed not just the rocky outcroppings that shouldn’t be anywhere near the grove, and the low growling of a bear somewhere in the underbrush. The doctor was apparently unaware of the proximity of the bear, as after Piotr had realised they were in the wrong place and mentioned that bears live here, the doctor talked about stopping and collecting feces for cures (seriously!?). Vlad and the hunter refused to stop, and eventually they arrived at the Grove a little before midday.

The Doctor immediately disappeared into the underbrush, talking to himself happily as he found the rare herbs he had come looking for. Vlad made for the center of the grove, after asking Piotr to keep watch, as it would take a few hours to perform the ritual, and he couldn’t be disturbed.

Unpacking the potted plant, and taking out the small amount of jade he had brought with him (a couple of obol’s worth), Vlad began his ritual, chanting in Old realm as he had learned, requesting that an elemental grace his presence. His awareness of his surroundings and the passage of time faded, and excitement ran through him as he felt the power of his ritual rising. Finally, the jade dissolved into a puff of essences, and a sudden pulse of power shook the grove, causing the leaves and plants to rustle as if in a strong wind.

Vlad exulted as he completed his ritual. His first real elemental summoning, and it had worked! Looking around for the elemental, unsure of what to expect, he was surprised to realise that the tree in front of him had changed, and was now observing him. Taking in the look of the being before him, Vlad was almost speechless. He’d been expecting a minor wood elemental to answer him… not the forest king, ruler of much of this area of the forest. Recalling the appropriate etiquette, he obsequiously began to request his favour from this powerful individual – a childs toy, carved by an elemental from the wood of the forest that the (now possessed) child loved so much. In return, a gift of a plant from the east, something to add to the kings domain. At first he thought he had failed as it quickly became evident that the Forest King pretty much hated mortals due to their generally destructive actions towards the forest, however Vlad’s flattery evidently worked, and the King gave him a flower that would allow him to call on a minor elemental for a single favour (ie, craft the toy). The King left then, leaving Vlad cradling the flower like a child. He carefully packed the flower in his pack, and went in search of Piotr and the Doctor. The useless hunter he found snoring not far away, leaving Vlad seriously questioning the mans competence. The Doctor showed up a few minutes later, covered in dirt, plants and insects. Apparently he had hidden on/in a termite mound once the elemental had shown up. Shaking his head in disbelief of these people, Vlad mounted his horse, and the 3 of them made their way back to town.

Arriving home just before sunset, Vlad had just finished unpacking when the Doctor turned up at his door, asking for his help – something was in her house. Groaning, Vlad grabbed a bag, and headed across town to the Doctors place on the outskirts – an area far enough from town to keep any minor plagues from spreading. Opening the door and peeking in, he is confronted by a wood spider – a sentient, malicious elemental. It refuses to leave, and Vlad hurriedly closes the door, and moves to put a warding around the house to keep the spider in. A short argument ensues with the Doctor asking how he could be so stupid as to bring a wood spider back from the forest.

Shortly thereafter, the hunter is brought in to help. Realising that the doctor still has a couple of patients up stairs, Piotr gets a ladder and starts climbing it, the Doctor holding the base. The Doctor squeals suddenly, and calls Piotr down, and Vlad takes a couple of steps back, as spiders start crawling out of the ladder. Vlad is confused for a moment as they shouldn’t be able to leave the house thanks to his ward, then understands that this is an illusion. He explains this to the other 2, and as he does so can hear a muted giggling coming from within the house.

Piotr and Vlad work quickly then to retrieve the 2 comatose patients from the house, Vlad ending up slightly crushed under one of them as he failed to account for the weight of the man. As night sets in the 3 decide to wait until morning before trying anything more with the Wood Spider.


Belicht Dionysus