Dec 04, 2022 7:45 AM
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[Prota chose an urn, two large jugs, and the set of plates and bowls. Prota plans to put water in the jugs and dry food in the urn.] 

The player's selection matches the allowed limit. 

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After examining your options for a few minutes, you make your choice. Two large jugs that can hold a good quantity of water, an urn to store dry food, and the plates and bowls. 

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Step 27

Prota does not need to take the items now, since it's near bedtime and most are heavy. They can pick up the items with Glint in the morning. Feldspar will ask them to be discreet, since openly supporting Prota would cause trouble for her. 

Feldspar has some parting advice for Prota. She still doesn't trust them to haggle properly. 

The next prompt should proceed into the morning and elide over the less interesting details of preparation. It should provide a rough inventory of what Prota and Glint are setting out with. It includes a small cart and donkey, since it would be hard to carry all the supplies otherwise. In an emergency Glint can transform and pull the cart, but doing so interferes with his job as scout and guardian. (Giving the donkey a name, personality, and history will add depth to the world and allow for interesting interactions on the road later.) Glint still needs to finish recovering, which will take a few days even though he heals quickly. 

[Items Prota and Glint have for the trip: a small two-wheeled cart. A grey donkey named Beldry. A modest sum of coin. Enough non-perishable supplies to make it to the first two towns. Feldspar's pottery, containing most of the water and food. A basic tent and bedrolls. Other basic travel and cooking tools. A fishing net. Basic medicinal herbs, poultices, and bandages.] Prota bought Beldry at a discount from an irate third cousin, who was having trouble getting him to work. [Beldry is intelligent for a donkey, but stubborn, with a scraggly mane.] 

The prompt can offer a few choices to the player to further prepare, or leave the options open-ended. Choices can be meaningful but also constrain the player, and they have been offered several narrow choices in the last few prompts, so a final open-ended opportunity seems more appropriate. Prota already packed in an earlier player action, so the only preparations that must be made involve moving supplies into Feldspar's pottery. 

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"Very well," agrees your Great-Aunt. "You may come and collect them tomorrow, around midmorning. And for sun's sake, be discreet about it." Her voice softens. "Remember, know what you've got and what it's worth. If someone tries to haggle you down further, you may them you're very sorry, but your client would be simply furious if you accepted a lower price for her goods. It's an old trick, but it works wonders." Is that a hint of a smile? "And now, Emerald, I believe it is past my bedtime." 

After a good night's sleep, you have a bit of time left. Glint will likely need a few days at minimum to recover from his wounds, meaning you have some time left to prepare. As long as you set out in time to avoid the winter snows, a few days' delay should not impede your plans, but there's always more to do. You have most of the supplies you need for the journey: a modest sum of coin you've saved, enough non-perishable supplies to make it to the first two towns along any route, Feldspar's pottery, a basic tent and bedrolls, some simple travel and cooking tools, and your fishing net and medical supplies.

To help carry all this, you have a small two-wheeled cart, pulled by a grey donkey named Beldry. You bought Beldry a few weeks ago at a discount from a third cousin who claimed the animal was too dumb to work. It took you a bit to figure it out, but you know now that Beldry is plenty smart, just stubborn. Getting him moving takes a good bit more carrot than stick. (Your cousin, on the other hand, has a lot to learn about animals.) 

It doesn't take long to move food and water to Feldspar's containers and make room for them on the cart, leaving you with a couple days before Glint is ready to go, for any last-minute preparations or simple goodbyes. 

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None. 

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I practice living out of my pack, to see if it's missing anything or badly organized. I make sure Beldry is used to the cart, and can still pull it with the expected load even up a grade. I study the best available map.

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[Prota has practiced living from their pack and is familiar with the local map. Beldry has some experience pulling the cart.]

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You live out of your pack for a couple days, and move some things around so they're easier to reach. You hitch Beldry to the cart and practice on some flat and hilly terrain. You review a map of the region between your town and the Blue. 

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Step 28

First, summarize the results of Prota's final preparations. Pack and cart-pulling practice are successful. Because everyone migrates periodically, local maps are good at roads and terrain but bad at locating settlements. [Prota knows the direction and approximate distance to any given settlement, but not its exact location.] 

["Rise" is the direction of sunrise, and "set" is the direction of sunset. Ordinal directions, 45 degrees from the cardinal directions, are blurise, bluset, greerise, and greeset.] 

Next, Prota and Glint begin their journey. (Setting several crossroads along the path to the Blue will let the player make interesting and meaningful choices.) A rough sketch of the available paths is needed. The basic layout consists of three options. By turning left at the first crossroad and right at the second, Prota can connect with the most well-traveled road in this region, Utannic Road. According to the map, Utannic should pass through four settlements, including Adwell. Turning left twice puts Prota on Thimbel's Trail, a winding path through the mountains in the direction of "rise". Thimbel only connects with two established groups of people, and it traverses wild and tricky terrain, but there are fewer bandits and better forage. Turning right twice leads in the direction of "set" and the Llerwood Way, which passes through a large forest and includes crossroads that allow linking back with Utannic, and which includes the option to travel by river. 

["Settlements" along Thimbel's Trail are even more mobile than most, and the first, the Scragswallow Band, may be close to leaving the mountains by now. Scragswallow hunts and traps in the mountains, and one of their members is rumored to enhance fruit-bearing trees and bushes somehow. Whether for that reason or some other, Thimbel's Trail usually has decent forage, and the merchant-warriors of Clan Wellspring are rumored to have turned into the mountains to take advantage of this fact.] The mountain-dwellers tend to be a bit territorial, but they rarely trouble pilgrims heading bluse; you never know who might pass this way again, vengeful and wielding powerful magics.

[Utannic Road leads first to the last known camp of Clan Pratchett, friendly but eccentric shepherds who are on good terms with Prota's clan. Then it crosses the Crane River at Adwell, the politically troubled fishing village. Beyond are the twin settlements of Greward and Bluward, which share a border on the magically fruitful Wellspring Oasis. Each town controls access to the Oasis on their side, and both take great pride in selling its bounty to travelers for suitably extortionate prices. The advancing Blue has encouraged both towns to abandon their previous non-exploitation agreement and take what they can from the Oasis in preparation for departure, and prices are lower than usual...for now.] 

[The first settlement on Llerwood is Orlake, which has stayed on its namesake body of water for several years, and thus contains more greefolk than many younger settlements. They are loathe to leave their fertile fishing spot, but the Blue moves ever onward, and this will be the last year they can delay moving. Even now, some settlers have reluctantly packed up and set out gree, shrinking the town's population and resources. Its residents tend to seek sources of water when they can, and have some experience with fishing vessels. The Crane River extends rise of Orlake into the mountains, and the Renplume sweeps bluse and set before reaching the Blue. Travelers used to rent or purchase boats from Orlake to take along the Renplume, but the river is drying up as its headwaters are swallowed by the wall, and only small vessels can navigate it now.]

[From Orlake, one can also navigate the Crane River to Adwell, take the rise road to Greward, or continue "bluset" towards the dense forests of the Llerwood. Formerly a popular migration path due to Llerwood's superior hunt and forage, this path has begun to see threats from the bandit Li Voita Nimue, shifting travel to the already well-traveled Utannic. It is also possible to take either the Crane River or the Moon Road set from Adwell to connect with Orlake or the Llerwood respectively.] 

Most of the above information can be relayed directly to the Player via Prota's study of the local map. There are some things the Player will not know. [The Scragswallow magic enhances fruiting plants by watering them with blood, and are always short on supply. Clan Wellspring has fallen on hard times, and will be tempted to rob Prota if they see an opportunity. The Utannic Road is muddy and rutted and will cause unexpected delays. Greward and Bluward are at odds over the Oasis, and prices have risen in both cities. Orlake continues to decline, and the Llerwood has suffered grievous harm from the magic of Li Voita Nimue.] ([Other possibilities for benefit or challenge include a third migratory group on Thimbel's Trail, political entanglements in Adwell, a meeting with the traveling merchant Gyreson, an encounter with Li Voita Nimue, an encounter with a wealthy greefolk pilgrim, or a water passage from Orlake.]) 

Glint thinks he can spot and steer clear of any trouble in the Llerwood. He favors that or Thimbel's Trail because he is familiar with the country but distrusts large groups of people. Glint would in fact be more useful on these paths, but Prota might find more benefits on the Utannic. Glint is unaware of Clan Wellspring's changes or the severe damage in Llerwood. 

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Because everyone periodically migrates gree, local maps tend to be better at terrain than camps, but there are some settlements that haven't moved in a while. The map key includes the four cardinal directions - bluse, gree, rise, and set - and their ordinals - blurise, bluset, greerise, and greeset. There are four main paths towards the Blue from your current location: rise along Thimbel's Trail, straight through the well-traveled Utannic Road, set to the Llerwood Way through Orlake, or farther set along the Renplume River from Orlake. 

Thimbel's Trail is a winding, narrow path through the mountains - treacherous, but relatively safe from bandits. "Settlements" along Thimbel's Trail are even more mobile than most, and the first, the Scragswallow Band, may be close to leaving the mountains by now. Scragswallow hunts and traps in the mountains, and one of their members is rumored to enhance fruit-bearing trees and bushes somehow. Whether for that reason or some other, Thimbel's Trail usually has decent forage, and the merchant-warriors of Clan Wellspring are rumored to have turned into the mountains to take advantage of this fact. The mountain-dwellers tend to be a bit territorial, but they rarely trouble pilgrims heading bluse; you never know who might pass this way again, vengeful and wielding powerful magics.

Utannic Road leads first to the last known camp of Clan Pratchett, friendly but eccentric shepherds who are on good terms with your own family. Then it crosses the Crane River at Adwell, the politically troubled fishing village. Beyond are the twin settlements of Greward and Bluward, which share a border on the magically fruitful Wellspring Oasis. Each town controls access to the Oasis on their side, and both take great pride in selling its bounty to travelers for suitably extortionate prices. The advancing Blue has encouraged both towns to abandon their previous non-exploitation agreement and take what they can from the Oasis in preparation for departure, and prices are lower than usual...or at least, so you've heard. 

The Llerwood Way is named for the lush, extensive forest that spans its bluseward stretch. However, its offshoots link up with the Utannic a couple times before that. The first settlement on Llerwood is Orlake, which has stayed on its namesake body of water for several years, and thus contains more greefolk than many younger settlements. They are loathe to leave their fertile fishing spot, but the Blue moves ever onward, and this will be the last year they can delay moving. Even now, some settlers have reluctantly packed up and set out gree, shrinking the town's population and resources. Its residents tend to seek sources of water when they can, and have some experience with fishing vessels. The Crane River extends rise of Orlake into the mountains, and the Renplume sweeps bluse and set before reaching the Blue. Travelers used to rent or purchase boats from Orlake to take along the Renplume, but the river is drying up as its headwaters are swallowed by the wall, and only small vessels can navigate it now. 

From Orlake, one can navigate the Crane River to Adwell, take the rise road to Greward, or continue "bluset" towards the dense forests of the Llerwood. Formerly a popular migration path due to Llerwood's superior hunt and forage, this path has begun to see threats from the bandit Li Voita Nimue, shifting travel to the already well-traveled Utannic. From Adwell, it is also possible to take the Crane River set to Orlake, or the Moon Road to the Llerwood. 

You'll want to pick a direction before setting out. From your clan's campground, turning left at the first crossroad and right at the second would put you on the Utannic Road. Turning left twice would put you on Thimbel's Trail. Turning right twice puts you on the Llerwood Way, towards Orlake. 

Glint thinks he can spot and steer clear of any trouble in the Llerwood, and actually recommends it. "Thimbel's is a bit out of our way, and will take nearly twice as long to traverse as the Utannic would. The Llerwood is a bit longer than Utannic but more open, and the crowds on the Utannic will draw predators like a herd of sheep draws wolves." Of course, Glint has never been fond of large groups of strangers, and may be exaggerating the threat of bandits in such a well-traveled area. 

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None.

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"I think I'd like to try the Utannic Road. We need buyers to move the pottery, and we can juke over to Llerwood if it looks riskier than expected," I say.

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[Prota plans to take the Utannic Road for now.] 

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You tell Glint, "I think I'd like to try the Utannic Road. We need buyers to move the pottery, and we can juke over to Llerwood if it looks riskier than expected." 

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Step 29

Glint is slightly disappointed, but defers to Prota since it is their journey. The next prompt should check that the Player is ready to leave. The prompt after that will likely describe the first impressions of the Utannic. 

Glint will make his counterpoints. Clans on Thimbel's Trail have some use for pottery as well, and they might not have the chance to head to Llerwood if they are ambushed by bandits first. 

(A possible twist for later in the story: Prota's cousin Corun looks up to them, and Prota's journey inspires him to set out as well. But he is underage and less prepared. Plausibly, Prota could encounter him on the way back from the Blue.) [Prota's cousin Corun is inspired to contemplate a journey to the Blue.] (If this does happen, it should have more foreshadowing. Corun should appear in an upcoming post, and Prota should have an opportunity to influence his decision). [Corun has been paying attention to Prota's preparations and is excited by the prospect of the trip. He will appear before Prota leaves.]

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Glint frowns thoughtfully. "Well, the mountain clans on Thimbel have as much use for good containers as the next fellow, but there's no guarantee they'll buy...I ought to warn you, though, that with well-prepared bandits we might not get a second chance to turn to Llerwood." He rolls his shoulders and cricks his neck. "But it's your journey and your call, greenjay. Ready to say your goodbyes?" 

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None. 

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"I am," I say, more confidently than I feel.

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Prota is projecting confidence, but feels at least a bit uncertain. 

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Step 30

The next prompt sets the scene of departure, including tearful farewells, the cart and donkey, and a surprise visit from Corun. (Corun may serve both as a stand-in for Prota's larger, more complex family who are of less interest to the plot, and as a possible recurring character later.) He has been watching Prota's preparations with growing excitement and no small amount of jealousy. His older cousin is going off to get magic powers and he can't have them yet, maybe ever. Like Feldspar, Corun's parents are more traditional than Prota's and there's no guarantee they will allow him to go, let alone help him the way Prota has been helped. They are not happy about Prota's influence on him, or his idolization of "that vagabond" Glint. Corun is old enough to want to go his own way. [Corun is 16 years old.] 

(Where possible, the prompt should recognize and reward the Player's foresight, even in small ways.) Beldry is moderately familiar with the cart, thanks to Prota. 

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You say farewell to your family - with equal parts tears and blessings from your parents - and finish loading up the cart. Beldry, now familiar with the setup thanks to your patient practice, merely turns a curious eye on the proceedings. As you are preparing to set out, a scrawny figure darts out from behind a tent to tackle you in a hug. 

"Go get a cool magic from the Blue, okay Emerald?" says your cousin Corun, voice cracking slightly. "I wish I could go with you." You had previously caught a few glimpses of Corun hanging around while you packed, but he usually got caught and scolded for it. His parents are squarely in Feldspar's faction, and whether they disapprove more of your journey or the tales of "that vagabond Glint" is an open question. 

Glint hides a smile. 

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None. 

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"I will do my very best to get cool magic," I tell Corun solemnly. "In a few years if you still want to we can talk about it then, all right? Assuming I come back. If I don't, assume it's certain death out there, as anything would have to be very tough and scary to take me down, like a giant monster with six heads, and flee gree as fast as your legs can carry you."

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Prota is subtly hinting that Corun should wait a few years. Then, Prota's statements become implausible. Prota is most likely teasing Corun. 

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"I will do my very best to get cool magic," you say. "In a few years if you still want to we can talk about it then, all right? Assuming I come back. If I don't, assume it's certain death out there, as anything would have to be very tough and scary to take me down, like a giant monster with six heads, and flee gree as fast as your legs can carry you."

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