The mountain looks down at your assembled group. You hear his thoughts whisper through the grey, flowing around your minds like water swirling around fixed boulders in a stream, a jumble that seems like the noise of many clashing senseless thoughts at first, and then for each of you suddenly congeals in you mind into coherent ideas and images, something like a voice in your mind, but more a communication.
Grey, you know he recognizes you as a Threnody, he cannot understand your human sense of loss, yet he protects all those who dwell beneath his gaze, and so to you he extends a sense of protection…almost like that of a father, the closest his immortal stone heart can get to showing such things
Hroth, he recognizes you have carried out the quest Fang Quiang had him relay those weeks ago before you left to Littlemountain. He extends the sense that he honors the evil you faced alone in battle, and that you have removed the spirit from this world. It is the closest way to convey a congratulations the immortal being can show.
Then, a sense that almost feels like pride, as a smile grinds over his rocky features. Again a wave of meaning washes over all of you. Fang Quiang hears the whispers of those he watches over. He sometimes picks up their thoughts, when he is not asleep or distracted, he sometimes hears their prayers. They have been praying for you, the people of Fanlu. The whispers he hears from the towns folk say you faced a great evil, stopped it from reaching Yunshan. The whispers say you defeated a powerful wujen…Akiba…he knows the name, and is pleased at this. The whispers say you left town and have not been heard from for 7 days…not a long time, but long for those who have taken you to heart. The prayers are for your safe return…and that the gods guide you. As you perceive these prayers, you begin to hear them in your minds, whispered in dozens of different voices, as if you were privy to all the thoughts, comments and prayers that contained your names or pertained to you.
You hear the voices of worried mothers speaking about you:
“Li Na, they saved my children…please, please give them your luck!”
“I don’t know why my sister ever moved to Littlemountain, but she is alive only because of those strangers”
“I pray to Fang Quiang to take them in, I will pray for them on the mountain tomorrow”
“His mother and father helped my grandmother pay for this home..I do hope the lord settles down and has a son, I’d feel safer with the elves back in that manor.”
“Bring them back safe”
“They saved everyone in that little village, I’m sure they would do the same for us”
“The one called Tealia, the one with the great cat, she’s spirit-called for sure…she’s the one who banished the restless dead from the Howling Winds!”
“What if the Wu jen rise up to take revenge, will they be able to fight them, will they lead them to us?”
“Guan Yin watch over them”
“Li Na, please make us lucky enough to have such heroes among us”
“Things have seemed lighter in the town since the young master of Threnody has returned…it is a good omen”
“They must have been sent by the gods”
“I’ve heard before of a golden haired elf maiden in shining armor and her unicorn god, my grand mother told me long ago such a hero saved the Woodsman Woods from evil spirits…it couldn’t be the same maiden, unless she is immortal like a spirit!”
“I hear the Keeper has blessed them, they must be good, the Keeper has always looked out for our good”
The voices of children:
“I hear they bested the heroes of the shadow at scorpion”
“The one stern is big like a mountain, He’s got a magic black ax he cut through an entire tribe of bugbears in Littlemountain, just chopped them down like trees!
“I will be a hero like that”
“They’re calling the one named Caris The Golden Maiden, she’s a girl, but a hero as strong as any. I could be like that when I’m old enough”
“I want to be Grognak! He throws Fire like a wujen can, but is good like a monk!”
“You can be Grognak, but I get to be Tealia, shes beautiful and brave and has a heart of lightning!”
“Please Chu Jung, let me see them, I’ve never seen a real hero up close”
“The one named Stern rides a horse made of living stone, and can split an ogre in two with one swing of his axe!”
“Hroth wields a giant sword in each hand and is the strongest man alive! I hope if he ever fights in the Six points father will take me”
“Don’t worry little sister, no one’s going to attack Fanlu, Grognak blew up a whole tribe of gnolls with one magic fireball! Now they’re too scared of Grognak to ever mess with us again”
“Girls can too be heroes! Like the elf lady founders! Tealia rides a giant tiger and no one can tell her what to do! I’ll be a hero just like that, You’ll see!”
“Those blades must weigh as much as me, and he uses one in each hand…”
“My dad says elves can see the future, that’s why he summoned his barbarian friends, so he could stop Slag!
“I’ve got two sticks so I get to be Hrothgar! If I hit you, you have to die ok!”
The Measured voice of men:
“I heard they left Town last week to finish off Slags whole tribe!”
“Well I heard the axe wielder saved the Hat Maker’s Family from certain death!”
“I Know they kept the raiders away, but will they honor the laws? Foreigners once saved the village of Shou Shan when my father was a boy, but then they took it over and killed half the men, including my grandpa.”
“She controls animals with her mind and changes the weather on a whim, if she likes us, maybe well get better planting season this year!”
“The Lord of Threnody returned just in time…they swore he reached across the whole village with magic and snatched the children right away from the raiders…the gods are with the lord of Threnody and his friends.
“A wizard among us would make the wu jen respect us…I say he’s good. It is time for wizards again, wizards that save villages, not take them over!”
“I only wish I could think her for healing my wife’s burns…I really have nothing to give one such as her”
“It was a misty night, I was at the tavern…spirit blooded thugs, not from here came to start trouble, they took them on with their bare hands gods bless them! Beat em’ all the way out of town!
“The wizard fights wu jen, so his magic must be good…?”
“Evon trusts them….”
“I spoke with one of the refugees from Littlemountain, they say the big one, Hrothgar, when they rescued the villagers from the shrine, he challenged an evil spirit to single combat and defeated it! They watched it happen from inside the old shrine the spirits had locked them up in! Why after that, none of the spirits wanted to mess with them, only the inhuman bandits were dumb enough to attack them…and look what happened to them”
“Last summer Ning was burned to the ground by strangers..but these ones must be different, the Threnodys built this town, they must be friends if they are friends of the Threnodys”
“They travel with a healer, a lady of gold who wears shining armor…I heard she’s an elf, a good 1/2 spirit, like the master of the manner”
“I’ve heard they’re the ones who exorcised the evil spirits haunting the old monastery down the pass, maybe they are demon hunters too?!”
“It’s good for our town, we haven’t’ had heroes like that in a long time”
“Yes the other big one, he’s not just a warrior, a healer too…one of the men from littlemountain swears he brought his wife back from the edge of death…they were held hostage in their house…Stern galloped right through the door on his stone horse and saved the whole family!”
“I saw her, the Golden Lady, she is more beautiful than they say!”
You all stand there for a long time,you’re not sure how long, your minds swimming in the thoughts of others, when you are snapped out of it by a deep voice. The voice resonates through the bones of the mountain, speaks as if the whole of the mountain and the ground you stand upon resonated with the vocal chords. He speaks out loud to you.
What you seek is granted…
It is their hope.
The hope you have given my children that pays your way out of these mists now, and back to them..remember always.
Turn and go, walk down the path.
With each step, you will be closer to your world.