Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Chimeron XXVII

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

Feast of Chimeron is a staple event on our Realms calendar, and considering that this event is *almost* as old as I am, it’s no wonder why. However, for an event to attain such an age and following, it must adapt to the changing needs of our community while retaining the essence that defines it. And Feast of Chimeron XXVII has definitely done that this year--providing us with contests, games, lessons, portals and more!

See what the creators and crafters and the Realms have to offer by participating in or watching one of the various contests of skill being offered. If you love games, there will be a Game Design tournament featuring brand new games designed by event-goers and judged by players. If you love seeing how people put together epic outfits, plan to check out the garb competition, featuring presentations of found, re-purposed, and pattern-based outfits. This year’s bardic competition promises to be epic, especially with the new format that recognizes all bards with a special sash and yearly patches for participation.

For those of you who love to learn, several exciting Highbridge correspondence courses will be offered throughout the day, including:

  • Game Theory 202: Tournament Poker
  • Armorcrafting 101: Bracers 
  • So You Want To Be A Herald
  • WISDOM 122: Questing Skills - Beyond Spells and Sword
  • WISDOM 105: Rune Solving
  • A History of Vandor

You’ll also have the opportunity to move plot forward by participating in the Council of War, where Captain Orion will be leading a discussion of plans to move towards the defeat of the Fallen King. Additionally, Sir Rel will be leading small explorations into parts of the Portal of Gi.

If that weren’t enough, you can lighten your pockets at the Chimeron Casino or Chimeron shop, which both sound like excellent ways to spend the gold you’ve been collecting all winter. There will also be a Stacked Deck Tournament if you are looking to put some points on the board early this year (and maybe win some gold too!)

With all these amazing activities planned for us “grown-ups", Rhiassan Cub Care will be returning to make sure the wee ones are covered too. Isla has lots of fun projects planned and there will be time for our youngest adventurers to craft and  play together.

There are so many exciting opportunities for fun and learning at this feast that I almost (!) forgot about the food. But don’t worry-- Mistress Aymise has got you covered there too. There will be undoubtedly be delicious delicacies delivered throughout the day and you’ll have an opportunity to show off your best feast gear in the process. What more could you ask for? And while you are digesting (and of course, preparing for dessert), you’ll be able to give your attention to the goings on at Royal Court led by King Cecil.

Feast of Chimeron XXVII--be there, or be square!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Spirit of Steel: Majesty's Reach

With Becky "Kovaks" Baron

For my first year of fighting in the Realms, I had a personal rule that I refused to fight with anything taller than I was. I didn’t even like fighting with hand and a halfs; they felt unwieldy. How did I go from this self-imposed restriction to fighting with the single longest weapon I’ve ever seen?

The coronation of King Alexander Cecil was an extravagant affair. Everyone was dressed in their finest to file into the hall to celebrate the new monarch of Chimeron. As people do on these sorts of occasions, many brought gifts. I wish I remembered more of the presentations. Perhaps I should have taken better notes. I do, however, clearly remember Sir Aeston Stromgate, Lord of Rhiassa presenting a very, very, very long polearm by the name of Majesty’s Reach.


Sir Aeston explained that his scouts had been in the tunnels under Rhiassa, an area Chimeron had been working to reclaim for some time. One of the threats in those tunnels was a group of trolls who used their strength to wield weapons far greater than what normal humanoids could wield. While scouting, these Rhiassans recovered one of the great spears that the trolls were using and brought it back to the surface. There, master blacksmiths and other artisans worked to remove as much extra weight from the weapon as possible, while still retaining its stability and effectiveness. When they were finished, they had a weapon which was just at the very cusp of usability by even the strongest of adventurers. Even the added weight of bracers would be too much strain.

This lovely gift has served Chimeron well. Many fighters (and some intrepid spell casters) have made use of Majesty’s Reach, especially to aid Rhiassa by clearing out their caves.

Of course, this weapon has posed many logistical problems. At over ten feet long, trying to bring it to other nations to aid them proves difficult as passages old and new alike are unnavigable by such a long weapon. In addition, most carriages and carts cannot fit it inside in order to transport it. I use it most frequently for the simple fact that I have the combination of requirements: I am a fighter who has both the space to store and the means to transport the blade.

I like to think I have lived up to the grandness of Majesty’s Reach, even if I will always be dwarfed by its length. I do not claim it as my own weapon, but I do enjoy getting to use it. I have done my best to use it well to kill the things that need killing and to protect the things that need protecting. And with its exceptional length, it puts additional meaning to the phrase, “Long live the king.”

Thursday, April 25, 2019

O'er The Lands of the Realms: Ashenmark

by Jason "Aeston" Rosa



Description by various members of Ashenmark who all chimed in to describe their own parts of the country.

The Western Province
The lands west of the Anderlys river were incorporated into Ashenmark several years after the nation was formed.  The land was mainly plains and mountain, ideal for industry and farming so that Ashenmark's growing population could sustained by food grown in its own borders.

Lucis
Regent: Dame Umbra Lucis

The agricultural hub of Ashenmark was given into Dame Umbra’s care upon her knighthood. Given its fertile soil and favorable weather, it drew many people who had a connection with the earth and the goddess Gaia. Through their agricultural knowledge and religious dedication, it was no hard task for them to tame the wilds that had been there before.

The people had built their settlement up from nothing and took great pride in their accomplishment. Therefore, when Highlord Temorse came to them with new declarations, they were not happy. Now recognized as a city, they would be fully taxed as any other settlement in the nation. Furthermore, they would be governed by a heathen who cared not for their most revered Gaia. Finally, they would even be named after her. They had never decided on a name for themselves, but they certainly didn’t identify as Lucians.

These people were farmers, not warriors or politicians. Therefore, as dissident as they were, they knew not how to push back. And so, they carried on, waiting for the spark that would inspire them.

With Dame Umbra away so often for matters abroad, she has assigned a steward to govern in her place. Pryna, a young man from humble beginnings, seeks to maintain the peace.

Skyline
Regent: The Throne of Ashenmark

The town of Skyline, named for current Champion of Ashenmark Raynor Skyline, is primarily a small mining town in north western Ashenmark.  After the demonic experiments were stopped at the neighboring fort Westwatch in 1014, the town has been slow to revive with only Caleal’s silver mine making a small but consistent profit.  Many of the town’s miners went missing during that time and were presumed dead or worse.  Skyline now resembles a ghost town, with many run down and empty homes and shops and a larger population in the cemetery than living in the established town limits.  However, those who remain are a hearty people who have taken the restoration of the town upon themselves, and the town is beginning to attract new citizens looking for hard work and a new life.

Skyline’s primary export is silver, but there are several established mines for other base metals such as copper and tin.  The iron mine was depleted in 1013 and prospectors have not yet succeeded in finding new veins.  There are rumors of gold in the hills north of town on the border between Periden, but the deeds for those mines have long been lost and the mines are abandoned.  Few have gone on expeditions there on their own, and fewer have returned.  Those who have returned speak of strange lights and whispers in the caves, and try to ward off other would-be treasure seekers.  Skyline is always open to accepting new refugees, but are very wary of strange magics and regard anything relatively demonic with contempt.  The wounds from 1014 are still very fresh and signs of this can be found everywhere.  Should one come to visit or pass through, we recommend keeping to the town center where they will find friendly yet tired faces, and that travellers keep their artifacts and magics to themselves & well hidden.  The bakery Raisin Fight makes an excellent pecan tart and is a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Westwatch
Regent: The Throne of Ashenmark

Westwatch was the first settlement created after Ashenmark obtained its western land.  A small motte and bailey fort it served as a safe haven while roads and settlements were constructed to the west.  It is the notable long-term home of Stripes Lightstride.

Fort Stormguard
Regent: The Throne of Ashenmark

Fort Stormguard, named for former nationals Dagan Stormrider and Keela Loveguard, is a fortification build to garrison soldiers sent to western Ashenmark to deal with bandits in the mountains.  The western mountains are rich in minerals, and thus mines and have been a constant target of various bandit groups in the area.

The Central Province
The original land, formerly the nation of Elemirre, gifted to the nation of Ashenmark upon its formation.  Its ancient forests remain wild and untamed for the most part, and this is where visitors will feel the strongest connection to Gaia.

Goldenhall
Regent: Sir Kaelkatar Anderlys

Long before Ashenmark laid claims to these lands, the village of Goldenhall stood for many generations. Historically a series of large thatched roofed longhouses stood in the center of town and with little space between them held the appearance of one enormously long structure. The building sports a bright golden roof that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, and houses a large tavern, many merchant stalls, and a performance amphitheater.

Annually on the Saturday following the second new moon after the first flooding of the Anderlys River, the Festival of the New Year is celebrated at the great hall in Goldenhall. Nobles and commoners alike from all over Ashenmark travel to the great hall for a weekend of merriment, games of skill, and of trying to foist your most unwanted possessions on others.

While Goldenhall contains no churches or temples, the city’s northern and southern arterial gates are dedicated to the major gods of Ashenmark. The Gate of Garm sits on the south of the city and leads to the industrial cities of Turnstone and Highmarket while the Gate of Gaia leads northeast to the wooded paradise of Hart’s Hollow. The gates themselves are flanked by masterful statues of their respective deities whose stern gazes hope to deter any invaders. On the western side of the city is the smaller Westward Gate which leads to the Bridge of Triumphs that crosses the Anderlys and leads out to some of the newer Ashenmark cities. The old bridge spanning the river was torn down shortly after the victory over bedlam and the return of Temorse. Representing our conquering of the darkness, the bridge is always brightly lit by dozens of magical torches and during the spring and summer a handful of small gardens of white roses are tended on its sides.

Build into the southern wall of Goldenhall, two stone castles, Highlord’s Hall and the Knights Tower tower on opposite sides of the Gate of Garm. The slightly larger of the two is the Highlord’s Hall, and the smaller keep is the Knights Tower where the Knights of Ashenmark occasionally meet to discuss their occasional campaigns and where Knight commander Kaelkatar resides.

Not too far from the Highlord’s Hall, a larger than life bronze statue depicts Temorse victoriously holding the head of Forge aloft giving us a glimpse into the final moments of the construct uprising of 1014. Savy historians or those who were part of the campaign may note that Temorse himself was not actually present at the battle where Forge was slain, but it is more a stern reminder as to the outcome of the uprising. On a lighter note many also remark that it is clear that both Temorse and Forge’s heads were cast from the same mold with the highlord and the separatist commander both appearing comically similar.

New Battlefate Keep
Regent: Sir Killian Battlefate

New Battlefate Keep, named for former Champion of Ashenmark Killian Battlefate is the training grounds for the Ashenmark military. Mostly consisting of training fields in the woodland clearings for drills with the keep to the north. The new keep itself is bare, being a fairly new construction, with mostly just barracks for all the soldiers and quarters for Sir Killian who trains all the new soldiers.  This newer Keep was initially constructed to be border fortification on the banks of the Anderlys, however with the previous Battlefate Keep being apart of land gifted to Rhiassa, the fortification was expanded and is now used as the primary military training grounds.

The keep also features a state of the art forge where many of the weapons of Ashenmark are designed and crafted under Killians watchful eye.  Ashenmarks smaller population and relative army size relies heavily on having state of the art weapons and armor, and ever since the pike controversy of North South War 1010, several checks of all weapons have been required to ensure they meet the nations rigorous standards.

Hart’s Hollow
Regent: Dame Twenaria

Hart's Hollow itself is not much of a town.  Closer to a village, really.  Small cottages cluster together here and there.  This is a peaceful place, not one for the hustle and bustle of a busy town.  Small but bountiful gardens allow the folk to trade among each other.  To supplement, they fish and hunt only what they need.

At the far end of the village area, sits a sentinel.  Known for as long as memory can recall as the Wistman, the giant tree spreads its boughs to the sky. The surrounding rivers allow moss to cling to most surfaces.  Rocks and trees alike seem to sprout a pelt of green. Beyond, the Wistman's Wood slopes towards the Grey Moor.  These are wild and feral areas, not made for your easy stroll.  It is a place of savage beauty, and it thrums with life and death in full cycle.  It is in these woods that one can find a sacred glade of Gaia.

The Grey Moor is a wind swept land, with weather bare rocks and grasses clinging desperately to the dirt.  The grey rocks make odd formations that the locals swear shift in the night.  Small blots of light and odd creatures, half seen, give the rumor mill more than enough to work with.


Highmarket
Regent: Sir Grindin Starbrook

Highmarket was constructed at the confluence of three rivers, and the southern banks of the Amber Lake. This location has lead to its natural status as the center of trade throughout all of Ashenmark. Natural resources such as ironcane, bloodvine, and umbral bloom are all highly prized throughout the Realms for their alchemical properties as well as ironcane’s usage in creating the highest quality weapons.

In addition to the three rivers that have traditionally been Highmarket’s lifelines, there is a maelstrom in the center of the Amber Lake. This maelstrom is based on arcane technology that is derived from a similar portal in Nadina lake in the Barony of Bancroft, the previous home of several founding members. Once it had been conjured, there was a need to find a captain brave (or foolhardy) enough to try it. Always one to face a problems head on, Kahlenar steered his vessel directly towards it. Kahlenar’s ship rode through the maelstrom unharmed, reappearing out to sea, surprisingly close to where it had been planned. Thus was created the maelstrom-pass, where yet another route of trade opened up to the already busy merchants of Highmarket.

The wealth that has been brought about by Highmarket’s natural gifts have been well utilized by Ashenmark’s industrious people. Highmarket represents the promise of peace through prosperity. In keeping with his goals of providing ever better lives for his people, Grindin worked closely with Kaelkatar and his brother Garric to create a Library, where knowledge that flows through Ashenmark can be made available to all. While he may have high ambitions, Grindin has enough self awareness to know that governance is not exactly his strong point; choosing instead to appoint specialists to advise and govern whilst he is on campaign.


Turnstone
Regent: The Throne of Ashenmark

Turnstone is was the first town settled after the formation of the nation of Ashenmark. It’s named after the first Champion of Ashenmark, who won the first grueling Champion of Ashenmark Tournament at North-South War of 1010.  It is primarily the home to hunters, trappers, and those involved in the timber trade, all of whom are watched very closely by the priest of Gaia at the temple outside the town, to ensure they only take what they need, and that they avoid taking from sacred places.  Turnstones lumber yards product most the timber and ironcane to supply the armies of Ashenmark.  In town you can also find a house of balance, a place where followers of Garm pay their respects.

The Stoneheart
Regent: The Wardens of Stonebrook

The Stoneheart was once an ancient aspis ruin.  The aspis who lived there long ago had created an arcane city using golems as soldiers and to perform manual labor.  Many years after their city collapsed, adventurers from the Realms cleared out the ancient evils that remained in the ruins uncovering a vast workforce of golems.  Mages from Ashenmark moved into the ruins to see if they could repurpose the golems, to much success, even going as far as creating sentient golems under the orders of Highlord Temorse.  However, some of the sentient golems were corrupted by the evil material, bloodstone, when trying to gain autonomy.  These events lead to the golem uprising by the golem Forge.  While the forces of Ashenmark engaged the Forges golem army, heroes of the Realms dispatched his lieutenants and eventually forge himself.  Several of the sentient golems, notably Spark, were infused with nature magic in a ritual to Gaia, granting them the autonomy they sought without the corruption of the bloodstone.

After the golem uprising the Stoneheart was cleared out and converted into a high security prison, to be paid for by Ashenmark, but staffed by various nations of the Realms, in order to keep the most powerful foes of the Realms captive.  Since its inception several years ago Redd of Gau Dring and Sir Eluoan of Rhiassa have served as the Stonehearts faithful wardens.


Elemirre Isle
Elemirre isle is a small island off the coast of Teng Hua aquired by Ashenmark during the completion of the Tidegate.  The island is largely uninhabited by people, but has a diverse and populous wildlife, earning the name of Twenaria’s original home.  Access to the isle is totally dependant on the Tidegate, an enchanted whirlpool that serves as a portal between Ashenmark proper and the isle.

Farport
Regent: Formerly Sir Kahlenar Swingline

Farport serves both as a minor port as well as the home of Fort Swingline, a defensive fortification that protects the harbor and the Tidegate.  Due to the port being outside the greater influence of Ashenmark proper, and the company that its former Regent tended to keep, its streets are often overrun with bawdy seadogs and drunken rapscallions.  While merchant ships travel through the Tidegate to access the trade houses of Highmarket, weary travelers looking for rest, revelry and drink tend to frequent Farport, especially its massive tavern, the Burlap Tankard, said to be able to fit the entire Realms within its walls.


If you're a land-holder and would like a detailed map made of your territories and to appear as a part of this series, don't worry my plan is to get to all of you one after the other. But you can accelerate the process by reaching out to me over Facebook or via email to jason.t.rosa@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why I Want to Go-Off the Hook

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

The Ashenmark Event Team, fresh off of an epic conclusion to the Imperium plotline, have tasked themselves with putting together a very different type of questing event that I am genuinely looking forward to participating in this weekend. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to provide the Realms with a lighthearted and fun questing event that I’m positive will live in our memories for a very long time. (I’m also very interested to know how the staff will put to use that Rhiassa tabbard that I loaned them a couple of weeks ago.)

In homage to an event that I’ve only heard tell of, Off the Hook will play to our senses of humor and our need to quest our way to some serious silliness. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Salty Fishcakes’ breaking news announcement on the Realms Network Network, then do yourself a favor and watch it now. I for one am excited to head into the depths of Pacifica to help defeat the Fish King and laugh myself silly with my friends along the way.

The Ashenmark team has definitely made a believer out of me after years of enjoying their plotlines, mechanics, and snaaaaaacks. I have good reason to believe that this event, while a departure from some of their past plotlines, will absolutely not disappoint. You’ll regret not coming in some capacity, because I think a lot of long-standing jokes and memes are about to drop this weekend. Do yourself a favor and pre-reg, or reach out to the staff to see how you can help, because you should for sure make an effort to be there this Saturday.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

View From Valehaven Art Gallery

Submitted as part of the Art Tourney at Feast of Voraniss I - April 6th, 2019

Compiled by Renee "Kindrianna" Booke

Esto'miel aka Zane Raschick's Entry
"My piece is of one of a woman who left a mark on my soul. A more beautiful dwarf I've never met. Born amidst a hateful and oppressive culture she found the will to rise against the odds. I will never forget the fire in her eyes. A fire that often times manifested itself physically, licking harmlessly from the tips of her silvery hair and casting a warm glow across marble skin."

Laika aka Stephen Sanford's Entry in regular light
When I look at inner spirit most people only see what’s on the outside each of us all. Some of us worship gods, some follow nations, some align with good, some align with evil; it does not matter. When you get to know someone and become closer, you get to see parts of their true self. A glowing luster shines forth from our inner soul and we are only given a glimpse of our true potential. In times of great need and when the darkness envelopes all, our true inner self is revealed and the rays of hope are shown to all. That is our true self and inner soul, when one's life is on the line, risking it all. When one passes away our soul as a beam of light flies off into the heavens to our gods and creators to reach our place of final rest.

Laika's Entry in the dark






I built this project in several ways. The outside of the project is a bucket coated in black paint with hundreds of holes drilled into it and covered with symbols of gods cut out by Aaron Metzger on his Cricut. I added several coats of glow in the dark paint for an added luminous effect. Inside of the project was a red candle holder gifted to me several months back from Janna Oakfellow-Pushee. I affixed glow wire along the candle holder and designed a 3d printed base to hide the inverter. Devon Power helped sand and paint the base of the project. For a final touch, I added an LED taper candle inside to add a flicker effect that is visible even while inside the bucket.

****

Part 1 of Shalindra aka Maryanne English-Betie's Entry
 
This is a two-part piece, meaning both works are part of the same series. In my homelands, we have quite a few shamans. Our rituals tend to involve lots of drumming, fire, and dancing…and we’re not particularly fond of outsiders bearing witness. But this is a common enough one that it’s safe to share.

In the main piece, we have a shaman practicing a ritual. There’s a hidden element to her movement, forming a bow out of her upper arm over her head, down through the line of her body, into her right leg. The bow is one of the sacred weapons of our goddess, the Huntress. The second piece depicts what looks like a statue of a wolf. In reality, it’s an elemental spirit…one of earth…that’s made its presence known.  

Part 2 of Shalindra aka Maryanne English-Betie's Entry

The four elements are combined in this piece…from the incense and wind for air, to the trees and earth elemental for earth (obviously!), to the fire and lightning bugs for fire. The element of water is represented by the shaman herself, for do we not have water in our blood and in our tears? The same salt in our blood matches that of the oceans, just as our tears do.

OOC:

Created on watercolor paper using watercolor paint, watercolor pencil, Micron Fineliners, and Dr PH Martin’s Bleed Proof White. Both pieces are double matted (cut myself) and framed. The shaman measure 11”x14” and the statue/elemental is 8”x10”.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Recipe Box: Soba Noodles and Broth from Feast of Teng Hua

Recipe courtesy of Jason Gray


Ingredients:

1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 leek, white part only, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2 1⁄2-inch–long, 1⁄4-inch–wide strips
7 oz. enoki mushrooms
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. Dashi Stock (recipe follows)
3⁄4 cup Kaeshi (recipe follows)
8 oz. Fresh Soba Noodles or dried noodles
2 strips lemon zest (removed with a vegetable peeler), julienned

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the dashi and sauce base and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the noodles into a colander and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain the noodles again and divide among 4 serving plates. Divide the leeks, mushrooms, and sauce among 4 small serving bowls, top each with the lemon zest, and serve with the noodles.


Dashi Stock
8 cups filtered water
3 dried shitake mushrooms
1 (3-inch–square) sheet kombu
2 oz. bonito flakes

Instructions:
In a medium saucepan, combine water with mushrooms and let stand for 1 hour. Add kombu and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the mushrooms and kombu, and stir in bonito flakes. Let steep for 10 minutes, pour the dashi through a fine sieve set over a bowl, and discard the bonito flakes. Store the dashi in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Kaeshi
1 cup soy sauce
2 1⁄2 tbsp. mirin
2 1⁄2 tbsp. sugar

Instructions
In a small saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Fall of the Shining River: A Teng-Hua Story of Creation

as scribed by Storyteller Sun Rin (Renee Booke)


In the beginning, when the Gods created the world, things were very happy. Islands blossomed from the sea and the song of roosters coaxed the sun Goddess from hiding so that she might shine her light upon all the world. Ox, Tiger, and Rabbit lived together in harmony, and heaven and earth were connected together in sacred balance.
Upon the earth, there was a shining river, one so pure and full of life that it is said happiness sprang from its every drop, and joy from every branch. This river carried all of its luck and good fortune through the world, and the harmony that all creatures enjoyed was nurtured by its blessed waters.
There was one part of the river that was different, however. One tributary where the waters were dark and murky. This water was tainted with evils yet unknown to utopia: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. Sins of wickedness and extremes that had no place in a world of peace and tranquility. It was because of this corruption and malice in the water that this part of the river had been cut off and dammed, forcing its influence to remain separate from the water of the shining river.
Most of the creatures avoided the dam and the dark lake that sprang up behind it. But other creatures, like Tanuki and Monkey, were more adventurous. One day the two had met up to play and Tanuki gave a heavy sigh. “Oh Monkey,” he said, “I found the most perfect stone for my collection, but I am too tired to go and fetch it myself. Will you help me? I will give you this melon in exchange.” Tanuki held the fruit aloft trying to hide his mischievous grin as he did so. For you see, Tanuki had used his shape-shifting magic to make a rock look like a melon, nothing more, and Monkey had no reason to distrust his friend.
“I will fetch this stone for you, Tanuki. Point it out to me,” Monkey said, waiting for his friend’s guidance.
Tanuki pointed his finger out over the dark water towards the dam holding it in place and Monkey expertly climbed out over the difficult terrain, pulling free one of the stones that made up the barricade.
“Is this one it?” Monkey called, holding the stone up in the air and waving it around.
“No, no. That isn’t the one! Try the next one over,” Tanuki answered.
Monkey tossed the rock aside and did as he was told, grabbing the next stone that he could find. “Is this the stone?”
“It isn’t that one either! I meant the next one over on the other side!” Tanuki tried not to laugh at his own joke, hoping that later Monkey would be laughing alongside him.
The two went back and forth several times, with Tanuki continuing to deny that Monkey had grabbed the right rock. Monkey was starting to get upset over how long this was taking when he noticed a small trickle in the dam. Some of the dark water was starting to escape through the holes he had made in the wall. “We had best hurry, Tanuki. I don’t think we should take any more rocks!” he called out.
But Tanuki loved to laugh. He didn’t want the joke to end just yet. “Mmmm,” he shouted back very loudly. “This melon smells soooo good. I should hate to end up eating it myself without you.”
Monkey grumbled and got back to work, pulling free the next stone that he thought Tanuki would want. That was when the remaining stones began to shift and tumble beneath his paws. Monkey cried out and began to run as rock after rock was pushed aside and the forceful water hungrily gnawed upon the barricade that had kept it at bay for so long. What was an idle leak became a gushing current, and the dark water came surging forth to meet the shining river.
The two ran as fast as they could, but even they could not escape the results of their mischief. The shining river was forever tainted, and shadows began to walk where once there was only light. As the two rivers combined into one, it is said that the wickedness of the sinful lake combined with the power of the river gave birth to the Oni and the world was forced to find new balance.
The two rivers could never be untangled, and what was done was done. Those who knew the beauty of what the world once was began to hold constant vigil, fighting to keep the land as pure as they could. Things could not go back to the way they were… but they could always get worse, and that was the new truth that all souls came to live by.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What You Missed - Feast of Teng Hua (photos)

[Editor's Note: all photos by View staff]


A friendly cash game of poker as people arrive.
Some snacks set out to be enjoyed.

A gift from the Emperor, everyone was invited to paint their own tea cup. 

Guests learn how to play Kaibaransu

The main function hall

Guests paint their tea cups.

Everyone enjoying their afternoon playing games.

The gathering hall on a lovely spring day.
Formalities were observed every time important members of Teng Hua made announcements or entered the room.

Guests attend a lecture to learn about the unique flora and fauna of Teng Hua.

A treasured art, folding origami.

Members of Teng Hua and guests play a game of Sheho.

The dining room set and ready for the afternoon meal.

The seat of the Emperor.

A busy kitchen is a happy kitchen!

The guests attend a lecture about the seasons and celebrations in Teng Hua.

Martial arts demonstrations were a way of showing honor before the Emperor.

Guests performed as well as members of Teng Hua.

The Emperor himself gave a demonstration of his martial skills.


The guests were treated to a lesson in martial arts.

The Emperor begins the evening meal with a tea ceremony.

Guests enjoy one another's company as the food is served.

Pork belly skewers, seaweed salad, and Teng Huanese pickles.

Hoisin-chicken filled steamed buns.

Soba noodles with a mushroom and leek dashi broth.

Shrimp and ginger dumplings.

The makings of lettuce wraps.

A presentation by the Keiro-rei

Sir Avendar presents and receives a gift during court.

An origami piano on the piano. Very zen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

What You Missed - Feast of Teng Hua


This Sunday past we found ourselves in the lands of Teng Hua for a day of food and culture. A large Rhiassan contingent turned out to partake of the Emperor’s hospitality and join in the celebration.

Upon arriving at the palace, we were greeted at the door by a small delegation of Teng Huanese, who asked us for our names, titles, and preferred forms of address. As is the custom in Teng Hua, we removed our shoes and donned slippers we had brought with us for the occasion prior to entering the Emperor’s hall. The polite people minding the door then announced each guest as he or she entered, which set a really nice atmosphere.

His Imperial Majesty Emperor Lysis was waiting inside the hall to greet each guest with a bow and a few words of welcome, inviting us to partake in the various activities that had been planned for us throughout the day. As we walked in we saw tables set up around the perimeter of the room. One had a card game already in full swing (poker maybe?) with the usuals crowded around. The other four tables had two different game boards set up on them - one circular and one square, each with their own colored tile pieces. Aeston quickly became involved in the circular game - Kaibaransu I think it was called? - which involved swapping different round element tiles around the board until each tile color and type were grouped together. The other game, which I am told was called Sheho, involved square colored tiles that players were able to stack on top of each other in different ways. While I didn’t end up playing either of them, I know that Aeston really enjoyed Kaibaransu and it looked like everyone was having fun playing Sheho as well (on an OOC note, both games were created by Zach specifically for the event, which is pretty awesome in and of itself!)

At the door to the hall was a large gong, which was rung each time an announcement needed to be made. When the gong sounded, everyone in the hall - guests included - would rise out of respect, and exchange bows with the speaker when the announcement was finished. This happened a few times throughout the day to let us know when different activities were starting. There were the games. There were two “lectures” throughout the day - one on the special flora and fauna of Teng Hua that would be of great interest to people adventuring in said lands, and one on the cycle of the year and the different holidays and celebrations that occur throughout. I say “lecture” because it was run more like an intimate gathering, with everyone pulling up the closest chair to the speaker, who was sitting in the midst of the guests.

One custom of many in Teng Hua is to bring your own personal teacup, teapot, and/or chopsticks when you are being served food. We were told that His Imperial Majesty wanted to make sure that no one went without, so as a gift to us he had provided everyone with a blank teacup and the means to personalize them to our tastes. They would be fired during the day, and we could take them when the day was over, so we would always have our own teacup to bring. This was a very popular activity, with many people engaged in brushing different layers and designs on their teacups at various points throughout the day.

There were also a few Teng Huanese walking around the hall striking up conversations with different people, trying to learn more about our culture and nations as we were trying to learn about theirs. While I was attempting to make sure that Aeryk and Aelise weren’t getting into anything they weren’t supposed to, I overheard parts of an informative conversation between Sir Kovaks and a man who said he wanted to travel to see our Realms one day.

The cultural arts and the martial arts are equally valued in Teng Hua. One of the last activities before dinner began was kata demonstration. Emperor Lysis invited anyone who was interested to show their skills in front of him and all of us assembled. A few Teng Huanese performed, as well as Sir Sagart; then the Emperor himself performed. All of the kata were really interesting to watch and it was nice to see everyone’s skill. Although Aeryk hid his face at the loud noise, I caught him doing kata moves later on!

During the day there were light snacks available - a selection of cut-up fruit, roasted peas, puffed potato sticks, and sweet rice snacks, among others. After the kata, though, it was time for dinner! His Imperial Majesty led us in procession down to the dining area were we found the tables beautifully laid with plates, napkins, chopsticks, origami decorations and small lanterns. Emperor Lysis performed a tea ceremony to welcome us to our meal.

Dinner started with some light appetizers - pork belly skewers, seaweed salad, and Teng-Huanese pickles. I love seaweed salad so that was a win for me, but the skewers and pickles were really well done. These were followed by hoisin-chicken filled steamed buns, which I enjoyed as well. Everything was served family style in bowls and on platters.

Next we had cold soba noodles, which were served with a fragrant mushroom and leek dashi broth. All of the food was really good, but this was by far one of my favorite courses. The broth had a really delicious depth of flavor to it that I really liked. It was also a bit of a customizable course - you could eat your noodles cold if you wanted (which Aeryk did), or you could add them to the broth (which I did), where they would finish cooking the last little bit and - tada- you had a bowl of soba noodle soup! I really enjoyed this course.

After that came shrimp and ginger dumplings, and then the main course - lettuce wraps! Another customizable experience. We were served plates of large-leaf lettuce and bowls of shredded carrot, sliced red onions, cliantro, and rice, along with plates of beef bulgogi (marinated beef) and thai-spiced chicken, and we got to make our own lettuce wraps, which was fun and also very tasty.

During dinner, Emperor Lysis arranged for some entertainment - one of his countrywomen, a story-teller, recited a fable about the mixing of good and evil into a world that had only known the good.

Court was also held. The Keiro-rei, an ancient Teng Huanese order created to battle corruption of spirits and nature, honored Aeston, Kyomi, and Faelinn for their previous work with the Kathrani and invited them to be a part of new things going forward. Lord Sir Aeston and Avendar presented His Imperial Majesty with gifts to thank him for his hospitality, while he gave them gifts in return. The Emperor also recognized and gave gifts to Eldtrich and Laika, who had presented him with their gifts earlier in the day, and made a special point to show Laika’s gift to the rest of his guests - a clever and ingeniously-designed fork and spoon nunchaku.

For dessert, our hosts served us dango (a sweet dumpling), shibuya toast, and house-made fortune cookies. I didn’t get to try the first two, as Aeryk and Aelise by that time were no longer inclined to sit at the table, but Gwen was nice enough to bring Aeston and I each a fortune cookie, which I thought was really good, and softer than I expected, which I enjoyed. I didn’t get a fortune in mine, but Aeston did, and ended up receiving a lucky cricket. By then, it was time for us to take our leave, with Aeryk and Aelise in tow.

And thus our day in Teng Hua came to an end. It has been a long time since I last visited Teng Hua and a much longer time since I last lived there, so it was good to get back for even as short a time as we had. I am glad that my children were able to experience some different aspects of the culture, as young as they are, and I look forward to spending more time in Teng Hua with them in the future.

Written this 16th day of April, 1019 and signed by my hand - 

Areni

Friday, April 12, 2019

Spirit of Steel: Icebreaker


With Janna Oakfellow-Pushee


My weapon is named Icebreaker. It came from BrightHammer Half-Dwarven Icebreaker (was also a ThunderWalker, but I remember the Icebreaker part). It is pale blue and white, with Icebreaker's name etched and faded into it. It's unique to me two-fold: one, it's a connection I have still to Brighthammer(Buddy Wolfhope), and two, when people come over and ask about the sword, it's effectively 'breaking the ice' about the late Knight and I happily engage in talks with anyone who is willing to listen. I have had it since October 2016. It was made by Eric 'Rudy' Marques.

What does this weapon mean to you?  A heck of a lot of meaning I've placed on it and with it. While BrightHammer and Iawen didn't get to interact all that much together, other characters we played did, and Bud is and was my Best Bud, was even the best man at my real life wedding (we got hitched to each other in-game).

Any sword could have been won by anyone at the auction done in his memory; it's kismet that I ended up with one so perfectly well-made to carry on a part of his name (and one of many stories to be told again and again).




Thursday, April 11, 2019

Potato Leek "Soup" Recipe

by Renee "Kindrianna" Booke


The following recipe for Potato Leek "Soup" was recently served at our Feast and will produce six servings. It is worth noting that if made as directed, the soup will come out far thicker than standard or typical soup. If you wanted to, you could serve it as a side dish disguised as mashed potatoes or something. Secondly, one could easily add garlic or bacon for flavor if that is your thing. (I'm looking at you, bacon connoisseurs of the Realms!)

Here is what you will need!

Ingredients:

¼ tablespoon of salted butter
6 leeks, trimmed and chopped
3 cups of chicken stock
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of sea salt, or to taste
Ground Black Pepper to taste

Directions:


1.     Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the leeks in the melted butter until softened. Remember that the leeks must be trimmed and chopped first. (This should take approximately 15 minutes.)

2.     Stir in chicken stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Then reduce your heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender. (This should take approximately 20 minutes.)

3.     Pour around half of the soup into a blender, but don’t fill the pitcher more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender and carefully start, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. When ready, pour the pureed soup back into the pot.

4.       Stir in the heavy cream and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Why I Want to Go-Feast of Teng Hua

by Lani "Gwen" Jones

As many of you may know, I love a good feast. I have the good fortune to be attending Feast of Teng Hua this weekend, and while the event is capped and full, I want to take the time to highlight for everyone the reasons I’m excited to be going, and to encourage you, when the opportunity strikes again to engage with this event series/plot, to click that pre-reg button stat.

1. The Food: I’ve been around a few kitchens in my days in the Realms, and I know the care and thought that this team puts into their menus. Their food always manages to strike the perfect balance between comforting and innovative, and I am going to really appreciate the privilege of being a patron at this event.

2. The Fun: One of the things I’m most looking forward to is that this event is going to kick-off a brand new plot. It’s certainly an exciting time in the Realms, to see so many new stories waiting to be told. I think there is something special about being able to see the first in what I hope will be many installments in a new plot that features some older Realms traditions, in this case, the traditions of Teng Hua. I’m excited to be immersed throughout the event and see how the staff blends the menu, the decor, and the traditions of this Realms culture together to create a holistic experience for us.

3. The Friends: As I glanced over the pre-reg list, I’m genuinely excited to see that there is a great mix of friends to visit this weekend. I’m excited that I’ll get to sit in the feast hall with my fellow Rhiassans, but I’m also genuinely looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with others throughout the Realms that I simply don’t see often enough. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy a peaceful, celebratory feast with lots and lots of friends.


Hey, I know you’re probably reading this and thinking, “I wish I had gotten on this pre-reg list.” And the thing is, I wish you had too. So, do us all a favor--join me next time, won’t you? This is an event series I’m planning on being a part of for years to come and you should too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What You Missed - Feast of Voraniss I (photos)

[Editor's Note: all captions by Renee Booke]

Photo by Jason Rosa
Voraniss enters the hall in a musical procession

Photo courtesy of Renee Booke
Guests enjoying the Feasthall. 


Photo by Jason Rosa
Voraniss' prayer flags in the elemental colors of Siltana.


Photo courtesy of Renee Booke
The banner of Calandia, oldest city in Voraniss.


Photo courtesy of Renee Booke
Scrolls written in local runes adorn the hall!


Photo by Jason Rosa
The crowd begins to decipher the scrolls written by the locals.


Photo by Jason Rosa
It's time to do the Bolla toss with expert fetcher Tulkhan.


Photo by Jason Rosa
The Bolla is thrown!


Photo by Jason Rosa
Tulkhan checks the Goblin's pouch for treasure!


Photo by Jason Rosa
Learning about throwing engaging encounters with Lani and Aeston.


Photo by Jason Rosa
The hall is bustling!


Photo courtesy of Renee Booke
The banner of Voraniss is on display!


Photo by Jason Rosa
Voraniss begins court with a ritual summoning the Gods and Spirits to witness the hall's events.


Photo by Jason Rosa
Hygar kneels before Othorion Elderheart, Totem of the Stag.


Photo by Jason Rosa
Siltana visits the Court of Voraniss and names Hygar her Sacred of Earth.


Photo courtesy of Renee Booke
The new Druid King of Voraniss welcomes the Realms to his hall.