Amy has asked the folks on the expedition to join her in Kitezh, those who are available. Brought them in via trump generally, since ships aren't much travelling here yet. Not until the shadow path is fixed anyway. She's got a small area where they can chat privately, inside the big trading post. There's plenty of mead, lunch is served, and there are reasonably comfy chairs to be had, of which Amy has availed herself.
Ailith also finds a chair. Her flagon of mead does a daughter of Gerard justice, but apparently actual cushions are preferable to benches. It's easier to curl one's feet under one, in a chair.
Merrisol walks under the shelter with a travel bag over his shoulder. He grabs a drink and joins the meeting area with a brisk and friendly nod towards those already assembled, and keeps to his feet for now. "Expecting anyone else, Amy?"
Siobhan enters, and finds a chair. She settles to a bench, sitting primly, her expression thoughtful. She does not add anything as of yet, but she does claim a cup of mead.
Ithunn is settled in a chair, mead and bread and honey before her. She looks up as the others begin to arrive.
Amy waits until most folks are here, and then she smiles. She gives Merrisol a grin, and shakes her head. "Not too many, but if folks do show up, we have more chairs and we can catch them up. Do have a seat, so I don't get a crick in my neck." She rubs her belly gently as she sits there, not even realizing she's doing so.
Ailith opens with the obvious. "So. What news?"
Siobhan smiles at her fellow Chantris, and then glances to the others, finally settling on Amy as The One In Charge.
Merrisol leans his shoulders back, propped on a support pillar, free hand pocketed. He glances at Ailith, brow inclining. "Unless there was another trip out to the Lilywall of which I wasn't aware, we're still on the wrong side of it for getting to Kitezh." He also looks to Amy. "Just curious about how it works.. can a single Shadowblock serve to block all possible routes to a certain place?"
Ailith can answer that. "No. A shadow block blocks passage through *one* Shadow. They are more effective, therefore, nearer Amber, where all routes begin to converge. Usually, therefore, blocks will lead a traveler away from a destination, being set across several Shadows, or toward a set destination. Funnelling travel."
"So we are close to Kitezh, in other words?" Ithunn asks. "Or far away yet, and therefore, one block is spread out?"
"It's - so, Ailith can perhaps help out, but Maggie and I both thought it feels sort of like a block. But - we do not know what it is blocking nor who is maintaining it. And we are not certain that it /is/ a block, only that it feels like one. Which may just mean there is pattern magic or something there that we are not familiar with." Amy frowns a bit, glancing at Ailith to see if she has anything to add on that front.
Siobhan does not add at present. Clearly, limited knowledge of shadow and shadow blocks for her part.
Ailith shakes her head. "If spread out it will be several blocks. One per shadow. So yes. One block close in, or several farther out. They take effort to build, maintain. I have no training in circumventing them, but they fall as a rule into two major categories. Barriers, intended to prevent one from reaching a particular Shadow at all, or primrose paths, intended to lead travelers into traps. As we can still reach Kitezh," a single gesture taking in their surroundings, "this may be a remnant of the latter type."
Ruby wipes grime and forge soot from her hands when she makes her appearance, tugging at an apron and balling it up after nearly garotting herself getting it off.
Merrisol murmurs, "Trumping is different from shifting shadow, I thought.. even though both are facilitated by Pattern." He thinks a bit on the rest of the explanations, then. "Well.. judging by the samples I took away from the last encounter, the plant's existence does not seem to be dependent on the magic that cultivated them. Taken back to Amber, the cuttings took root, however the plant is looking to be growing to what I'd consider within normal size for a water lily."
Ithunn listens, but shakes her head. "This is beyond my skills to solve," she says.
There are comfy chairs, a table, lots of mead and hearty food. Amy is seated, as are most of the others in the group, in an area that has been set aside for them, within the trading post. So they are secure from the elements, and not too cold. Amy nods to Ailith. "Yes, but - this is odd. When I flew overhead, I could not find an end in either direction, but there where we were, a big square and in the center the lily had a blossom. Of course, it was closed, but there. And then those frog riding people. They - said something about a Breaking, right?"
Viktor has been doing other things, but now comes into the trading post. A young man hurries over to him with a large mug of something steaming as he spots the group and then heads that way.
Gerard is holding a steaming mug himself as he listens, taking a seat nearby.
Siobhan glances up from her mead, and nods. "A breaking, yes," she says. "I went looking for information on old Kitezhka mythologies. One of them that stands out is Nidoggr, which is a serpent or dragon that gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasill, because it is trapped in the roots. It may be that this is related to what befell Kitezh."
"Many of the old legends passed with Ragnarok," Gerard says. "The Road drove Surtr from his home and brought the end to the cycle early, resulting in a death by fire. While some of the gods and mystical beasts passed through the rebirth, most did not. Kitezh has quickly become a place of two parts. That which sits under the sun and that which does not. Perhaps these creatures have built this themselves as a ward against things that have never seen the new sun of Kitezh."
"The Breaking could simply be a breach in their ward, like a Karm with their lock." Gerard says.
Viktor takes a drink of the hot liquid in his mug, then nods to those assembled. The ones he nods better than others also get a smile, and his wife a broader one. He doesn't interrupt them, though.
"Great events ripple through Shadows of similar type," Ailith notes. "Avalon fell. Lyonesse sank after. Kitezh undergoes Ragnarok...it is not beyond reason to think the effect may ripple through those shadows close enough to it to share a mythology. And it is through those Shadows, a path must be made."
Merrisol nods to the Admiral and the Godking from where he stands, leaning on a support pillar, flagon in hand, travelbag still hanging from one shoulder. "A big square of what, exactly..?" he asks Amethyst, looking puzzled, though he falls silent to listen to Gerard's wisdom on the matter, then Ailith's. "So it's a node in the making..? The Nixies will allow passage to ships if the Break is sewed up. Apparently, the maybe-Nidoggr critters ripping at the Lily-maybe-Yggdrasil's root system came from this Breaking maybe-Ragnarok event. From what I could see undersea, the crabs were coming in from two different directions."
Siobhan nods to Gerard, and then to Ailith, but remains silent, now. Though she does nod to Merrisol's summary. "That sums it about about right, as far as I can tell. Where were the crabs coming in from?"
Amy smiles at Viktor, inviting him to come join them, even if he wants to stay quiet. She tilts her head, looking at Merrisol. "Two directions?" she asks, curious, but Siobhan beats her to it. "Right - that," she says, letting the others pass on the information they have so far.
"Nodes can be constructed or born." Gerard says. "Fiona is quite a bit more schooled than I, of course, but this is how I have operated in the past... including the Lyonesse shadowpath when it too faltered. Though I don't recall quite as many cute fey creatures on that scamper."
Ruby turns sideways and sidles past a few folks to get to some of that mead. A small grunt after she's presented with the flagon or cup and settles on the super-sized version if available. She makes an effort to taste before getting topped off again. She circles back towards the discussion and seeks a support pillar to out-lean Merrisol.
Merrisol raises his drink in faint salute to Ruby as she props herself across the way, having already greeted the forgemistress earlier amongst her works. He brings up up both arms to answer Siobhan's question, creating a ninety-degree angle. "The Fair Wind was sailing northwest through the Shadow when she came upon the wall.. so the critters were coming at the roots from roughly south and east." He supplies the compass directions, but offers no idea as to their significance.
Viktor takes a seat, but doesn't weigh in. He just listens. It's not exactly his area, after all.
Amy leans over against Viktor, gently. Lazily. She listens, frowning a bit. "Times like this I wish we had Quinlan for his three dimensional maps," she mutters. "What else was there? Wasn't Ithunn saying there was a sense of danger around the plant?"
Viktor takes Amy's hand in his when she leans against him, squeezing it gently.
Siobhan nods to Amy's question. "She was, yes. I can remember her saying that before I went out on the boats."
Merrisol points out, "The little spears defending the plant were dangerous. Sort of," he grimaces into his mead, then admits, "Though probably not dangerous enough to register on anyone's magic radar, I suppose. I wasn't able to glean anything of the deadly nature about the plant itself, though. What was that square you mentioned, that the giant pod was on, Amy?"
That gets a look of chagrin from Amy. "Oh, right. It - the blossom was in the middle, connected to all four of the walls I guess. Of plant. And one side looked like it was maybe drooping a bit. I think there might have been room in there to sail a ship by, except for the walls, of course. And we'd have had to go under the blossom, which - it was big enough that I could fit in it. in Dragon form."
Merrisol ruminates and swallows the last of his honey mead. "So there could have been a rift in the wall at one point, but the bit with the blossom on top grew in.." At least he thinks that's what it all means. "And I'd have to go down and check again, but it might be that section the chompchomps.. er.. critters, were having a go at."
Siobhan tosses out a thought, "Do we have anybody with us who is exceptionally good with plants? Some sort of gardener?"
"That...would be the province of Feldane," says Ailith, very carefully.
"Or some of the ranger types in Arden," Amy puts in. "Like for instance Duchess Quina." She sips some of her mead, and looks over at Siobhan. "What are you thinking? What would you have such a person do?"
Siobhan shrugs a bit to the question. "Talk to the plants. See what they can glean from them to tell us. Beyond that... I really don't know."
"Any other thoughts what to do when we get back there?" Amy asks, one hand rubbing at the small of her back, without even realizing.
Merrisol shakes his head. "I know plants.. but I can't make them talk in the sense you mean." He looks at Amy, "Perhaps you could fly me up to that section on top.. it might have different characteristics than the wall. Other than that, we could backtrack along the lines of critter invasion and see where they lead."
Amy shrugs, and nods. "We can try that," she says, thoughtfully. "I think well, if you all have anyone else you want to bring along, like Siobhan suggested, that sounds like a good thought. And Uncle Gerard, you're of course always welcome to come along too. Merrisol, we'll definitely try your ideas."
"I am afraid, though I have heard of them and read of them, I don't actually /know/ anybody who can talk to plants like that." Siobhan shrugs ab it.
Merrisol nods uneasily to Amy, apparently not much liking the idea of pregnant dragon-riding.