Blog, The Fantasy Realm

A Fantasy Realm Tale: The Sun, the Moon, and the Runic Road

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*The following is a transcript of a WHUS Radio FM broadcast aired on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 from 1-2 PM along with the music used to accompany the story*

THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE RUNIC ROAD


{Legends of Azeroth (Main Title) – Tracy Bush – World of Warcraft}

Good afternoon, traveler. You have stepped into a portal here on WHUS Storrs and are now in The Fantasy Realm. Welcome. I am your guide, The Sage. Today, you take on the quest of the Rhaude. The time has come for you to find the nomadic mountains and the Rhaude Valley. After a childhood spent in the northern forests of the Western World, your quest for the sun, the moon, and the road in search of the rune has begun. The people of the Rhaude Valley are small in souls, but mighty in strength of will. It is said a person of the Rhaude’s purpose in life is to always find the valley for if the valley is lost, the sun, the moon and all the paths to one’s dreams will be lost forever. The adventure before you awaits, traveler. Your story is about to begin.

{Wilderness part 2 – Gustaf Grefberg – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons OST}

Your knee stings as the blood begins to dry up with how fast you’re running. Tree branches scrape your arms as they swing in rhythm with your feet. Your scrappy leather boots are caked in mud and moss. Your lips are dry and teeth cold as your breath briskly heaves its way out of your throat. The tunic you wear now sticks to your stomach as the sweat clings onto it. You shove vines and massive jungle leaves out of your path. It feels as though you’ve been running for too long. You look back.

On your heel is a panther snapping its jaw at you. Its velvety fur shines like a slashing rapier. Its muscles are hefty and staunch. Its breath is still hot when it reaches your heels. It licks its lips and then growls at you.

You leap over a fallen tree trunk and soar through the musky air of the jungle. The heat of the sun invades the space, the mugginess pushing you back as you try to break through. All the sounds of the jungle are a blur in your head. You feel your heartbeat in your palms as your nails dig divots into your hands.

To your right, you notice a tree’s roots lifted high over the surface like a tent. The inside of this cave made of tree roots is dark save for a green light that beckons you.

You veer right toward the cave. You almost slip, the mud of the jungle snatching your toes, but you recover quickly. Sweat starts to blind you, but you keep pushing through.

The panther is so close, it begins to think about what part of you it’ll eat first. Just before its claws latch onto you, you dive feet first into the cave. The panther is far too big, so it is stuck. It keeps clawing at you, its growls turning to moans of grief over a lost dinner.

Your own breath of relief is still shaky with jitters. The moist air of the cave smells like an aquarium filled with freshwater creatures. The green light starts to call you with an unintelligible whispering. You crawl down the dark cave.

{Flugufrelsarinn (Kronos Version) – Kronos Quartet – Plays Sigur Rós}

You find yourself in a small room with three alcoves. In the alcove to your right, there is a floating light mimicking the sun. It is an adorable miniature sun, but when you move your hand toward it, it starts to burn your fingers. In the alcove to your left, there is a floating waning moon. Just like the moon of the night overhead, its light tempts you to stare with dreamy eyes. The alcove in the center is larger than the other two. It is painted gold, and inside, there is a ceramic slab twisted into the shape of a curving road. On it, there are symbols you cannot understand.

The green light pulls your attention and tells you, “The Rhaude Valley calls you, nomad. It is time for you to come home to your people. The men of the valley have more names than man is allowed. One for the sun, one for the moon, and one for the road in search of their rune. Only when all your quests are complete will you learn your name and learn the path to The Rhaude Valley. Be wary of those who tempt you off the path. It is your destiny to find the valley, for if the valley is ever empty, then the sun, the moon, and all the roads that lead to dreams will be lost forever. Hurry, nomad. Hurry.”

The green light disappears. You are left in a dark cave with the only light coming from the small sun to your right and the small waning moon to your left. Here, you feel as though you are underwater. There is an energy in the room that pulls and pushes your body in the same way the moon pushes and pulls the waves of the ocean. You cannot hear clearly. Though there is nothing to hear, something sounds muffled in your ears. The atmosphere begs of you to stay still and to observe the world around you. Nothing compels you more to commit to stillness and observation than submerging yourself in the sea.

You look down and see a compass. The compass is ancient. The needle hardly moves. It’s covered in dust that’s difficult to clean, and there’s a crack that goes down from the north to the southwest line.

You’re about to put the compass down when you hear that unintelligible whispering once again. You lift the compass to your ear and start to hear the words, “Listen, nomad, listen.”

Then the voice starts to blossom. “Greetings, nomad. The time of your wandering has ended, for even nomads have a home, but only partially, for a nomadic home is as restless as a nomad themselves. Come, listen to the tale of your people…

“In the times of old, there was no sun, there was no moon, there were no roads or paths to anything. The world was drenched in blackness. Only one man roamed this world, but the darkness did not deter him. The valley was calling him, but he wandered for far too long without a single idea of where the valley could be. He called for help, and so came the sun. The sun, happy to help, only asked for some help in return. The sun wanted a name, and so the man named the sun, and so the sun came to be. Now the man could see, and off he went, but the sun would grow tired. Even the powerful must find time to rest, so the man called for help once again. So came the moon. The moon, happy to help, only asked for some help in return. The moon wanted a name, and so the man named the moon, and so the moon came to be. Now, in day and in night, the man could see, but still, the days and nights dragged on. He could not find the valley. So, the man called out to the valley. The valley did not respond, but instead, at his feet, he saw a path of stones each etched with runes begin to form in the grass, and he followed it. At the end of the path, he found two twin mountains. He asked the twin mountains where he could find the valley, for its call grew stronger. The twin mountains told him he had found it, for it lies right between them. The twin mountains told him they could grant him entry only when he gave the valley a name, and so he named the valley, and so the Rhaude Valley came to be. Grateful for all he did for the world, the twin mountains granted the man a name: one for the sun, one for the moon, and one for the runic road. Soon a few others who had no home found their home in The Rhaude Valley. Wandering lining their blood, the nomads continued to roam alongside the twin mountains who were also nomadic in nature and constantly moved around the world with the Rhaude Valley in the middle. The twin mountains continue to wander to this day, but none can find nor lay their eyes on them, save for he, she, or they that be a nomadic soul of the Rhaude Valley. That is now you, nomad. You must now go and complete the quests of the sun, the moon, and the runic road, so that you may find the twin mountains and the Rhaude Valley. Hurry, nomad. Hurry.”

The compass continues to whisper unintelligibly as you lower it to the ground. The cave feels bigger now, as if now that you know more about its origins, it is comfortable and it can breathe.

You notice some runic symbols under the three alcoves. They are now glowing with the same green light as the one that brought you here. Your heart sinks as you touch them. For a moment, you feel the formidable force of history. This cave has seen life you will never see, or interact with, or even ever fully understand. Yet, there is a mark here left for you to know a soul was in fact in this place. Centuries after you, there will be another thinking the same thing, and yet know nothing about your journey.

The whisperings of the cave brush against your ears as you try to read the runes. Soon, the runes become clear to you.

Under the sun is the rune Sowilo which looks a bit like the letter “S”. Under the waning moon is the rune Dagaz which looks like an hourglass turned on its side.  Under the curving road is the rune Raidho which looks like the letter “R”. Seeing these three runes, you now know the name of the first man of the valley: Sowilo Dagaz Raidho.

As soon as this realization hits you, the green light appears before you once again. Though it is just a light, you have a feeling it is smiling at you. It hops from side to side, excitement bubbling up its energy. You try to follow it with your eyes but it starts to move a bit fast. The cave is starting to glow with the green light, and you feel your eyes wanting to close.

“Before you leave,” it tells you, “There is one last thing you should know. The people of the Rhaude are nomadic in nature, and so they will not accept those who do not have the nomadic calling. When an infant is born in the Rhaude Valley, the infant is taken out into the natural world and left alone to fend for itself. Most do not survive, but the people of the Rhaude have no remorse, for to them, those who do not make it never had a nomadic calling. If the child does survive, the child is granted a dream which reveals to them their quest to the valley. If successful, the child will meet the twin mountains, and the twin mountains will give the child its three names. Then and only then, will the child know for the rest of its life where the valley is.”

Emerald green takes over the cave. You are forced to shut your eyes with its overwhelming glow. The green light’s voice is swarming around your head as it spins and spins around the room. Your head is pounding with it all. You are beginning to sweat. You feel as though you are being baked with natural sunlight. It’s getting more and more difficult to breath, and the emerald green glow is trying to pry your eyes open. The cave starts to feel tighter and tighter around you.The green light’s voice comes back in a whisper slightly uncomfortable to the ear, but the voice is all over and there is nowhere you can move.

“You are such a child, nomad. You survived, and it is now time for you to begin this quest. You know all you need to know. The sun is waiting for you. Hurry, nomad. Hurry. Wake up.”

{Azuremyst Isle – Russell Brower – World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade OST}

You awaken in a coniferous forest next to a large pond covered in water lilies. Around the pond there are smaller ponds that are shaped like tear drops, and each is connected to the large pond with running streams. From a bird-eye’s view, the pond looks like the sun.

As you stand, you notice the sun is descending as it is ready for its time to rest. Before you miss your chance, you hurry to a large boulder and climb onto it. You then call out to the sun.

“Yes, nomad?” The sun answers.

You tell the sun that you are happy to help the sun with any quest she pleases in hopes of finding the Rhaude Valley.

The sun chuckles. “That time again, is it? Very well, nomad, I’ll give you a quest. To the north of here, there is an old woman who lives in a house built inside a tree. Her name is Adoette. She is a simple woman who loves the very simple things in life. She smiles when dandelions dance and even laughs when the fish take a leap out of the river. When I am down, she is my sunshine. However, I have noticed these days that she is feeling rather down. She hardly leaves her home, and when she does, she has a frown that makes my rays weep. I think she is missing something, and I do not know what. Help her, and I shall consider your quest complete.”

You thank the sun for her time, and you start traveling to the north.

As you walk between the woods, you notice the whisperings of the trees. They are gossiping amongst themselves. The pine trees are snickering over the spruce trees while the sequoias are giggling and blushing while talking about their crushes on the cypress trees. All the while, the woodland creatures are quiet, keeping their thoughts to themselves as they gracefully wander around the woods. On the ground, you notice crystals of different colors peaking from the dirt hoping for some sunlight.

After some walking, you finally notice a rather large house built on the side of a hardy redwood tree. The house is made of the tree’s own bark, and the inside is glowing with candlelight.

{Deer Dance – Joanne Shenandoah – Peace & Power: The Best of Joanne Shenandoah}

You climb up the tree and manage to get onto the porch of Adoette’s house. You knock on the door and as you wait, you can smell sage pouring out of the cracks of her windows.

Adoette opens the door, and she gives you a warm smile. She welcomes you inside her home. Tan, brown, black and white feathers dangle from the ceiling. All is made of wood inside her home, and in each corner there are small flowers. Hovering around the place are hummingbirds, their fluttering wings a gentle soundtrack to the place. They come and go as they please through a window left wide open that covers the whole wall to your left. On a small fireplace, she is preparing some passionflower tea with a ceramic cauldron that has painted trees on it that are dark with soot. Her bare feet shuffle to the cauldron, and she sniffs the aroma of the passion flowers floating on the simmering water.  

In the far left corner of the main living room, you notice a rather large tree stump that seems rather empty. None of the hummingbirds will fly over there, and yet you see there are scratches on the bark. On top of the stump sits a roomy nest, a bowl of uneaten raw meat, and a bowl full of water.

You ask Adoette if the tree stump belongs to someone. She sighs with tea in hand and slumps onto a seat. “Yes, I have lost Luyu, my sage green dragon. Sage green dragons are peaceful creatures who grow no bigger than the size of a dove. They can’t breathe fire the way most dragons do because they’re so small, so instead, they release smoke out of their mouth and nostrils with the scent of sage. She made me happier than anything in this world. She was born here, you see? I raised her, and she made me feel whole, and well, I like to think I made her feel whole too. Then, a storm came, and she got caught in it, because I’m an idiot who left the window open. I always leave it open, even when there are storms, but she’s still a baby and could not fight the strength of the storm. I’ve been burning sage to see if the scent will bring her home, but it hasn’t yet. I’m afraid I’ve lost her forever.”

The sun lazily shines the inside of the living room. You notice Adoette’s long face. Her shoulders are slouched, and her aura exudes loss of direction.

You tell Adoette you will help her find Luyu. She gives you a grateful look, but hopelessness still holds her eyes back. She shuffles over to the tree stump and pulls out a thimble-sized bell from the nest. She hands it to you and says, “This is Luyu’s favorite bell. If you do find her, this will show her you will bring her home. Good luck, traveler.”

You take the bell and leave her home. When you reach the bottom of the tree, you see there are two paths forked at this very redwood tree. To the left, it is very unordinary and it leads to nowhere in particular.

To your right, the sun gleams down a path that is lined with gardenia flowers. They bounce to a song you cannot hear, and they seem to giggle at the ticklish feeling of the sun’s rays on their petals.

You decide to go down the path to your right. Down you go a mellow, serene path, listening to the natural sounds of the world around you.

{Dragon – Two Steps From Hell – Dragon}

You’ve reached a large meadow where you see three towering dragons all huddled around a man-sized succulent plant.

One of the dragons is big in the belly, and it has long red horns that almost reach the length of its tail. Its nostrils are flared as it keeps sniffing the plant. Next to it is a hyper, purple dragon that keeps shaking the earth with its bunny hops. Its spiked tail wags like an excited puppy, and its ears are hilariously floppy. With every pant, there is a bit of a flame that sparks in its mouth, but it’s quickly extinguished by its own quick jumping. The third dragon looks like it thinks this is all a waste of time. Its head is sprawled on the grassy floor as its eyes blink in and out of sleep.

As you approach the succulent slowly, you can start to understand the dragons. They are making fun of a smaller dragon, calling it puny and weak. That is when you notice little Luyu, the sage green dragon, shivering underneath the succulent leaves.

You ring her bell, and she lifts her head. Her eyes widen with joy, but she looks up to her bullies and is suddenly sad once again.

You call out to the two dragons, the third deep in sleep now. The dragons start to call you names and insult you. They put themselves in a fighting position, wings outstretched and fangs exposed. You can see they’re eager to start a bonfire with you as their kindling.

In a squeak, Luyu points out to you a sword and shield leaning against a tree nearby. What will you do, traveler? Will you try and talk to these dragons before engaging in battle, or will you lunge for the sword and shield?

All three dragons fly away from the meadow. You’ve successfully rescued little Luyu. She flies over to you, snatches her little bell from your hand, and lands on your shoulder. You now walk back to Adoette’s treehouse with a little sage green dragon on your shoulder.

{Dragonsreach – Jeremy Soule – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim OST}

Luyu soars with jubilation when you reach Adoette’s redwood tree home. Adoette squeals as tears roll down her face while she watches Luyu fly. Luyu dives down to Adoette’s cheek for a snuggle, and the two, once lost without each other, are together once again.

Before her last three rays leave the sky, the sun gives your nose a gentle kiss, and in a whisper, she tells you that the moon now awaits you by the shoreline.

A nudge from no one you can see urges you to turn around, and so you walk down a long path, not entirely sure of where you’re going.

Then, the sounds of the ocean start to surface. Crickets chirp as the stars yawn themselves awake, their dim light growing.

The soft sand welcomes you to the shoreline. You walk just a bit closer till you nearly touch the water. The broad ocean is liquid lapis, subtle dots of gold shining in the dark blue. Within seconds, the world starts to brighten. The moon arises over the ocean.

Once the moon has fully emerged, you call out to him.

“Yes, nomad?”

You tell the moon that you are happy to help the moon with any quest he pleases in hopes of finding the Rhaude Valley.

“Ah, yes. The Rhaude Valley calls once again. There is a quest I have for you, nomad. In a cave, there is a young selkie who has been cursed by her mother. Her skin was shed by her mother when her mother abandoned her, and she is far too young to change back. She now needs help to transform back into a seal, but I am too large to go inside the cave and help her. If you help this young selkie, then I shall consider your quest complete.”

You accept the quest and ask the moon to point you in the direction of the cave.

“This is where I may have deceived you, nomad. My apologies. There is only one way to reach this cave. I can help you get there, but I cannot help you survive.”

You ask what this means.

“Stand still, nomad.”

The ocean’s waves get restless. They rise in height and the crashing waves roar in the night. You want to step back, but your feet are planted firmly on the ground. The waves start to get higher and higher. The salty water consumes your nostrils. Your feet are stuck. You cannot move. Your heart pounds against your chest.

{Master of Shadows – Two Steps From Hell – Invincible}

A wave as tall as a giant looms over you. Its foam is in the shape of a menacing frown.  The wave crashes onto you. You twist and turn as the rushing water clogs your ears. The pressure of the waves crushes your throat, and by the time your eyes are used to the salty sea, you realize the ocean’s surface is nowhere around you.

You are drowning in a sea that has no surface. In the distance to your left, there is a white light resembling that of a waning moon. Bubbles escape your mouth as you notice more and more you are running out of air. Quickly, traveler, can you swim over to the light?

You’ve reached the cave! You find an air pocket and take a generous deep breath. You dive deeper into the underwater cave, but just when you think you’re about to find the surface, you see a locked door with a riddle. The riddle reads: “I can only live where there is light, but I die if the light shines on me. What am I?” If you think of the answer, the door will open. Can you think of the answer, traveler, before you run out of breath underwater?

You’ve done it, traveler! You’ve figure out the answer is “a shadow.” The door swings open. A rush of water shoots out at you, but you manage to hold onto the side of the door. Once the water settles, you are able to swim through and surface into a dark cave.

You pull yourself up onto the black rocks and take deep breaths. Only after you’ve recovered do you notice a small young girl with wet gray hair wearing a long white, wispy dress huddled in a corner of the cave.

{Nebulous – Taylor Davis}

The young girl is shy. She does not look at you directly and keeps fiddling with her wet gray hair. You decide it’s best to not approach her.

Once your breathing is back to normal, you see the walls of the cave are glittering, like stars in a galaxy. On the other end of cave, you see there are some crystals in a quartz bowl. There are seven crystals in total: a red crystal, an orange crystal, a yellow crystal, a green crystal, a blue crystal, an indigo crystal, and a violet crystal.

Behind the quartz bowl, there is a triangular black rock. You move it, and it reveals a hole. You move your hand in front of the hole, and you can’t feel anything. You move your ear toward it and hear nothing. It’s just a strange hole in stone. You look back at the young selkie and wonder how you will ever help her transform back.

As if she can hear your thoughts, she tells you, “Darkness is not darkness. It is the absence of light. My true form is not this. It is the absence of reality.”

You look back to the hole in the black stone, and you have an inkling to lift up one of the crystals to it. You lift the blue crystal to the hole, and a bold blue light flashes out of the crystal, illuminating the selkie.

The selkie cries out to you, “Hurry, nomad. Hurry. I am close to losing my true form forever. Bathe me in white light, for it is the moonlight that brings me to life.”

You look down at all seven crystals. Again, there is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. What combination of crystals will create white light? Do you know, traveler? Can you help this young selkie transform back into a seal?

Well done, traveler! You’ve learned that by combining all seven crystals, you create white light. The twinkling stars cast their glow on the cave, its walls no longer dark but rather a nebulous blend of blue and green. You bathe the selkie in the brilliant white light.

{jata – Jeremy Soule – The Northerner Diaries Symphonic Sketches}

The little girl giggles at the funny sensation of her skin getting slimy, her eyes turning completely black, and her whiskers growing next to her human nose.

You are then blinded for a moment when all the light shields your eyes from the young girl. When you open your eyes again, in the girl’s place, there is a baby seal. The crystals are all white and exhausted of energy, and the stars have gone back to their normal gaze.

The seal gives a long look of gratitude with eyes that speak more than words. She waddles over to you and nuzzles your leg. Then she lifts her flipper. You take hold of it firmly, and she pulls you back into the water. The selkie guides you back up to the surface of the ocean. You do not panic in the water. The selkie keeps you calm.

When you reach the surface, the moon is just about high overhead. The seal kisses you on the nose and swims away. You swim to the shoreline and feel the soft sand under your feet again.

The moon whispers to you, the runic road now awaits you by the holly shrub.

You turn away from the shoreline and walk back into the forest. The trees are quiet now, tired of all their gossiping, enjoying a restful sleep.

The owls, however, are hooting about their latest adventures up in the treetops, and the bats are just enjoying the nice breeze.

After some time, you see a large shrub of about your height with nothing but red hollies. You look around you, but there are no runes and there is no road. There is nothing.

Then, in front of you, you see the shadow of a person walking toward you. You are not frightened by this figure. You are merely curious.

Once the figure is near, you see that it is a blind man with a walking stick. The blind man stops just a few feet away from you, and says, “I’m afraid the runic road is not prepared to reveal itself to you just yet, nomad. You carry far too much with you.”

You ask him what he means by this.

“When a nomad travels, he carries with him nothing more than his stories. He leaves behind unnecessary fears and needless grudges with moments of the past. The stories of a nomad are the stepping stones of our journey. These stones cannot be placed if one is afraid to let them go or afraid to even face them again. Acceptance of what has happened and forgiveness to those involved will allow you to place your stepping stones and to move on with your journey in life. I’m afraid you still hold onto a few fears and grudges, and the runic road deems you unworthy of its presence. If you can rid yourself of them, the runic road will consider your quest complete.”

You ask how it is you do that.

The blind man tells you, “Seek out Birdie the Oracle. She will guide you.”

The blind man walks away and leaves you alone in the forest. You stand there, unsure of where to go. To your left, there is nothing that calls to you. To your right, the woods are quiet. There is no sign that tells you where to go.

You decide to take a few steps forward, and there is a feeling in your gut that you are going in the right direction. You keep going forward when you start to see a yellow light. Following the light, you realize you’re walking to another cave.

However, unlike the other caves you’ve visited, you realize you don’t have to travel far into it, for as you approach it even more, you start to see that the yellow light is actually a burning campfire near the mouth of the cave.

Sitting by the campfire is a woman with frizzy hair that circles her head like a halo. Her cheeks have runic symbols that run down her neck and all the way down her arms to her fingertips. She has a piercing in her nose, and she wears no makeup. She is dressed in a midnight black cloak.

“Salutations, nomad. I ever did wonder when I would get to meet the next. I feel so quite lucky. Tell me, nomad, what do you seek?” She drops a shard of a bone into the campfire. The flames burst into purple sparks and then go calm again.

You tell the oracle that you are happy to help the oracle with any quest she pleases in hopes of finding the Rhaude Valley.

She chuckles, “No, nomad, it is not my quest you seek. This quest is yours, and only yours.”

{Climbing the Ginso Tree – Gareth Coker – Ori and the Blind Forest OST}

“Let me see what the flames say of you, nomad.”

Birdie the Oracle turns her full attention to the campfire. She moves her hands over it, as if caressing the bits of flame that break away. You feel a rumbling in the air and realize it is coming from her throat. Her humming is so deep in her throat, it reverberates against the cave walls.

“Speak to the flames, nomad. Tell it your dreams.”

Well, traveler? What are your dreams in life?

The flames start to turn to silver. Birdie leans her ear toward it. You blink your eyes a few times, but your eyes are not mistaken. The flames take on the shape of a hand cupped around the side of a mouth which is whispering to Birdie’s ear. Birdie listens attentively, nodding her head and affirming the flame’s words.

When she sits back up, she starts to play with her shards of bone again, throwing them into the fire. She then tells you, “The flames have spoken to the waters above us. There is a fountain made of pearls at the top of a hill not far from here. You must travel there and speak to the waters of the fountain. They are marvelous listeners; it won’t be too terribly difficult. You must tell the waters your deepest fear. It is this fear that keeps you from placing your journey’s stones. You must relinquish your fear to the waters. Worry not, the waters will know what to do with it. However, you must prepare yourself, nomad. The fear will fight back. Its desire is to stay deep within you, and it will not like you abandoning it. You must face your fear head on, or the runic road will never reveal itself to you. Hurry, nomad. Hurry. The waters await.”

Taking the word of the oracle, you leave the cave and start to climb the rocky wall. You manage to get a few bruises on your hands, but they don’t bother you too much. When you reach the top of the small cliff, you see a hill in front of you. You climb up the hill and see a fountain made of pearls.

The fountain’s waters are multicolor. A rainbow of waters come out of this fountain. You can even see a few rainbow puddles formed from all the water droplets that make it onto the ground.

You approach the fountain, and the waters continue to run. You almost expect them to introduce themselves, but they do not.

You are simply standing next to a fountain made of pearls with rainbow waters.

Birdie’s words resurface in your memory. You remember that she explained you had to relinquish your deepest fear to the fountain.

So, you grab onto the fountain with both hands and look at the waters. You see your reflection, basked in all different kinds of colors. Your eyes look back at you. There is this odd moment where you feel as though you are looking at someone else and then the next moment, you are overtly aware that those eyes, and the life behind those eyes, belong to you.

Whether it be out loud or silently in your mind, tell the fountain your deepest fear, traveler.

The rainbow is starting to lose its colors. Blackness starts to take over. In the blackness, you can see in the reflection a manifestation of your fear. It is there before your eyes, angry that it is not still bottled inside your heart.

Then the waters start to fight with the blackness. Blue and yellow turn to a courageous green that squashes the blackness. Red blends with green to produce gold which burns the blackness. Red and blue join forces and create a bold purple that forces the blackness to succumb to the rainbow waters.

Eventually, the blackness turns into a weak gray. The gray becomes softer as you start to smell the scents of happiness. Eventually, the gray joins the multicolored waters, adding another layer to all the colors that make up these magical waters.

Take a deep breath in, traveler. Then, take a deep breath out. Your fear has been relinquished.

You turn around to head back to Birdie the Oracle when you hear a strange snapping sound behind you. You turn back, and see that the fountain is moving away. You then look to the horizon and see a black avalanche heading full speed your way.

{Restoring the Light, Facing the Dark – Gareth Coker – Ori and the Blind Forest OST}

You’re sprinting down the hill, your feet unstable with the descent. The avalanche bellows its brooding cries. The wind is fierce in your ears as you try to keep your pace. You’re just waiting for the rock wall for cover, but it never comes. The hill keeps on going forever.

Will you ever outrun this avalanche, traveler? Can you?

You remember Birdie’s words who told you that you must face your fears for they will fight back. You plant your feet, take in a deep breath, turn around, and face the avalanche head on.

The avalanche does not stop. It seems to be going faster. Your face is freezing, and your chest is pounding. You shut your eyes…

You open your eyes slowly. The avalanche has turned to a flurry of stars that float up toward the sky, leaving you unharmed. Breathe, traveler. You’ve faced the worst, you courageous nomad, and now you are free. In the sky, you see the menacing, angry face of your fear. The residue is now dust, and it growls at you in the sky. It looks like it wants to swallow you whole, but you stand your ground. You keep looking at its eyes with your own without faltering.

The fear respects you, and though it snaps at you one last time, it flies away, leaving you behind. You’ve relinquished your fear at long last.

{Listen With Your Heart, Pt. 2 – Linda Hunt & Bobbi Page – Pocahontas (Original Soundtrack)}

You go back to see Birdie the Oracle, but she is gone. The cave is empty. Unsure of what to do, you stand there awkwardly for a moment.

You look to the left in hopes of seeing light, but it is dark. You look to the right in hopes of hearing a sound, but it is silent.

In front of you, the cave is dark, and behind you, the forest is lifeless.

You are stranded.

Having just faced an avalanche, the fears inside you are diminished. So, although the cave in front of you is dark, you have no fear. You walk into the cave.

The darkness welcomes you with echoing unintelligible whisperings. You keep walking and soon see that you are arriving at the other end of the cave.

When you reach the other side, you find yourself at an open field. The dandelions are swaying as the morning sun starts to peak over the horizon. The air smells of kindness, and the unintelligible whisperings continue in your ears.

You pay attention to these whisperings and hear the words, “Listen with your heart.”

You do as you’re told, and you listen to the compass in your heart. You close your ears to really listen. Then, you feel your right foot being lifted.

You lift your foot and see that a stone slab is being formed. On it is a glowing rune symbol. Then another stone slab appears underneath your left foot with another glowing rune.

Then more show up in front of you. You watch them form for a while, seeing the glowing runes create a golden path. Once they start to get out of your sight, you realize that what is in front of you is a curving road. It is the runic road, and it is showing you the way to the twin mountains.

You take a step forward, and now the whisperings start to get louder. They start to sing.

{Rise of the Vrykul – Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford & Russell Brower -World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King OST}

Before you stand the twin mountains. They have long white beards that reach the ground and bulbous noses. Their mouths are covered by their beards, but you can hear their breathing as if with mouths wide open. The only difference between these twins is the eye color. The mountain on the right has foggy yellow glowing eyes. The mountain on the left has foggy white glowing eyes.

They greet you by welcoming you to their domain and congratulating you on successfully completing the quests of the sun, the moon, and the runic road.

You are a true nomad, and they bow to you.

“Before you may enter the Rhaude Valley,” the twin mountains say, “You will be granted a name with the naming ceremony. Step forward, nomad.”

You do as you’re told, humbled by the opportunity.

You stand on a platform which rises to the eye level of the twin mountains. A powerful force overtakes you. A ring of fire forms around you. The heat brings you to your knees.

The mountains turn their direct gaze to you. The yellow glow warms you like the sun, while the white glow cools you like the moon. You are in the center of everlasting light.

“Prepare yourself, nomad,” The mountains say. “Your names are being formed now.”

{Preliator – Globus – Epicon}

The ambience is intoxicating. You keep a kneeled stance as the lights grow potent.

Around the platform rise three massive stone slabs, each with a different rune that is glowing in the same green light that introduced you to this journey.

There is one to your left, one to your right, and one in the center in front of you. Floating in the air, they start to spin around you. At first, you can still make each different rune as they spin, but after a few seconds, their spinning goes as fast as lightning. All you see is a blur, so you keep your focus forward.

The mountains are now chanting and singing. The air is pulsing with energy. It all starts to get overwhelming.

One of the spinning runes dives straight into your right arm. You scream at this excruciating pain. You feel the runic symbol being burned into your skin. You look at your bicep. The symbol is carved into your arm in black ink. You want to touch it, to see if you can soothe the pain, but the next spinning rune plunges into your left arm.

The agony brings tears to your eyes as you scream again. The burning sensation torments you as the runic symbol is once again burned into your skin. You are covered in sweat. The burning stops, another name carved into your arm. You have a moment to breathe. The twin mountains are getting louder. The earth is rumbling beneath you.

On your left arm, you see once again a symbol in black ink. Both of your new tattoos are now cool, the moonlight of the mountain’s eyes caressing it with refreshing light. The flames around you are starting to grow in height.

Your breathing is hardly back to normal, but you look up to see where the last stone slab is. It is still spinning around you in hyper speed. The green glow makes you dizzy, so you send your eyes to your knees, rounding your back in surrender. There is no whispering here. All is loud and bold. The light starts to feel murky. You have never felt something so intense in your life before now, and the intensity is severe. You await its end, but you know that the end is far from near.

The last spinning runic symbol plummets onto your back, and this time the pain is torturous. You can’t even scream at the throbbing, aching affliction.

This last rune is being carved onto your back, and you can do nothing more than endure the piercing pain of the naming ceremony as it comes to its final stages.

It is done. The platform lowers as you catch your breath. Your last tattoo is being soothed by the moonlight as the winds cool you down. The air around you sounds marvelously quiet.

The twin mountains have named you. You are now a nomad of the Rhaude Valley.

{Daybreak Vision – R. Carlos Nakai – Canyon Trilogy}

The Rhaude Valley embraces you. It is a paradise of your own making.

However, you are a nomad, traveler. Though this may be a home, it is not your only home, for it is in your nature to keep on traveling, so you may travel to wherever your journey takes you next.

Just remember, the Rhaude Valley and the twin mountains are also nomadic in nature, so if you come looking for them again, they may not be in the same place. All you have to do to find them is to listen to the compass of your heart.

That is the end of our tale for today. Thank you for joining me, but it’s now time for you to step back through the portal to WHUS Storrs.

Before I depart, traveler, a word. Next week, I will not be here to open the portal for you. I have a meeting with The Council of the Sage Ones of The Fantasy Realm. I’m afraid there will be no adventure for you next Wednesday.

Do not fret, however. I have left you in good hands. In my stead will sit an Urban Legend to keep you company. I shall return the week after with another adventure for you.

Until then, fairfarren, traveler.

THE END

Fairfarren, Friends

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