After we leave Se Mahraha, we travel to Se Renali where we stay for one night. Then we travel up into the Da Suaung Mountains. I guide the transporter, following a river to the north. A thundering waterfall and steep peaks block our path, but that’s okay. I steer the transporter, so it’s facing the waterfall head-on. Hold on tight.
I speed forward, driving through the water and into the portal behind the liquid cascade. Everything goes dark and still for a moment, and then you see temperate forest and an ocean.
Welcome to Linea.
I park the transporter beside the portal and ensure the invisibility function is engaged. We go by foot from here.
We spend a day travelling across the forested island before stopping along the southern shore for the night. We make camp for the first time in over a month. It’s autumn here, so it’s a little chilly out. You bundle up under your blankets, and we keep the fire going through the night. The island is uninhabited, so it’s just us. We don’t have to set up a watch because there’s nothing here that can harm us.
The next day, we board a modest boat and sail across the sea. It’s shallow here because it’s part of a large gulf. Sometimes you spot a disturbance in the water or the top of a marine creature. It takes us a little over a day to traverse the watery expanse, and we stop on the continent’s coast to rest.
There’s a settlement here, nestled between the temperate trees. It’s nowhere near as large as the cities we travelled through on Bursna, but there’s a tavern for us to stay in for the night. You notice the tavern is one of the few large, enclosed buildings. There are lots of wooden shacks scattered about, but the majority of the buildings are open. They have a roof and maybe one or two walls. A handful of the structures are made of cloth instead of wood.
We’re in the southern part of Linea, which is elvirian territory. You’ll find the elvira enjoy being outside as much as possible, though they aren’t opposed to shelter during the colder months and when it’s precipitating.
The tavern is small and cozy, and a few locals gather in the common room to drink and dance. You observe them from your table while you eat a hot meal. They look very similar to falarsi, and that’s because genetically, they’re incredibly similar. The main differences are that elvira have more lithe builds, have longer lifespans by about 200 years, have a different set of magical capabilities, and have equal numbers of male and female children.
I pay for all of you to bathe. There’s no plumbing here because some elvira can manipulate water. One of these elvira, the teenage daughter of the innkeepers, fills and empties the bath in between each of you. She can even adjust the water temperature to each person’s preference. After being in the wild again, you’re grateful for the luxury of hot baths.
We don’t spend much time in Trivon. After one night there, we move on, hiking deeper into the Nor Forest. We make camp in the woods. You wake several times during the night to the sound of strange creatures roaming nearby and are thankful we have a watch going again. While the creatures in the south tend to leave humanoids alone—elvira can communicate with them, so they have a positive relationship with one another—you never can be sure with some of them.
While we’re hiking through the woods the next day, you spot a new creature, one you believed only existed in stories from Earth. While it’s a reddish brown color instead of white, the animal is undoubtedly a unicorn. The group stops, and you all marvel at the mysterious creature. It keeps its distance, allowing you to observe its beauty. It bends down to nip at some foliage. Its horn is a polished gray, and it brushes the ground as the unicorn eats.
The animals on most planets are skittish because they’re heavily hunted by the humanoid inhabitants, but the elvira have formed a partnership with their fellow creatures. The unicorn is one of many animals you see over the course of the day. Most of them resemble Earthen species in one way or another. They have a canine-like shape, a feline face, or antlers akin to those of an elk. Small rodents rustle in the underbrush.
Our next stop is Vanya, another town in the forest. Again, we keep our visit brief, only staying for the night. You’ll experience elvirian culture at its height in other locations, and we’ll spend more time in the cities than in these peripheral villages with small populations.
Now we turn back to the north, and our trail suddenly leaves the shelter of the trees, winding down the walls of a deep canyon. You can see two people nearing the bottom. One is pushing a cart while the other follows behind. The elvira don’t believe in using animals for labor, so they have to transport all of their own goods. Some are able to do so quickly using magic, and some of them hire out their services. But not everyone can afford them, so they choose to transport their wares the old-fashioned way, though at least they have carts to keep the heavy burdens off their backs.
A few of you are afraid of heights and balk at the prospect of travelling into the canyon. The only way around is by boat, and we’d have to take a major detour, so you stick to the middle of the group and focus on the solid ground you’re stepping on. You refuse to look to the side where the drop-off is.
The path is wide, so there’s a healthy distance between everyone and the edge. Your toes keep hitting the fronts of your shoes as you descend. You try not to think about how sore your feet will be tomorrow. The sun sets before we reach the bottom, and we have to navigate the rest of the path by moonlight. Thankfully, there are four moons. One is full, two are a waxing gibbous, and one is a small sliver of a crescent. They provide enough light for us to see by.
As soon as we reach the bottom, we set up camp. You’re hungry and cold, and your feet already hurt from all the downhill hiking. We gather around the fire for a quick meal of squirrel-like creatures before you all collapse into your bedrolls and fall asleep. The sounds of the night are now familiar to you, so you’re able to sleep through them. Or maybe that’s because you’re utterly exhausted and nothing short of a flash flood could wake you.
We have a late start the next morning, but we have a shorter distance to travel today, so it doesn’t matter. I let you sleep in. Now we follow the Zeera River to the north, and you’re dismayed to find the other side of the canyon looming before you. I know you’re not ready to climb the trail, but you must if you want to sleep in a warm bed tonight.
Your calves burn in protest as you hike the steep path that hugs the canyon wall. The top grows steadily closer. The sun is setting when we finally reach it, and you’re grateful for the nearby lantern lights. As soon as you get the key to your room, you crawl into bed and close your eyes, letting sleep take you.