020. Wake the Gods

 

After supper, they are itching to try out their new toy.  They head outside, then to the nondescript hill that contains a secret door, and use the cube to open it.  Inside, they climb down to the room where Ekrak’s Vessel awaits.  

Once inside, they place the cube, and the vessel lights up.  A deep voice, growly and sounding like gravel tumbling in a barrel, Ekrak urges them to plant the Evertree.  A large urn sits behind the cockpit of the vessel.  When they plan the sapling in the loose soil, something magical happens.  Deep roots dig into the soil, and the branches grow thicker and longer, spreading in all directions.  The roots and branches grow, reaching, digging deep into the circuitry and musculature of the vessel.  The skin of the vessel becomes bark.   

Ekrak is awake.

The ceiling above them opens up revealing a network of stars on this clear spring night.  They take Ekrak out for a spin, and note that the deep footprints left by Ekrak fill in with deep grass and wildflowers.  They walk to the tilled fields outside Triple Toss Tower, and use Ekrak’s powers to bring life to the crops.

As they sit, cramped in the cockpit of Ekrak, they are reminded that his sisters and brothers are still out there, lost.  And Estra, his sister, the mother of water, is now in Kazzen’s hands.  They ponder their next move, wondering if they can make it to Cloudstone before war.

After resting a day or so, they decide to climb into Ekrak with the boy and make for Cloudstone.  They know it is to the north, and they know that the Crimson Woods that surround the dwarven kingdom are impassible.  The only logical way is through Westgate, a neutral town that marks the border between the two kingdoms.

Ekrak strides easily along the countryside, scattering any animals or smaller monsters that are below.  They cross the road between Parthen and Ashvin, then decide to wade through the river.  Part-way across, they see a platoon of Parthen soldiers marching to Ashvin as they cross the river.  Or, more likely, the platoon sees them.  Besides a few errant arrows fired in their direction, the platoon poses no threat, so they march on.

They skirt around the Town of Lokken, making their way up through a deep valley east of the Titan’s Spine mountain range.  The climb takes them up a few thousand feet in elevation, and occasionally they dislodge a loose boulder that goes tumbling down the hills.  On the 5th day of their journey they near the town of Westgate.