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Chapter 5 - The Herd


The sound of marching horses, screaming swordsmen and rolling catapults have surrounded you for the past days, and you have never felt happier with your choice of becoming a shepherd instead of a warrior. The army is now close to the middle of the island near the huge mountain, and has just recently come to a stop. In front of you stands the huge and seemingly impenetrable pirate fort, adorned by huge flags with the pirate sign. “May this be the last challenge on my journey” you mutter to yourself. The last step to reach your final goal - Your Herd

 
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You began hearing their screams almost an hour before you reached your current location, and as you got closer and closer to the fort, the pirates have not gotten any quieter. It does not take long before the army’s consensus of the state of the fort goes from “seemingly impenetrable” to “impenetrable”, and you find yourself in the midst of an infinite amount of arguments, coming from every direction. All while the army steadily loses their fighting spirit, the pirates have still yet to be seen. 

And then, in the midst of this all, you hear it:

“Baa. Baa!”

Your whole body freezes. It has been so long since you saw or even heard a hint of your herd, that this faint cry for help almost seems deafening in your ears. Never before during this whole journey have you been this close to your herd, and never before have they needed you this much. You rush towards the back of the army to reach the king - you need to do something to change the situation, quickly.

You find  the king within a few minutes, and quickly drag him to the side. You tell him about what is happening, and together you start working out a plan.

• • •

After a short meeting with the king and his consultants, you are now updated on the information they got their hands on before embarking on the journey here. One of the founding fathers of the island once found an ancient scroll found inside a cave in the mountain, and that scroll has been in the hands of the king in many generations. According to this scroll, there are pathways all over the island that can be opened, but only with a special key - a green, a blue, and an orange gemstone. 

And this valley, right where the fort is build, is one of these locations...

The current plan is to set camp here for a few days before the king can gather the stones from his mine, but in the meantime you have set off to find other options.

Leaving the army and heading towards the mountain that is only a short bit away, you almost start to feel like your feet is guided. You look towards your staff, which have turned hot to the touch, and the yellow sheen that used to come from it has now turned purple. Amazed, you keep walking, seemingly on your own, until you reach the side of the mountain.

“Baa”

You freeze in place again, just like the last time you heard this exact sound.

“Baa!”

You look around, without a trace of its origin

“Baa, baa!!”

You hear it again, much louder than last time!


Looking up to the right, you see a small path, right towards the noise - but still no trace of the creature making it.

 

You sprint up the side of the mountain as fast as you possibly can, and then you see it! 

 
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You pick the small lamb up in your arms, with your absolute biggest and warmest embrace. 

 

A few moments go by, but enough is enough it seems, and the lamb hopps down onto the ground again... 

 

...and starts going back into the mine!

You scream for it to stop, but it does not even consider obeying. You have no clue how, but judging from its movement and certitude, the lamb seems to know exactly where you are going, and the mission you are on.

And just a few seconds later, it seems like you were right. In front of you are 3 passages, each marked with a different drawing of a colored gemstone.

Well, no time to waste you think to yourself, just need to pick which one to head towards first…

 

You need to make a choice, which gemstone do you head for first?

47% Chose Sapphire

You take the right-most path, past the blue sign, and follow the lamb through the cave system, until you arrive at a small cave.

You see the lamb hitting its head softly on a small rock, so you head over and pick it up and…

 
 
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…under the rock lies a bright blue sapphire!

You pat the lamb lightly on its head and head back to the original cave entrance.

 

You need to make a choice, which gemstone do you wish to head for next?

80% chose Emerald

 

This time taking the left-most path, past the green sign, you have to follow the lamb through narrow and low passages - at one point so low that you had to crawl through.

Suddenly, the path stopps, and you look up to see something hanging in a chain from the ceiling…

 
 
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…but unfortunatley you can’t quite reach it!

Then you feel something hitting your leg. It’s the lamb, and as you look down he curls himself into a small ball. It takes you a short moment to realize what it means by its gesture, but then you get it!

Gently and lightly placing one foot on the lamb, you then push yourself up with your other foot, grabbing the emerald! Unfortunatley it’s stuck to the chain a little harder than you first imagined, so you find yourself hanging from the emerald for a few moments before falling down on your bottom.

After quickly getting up and awkwardly brushing the dust of your coat, you head back to the original cave entrance again:

 

And just out of courtesy this time - which gemstone do you wish to head to last?

100% Chose Citrine

 

Finally, you step into the middle passage, which leads down a spiraling staircase.

You end up in a enormous ancient room, with the walls filled with inscriptions in vivid colours. The lamb leads you to one of the walls, where a orange hand print can be seen. You place your hand on the print, and the whole wall turns around, revealing…

 
 
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…an orange gemstone, sitting in a beautiful stone holder, carved out of the rock wall!

You reach out to grab the gem. Now having all 3 gemstones in your hand, you have to figure out the next step on your journey.

 

What do you wish to do next?

42% chose to look through the inscriptions on the walls for clues

Looking around the massive room you are in, it does not take long before you figure out what to do. From the part of the wall where you placed your hand, orange lines stretch away, and connect with blue and green lines coming from the right and left parts of the roof.

At the center of this, a stone piedestal is stood, with three small holes, into which all the lines from the walls connect to.

You slowly drop the gemstones into the holes, one by one, and watch with amazement as the wall in front of you slides open…

 

...revealing the pirate camp in front of you!

 

You step out into the pirate village, hugging the rock wall and trying to make as little noise as possible. Your little lamb is still right behind you, sneaking around every corner you go.

But as you keep going, something feels a little weird. Since entering - and now that you think about it - even before entering, you have yet to see a single pirate. Yes, you’ve been avoiding everyone, but you figure you’d at least catch a glimpse. Straightening up your posture a bit, you keep heading towards the gate, with your lamb in pursuit!

You get to the gate quite quickly, still not seeing any pirates. As you get closer and closer, you start to go slower, and your feeling of unease starts to grow inside. 

This must be a trap.

 

You rush to pull the lever that opens the gates - you need to alert the king of this as soon as possible! As soon as the rusty chains starts to pull the gate upwards, you can hear the war chant from the kings army. Not wasting a second, they all stand up in formations and start their march towards the fort - in their minds, the war is already won.

You run out of the gates to meet and alert them of what is about to happen, but to no avail. They keep storming past your sides, and eventually, the whole army has passed. Paralyzed with fear you watch the king approaching you up on his horse.

“What is the matter? Have something gone wrong?”

he exclaims as soon as he comes into hearing distance.

You explain the situation, and the moment you’ve gotten the most vital information out, he orders you up on his horse. Together you ride into the city, and you’re met by…

 

...laughter!

The whole army stands laughing at something. The king screams at the warriors, who parts way to let you through. There, in the middle of the fort, is the whole pirate crew, sitting in damaged, beat up clothes, looking up at you with a frightened expression. Shocked by this view, you look around everywhere, but still no trace of your herd, apart from your lamb!

As you start walking towards the other side of the camp, you can hear the king asking the pirates what happened. Sitting silently and staring at the ground, one of them starts to talk under his breath.

“The… The sheep. The Sheep”

You turn around to see one pirate after the other, pointing their fingers at the huge storage building that you are currently standing next to.

Slowly pulling the door towards you, you walk in to find a huge room, filled with everything from food, to building equipment, to casting supplies, to carving tools to…

 

Your herd!!!

 

Rushing towards them, they all surround you in the wooliest sea you’ve ever encountered.

And at this moment, you forget every single struggle and hazard you’ve met during your journey.

At this moment, in an instant, everything was worth it.

At last, you are together again. You, and your herd…

 

3 Months later…

 

The autumn sun has started to set, turning the cloudless sky pink and orange. As you sit on a rock, glancing out on your land, you can’t avoid thinking about the months that have passed. 

After you freed the king from his corruption, everything took a turn for the better. The king now rules the whole island of pastura with a just and kind heart, in conjunction with the council. After the pirates disappeared, they decided that their wisdom was better out in the world, instead of being hidden away in the deep jungle. 

The council also brought the mapmaker with them, and they are now - as a joined effort - starting to map out all the hidden passages that was uncovered after the raid of the pirates fort. That in turn means a huge rise in demand of different gemstones, giving jobs to many people all over the island.

The blacksmith has, after his skillful and heroic contribution to the journey, been promoted to head smith over the kings armory. Unfortunately weapons are not really in demand on the island any more, but the king is always happy for another armor added to his collection…

And you, what have you been up to? Well, to start things off, your herd is back - unharmed and well, not one sheep missing. In fact, there have been some new additions! They are also little rounder since before they were lost, but that might be to expect after a few weeks unlimited intake of a whole pirate villages food stock…

After the raid, you were awarded with a honorary medal by the king, and was offered anything you asked for. And you knew exactly what you wanted - some land, and a small house. And today, with the help of the finest builders on the whole island, that has become reality.

You hop off the rock and start walking towards your herd that is standing by the sea, looking out towards the sun. You sit down in the grass next to one of the newborn lambs, and run your hand through its wool. With a happy look on its face, it lies down and falls asleep on your lap. You look out towards the ocean again, the same ocean that you came sailing from, what feels like an eternity ago.

 

At last, you have reached the end of your journey…

 
 
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Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated in The Shepherds Journey!

Your support honestly means more than you can imagine, and I am so happy and greatful to have been able to do this event together with you all -
it wouldn’t have been possible without you!

I truly hope you have enjoyed the event just as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it!

And as always,

See you on the journey!

Zorb

 
 
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