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Author Topic: On the way to Ximax  (Read 27397 times)
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Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
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« on: January 07, 2009, 07:20:18 AM »

The old Kyranian capital of Caelum is about to close its gates for the night when a group of six weary travellers enters the town. An old, whitebearded man asks for the next acceptable inn and is directed to the "Longhorn", a tavern nearby, with fair prices, but good meals and soft beds.

It has taken them three weeks to ride from the Vale of the Brownies past Kordonion to the Wind Bay and up the coast till Naios, a route more secure and faster than along the steep cliffs of the Western Rimmerinns ring. Talia would have loved to see the Anaios Gap, the location of the elvenfall where Diraton of Caelum found his death and with him an elven army, but as Capher needed to get quickly to Ximax, they choose to take the faster route. Two more days quick riding and they had reached Caelum. There were only five left out of the eight who entered the vale, Capher, the old man and initiator of they journey, Terra, the Sophrionian warrioress and Talia, the Shendar adventurer, both  of them being part of the party from the beginning, then Ta'las, the Shendar Man who said he was sent to help Talia and  Teri, the half elven woman who had battled her own brother. Morcanaan and  Kenriil had chosen to take another road and it was not sure, that they would ever rejoin the group, though Talia missed Ken from the day she had to learn, that he had left due to troubles with the Brownies. Teri surely missed Morcanaan even more. It must be hard for her to loose her love a second time. And Z'doth, he was just gone and the aj'nuvics and horses had been left alone.  But they had gained another companion,  Roosje, the strange white Brownie on her red fox. Capher always hopes, that Seyella would lead them, and Talia hopes dearly, that this will be the case. What sense does it make to loose valued friends?

The 'Longhorn' turns out to be as cosy as promised and soon the six are sitting around a table eating their evening meal, a stew out of the famous Kyranian cattle with the last of the fresh vegetables available in autumn.

After the first hunger is stilled, Talia asks:

"Has anyone of you visited, or well, maybe just travelled along the Shivering Woods? I have heard strange things about it and our path will touch it I have heard. We will be there in a few days or a week or so, if we still get a ferry over the Dorashi river. Capher, you are have visited all of Santharia, have you ever been there? Or anyone else?"

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Talas Anthavin
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2009, 08:45:51 AM »

"I have heard of this place," Ta'las says in a subdued voice.  He sets his dish down on the table in front of him and scratches his bearded chin.  He silently looks forward to settling in for the evening so he can shave and make himself look respectable again.  The Shendar clears his voice and looks darkly at everyone.

"The woods are said to be haunted, though I expect those rumours are not well-founded.  However, evil dwells within the Shivering Woods.  Perhaps dark drow or some other fell folk live in them, but we are well-advised to avoid them if possible."  For some unspoken reason, Ta'las has grown morose following their journey from the Vale, and this manner of speech, though uncharacteristic for the Shendar prior to reaching the land of the Brownies, has become more common.  During the evenings when the others would sit and converse around the fire, Ta'las would often remain quiet and sit a little distance away from the group, even Lady Terra.  The Shendar was unsure what was most troubling: not understanding what was wrong with him, or why he could not speak about it with her.  He looks at Terra, and a momentary glimmer of happiness shines in his eyes before he turns back to the rest of the group.  The hunted look in his eyes returns.

"I've heard that the trees shake at the slightest sound, and will bleed if they are broken.  We must give the woods a wide berth."  Ta'las leans back, having said his part and crosses his arms.
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Capher
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 01:01:19 AM »

Capher cleared his throat to answer Talia's question when Ta'las began to speak.

Capher's eyebrows rose as he listened to Ta'las. There was something wrong here, he thought. A Shendar boy who has never been out of his own continent should know in such detail about such things.

Ta'las then stopped speaking in that morose tone of his that began more and more the more they went farther and farther from the Vale. At first Capher had thought it was a natural reaction to going from almost pure bliss and and a budding love, to the reality of their quest, but now Capher was not too sure.

"Ta'las, my boy. How does such a one as yourself know so much about a place that is hardly spoken of, even by those who live near the Shivering Woods? And why so despondant? You sound...like a Black Hart in rutting season," Capher finished off, not thinking of anything else to describe how he heard Ta'las. He knew it was a poor analogy, but it was the best he could come up with at the moment.

Capher twisted his head toward Talia and could audibilly hear the bones in his neck crack. His bones and muscles were slowly mortifying and he now knew he needed to get to Ximax and find that accursed stone, as much as he did not like it. "Talia, I think we should go by the Shivering Woods, even if it is just to quell this talk of hauntings and such. Besides it is on the way to Ximax so it will not take us too far out of our way. What do you others think?" he asked, looking slowly around the table and finally resting his eyes on Ta'las. He waited to hear what the young man would say and perhaps confirm his suspicions.
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Roosje Greenfields
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 06:46:04 AM »

For three weeks now the small white brownie had been travelling together with the group of Big People, and she was starting to like them all really quite a lot. She was especially fond of the old man with his long white beard, who kept acting so much younger than he looked. The Storyteller, they called him at her home. With a capital S. In the past three weeks she hadn't seen too much of his storytelling, but then they were on a pretty serious quest - even if she didn't know exactly what that quest was yet.

She knew that they were going in the direction of Ximax, but what they were going to do there, or what lay next, she didn't know. For now, she was content to just go along with the group and to help them in whatever small way she could. She had even gotten around to contributing a few rabbits and small game for the evening meals, using a poison that quickly killed the animal but left no aftereffects for the humans eating it. Of course, afterwards she'd had to get someone to actually carry the rabbits back to the campfire, but she was still glad that in some small way, she could help.

During the journey Inuya was laden quite a bit less than usually when Roosje was travelling. All her belongings that she needed on the road fit quite neatly in one of the saddlebags - really taking up a lot less space than everything the humans needed. She hadn't been sure, when she'd seen the huge beasts that the humans liked to ride, if her fox could keep up the pace. Normally she travelled alone, without having to worry about keeping up with anybody. But the fox had pleasantly surprised her by loping at more or less the same speed as the horses, flitting next to the road more than on it so that the horses wouldn't get scared by a streak of red. Of course, after a few days, the gigantic beasts were used to her small little mount, but she still made sure to stay out from under those hooves. She also made sure to take extra good care of Inuya when they rested, letting the fox know just how much Roosje appreciated her. The red-furred animal still acquitted herself well, despite her age.

As they went, Roosje noticed how the weather was getting colder. Where in the Vale she had still had some trouble with a red running nose and teary eyes, as they progressed it grew noticeably less, and now she even felt simply healthy. The 'Now' in question was in an inn in some town that she didn't know the name of. She was sitting on the table, surrounded by her human companions, and leaning against Inuya's warm body. The conversation was about the Shivering Woods. As Ta'las spoke of hauntings and bleeding trees, Roosje tried to recall the maps recorded somewhere in the Council Tree, which she had studied extensively for her job of messenger. Just when Capher, having taken the word from Ta'las, was done speaking, Roosje started up with an 'OH!'.

She sprang up and cried out (hoping that everyone could hear her that way): "I remember the place you're talking about! I had to pass them once. I didn't know they were haunted, so I went through them. Well, a little bit into it anyway. Nothing bothered me, and I certainly didn't see any bleeding trees... But then, I'm really just a small thing in the eyes of the Great Ghosts, or whatever is haunting there. Not worth their notice, and all that." The white brownie grinned at her own humour. She was a small thing in the eyes of just about anything, and as often as not nothing more than a quick crunchy snack. She had always managed to give most of her would-be eaters the slip - just because she was so small. Her size was not a curse for her, usually - even though she felt at a definite disadvantage sometimes when she compared herself to her companions. Ah well... no matter. The advantages were still big enough to satisfy her.

Having had her say, Roosje was content to sit back down against Inuya and listen to the rest of the conversation.
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Talas Anthavin
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2009, 10:24:46 AM »

His grey eyes scan Roosje for a moment as she speaks - she has been a quiet companion thus far, and she is a bit of a curiousity to Ta'las.  The Shendar listens quietly to the brownie and shrugs.  "Perhaps your brownie heritage protects you from the evil in that forest.  For the tales I've heard were not told to me by a man prone to tell stories." 

Ta'las then looks at Capher and anger rises in him.  He leans forward, and hits the table top hard enough to knock over his mug of ale.  He even considers lashing out at the old man, but then looks around at the group, and sees the concern in their eyes.   Once again, his gaze meets Terra's, and the Shendar realises he is acting a complete fool.  He badly wants to reach out to Terra and hold her, but something inside him keeps him from doing so.  What is wrong with me?!?   His eyes soften, and he looks almost pleadingly at Terra.  He tries to tell her something is wrong, but he is unable to speak.  Then, he looks over at Capher, and as soon as he does so, the anger overtakes him again.  The Shendar shakes his head, as he leans back in his chair. 

"You must remember, old man," he says between clenched teeth, but looks down at the table to avoid everyone's gaze.  "I served as a caravan guide for merchants travelling to Strata for many years, and I've met people from around much of Sarvonia.  One of the guards of a Nermeran merchant told me of the Shivering Woods, and of these trees I mentioned.  They are called Larkentir."

He looks up at Capher, anger flashing once more in his eyes.  "Perhaps the mighty dragon is more in need of healing than we thought, if you cannot recall such a simple fact as this." 

Ta'las stands and looks around at the others.  "Go whichever way you wish - it matters little to me."  With that, he turns away from the group and seeks the solace of his room.  Once inside, he locks the door and throws his equipment onto the floor.  He sits down on the bed and closes his eyes, trying to calm himself, but the thought of continuing further on their quest continues to unsettle him...
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 12:56:52 PM by Talas Anthavin » Logged

Capher
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2009, 02:33:28 AM »

Before Capher could say anything, even apologize for forgetting Ta'las leaves the group and supposedly goes to his room.  Capher slowly looks around at the remaining companions. "There is something terribly wrong here. As long as I have known Ta'las he has never lost control like he just has. His disposition has always been optimistic. I had at first thought that his actions were caused by leaving the Vale, however I believe now that something or someone else is influencing him."

Capher paused, shaking his head slowly. "I have failed you. I have failed you all, I am afraid. I do not have control over the powers that I possess or else what has happened to you all would not have taken place."  Capher knew that most of what he just said was true, but he also knew if Eckra had somehow come back from the underworld he would be the most powerful and evil sorcerer the world has ever seen in thousands of years and even then those sorcerers, the ones called the "Chosen Ones" are considered myth-only Capher and his mentor, Ethan Hawke, the Wizard of the White Tower knew better, and Ethan has been incommunicado for several months now a concern that only Capher felt was his duty to keep to himself and not tell the others.

"I think Terra that he wants to reach out to you, but whatever has happened to him is preventing him from doing so. I also think that it would be best if we keep our conversations with him to a minimun as well as our contact. Whatever is affecting him, may be passed along, however I think that you, Terra and you too Talia are protected, for at least awhile, because of your healing and the Brownie Magic that imbues you both at this time."

He leaned back in his chair, absentmindely stroking his beard, his eyes staring off into who knows what. "If only I had my powers I could go into his mind like I did yours Talia and find out what is happening. The only other type of person that could be of use to us would be a mindsoother, but they are rare and I doubt we would find one here, so our only course of action is to get to Ximax as soon as possible, find the stone that will hopefully restore me to my full powers, and then I can try and help Ta'las."

He looked at Roosje. "I know you are a Brownie, but I am not sure if whatever malady Ta'las has will affect you, so I suggest that you too, try and minimize your contact with him."

Capher slowly stood, using his cane for balance. "I think we should all get a good nights sleep and then head off toward the Shivering Woods. We can take the ferry there, cross the river and then continue north toward Ximax. Of course that is just a suggestion, if you wish to sit here and talk amongst yourselves for awhile that is your own buisiness." He gave a crooked smile, "Me, I am old and need my sleep. Good night, see you early in the morn."

He slowly walked off, his back hunched, his steps small and halting to his room.
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Terra Artemos
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2009, 06:34:31 AM »

Terra had noticed Ta'las growing distant in there ride from the Vale. She had thought and worried that his worries mirrored her own, that they would change in the battles ahead and no longer care for each other as they do now, but as he lashes out at Capher she realizes that is not true. Her worry deepens, and as Capher suggest that he may want to reach out to her, she had already decided to go to him, what he said after was lost to her. She rises from the chair and heads toward their rooms with her gear, before she leaves the room she turns back to the other, her eyes can not hide her concern.

"It may well be that you are right Rooje, and Capher as well. That there is nothing to fear there. Even if something does seem to defy what we believe to be right or natural. Ta'las may also be right in that who ever or what ever resides in the forest may not be best for us to find."

Having spoken her piece, all she could say or wanted to say, she continues to there rooms stopping at Ta'las' she tries the door and finds it locked. She knocks and calls his name, her voice soft and filled with concern, though projecting in presence.

"Ta'las? Love? Will you speak with me a time?"

She waits apprehensively for his answer hoping he will speak with her, not caring in the moment what he speaks with her about.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 08:41:50 AM by Terra Artemos » Logged
Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 12:22:17 AM »

Talia's eyes get dark with concern when she follows the conversation at the table. Though she has already realised, that something is wrong with Ta'las, it was not so obvious as till today. He has always been such a friendly, caring man. And Shendar education should have told him, that it was not acceptable to speak in this way to an old man, well dragon? And then Capher spoke his warnings with such a desperation, as if he thought he would never reach Ximax to be whole. Why did he want to visit the Shivering woulds, if it would be just a diversion from their way to Ximax, the path touched the forest and she only had wanted to know, what the others knew...

And then Capher left, and Terra as well. Teri, Talia and Terra shared one room and Talia was curious, if she would find her in her bed  - or not. Ta'las room was just next door.

So only she, Teri and Roosje are left, the little white Brownie not looking very happy either. No wonder, it had not been a good atmosphere at the meal and she was quite new in the group. Ta'lia had not had many opportunities to talk to her.

"Roosje, I feel sorry for you. This was not a nice evening. I hope you do not regret to have us joined. But believe me, Ta'las is acting strange, he was such a warm, caring man and Capher is not himself either. He is - deteriorating quickly, his body and his powers, and that makes him well, unhappy.
I find it fascinating, that you have been already in the Shivering Woods - and did not encounter any evil. Maybe only the people who want to find something will see something, that would be not for the first time! Well, I'm for going to Ximax as quickly as possible. I hope, we do not have to wait too long for a ferry. They don't cross the river every day so late in the year I have heard. "


Talia looks at the little, lonely looking brownie and would like to touch her, lay her arm around her shoulder to comfort her a little bit, but her small size prevents this. So she only reaches out to give the fox a short stroke, a touch which is meant for Roosje.

"Roosje, I'm sorry, you are looking so lonely, is there anything I can do for you? Shall I carry you up to your...  where do you sleep this night? You and your fox. I think nobody has ordered a place to sleep for you! Do you want to share out room? "
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 12:22:53 AM by Talia Sturmwind » Logged
Talas Anthavin
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2009, 01:30:01 PM »

There is a long silence, during which Ta'las remains seated and says nothing, resting his head in his hands.  His tirade and his outrage are both inexcusable, and yet Ta'las cannot shrug off the sense that he was justified in speaking this way to Capher.  In the dark, lurking part of his mind, he almost wishes he had struck out at the old man.  He sighs and walks to the door, which he unlocks and opens.

His tall frame fills the doorway, and his grey eyes, though hunted, are alert.  He looks both strong and composed, and though he does not take a menacing stance, Ta'las looks every bit the Shendar warrior.

"Are you sure you wish to listen, Terra?  I cannot promise that anything I say will give you any peace of mind."  He leaves the door open but retreats into his room, this time opting to stand before a small window that looks out into a muddy street.  He looks up into the sky, but a veil of clouds hides the moon and the stars.  "Were I to have the same conversation with...him again, its outcome would be no different."

He looks back at Terra, and once more, briefly, the darkness leaves them as he remembers how it felt to be with her in the Vale.  How she looked in her white dress...  The crushing weight of the presence is lifted from his mind and he wants desperately to tell her what is wrong.  "Lady Terra," he says, but the presence returns along with other dark thoughts.

"You may come in, if you wish."
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Terra Artemos
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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2009, 06:40:24 AM »

Terra places her belonging next to the door as she enters, closing the door behind her as she joins Ta'las at the window with a paradoxical mix of relief and worry on her features. Her brown armor ways heavily on her as his eyes break from hers as they share the memory of time together in the Vale. Perhaps she would have been better received in her dress? No if he is to except her, he will have to except her as a warrior as well as a woman, and understand she will stand beside him on his "Warriors Path" as her blood flows along this path as well.

"No Ta'las I don't suppose the outcome would be different with whatever burden you now bare upon you."

She slide her hand into his and squeezes it.

"You know my heart Ta'las, and I know yours feels the same. I agree it is the wrong time to get sidetracked in proving who is right and who is wrong. Myself, I believe neither of you may entirely be correct. It may be that The Shivering Woods is little different than Cyhalloi, greatly misunderstood by those who choose to venture there. I know well the tales of "Ghosts" on the snow drifts, for a time I was such a specter to those who could not make sense of what they saw any other way. I know well the drifts red with blood. Yes it is a brutal place, but not evil."

Terra places her other hand on his arm.

"It is only my opinion on the side matter, truth is now is not the time to prove who is right, if we mush go there it should be only if it will aid in securing our peaceful future. Do you not agree? I hope it does not anger you."
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Roosje Greenfields
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2009, 05:47:22 AM »

Roosje was decidedly taken aback by the sudden outburst of Ta'las. Especially because just a moment before he'd talked to her more or less neutrally. Of course, the fact that she felt herself lifted for a moment from the table from the sheer force of his hand hitting the table. Suddenly she's scared of him, and of the intensity that she can see in his eyes. She crept a bit closer to Inuya, who was the only one not paying attention - not even Ta'las's knock could get her out of her nap.

When he leaves the table she relaxes slightly. She listens to Capher, but the only thing she really takes in are his words to her - stay away from him, just in case. Normally she would not have avoided anyone for so silly a reason (what, not talk to him because you MIGHT get emotional?) but he had scared her too much for her to be close to him right now, so she simply nods at the Storyteller that she will heed his advice. She feels sorry for him, when she sees the way he goes to his room. Somehow Ta'las's outburst made him look even older.

The white brownie keeps seated against Inuya's warm body for a while longer, thinking over everything she heard this evening, when she suddenly noticed that apart from her, only two people are left - Teri and Talia. Everyone else had gone to their rooms. And she? Well, she could always take Inuya to the low-burning fire and sleep nice and warm. Or else find a dark corner somewhere where nobody was likely to step on either herself or her mount. She didn't really mind that they overlooked her - if a group of brownies was travelling with a creature the size of their hand, they would probably forget about it too for such simple things as sleeping arrangements.

But just then Talia starts talking to her, telling her how sorry she is about the way the evening had gone. Roosje shrugged her small shoulders. There was nothing to be sorry about, the desert woman (Roosje had understood in the past three weeks that 'the desert' was where she and Ta'las were from, though the brownie herself had never travelled quite that far south) had done nothing. She couldn't have changed anything, no matter how hard she tried, so there was no sense in apologising.
The woman said something about Ximax, and mentally Roosje shrugged again, though she didn't show it outwardly. Ximax was just a word to her, she couldn't see anything in her mind, and she didn't really care if they went there or somewhere else. She had promised to help this group of people, and help she would - wherever they were.

Talia finishes speaking and seems about to go to her room as well. Teri has already left, and suddenly the inn's common room seems very large and empty - despite several patrons still lingering. Roosje pulled up her knees and put her arms around them, resting her chin on one knee. She feels terribly alone suddenly, despite thinking just moments before that she didn't mind.

What Ta'las's hard knock on the table couldn't accomplish was done by the soft stroke that the desert woman gave the furry fox's head. Opening an eye, Inuya yawned widely, showing her sharp teeth and curling pink tongue, then stretches - looking somehow more like a feline than like a canine. Then she sat up on her haunches and nudged her mistress with her wet black nose. In that position it was obvious just how much bigger the wolf was than the white brownie. Looking up at the nudge, Roosje realised that Talia was still there. A bright smile suddenly lit up the white features. She nodded vigorously, that yes, she would love to come with Talia. "But carrying me is not necessary, really." She took the ropes that made up Inuya's 'harness' and nimbly climbed up it. The red fox rose up and jumped off the table onto a chair and then down to the floor, the Brownie on her back easily keeping her balance despite seemingly not holding on to anything but the reins, which ran to Inuya's cheeks and were braided with the hair there. Sitting cross-legged on the animal's broad back, she followed Talia up the stairs, catching up with her about half way and ending at the top before her. Talia's kindness had quite dispelled the gloom that had for a moment overtaken the little Brownie, and she laughed a happy tinkling laugh as she fell in step beside the desert woman, letting her lead the way to their room.
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Talas Anthavin
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2009, 12:56:32 PM »

Ta'las looks out the window and shrugs.  He breaths deeply, enjoying Terra's closeness and her touch, even though he still feels seething rage when he thinks of Capher.  The Shendar closes his eyes and takes another deep breath as he attempts to push any thought of the old man from his mind.  "It does not matter whether either of us are correct in this - it is, as you say, nothing more than a side matter."  He traces his fingers across an imperfection in the window pane and shakes his head.  "The Shivering Woods will be the least of our problems.  Truthfully, I only commented on them because he sounded so smug."

When he looks at Terra, there is a dangerous fire in his eyes.  "That old fool will lead us to our demise unless we are careful.  I have been doing some thinking on what we learned at the Elven Circle, and on what has happened to us along the way.  He has led us astray more than once, and I think that is what the Siroled was really trying to tell us."  He turns her to him, but when he notices he is shaking her arms, he steps away from Terra and clenches his fists.

He raises his voice, loud enough to be heard outside in the hall, as well as in the rooms across the hallway and adjoining his.  "Even before I joined you, did you not lose many others during the course of your quest?  And remember the demon that Capher turned into at the rock bridge leading into the Vale?  And now, even though he promised to return from the Halls of the Tenthrum with both the Halfling and the Stone, both are now missing!  As is Morcaanan!  Who will be next?!"

He points at Terra, and lowers his voice, though it still boils with emotion.  "I love you Terra, and I will not let him take you away from me."
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Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
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« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2009, 08:04:53 PM »

The last two members of this unhappy party are leaving the inn, Roosje on her fox, and Talia with her. When they reach the upper level of the inn where the rooms are, they suddenly hear Ta'las speaking, not only with a raised voice, but with so much anger and mistrust in it, that Talia just stands still and listens. She does not understand all what is said, but some is quite clear to hear:

"Even before I joined you, did you not lose many others during the course of your quest?  And remember the demon that Capher turned into at the rock bridge leading into the Vale?  And now, even though he promised to return from the Halls of the Tenthrum with both the Halfling and the Stone, both are now missing!  As is Morcaanan!  Who will be next?!"

Talia gets pale. Quickly she goes over to the door to their room and opens it for Roosje.

"Roosje, I'm sorry, but I fear, Capher is right, there is something terribly wrong with my Shendar brother, that is not how I got him to know during the time we travelled together, nor would any Shendar man behave so, so uncontrolled. Especially not one who seeks to become a warrior of the second reality. No, there is something wrong.

Just look for a place in our room and make yourself comfortable. I don't know, if I should enter his room, or still wait. Terra seems to be in there, so .. oh, I don't know what to do!"
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Terra Artemos
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« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2009, 07:14:11 AM »

Other than a deepening of her concern Terra seems little phased by being shaken, and even dares to take his shaking fists in her hands.

"I know you do Ta'las, and I do not intend to let myself be taken from you, or you from me. Yes I have left friends and comrades behind. I have also gained much in meeting them as well, in meeting you, in being healed so that I am free to return your affection, had I not joined with them, do you think I would have these things? Capher is not well, I admit as much, his mind is catching up to his body. You are not yourself either, I have not seen you act like this, not even to our foes, and so I worry."

Her lips draw into a brave smile as she watches his eyes knowing in every angry shiver of his body this is not him.

"I do hope my love, that you will trust me enough to tell me what is wrong. But not yet, you said is yourself, now it would be no different. Just remember me, and know I will stand at your side no matter what troubles you."
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Talas Anthavin
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« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2009, 12:55:05 PM »

"I know, Terra," he says nodding his head.  "And yes, I do trust you enough to know that I can tell you what ails me."  The gleam in his eyes is now feverish.  "What ails all of us," he adds spitefully, as he looks at the door.  "It is him - he has brought this evil upon us."  The Shendar looks back at Terra.  "I know you would help me do what is needed to end this, but I cannot risk losing you.  It is too dangerous.  However, if I should fail, and be destroyed by him, you must ready yourself."

It must be before we reach Ximax.   Ta'las is unsure where the thought comes from, but it is compelling and urgent.  I cannot delay.

The Shendar sits down on the bed and rubs his chin, as he contemplates how he can possibly solve his dilemna.  "I must be wary, for though he is greatly weakened, he is still powerful," he starts, but sounds as if he is speaking to himself, and once again his eyes seem distant.  "But all sorcerors have a weakness, don't they?  I must simply bide my time - observe my foe and learn when it is best to strike."

He glances up at Terra and his vision clears.  He smiles and pats the bed beside him.  "For now though, we should not speak of this.  Surely there are other better things to talk about."
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