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Author Topic: Chapter One - "The Letter"  (Read 13870 times)
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Garret Arroway
The Wolfling
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« on: March 02, 2009, 12:07:00 PM »

     Shadows stretched across the barren landscape as the sun dropped from the sky, solemnly hanging low in the west, fighting against the creeping arrival of darkness from the east. Long dark shadows fought for control against the lingering splashes of pink and orange as a warm breeze stirred up little clouds of sand and dust that dances around the ankles of the few goats that had broken free from the stables to munch on dried shrubs that broke though the hard-packed earth as the cooling touch of darkness arrived.

     Flickering lights and jovial sounds slipped from between the cracks in the heavy wooden shudders of the Thirsty Herald. The strong scent of food filled the common room which appeared hazy due to a thick layer of pipe and hearth smoke. An unfortunate goat sizzled beside an equally unfortunate desert snake over a roaring fire, causing another puff of smoke and crackling noise, to be added to the cloud already hovering in the air and chatter of the inn each time the sweet juices of the meat dripped down into the fire. The unique scent of various vegetables cooking somewhere within the kitchen threatened to overpower the smell of cooking meat, both effectively covering up the stench of stale ale and sickness that couldn't be helped in any inn or tavern.

     A variety of people lounged in various areas of the lower floor of the Herald. A few of the workers seated them on the stairs that were just to the right of the door, one hand holding greasy chunks of meat sandwiched between hunks of bread with the unmistakable yellow of cheese squished within as the other grasped an mug of ale, quickly downing both before preparing to return to their duties and round up the errant goats. Just beyond the staircase the bar was full, stools pushed aside as people pressed forward to order drink after drink from a harassed looking bartender. Out of sight from the door, the common room was slightly crowded, most gathering around tables near the bar, causing the working barmaids to nimbly slip through the crowd, while the further corners housed a few round, wooden tables, occupied by a few people trying to escape the mass of bodies.

     As the minutes passed some people began ordering final drinks, retreating to the upstairs to collect belongings, or departing to begin the trek toward Strata now that the blazing summer sun was allowing the land a few hours of respite, though the building still remained full as it did every night.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2009, 01:49:57 PM by Garret Arroway » Logged

Before you kill him, think of what you take from him. Remember what it is to be alive.
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Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2009, 06:27:55 PM »

Altario stood in the doorway to the stables, the Thirsty Herald only a short way off, as he watched Injera settling down on the south western horizon.  The corners of his weathered mouth slightly curved upward in a small smile, as he thought that just a few months ago, he would have never thought of the sun as Injera.  It had always been Shyu, with its sister, Myu, the moon.  Those were their Remusian names.  But, it had been so long since he had seen snow like those of his homeland.  So very long.  Yet, the heaviness in his heart had lightened in the last two months, since he had arrived at this small tavern in the Rahaz Dath desert.

His booted toe casually pushed at the sand that lay at his feet.  His years of traveling had led him here.  Had culminated in this evening.  The small things, like Shyu becoming Injera.  Like enjoying the heat of a summer day instead of bracing against the frigid zekar winds.  Like waking up each morning, and not cursing the breath he took, and longing for death to take him in his sleep.

This place, this small tavern in the desert was like an odenbel in the frozen wastes of his heart.  It was an enigma, something that should not have been, yet was by the grace of the gods.  Was it Foiros' doing?  It chagrined him to even consider it, but it was another piece of him that was changing in these last several weeks.  This place was a haven, a dream within the nightmare that had been his life for so long now.

He stepped back into the stables, the smell of straw, and animals assailing his senses.  His eyes adjusted quickly to the shadow of the building, and he stared at the small Remusian horse, his Kor'och fey Mologh, as it nibbled on the grain he had placed in the stall.  His eyes followed the graceful, yet powerful lines of the animal's neck, as it melted into shoulders.  Horse was a beautiful animal, even if by the standards of Remusian horses, he would have been seen as a poor specimen.  Perhap's it was only Altario's foolish sentimentality that added to the grandeur of the beast.  It didn't matter why, it just was, and that was all there needed to be.

Taking a deep breath that seemed to roar in the stillness of this near perfect evening, Altario strode from the stables.  He made his way to the inn, stopped a moment, running a hand over his thick dark hair, pushing the odd errant lock back into place.  He then pushed open the door and entered the tavern.

His senses were greeted by a cocophony of smells, sights and sounds.  The aroma of roasting meat, cooking vegetables, and baked bread succeeded in making his mouth water.  He had gotten used to the meals here, and enjoyed them immensely.  The spices, the care in detailing the flavour of each dish, was something the Remusian had not experienced in his own homeland.  To his eyes, the colours and variations of dress in these travelers from all over the continent always added a sense of wonder in him.  There were those dressed in fancy garments, others in near rags, both common looking and exotic.  Add to this, the languages and accents that Altario had never heard before.  Together, it transformed this boring little tavern in the desert to the most amazing place he had ever been in.

He glanced about the room, looking for a face in particular, but that face was not here; not yet.  That was good.  Next, his gaze focused on  the corner table of the room, conspicuously empty in a tavern that was fairly full of patrons.  Again, good, though not as fortuitous as one would assume.  He had made arrangements early that morning for that particular table to be left vacant for him.  As he was now a full fledged regular in a tavern that did not have regulars, his request was granted, with not nearly an expensive gratuity as one might think.

He made his way to the table and sat.  It felt strange to be dressed in his finery.  He hadn't worn them in months.  He almost laughed at the thought that he had bathed that afternoon, and made use of soap fragranced with the icemilk plant.  All this for the elfess he hoped would be joining him shortly, as his gaze travelled up the stairs to the door that belonged to her room.

He was distracted by the waitress who came over, nodding to him, knowingly.  Moira was her name, new to the establishment. "I'll have two Tulimon grape juice and a couple of your Vegan rolls."  Altario was not a big fan of the vegan roll, his tastes ran toward the meatier side of the menu, but he knew the elfess enjoyed them, as well as non alcoholic beverages.  In that, he was more than happy to acquiesce to her preferences.  He had not had alcohol in over a month. 

This was the the meal she ate the night the two of them met.  A night that he hoped she looked upon with as much favour and reminiscence as did he.  So he would sit, patiently waiting for her to join him.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 06:42:54 PM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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grallen gast
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2009, 04:44:43 AM »

Hate sand. Hate sand. Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.

A bent figure stumbled, her furious pace checked as a scuffed boot collided awkwardly with a rock. A swearword was hissed through gritted teeth, and the rock was kicked viciously, scudding over the sandy ground.

The figure resumed its sulky, hurried progress, as boots made for city streets slid on the gritty road out of Strata. Her face was concealed by a disarranged curtain of soot-coloured hair, though the yellow eyes glowering through aptly conveyed their owner’s mood. Her hands were in her pockets, clutching a few small but significant trinkets, but really not enough to justify the monumental wild-warg chase this endeavour had turned out to be.

She glanced over her shoulder, and for a second the dying sunlight glinted on a protruding tusk, as Grallen scowled at the city somewhere behind her. Who’d have thought a bunch of watchmen could be so organised? She was going to kill the idiot who’d said Strata was easy money. There was, in fact, a long list of people on whom she intended to exact her revenge for this latest fiasco, and for a second the details of this amused her, before her mind was attracted inexorably back to the divisive issue of sand.

She hated it, but it seemed to love her, climbing into her boots and the gaps between her fingers. Where had that inn got to? Unless that too was a wind-up. It did sound worryingly convenient; a small inn separate from, but not too far away from the city, always people passing through. With any luck, she’d be able to stop, figure a way back north to somewhere with more sensible climate and geology, maybe even turn the situation to her favour. It did, now she looked at it, seem a bit too rosy. Then again, the method by which she had extracted the information, and the fact that the informant she had randomly selected stood little chance of gaining from anything bad happening to her (well, not unless he believed in an afterlife) made her a little more sure of herself.

Finally, the inn materialised out of the growing dusk. She slowed down, let herself catch her breath and relax. Panic over. Problem dealt with. Or, if not dealt with entirely, they are now someone else’s. Let’s go make some more.
Logged

When you’re entirely lacking in conscience or sense of risk, a frog will have to do.
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Lori Lo
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2009, 10:06:44 AM »

Lori slipped out of the kitchen, hands full with a big brown loibl. Meat sauce was running over her hands and dripping onto the floor from the big chunk of fresh roasted  taenish which lay between the halves of the bread. She loved such a meal, loved the taste, the feeling when the juices filled her mouth, the smell which was even better than the taste. Once she had a bad flue and couldn‘t smell anything anymore. That had been a torture for her, for her favorite sweets, Santharian mint kisses, had had no flavour and they were so expensive and it had been such a waste!

She took some hearty bites, but when her immediate hunger was gone and still half of the loibl was left, she looked around the room whom she could  bother with her presence. Absently licking the juices from her hand, she watched the patrons eating and drinking. Everyone was occupied with somebody and she knew, she had no real chance to break into one of the conversations. She strolled along the tables listening to the  bits of talking she heard and decided, that there was no interesting story told tonight which would be worth getting hit from some boots while sitting under a table.

Finally she encountered a guest who resided in the Herald now for already two months, something not many travellers did. He was an impressive man, tall with a large chest and black hairs to his shoulders. Lori had feared his blue, piercing eyes in the beginning, but when she had served him several drinks and he had not treated her unfriendly, her initially shy was lost soon. And now he was sitting all alone on this table. Was he waiting for somebody, this whitish blond elven Lady perhaps? But why did she not come? It got already dark, everybody was eating, just not him. Though two glasses of juice were standing before him and some vegan rolls. Vegan rolls! Lori did another big bite from her loibl, for vegan rolls was something which ranged very low on her list of favourite, or better eatable food.

Suddenly full of pity for this lonely man, she ran over to him and slipped onto the seat opposite to him. The juice and the vegan rolls were placed between them on the table. Not touched. And then Lori remembered, that this elven lady had always vegetables, only green stuff, never meat, but she knew as well, that this man from the ice deserts in the veeery far North was preferring meat! Much meat, big chunks of meat. Lori had never seen somebody before eating such amounts of beef, taenish, goat, whatever Ana‘Mirl could muster. Ana‘Mirl had explained to her, that this was the case, because vegetables did not grow there, that they just had big blue cows which they used for eating and riding. Though this could not all be true, this man was riding a horse, not a big, blue furry cow. She could ask him, why not? Today he seemed to have time and so far he had not objected to her sitting here. Well, not much time had passed since she had slipped on this seat and he had not had the opportunity to chase her away if he wouldn‘t want to be impolite..

Lori had another bite, but this loibl had been a bit too big, especially after the Thyslanian Spice cakes she had had before. But as Ana‘Mirl hadn‘t known of the wandering of the spice cakes in Lori‘s stomach, she had given her the big loibl which would not have been a problem for Lori without the spice cakes. But now Lori was definitely not hungry anymore, though the smell was still overwhelmingly good, which came from that meat. Satisfied, with the loibl in her hands, she looked up to the man of the Frozen Wastes (wastes, what is wasted there?) and seeing the vegan rolls still untouched, she felt a deep pity with the tall man. Meat loving man.

And so she stretched out her hand over the table and offered Altario the remaining half of her roll, the roll with still tasty smelling taenish in it.

„Why don‘t you have this half roll? I‘m really not hungry any more, you can take it. Then you don‘t need to eat so much of this green stuff here. I give it you for free!“
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Lili the Elfcat
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2009, 07:42:42 AM »

For the second time in her life, Lili stood in front of the tavern they called the Thirsty Herald. Kassandra the daggerbeak, Lili’s only companion for the last five moons, was sitting on her left shoulder. And a good companion Kassandra was – even though she was a bird, she provided ample opportunity for conversation.

“What do you think, Kassandra? Do I look pretty enough for a lady?”

“Ugly Lili!”

“Alright’lright’lright! Except for the scar, I mean, of course.”

“Fifteen robbers on the dead man’s chest! Yo-hooo! And a bottle of scutch!”

“Psht, Kassandra. No nonsense now! Let’s go in!”

***

That they were here at all, in the middle of a desert near the southernmost tip of Sarvonia, was Kassandra’s fault. Or at least that’s how Lili saw it. It was something the bird had said. And this was how:

Five moons ago, Lili had silently left her former bandit companion in Ciosa, in order to find out the secret of her origins – which, as far as she knew, were to be found in the Kuglimz lands, if they were to be found at all. So there she was standing on a road one rainy winter morning, feeling lonely, and so she asked Kassandra: “Now, what shall we do?” And the bird had said, in the voice of Hadyuk, the captain of Lili’s old gang of robbers: “ 'orses, mates. It’s  'orses we need!”

And that, thought Lili, was true. So she decided to steal a horse from a farm just outside of Ciosa. But the enterprise didn’t exactly go to plan. She did get herself a fine mare to ride on, saddle and all – but there was someone who didn’t agree with Lili’s method of resource acquisition, and so she found herself pursued by a landowner’s son and several guards.

No considered choice of direction was feasible under the circumstances, so Lili had ridden like the wind through the rain and directed her horse towards whatever seemed the most promising route of escape.

And escape she did, while Kassandra was hanging on to her shoulder with clenched claws. When Lili stopped to consider where she was, she found that she had ridden west and then south, towards Klinsor, rather than north in the direction of the Kuglimz lands. So on a whim, and out of curiosity, she had continued south. “I’d like to see what kind of people live there, and how they live, Kassandra. All I’ve seen in my life is robbers, and people being robbed. I’ll dress myself well and go as a lady – and maybe old Lili will manage to have a civilized conversation or two! What do you think, Kassandra?” But the bird, this time, had remained silent, and so Lili saw no reason to abandon this new plan.

So Lili and Kassandra had found their way around the Sharadon Forest and past the Nirmenith Mountains to reach Varcopas, from whence she took a ship to Strata - horse and pink hat and all! They had enjoyed themselves on the journey, tasting new kinds of food and drink, and making many friends whom they forgot the next day. Lili neither worked nor stole during that time, living off the money she had taken with her when she left Ciosa.

Lili, who had for most of her life not enjoyed the luxury of choosing her clothing, had revelled in the markets of Strata, and had discovered the light garments of the Shendar people, which she rather liked as both pretty and practical. She had purchased a pair of light blue trousers, so much much better in the searing southern heat than her leather trousers, and much more suitable for riding than her dress. In fact, she had found this dress quite useless, and had taken her knife to cut it short, so that it now served her as a tunic. You wouldn’t need to be a connoisseur of the finer points of tailoring to find Lili's appearance rather motley and ragged – but as far as Lili herself was concerned, she looked perfectly lady-like.

But one day Lili awoke in a Stratanian inn and said: ”Kassandra: it’s been pleasant swigging this Desert Wine and munching these Snake Filets, but it’s time to do what I set out to do. Let’s go and find someone to help us cross this damn desert and go to the Kuglimz lands.”

Kassandra had replied: “Ahoy, captain!"

”What, you want to go on a ship again? Naah, better not, Kassandra. Remember what happened when you sang the Robbers Song to the captain on the last one? He was afraid of pirates, he was! Also, this time we’d probably have to leave this beautiful horse behind; it was terrible how seasick she got! That reminds me, we need to give her a name, don’t we?”

”Fiddlesticks!”
 
”Why, if you say so: Fiddlesticks it is! Hope she likes it.”

So Lili had left Strata and set out North once again. The sun was already low in the sky when she approached her first stop, the Thirsty Herald, where she had already rested for one night about a moon ago, on a little trip to marvel at the desert scenery. A little while before she reached the tavern, she passed a lone figure on the road. That traveller had made the same mistake as Lili had, apparently: she’d journeyed by day, during the hours of the unrelenting sun, rather than in the early morning or evening, when the air was cooler. Lili could take it, ”not least because I’ve got my pretty pink hat”, she thought. With a quick glance, Lili noticed that the traveller was a petite woman, apparently, whose messy dark hair reflected an odd greenish hue in the evening sun. While walking, she kept her hands in her pockets, and her demeanour suggested that she wouldn’t mind biting someone’s head off. Ah well, thought Lili. ”If she wanted help, she’d surely ask, and anyway the Herald isn’t far now. We can have a closer look at her when she’s there.”  So Lili had ridden on until she reached the tavern, left the freshly titled Fiddlesticks in the care of a stable boy, and was ready to enter the barroom.

***

As Lili stepped into the smoke-filled and noisy tavern, Kassandra perched on her left shoulder, as usual. Lili had, only half-consciously, encouraged the bird to sit on that side, because this way, Kassandra’s green body partly covered up the ghastly scar on her left cheek.

So there she stood: heavy brown boots, light-blue shendar trousers, bright yellow dress cut off unevenly just below the waist, pink hat, blond hair, and green bird on her shoulder. She had appalled many a Ciosan fashion-conscious burgher with her taste for gaudy colours, but if she ever noticed the reproachful glances, she had attributed them to her scar rather than her attire.

Lili didn't see a free seat, but anyway, she was thirsty rather than hungry. As she walked toward the bar, her glance fell onto a table in the corner of the room, where two people sat: a man and a little girl. The girl was offering the man a fistful of bread. Lili remembered that she had seen both of them before, when she had first passed through this tavern. The child seemed to be one of the kitchen helpers, and the man a guest. ”Odd, isn’t it, Kassandra, that he should be here again at the same time as us? Surely he doesn’t live here? Or maybe he owns the place?”

Kassandra chose not to reply, and Lili elbowed herself through the crowd of patrons towards the bar. She came to stand next to a darkhaired Shendar man, who was at least a head shorter than Lili, and who looked up at her right side – her beautiful side – with ill-concealed lechery. Lili chose to ignore him, and instead addressed the bar maid in her most genteel voice:

”I prithee, if you please? May I …” But the barmaid hadn’t heard her, or had chosen not to, and was attending to a different customer instead.

”Need ta sing louder, ma pretty bird”, the Shendar said. “She ain’t interested in ya looks, ya see. She ain’t as appreciative of beauty as me!”

Lili decided to give the man a gracious smile, and was just about to call the barmaid again, when Kassandra jumped from her left shoulder to her right, looked down at the impertinent Shendar, her large daggerlike beak fiercily pointing at his eyes, and yelled right into his face:

“Oy, barkeeper! Give us a mug o’ Desert Wine, ‘coz it tickles me innards so nicely! And a bowl of water for my green friend here, if there's any left in this damn desert! This bird's given up the boozing, see?”

This was shouted at the top of the bird’s voice – or rather, at the top of Lili’s voice, for Kassandra’s little speech was a precise imitation of an order of drinks Lili had placed at a Stratanian inn only two days ago.

The Shendar started and jerked backwards, stumbling and bumping into another customer, who thanked him with a puff in the ribs. Lili smiled apologetically. ”Sorry, mate. Don’t know who taught her to behave like that.” Oh well, so much for appearing lady-like, then! At least she was rid of her unwelcome suitor. And, lo and behold: Kassandra had got the barmaid’s attention, too! Ah, how Lili was looking forward to the Desert Wine. She’d miss it once she would have left these southern lands. Now that Kassandra had liberated her of the need for pretence, Lili didn't mind that more than a few patrons were staring at her and her vociferous bird (who was now peacefully busy preening the downs on her back). They were used to stares, they were, Lili and Kassandra.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2009, 10:17:52 PM by Lili the Elfcat » Logged

"It's not good that I'm bad, but I'm proud that I'm worse than I seem."   ~ Lili the Elfcat ~
Foul-mouthed Familiar: Kassandra the Charlatan Daggerbeak (Gossiper)
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Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 02:49:11 AM »

Altario sat at the table, trying to distract his mind from the seemingly oppressive nature of the elfess' absence.  He tried not to look for her in the crowd, telling himself that she was not late, and that it was all in his mind.  Yet, it seemed that every grain of sand that fell through the hourglass had a mind of its own and fought against nature to keep from slipping through.  It was as if time had stopped, as he waited.

He took a small sip of the grape juice, relishing its sweetness.  For the first time in weeks, however, he could almost wish for something a bit stronger, if only to control his nerves.  Still, he would refrain.  Another glance at the stairs.

He was then aware of the presence of the young girl who resided at the inn, as she boldly plopped herself across from him, her mouth and hands full of loibl.  She stared at him with intense grey eyes, as she always did, her curiosity never quite sated, no matter how many questions of hers he answered.  There was always another question residing under those browny red curls.

He smiled weakly at her.  "Good evening, Lori."  He stared at the proffered bread, and then back to his own vegan roll.  His mouth watered at the thought of that tender juicy taenish sandwiched between that fresh bread, but he only smiled and shook his head.  "No, thank you, sweetheart, but I like this 'green stuff' I have."  Not quite true, and he knew he would have loved to eat it before the elfess joined him, but he practiced a little self restraint.

There was a commotion from near the bar, and the squawking voice of a strange little bird could be heard above the din of the crowd.  Altario turned his head in the direction it came from, but gave it not too much concern.  There was always something strange going on in this tavern, and out of the ordinary was becoming the norm.

One more glance at the stairs.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 03:36:27 AM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

Favorite Cartoon Quotes
"It was a dark and stormy night."  - Snoopy
"Ack!" - Bill the Cat
"I did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinski." - President Bill Clinton

My Character can be viewed @Angelina Jolie's house.  But knock first, in case I'm in my underwear.
Lori Lo
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2009, 04:01:58 AM »

"No, thank you, sweetheart, but I like this 'green stuff' I have."

Oh!  ----  Lori stared with big eyes up to Altario, her face expressing disappointment. I like this 'green stuff' I have. Why did he say that, when she knew, that it could not be the case? She was so sure, that he was lying to her and wanted to point that out to him, when she was heavily distracted by an awfully loud voice at a high pitch.

“Oy, barkeeper! Give us a mug o’ Desert Wine, ‘coz it tickles me innards so nicely! And a bowl of water for my green friend here, if there's any left in this damn desert! This bird's given up the boozing, see?”

She looked baffled to the bar and saw a bird so green like she had never encountered one before. It was not a small one like a kirilit or such, but nearly as big as a banded ricau! But not only that, something extremely pinkish moved next to that bird, but there were too many people between her and that green-pinkish wonder that she could clearly see, what was going on over there.

So half a loibl full with fresh, but not longer hot meat was absently discarded on the table, not far away from some vegan rolls.

And the next eye blink saw Lori Lo at the bar next to a woman with long blond hair. But that woman on whose shoulder that bird was sitting and who wore that unbelievable pink thing on her head was occupied with that Shendar who was an occasional guest, not a very bright one as Lori remembered. Well, she was not really taking notice of the Shendar anymore, but waved to Moira to get a drink or something else.

Exited about that bird, Lori preferred not to think at Ana‘Mirl's admonition not to bother guests and plucked at the yellow tunic the woman wore.

„Miss, Miss, what is that for a bird!“ she asked, hoping from one foot to the next.

Moira, the barmaid, noticed Lori‘s approach and scolded her, not to annoy the guests. But Lori was not in the mood to allow a NEWCOMER to the Herald to tell HER what to do. She had already served drinks to guest when Moira not even had known, that the Herald existed! It had been so unnecessary to hire her as a barmaid, Lori would have done a much better job and now she was annoyed that Moira was here. So Lori only grimaced to Moira and shouted.

„I don‘t bother any guests. You don‘t even know yet, what is served here, I‘m here much longer and know much more than YOU!“

Though agitated, she did not disengage with that yellow tunic, the tucking got a bit more severe though.
The only disadvantage was, that the bar was still too high and she barely could look over it.

„Miss, Miss! Can I bring you some drink?“ she asked hopefully, ignoring Moira who tried to apologise for her to that woman.
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Valannia Incendarious
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2009, 09:16:05 AM »

Altario’s jet-black hair was slicked back from a face tanned almost to bronze. Val’s breath snagged at the strong, spare radiance of his countenance, each plane emphasized by the sheen of sweat on glistening flesh. Lean cheeks with slanted cheekbones that mirrored the stark angle of his brows accentuated the Remusian’s supple visage. The gruffly beard flowing along his powerful jaw line brought a frivolous giggle to flow over her moistened lips. The memory of it caressing over her cheek brought fragile digits to grasp the blankets tightly as she inhaled softly. His narrow well-shaped lips she imagined tipping into a smile, before embracing her own in pleasure. Tiny digits clasped the sheets, she dreamt of his commanding shoulders being there to hold onto for support if only for a moment.

The combination took her breath away, it was as if someone had opened a precious old book and conjured a warrior prince. The grip of Altario’s hand upon her own had been cool and firm, his careful smile polite and skillful, but she had found herself looking into the coldest, iciest eyes she had ever seen. It was an unexpectedly pale gray gaze that seared over her with the cruel force of a raging inferno. Her skin had prickled all over and she had felt alternately hot and then shivering cold, as if she were in the grip of some horrible fever. But all the time Valannia had felt the burn of his palm against her, and her body still tingled under the impact of that scorching touch.

Then there was luminosity, a very familiar one, gingerly the elfess blinked allowing the radiance of Injera to wash away the murkiness of her dream. A gentle zephyr washed over her through the cracked window, revealing the presence of soft perspiration upon her abdomen, bosom and face. Unconsciously she released her firm grasp on the bed’s linens before rising into a prone position, with her delicate chin poised in fragile hands. Murky flashes of Altario’s hands caressing along her spine caused the knight to quiver uncontrollably for a few blinks. Uderza eyes fluttered a few times as she endeavored to separate dreams from reality.

They had been talking as they often did, were the dreams actually what had taken place? Valannia knew that the Remusian was a gentleman, did she simply fall asleep and he had left her? The flickering recollections, although fanciful and somewhat alluring, were just that fanciful. Val had never been with a man, at least not so intimately as these daydreams had been. A spriteful smile spread over crimson lips as she rose to a seated position on the bed, almond shaped eyes surveying the room for Altario. He was nowhere to be found and the glimpses of Injera from the window clearly told the knightess that evening was upon her.

Nimbly she placed her feet upon the floor, the worn wood was warm and somehow comforting. Frivolously her eyes wandered towards the stack of her belongings, Altario had permitted her to keep them in his room, and she had nowhere to keep them herself. If not for his kindness it was unlikely she would’ve been able to stay at the Inn, her finances were miniscule to say the least. Even the comfort of a bed was a rarity for Valannia over the last month, but the Remusian had tricked her into an afternoon nap more than once recently. Swiftly she slid nor’sidian boots over calloused feet and began lacing them up. The fitful rest had turned the bed into a disaster area, which she took time to arrange neatly for her friend. At last she retrieved her sword belt from its resting place, fastening it about a petite waist and checking the hilts of the twin sabers.

Valannia opened the door to the room and stepped out into the halway. Pausing for a few blinks she ran tiny fingers through her shoulder length locks, attempting to straighten them from her nap, then shutting the door. The placid resonance of each step mingled with the bustle rising from the main hall. Delicately her hands brushed over her struine blouse in a feeble attempt to primp it up a bit whilst she descended the steps. She hesitated a few moments on the last step while endeavoring to take up her stoic demeanor before entering the common room. At last she strode into the room and searched about for Altario, her quizzical glare finding him seated at a distant table.       

If he had looked stunning in her dreams he was even more-so now, in the formal waistcoat and elegant cravat, he had an impact that made her head spin. And from the moment that her eyes clashed with his, violet locking with glittering gray, it was as if there were only the two of them in the world. The rest of the congregation, her surroundings, the flickering fireplace and the lingering fragrances all merged into just one great blur, at the center of which was a dark, strongly carved face, a tight, set mouth and burning molten eyes. A giddy feeling overtook her as she swaggered through the main room, her highset cheekbones flushing a hue of crimson as she seated herself across from him.

Adverting her eyes from Altario’s was no small task and she was not sure she wanted too. Melodically she greeted him. “Good afternoon Mi …. Altario.” She blushed noticeably so, at her near mistake of properly greeting him. Her almond shaped eyes casually investigating the table, filled with her favorite food and drink. 
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 09:20:42 AM by Valannía » Logged
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2009, 03:42:41 PM »

As quick as she had appeared, Lori was gone again, her fancy tickled by the bird that had caused the commotion.  Altario watched her as she deftly maneuvered her way through the crowd, and a slight smile formed on his lips.  She reminded him of Nayriss in a way.  Not her look, not hardly.  Nor in her manners or demeanor, which were far coarser than his daughter possessed.  But, within that child, as Nayriss, a spirit burned brightly.  Whatever life had to offer for that little girl, she was going to meet it headlong, eyes unblinking.

He noticed that when she left, she had left behind a present.  Her half eaten loibl sat on the table, casually discarded in the way children do when their attention flits from one thing to another.  She might be back later for it.  With that, he reached out and picked it up, and was about to place it at the far side of the table.  The smell of it, however, caused him to hesitate.  Taenish was a meat that he would have loved to have had back in Remusia.  It was so very tender, and juicy.

With an audible sigh, Altario placed the loibl at the far end of the table.  However, a few pieces of the juicy meat fell from the bread and lay on the table.  He picked it up, about to drop it next to the loibl, or alternatively, onto the floor, but stopped at the last moment.  He looked at it, pressed between his fingers, a tiny little morsel of flavourful goodness.  It was so tempting, just one little bite. 

Just as Taenish touched lips, his gaze traveled toward the stairs, and he immediately dropped the meat to the floor, where a booted toe nudged it away from the table.  Meanwhile, greasy fingers were wiped on his thigh.  Through this, his eyes were locked onto the vision of beauty that approached him, and he felt the familiar butterflies in his belly whenever Valannia was near.

He stood up as she reached the table, and his arms reached out to take her delicate hand, as he bowed low to press the back of her hand to his lips.  He rose again and motioned to the table.  "Please, have a seat, my Dear."  He waited for her to be seated before he continued.

He swallowed hard.  "I, uhm, I took the liberty of ordering for us.  I hope that it is satisfactory."  He smiled crookedly, his lips trembling a little too much for him to keep a proper grin.  He looked at her, studied every line of her features, every nuance of her face, committing them to memory, and he took a deep breath, in a vain attempt to steady himself.

Then, as if his strength were suddenly sapped, he sank to his knees beside her.  His voice faltered slightly as he spoke the next words.  "Valannia."  He took her hand once more. "From the night I met you, I have loved you in a way that I thought I might never love another in my life.  I was a shell, hollow, but every day with you, every moment in your presence, has filled me up, little by little until I have become whole once more."  His grey eyes met her uderza pools, as he searched for the strength to continue.  "But, whole is not enough.  I want to be more than that.  I want what can only come from you.  If I am to be anything more than just a man from the north, a man who has suffered, who has felt pain beyond what most could endure, then I need you.  You, Valannia."

Shaking fingers deftly placed a simple gold band in the palm of the woman before him.  "Valannia, will you take me as your husband?  Will you allow me the honour of making you my wife, for as long as I shall live?"
« Last Edit: March 09, 2009, 03:49:06 PM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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Airyn
The Worrywort
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Elf, Kay'rrhem


« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2009, 08:05:23 PM »

Airyn's cloak billowed around her ankles as she walked quickly towards the tavern. With one hand she held her dark hood over her head, and held the leather leash that bound her dog to her side in the other. People turned their heads slightly to follow the elf, almost running past the stables; however the dog seemed to be appreciative of the run.

The sun had almost set completely by the time she reached the doors to the Thirsty Herald. The sky was painted with shades of darkening oranges and blues; there was also a slight tint of grey to the colours, evidence that the night would eventually grow cold and darker than usual. There was something about this place. She couldn't point it out, but there was something. Perhaps it was the hint of change on the horizon, or maybe it was just the clouds darkening the stretch of blue over her head that promised a bright and cheerful morning.

She paused at the door, exhaling roughly before pushing it open and letting the sea of cheerful noise and cooking food surround her completely. The elf stepped inside, letting the long haired dog follow her, and looked around.

She found nothing new or surprising as she scanned the room, having spent a great deal of time in taverns and places teeming with people. There were the usual sights and smells of food, alcohol and chatty groups of people that had joined their tables together in an effort to make everyone a part of the conversation. There was a small crowd gathered around a cooking goat; their mouths might as well have been watering as they struggled to endure the anticipation of waiting for the meat to cook.

Airyn pulled her hood backward, letting it fall to the back of her neck as the freed locks of blonde waves curled around her shoulders. Her green eyes continued to scan the room for anything exciting as she made her way to the bar; the only place in the tavern with a seat available. The dog, also used to the loud atmosphere, didn’t struggle against her tight hold on his leash, and willingly followed her to the empty space next to a woman with a bright pink hat and a talkative bird on her shoulder.

She gently smiled to the barmaid as she seated herself on the stool, and then looked about the guests whilst the woman served the customers at the bar. Her thin cheekbones flushed a shade of bright red, and her mouth curved into an involuntary smile as her gaze fell over a man kneeling on one knee in front of a beautiful woman whose face she could only partly see. Airyn did not want to look away but her embarrassment and regret for looking in on such a personal moment, even if it was in the middle of a crowded tavern, persuaded her to avert her eyes.

Her thoughts swam with feelings of shame and discomfort at staring at the couple, even if they were too involved in each other to notice. Her face was still scarlet coloured and it seemed that the barmaid had noticed as the corners of her mouth were twitching as she suppressed the effort of holding in a fit of giggles.

The elf stared down at her dog, Sage, who had now settled for licking up the pool of whatever drink it was that had been spilled on the floor. She inhaled deeply before summoning the courage to look at the barmaid, as she pushed her hand into her small bag to retrieve a few coins. The woman looked intently into her eyes, almost challenging the elf to look away, “Anything you’d like?” she asked, smiling now. Airyn tried to swallow the lump in her dry throat and nodded, “I’ll take the strongest drink you’ve got.” She placed a handful of coins onto the bench and watched the woman walk away. She really did have confidence, or so it looked. All this for looking at a man voice his love to a beautiful woman, she thought, why on earth am I carrying on like this? She looked down at Sage who only cocked his head to one side and twitched his ear.

The energetic buzz of the tavern lowered nothing but a low humming as she downed the drink. She didn’t know what it was called, but it had certainly taken her mind off just about everything. The only thing that could be heard was the people at the bar cry loudly for their drinks, and that bird chattering on the woman’s shoulder.

Oh, how she hated the fact that her pride and determination could crumble at nothing but a small mistake or a look across the room. She cursed silently, wondering why it was that she made the smallest of problems seem so monstrous and how she would ever be taken seriously if she acted like nothing but a scatter-brained girl rather than the woman she was, or supposed she was anyway.

The elf brushed a stray curl away from her eyes, and rested her rounded chin in her hands. She wondered where she would go next, as Nybelmar had proven that it was of little worth in her life when it came to excitement and adventure, and Xaramon had been her home for many, many years. Two places filled with familiarity, and the rest of Southern Santharia had only served as a resting point on a quest for adventure.

Begin at the bottom and work your way up, she had told herself, and now look where she was. In Truban; a place that served as nothing but another stepping stone on her way through Santharia before, possibly, going back to Nybelmar to see her family. Where is the sense of adventure? Where is the thrill of something new?

Here she was, jumping from thought to thought, only to be able to say that she wanted to travel, that was clear enough. But how would she manage it? Here we go again… Thinking ten steps ahead. It could have been the alcohol taking its effect on her system, she supposed, but Airyn was so sure that it was just her brain craving for adventure, but listing every single little thing that was associated to it along the way. Whether it was necessary or relevant to her thought pattern didn’t matter, her brain thinks in strange ways.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 02:32:41 PM by Airyn » Logged

grallen gast
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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2009, 02:36:46 AM »

Grallen paused when she arrived at the inn, glancing over the various mounts stabled outside. The selection was fairly good, and for a while she argued with herself over the comparative merits of a very fine looking grey stallion, and a less conspicuously impressive but probably equally valuable red mare. Eventually she dismissed the debate as unnecessary – she wasn’t being chased out of the inn just yet, though it helped to have a couple of escape routes pre-planned, as it were. She was fairly confident she could get either of those mounts out of the stables and a good distance away from the inn within a few minutes of deciding she had to make a swift exit, should she need to.

The problem, though, wasn’t in the immediate escape from the inn, as it hadn’t really been in the immediate escape from Strata itself (though there had been a couple of hairy moments), but inn where to go once you’ve put enough distance between yourself and wherever you were running from.
As she pushed the door of the Thirsty Herald open, and felt her yellow eyes adjust to the warm light of the common room, the realisation dawned that maybe she wasn’t so safe as she thought.

She shouldered her way to the bar, and spilled a generous handful of sans onto the counter, keeping her face partially hidden under her thick black fringe. “A jar of…”  she glared fiercely at the bottles behind the bar, looking for something recognisable “Of that one – no, the one next to’t, yeah, that one. Go on, then.” 

Baleful yellow eyes dared the barmaid to make something of her race. She really, really wasn’t in the mood for that. Her knuckles still smarted from this morning – unfair of that idiot to be wearing a helmet. As she reached for the hastily proffered tankard, her thoughts returned to more pressing matters. She needed to get back north. Her current rather shaky understanding of geography led her to believe that she had two routes – back the way she’d come by boat – barred by a large number of unfairly efficient watchmen – or across the desert. There was no way she could do that alone, so she’d need some kind of guide. Preferably one I can trust, for a given value of “trust”.

Cradling the tankard of  - well, I think it’s brandy – smells like it – yep, tastes like it – she looked for a seat somewhere she could watch the other patrons, looking for someone who might be able to help her.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 02:38:14 AM by grallen gast » Logged

When you’re entirely lacking in conscience or sense of risk, a frog will have to do.
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Lili the Elfcat
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 04:53:40 AM »

”Holla-ho!” said Lili, smiling at the barmaid and the little girl simultaneously, quickly moving her eyes to and fro from one to the other. “Here I’ve got two pretty ladies-in-waiting attending to me!” And I know someone who would enjoy that at least as much as my ol' self, she thought with a glance to her pesky admirer – but oops! That garthook had waddled off already! His place had been taken by a fine-featured blonde woman with elven ears, whose sand-coloured skin glittered in the murky light of the tavern like a riverbed strewn with gold coins. Stab me vitals, I guess that’s what a proper lady looks like! So it shot through Lili’s mind.

No time to be envious, though! Lili gave the apologetic barmaid a meaningful and friendly wink, motioning for her to serve the elfess instead of herself. In her full, scutch-flavoured voice, which Kassandra had already made known to anyone who had cared to listen, Lili then addressed the little girl, who had not ceased to doggedly hang on to Lili’s yellow rag:

”’Course you can serve us drinks! It’s what we’re here for, ain’t we? You heard ol' Kassandra?” With thumb-turned-backward, Lili pointed at her daggerbeak. ”She’s ordered a bowl of water for herself, and desert wine for me. And I always drink what Kassandra recommends! Not too small a mug, if you please! 5 san last time I was here. There you go! And when you come back with the booze, I’ll tell you how Kassandra scared that ol’ sea captain when we came over here on the ship.”

Lili got the coins out of her pockets and offered them in her outstretched hand. She was facing the child fully, so her scar was clearly visible even in the smoke-filled room. Lili wasn’t worried about that, though – most children actually didn’t mind. It’s the adults that got bothered: because on the one hand, they couldn’t help imagine how that scar might have got there, and on the other, they were afraid to ask! Most children, however, either had more interesting things to look at, or simply asked whatever questions came into their minds. ”And don’t drink all the wine yourself” added Lili, winking at the girl.

Because Kassandra had been with her for so long, it never occurred to Lili how odd it must seem to strangers that the bird could imitate Lili's voice with baffling accuracy - so accurate, in fact, that if you didn't see who of the two opened her mouth, or her beak, you'd find it hard to tell which had spoken - the woman or the bird!

In this instance, however, the case was clear: Kassandra, since hearing Lori Lo’s voice – first pleading, then shouting, then pleading again – had looked up and begun to scrutinize the girl with one eye, silently and intently, her head turned sideways, so that her long and strong beak stuck out from Lili’s right shoulder like an overzealous epaulette.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 06:40:53 AM by Lili the Elfcat » Logged

"It's not good that I'm bad, but I'm proud that I'm worse than I seem."   ~ Lili the Elfcat ~
Foul-mouthed Familiar: Kassandra the Charlatan Daggerbeak (Gossiper)
Mysterious Memory: Kuglimz Love Song
Valannia Incendarious
Guest
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2009, 12:12:44 PM »

Altario had risen and offered his hand to assist with her seating. The caress of his touch brought back flashes of her daydreams, causing the elfess to blush vibrantly as her mind wandered back. His apparel, so distinguished, his manners, so refined. Something was surely awry as Valannia noted an unsteadiness in his voice, a quivering of his lips when he spoke. His utterance of taking liberties of ordering dinner went relatively unnoticed; anxiety filled her heart as she prayed that she had done nothing wrong. Frightfully, he fell to his knees beside her, was he hurt? Had she done something wrong before falling asleep? Was she still dreaming? Why else would this moment have played out so perfectly?

Poised to rush to his aid Val’s body tensed as he spoke her name softly and took her hand once again. So many things began to swirl about in her mind in those brief moments, every word they had shared before she had fallen asleep washed over the elfess. Uderza hued eyes focused in on Altario’s gray gaze, not a hint of pain could be found within their swirling depths as he continued on. Unconsciously she swallowed delicately, pointed ears quivered faintly in an endeavor to drown out the bustle of the common room. His words were not entirely outside of previous conversations they had shared. They had both found more than either had expected in their friendship, yet him on bended knee proclaiming it in the presence of others was peculiar.

Gingerly the elf’s eyes closed while she absorbed his words, a solitary tear rolled down a pallid cheek whilst she listened. The chilly bead an awakening to the reality she was no longer asleep, that such a noble man found her worthy of such precious words. Tender droplets rested in almond shaped eyes as they parted to drink in the meaning of the cool band he placed in her fragile hand. Altario had always honored the measured pace of their relationship, such a short time they had known each other. Was this the tempo humans viewed these things? Valannia knew she felt as he did, did love always find someone so quickly? To say she was addled would be beyond the truth, so much that her reply to him was uttered soothingly in elven. “ác aelonián injèrá qué.” (“You lead me to tears.”) 

Clasping the ring in three fingers she raised her index finger to caress along his cheek. Valannia leaned forward so that her lips were only a nailsbreadth from his, pausing for a blink her senses overwhelmed. Uderza eyes welling with tears as she drank in the sincerity displayed on Altario’s visage. The delicate scent of him sending chills down her spine, perspiration of excitement gathered upon her palms. The touch of his cheek led her mouth to moisten, as she desired for her recent dreams to become truth. So much, so little time. Tilting her head slightly to the side, golden tresses in respite across her petite shoulder. She closed her eyes and brought supple lips to brush across his, allowing them to linger for a few blinks.

Perched with his lower lip tenderly placed between her own, finally shifting back to stare into his eyes. Lips poised as they were before Valannia had kissed him, she whispered quietly to him. “aih” (Yes). The utterance of the word caused the knight to inhale softly, she was surprised with such a rapid heartfelt answer. Caught in the maelstrom of the moment she continued on in her native tongue, completely oblivious to the fact, that she had only taught Altario uncomplicated words. “qué, iú lythán!” (I love you!) With her free hand she cradled his cheek, ignorant that it was quivering as she touched him. Her mouth greeting his in a passionate embrace as tears steamed down her cheeks.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 12:54:47 PM by Valannía » Logged
Lori Lo
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2009, 06:55:58 AM »


”’Course you can serve us drinks! It’s what we’re here for, ain’t we? You heard ol' Kassandra?”  ”She’s ordered a bowl of water for herself, and desert wine for me. And I always drink what Kassandra recommends! Not too small a mug, if you please! 5 san last time I was here. There you go! And when you come back with the booze, I’ll tell you how Kassandra scared that ol’ sea captain when we came over here on the ship.”



Lori Lo looked excitedly up to the woman with that incredible pink hat and that incredible green bird. The lady was not angry with her, because she had kept on tucking on her tunic, but instead had turned Moira away and given her, Lori, her full attention. And she was asking to  bring her a drink, had given her,  not Moira the money. Lori beamed at the face of the woman and in this moment it was the most beautiful face the little girl had ever seen. It did not notice the scar, but only saw the friendliness which was directed towards her. Lori held the coins tight in her little hand and with a „I‘ll bring the drinks at once!“ was gone from one moment to the other. ”And don’t drink all the wine yourself” went past her, for her mind was focused already on her task to bring water for the bird, which needed a bowl for that.

Lori stormed into the kitchen, the coins went into a hidden pocket, but not to keep them there, but to free her hands.

„AnaMirl, Ana‘Mirl, I need a bowl for that bird! What could I take? This one? No, that is too flat, that one? Oh, I take this little pot, may I? It is so beautiful red ! Do I have to ask for a coin for the water as well, or the service, Ana‘Mirl?“

Ana‘Mirl was not able to answer, for Lori  chattered on:

„Ana‘Mirl, outside is a bird as big as a banded riceau or even bigger, but green, so green, it has just a little yellow stripe on his head. And it talks, as you and me! It ordered a bowl of water for itself and a desert wine for the lady. It is so cute, Ana‘Mirl, I would love to have one as well. Could I? And the lady will tell me a story how the bird scared a whole ship of sailors and... Oh, I need to bring water out!“

And Lori filled the red little pot with water and managed to slip through the door, while Moira opened it to get through. With a little effort she put it on the counter, right before the lady with the pink hat.

„Here is the water! I go and fetch the wine - I have to go to the cellar for it though“ she added , as she realised, that no one was left in the wine jug.

And taking the wine jug and running down into the cellar was one thing. There she stood. For a moment she pondered, what wine she should take, the normal one, which was sold to every guest, or the one which was served only at special occasions? ‚Desert Love‘ was standing on that barrel, so much she could read. That Lady surely deserved the better one! So Lori filled half a jug with the „better wine“, she would just water it down for the other guests, before Moira would notice.

And up she went, chose a neat, white tankard, poured from her jug and offered it to the woman.

„Please, here is your desert wine! And how did your birdie scare the sailors away?“

OOC: Lili, better inform you here
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Lili the Elfcat
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« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2009, 02:28:03 AM »

The little girl ran off in excitement. Hoho, this was a good start to the evening! Lili leant back against the bar and looked about the room, while she was thinking of a story to tell the wee madcap. Kassandra had done some funny things on the ship, but let’s see whether we can’t come up with something even funnier! As Lili pondered, her gaze happened to fall on the floor, where a little fluffy cushion of a dog was lapping up a puddle of spilled drink. Must belong to our star of the night, thought Lili with a gaze to her left, where the elfess sat with a drink and her chin in her hands, looking morose. Her beautiful golden skin had become even more lady-like, as it had assumed a hint of rosé. Upon my belly-button! I do hope I can get her to show me that trick!

At this moment, the child came back, put a bowl of water on the counter, and was off again in a blink, apparently in search for the wine. Kassandra knew what to do and flattered from Lili’s shoulder onto the bar, losing a tiny green down in the process, and began to drink from the bowl in the manner birds do: scooping up small amounts of water with the underside of her beak, and then straightening the neck and bending back the head to let the drink run into her gullet. Lili watched her bird for a little while, but then couldn’t contain her curiosity any longer and decided to make a little conversation.

”What a whirlwind this wee scallywag is, ey?” Lili said to the elfess. Looking the woman in the face, Lili couldn’t help noticing the thoughtfulness expressed in the arch of her brow. I wonder what she'll make of uncouth me with my scar and my robber's voice. But Lili wasn't one for dithering. “Hey lady, you look like someone’s put vinegar in your drink. You should try this Desert Wine they’ve got here. Nothing better to rinse the gloom out of your guts! Not in this desert, anyway. You been here long?”

Just as Lili spoke, the little girl came running back, handed her the wine and - quite rightfully - demanded a story for her services. The cutthroat smiled at the girl, took the tankard and, without so much as sniffing at it, held it out to the elfess. ”Here, it’s the very stuff I was telling you about. Have a sip on me!” And then, to the girl: "Now, about that captain ..."
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"It's not good that I'm bad, but I'm proud that I'm worse than I seem."   ~ Lili the Elfcat ~
Foul-mouthed Familiar: Kassandra the Charlatan Daggerbeak (Gossiper)
Mysterious Memory: Kuglimz Love Song
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