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Author Topic: Chapter One - "The Letter" - Part Two  (Read 28731 times)
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Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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Human, Remusian


« on: April 13, 2009, 07:24:39 AM »

Urimpaar.  Once the proud estate of the Shialt-eck-Gorrin family, now lay in ruin.  Its once majestic yealm beige walls were now a shadow of their former glory, time and the elements, as well as unfreindly plunderers having left their most brutal of marks.  The grand barbican that led into the estate, had long ago seen its finer days.  The rusty portcullis that had once kept out evil, now swayed forlornly in the breeze.  The manor house, including the chapel and great hall, had long since fallen in on itself, and if anyone had wanted to get momentos from the life that had once been lived here, they would first have to remove copious amounts of stone.  The bastion tower alone stood, as if defiant to the destruction around it, its intricately detailed newelled staircase leading nowhere.

Altario stood there, looking at the destruction around him; waiting.  But it was a futile wait, as nothing moved.  There was no life here.  It was lonely; cold.  Nothing.

Then why was he here?  He hadn't been brought here in nearly two months, ever since... since...

No, she was dead.  Truly dead.  Whatever gateway had been allowed to stay open for her to return to him had been closed by some unknown force.  She was no longer here.  Nothing of her, or them, remained.

Crossing over to the north wall, he stared at the columns of the blind arcade that stood here.  The flower garden that was here was nothing but upturned soil and brown shoots.  A tear came to his eye, as he remembered the love, the pride, the work that went into the garden by the Mistress of Urimpaar, her delicate hands pulling out the shoots of hrugchuk grass that tried to invade this one square of coloured beauty in the sea of blue that covered the bailey. 

He was about to turn and walk away when a speck of color caught his eye.  He turned and knelt down.  A small red flower had broken up through the soil, and was reaching skyward, looking for the warmth of the injera.  He knelt down on aching knees and a trembling finger gingerly stroked the petals.  Life did still remain.  And with it... hope?


Altario opened his eyes, the darkness of the room beginning to recede in the predawn light creeping nto his window.  He lay unmoving for a moment, his chest aching with the memory of the dream.  He hadn't dreamed of being there in months.  Ever since Riz had faded in that last dream.  He had thought it was behind him, that the torturous dreams that provided as much comfort as they did pain, were over with.  He had thought Riztalyanna was gone.  True, she was not in this dream, but a piece of her remained.  Would she ever really be gone?  Could he ever truly let her go?

An image of Valannia flashed across his mind.  Until he did, he could not have Val, not in the way she deserved to be loved. 

Altario swung his legs off the bed and sat there a moment, letting the blood flow to the parts of his body, feeling the stiffness of age and a hard life.  Sometimes it seemed as if it was getting harder everyday just to get out of bed.  He grabbed at the chamberpot that was nearby, and availed himself to it while he sat there, letting his mind wander to Strata.  What would he find there?  What news did Denrykmar have for him?

He sat the chamberpot off to the side and got dressed.  He then gathered what few belongings he had, and placed them back into the saddlebags that he had.  The last item was the large shield against the far wall.  He stood staring at it for a moment, the black laquer finish over the sharkskin face of it, the large lightning bolt emblazoned across it in silver.  He picked it up and ran a weathered finger over it.  It was if it belonged to someone else.  Though the meaning of it was still there, the standard of the Shialt-eck-Gorrin family, he almost felt as though it no longer applied.

With one last sigh, he placed the shield into the cloth sack he carried it in.  Enough time was spent in foolish thought.  He left the room, with one quick glance to the place where he had called home for the last couple of months.  Down the stairs and outside into the frigid air of the desert.  It felt nice to have the coolness on his skin.  Nothing like Remusia, but a far cry from the oppressive heat that accompanied midday.

There was no movement, nor was there inside either.  Not surprising.  He often was the first one awake.  He knew that Ana would be up very soon. She was often up around the same time as him, preparing the morning meals for the patrons who would soon start demanding such from her.  Sometimes, he would find Valannia up as well.  Though it appeared not, this particular morning. 

The stables door was still closed, so he opened it wide, just as the injera began cresting the horizon.  Its light meant that he did not have to light the oil lamps that hung on nails in the stables.  Instead he rambled over to where Horse was patiently waiting for him.  He set down the saddlebags and the sack on the ground and grabbed the bucket that was lying discarded on the floor. 

He took it outside, and scooped it through the trough, filling it.  He then knelt down and dunked his head in the water, letter the coolness wash over him.  He lifted his head with a snap, sending his hair back over his head.  Using the fingers of his right hand as a comb, he straightened his hair.  He then quickly washed his face, before he rose and re-entered the stables.

He placed the bucket in the stall for horse, and also took the opportunity to fill the manger with fresh feed, adding a little bit of grain for good measure.  While Horse busied himself with eating, Altario took the brush from the shelf on the wall and began to vigorously clean the animal’s coat.  Once satisfied, he lifted Horses front hoof, and cleaned it out with the point of the blade of his knife.  As he held the leg between his thighs, Horse pulled away from him somewhat.  With a quick slap, and a terse “Smarten up!” the animal settled back down.  He then did the same with the other feet as well.

He threw the saddle blanket onto the back of the Kor’och fey Mologh, then the saddle; cinching it tightly under Horse’s belly.  Running his thumb inside Horse’s lips, the horse opened its mouth and Altario slid the bit into place, draping the bridle over the head of the animal.  He secured it, then kissed the nose of the animal, blowing softly into its nostrils.  Almost time to go, my friend.

It felt funny to feel a sense of homesickness for a place he was still a stranger, but that is exactly what he felt.  The Thirsty Herald would long be in his memory.  Days of him and Valannia getting to know one another, falling in love, sharing intimate moments where their kisses burned for each other.

There was movement now, and Altario knew others were up and getting ready.  It was time that he made sure Val was awake.  Suddenly, his heart skipped a beat, as he looked at the stall that usually held Valannia’s horse, Lostrom, but found that it was empty.  Quickly, Altario hoisted himself up the ladder that took him to the loft, hoping that Valannia’s sleeping form was there in the bed of hay she had fashioned for herself, but there was nothing.  All her possessions were gone.  Were would she have gone?  Would she be back?  Would he see her again?

With heavy heart, Altario slipped back down the ladder and led Horse outside, after placing the saddlebags and sack with his shield onto the saddle.  He wrapped the reigns around a hitching post, and entered the tavern one last time.  As expected, hungry patrons were busily eating the meals that Moira was setting out for them. His own appetite was gone.

He walked up to the bar, and slapped several coins onto the wooden counter.  “Here is the money for my bill.  I’ll be leaving right away.”
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 07:31:10 AM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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Lili the Elfcat
Endearing Cutthroat
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Human, Helvet'ine Kuglimz


« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2009, 12:10:53 AM »

Kassandra the daggerbeak had had a good morning so far. She’d woken up early, before the night had submitted its reign to the rising powers of the day, so she’d been able to spot the creepy-crawlies of the dark going about their creeping and crawling business – and had caught two juicy ones that had served her well for breakfast. Now, she decided, it was time to wake up that sleepyhead who had provided her with a shoulder to perch on for her whole life as a grown-up bird. So Kassandra began to sing:

”The world is different now though still the seasons run/
The world is different now though bright still shines the sun/
And yet, the world will never be the same/
For today, my child, into our hearts you came.”


What Kassandra witnessed then, we shall describe from her own perspective. Suffice it to say, by means of introduction, that Lili did not wake up as the retired highwaywoman she usually was, but as the three-year old child who she had been before she learned about loss, cutthroatery, and daggerbeaks. Kassandra might have chosen the wrong song to wake up her companion with.

***

Walking-tree-companion wakes up with child face, says:

”That’th a nithe song, little birdie. Come here, little birdie!”

Walking-tree-companion doesn’t know Kassandra; wants Kassandra to perch on finger-twig. Finger-twig no good; finger-twig breaks. Kassandra must bring back walking-tree-companion-mind.

”Where’th my mummy, birdie? Where’th my daddy?”

”Fifteen robbers on the dead man’s chest! Yohooo! And a bottle of scutch!”

Robber-song bring back mind?

”Mummy?”

No! Try sing-song.

”There we eat batata, batata, huhuhu,
Till we‘re round and fat, round and fat, huhuhu!“


”You are a funny birdie!”

No again! Try buffoon.

”I am very pleased to have met you. You shall be duly acknowledged as the author of this amusing tale involving a species of bird close to my heart. Ahem! I’ll have you know, I was the first person to describe it.”

”What are you talking about, Kassandra?”

Aha!

***

”Why am I standing here, Kassandra? I can’t remember how I woke up!”

”Friends, is there any svaq left? There are Flying Sparks drifting between my ears!”

”Humbug, Kassandra. I hardly swigged any Desert Wine last night. And what a shame that was. Maybe if I’d had more, I’d be feeling better. Well, let’s put on our boots and get going.”

Lili felt confused and melancholic. It was as if she had lost something, and had forgotten what, but couldn’t stop thinking about the loss nonetheless. It was always like that when she had switched out of her child-mind: she didn’t remember what she had done or said, nor could she understand how she had gotten where she was. These holes in her memory were not pleasant, but she had always lived with them, and wasn’t aware that most people didn’t experience anything of the kind.

Unusually for her, Lili was sombre and brooding as she went into the bar room to breakfast. As she sat and chewed on a big loibl, with Kassandra on the table drinking from a small bowl of water, the man from yesterday came in and went to the counter:

“Here is the money for my bill.  I’ll be leaving right away.”

”That call’s for us, Kassandra. Let’s go and see whether Fiddlesticks is having a better morning than me.”

So Lili went to the stables, said good morning to her horse, saddled on and led Fiddlesticks out into the space in front of the tavern. There she stood, reigns in her hand and Kassandra on her shoulder, looking about to see whether Lori, the elfess or anyone else of the travelling party was ready to ride yet.

Lili didn’t know it, but Fiddlesticks was a “Grothar’s Child”, a Centoraurian Horse that would have fetched a handsome sum on any market (which is why the people she had stolen her from hadn’t been inclined to give up the pursuit lightly). Like all Centoraurian Horses, her slender built and long legs gave her the graceful appearance and gait of a deer, but at the same time she was muscular and strong. Fiddlesticks was a dark shade of grey – the colour that learned Caelarethians call nor’sidian – but her mane and tail were a frosty white.

Lili, although she patted the horse's neck amiably enough, was not in the mood to appreciate equine beauty. She thought that maybe she was making a mistake by going back to Strata, instead of north toward the Kuglimz lands as she had planned. How was she expecting to complete her quest if she kept going in the opposite direction to where her destination was waiting? What would her parents, if they had still been alive, have had to say about her waywardness?

”But we’ve promised to go to Strata, Kassandra. And you shouldn’t break promises, especially not to a child.”

„Hey, I‘m Lori! And who are you? And where is that green frog you have?“

”True, Kassandra. I also wonder where that intriguing stranger went to. She was well smashed when she shambled out of the door last night!”

The little group consisting of a majestic horse, a ruffled looking bird and a flamboyantly dressed lady with pink hat on her head and cutlass swinging from her belt may have struck many an observer as disturbingly incongruous. But then, there were many intriguing customers in the Herald these days, so Lili wouldn't have worried about other people's potential perceptions, even if she had been aware of how out-of-place she usually looked almost anywhere she went.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 05:02:04 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
Garret Arroway
The Wolfling
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Human, Kyranian


« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2009, 01:33:42 AM »

The sound of footsteps in the hall outside the door caused the wolf’s head to lift from the comfortable blanket pillow. Glancing down at the balled up blanket that he had snatched from his human long after he had fallen asleep, Shadowfoot had to make a decision. The footsteps got louder as the person behind the noise neared the door and then further as they continued down the hall.

Now that the noise was gone, the wolf laid his head back down, stretching somewhat in the bed that he now mostly controlled. Like the blanket, he had managed to nudge his human over during the night so that Garret now lay on his side against the wall at the edge of the bed. With a yawn and a few tired movements, Shadowfoot scooted himself further onto the bed, and put his head back on the pillow.

However, it wasn’t too long after that that footsteps could once more be heard in the hallway. Unable to successfully ignore the noise once more, the large wolf stood and slowly stepped down from the bed, stretching as he padded toward the door. He sniffed the door and pawed lightly at the bottom before turning back towards his still sleeping human impatiently.

Garret awoke to the animal’s cold nose nudging his hand a few times. He opened one grey eye, noticing the still dark lighting in the room before groaning and closing his eye again as he rolled onto his stomach. Stubborn as every, Shadowfoot continued, using the top of his head to nudge Garret in the ribs, which after a few tries and another nudge to the hand successfully woke the Kyranian. With a resigned groan he sat upon, grimacing as he rolled his shoulders to relieve the usual morning ache.

After he had managed to get up, it didn’t take long for him to locate his boots and pull them on. Digging a second set of clothing out he quickly dressed and then attempted to fold his sleep rumpled clothes as neatly as possible before stuffing them into his bag. He rubbed his hand over his jaw as he surveyed the room, making sure he had taken care of everything, though he stopped midway through his inspection, still finding the beard rather strange from time to time after all these years. Sure that there was nothing left, he dropped his hands to grab his bags, and shouldering them, he pushed open the door and led the way downstairs, finding Altario standing at the counter.

“Mornin’,” Garret said with a yawn as he neared his old friend.
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Before you kill him, think of what you take from him. Remember what it is to be alive.
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Airyn
The Worrywort
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Elf, Kay'rrhem


« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2009, 04:41:16 PM »

The cold air of the room caressed across the elfess’ face, causing a shiver to run down her body. She opened her eyes slowly, blinking three or four times to fight the haze that covered them. Groaning softly, she turned onto her side and stroked the soft head of the sleeping Rimrunner who had squirmed down the bed to rest in front of her stomach. He showed a bemused expression, and lifted his small snout to gently lick her fingers. She ran her hand down his back and scratched his belly as her fingered weaved their way back through the thick hairs. “Come on,” she whispered, “we don’t want to keep the others waiting.”

She threw the rough blanket forward, exposing her thin, naked, legs to the chill in the air. She rubbed her soft hands along them, trying to rid herself of the tiny bumps that had appeared. Airyn smirked, thinking that this temperature was nothing compared to what she had managed to create on more than one occasion, with a very smug tone. The elfess swung her legs over the side of the bed, swiftly moving the sleepy-eyed dog out of the way with her hands.

Placing her feet on the hard floor, she jumped up and hopped up and down a few times before finally bringing her arms to her side with a long sigh. Finally deciding that she was awake, the elfess pulled the nightshirt over her head and walked to the end of her bed, where her bulging backpack lay. She placed the shirt beside it with little care, and fumbled around in the bag for some clean clothing.

Purple. Her bony fingers clasped around a lump of purple material, which she quickly tore out of its resting place; accidentally throwing the bag off the bed as she did so. She pushed her arms through the bottom and let it fall over her body, resting comfortably across her shoulders and embracing her curves. The dress was very similar to the one she had worn in the previous night, only this one had no sleeves and a small train at the bottom. Airyn shook her head, staring with confusion at her attire. Trying to remember where she had bought it, the elfess fiddled with the material that ran down her thighs, coming to the conclusion that it was a little too big and would have to be taken in when she had the opportunity. She reached for the long cloak which had been carelessly slung over the railing of the bed, and pulled it around her neck, fastening it quickly.

One foot began to step in front of the other, but had caught itself around one of the short legs of the bed. Before she could muster a sound, Airyn was on her hands and knees, with a sharp pain erupting from her left hand. After finally realising what had happened, Airyn muttered a few unpleasant words in Styrash before lifting herself from the floor to examine her aching palm.

Airyn clicked her tongue as she inspected the palm of her bleeding hand, frowning at her own clumsiness. Looking down to the floor, she noticed that her small blade had fallen to the floor when the bag had been tossed from the bed. There were also some small berries rolling across the wood, but figured that they were now of more use to any rodent that may decide to run through, if there were any at all, than to her.

With one shaking hand, she bent down to the floor to dig through the bag’s contents, searching for a bandage or unused piece of material that could be used to wrap around the cut. Much to her annoyance, she had no medical anything in the bag, and decided that she would have to do some shopping whilst she was in Strata.

Airyn bit down on her tongue when she brushed a finger over the cut, trying to feel how deep it was. It was only small, though she was sure that she would need stitches. I guess I’ll have to remember to buy some thread then, she thought, remembering that she had a needle in her possession but no thread. A single tear rolled down her cheek when she pressed her finger slightly too deep into the cut; she never had a high pain threshold but was always coincidentally finding herself running into things or scraping herself after walking into doorways or the corners of tables.

Airyn let go of her hand and gathered up her things, leaving the bed in its messy state and shoving the leash and the rest of the clothes into her bag. Sage was trained, he would stay by her side.

Airyn walked shakily down the hallway, trying to keep herself from using her left hand to grasp the railing in an effort to stay upright. Her cheeks were flushed and slightly tear stained, but again she was not worried about it. Strata was all that mattered. Just get to Strata, and go from there. Airyn stepped into the silent dining room to find the human she had spoken with last night, and a man with a wolf beside him. So this is the wolf he was talking about, she thought.

“Morning,” she greeted them quickly, looking at neither of the men. Airyn leant against the bench, wanting to leave the room as soon as possible, and closed her eyes with a loud sigh. “Everyone sleep well?” During that time, Sage had gotten dangerously close to that wolf, and had begun to sniff curiously at the canine’s fur.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2009, 10:03:43 PM by Airyn » Logged

Ta'lia of the Seven Jewels
Lady of the South
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Human, Shendar, Shen-D'auras


« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2009, 04:06:28 PM »

Ana‘Mirl had never thought of herself as being old, but when she forced her still tired body out of her bed today an hour before sunrise, she nearly cursed, only the presence of Lori, who was already awake, forbid such an relieving habit.  She should have gone earlier to sleep, but so much had to be prepared last night to ensure a smooth running of the Herald while she was away. Moira would do well though, just the food would not show so much variety as usual.
 
Looking up she saw her little girl already fully dressed, sitting on her bed, ready to go. Silent though, for Lori knew, that Ana‘Mirl did not like loud, chattering kids in the morning before her first cup of cha‘ah.

„Lori, good morning! Please go down and see, if there is enough wood to light the fire. If there are still some embers in it, put some sticks on them so we can have a nice fire soon for our tea.“

Lori scurried away, agile and awake as most times. When did this brat sleep, Ana‘Mirl asked herself.

But soon she was in her kitchen herself, busy preparing the breakfast, cooking tea, baking rolls, loibls and even semms for the customers who wanted to leave today early, like Altario and some others. But it was not Altario who came first, but that Lady with the green bird. Lili was her name, as Lori had told her.

Soon afterwards more people dropped in, Altario first, then his friend with the wolf and the elven woman. Altario was not in a good mood, that she realised soon, the way he slapped his coins on the counter.  And Ana‘Mirl knew why. Lady Valannia had left during the night, despite the warning of Ana‘Mirl, that this was not an easy endeavour. She didn‘t even want to tell her, if she was going to Strata or up to the Yar‘Dangs. What had it been, that had distressed her so  much? The arrival of Altario‘s friend?

“Here is the money for my bill.  I’ll be leaving right away.”

„Then I wish you a good swim to Strata,“ she answered friendly, but with an ironical edge to her voice. „The water is warm and you won‘t miss the sea, if you ride straight south. Just keep to the coast until the cliffs don‘t permit a further riding over lands.“

When he looked at her with a frown, she locked her eyes with him and continued in a milder voice. „You could have some breakfast though and ride with me and some other guests. I will surely slow you down with my cart, but as I know the way, you might be quicker in Strata than without me. I thought so far, that you northern guys are cool thinkers and not let your deeds control by emotions, or has the unused sun burned any sanity out of you? “

Looking at his friend and the elfess she told them straight away. „There is a breakfast already waiting for you all who leave with me on the table where Alt sat yesterday, please have it now, for I will leave in half an hour and everybody who wants to come with me has to be ready to go. We meet outside in front of the tavern by my cart.“

Not waiting for any reply, Ana‘Mirl went out in the kitchen to give the last advice to the cook and Moira.
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Tharoc Wargrider
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Northern cookie nobbler


« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2009, 07:40:00 PM »

"NAYBODY KNOWS TH' TROUBLE AH'VE SEEEEEEEEEN,"
CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANNNNNNGGGG.
"NAYBODY KNOWS MI SORRROOOOOOOWWWW."
CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANNNNNNGGGG.

Captain Thadeus Illogical of the Strata City Guard sighed and dropped his quill onto the parchment before him, tore a lump of bread from the loaf beside him and, breaking it in two, shoved a piece in each ear.
Ever since his men had brought the big orc in yesterday he had been nothing but trouble. First it had been the constant demands for food, which they had tried to ignore but this proved futile due to his constant whining about 'Ah'm wasting away' accompanied by incessant banging on his cell door.
Then the other prisoners had started to complain about the noise, and demanded that they should get extra food as well, seeing as how the orc was getting it. It had taken him the best part of a day to calm everything down.

He couldn't even escape the big green oaf when he went home in the evening. No sooner had he sat down to eat with his wife, the formidable Mrs Illogical, than there was a banging on the door followed by one of his men shouting for him to "Get back to 'eadquarters as soon as possible, 'cos the orc's leadin' us a right merry dance." The look on his wife's face told him that he was going to pay for this.....one way or another.

And he'd been here ever since, trying to calm a situation that was rapidly getting out of hand. Having run out of food trying to keep the orc fed and quiet, and with all the market stalls having closed for the night, he had ordered his men to feed him their packed lunches. When that had failed to silence him, and in the absence of any more comestibles, the orc had started to sing every prison song in his repertoire. Very loudly. Very badly.

Understandably, this had upset the other inmates who began banging on their cell doors, shouting for him to "Shut it, greenskin," , "Can it, fat boy," and other, less polite phrases. Having what he considered a good idea, Captain Illogical ordered his men to take Tharoc from his cell and lock him in the dog kennels in the yard behind the jail. "That should sort him out," he'd thought to himself.

Wrong. Within minutes of being locked in the large cage, Tharoc had resumed his singing, but this time he accompanied himself by punctuating each line by rattling a water dish across the iron bars, a noise which reverberated across the yard and through the entire building beyond. So now not only did he have the singing orc and complaining prisoners to deal with, but he also had several traumatised guard dogs. Most of them were cowering in the corners of the kennel, lay flat on the ground with their paws over their ears and whining, but the pack leader had taken to joining in with the orc's vocals, howling along merrily as though trying to summon whatever Gods canines follow.

And now, almost a full day later, his nice orderly jail was in uproar. They had given up trying to placate the orc, hoping instead that he would 'blow himself out'. But, if anything, he had got worse. Having exhausted his list of songs, he had now started to make up his own which, given his limited command of Tharian, was infinately worse.
"I just hope the Watch Commander doesn't hear of this," he thought to himself, sullenly. "He'll have my stripes and back on sentry duty quick as you like."

"WHEN AH WOKE UP THIS MORNIN,'"
CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG
"GOT NAY FASTBREAK IN BED,"
CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG
"AH 'AD BARS ON MI WINNDERS,"
CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG
"NAY PILLER FER MI 'EAD."
CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG.

The Captain rubbed his face with both hands. "Well, if I don't get a reply from Lorehold soon, or if that Garbo Hollowgrape doesn't appear, I'm going to have to let him go, no two ways about it."
He picked up his quill and tried to concentrate on his writing, but the image of Mrs Illogical waiting for him at the door to their house, steely-eyed and toting her rolling pin refused to leave him.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2009, 07:44:24 PM by Tharoc Wargrider » Logged


I reject your reality and substitute my own - Adam Savage  Mythbusters

                                                                                                         
Rhia
Songbird of the Sea
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Human, Blaar'kr


« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2009, 08:05:12 AM »

Salome led Rhia back to the inn. The men and Baveras' Aids were heading up the stairs when they shut the door behind them. Pagran was cleaning up the mess his little brawl had created, cursing and muttering under his breath. His features became even more glowering when he saw the blood the baron Damien had spewed all over the stairs. Mindful of his increasingly nasty mood, the two girls hurried up the stairs. Rhia's eyes fell unerringly on the blood spots, fresh, not dried and brown yet. A spindly hand clutched at the base of her back, caressed her with its sharp, icy fingers.

Her boot-clad feet seemed to show signs of a life of their own as they led her up the stairs, deliberately avoiding the ruby drops, shying away from them like as though contact with them would eat away her feet like acid. Crimson acid... Despite her repulsion from it, she could not help picturing the dark red eating away at the scuffed wood of the stairs, the worn rail. A ridiculous image appeared in Rhia’s mind of some kind of acidic blood simmering through the man Damien, eating away at the inside of his body, reducing him to… to what? Rhia didn’t know- she was no scientist, no magister. Besides, the visualization was disgusting, and, even more so, frightening her, and the grip of that skeletal hand was pressing its emaciated fingers against the edges of her mind, burning her with its frigidity.

Rhia’s sea-grey orbs rose from the blood-riddled stairs to find Salome far ahead of her, disappearing into a room that she could only think was the barons. She found Y’riss and Salome to be bending over a pitiful body, Damien’s. To her alarm, it was bloody all over and ragged and bruised. Rhia’s naïve little mind hurriedly went on to think of other things, and tried to not really take in the whole sight of the baron, thinking about it, when she had to, like a child does when crossing wet and cold grass barefoot: hastily, slapdash, and with big, long hops. When she could manage to, she thought about how nice Salome was, or how spartan the room was, or what goddess she would be if she could, by some once-in-a-lifetime, wonderful freak of nature. Sometimes she got a little stuck, found her thoughts wandering back to how much blood was bleeding through the man’s shirt, and had to try to cross her toes inside her boots to stop thinking about it. It was a futile effort, of course, but that was what made it so nice for distracting yourself. You’d begin to think that you were making progress and that those two toes were closer than when you started, and then you’d realize that it only felt that way because you’d managed to lift one of your toes. And then you’d think, Wait, didn’t those two just cross each other? It was an absorbing, vicious cycle. Rhia was just contemplating that last bit when Y’riss snapped out an order that made her completely forget about toe-crossing.

“Ta- his- off- pants?” yelped the unwitting little troubadour. She was not sure whether to be offended or embarrassed, though when she caught Y’riss’s ‘Yes, I am serious, you annoying, klutzy little person with no medical training’ look, she decided on both.

As she was to pull his lower body garment off, she really had no choice but to actually look at his body, which she thought she had avoided pretty well up until now. Rhia let her gaze rest at last on this Damien and thought fervently of those dear, cherished moments of attempted toe-crossing. Y’riss had removed his shirt by now and was gently sponging his torso and arms-anywhere, really where there wasn’t clothing- with a wet rag. Rhia besieged Salome with beseeching looks. I am not a doctor, I am not a healer. I can write a song about anything you like, but by the gods, don’t ask me to take the pants off this man! Salome kindly caved and bent over Damien’s body again. Rhia, standing facing her back, had only to glimpse the round-faced Baveras’ Aid’s quick, tugging motions to be frightened off. Her eyes grew into saucers of grey mist, and she practically bolted out the door.

She spent half the night awake, thinking about how embarrassing that part of the evening had been and wondering what kind of a Baveras’ Aid she would have been if she hadn’t refused to become one one or two years ago. She could have been as collected and professional as Salome and Y’riss had been when undressing Damien. She was willing to bet that her sister Seli would have been the same as those two, had she been there and helping them. The night allowed Rhia to question her actions and thoughts. The sun was bright, harsh, and unforgiving, but, protected by the moon’s silver gossamer shield, night was the only time that she was humble enough to doubt herself.

The other part of the night she spent asleep, but no less busy mentally. She dreamt that she was singing and playing her lute for Damien, who was sitting in a straight-backed wooden chair. He was still quite as bloody and beaten up as when they had first seen him in the alley, except that his face, though bloody, was now cleanshaven and his braid was gone. In her unconscious, absentminded state, Rhia thought he was rather good-looking, in a rugged sort of way.

She awoke with a start to realize that she’d left her lute in the common room last night. Hurriedly pulling on an olive green wool kirtle and white pinafore, she bustled around the bare room dressing. Long, adroit fingers tugged a wooden comb through her thick tresses and slipped worn leather slippers onto her feet- big feet. At least, bigger than one might think when taking Rhia’s slim physique into consideration. However useful her long toes might be for distracting herself from unpleasant things, they were, to her mind, the bane of her existence, and she was eternally bewailing the size of her feet.

Despite her haste, Rhia could not help checking her appearance in the mirror –her inherent vanity would let her do no less- tucking in a few errant strands of hair back into the braided bun at the nape of her neck, resettling her pinafore, before rushing out the door and thundering down the stairs. To her ardent relief, the blood from last night had been cleaned off the steps and railing. A wave of dismay washed through her as she saw that the corner by the fireplace in which she had propped up her lute the other night in haste was empty. Bloody thief, whoever he was! Her heart decided that his would be a good time to vacation from its proper place and sank down to the bottoms of her shoes. Rhia trudged up to the bar, where Pagran was attending customers. He gave her a look that said, What are you doing? Get over there and start singing! and began to say something, but she preempted it and held out her hand, palm outward.

“I’m gon’ te et a little somethin’ ferst, iffen ye don’t mind.”

The innkeeper’s expression became more muted, which Rhia took for consent. She turned her back on the bar and sat down at a table. Y’riss and Salome, she noted, were not up yet, and neither was their charge, Damien. She drummed her fingers on the table, thinking, while she waited for a waitress. Though she favored her panpipes more, she had used the lute chiefly, as people favored sung songs over instrumental ones. It was not a very light loss when considering her profession, but at least she still had her panpipes, she deliberated moodily with a sigh- they were still safely tucked in her belt in her room. She would either have to go without a lute for a very long time or buy a new one in Strata- if they sold any instruments in Strata. Rhia tried to ignore the bitter taste in her mouth as she waited to be served.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2009, 10:09:27 AM by Rhia » Logged

Damien Scar
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2009, 01:17:04 AM »

Salome opened her tired dark eyes. She could see Injera was just rising as it cast a small shadow on the far wall as its light streamed in through the inns window. She stretched, rose out of bed and stretched again; her hands reaching high upwards and then she bent low, touching the floor with her fingertips.

She looked around the room and was surprised to see Y'riss sleeping on a cot. She was sure she would have stayed with Damien. Then she recalled how the old healer had chased all of the girls out of Damien's room after they had done all that he had ordred them to do. She could hear him in her head; "grab this, mix that, mix this in this proportion, hold this, hold that, good, now leave him be and let him rest."

Salome quietly got dressed and peeked into Damien's room. The old healer, whose name she had forgotten already was snoring away on a cot against the far wall. Damien was sleeping peacefully as well. Salome closed the door and then went to Rhia's room. She knocked, called out her name, but received no response. She shrugged her shoulders and thought that perhaps Rhia was still asleep as well.

She walked down the hallway, stepped daintily down the stairs, noticing that the blood had been cleaned up. Her nose immediately smelled the aroma of fresh eggs and other delecacies being cooked in the kitchen. Her mouth watered and her stomache gave a slight growl. Well no wonder, she had not eaten at all last night.

She then noticed Rhia sitting at the bar. She quickly smiled and with a slight squeal of delight rushed to the young singer. "Rhia! I went to your door and knocked but no one answered. I figured you were asleep like my sisters. I so much delighted to speak with you again before we leave."

Pagran saw the Bavaras Aide talking with Rhia and quickly went to her behind the bar. "How is he? Will he live?" He asked anxiously.

Salome did not like being interrupted and she did like this man and his thugs. She first thought of just ignoring the man, but decided to answer him or else he may send his thugs after her and the way they were looking at her, her sisters and even Rhia...the thought made her shoulders give an involuntary shudder.

She turned her head, and with as much disdain as she could muster replied. "Lord Scar will recover. Though I doubt you and your thugs will once he does."

"Lord Scar? Who is he?" Pagaran asked, confused.

"You will find out soon enough. I was talking to Rhia here. I would like two eggs, with the yolk still soft, dark bread, some meat, and a small plate of your freshest fruit, and a small glass of wine."

Pagaran opened his mouth to say something, but just closed it. "Your order shall be ready soon," he said as he poured the wine, placed it in front of Salome and then left their presence, waiting on other customers.

Salome let out a slow breath. "I did not think I had it in me." She giggled. "Rhia you bolted from Damien's room so fast last night that we did not have a chance to talk, though I doubted we would have had chance anyway once that old man showed up."

She took a sip of the wine and then continued talking. "Oh, you did not know. After you left we did all we could for Damien, it was not enough so Vyrie was sent to get a full fledged healer." Salome pulled at her braided hair, "When he showed up he put us all to work. I do not think I worked that hard since I was an initiate in the temple. It was during all of this that we found out who Damien really is. On his right ring finger he was wearing a signet ring."

"I could not sleep after we were done, so I went and did some research at the library. They have a book there with all of the royal crests and signets from knight on up to the King! Damien is Baron Damien Scar from a country called Vardynn or something like that. It's capitol is Voldar and Lord Scar has large amounts of land and even a castle! Can you believe that?" Salome asked, really not expecting an answer.

She sipped more wine, something must have entered her mind for she giggled again. "You have never seen a man naked before, have you Rhia? That is why when Y'riss told you and me to take Damien's pants off you bolted out of the door."

Salome thought she saw some color rise in Rhia's neck and cheeks. Salome gently touched Rhia's arm. "Do not be concerned. I remember the first time I saw a man naked, though he was not as muscular as Damien, nor as good looking. Anyway, this man had somehow stuck a harpoon into his thigh and us three, Y'riss, Vyrie and myself were ordered to take his pants off so that the healer could tend to the wound. Well I was still an initiate, and had never done such a thing. I don't think Vyrie had ever done so either, but I suspect Y'riss had done so, or she just did as she was ordered."

Salome took another sip of wine, smacked her lips softly, as Pagaran placed a plate of fruit inbetween the girls and then left without speaking. Salome picked up a piece of fruit and slowly ate it. She nodded toward Rhia. "Go on eat something," she said as she wiped the succulent juices that ran from the fruit on to her chin with the palm of her hand.

"Where was I? Oh I remember. Taking off a man's pants. Well I assumed the man would be wearing some sort of underthings, but when we began taking his pants off he was completely naked underneath! I wanted to bolt from the room just like you did last night, but I had a job to do, besides I was a teensy bit curious. Well I do not need to go into detail, just to say that his manhood was nothing to be scared of," Salome leaned closer and whispered into Rhia's ear, "in fact it was kind of tiny and shrivled up." She leaned back and giggled again.

Salome drank more wine, a huge smile spread across her round brown face and she giggled again, leaning close to Rhia once again. "Well since then I have seen many naked men, some are larger than others and some smaller, now Damien's has one of the former, if you know what I mean? Were you not just a little bit curious?" Salome asked.

Salome leaned back, giggled again, throwing her braid back behind her head. "He must have been in a lot of fights. He has healed scars on his chest, both arms, back and even his right leg has a healed puncture wound," Salome said talking very clinically now.

She ate some more fruit and drank the rest of her wine which Pagaran quickly filled back up. Salome smiled, turning toward Rhia, "I think I am going to like this, if just for a short while. Oh I was going to tell you about that old sailors tale 'Song bird of the sea.' Well there is not much to tell except that sailors believe that a woman, singing, will show up when their death is near. As long as the woman stays with them or sings a certain song, which I do not know, only the sailors seem to know, they live, but if she leaves, then they believe that they will die within a fortnight. They call her the Song bird of the Sea." She paused, "But it is nothing but a sailor's superstition," she added.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2009, 01:24:48 AM by Damien Scar » Logged

I have travelled far and wide.
And Foiro's must have been my guide.
For I have discovered these things to be true;
A man must have two, mayhap three things in life to be truly happy.
A good weapon at his side.
A virtuous wife, if he can find her.
A quver full of children.
Sadly, I only have one;
A good weapon at my side.
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2009, 05:46:39 AM »

As Altario waited for Ana to get to him, between all of her other chores, he noticed Garret show up, issuing a sleepy greeting.  He nodded curtly back.  "Morning."  Ana returned and Altario shifted his attention back to the innkeeper.  He listened to her chide him softly, and on any other morning, he would have smiled and maybe even tease her back.  But, not on this particular morning.  Instead, he sighed heavily.  "Eat then.  I've no appetite."  He looked at Garret.  "I'll be outside when everyone is ready to go."

Altario strode purposely from the inn without so much as a look back.  He reached Horse and threw himself into the saddle.  Then with a yell and a hard kick to the flanks and a snap of the reins onto Horses rump, Altario felt the animal lurch forward and the two went flying over the sandy floor of the Rahaz Dath desert.

The Remusian wasn't sure how far he'd gone, or even how long he'd been riding.  He pulled the Kor'och fey Mologh up to a stop.  Climbing off the horse, he faced the horizon but there was no movement, only the injera making its daily climb into the sky.  Where are you Valannia?  "Will you come back?" he whispered aloud.  

He kicked at the sand, and that was when he realized where he was.  This was the place where he had that vision, the first time he and Valannia had been alone.  The first time he had kissed her.

Putting her out of his thoughts, Alario climbed back atop Horse.  He started back to the inn, seeing a small group gathered outside.  It looked as though they were ready to go.  Good.  He was looking forward to getting underway.  He approached the group, looking at each of the people in turn; Ana, and Lori, Garret, as well a the elfess and the woman with the absurd hat and strange bird.  If he knew they were going into danger, this would not be the group he would have chosen.  He knew Garret had proved himself, all those years ago, but the rest?  Only "Pink Hat" looked as though she might be able to hold her own.  No doubt that chatty bird had forced her to hone her skills to survive.

"If everyone is ready, lets get going."  The ramshackle group began the journey to Strata.

Destiny, his destiny, awaited.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2009, 05:50:12 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.
Rhia
Songbird of the Sea
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 12:37:13 PM »

Rhia stared incredulously at the very cheerful Salome. She could not imagine a more ridiculous sailor's legend. If she stays with them or sang a certain song, they live? And that baron person thought that she was this ‘songbird of the sea’? After glimpsing the little troubadour’s face, the Baveras’ Aid added, almost as an afterthought, “But it is nothing but a sailor’s superstition.”

But the cogs and wheels in Rhia’s sentimental brain were already turning, and her attitude changed after a few moments’ speculation. It might be ridiculous, but it was rather romantic. And, if it was true, it was certainly worthy of a ballad or bard’s tale. And wait, he thinks that I am this songbird woman? Rhia was nothing less than flattered. Her ego began to rise like a loaf of leavened bread in an oven, puffing up and filled with holes- though the holes went unperceived by the girl herself.

She picked at a bundle of grapes with her long fingers, plucking away at the stems and crunching perfect little red spheres between her teeth. “Aye, only a sailor’s myth.” Rhia paused, letting the sweet-sour juice spread through her mouth, envelope and numb the senses of her tongue. She chewed the inside of her lip. How best to approach this? Directly attacking it would make her seem vain –not that it would be a stretch– and she was not sure how Salome would react if she did. Her bearing become almost offhand, careless. “I’d imagine that th’ legend would’ne be far spread.”

The thought wiggled itself into Rhia’s mind that the baron man hadn’t come down into the common room yet. He must really be injured. A moment later she quirked her eyebrow at herself. Ah, no, really? The old healer Salome talked of was just sent in for as scratch wound, I suppose? Vain as she was, Rhia was occasionally able to make fun at herself. She couldn’t help chuckling at the memory of how she practically vanished when Y’riss asked her to take off the baron’s pants the other night. Already she felt older and wiser, especially after Salome had described how common her experiences were with the… er…. trimmings… of men. Well, the girl was a Baveras’ Aid, after all. A sudden thought flashed into Rhia’s mind. Was Seli experienced in that issue like Salome and Y’riss were? A pang shot through her. She felt a deep protestation against her baby sister having that kind of knowledge. Why, Seli was only a year or two younger than Rhia herself! If one of them was to know that kind of thing, it should be Rhia, being the older! She only had to imagine Seli taking off the man Damien’s pants to feel an intense consternation. Rhia was suddenly aware of a strong heat in her neck, cheeks, and ears. Horror soaked every nailsbreadth of her slim body. She had come that close to removing the garments of a noble! A sputter lodged in her throat as she very nearly choked on a grape.
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Damien Scar
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2009, 09:47:43 PM »

“I’d imagine that th’ legend would’ne be far spread.” Rhia said.

"Oh no, far from it. Wherever sailors go the legend follows," Salome replied.

"Salome, it is time to go back to the temple." A familiar voice ordered.

Salome turned in her seat and there were Y'riss and Vyrie with their things as well as her's in their hands. Salome was going to protest, but the look on Y'riss's face stopped her in mid-thought. She turned to Rhia, shrugged her shoulders, her eyes trying to hold back her tears. "I have to go Rhia. It was nice meeting you. I...I usually do not meet that many people I like."

Salome's tears finally won and they gushed from her eyes. She hugged Rhia quickly and tightly and whispered, "I hope we see each other again, if not then I want you to know that you have been a good friend, even if we hardly got to know each other I will always think of you as one of my dearest sisters."

Salome backed off, wiped the tears off her shiny cheeks, turned and ran to her sisters who then all walked out of the inn's door. Salome turned and gave Rhia a small wave with her hand and mouthed the words. "Take care of Damien. He is all yours now." A quirky smile brightened up Salome's face before it disappeared through the doorway out into the dawning light.

Pagran watched them go from the far side of the bar. When they left he came over to where Rhia sat, placed a plate filled with two eggs, steaming slices of meat and dark bread slathered in butter in honey.

"Hurry and eat. It is almost time for you to start singing. The morning crowd will be coming soon." He turned to walk away, snapped his fingers, walked over to another place behind the bar and picked up something wrapped in a soft cloth and brought it back to Rhia. "I found this when I was cleaning up last night. I assume you will need it," he said to her as he handed the clothed lute to her in a gentlemanly, careful way.

"i'm really not that bad of a man you know..." he said, leaving to wait on other customers who were now coming into the inn a little bit more at a time now.



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I have travelled far and wide.
And Foiro's must have been my guide.
For I have discovered these things to be true;
A man must have two, mayhap three things in life to be truly happy.
A good weapon at his side.
A virtuous wife, if he can find her.
A quver full of children.
Sadly, I only have one;
A good weapon at my side.
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2009, 02:16:56 AM »

Altario wiped his brow, lifted his face to the sky, and observed that the injera was now nearing its zenith.  The heat was nearly unbearable now.  Under him, he could feel Horse labouring, even though their pace was an easy slow one.  He knew it probably would have been wiser to have travelled by night, but he was in a hurry.  And though he felt sorry for the animal, and to the other people with him, nothing was going to slow him down.

Still, killing the horse would not get him there sooner.  He reined in the animal, and easily swung himself off the saddle and onto the sandy soil.  "We'll rest for a quick moment.  But don't get too comfortable."

Removing the waterskin from the saddle, Altario untied the drawstring, and took a long pull from it.  He then scanned the floor of the desert, looking for something in particular.  Spotting it, he knelt down and picked up a small smooth stone.  He wiped away the excess dirt and plopped it into his mouth.  In the wastes, a Remusian trick for water was to place a stone into one's mouth.  It kept your mouth moist, and held off the urge to want a drink.  Up there, eating frozen snow could kill you, as it cooled you from the inside.  Here, it was the heat, but conserving water was still the goal.

He then stepped in front of the horse, pouring water into his cupped hand, which the Kor'och fey Mologh greedily sucked up.  When Altario stopped pouring the horse continued to try and get more moisture.  "That's enough for now, boy."  Altario tied the string on the skin, and patted the neck of the horse.

He glanced back at the others.  "Ana, how much longer?  Are we half way there?"
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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.
grallen gast
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« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2009, 03:32:09 AM »

“mmnghfl”

Something was living in her mouth. The fact that it was apparently her tongue did little to make her feel any better.

“fzzurrrrgh…”

She risked opening her eyes, and was greeted with the kind of pain usually associated, at least in Grallen’s experience, with ropes, knuckle-dusters, and burly men who never smiled. Nevertheless, she tried again. A canvas was brushing against her nose, but even the meagre light getting past that seemed far too bright. Her head felt like it had sunk to the depths of the deepest ocean, and her mouth tasted like the bottom of a pond. There was even what felt like a fish sitting on her hand. She wriggled into a half-upright position and saw that it was only Earnest. She scowled at him, but her reproving look did nothing to diminish the smug scorn of the tiny amphibian’s expression. The canvas was annoying her. She pushed it off.

“Aaargh”

The light was considerably brighter. It must be somewhere approaching noon. Through fluorescent blotches that swam lazily across her vision, Grallen glared at her surroundings. Where the hell was she? She didn’t know. But she got the idea he probably wasn’t expected. Hurriedly she ducked back down under the covers, leaving a gap through which she could watch the world. She was on a cart. That was odd, she was sure she’d have remembered going to sleep on a cart. The saw blade embedded in her brain interrupted in its own unignorable way. Ok, maybe not. But where’s a cart going in the middle of a desert? A small, overexcited voice replayed itself in her crowded head.

“Oh no, oh no no no no nononono….”
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When you’re entirely lacking in conscience or sense of risk, a frog will have to do.
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Rhia
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« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2009, 08:29:25 AM »

“Salome!” Y’riss’s sharp, firm voice cut in. Both Salome and Rhia turned to see her standing by their table with the austere belongings of a Baveras’ Aid. Another, thinner-faced girl with fiery red hair was with her, carrying Salome’s things as well as her own. “Salome, it is time to go back to the temple.”

Salome turned back around to face Rhia, who was astonished to discover that the round-faced girl’s eyes were gleaming with unescaped tears. “I have to go, Rhia. It was nice meeting you. I… I usually do not meet that many people I like.” Rhia for one, found this hard to believe. This pleasant, merry girl, not liking many people she met? She seemed almost as gregarious as Rhia herself! “I hope we see each other again,” Salome continued, her voice thick and strangled. “If not, then I want you to know that you have been a good friend- even if we hardly got to know each other, I will always think of you as one of my dearest sisters.” To the little troubadour’s alarm, the Baveras’ Aid promptly exploded into tears and threw her arms around her, hugging her fiercely. She got up from the table and followed Y’riss and the other Baveras’ Aid out of the inn, only pausing at the doorstep to mouth, “Take cake to Damien. His balls- yours now,” before disappearing.

Rhia was not sure what to think about that. Hadn’t they dropped the topic of last night already? If Salome’s face hadn’t been red with emotion, her eyes shiny and full of tears, she would have sworn that the girl had been making a joke. But that bit about the cake? What was that about?

A pang shot through Rhia. She would have liked to have known Salome longer. They had been pretty good company for each other. Though she was very surprised at how attached the pleasant girl had supposedly grown to her in such a short amount of time. The rate at which she had befriended Rhia was even greater than the nineteen-year-old’s.

She was still gazing at the door pensively and didn’t notice Pagran until he was setting a vittles-filled plate on the table with a low clunk. Rhia rolled her eyes mentally. Here comes grumpy old Pagran. After only a day she had already grown sick of his cantankerous and self-assured bearing. And sure enough, When he spoke, it was in the very same voice. “Hurry ‘n’ eat. ‘T’s almost time fer ye t’ start singin’. The mornin’ crowd’ll be comin’ in soon.” He began to walk away, then stopped short with the air of having suddenly remembered something, with a snap of his stubby fingers. He quickly departed and returned to the table with a cloth-wrapped object after reaching under the bar counter. “Found this when I was cleanin’ up last night. I assume yeh’ll need ‘t.” Bemusedly, Rhia took the object. The shape was familiar, she thought, her heart dinging like a bell. Her eyebrows knitted together, she quickly unwrapped it. Underneath the cloth rested the dark, varnished wood she knew so well, her lute. Her startled but delighted gaze shot up into Pagran’s. She allowed him a small but grateful smile, but before she could even utter her thanks, he mumbled, “I’m not really that bad’ve a man, yeh know,” then rushing away to see to the other customers.

Puzzled thankfulness was the only way to describe Rhia’s sentiments. The innkeeper had thought nothing of beating a man to the state of unconsciousness, but he was kind enough to return the troubadour’s lute to her. With a shake of her dark sleek head, Rhia picked up the lute and thump-thumped up the stairs to her room. Dropping the stringed instrument on her bed, she grabbed her belt from last night and unhooked the panpipes from it, then hurrying back down to the inn’s common room. She took up her station in the corner by the fire, which was still and empty in the absence of fire. Lifting a panpipes to her strawberry lips, she began to play haunting, gossamer notes filled with memories of dew on blades of grass, the sun rising over a hill like a warm, golden loaf of bread in an oven- the Isles of R’unor.
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Lili the Elfcat
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Human, Helvet'ine Kuglimz


« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2009, 06:02:00 AM »

The injera was relentless, and became ever more belligerent as the morning aged and turned into mid-day. The light bit into the travellers' skins, entered their heads, and smoldered within like a malignant slow-burning fire that turned your mind into charcoal and made you forget your own name. The heat did nothing to disperse the sullenness in Lili’s soul. She had to do that herself, by directing her attention away from her own mood and sweating body, toward her fellow creatures.

”It’s poor Fiddlesticks who’s suffering most!”

Lili gave her horse frequent drinks, and even walked for a stretch to give her a rest. Kassandra, meanwhile, had found shelter under the pink hat, which now dandled over Lili’s head like a parasol – Kassandra herself being the all but invisible umbrella-stand, her claws firmly clasped into her walking-tree-companion’s hair.

As the injera was high in the sky, and you could hardly see the shadow of your own horse, the fetching but morose bloke stopped to give his horse a well-deserved drink, and the whole party a welcome rest. He seemed to consider himself to be the leader of this little group, even though it was actually Ana’Mirl who knew the way. Lili noticed these things; in fact, assessing the capability of a leader was vital when you worked among bandits. Whose judgement to trust was a decision that could make the difference between success or failure, captivity or freedom, life or death. At least, this would-be leader knew how to treat a horse. He also had a rather intriguing companion, taller than himself and even more handsome perhaps, but, apparently, equally taciturn. What were these two, who evidently didn’t hail from the south, up to? And how strange to see a mithral wolf in the desert, following his master like a dog: the last time Lili had seen mithral wolves, up north in the Shaded Forest, there had been two dozens of these beasts, every single one as hungry as a blood bear. To fend them off, Lili and her bandits had waved burning sticks at them for a long sleepless night.

”Oh, Kassandra, let’s not think of burning for too long; it really doesn’t help when you're in the desert at noon!”

Beneath Lili's hat, Kassandra made the noise of water trickling over stones - like she had heard a certain little brook do in the Eastern reaches of the Shaded Forest, one late spring many years ago.

As Altario (for Lili had overheard his name by now) asked about the way, Lili was on the other side of the cart from him, riding next to the load area, slightly behind the coachbox. She was still sitting on Fiddlesticks, and bent forward over her horse’s neck slightly, so as not to miss Ana’Mirl’s answer – for Lili, too, hoped that their little caravan would have covered at least half the distance to Strata.

But instead of Ana’Mirl’s voice, she heard something else: a sort of whimpering growl came from the back of the cart. Lili turned a sharp eye on the canvas covering the load, and sure enough, the fabric began to move. Something appeared to wriggle beneath. Lili looked on as the movements grew more testy, until finally the canvas was lifted up and folded over, so that an opening was created on the far side of the cart, from Lili’s point of view. A shock of shaggy hair appeared, briefly, like the snout of a breathing sea animal sticking out of the water. Whatever creature had revealed itself there, it emitted a hoarse but forceful groan, and swiftly disappeared back under the protection of the canvas.

Aha! Did old, innocuous-looking Ana’Mirl engage in a little people-smuggling? And did this explain the nervy, irritable frown on our would-be leader’s brow? Well, if I’m part of a gang getting secret stowaways safely past the guardians at Strata’s gates, I have a right to know about it!

So Lili brought Fiddlesticks a little closer to the cart, reached over to grab a corner of the canvas, and gave it a good strong tug!
« Last Edit: April 30, 2009, 07:29:20 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)
Mysterious Memory: Kuglimz Love Song
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