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Author Topic: Chapter Two - "Thalambath" - Part One  (Read 25054 times)
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Lili the Elfcat
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Human, Helvet'ine Kuglimz


« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2011, 06:29:26 AM »

She didn’t get my joke about the non-existent inn,  Lili thought, as she lay in the sand biting on the scarf that served her as a face-mask, feeling the wind throw two bucketfulls of sand at her head every two blinks, but when it comes to sandstorms, Toama knows what she is doing. In contrast to that Shendar - Lili didn’t look, but she knew he was by her side, holding on to her left hand and not exuding even half a mut of confidence – that Shendar, whom Altario picked up I-don’t-know-where. This should teach you to rely on other people’s choice of guides, Lili.

But neither remorse nor anger would do any good now. Anyway, the desert was the desert and would play its tricks, no matter how good a guide you hired. There was nothing to do but to stay calm and see this through. Meanwhile, there was time to think.

Sand sisters. That’s what Toama called them. Her tribe. Women all. And they take men as they need them, for one night, one hour only, just to have baby girls. What about the boys?  Lili had asked. There were methods, apparently. Herbs. But sometimes a boy was born nonetheless. At that point in the conversation, Lili had thought she’d seen something in Toama’s face. But she hadn’t found out more. Why had this woman left her tribe?

Next to Lili, the Shendar let go of her hand for a blink. Immediately, Lili moved her arm and searched, until she had found his wrist and grabbed it, yanking his arm towards her as strong as she could. She felt a convulsion, a resistance. Good! That meant he had felt the pain, and was awake and alive.

Around her body, Lili felt the sand pile up into little unstable ridges. Already her legs were almost completely covered. It wasn’t bad protection, but if anyone ever needed proof that you could have too much of a good thing, being drowned in sand should do the trick.

There was a little relief within the storm, a slight lessening of the assault. Lili gave a short but distinct squeeze to Toama’s hand on the right, and to the Shendar’s hand on the left, so as to warn them that she was about to do something. then she let go of both their hands, and began to wriggle her body and shovel sand underneath her. Then she carefully felt the side of her cloak, to which she had attached a bundle of scarves that contained Kassandra. The bird suffered her fate in silence, but as Lili’s hand groped to feel whether the bundle was still there, she felt the disgruntled stab of Kassandra’s beak. Good! Awake and breathing, also! Lili pulled the cloak back over her friend.

Her work done, Lili spread herself out on her belly once again and sent out an arm to each side, feeling for her companions’ hands. She would have like to ask Toama what, in the event of a sandstorm, the best method for going to the toilet was. But she felt sure that Toama wouldn’t have appreciated that joke, either, and anyway it wasn’t possible to talk through the face-masks and over the storm. Just get on with it, then, will you , Lili thought at the desert. Blow your lungs out, and then shut up already and leave us in peace. We are trying our best to get out of you, you know!
« Last Edit: May 01, 2011, 07:09:32 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
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2011, 11:43:26 PM »

The storm came fast.  It reminded the northerner of some of the fierce winter blizzards that the Icelands Coast had to offer.  Except there was no moisture in this storm, nor any frigid wind.  It was with great relief that he accepted the moistened cloth offered by the dark skinned woman, who showed him how to tie it over his face in order for him to breath without taking in a mouthful of sand with each breath.

Each of the group was outfitted with this mask by the Sand Sister (?).  This Toama, the dark skinned one was very adept at preparing for this coming storm.  Altario could not help but be thankful that she was with them.  She was, in this instance, more help to them than the shendar guide that was driving the wagon.

Toama took them into the shadow of the wagon, the horses having already been taken care of.  She created a chain, where each of them held onto the hand of another.  To the Remusian's horror, in his hand was placed the clawed hand of the orc.  Worse, the orc had even a greener palour than normal, as her eyes were darting about at the blowing sand.  She was obviously distressed, and it came through in her grip, where small rivulets of blood were flowing down his hand where her claws were digging into his skin.

"Try not to tear my hand off!" he called to her over the howling of the wind, which roared at them like some dragon.  She either did not hear, or could not help herself, for the grip stayed just as tight.

Following the lead of the dark skinned one, they hunkered down, laying prone on the ground, allowing the wind and sand to blow over them.  It relieved the pain greatly, not having the sand eroding the flesh right off their bones.  As they lay there, Altario watched as Lili appreared to be trying to dig herself into the sand.  It might be a good idea.  He started to extricate his hand from the orc, but it only caused her to grip even tighter.  With a sigh, he started to dig with his free hand.

The sound of a shout over the howl of the wind caught Altario's attention, and he lifted his head to see the Shendar guide rising from his position and begin to run away from the camp, stumbling as he went.  Altario cursed.  Fool must have let panic overtake him.  He wouldn't last ten minutes out there in the storm.

The Remusian pulled his hand free from the orc, yelping in pain, sure that he'd left a good chunk of flesh in her claws.  "Stay down," he yelled at her, as he stood.  "Stay down!" he repeated, yelling at the entire group, using his good hand to motion for them to remain safely buried in the sand.

Standing, it took only a moment to realize just how wise Toama had been for making them lay down in the sand.  The wind had been flowing over them, but upright, the sand was battering him relentlessly.  He started to follow the guide, but it was by no means easy.  Though the guide was only several peds ahead, it was very difficult to keep him in view.  The blowing sand forced Altario to keep his eyes closed for the most part, only opening them slightly every few steps to confirm where he was going.

The sand hurt.  It bit into him, and along with being rough and tearing at his skin, it was hot.  All exposed skin burned.  As he ran, he felt sweat beginning to run down his face on the upwind side, rewetting the cloth tied about his nose and mouth.  "Te-oh!  Te-oh!" he called after the guide, but to no avail.  The guide either was not listening or could not hear.

A few more steps and Altario became aware of something troubling.  He could smell and taste blood.  What he assumed was sweat running down his face was blood.  The damned sand was rending the flesh right off his body!  If they did not get under cover quickly, their bones would be exposed soon.  By the time they were found, they'd be nothing but skeletons.

The guide, Te-oh, stumbled and fell, and by the time he climbed back to his feet, Altario had closed the distance to only a few peds.  They crested a small dune, and as they both raced down the backside, Altario threw himself forward, wrapping his arms around the guide's legs.  They both rolled a few peds, and when they came to a stop, the Remusian threw himself onto the Shendar, who was scrambling to get to his feet again.

"Stay down, fool!  You'll get us both killed!"

The guide continued to struggle and in desperation, Altario balled his hand into a fist and swung.  Both he and the guide yelped in pain, but the guide stopped moving, to Altario's relief.  Hand aching, Altario rolled the guide over onto his stomach, protecting his face from the burning sand.  He then began to emulate Lili, trying to bury himself in the sand.

As he worked, he became aware of a movement against the flow of wind and sand.  Looking up, he saw three figures standing above him.  

"Oh, sh-" The Remusian began to speak.

One of the figures raised a booted foot, then Altario's world went dark.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 12:01:31 AM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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Toama SorInyt
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« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2011, 03:18:51 AM »

As she lay there to outwait the storm, there was not much in Toama's head by way of thought. Her state of mind could be called something very close to meditation, although she did not call it that herself. It allowed her to ignore most of the pain from sand flailing her skin. However, motions and sounds that did not result from the storm but from her companions brought her back to herself. First there was Lili, who suddenly let go of her hand. With the cloth tied in front of her eyes to protect them from the sand, she could not see exactly what was going on, but luckily very soon she felt the woman's hand again, reassuring the desert dweller that she had not decided to wander about in the utter darkness of the storm. You could not see even a ped in front of you, so wandering off was one of the worst things you could do. Before you knew it, you were lost.

And then there was Altario's voice, yelling above the storm to stay down. Oh no. That could only mean one thing, namely that he was NOT staying down. Damn! A heartfelt curse in Sorinyt escaped from the woman's lips, muffled behind her moistened cloth. For just a moment she let go of Lili's hand, only one moment, enough to rip the cloth from before her eyes. Then she grabbed her friend's hand again, to make sure that she at least was not going anywhere. Squinting against the raging storm, she could just barely see  Altario's back. Looking quickly around the circle - which was about as far as she could see, anyway - she noticed that aside from the Remusian, their Shendar guide was also gone. Curse that man! Altario must have somehow seen him get up and leave - why had he not had his eyes covered? Men! Could they just not listen for once, even if she WAS a woman doing to ordering? She knew what she was doing, which could obviously not be said for either of the two who had just decided to wander away from the group in the middle of a sandstorm! She decided then and there that their guide was not Shendar. If what she had heard about these sand dwellers was correct, he would not have led them straight into a storm and then gone off when they were engulfed.

She tightened her grip on both her neighbours, making sure that they at least would not get away. Survival lay in the group, as she thought she had made clear, though apparently not as much as she had thought. She screwed her eyes shut, her only protection of them gone. Her sense of time was obscured, as usually happened when she was in a storm, but she didn't think it was half an hour before a lightening in the air around them told her that the end of the storm was not far off. They had survived, at least everyone who had stayed with the group as she had instructed them. Another ten minutes later and she decided that now was the time to let go of her companions and take stock of the damage. She sat up and removed the cloth from her face - the one that had still been tied in place, the one for her eyes had been ripped out of her hands when she'd removed it to see what the heck Altario was doing. For a long moment she looked back at the cloud of sand, now quickly leaving them behind - it did not care at all if what it had left behind were living human beings - or, well, beings anyway - or corpses with the skin flayed off to the bone. She made a sign with her hand and gave the cloud a short bow, to show her respect for the forces of nature that a place like this could conjure up.

She went past the horses one by one, to remove the cloth from their eyes and check them over for damage. She knew that they would have to look for Altario, who was nowhere in sight - Foiros only knew which way he had wandered after he'd left the group. But their mounts were important too, without them they could not look for the Remusian and they would not survive the rest of the trip, not even with her own expertise. Any footprints that he might have made were long gone, of course, and while she had seen his disappearing back, after he had gone from view he could have gone any way. Stupid man! If he expected others to follow his leadership, the least he could do was extend to others the same courtesy. Even if the false Shendar had gone off on his own in some sort of misguided panic that only proved that he had not, like herself, grown up in the desert, then their so called leader should have stayed with the group. Now there were two people lost instead of just one, and while she did not mind taking up the leadership seat in Altario's absence - only because she knew the desert, of course - she would have preferred it if it had not been necessary.

When the horses proved to be unharmed, if just slightly panicked, she turned to the remainder of their group - which, in the end, proved to be just Grallen and Lili. "First I want to sayink, I am seriously not likink men right now. At least sisters are listenink when you are somethink sayink. I am not beink thinkink very high of Altario, and very, very low of so-named Shendar, who I am thinkink is not at all Shendar. That beink say, we are needink to be findink them again. I am not wantink to be leavink anyone now, so if Grallen can sit on cart and leadink horses, then all horses who are beink not ridden can beink are tied to cart. We are goink to higher dune there." she paused for a moment to indicate one sand dune that was higher than the surrounding desert. "We are needink tryink to see if we can findink Altario and other man." Only then did she realise that she had just taken command without talking it through with the other two, even if she did know what she was doing. "This is beink my suggestions. Is everyone beink ok with this?"
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grallen gast
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« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2011, 08:06:35 PM »

"Try not to tear my hand off!"

Altario’s words reached her as if from a great distance, ground down and blasted like everything else in the storm. She tried to loosen her grip, but didn’t seem to be able to. Somewhere under the fear, and the anger at herself for being scared and for showing it so plainly, it occurred to her that there would be hell to pay for making the great Altario bleed. The thought didn’t have long to settle, as he wrenched free of her grip and was gone, instantly veiled by the biting sand. Grallen snarled, and half sat up, but even that felt like it would lacerate her ears. And the noise of the thing, it was unending! She curled back down again, shivering despite the heat and angry in a dull, fearful sort of way that rasped at her like sand.

It was a long, long time before she felt Toama’s grip loosen on her arm, and realised that the noise was dying down. She stayed curled up tightly until she couldn’t hear it at all, though, until the cloth around her mouth was oppressive and she had to sit up and pull it off. By then it seemed Toama had taken stock of things. Altario and the guide were nowhere in sight. Grallen scowled, and looked at the hand he’d pulled free of – blood under her nails, crusted with sand. She wiped it irritably on her trousers, standing and heading for the cart at Toama’s words. Well if he’s still alive, what are the chances he’s got other things on his mind than a little scratch I gave him? Her head buzzed as the fear and anger melted away, chased off by Toama’s words. So Te-oh is (was?) some kind of fake? And he and Altario are lost in the dunes. Lovely.

Kicking sand off the cart (oh for Kahn’uck’s sake it’s in my boots again...) she stepped up and started to tie the spare horses on.

"This is beink my suggestions. Is everyone beink ok with this?"

Grallen laughed, hoarsely. “Ive got no better ideas.”

She looked to Lili for confirmation, flicking her ears as the odd quiet of the desert returned. They felt burned and tattered by the storm, but in this hush surely she’d hear anything. What had happened to the two men that they weren’t calling out?
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 #19 on: May 02, 2011, 11:35:04 PM »

Eventually Te-oh the Shendar did escape Lili's grip. Well,  she thought, if by all means he feels he must run around while the sand blasts his nose off, I'm sure he's got a reason.  Yet when the end of the storm came, she was surprised that Te-oh had actually disappeared. She had assumed he'd wanted a drink or food or something, and had, after finding what he needed, got shelter elsewhere. But then it turned out that not only he had mizzled off. Altario was gone, too.

Why? Surely there had to be a good reason? If Toama was to be believed, there wasn't. Lili smiled as the Sand Sister ranted against male foolishness. Yeah, us girls, eh? Some sand sisters we are. I've got no idea what's going on, and little Grallen here looks as though she'd happily give one of her ever-twitching ears for a promise from Seyella that she'd never pour sand into her boots again.

Anyway, it was good that Toama took command. She laid out what to do: strike camp and get to higher ground, in the hope of finding some trace of the runaways. Reasonable actions all. Then she did something strange: she asked whether Grallen and Lili agreed. Some Sand Sister custom, maybe? It occurred to Lili that she had not asked Toama how decisions were made in her tribe. In Lili's experience, in any group there was always some man who ended up assuming command, often by the sheer ability to talk with confidence and ooze strength of character, rather than by knowledge or skill. So how did the Sand Sisters do things, given that their groups had no men?

Anyway, Grallen agreed with Toama's suggestion, albeit with a sarcastic laugh. It was good to hear the orc's voice again. She had seemed surly all through the journey, and Lili hadn't liked that. It wasn't good to have someone in a group who sulked and detached herself, who had to be dragged along. People like that couldn't be relied upon when Seyalla threw boardrak dung at you. Oh, Grallen could fight, Lili had seen that. Fight people, that is, with her knife and her teeth and her claws. But could she fight the desert? Could she fight with her heart and her guts? Could she fight herself ? That's what Lili wasn't sure about. She was so young, this orcess. How strong was she really?

For now, though, Grallen had made it through the storm with more grace and sanity than either Te-oh or Altario. Time to look for the fools, then. One had to. Even if the chances of finding them seemed slim.

”Boys, hey?” she said.

”Always running off to play somewhere. Sure I agree, Toama. If we can get the cart up that dune, that is. The sand seems soft, and those cartwheels so enjoy soft sand that they sink into it at every opportunity.”

While talking, Lili unwrapped Kassandra out of her rags, and let the bird hop on her shoulder. There Kassandra squatted, and started biting Lili's ear, in revenge for the hardship and indignity she had suffered.

”Ouch! Stop that, you manky scoffle. You can bite Altario's nose off, if we find him. He deserves it."

With one hand, Lili shoved her bird further down her shoulder, away from her ear.

"Toama, if you don't mind me asking: Let's say we don't find them... Would you know the way out of here? Because if I tried to get us back to Strata, Kassandra would have hacked both my ears to bits before I'd even found the first waterhole.”

Was Lili in danger of encouraging panic? Nah. It was better to look Seyella's traps right in the eye. If there was panic, it was Te-oh's and Altario's fault. What kind of guide leaves their group in the middle of a storm? And what kind of leader does so? What could they possible have seen or heard that would make them run off, without leaving any sign of why they'd done so, and where they'd gone?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 01:22:49 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
Damien Scar
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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2011, 12:49:55 AM »

Damien watched the captain for a few blinks and then turned his gaze back toward the ocean and the two pieces of paper in his hand. He let the one note telling the Stranarian bank to give him any amount of money he so desired...go and reread the other note. He recalled when he received the notes, it was a few days after Altario and the group had left. He was drunk and broke and feeling sorry for himself...once again.  When Altario had showed up he had thought perhaps things would turn around, especially when Altario accepted his help trying to find his brother who had information leading to the disappearance of his daughter Nayriss.

Damien chuckled, as he thought of the motley group that Altario had assembled; mostly women! Which must have been a first for the Remusian, as far as Damien had known him Altario normally did not take help from women, but this was different wasn't it? He was on a desperate search for his daughter and yet he helped Damien with the twins, fought against the Dark elves and the Orcs, was awarded a knighthood by Voltigar for his help in rescuing his wife to be, her sister, father and others. Altario graciously turned down the title, saying he already had enough from his own homeland. Voltigar still gave him land and told him that if he ever changed his mind he could have it at anytime. When it came time for Damien to say good-bye to his new found friend it was a very emotional, however being who they both were, the emotions stayed inside and all there was as Altario climbed on his horse was a firm handshake and Damien promising he would pray that Altario would find his daughter soon; that had been almost two years ago and Altario was still looking...while he had become a drunk!

A drunk who thought perhaps he might get redemption, some self-respect, and friendship back when Altario unexpectedly walked through the Sea Shoals Inn so many weeks ago, but even after Damien had helped rescued Lili, that strange, but somehow alluring woman, who had a sharp wit and a bird who could almost mimic anything it heard. Then there was the Orcess, Grallen; she was an enigma, and many questions about her should have been asked and answered. Damien did try, but he was ignored. Then, Toama, another woman who somehow was aboard the slave ship, had escaped from her captors and even joined in the fight and rescue of Lili. She had the most unusual way of speaking, sometimes it was so strange that Damien had a hard time comprehending what she was saying. Then there came the elven woman, Drustai. How and where Altario had met her Damien did not know, but she was a very important part of the puzzle that needed to be pieced together to find Altario's brother and daughter; after all of that Altario did not want him. It was the last blow. Oh, he tried to make it sound like Damien was needed to stay in Strata to search and question more around the town about Altario's brother, but Damien read between the lines: Altario did not trust a drunk. His respect for Damien was suspect and he did not want him around.  Damien nodded, left the table and went to his room. The following morning when Damien woke up they were gone and Damien headed for the bar.

It was not too long afterwards, perhaps a day or two, when Damien discovered he had no more money. He had lost his money belt with the fight with that big bruiser of a sailor on that ship. When? He did not know. It could have been during the fight, or it could have been when he and the others jumped off the ship, either way it was lost and so was his most of his money as well as his Sengren!, his one of a kind Mithrill shafted and bladed axe given to him by his father before he left home. He had just a few sans left in his trunk that he quickly used up. He had been sitting in his room considering selling his ring when a man and a few things happened to him.

First, the old healer showed up at his door.

"I came to see if ye needed anymore medicine," he said, as he entered the room looking around. He looked disapprovingly at Damien who had sat back down upon his bed after opening the door for him. "However I can see you have plenty left and it seems you have not taken my advice about not drinking, since I can smell it on you and in this room. I thought I told you once that I cannot help ye if ye did not want to be helped. That sickness in your lungs will only become worse and worse if you continue drinking, not eating properly and not taking your medication. If ye want to die, I cannot stop ye, but if ye decide to live then do what I told ye."

It seemed liked an eternity as Damien just stared up at the man. Finally he slurred, "live, I want to live."

"Then for Baveras's sake, take a bath!"
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.
Damien Scar
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« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2011, 12:21:59 AM »

That was three weeks ago. The healer paid for some new clothes for Damien for his old ones were rags and as the healer had stated as he gingerly wrapped them a cloth and then he and Damien burnt them; "The stink would chase a dragon away"

"Thank you. I promise I will repay you for the clothes," Damien said.

" Stay on your medications. No more alcohol and be prepared. That will be thanks enough," the healer replied as he left to take care of his other customers.

Damien did not know what the healer meant when he said "be prepared' but he found out soon enough. It started the following day when he tried to mix his medicine; his hands were shaking, and his belly felt as if it were on fire. He tried eating, but retched it up soon afterwards: soon the pain became so unbearable that he cursed the day he was born.

He could not stay in his room. He had to get out and move, do something to take his mind off of taking a drink to stop the pain. Finally, one day, as he was walking...stumbling around town, mostly bent over in pain, he saw sand. It occurred to him that the way to dry out would be where it was dry and so one morning he woke up, gathered his medications, and several water skins filled with water and began walking.

He walked out of Strata into the desert and continued walking. The sun glared down at him, like an angry parent. Its heat like a forge, smelting his skin like it would a piece of raw iron, burning out the wanting of alcohol. He gasped with each breath, his lungs striving to breathe in air void of moisture. He gulped down the water, but it was worse. The water eased his thirst but for just a little while and then he became violently sick. He did not understand. He walked as far as he could until he collapsed. He turned and looked back and realized that he was barely a few peds out of the gate. He cursed, got back up and went back to his room.

That night he still had the shakes, and sweats and his head pounded as if a smith were inside pounding upon an anvil. It took all he had not to storm out of his room and spend the last of his sans on just a thimble of ale. He craved it! He needed it! He damn well wanted it! Damien grabbed the sans, stumbled out of his door and down the stairs. He heard laughter, could smell the ale, taste the grapes of the wine. His mouth watered and then just when he reached the bottom of the stairs, he saw Altario's face. The scowl of disappointment drowned out the laughter. The feeling of rejection from his friend, felt like it had when Voltigar stripped him of his position and snuffed out the smell of the ale and the question of the healer, "Do you want to live?" made the grapes...tasteless. Damien turned around and went back to his room, lay down upon his bed, shaking, miserable, and finally had a fitful night's sleep.

The following morning he again woke up to the same condition but he was more determined; after eating a small breakfast, filling his water skins, he headed for the desert once again. And once again the sun beat down upon him, and he breathed air void of moisture but he walked and walked. He got farther this time before he returned to his room and fought the alcohol driving sickness within him. And each day he woke up, feeling a bit better and followed his routine. The sun beat down upon him, forging him like a raw piece of iron, creating a sculpture hard as mithrill and an indomitable will to overcome, until one day he woke up with no shakes, he was clear headed, the only pain in his stomach was the ache of hunger which he quickly filled.

When he was down to has last san. He went to the bank to request funds, who in turn sent a message via a Wynd-Rider, to his castle in Northern Sarvonia.It took almost a week before the bird returned and during that time the authorities found him, questioned him about the slavers and slave ship, and then instead of throwing him in the dungeon, surprised him by thanking him -for they had been looking for those slavers for years- and then surprised him even more when they returned his Sengren to him. It was found by a street urchin, who told them who the ax belonged to, and that he was repaying a debt he owed the man. Damien thanked the gods as he walked out of the main guard station.
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.
Ílarolén'yliás (Drustai)
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Gray Elf, Kaýrrhem


« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2011, 04:08:59 PM »

The brigands did not stop after knocking Altario out. They threw both him and Te-oh over their shoulder and continued onwards against the power of the storm. Though it threatened to topple each of them over, they did not let that halt their movements. They knew the layout of the land, the winding path through the dunes that was no stranger to many caravans--all of which lead to their unfortunate demise by none other than Te-oh. More than that, however, their path was lead by something better than a guide--they had a sorcerer.

The leader of the three, unidentifiable beneath the same golden cloak that each of them wore, stopped momentarily to glance over his shoulder, looking at them with twin golden eyes. The others nodded at him, in acknowledgement that they had not lost him in the dunes. The man returned the nod, before continuing onwards.

Within two hours they arrived at their destination. It was a domed tent, nestled between two dune hills. Though covered by sand from the storm, and requiring no small amount of digging to get to the entrance, it was their only reprieve from the desert around them. Resembling Shendar domes--one large central dome surrounded by six smaller domes--the structure was, like Te-oh, a farce, serving as a refuge that few would think out-of-place in the great desert.

The trio entered as soon as the way was clear, before shutting the door behind them. The interior was far less humble than what would be expected of a Shendar dome, floored by a rich red carpet and surrounded by pieces of exquisitely-crafted wooden furniture and golden ornamentations.

The leader of the band turned around to gaze at his fellows, once the door was securely shut against the outside winds and sand. He pulled back his hood and mask, revealing a bald head adorned with twin black tattoos running back parallel along the crest of his skull. He was tall and lean, and his dusky skin was tough and aged. His deep golden orbs eyed his fellows with a look of disdain.

"Bind the stranger, then wake up Te," he spoke plainly. The other two dutifully complied. The first propped Altario's form up against the wall, before tightly wrapping a piece of leathery cloth around his hands and another around his mouth. He then removed Altario's sword from his belt, and pilfered his belt packs for anything of value. The other retrieved a pack of smelling salts from his belt, before waving them before Te-oh's nose. The "Shendar" woke with a violent, coughing start, before looking around wildly as he discerned his location.

"Where is the caravan." the wizard queried, calmly.

"I... they were... you didn't see them?"

"No," he said, showing no emotion, "There was a storm. You do remember the storm, do you not?"

"Yes. There wasn't supposed to be a storm."

"But there was. And instead of leading us to the caravan," the man motioned to Te-oh's belt, indicating something within it, "You lead us to this man--after getting your senses knocked out of you."

"I don't know where they went."

"Yes you do. Because there was a storm. They didn't go anywhere. You did. And now we have very little chance of finding them."

Te-oh pursed his lips, then looked the other way, unsure of how to respond.

"You do not make a very convincing Shendar when you run away at a little sandstorm. Perhaps we should throw you out in it until you learn how to no longer fear it?"

Te-oh glanced back at the wizard, and shook his head.

The wizard did not continue the lecture, and instead turned his gaze to Altario. "Tell me of this one."

"His name is Altario Shialt-eck-gorrin. He's from somewhere called Remusia, I think. Some kind of noble or something, but he didn't seem that rich to me other than the sword."

"Hmm. Remusia." The wizard tapped a long-nailed finger against his chin as he pondered. "That is a long way from here. And that he comes with little of value yet hangs on to that weapon despite the fact it could fetch him much coin--clearly traditional-minded. Not cast out or he would have not been allowed to keep such a weapon, so clearly his departure was voluntary. Too old to be an adventurer, for I doubt he has the restlessness of youth. Clearly there is a pressing matter that has taken him away from his home, when he would have rather stayed there."

"It did seem like the others were following him on some quest."

"Intriguing. Who were the others?"

"All women. A sand sister, a tall, awkward woman with a talking bird, and an orc."

The wizard glanced at Te-oh, raising a thin, curious eyebrow. "Interesting denizens that come to these dunes of late. First the elf, now an orc--traveling with a man from a land that reviles them, no less? I wonder if..." The wizard looked back at Altario. The corner of his lip curled up slightly. "Desperate, aren't you? Willing to do anything for this quest, aren't you? Yes... you might still be of use to me."

He glanced back at the others. "Put him in our guest quarters. And wake him up. I am interested to see if my guess is accurate."

Te-oh and the other two nodded. Without another word they picked up Altario, and began dragging him towards the doors to one of the smaller tents. They then opened the door, held up a small quantity of smelling salts beneath his nose, and tossed him in. Behind them, a curious-eyed wizard observed silently.

Within the 'guest quarters', another occupant stirred. Her sharp, grey eyes narrowed as she saw her fellow guest, before widening. She then glanced at the men, glaring. A low growl arose from her throat, behind the cloth binding between her teeth that kept her from speaking.

The wizard smiled to himself, then closed the door.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 04:20:32 PM by Drustai » Logged
Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin
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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2011, 09:27:40 AM »

Altario ducked, the club missing his head by mere nailsbreadth.  From his crouched position, he thrust his father's blade forward, the point finding soft flesh.  He twisted the weapon, standing, then pulled free his sword as the orc before him crumpled and fell into the snow.

His head on a swivel, Altario surveyed the scene.  The wall was chaos with the orc horde desperately trying to take the advantage, while the Remusian defenders fought with everything they had to defend their wonderful city of Remusia.  They dead and dying littered the battlements and the ground below.

His forhead throbbing, Altario reached up to touch the large lump that jutted out from above his left eye.  Withdrawing his fingers, he saw that they were coloured karikrimson with blood.  Strange, he didn't even remember how he had received the wound, but it throbbed relentlessly.

He heard his name shouted out as warning and he raised his shield to deflect another orc attack.  A few parries later, an opening gave him the chance to dispatch yet another enemy.  He looked over to the source of the warning to see Denrykmar grinning like a fool.  Altario raised his sword in salute.

It was then he noticed that Denrykmar did not appear as he should.  Though his younger brother could be no more than twenty summers in age, his hair had some grey in it, he eyes had the wisdom of age and the hint of wrinkles in the corners of them.  It was if the younger Shialt-eck-Gorrin did not belong here.

Altario's eyes widened in horror as an orc arrow then lodged itself into Denrykmar's chest, and the younger brother toppled silently off the rampart.

"Noooo!!"

Altario found the nearest set of stone stairs, and with panicked speed leaped three and four steps at a time.  He rushed to Denrykmar's side and knelt down in the sand, cradling his brother's head on his lap.

With blood trickling from the corner's of his mouth, Ryk stared up at Altario.  "I'm sorry, Alt.  I couldn't find her.  I couldn't find Nayriss."

"Shhh.  Quiet.  Conserve your strength."

Ryk coughed, more bloody spittle staining his cheeks.  "It's so hot, Alt.  So hot.  Undo my coat.  I just want to go home.  I want to see snow, again."

Altario fiddled with the buttons on Ryk's heavy tunic, opening it, seeing the karikrimson stain fanned out over his brother's chest.  He watched helplessly as the unsteady rise and fall of Denrykmar's chest slowed, then finally stopped.

As tears fell from his eyes, he raised his head and surveyed the unmarked horizon of nothing but strals and strals of sand, not a soul around them.  A dark cloud on the horizon was steadily approaching, the wind howling its approach.

He looked down once more, his fingers tenderly smoothing the long blonde locks of hair.  "I'm sorry, Nayriss.  I am so sorry" he sobbed to her, burying his face against hers as the wind overtook them, burying them in sand; blocking all light, hiding them forever.

But, there was light.  There was sound.  And there was smell.  Most definitely smell; as it burned his nostrils.  He slowly shook his head, trying to distance himself from the smell.  Then one eye opened.  The other he wanted to open, but it did not want to cooperate.

With one eye, he tried to find his bearings, but he didn't recognize much.  He went to move but realized three things.  One was that his hands were bound, another was that he was injured as his head felt as though it would split in two with each motion, and three that his mouth was gagged as he tried to moan in pain.

Aware of a low growl, he twisted his neck about so he could see the source of it with his one open eye.  If he could smile, he would have.  Sitting there near him, in much the same predicament he was in, sat the elf, Drustai.  He eyes flashed with anger, and he followed her gaze to the Shendar guide Te-oh and another who stood in what appeared to be another section of a large tent.

The tent flap closed, leaving the Remusian and the elf alone in the room.  Seeing Drustai's gaze full of hatred, Altario suddenly found the situation humorous.  If he could have, he would have laughed.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 09:55:00 AM by Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin » Logged

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Toama SorInyt
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« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2011, 03:07:34 AM »

Toama listened to the other two as they agreed with her plan. Grallen seemed rather sarcastic about it, but she didn't object to driving the cart. That was something, at least. Lili also agreed, though with concern for the cart. Her last words had a trace of panick about them, though she was doing a very good job of hiding it. It was a good thing then that she was with a desert woman who knew what she was doing. "Cart will beink fine, if drivink careful. If we are not findink false Shendar or Altario inside reasonable timink, we go out of desert. I can leadink us out, but it is maybe possible that we are then not near to city we are tryink to find. I am understandink that Thalambath is beink near... mountain there." For a moment she gestured towards the Norong'Sorno towering up in the distance. "So I can leadink us there. But I am not knowink on which side is beink city."

While she talked, she was busy tying the reins of the spare horses to the cart, so that they would follow when the three of them started out. When she was done, she mounted her own horse, nodded to Grallen who was seated on the cart, and turned towards the dune she had indicated, rising higher than the ones around it. "Let's go." Nudging Desert to a simple walk, so that the cart would not get bogged down in the sand, she lead the way to the point she had in mind. Her horse's hooves dislodged sand with every step - mostly recent sand from the storm - but she was used to adjusting her position to the slightly different motion this resulted in. The dune lay in more or less the direction that she had seen Altario disappear to, though she knew well enough that he could have changed course once he was out of sight. Still, it was better than nothing - she needed to get up high.

When she reached the top of the hill, she dismounted from her horse, though keeping a hold of the reins with the three fingers of her maimed hand. She needed to be able to turn easily without dislodging the sand she was standing on too much. With her good right hand she shaded her eyes from the sun, looking every way to see if she could find anything. What she was looking for were two black dots that might turn out to be two men. What actually arrested her gaze was a large tent, standing some way away. If today had been a normal day, and that guide - she refused to call him by name - had still been with them, she would have assumed that it belonged to the desert dwellers of this region, the Shendar. Her distrust of the false Shendar since the sandstorm, however, led to distrust of anything else remotely human-like looking like it belonged. She could not really see any movement near the tent. Looking at Lili, who was standing next to her, she pointed out the dome. Then she motioned to Grallen to keep the cart on the side of the dune hidden from view from the dome. On foot, she went down to the cart, thoughtful about what she had seen. She glanced at Lili. "What do you thinkink?"
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Lili the Elfcat
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« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2011, 11:23:30 PM »

”I am thinking,” Lili said, looking at both Toama and Grallen, ”I am thinking that we can hope that Altario was taken in by the people that are camping down there, and that he’s sitting under those shady roofs slurping mil’no fire. I am also thinking that if that was so, he must surely have gone bonkers, since in his usual state of mind he wouldn’t have left his horse in the desert for one blink longer than absolutely necessary – especially not if the horse was guarded by none save a bunch of women. That’s why I am thinking most of all that whoever is down there doesn’t need to know how many we are.”

Lili paused. The cart, she thought, had stayed behind the tip of the dune. She didn’t believe that it could yet have been seen by someone who may have peeked out of the dome-like tent that stood in the distance, strange and unexpected like a lone pimple in an immaculate face. A plan was taking shape in Lili’s mind – or maybe not a plan, but a strategy: something that might give them some time and space to have plans later, when they might need them.

”Grallen,” she said. ”Are you up for doing one of your disappearing tricks? Two women and a cart are quite harmless. Two women, a cart and an orc might be seen as trouble.”

Yes, orc. Lili had decided to say it. There was no reason to beat about the bush. Grallen knew what it meant to be an orc among humans. If she’d wanted her feelings spared, she’d be up in the North with her fellow orcs. Lili looked Grallen straight in the eye, to show that she was talking about other people’s prejudice, not her own.

”If everything’s fine and Altario is sitting there playing cards, you can just come out and join. If everything’s not so fine, it might be better for us to have an ace up our sleeve. Or under our cart.”

It had worked once. Why should it not work twice? Lili kicked a bit of sand off her boot, and watched it form a little swirling cloud behind the cart. There was still a breeze in the air.

”What do you say?” she asked Grallen.
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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)
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grallen gast
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2011, 09:06:20 PM »

Looking up at the dune looming ahead, Grallen was uncertain – she wasn’t particularly skilled at driving the cart, and it seemed impossible that the heavy thing, with a gaggle of still-nervous horses tethered behind, could manage that slope. But following Toama’s path as closely as possible, the wheels didn’t stick, and the horses found solid footing – enough to haul the cart up without sticking, anyway. The heat was worse, higher up, with little in the way of breeze. After the fury of the storm everything felt oppressively still and quiet. Grallen’s poor beleaguered ears felt like they were being slowly baked.

Toama and Lili were nearing the top, and at a signal from Toama Grallen tugged on the reins, halting the cart. The horses tethered behind jostled and whickered uneasily, and she shushed at them, wanting to hear what the others might be saying.

They returned soon enough. The idea that there was a camp of some kind nearby immediately prompted thought of shade, rest, something to drink... then realism asserted itself. She nodded at Lili’s appraisal of the situation, and suppressed a grim smile, as she realised what came next.

”Grallen, are you up for doing one of your disappearing tricks? Two women and a cart are quite harmless. Two women, a cart and an orc might be seen as trouble.”

She barely twitched at Lili’s choice of words, and returned her look with a small nod, though something bright and angry stirred behind her eyes.

”If everything’s fine and Altario is sitting there playing cards, you can just come out and join. If everything’s not so fine, it might be better for us to have an ace up our sleeve. Or under our cart. What do you say?”

She looked back at the bed of the cart. It would be stuffy as hell under there... but it would also be a chance to test it. And a challenge. This time the sly smile broke out from under her defences. She looked back to Lili and Toama, halfway-grinning.

“You want me to save your hides if Altario manages to get you all in trouble? It’d be my pleasure.”

She inclined her head in a mockery of a courtly bow, and dropped the reins, hopping off the cart to go round the back.

« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 09:14:11 PM 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 #27 on: June 10, 2011, 05:22:23 AM »

This was the netherworlds! There was nowhere to hide. With the help of the horses, they pulled and pushed the cart through the sand. And around them was nothing – nothing but space and sand and sand and space. Rarely had Lili felt so visible, so vulnerable before. She thought of Grallen, hiding between the two layers of floorboards of the cart. And she envied her. Bumpiness, hotness, stuffiness and general unpleasantness of the ride notwithstanding. At least Grallen had a secret. But Lili felt as if the desert could see right through her.

And there were no traces either – nothing to read! Lili kept looking, but if Te-oh and Altario had walked in this direction, the sandstorm had taken extra care to remove all visible signs of it. ”What a sumptuous boardrak’s mess this is," Lili whispered under her breath. ”If those people have bows and arrows, we’re at their mercy.”

On and on the party walked. When they were about a hundred peds away from the tent, Lili could begin to make out its structure. Like a collection of soap bubbles it looked – a big one in the middle, to which smaller ones cling in a perfectly regular circle. She saw no movement. Not even the canvas of the tent seemed to be stirring, for there was no breeze now. It was as if Grothar had decided to halt his breath to increase the suspense.

No movement. No person walking around the tent, inspecting any damage the sandstorm might have made; no head sticking out between the canvas; no smoke coming from anywhere. But in her heart Lili knew that she was being watched – she, and Toama, and their half dozen horses, and their stupid cart. But not Grallen. Not yet. She might really be our only hope , Lili thought.

And then they were there. Just ten steps from the dome tent with its adhesive bubbles. Lili realized that the structure was larger than it had looked from afar. It was as high as a small house, and considerably wider and larger. She wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had told her that two dozen people could live in there.

”Here we are, then,” Lili said to Toama. ”Two helpless women lost in the desert with their humble cart.”

Lili cleared her throat.

”But make sure you know where your scimitar is,” she added in a whisper. Not that she thought it was necessary to remind the Sand Sister of the danger they were in. But she felt like saying it, nonetheless. Talking loudly again, she went on:

”So what’s next? I doubt they have a doorknocker. Do we just walk in, or what?”
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 05:35:33 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)
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Ílarolén'yliás (Drustai)
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Gray Elf, Kaýrrhem


« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2011, 04:13:23 PM »

Drustai looked at Altario, as he looked at her. Though the rag kept him from smiling, the rest of the muscles on his face betrayed his opinion of the situation. She narrowed her eyes at him. What did he think this was, some kind of joke? Was he pleased with the irony of the situation? He should be thinking of a way to escape, like she was! In fact, now that he was here, perhaps they could maneuver in such a way as to allow them to undo each other's bindings? Though she could not much move her arms, tied as they were behind her back, her fingers were still loose. That might be enough. At least enough to pull off the rags keeping them from speaking.

She turned her gaze back towards him, and then exaggerated a look over her shoulder, trying to point out her hands behind her back. "Hanh," she said, as best as she could with the gag. Hopefully, he would understand that she was saying 'hand' or 'hands'. She then dipped her head forward and made a pointing motion, directly towards Altario's mouth, to try and indicate the gag, before repeating the gesture over her shoulder. Without waiting for some kind of response, she shuffled on her knees so that her back was facing him, and wiggled her fingers.

The whole predicament was beyond embarrassing, she mused. She had left the group to go retrieve a Travel Coin for them from the Thalambathian outpost of Southwatch, and had arranged to rendezvous back with the group at a location specified by Te-oh. Of course, she never reached it, having been ambushed on the way by these highwaymen. Last time she would ever trust a 'guide'. She hissed to herself.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2011, 04:14:32 PM by Drustai » Logged
Lili the Elfcat
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« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2011, 08:07:21 AM »

A gesture from Toama shut Lili up, and made her look at the scene before her – look properly, that is. It didn’t take long to realize what the Sand Sister was showing her: on one side of the dome tent, the storm had left high dunes of sand, which leaned into the canvas, so that the canvas was stretched tight and bulged inwards. But around the entrance, the sand had been cleared away – efficiently, albeit not very evenly, leaving several golden anthill-like heaps to the left and the right of the door. At the bottom of the entrance, more sand had gathered, albeit in smaller amounts than in other places around the tent. If Lili had been able to read, she might have said that these traces were like a notice board which large red letters, which spelled: “someone entered here just before the sandstorm blew itself out”.

Coincidences can happen, of course. Seyella, the goddess of destiny, has the oddest whims. Lili knew that better than many. But in this case, she felt rather certain that whoever had entered this tent recently had been accompanied by Altario and Te-oh.

And there was another thing. Toama showed it by holding a cupped hand next to her ear. There was no noise from the tent, and no apparent movement. Contrary to Lili’s paranoid expectation, then, it seemed that herself and Toama and the cart had not yet been seen, nor heard.

Lili glanced at the entrance. She was tempted to steal a look inside straight away. But of course, whomever she would be able to see might then see her, too. It would be better first to summon all the help she could get.

She stepped to the cart, leaned over the loading area, and gave it three soft but distinct knocks, right in the centre, between two parcels of provisions. She did not doubt that Grallen would have the sense to be quiet when getting out. She only hoped that the orcen limbs hadn’t gone too stiff from being folded into their tiny hiding place.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2011, 02:12:17 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
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