CHAPTER III: THOSE OLD FEELINGS

A SANTHARIAN NOVEL

 
Darkling Abroad   
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Introduction. Viresse finds herself in a comfortable familiarity. Which means only one thing - something is definitely wrong. But soon after her frightening encounter with both her future and her past, reality comes and shakes her world up a bit...

 

t was silent and dark - the way she liked it. The way it should always be. Then the whisper of the wind in the trees; a soft, rustling lullaby that she only heard through her travels in the Crystalwoods; for in Sevari there were few trees, never was there enough to make the steady rustling, cold lullaby she heard.

The Crystalwoods. Among those of Nybelmar, that name conjured up a dark forest teeming with bloodthirsty Cóorhem Drow who did not hesitate to kill anything that moved. Which... in a sense that only Drow understood, made it home. For in the Woods where your tribe lived, the eyes upon you in the dark were eyes that thought like you. That recognized you. And would fight to the death for you. Because that's they way it was. And the way it would be.

The cold white moon filtered through the rustling leaves and splayed a host of wriggling moonbeams upon the thick forest floor. They moved with each whisper of the wind, and faded and grew as thin wisps of clouds slid across the sky before the moon. Fog crept in across the forest floor, and she paused. The Crystalwoods did not fog over in the evening...

She peered into the woods, and like a cat's eye in the light of a latern, she saw the eyes of her creatures flicker in the moonlight as they stealthily whipped through the trees. She saw the familar marks of her kind as the trees and clouds revealed and hid them - the sliver of a pale ear, the glisten of a slender cheekbone, pursed lips seperating into a brilliant yet gruesome smile.

And one stepped toward her. But it wasn't a Co'orhem. It had pale skin. It had pointed ears. And dark hair. It was indeed a drow. But it wasn't Ifer'hém. It wasn't Coórhem. It was... - For lack of a better word, a monster.

Its face from the nose down glimmered with a sticky liquid that glistened red in the moonlight. Its teeth were sharp like a carnivore and stained with pink. Steam arose from both its' - for She could not tell its gender- breath and its coated face. It raised a hand in greeting- long sharp nails and a red hand coated halfway down the forearm with the same slick liquid that could now not be mistaken for anything less than blood. It looked much like a wolf that had turned away form its kill.

Which meant there were more...
 

It swept slickened strands away from its face and wiped its bloodied hand across its scarred, pale torso- defining it as now male - leaving a hand print and a smear across itself. He expelled a heavy breath that rose into a plume of moistened air. With a rough clearing of its throat, it spoke.

"Cór'jeín 'artanhé, móh'styrás..."

She widened her eyes- she had not expected it to say a word. And realized - it was an Eophyrhim.

Viresse jumped awake, and bumped her head against one of the burlap-wrapped parcels she had leaned against in her sleep. She rolled her eyes and set a hand upon her head, and felt the beginning of a lump. "Kack," she said. Then paused.

Well. She hadn't ever needed to use that word before. She sat up, and yawned. She wasn't jarred by any movement like she expected - and noticed that the wagon wasn't moving. Viresse stopped moving and listened quietly, trying to pick up exactly what was going on.

There was a battle of words from the front of the wagon. She recognized Rube's voice, but there was another she didn't recognize, and the tone was not that of civil conversation. She looked out at the landscape before her - they were away from the city and a few hours had passed, for the sun was in a different position. She slowly turned her head, and heard a bit clearer, and could see Rube standing very straight as he was being spoken to. He looked toward the wagon, and pointed. Much to Viresse's surprise, Rube caught a hammy fist to the gut, and he stumbled backward, clutching his belly.

Viresse sneered and struggled to stand, making a decent amount of racket in doing so. The axles heaved and squeaked, and a couple of the burlap-wrapped packages tottered on the wood bed, creating a hollow, drum-like rattle. She quickly slipped her hand into her cloak and unsheathed her dagger, and sprung up onto the seat of the wagon.
 
As she eyed the two men -  the fatty one that had seemed to punch Rube, and another, a wirey one Viresse hadn't seen due to her angle - looked up at her. She wore a wicked grimace on her face out of training, and quickly snapped to the men in Tharian, although roughly.

"What do you do there to my companion!? You fight him, You fight me!"

She threateningly brandished her dagger, being sure to let the light from the sun glint across their eyes to show she was armed. " Let us be at it!"

The thin man balked at the sight of her, his jaw dropping. "S' a Drow!" He gasped, and looked to the rotund hammerfisted one. "It could be a hound!"

The fat one darted his eyes from Viresse to his companion "S' not a Hound! Hounds travel in packs!" He snapped at the thin one, and threw a threatening fist in Viresse's direction. " I don' care what she is, she canna' take two of us at once!"

"Oi! She's a waif!" The slender one noted and started toward her.

The fat one chuckled menacingly and began to take a step - and got a booted foot to the side of the head. He had let his eyes leave Rube, who recovered quicker than expected. The fat man released a frothy spray of blood from his mouth, and staggered a few steps before realizing what had struck him. He turned to Rube, and was greeted with a fist to the jaw, and a second with Rube's opposing hand. The fat man reeled and dropped to his knees - Rube took the chance to wrap an arm around the man's neck - his forearm pressing against the windpipe, in an attempt to make the large attacker unconscious and unable to fight.

Viresse did the mistake of watching Rube's fighting prowess - a mistake she didn't realize until the thinner man had a tenacious grip around her slim, booted ankle.

"I'm terribly sorry, sweetheart, but Lubo and I got a heavy eye on this here wagon. And if you don't mind too much, we'd like to borrow it for some time. We'd appreciate it if you didn't put up too much of a fight! " The slim man seemed to hiss like a snake as he spoke.

Viresse kicked in an attempt to release his hold, but the thin man had a good hold and pulled in the direction of her kicking, causing her to lose her balance. Viresse fell to her rear on the wagon's seat - far closer to the agressor than she had wanted to be. He reached for her throat with his grasping, claw-like hands, and Viresse only thought of thrusting her hand in his face and letting her nimble drow fingers do the work. She dug the heel of her hand vehemently into the chin of the thin man.

"Oh, come on now, darlin' ! It doesn't have to be like this! We'll even just take the stuff in the wagon and leave you and your boyfriend alone! We don't mean to be a burden!" His hissing continued as she dug her fingers into his flesh, the way he spoke mocked her in all the ways that irked her.


But her fingers slipped on the frothing spittle of the lanky attacker, who had spoken sugar-coated phrases the entire time her hand was on his face. She slid forward, directly into the grip of his hands. He grasped tightly around her neck and a wicked, bloodthirsty grimace crossed his face.

"There ya go - just give in-" He hissed, but quickly paused. The grimace lasted only a second as Viresse smiled cruelly back at her attacker with no visible strain upon her face, and stabbed her attacker in the left side of his unguarded torso with the dagger she had never lost grip of. He gasped and let her go, revealing Viresse's Coórrhem metal collar adorned with filigree. She brashly placed her booted foot on his shoulder and pushed him backward away from the wagon.

"No," she stated simply.

Viresse then looked at her blood coated knife and wiped it on the sleeve of her cloak. She slipped the dagger back in its sheath, and looked to Rube, who had just laid down the large man, who had finally fallen unconscious.

Rube heaved as he bent over the sleeping man and set his hands on his knees, gasping for air. After a few steady breaths, he looked up to Viresse, who seemed to sit calmly on the front seat of the wagon. He eyed her curiously.

"That was easy," he gasped, a smile splayed across his handsome face.

"When you're prepared, it is," she quipped. Viresse laced her fingers and set them in her lap, looking as if she had just finished reading a book.

Rube stood up straight. " You are telling me you were ready?"

Viresse smirked, unlaced her fingers and tapped one finger on her metal collar. "I have worn this every day of my life. I've been threatened with death every day that I live... I had a dream just now - of death." She ducked her head and smiled cruelly. "I was born ready."

Rube set his hands on his hips and looked around, a sarcastically exasperated look on his face. He gave a soundless laugh. "You really need to stop with that whole scary-drow thing. It's not going to garner any respect from me." He began walking toward the wagon. " It's not even all that impressive. Or attractive."

Viresse looked at him indignantly. " Well, Rube. I'm sorry if I don't impress you. What I am is what I am." She crossed her arms and got huffy, as she had earlier.

"But-" Rube grunted as he pulled himself into the driver's seat of the wagon "That's not who you are... and you know it. So stop trying with me. You keep it up and I'm only going to be more of a horse's ass."

Viresse slipped out of her huffy mood and eyed Rube curiously. Was she that unschooled in the natural ways of her drowish heritage? In all honesty, she did not like the fighting, but the strength of her appearance upon humans had given her a shield to hide behind if things got rough. She was not a fighter. That was why she had left the Coórhem. But was it so beyond her to be drow that she could only falsely portray it?

Rube clicked his tongue and the horses moved on. He had to raise his voice when he spoke to Viresse again, which made his statements sound less heartfelt than they were meant to be. "You're actually more frightening than I let on - I'm just not all that scared of you." He looked to Viresse for a moment and glanced her over." I don't know a single person who can instill fear in highway robbers like you did - by just existing."

Viresse brushed a few stray strands of hair away from her face. "So, I make a good drow, then?" She blinked in the bright sunlight and waited for an answer.

Rube again glanced over at Viresse and smiled, a kind confident smile like he had shown when they first exchanged greetings. "For those that don't know you, yea." He glanced back at the road for a second, then looked back at Viresse. " Drogo told me all about you - it was kind of... for lack of a better word, cute that you wanted to hide from me." He glanced back toward the road.

Viresse let out an annoyed sigh and looked out at the King's Hollow, that they headed toward. "That Drogo... he'll get his!" She rolled her eyes. She then thought for a moment, her pale brown knitted in thought. She looked back at Rube. " I looked 'cute' ?"

Rube chuckled. "For an elf you're quite human..." he noted. "You weren't cute, what you did was. You wanted to impress me - with your personality before my pre-conceived notions of dark elves... It's good to know someone cares about what you think." He glanced over. "No one cares about the laymen, you know."

Viresse rolled her eyes, then attempted to defend her actions. "I was going to be stuck with you for three days. I wanted you to get a good first impression."

"Is 'Whiny Drow Bitch' your idea of a good first impression?" he quipped.

"Has your impression of me now changed since our little Ruffian party?" Viresse asked as she smiled playfully.

"Maybe. Now you're 'Semi-Creepy Whiny Drow Bitch with a knife'. Is that better?"

Viresse cocked a brow. " Maybe."
 


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