Adventures of Caelereth

Active Stories => Destiny => Topic started by: Garret Arroway on March 02, 2009, 12:07:00 PM

Title: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Garret Arroway on March 02, 2009, 12:07:00 PM
     Shadows stretched across the barren landscape as the sun dropped from the sky, solemnly hanging low in the west, fighting against the creeping arrival of darkness from the east. Long dark shadows fought for control against the lingering splashes of pink and orange as a warm breeze stirred up little clouds of sand and dust that dances around the ankles of the few goats that had broken free from the stables to munch on dried shrubs that broke though the hard-packed earth as the cooling touch of darkness arrived.

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

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

     As the minutes passed some people began ordering final drinks, retreating to the upstairs to collect belongings, or departing to begin the trek toward Strata now that the blazing summer sun was allowing the land a few hours of respite, though the building still remained full as it did every night.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 03, 2009, 06:27:55 PM
Altario stood in the doorway to the stables, the Thirsty Herald only a short way off, as he watched Injera settling down on the south western horizon.  The corners of his weathered mouth slightly curved upward in a small smile, as he thought that just a few months ago, he would have never thought of the sun as Injera.  It had always been Shyu, with its sister, Myu, the moon.  Those were their Remusian names.  But, it had been so long since he had seen snow like those of his homeland.  So very long.  Yet, the heaviness in his heart had lightened in the last two months, since he had arrived at this small tavern in the Rahaz Dath desert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the the meal she ate the night the two of them met.  A night that he hoped she looked upon with as much favour and reminiscence as did he.  So he would sit, patiently waiting for her to join him.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on March 07, 2009, 04:44:43 AM
Hate sand. Hate sand. Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate.

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 07, 2009, 10:06:44 AM
Lori slipped out of the kitchen, hands full with a big brown loibl. Meat sauce was running over her hands and dripping onto the floor from the big chunk of fresh roasted  taenish which lay between the halves of the bread. She loved such a meal, loved the taste, the feeling when the juices filled her mouth, the smell which was even better than the taste. Once she had a bad flue and couldn‘t smell anything anymore. That had been a torture for her, for her favorite sweets, Santharian mint kisses, had had no flavour and they were so expensive and it had been such a waste!

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

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

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

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

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

„Why don‘t you have this half roll? I‘m really not hungry any more, you can take it. Then you don‘t need to eat so much of this green stuff here. I give it you for free!“

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on March 08, 2009, 07:42:42 AM
For the second time in her life, Lili stood in front of the tavern they called the Thirsty Herald. Kassandra the daggerbeak, Lili’s only companion for the last five moons, was sitting on her left shoulder. And a good companion Kassandra was – even though she was a bird, she provided ample opportunity for conversation.

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

“Ugly Lili!”

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kassandra had replied: “Ahoy, captain!"

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 09, 2009, 02:49:11 AM
Altario sat at the table, trying to distract his mind from the seemingly oppressive nature of the elfess' absence.  He tried not to look for her in the crowd, telling himself that she was not late, and that it was all in his mind.  Yet, it seemed that every grain of sand that fell through the hourglass had a mind of its own and fought against nature to keep from slipping through.  It was as if time had stopped, as he waited.

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

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

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

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

One more glance at the stairs.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 09, 2009, 04:01:58 AM
"No, thank you, sweetheart, but I like this 'green stuff' I have."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

„Miss, Miss! Can I bring you some drink?“ she asked hopefully, ignoring Moira who tried to apologise for her to that woman.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Valannia Incendarious on March 09, 2009, 09:16:05 AM
Altario’s jet-black hair was slicked back from a face tanned almost to bronze. Val’s breath snagged at the strong, spare radiance of his countenance, each plane emphasized by the sheen of sweat on glistening flesh. Lean cheeks with slanted cheekbones that mirrored the stark angle of his brows accentuated the Remusian’s supple visage. The gruffly beard flowing along his powerful jaw line brought a frivolous giggle to flow over her moistened lips. The memory of it caressing over her cheek brought fragile digits to grasp the blankets tightly as she inhaled softly. His narrow well-shaped lips she imagined tipping into a smile, before embracing her own in pleasure. Tiny digits clasped the sheets, she dreamt of his commanding shoulders being there to hold onto for support if only for a moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adverting her eyes from Altario’s was no small task and she was not sure she wanted too. Melodically she greeted him. “Good afternoon Mi …. Altario.” She blushed noticeably so, at her near mistake of properly greeting him. Her almond shaped eyes casually investigating the table, filled with her favorite food and drink. 

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 09, 2009, 03:42:41 PM
As quick as she had appeared, Lori was gone again, her fancy tickled by the bird that had caused the commotion.  Altario watched her as she deftly maneuvered her way through the crowd, and a slight smile formed on his lips.  She reminded him of Nayriss in a way.  Not her look, not hardly.  Nor in her manners or demeanor, which were far coarser than his daughter possessed.  But, within that child, as Nayriss, a spirit burned brightly.  Whatever life had to offer for that little girl, she was going to meet it headlong, eyes unblinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shaking fingers deftly placed a simple gold band in the palm of the woman before him.  "Valannia, will you take me as your husband?  Will you allow me the honour of making you my wife, for as long as I shall live?"

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Airyn on March 09, 2009, 08:05:23 PM
Airyn's cloak billowed around her ankles as she walked quickly towards the tavern. With one hand she held her dark hood over her head, and held the leather leash that bound her dog to her side in the other. People turned their heads slightly to follow the elf, almost running past the stables; however the dog seemed to be appreciative of the run.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on March 10, 2009, 02:36:46 AM
Grallen paused when she arrived at the inn, glancing over the various mounts stabled outside. The selection was fairly good, and for a while she argued with herself over the comparative merits of a very fine looking grey stallion, and a less conspicuously impressive but probably equally valuable red mare. Eventually she dismissed the debate as unnecessary – she wasn’t being chased out of the inn just yet, though it helped to have a couple of escape routes pre-planned, as it were. She was fairly confident she could get either of those mounts out of the stables and a good distance away from the inn within a few minutes of deciding she had to make a swift exit, should she need to.

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

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

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

Cradling the tankard of  - well, I think it’s brandy – smells like it – yep, tastes like it –  she looked for a seat somewhere she could watch the other patrons, looking for someone who might be able to help her.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on March 10, 2009, 04:53:40 AM
”Holla-ho!” said Lili, smiling at the barmaid and the little girl simultaneously, quickly moving her eyes to and fro from one to the other. “Here I’ve got two pretty ladies-in-waiting attending to me!” And I know someone who would enjoy that at least as much as my ol' self, she thought with a glance to her pesky admirer – but oops! That garthook had waddled off already! His place had been taken by a fine-featured blonde woman with elven ears, whose sand-coloured skin glittered in the murky light of the tavern like a riverbed strewn with gold coins. Stab me vitals, I guess that’s what a proper lady looks like! So it shot through Lili’s mind.

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Valannia Incendarious on March 10, 2009, 12:12:44 PM
Altario had risen and offered his hand to assist with her seating. The caress of his touch brought back flashes of her daydreams, causing the elfess to blush vibrantly as her mind wandered back. His apparel, so distinguished, his manners, so refined. Something was surely awry as Valannia noted an unsteadiness in his voice, a quivering of his lips when he spoke. His utterance of taking liberties of ordering dinner went relatively unnoticed; anxiety filled her heart as she prayed that she had done nothing wrong. Frightfully, he fell to his knees beside her, was he hurt? Had she done something wrong before falling asleep? Was she still dreaming? Why else would this moment have played out so perfectly?

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

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

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

Perched with his lower lip tenderly placed between her own, finally shifting back to stare into his eyes. Lips poised as they were before Valannia had kissed him, she whispered quietly to him. “aih” (Yes). The utterance of the word caused the knight to inhale softly, she was surprised with such a rapid heartfelt answer. Caught in the maelstrom of the moment she continued on in her native tongue, completely oblivious to the fact, that she had only taught Altario uncomplicated words. “qué, iú lythán!” (I love you!) With her free hand she cradled his cheek, ignorant that it was quivering as she touched him. Her mouth greeting his in a passionate embrace as tears steamed down her cheeks.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 11, 2009, 06:55:58 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OOC: Lili, better inform you here (

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on March 12, 2009, 02:28:03 AM
The little girl ran off in excitement. Hoho, this was a good start to the evening! Lili leant back against the bar and looked about the room, while she was thinking of a story to tell the wee madcap. Kassandra had done some funny things on the ship, but let’s see whether we can’t come up with something even funnier! As Lili pondered, her gaze happened to fall on the floor, where a little fluffy cushion of a dog was lapping up a puddle of spilled drink. Must belong to our star of the night, thought Lili with a gaze to her left, where the elfess sat with a drink and her chin in her hands, looking morose. Her beautiful golden skin had become even more lady-like, as it had assumed a hint of rosé. Upon my belly-button! I do hope I can get her to show me that trick!

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

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

Just as Lili spoke, the little girl came running back, handed her the wine and - quite rightfully - demanded a story for her services. The cutthroat smiled at the girl, took the tankard and, without so much as sniffing at it, held it out to the elfess. ”Here, it’s the very stuff I was telling you about. Have a sip on me!” And then, to the girl: "Now, about that captain ..."

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 12, 2009, 11:48:53 AM
Altario waited on bended knee for what seemed like an eternity, until his knee began to ache.  He wanted her to answer so desperately that his heart ached at the thought, yet at the same time he feared it; dreaded it even.  This was too soon.  How could he expect her to fall in love with him the same way he had fallen for her?  It was ridiculous if she were human.  That she was elf made it positively absurd.

Doubt flooded through him, and if he could, he would take back the last two minutes of his life.  Somehow, gods willing, she might not have heard him correctly.  Something.  Anything.

Suddenly she spoke, her voice soft and melodious as usual.  But her words were in Styrash, and though he was picking up a few words from her, he did not recognise what she said.  Was she explaining why she could not marry him?  He knew she was too honourable to laugh at his foolishness outright.  He closed his eyes, unable to meet her gaze.

He felt her fingers on his cheek, sensed her body moving, and he opened his eyes slowly to see tear filled uderza orbs locked onto him.  Tears of sadness?  Oh, please Valannia, he screamed within his mind, please just get this over with.  Tell me I'm a fool.  Tell me you're sorry.  Tell me you didn't mean for this.

Her lips then touched his, and it was if lightning coursed through him.  In that moment, it did not matter what her answer was.  It did not matter if this was the last moment they ever spent together.  This moment, this kiss, was the only thing that mattered.  It was very possibly, the sweetest kiss he had ever tasted in his entire life.  He loved her.  In this moment, right here, right now, he loved her more than any person in the world.

She pulled back, ever so slightly that their lips continued to touch, as if fighting the movement of their bodies, clinging together with a will of their own.  In that moment he heard the word he had been both aching for and dreading.  She said "yes"!  In Styrash, but it was yes.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!  She said said yes!

Then, another phrase in styrash that not only did he not understand, but really did not hear, even if it had of been in Tharian.  His mind was still repeating the word “aih” over and over to the exclusion of everything else.  They came together in a warm embrace.

Finally, reality reemerged as his knee screamed in protest, and he was forced to rise from his kneeling position.  He resumed his seat across from her, all the while holding her hand.  With shaking fingers, he adorned her petite digit with the band of gold.  He could not be sure that it fit perfectly, but it was there.  On her, where it belonged.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Garret Arroway on March 12, 2009, 03:16:59 PM
     It had been a year and a half since he had seen Denrykmar. It has been nine since he had seen Altario. It had been fourteen years since he has crossed the blasted desert and when he had stood at the gates of Bardavos, grey gaze turned south, peering out at stral after stral of vast nothingness, Garret decided it would be a shame to break that last record. So he headed west, to Dasai, purchasing a small nook on the deck of a ship, and the tolerance of the Captain, to take him to the southern most point of the continent. Strata.

     When cramped in a corner of the deck, one massive arm wrapped around the neck of the large wolf that sat beside him, he reviewed the events that had led him there. Loyalty. Loyalty had landed him on his boat, paying an absurd amount to transport himself and his companion to Strata, stuck in a space too small for a rat. While at sea he was fairly even tempered, at least after he had gotten used to the rocking motion of the ship and his stomach stopped refusing to cooperate. The cool breeze and slightly spray of salt water against his skin was a blessing as he new he'd have to deal with the heat of the south once he veered away from the coast.

     Until a messenger had tracked him down one day, Garret had had little contact with Ryk for little over a year, which wasn't that abnormal. Both were fond of the same inns in the larger cities. However, when Garret arrived at the inn that had been mentioned by the messenger, his friend was gone, leaving only a sealed letter and more instructions. This time it was a request that he seek out Altario, Ryk's older brother. While Garret wasn't as close to Alt as he was to the younger brother, he's been a friend of the family for a long while and had fought with the Remusian brothers thirteen years ago.

     Tracking down Altario hadn't been as difficult as he'd thought, though he had begun the journey about three months before he had begun his sea voyage. Word of an older northerner down in the south had trickled past the deserts and into mid-Sarvonia, so south was where Garret had headed. If the rumors proved wrong, he would have lost time and funds, but at least that was one less place to search.

     Strata came into sight and the ship's journey came to an end too soon for Garret's tastes, though Shadowfoot was glad to be back on land. Together they had moved through the city, stopping at taverns, inns, and markets, anywhere they could listen for the rumors. Night had already taken control of the land when he heard talk of an older northerner taking up a somewhat long-term spot at the Thirsty Herald. Garret silently cursed his luck, knowing things could never be easy.

     Taking a room for the night, he slept in an actual bed, happily stretching out to full length rather than curling up into a ball in the corner of a ship. The next morning he had managed to get his hands on a young rusik horse before heading out the Desert Gate of Strata. While it was still somewhat early in the morning, the hot sun beat down on Garret's back, causing the fighter to grumble and mutter curses throughout the day as he moved toward the Thirsty Herald.

     Now, dark had fallen and he sat atop the rust-red horse, shifting uncomfortably. While he had ridden horses often he still hadn't become completely used to the animals and preferred walking. He sat there for a moment, staring at the building in the distance, remembering the one time he'd been there before. It had been fourteen years. He'd cross as an escort to a merchant, who couldn't afford the passage by ship to Strata and had a guide that owed him a favor. So Garret had spent many days under the sun, traipsing across a god-forsaken land just so he could spend his pay on a boat trip back north.

     Garret had dealt with the Frozen Wastes of the north, spent a good deal of time on that deserted wasteland. A couple times he'd thought he'd die out there, many times he bleed out there, crimson soaking into the ice, but he'd take the snow, winds, and cold any day over the sand and heat. Cursing the desert once more he prodded his horse forward slowly to allow a weary Shadowfoot to keep up. I'll only cross this god-forsaken land once more, he told himself, just to get back to Strata, then I'm done with this desert, this sand, this blasted heat.

     Upon reaching the Thirsty Herald, Garret slid down from the rusik's back, tossing the reins to a stable-boy who had run out at the heavy clap of the horse's hooves on the dry earth. He paused for a moment, enjoying the cool breeze of the desert night, thanking what ever god would listen for that little bit of comfort. The noise inside the Herald reached him from the other side of the door as he knelt, brushing the sand from the wolves graying coat as best he could before running his hands through his own hair and down his face, feeling the familiar prickle of his short beard against his hand. For some reason that made him feel older, even though he'd been keeping it that way for the last few years.

     Finally ready to find out if his trip had been in vain or not, Garret stood and stepped forward, pushing the door of the Herald open. A wave of heat, noise, and smells hit him as he entered, reluctantly shutting out the cool breeze. Blinking a little at the bright light he stepped further into the room, reaching down to grab Shadowfoot by the scruff of the neck to make sure he was still with him.

     After a few moments of searching he sighed in relief, heading over to the corner where the person he had been searching for sat. He almost stopped when he noticed Altario was sitting with someone, but he had spent the last three months and some odd days looking for this man, needing to give him a letter the messenger had declared was urgent. So, without pause, Garret strode up to the table, calling out the name of the man before he had covered the distance completely.

     "Altario," Garret said, managing a tired grin. Without any acknowledgement or conversation, he pulled the letter from a pocket within his vest, holding it out for the Remusian to grab.

     "From your brother."

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on March 13, 2009, 04:36:31 AM
"Oy mate, clear day for saili'n." Damien lifted his head. He peppered beard covered with last nights supper. His stomache roiled and he felt like he was going to heave again, but there was nothing left in him. He steadied himself, turned his head away from the bow of the ship to see who was speaking to him. It was the Captain of the Wildwind; Nathan Or'cell.

Captain Or'cell or Nate as he preferred was a tall drink of water, with long arms, huge hands and fingers; thier skin all brown and weathered, like tanned leather. Damien had to tilt his head just a bit to see him eye to eye and Damien was not a short man. He was wearing a white shirt over which was thrown a black belt which carried his sabre in a short scabbord that hung over the man's left hip. His black pants were bloused and tucked into black leather boots.

"If ye say so, Nate." Damien answered back in the vernacular peculiar to sailors/ "Where we be 'ead'n now?" Damien asked, blurry red eyes looking up at Nate.

Nate let out hearty laugh. "Damien my friend we be 'eadin' south, across the Aetryam Sea. Should give you time to dry out my friend, as we 'ave no rum on board.

Damien just glared.

"Ye drank it all," Nate said laughing once again and then after patting Damien on the shoulder left and went toward his cabin.

The Aetryam Sea! Damien slowly rested his head on the wooden plank of the bow of the ship. How long has he been at sea? Month's...Years? Who knew? After Damien had left Voldar he decided to take a ship instead of walking all over Southern Sarvonia, as he did not like to ride a horse. It was not that he could not ride one, he just preferred to walk instead. His Kyranian heritage had given him the stamina to almost out run a horse on long distances; but that was when he was much younger and very much more sober.

He had went from ship to ship as they went around the western shores of Sarvonia. He must have stopped at every rinky, stinky, harbour saloon that each ship sailed into, found a female companion and drank himself stupid. If he would not wake up in time to catch his original ship, he would just purchase passage on another one and continue on his way.

What drove him to do what he was doing, only he knew. Now he found himself another ship, hungover as usual.

Damien staggered to a bucket full of water and looked down into it. He hardly recognized the face that wavered back at him; dark black, blood shot eyes hidden deep under black bushy eyebrows surrounded by wrinkles stared back at him.

The sea air and harsh weather had leathered his face and his scar had seemed to almost melt away, but you could still see it if you were close enough. His normally shoulder lengthend jet black wavy hair now hung almost to the bottom of his back and was unwashed, unkempt and stunk from the hundred's times he had vomited throughout his voyage. He had grown a bushy black and white peppered beard that was as bad as his hair, even worse, if that were possible?

Suddenly rough hands grabbed his shoulders and shoved him up and away from the bucket. Damien, still hung over, stumbled back into a group of men who held his arms.

"Eh' keep yer dirty 'air and face 'orm our drink'n water," a big bruiser of a sailor yelled at him.

Damien shook off the hands holding him. "I just wanted a drink," Damien said.

""ell no stink'n varmit like ye will be drinkin' from our water," the bruiser answered back.

"Fine, be that way," Damien said as he pushed his away through the sailors heading back to his bunk.

"Oy ne ye not. 'e be tired of yer smell. Ye sleep in the 'ole," the sailor said.

Damien turned around and glared at the big sailor. "I have paid for passage on this vessel so you cannot tell me where I can or cannot sleep," Damien said, his head throbbing and his anger rising.

"Eh, we don'a care. Ye stink, and need a washin, right mates?" The sailor asked.

There was a chorus of replies agreeing with the big man.

"And how are you going to make me?" Damien challenged.

"Dump in the sea, mates," the sailor said.

Damien felt hands grab his arms, he shrugged them off, and hit back. His huge right hand connected to a sailors jaw, breaking it.  The man yelped, as more hands grabbed Damien's arms. He tried to pull away, his left arm came free and with a back knuckled punch hita sailor in his nose, spraying blood all over the man's face. More hands grabbed him and he kicked back hitting some sailors in the shins, who howled, let him go and he again had control of his hands and arms and threw punches into whatever face he saw.  How he wished he had his Sengren. The double bladed axe he always carried was safely stowed away under his bunk as were his good clothes.

Finally he could not fight them all and he felt himself being pulled down. His wrists were roughly tied behind him and his ankles were also tied. He felf himself being pulled upwards until he was hanging upside down over the deck swaying with the pitch and motion of the ship. Damien struggled, like a worm on a hook, as the sailors below him laughed at his expense.

"Put 'im in the sea, mates," Damien heard the sailor say. 

Damien felt himself being moved and saw the deck slowly disappear until he was far out on the boom looking down at the ocean. He yelled for the Captain, but it was never heard as he was dropped from the boom into the water.

Damien had just barely enough time to take a quick breath before he was swallowed up by the ocean. His body held tight by the ropes around his ankles was angled and every once in a while his head would pop out of the water enough for him to gasp for a quick breath of air before he would be under again, twisting around, like a nervous woman's finger in her hair.

His breath was running out. He struggled to get his head above water, but he was too deep and too weak to struggle anymore. His chest felt like a horse was standing on it. His eyes felt like they were about to pop out of his head and his head felt like it was about to burst open. His body, not wanting to die without one last try, hurled itself against the rushing current hoping to bring itself to the top of the water and to air, but it was too weak from lack of oxygen and it began to slowly struggle as Damien slowly fell into unconciousness and his mouth slowly opened leeching out the last bit of air that was in his lungs.

It was hot. He was sweating as he dreamed of all of the women he had met and had bedded. He saw the faces of all of the men he had killed. He spoke to those whom he had known. He finally saw the face of a blonde haired girl who he did not know, yet somehow saw a resemblance to someone he had known. This girl was speaking to him and motioning to him but he did not understand and the more he tried to get closer to her the farther and farther she drifted away.  this was Queprur's domain? Was this what the afterlife was? Living and reliving all of his life; its mistakes and regrets, his lies, betrayals and the love that he could have had. It was almost too unbearable to bear.

He screamed...

Suddenly he felt a soft hands with a wet rag being put on his forehead. He opened his eyes and looked into large dark brown eyes staring back at him. He tried to sit up, but the room started swimming and he was gently pushed back down into the bed.

"You lie still. The fever has finally broke, but you are still very weak and sick," a soft female voice told him.

"Where...Where am I?" He croaked out; his throat dry as corn husks.

"You are in Strata," came back the answer.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Airyn on March 14, 2009, 09:06:12 AM
“Hey lady, you look like someone’s put vinegar in your drink. You should try this Desert Wine they’ve got here. Nothing better to rinse the gloom out of your guts! Not in this desert, anyway. You been here long?”

Airyn raised her head from her chin and looked absentmindedly at the woman next to her. She was holding out a glass filled just under halfway. ”Here, it’s the very stuff I was telling you about. Have a sip on me!” She offered, and then turned away to talk to the little girl on her other side. Airyn smiled softly “I apologise,” said the elf, “I may have been lost in my thoughts for a moment.”  She took the glass, to be polite, and raised it to her lips. The drink travelled warmly down her throat, leaving the strong flavour in her mouth. Her eyes closed and lingered for no more than a moment before opening once more. The taste was unlike anything she had ever tasted! Much better than the acid-like liquor that was in my glass before. “My, that is different,” she laughed as she placed the glass next to the small bowl of water, which the bird was happily drinking from.

She stared at the rows of alcohol-filled bottles on the other side of the bench, and ran her fingers through her thick hair.“As to your question, friend, I have not been here long at all. I have only just arrived, actually, and...” Airyn found with surprise that the woman was not listening, and had turned her attention to the young girl who was shifting excitedly from foot to foot. The elf giggled, there is always time for that later.
She leaned forward, so that her elbows were supporting her chest, and looked up at the woman’s face underneath the bright pink hat perched on her head. As her eyes scanned over the light skin and brown eyes, she noticed a glint of excitement in the woman’s eyes – she had noticed Airyn watching, and was now turning her head to look from the child to the elf and back again. Airyn’s jaw clenched tightly as her eyes found the long and painful looking scar on her left cheek. Her eyes filled with sorrow, but she tried to force her interested to expression remain. How could she have possibly obtained such a mark?  Airyn flicked her eyes to the red-headed girl, who couldn’t stop a toothy grin from appearing on her face as the lady with the pink hat began to speak. Airyn quickly found that she too was enchanted, and completely abandoned her thoughts to listen to an interesting tale about a talkative bird and sea captains...

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 14, 2009, 09:10:24 AM
Altario held Valannia's smaller hands within his large calloused ones, stroking them softly.  There was so much he wanted to say to her, so much that was just beyond his ability to say aloud.  There were no words, but from the way she stared back at him, he was content in thinking that somehow she knew what he wanted to say.  She knew him, and it amazed him that she did.  She had an insight into him, that he could not explain.  He was not good at speaking, and the etiquette that both of them stood on, did not allow for overly intimate conversations.  Still, he felt she knew his inner self.


He heard his name, but did not want to let anyone ruin this moment for him and his newly betrothed.  There was so much they needed to discuss.  Where would they marry?  Here?  No, that would never do.  Remusia?  Urimpaar?  He would love to take her there, show her the wonders of his homeland and his estate.  But no, that would not do either.  Her home.  Her family around her.  That was what Valannia deserved.  Though, he had heard her speak of Elving as her home, he did not know where it was, exactly.  And as far as her family went, she had barely spoken of them.  The few times he had asked about them, she had grown quiet, and he had not pressed the matter.  Still, with a matter as important as marriage, he was sure that she would want them by her side.

A shadow crossed the table, and Altario was  annoyed to hear his name spoken once more.  He looked up, scowling at the disheveled stranger who had dared disturb this special moment.  The stranger stood there, a friendly grin upon his face.  That grin.  There was something familiar in that grin.  It reminded him of.... "Garret?"  Altario heard the man speak again, something about Denrykmar, but he didn't quite hear it as he stood up quickly and let out a joyous whoop that attracted the attention of more than a few in the room.  He grabbed the larger man and pulled him close into an enthusiastic embrace, holding him tight and pounding his back with his hands.  If his eyes had been dry from the moments with Valannia, they had opened up again, as emotion coursed through him.

He pulled back, hands gripping Garret by the shoulders and he stared at him, as if making sure it was really him.  It had been nearly 10 years or so since he had last seen the young man that was as close as a brother.  "Where have you been?  How have you been?  By the gods, Garret, it is good to see you."  He pulled the man in for one last embrace before releasing him.  He remembered how shy the young man used to be.

Young man.  Altario reached out and mussed Garret's hair.  "You're looking old Garret, but I think we all are now."  He then noticed the large wolf near Garret's side.  He knelt down and reached out to the wolf, allowing the animal to sniff his hand.  "Hey Shadowfoot, I see you haven't run off yet."  

Altario stood and it was then he saw the parchment in Garret's hand, taking it, his hand now trembling.  It would have to be important to have sent Garret to track him down.  Before braking the seal and reading it, Altario turned and extended a hand towards the elfess.  "Garret, may I introduce Valannia.  My betrothed."  He waited to see the slight look of surprise on Garret's face.  "Valannia, this is Garret Arroway.  He is like a brother to me and Denrykmar."

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Garret Arroway on March 14, 2009, 11:31:24 AM
     A scowl on the Remusian's face signaled to Garret that this was indeed the wrong time and he had interrupted something, but the message was urgent according to the first messenger and so an interruption was necessary. The frown vanished from the man's face and he looked up at Garret.

     "Garret?" Altario asked and Garret's grin only widened again.

     He had held out the letter, announcing that it was from Ryk, but Alt didn't seem to hear and Garret didn't have time to say anything else before he jumped up and pulled him into a tight embrace. Altario and Ryk were the closest thing he'd had to family for the past thirteen years, so it was great to see the older of the brothers.

     "Where have you been? How have you been? By the gods, Garret, it is good to see you."

     "It is good to see ya too Altario. It's been far too long," Garret replied. "Been doin' good. Wanderin' has always suited us and when it doesn't I remember a place I can call home."

     He wasn't sure Altario had heard him as his last statement had been cut off near the end by another joyous embrace from him, though it didn't matter. They'd have time to talk later. With the mention of age Garret's grin waned a bit, and he looked upon his friend. He looked older and worn, with grey in his hair and lines of worry on his face. Time had effect in more than one way. The presence, bearing, and overall feel of the man had changed. He wasn't the same man that Garret had fought with, stayed with, got to know through the years, but neither was Garret. For a moment he mourned the loss of his younger self, though it was short lived. Time always had a way of changing even the smallest things so there was no use getting attached.

     "Aye," was Garret's only response and a sad smile crossed his face for a moment, though it vanished swiftly.

     He grinned as Alt knelt and held out his hand to Shadowfoot, saying a few words as the wolf sniffed than licked his hand lightly before standing. Upon standing he took the note that Garret had carried for three months now, though before opening it he turned toward his companion. Garret had silently wondered who he had been dining with, though he hadn't asked and now he would find out.

     "Garret, may I introduce Valannia. My betrothed," Alt announced, taking Garret by surprise. The fighter turned scout turned wanderer eyed his friend, shocked by the news. "Valannia, this is Garret Arroway. He is like a brother to me and Denrykmar."

     His chest swelled with pride. While the feeling was the same and had been for many years, it was an honor to be introduced as being next to kin to Altario and Ryk. The pair had been closer to him in the thirteen years he had known them than his parents had been in the fourteen years he'd lived with them. Remembering his mannors, so not to disgrace Altario, Garret bowed lightly.

     "A pleasure to meet ya, m'lady," Garret said, feeling the words tumble awkwardly from his mouth.

     To prevent him from making even more of a fool of himself, Garret remained silent after that, a kind smile on his face. After a few moments his grey eyes drifted to the letter in Altario's hand, dreading what was so important, as he doubted Ryk would send him running all the way across the continent in search of Altario if it was nothing.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on March 14, 2009, 08:27:56 PM
“Spare me.”
Grallen watched from her shadowy spot on the sidelines with a growing expression of distaste. As the couple embraced she averted her gaze and stared sullenly into her mug. It was getting emptier, and that really shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Yellow eyes flicked to the bar, where a seat had momentarily become absent as its occupant staggered off upstairs. Suddenly Grallen was all movement, slipping eel-like through the tight crush of crowds, to arrive at the empty stool at the exact same moment as a man who had been standing just a ped or so away. As he moved to take the seat, barely even registering her presence, she stamped down, putting the full force of her frustration into one short, decisive movement. The man made a strangled, quiet noise and crashed clumsily sideways into another customer. Grallen gracefully took the stool, crossing her legs ladylike, before turning to the pained-looking man, who appeared still to be unsure what had happened.

“Looks like you’ve had a bit too much, honey. Take care on your way home, huh?”

She smiled sweetly, and turned back to the bar, downing the last of the brandy as she did so, and pushing the mug across the counter with an impatient gesture for a refill.

Behind her, the sound of a man limping painfully from the common room made her smile to herself. See, there’s always someone worse off than you, if you know where to look. She rolled a couple of coins onto the counter and took her drink, swivelling round in her seat to watch the other patrons again. The most-definitely-a-couple-alright-we-get-it-already had been joined by someone new.  She watched with detached interest as they talked, and the few phrases she heard seemed to have a distinctly northern accent. That’s intriguing – it’d be worth keeping an eye on them, in case they’re planning on heading back that way.  

Absently she dipped her hand into a concealed pocket on the inside of her jacket, retrieving a small green frog, who sat gulping at her before hopping up her arm to her shoulder, where he settled, in a dark cave made of her hair, watching the world with gold-flecked eyes. Grallen’s hand went to another pocket, and brought out a small box tied with string. Untying it deftly, she picked a small dried maggot from the box and passed it up to Earnest, who swallowed it with the strange inside-out blink that frogs have when they eat.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on March 14, 2009, 11:55:13 PM
Lili licked her lips in delight. The little redhead was looking up at her with eyes as big as silverbards, and the elfess seemed to enjoy the drink. Off we go, then! ”All right! So that captain had a long, looong beard that he was being very precious about. Every night he stood watch by the tiller – you know, what they steer the boats with – and combed his beard. Can you imagine! Now, this captain also loved to tell everyone who didn’t want to know how when he was young he had personally fought the fearsome pirate Jovloff. Now Jovloff was a stryke shark of a pirate, he was. He had yellow eyes, was as tall as you and I together, and could bite a cutlass in half with a single ’Crunch!’ of his jaws.” As Lili shouted ‘Crunch’, she clapped her hands together in a sudden vertical movement to produce a loud bang for illustrative purposes.

As she paused for dramatic effect, our jolly storyteller was aware that the elfess had tried to talk to her. Lili didn’t mind that at all, and had no sense that she was being anything other than gregarious and jovial. She was used to sitting around a fire with a bunch of bandits and having several conversations at once. There had never been no polite waiting for an answer before addressing the next person! No-one had ever complained of being interrupted or not being listened to. Most of the time, you got a response later. And if you weren’t heard – why, you just had to shout louder, didn’t you?

What Lili couldn’t understand, though, was this: what, by all the rotten rast-wargs, was the lady apologizing for? Lili, eager to learn the ways of courteous society, thought that she might want to ask about that later. For now, though, there was something more enjoyable to do than to dwell on this particular mystery.

”So that captain of ours, Cragok was his name – like the goat, you know! The Cragok goat! You don’t know it? Lives in the north. Well, this captain was a goat! With his beard! Kassandra and I just called him Captain Goatbeard – you know, between us.” Lili winked at her audience, and let out a hearty laugh at her idea. In fact, she had already forgotten the captain’s name, but ‘Cragok’ and 'Goatbeard' would do very well indeed! ”So! Captain Goatbeard always boasted how he had faced Jovloff the Terrifying Pirate in fight, and that he had swung his sabre and cut off Jovloff’s leg, and that Jovloff had begged for mercy, and all. So Jovloff had a wooden leg from then on. Said Goatbeard, anyway. So Goatbeard the captain always made out how awesome he himself had been. But all he really did all day was boss the First Mate about and comb his beard.

“So one night, Kassandra and I go for a stroll on deck, just to sniff the air, you know. And we stand at the railing and admire the dark sea. It was pitch-black, you know, no stars and no moon, but you could hear the waves rustling against the ship’s hull, and you could hear the wind – wiiishhhhhh – in your ears like. Wonderful night it was. So then we hear the captain and a lady passenger approach. They haven’t seen us, ‘coz it’s all dark. Anyways, they are chatting, and Goatbeard is telling his story again, you know, wanting to impress the lady.” Here Lili imitated Cragok’s voice, high-pitched and arrogant: ’And then, m’lady, I looked into Jovloff’s yellow eyes.’ A small gasp from the lady, you know, all frightened-and-awestruck-like! 'And I said: Bid farewell to your life of villainy, evil rascal! And the pirate shuddered, his teeth chattered, and he couldn't look me in the eye, he was so afraid of me! And I said …’

Lili paused and took a breath. She had talked herself into an enjoyable frenzy. All the way through the story, her arms had gesticulated dramatically, underlining the effects she was trying to get her words to produce. She gave a little giggle before she continued:

And then Kassandra had enough of listening to that baloney, and started singing one of her favourite songs. Loud, you know! At the top of her voice:

 'Fifteen robbers on the dead man’s chest! Yohoo! And a bottle of scutch! You won’t save your throat, if you do your best! Yohooooo! And a bottle of scutch!'

And the captain …” Here Lili couldn’t keep herself from laughing at her own story! ”And you know what Captain Goatbeard did? He jumped three peds into the air, and wailed, and called his sailors: ‘The pirates are among us, the pirates are among us! Help! Men, help! All men on deck! The pirates!’ And off he ran, leaving his lady alone in the dark!

Well, the lady was shocked, too, but she  didn’t run off, ‘coz she kind of froze stiff instead at the sudden noise and at her strong captain-man forsaking her, leaving her for the pirates to eat. So I talked to her, explaining how it had only been Kassandra, and the lady understood and we laughed long and hard. And wouldn’t you know, we became quite good friends, that lady and I, and she didn’t go and listen to Goatbeard’s stories ever again. And what’s more, the lady told her lady-friends all about it, and they went on and told their lady-friends, and for the rest of the journey, whenever the captain walked past, all the ladies on the boat giggled and whispered and pointed at him. And the cheeky ones said: ‘Oh, Captain Cragok! Tell us about your fight with the pirates!’ The poor Cragok goat didn’t spend much time on deck from that point on, and when the ship arrived in Strata and we all went on land, you could hear his sigh of relief all the way up to the harbourmaster’s office!”

Lili grinned at the child and at the elfess, who had been listening. She felt she had done rather well, given that she hadn’t even had a drink yet after her ride from Strata. Also, she was pleased that she had managed, in her story, to make herself the friend of a ship-travelling lady. The actual lady's reaction to Kassandra's Robbers' Song had been rather less companionable, and Lili had been the addressee of many an indignant glance for the rest of the journey, from the captain as well as from the lady. But Lili liked the story better the way she'd told it!

With a quick glance about the room, Lili noticed that another patron had found a stool at the bar. Why, if this was not the less-than-tranquil wanderer she had overtaken on the road to the Thirsty Herald! So that city rat seemed to have managed her hike through the desert all right, then! Wait a blink: what was that glimmering behind the long black fringe? Yellow eyes? Was this one of Jovloff’s daughters, then? Inwardly, Lili chuckled at the coincidence. Or had she seen these yellow eyes before she came up with her description of Jovloff? Lili couldn't tell!

Kassandra, meanwhile, had finished her drink, took off from her place on the bar and flattered onto the top of Lili’s pink hat. Green and pink: a daring combination indeed! For the final touch, the daggerbeak dropped a bit of cream-coloured waste onto the pink rim. With a little croak, she then turned her head to watch the little girl once again, with her left eye.

This had happened within a blink of Lili’s finishing her story. ”You like that drink, then?” the cutthroat added with a wink to the elfess, hoping to encourage her fellow adult to praise the child for the quality of the local produce; and also hoping to encourage her to give the tankard back, as Lili’s throat began to feel rather dry after talking so much.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 15, 2009, 04:57:05 AM
Her hands holding firmly onto the edge of the counter and at the same time impatiently hopping from one foot to the other as if somebody had promised her a great fortune (ten mint kisses for example) Lori Lo waited for the promised story to begin. But to her annoyance the bird-lady turned to that other next to her and offered her the good wine! How silly adults could be, it was meant only for her! But it took not too long and the fabulous story began:

”All right! So that captain had a long, looong beard..

Lori Lo was captured from the beginning. She didn‘t avert her eyes from the woman‘s face, hopping was forgotten and she listened without movement for some time. But when the storyteller clapped her hands, Lori was startled for a moment, but then she clapped her hands as well and couldn‘t wait, till the woman continued narrating. The girls eyes beamed and she got hot with excitement. When the woman winked at her audience, and let out a hearty laugh Lori giggled along with her.

Lori‘s eyes went wide and her hands covered her mouth (which was standing open for quite some time now), when the woman imitated the Captains voice:

’And then, m’lady, I looked into Jovloff’s yellow eyes.’ A small gasp from the lady, you know, all frightened-and-awestruck-like! 'And I said: Bid farewell to your life of villainy, evil rascal!...

And an excited hopping started again when the bird-lady came to the end of the story, Lori laughed along with her, though she didn‘t know the end yet, so infectious was her laughter. 

Unfortunately the story was over too soon, as all good stories, especially when they were narrated so well. This green bird made some fuss when he jumped on the pink hat of that wonderfully story telling lady, but it seemed, that it was allowed to that. Lori did not question that, but clapped her hands with joy, when the bird observed her.

Lori Lo was full of excitement and happy, for this story had been so great, but she regretted, that all was over now. Though she had met already a lot of strange people in the Herald, rarely came somebody along who was so interesting. Most were rough guys who stamped around showing their muscles and their weapons, if they had some. Some tried to hide in the crowd or in the shadows, sometimes women were with them, but not many impressed the little girl anymore. There were some exceptions - Lori looked at were Altario had been sitting (for he was one of the exceptions) , but not many.  -  Ahh, that elven Lady was now over there with him, but somehow she looked not as happy as Lori had anticipated. Altario had waited for her when she had joined him earlier this evening, and he had been very nervous and tense, otherwise he would have eaten that loibl. Mentally shaking her head,  Lori put her arm on the counter,  rested her head in her hand while she observed the scene. There was somebody with Altario Lori had not seen before, and he had the full attention of Altario while the pretty blonde elven lady looked a bit - forlorn? Lori felt pity for her, for Altario was really a nice guy and she didn‘t like either, when somebody came to get him, while he was playing with her. But in the moment Lori was about to leave the barto comfort the elven lady  -  the pink-hat-green-bird-lady was talking anyway to the woman on her other side, her gaze fell on something very different.

Another customer at the counter had a green frog sitting in front of him and that frog climbed up the arm and vanished somewhere near the neck. And then, obviously, it was fed.

What for a day! First a green bird, then a green frog which lived on the shoulder of a.. man.. no, woman.. or a ..  what? Lori looked closer, but meanwhile it was getting darker outside and it was anyway quite louring inside  the room in this corner. Curiosity is what drives little children and Lori was quite  severely infected by this malady. Unfortunately she was still a bit too small for serving drinks when standing behind the bar, with that serving area in front of the counter. But when the world has to be investigated, nothing will hinder a young spirit. So Lori, after she had made sure, that neither Moira nor Ana‘Mirl were to see, took a stool, climbed on the serving area and loweredherself on her knees , now heads up with the customer on the other side. And opposite of her was that interesting person with the frog. Where was this frog?

Lori looked in yellow eyes, so yellow, she  was a bit afraid when she saw their piercing look. The skin of that person was somewhat dark, black hair covered quite a bit of that  face. If Ana‘Mirl would see this, she‘d run for a comb. And that hood, it was really hard to see, who was sitting here. But that frog had to be somewhere.

With the impartiality of young children and the fearlessness only those have who know that they are loved and accepted as they are Lori simply asked - but of course not without introducing herself first, for that was always a good way to draw somebody potentially dangerous out of his shell:

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

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Airyn on March 15, 2009, 02:33:17 PM
The elfess jumped at the piercing sound of the storyteller shouting the word "crunch." She had been listening so intently, and the clap of the lady's hands and the sound of her cry had startled her, yes, but it had only added personality to the story; something that she found herself never being able to do. Her smile only widened when she was told of his vanity, and even laughed as it reminded her greatly of her brothers and their obsessions with little more than themselves.

The thought of her younger brothers ignited a feeling of loss and separation in her chest. Why, the last time she had seen those two rascals they were fighting over who was to accompany their older sister back to Xaramon, as her visit to Nybelmar had drawn to an end. After minutes of squabbling, it so happened that neither of them came back with her, because they had finally figured out that they didn't have the faintest idea of what to do when they got there. Being an older sibling had begun to mean more than just simply love and the occasional annoyance in these last few months. It seemed like only seconds ago that they had been born, no more than a few minutes apart, and she was there helping her mother take care of them. Now they were separated, and she would not see them again for a long while. Airyn felt that the bond between siblings was just as great as the bond between a mother an her daughter, or a father and his son. The elf never did have a sister, so having twin brothers was the next best thing.

The story's pause for effect had ended as quickly as it had begun, and Airyn found herself once more entangled in the thrill and excitement of the tale...
"So! Captain Goatbeard always boasted how he had faced Jovloff the Terrifying Pirate in fight, and that he had swung his sabre and cut off Jovloff’s leg, and that Jovloff had begged for mercy, and all."
The captain had fought the infamous Jovloff? He must have been brave. But then again, any old captain could turn around and say that they had fought a fierce pirate and lived to tell the tale, but to cut off his leg? This elf would not be fooled. Not easily anyway. Still, if this woman had witnessed this man telling weaving this tale, then surely it must be true!

She laughed again at the whooshing sound, made to imitate the sound of rushing wind. Remembering her own trips across the sea, she could almost feel the force of the wind blowing against her face; messing with her hair, and drying her eyes. The smell of salt and rain washing over her. All of these thoughts at once! She could barely manage to concentrate on what was being said without having some sort of memory be raised. Oh well, it was worth listening to and this woman sure knew how to tell a story!

Airyn started to feel as if giggling had become contageous, as she found that the three of them were now laughing at the captain's reaction to the green bird's singing. "And you know what Captain Goatbeard did? He jumped three peds into the air, and wailed, and called his sailors: ‘The pirates are among us, the pirates are among us! Help! Men, help! All men on deck! The pirates!’ And off he ran, leaving his lady alone in the dark!" She continued, not letting the moment ruin the humour and suspense.

Soon enough, the story had ended, and the elfess discovered herself to be quite satisfied. Usually, she would not have involved in conversation with someone she didn't know, but what does it matter? It earned her a long laugh and had given her the opportunity to meet someone without feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable, which was always an improvement. Airyn leaned further forward and opened her mouth to ask the charming little girl for her name, but she had quickly disappeared to speak to the smug looking traveller with yellow eyes, one or two seats away. She was a child after all, and no child could be expected to stay in one place for too long.

"You like that drink, then?" The lady asked, winking cheerfully at the elf. Airyn nodded and gestured to the glass that she had placed next to the, now empty, bowl of water. "I did, thankyou. I found it tasting much better than what I'd had just a moment ago. I would thank that child for it's delivery, but it seems that she has run off already!" She felt entirely comfortable with the conversation, which was a surprise to her.

There was a short silence after Airyn had finshed speaking, but she wasn't about to let the woman walk away and leave her with no one to talk to! "You are a wonderful storyteller," the elfess complimented her companion, "I would love to know where you found the ability of telling a tale with such excitement."

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on March 16, 2009, 04:58:20 AM
Lili smiled as she saw the little girl run off. She knows how to live: as soon as one story is over, go seek out the next one! Lili was very pleased that the elven lady was still standing next to her. She’d met many a person, male and female, who had turned their backs on her before the first tankard of wine was emptied. Oh, where was that tankard, by the way? Ah, standing on the bar. Lili made sure she grabbed it. And the elfess – politely, politely – had left some booze for Lili! And neither had she been scared off by talk of pirates and severed legs. And this was a real fine lady in a neat dress who spoke all sophisticated-like, but still didn’t turn up her nose at her and Kassandra. Lili felt strangely honoured and exhillarated - a bit like she imagined the little girl must have felt when Lili had decided to make her order with her instead of the grown-up barmaid. And now the elfess even asked her a question:

"You are a wonderful storyteller. I would love to know where you found the ability of telling a tale with such excitement."

That was an uncomfortable moment for Lili. She couldn’t very well say: Oh, you know, in the evenings, when I was sitting around the fire with my horde of bandits, enjoying the mead we’d got from ransacking that trade convoy, when fifteen drunken robbers were all shouting at the same time, each bragging he’d slit more throats that day than everyone else together – why, if I wanted to get any word in at all, I had to come up with something worth hearing!  So Lili didn’t say it. Instead she replied light-heartedly:

”Ah, well, you know, it’s just Kassandra really.” With her free hand, the one that didn’t hold the tankard, Lili pointed at the bird perched on her head, who in the meantime had turned its attention to the elfess and had listened intently as she had spoken. ”She comes up with the most uproarious pranks. I’ll never be out of tales to tell as long as she’s with me.”

Not sure what to say next, Lili took a big swig from the tankard, and --- was in for a surprise: This was not the desert wine she had longed for! This stuff was better by far! It prickled on your tongue like knives, it scratched your palate like rusty nails, and it rolled in your gullet like thick honey! ”Upon my bellybutton! This is the most murderous mouthful I’ve had since I’ve come down south. Who would’ve thought the finest sap flows at the edge of the desert? And why didn’t I get to guzzle this glue last time I was here?”

Then Lili spotted something behind the elfess’ back. Winking at her new companion, she pointed at the scene: ”Oh look, the little rascal has found new company.” This company consisted of the weary wanderer with yellow eyes that Lili had noticed before. At that moment, Kassandra decided she had heard enough, and spoke. And when she spoke, it was exactly in the voice of the little girl she had listened to a short while ago – or, to be precise, one story and one tankard of wine ago: ”I don‘t bother any guests. You don‘t even know yet, what is served here, I‘m here much longer and know much more than YOU!“ That was true, thought Lili - the girl had  said that. Maybe she got out the special wine for me?

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on March 17, 2009, 02:50:42 AM
„Hey, I‘m Lori! And who are you? And where is that green frog you have?“

Startled from her reveries, but with no intention of showing it, Grallen paused, for a second, trying to remember where she’d heard that voice. Very recently. Now connect it to a picture – oh, it’s just a kid working at the bar.  She lifted her gaze to meet the human child’s grey, round eyes.

Clearly this place isn’t as rough as it looks. For a long moment she inspected the girl, and a slow, cro’cuta smile spread softly over her face.

“I’m afraid Ernest doesn’t come out of hiding for just anyone.” Her voice was quiet, nearly lost amid the cosy murmur of the inn, and slightly hoarse in tone, though by no means the rough growl that might be expected from an orc. “He’s a very reclusive frog, particular in the company he keeps. I’m afraid it’s beyond my powers of persuasion to just summon him, as if he were a common pet. You’ll have to offer some form of incentive.”

She paused for a moment, not entirely sure where she’d gotten to, or why she was headed that way. Oh yes. Through the growing murk of two stiff brandies and not much sleep lately, the thought returned to her. She was, in short, bored of waiting for some guide to fortuitously present themselves. Never been good at letting things work themselves out. Now a small child who sees to know this inn, and doesn’t appear to be supervised, pops up, so if I can’t get some useful information out of her then I really should just jack this in and take up warg farming.

Her eyes once again met Lori’s, and her grin widened to display an unusually pointed set of teeth. she picked up the small box of grubs, and offered it to the girl. On her shoulder, she felt Earnest shuffle round to see where his food box had gone.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 17, 2009, 03:08:35 AM
Tentatively, and with trembling fingers, Altario broke the wax seal that held the parchment closed.  What had Denrykmar felt was so important that he would need to send Garret to deliver the message?  Was he in trouble?  Had he found Nayriss?  Had Nayriss di-... no, he would not allow himself to consider that possibility.  

He glanced from the letter as he opened it, his eyes meeting with Valania's, drawing strength from her support.  He then looked down at the hand scrawled note written on the page of the letter:

     I pray to Kor’och that this letter finds you safe. There is so much I want to tell you, but I dare not do so in a letter. I need your help, Alt. I need your help for myself, and for Nayriss. I have discovered clues that I believe can lead me to her. I have never given up looking, as I know you have not.

     There is so much danger; I do not know anymore who I can trust. I wish we were together, I know I can trust you. I need you to find the Beauty of the South. It is imperative.  Do this for me, Alt.

     Be careful, big brother. Evil exists. It watches us. And it will move against us.

Kor'och's Grace, Denrykmar”

Altario read it a second time, then a third.  This letter said almost nothing.  What was Denrykmar trying to tell him?  He had discovered clues, but what clues?  It did Altario no good if he didn't know the same clues.  Dammit, Denrykmar, what are trying to say?  What danger?  There was danger everywhere if you weren't careful, but his brother made it sound like it was specific to the search for Nayriss.  Evil exists?  It watches us?  Move against us?  What did that mean?

He looked up at Garret, but he knew that the man would have no clue either.  Ryk had only used Garret as a messenger in this, which was strange in itself.  Under normal circumstances, Ryk would have counted on Garret before anyone else, including Altario himself.  The two were closer than Denrykmar was with anyone in this world.  For some reason, however, he did not do that this time.  The counter intuitiveness of it bothered Altario greatly.

The last item that bothered Altario was the plea for him to find the "Beauty of the South".  What was that?  He had no clue what that could refer to.  By the tone in Ryk's letter, it was important though.  The tone was what bothered Altario the most.  It was.... desperate.  He had never known Denrykmar to ever be desperate, even during the dark days of the war.  Thousands of orcs trying to break down the walls, and Denrykmar found time to romance two women, Trina the barmaid, and... that foreign woman Alt could not remember at the moment.  But that wasn't important now.  No, if Denrykmar sounded desperate, something big was happening.  Something that had to do with Nayriss.

Altario glanced at Valannia once more, and for a brief moment, he was ashamed that he had spent so much time here, finding happiness and love while his daughter was lost.  How could he have been so selfish?  He, Nayriss' father was finding love, while Denrykmar, her uncle, kept the vigil in looking for her.  He had failed as a father.  Embarrassed, Altario could no longer look at Valannia.

Instead, letter in hand, he strode purposefully to the bar, squeezing between a fashionable elfess, and some dirty traveller who was now the attention of the young and inquisitive Lori-lo.  He leaned against the counter.  "Ana.  Ana!"   he called above the din of the crowd. "I wish to settle my affairs tonight.  I'll be leaving by morning."  Then, almost as an afterthought, "Ana, have you ever heard of the 'Beauty of the South'?"  The tavern woman knew many interesting facets of the area, and of Strata.  If anyone knew what that might mean, she would.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on March 17, 2009, 03:10:43 AM

Strata? thought Damien as he obiedently laid his head back down; which was unusual for Damien usually is the one who gave orders, not obey them. Where in the world is Strata? He continued to think, closing his eyes trying to remember how he got wherever he was.

He recalled a ship, but he had been on many ships leaving Voldar. What was the blasted name of the ship, Whirl, something or other? No that did not sound right. What in blazes was the name of the ship? His head ached even more as he tried to remember. If he had a drink, then he could remember, he said to himsefl.

He heard the soft rustle of fabric coming his way and he opened his eyes to see who it was. A young lady, not quite a full grown woman, but beyond her youth, somewhere around nineteen or twenty, he guessed. She approached him carrying a bowl and a rag hanging over her left shoulder forearm. She was dressed almost completely all in a white gauze type of dress from her shoulders down to the floor, long silky shiny jet black hair was braided and hung by a single braid down her back: her eyes matching the color of her eyes were wide, startling beautiful under graceful lined eyebrows, and showed intelligence.

She pulled a stool closer to his cot and sat down. She smiled at him. A soft gentle smile, not one of endearment, but more of...kindness. Something Damien had not seen a long long time, nor did he want to see it, for it brought back memories of...someone he would rather forget.

"Where is Strata and how did I get here?" He croaked out.

"Strata is the home of Baveras, the goddess of the sea," She answered with a sing song quality in her voice as she dipped the rag into the bowl, wrung it out and then proceeded to place it on his forehead.

He grabbed her wrist, and spat at the floor. "God's and goddesse's, as far as I am concerned they can all go to Coor. They play with peoples lives, hearts and then just when you think you can live your life in peace in prosperity, they pull it all out from under you just like a rug!"  Just tell me where I am," Damien demanded.

"You are hurting my wrist, " She cried, the vehemence coming from this man frightened her.

Damien looked at her wrist and could see that it was already turning purple. A part of him, deep down, realized that he was hurting her and he let her go.  She took her wrist rubbed it with her other hand, and continued to minister unto him. "Strata is on the Southern tip of Sarvonia and a Captain of a ship that you were on brought you here," She answered.

"What was the name of the Captain?" Damien asked.

"I shall find out for you, please excuse me for a moment." She rose and walked toward a door at the far end of the room they were in. Damien saw that the tip of her braid ended almost at the beginning of a very nicely shaped bottom, and her dress was not a dress at all but was layers of cloth on top of one another making them look like a dress. He wondered how many layers she had on before she was naked as she left the room, closing the door behind her.

The room in which he lay in was not much of a room at all. One medium sized window was over his left shoulder and shuttered, with the shutters open. Damien could hear voices coming from below, but did not recognize the language. The window must have been facing west for he could see deepining shadows across the room on the far wall across from his. He rose to look out of the window and suddenly a sharp pain wracked his chest as he took in a deep breath, he also found out he was completely naked underneath the sheet that had been placed over him. A wicked thought came to his mind as he thought if the young lady had been the one that undressed him. No, there probably has to be some men in this place, he reasoned, as he lay back down, trying to straighten the wet cloth that was placed upon his head, his chest hurting from the exertion, and just in time for the door opened and she came back in.

She frowned at him. "I thought I told you to lie down, but I have already felt that you are a man who does not care what others say or do; you just care for yourself," she said sarcastically.

She could not have been farther from the truth, for her words bit into Damien as sure as a snake bite and he could feel the venom already running up his veins. Blast this, he did not want to feel kindness, did not want kindness, he wanted...he wanted a drink and a woman for the night and he sure was not going to get it here!

He half rose keeping his lower half covered, the room began spinning, but with pure determination he willed the room to stop, well at least a little. "What was the Captain's name? And where are my clothes?" He asked, his voice still hoarse and it hurt when he took in a deep breath, like someone had kicked him in the ribs.

Still a bit frightened from the man she answered him a bit more timidly than usual, "His name was Or'cell, Captain Nathan Or'cell, and unlike yourself he is an honorable man. He told us that he caught his men trying to drown you, but caught you just in time. However the sea water you must have swallowed during this ordeal left you with an infection inside your lungs. You were delerious when he brought you here along with a trunk." She pointed to the trunk next to the far wall. He told us to help you and that if we could that you could pay for our services as you were a very rich man." She doubted that but that is what the Captain had told her other sisters.

Damien did not want to look up into the damsel's eyes. He knew all he would see would either be pity or kindess or both and he did not want either. "Thank you," he said. "Is there anything to drink in this place?" he asked.

"If you meanAlcohol, yes. But in your condition I would not recommend it. We, my sisters and I were paid some coin to take care of you. We rented two rooms above the Seashoals Inn. I recommend you drink only water until your condition improves.

just water. Well it was better than nothing to help cool his throat. Blast it was hot here. He picked up the cup, dipped it into the jug of water, filled his cup and drank from it. He was surprised at how sweet and cool it was. He drank thirstily until he drained his cup and filled it once more.

He looked up and the damsel was still standing there holding onto a bottle of something staring at him. Her face had the look of impatience on it, but her eyes told him something else; kindness and pity; two things he did not want nor need, or did he, something deep down inside him asked?

He took another drink. "What is that?" He asked pointing with the cup.

"It is medication to help with your breathing," she answered.

"Ok, come and give it to me."

She hesitated.

"I won't bite...promise," Damien said, giving the damsel a weak smile and layed back down.

A quick smile crossed her lips and she again took her seat next to his bed. She took his cup from his hand, and for a brief moment they touched. She looked at him with those eyes again and Damien could not stand it for long. "Just give me the medicine and let me get some rest...please" He added.

She quickly pulled her hand from his, as if she had done something wrong, and very buisness like poured out the water that was in his cup, pulled the cork stopper from the medicine bottle and poured in the rainbow colored substance into it. To Damien it looked liked sand. Then she took another cup, filled it with water and poured it into his cup. She swirled the cup a few times and then handed it to Damien. "Drink it all," she said.

Damien propped himself up on an elbow and looked suspiciously at the water. It was as clear as when he had it before. He could not smell anything different. He gazed at her, gave her a wink, and with one gulp drank the watered medicine. He was expecting some sort of terrible taste, but it was sweet, almost like honey. He was pleasantly surprised, and smacked his lips. "That tasted good, what is it?" he asked.

"I do not know the name of it, I am but an apprentice. I shall leave you alone now as you requested. The medicine will help you sleep as it does its work," she answered as she rose from the chair.

Damien gently touched her arm. She stopped, turned her head and looked down at him, questionally. "What is your name?" He asked.

"My name is Yr'iss," she answered. "And yours?" She asked.

"Lost," he replied.

"That is not a name, but a condition," she said with an edge to her voice as she pulled her arm away from his grasp and walked to the door. She hesitated, as if she were waiting for something, but it did not come, so she opened the door, walked into the hallway beyond and closed it.

"Damien, Damien, lost blasted Scar," Damien whispered as he lay back down and soltly whispered "Yr'iss. The name had a ring to it, why did it sound familiar? The answer never came for soon he was asleep.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 20, 2009, 01:37:54 AM
Lori watched the hooded figure and was about to retreat from her high seat, so long were these yellow eyes looking at her without a word leaving the mouth which belonged to the same face, but finally a smile appeared. She smiles as if she wants to eat me right now, Lori thought, but then the desired answer came and  Lori was enthralled, even if the answer was not what she had hoped for.

“I’m afraid Ernest doesn’t come out of hiding for just anyone. He’s a very reclusive frog, particular in the company he keeps. I’m afraid it’s beyond my powers of persuasion to just summon him, as if he were a common pet. You’ll have to offer some form of incentive.”

She voice was not unfriendly, a bit hoarse, but the majority of voices in the Herald was hoarse, be it from age or too much dwarven ale,  so nothing new to Lori. The child was mildly disappointed and was about to ask, if the stranger could not just pick the frog Ernest from wherever it hid, when a box of grubs was offered to her. FOOD, food for the frog!

Lori picked one and held it close to that jungle of black hair and she thought she had already seen a glimpse of green, when Altario pushed to the bar between that elfess who had taken the Shendar wine (instead of the bird-lady)  and the frog-person. If there had been a glimpse of green, it was gone. What made it worse was, that Altario loudly called for Ana‘Mirl and she would not be amused to find her sitting on the counter. So Lori quickly whispered to the frog-person:

See you later!

There was a grub though in her fingers which had not met its destination yet, the stomach of a green frog. What a pity it is not alive anymore!  With this thought she slipped it in one of Altario‘s pockets, before she vanished from sight.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: AnaMirl Goodwill on March 20, 2009, 04:11:19 AM
Ana‘Mirl had just put her apron away and was about to go out in to the tavern room to have a look at a green bird and pink hat, when she heard Altario, one of her well liked guest shout.

"Ana.  Ana!  I wish to settle my affairs tonight.  I'll be leaving by morning."

What, so suddenly? What might be the reason, I will miss him, it is nice to have somebody around for some time, not only for one night. Lori will miss him too.

She was just through the door, when he continued:

 "Ana, have you ever heard of the 'Beauty of the South'?"

Ana was a bit startled. Why did he ask such a common question? Did he not know, that Strata was known as the „Beauty of the South“ in the whole of Santharia? Well, he was from faaar up in the North which was much farther away than the void in Aeruillin, so his lacking knowledge might be forgiven. But then, who would ask for a „Beauty of the South“ and think at a town?

Ana‘Mirl was not longer informed about all the gossip which run high in certain circles in Strata, but did not one of her customers speak of certain kind of woman in a seaside tavern who was said to be extremely beautiful? From Shan'Thai and known as the "Southern Beauty"? She  would surely not talk openly about that woman. Shrugging her shoulders she answered.

„Hello Altario, why are you leaving so quickly? I'll bring you your bill up to your room later, as soon as I have written all together. But to your question: Well, Strata itself is the called the „Beauty of the South“, but I doubt, that this is what you want to know. Tell me, what is it that you are looking for? Who told you to look for the „Beauty of the South“?

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on March 23, 2009, 09:38:15 AM
The shadows deepened in Damien's room as the sun slowly made its trek across the sky. The heat that he had felt just hours ago melted away to a cool sea breeze that carried along the sounds and voices of peoples of many languages, but the language of sailors heading for the nearest tavern, was unmistakable all over the world; it was filled with laughter, and raunchy jokes about bow legged women, and how thirsty they were.

Damien had heard those voices many a time and as he lay on his cot he wanted to join them, so badly. The intense desire to just get up, find some clothes and go get a drink made him shake, or so he thought, it was the opposite of course as his body was being slowly purged of the alcohol that he had consumed and his body depended now depended upon, but he did not know that. All he knew was that he wanted a drink.

The medicine that Y'riss had given him was slowly working and when he tried to rise up from his cot he found out he could not, at least not without some difficulty, as the medicine seemed to weaken his muscles. He forced himself to sit. The room spun, but he forced himself to ignore it. His hands shook, as he poured himself some water and he spilled some as he tried to drink.

His anger rose and he threw the cup against the wall. He forced himself to stand, and had to quickly put his hand against the wall next to his bed, as he almost fell. Again, it was his indomitable will, that forced his body to move, the sheet falling off his nude body, until he was standing in front of his trunk.

He bent down to retrieve the trunk and suddenly he crashed down onto the floor. He heard voices from outside the room and then the door opened and Y'riss along with another woman emerged into his sight.  The oil lamp light from the hallway, behind them showed only their silowette. Damien heard gasps coming from both of the women as he looked up at them grinning crazily.

One of the women turned, and yelled for more help, and more women came in. Soon Damien could feel many hands pulling at his arms and legs trying to lift him. Finally with much exertion they put Damien back in his cot, covered him up and then left, all except Y'riss.

Damien looked up into her dark black eyes as she glared down at him. "I thought I told you to lie still! Do we need to tie you down?" She asked, not expecting an answer.

Damien smiled wickedly. "Well, there was a woman who I did alllow..."

"I do not need to hear of your sordid escapades," Y'riss said interrupting him. "Now, lie down, and get your rest."

"I need a drink. Can't you see my hands shaking. Do you not even have any sacrificial wine you could give me?" Damien asked.

Y'riss stared at Damien for a few moments. I told you before, we sisters...

"Do not recommend any alcohol until I have improved..."Damien finished, as he sighed, and turned his body toward the wall.

He heard Y'riss finally leave the room and he turned to lie upon his back. He threw his left arm up and under his head as he stared at the shadows the oil lamp in his room threw on the ceiling.

He was drifting off to sleep, when he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard wafting through the night air caressing his ears, like a purr of a kitten, soothing his troubled mind and shaking body, as the light touch of a lover after the lovemaking had ended. "I need to find that voice," he mumbled as he fell asleep.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Rhia on March 23, 2009, 11:00:52 AM
Rhia felt herself pause at the inn’s entrance. Hanging above the door was a sign with a painted picture of a shoal of fish bearing a pillow. That’s… um… different… Two men took advantage of her motionlessness and brushed past her into the building, talking wearily.Nonetheless, she supposed a moment later after following them through the door, approaching the man behind the counter, it does make sense, in a strange, rather repelling way.

The inn was rather busy. It was after sundown, after all, and travelers were wanting to find a place to rest their head during the moon's reign, and the already-customers were returning for the night. People crowded at the sturdy wooden tables distributed throughout the room, eating the rather bland but wholesome food the inn provided. Rhia shoved through the fellows clustered at the bar to speak with the innkeeper. She set down her two bags –one light, one somewhat heavier– on the floor and gave a cute, innocent, I’m-an-sweet-and-honest-young-customer smile. “Good sir, I don’t suppose ye have a small room fehr one?”

The man, somewhere in his early fifties, looked her over. “Aye, and how long would your stay be?”

“Em, I’m not sure about that. I’d prolly be stayin’ indefinitely.”

He grunted noncommittally, set down the last of the glasses he was wiping, and began to scrub the counter, starting to direct his attention to one of the other potential customers– but not before giving a pointed glance at her meager bags. Rhia could see that he wasn’t convinced that she wouldn’t take off after a week or so and not pay her due, least of all that she would have the means to pay him.

The nineteen-year-old girl gestured to the bag that held her panpipes and lute. “I’m a troubadour. I’ll sing mornin’s and nights here in exchange fehr my stay, no coin payment.”

The innkeeper scratched his unkempt head, then his scruffy grey-brown beard, and nodded thoughtfully at her.

Sensing an opportunity, Rhia continued. “But if I sing any tiyme enbetween that, you pay me in coin by the hour.”

The man was nodding his head more slowly now, but he spoke up in agreement. “All right. Ye can stay fer as long as ye like, providin’ ye stick ter our agreement. The name’s Pagran.”

Rhia rewarded the suspicious fellow with a twinkling smile. He reached under the counter and pulled out a bundle of parchment. She watched rather wistfully as he began to scribble down words. Letters! Words! What knowledge. She felt proud as she recognized a few letters and figures. Not very many, but she treasured the knowledge of it she had like gems.

“Ye can take yer mount te the stables and have ther stableboy give it a stall and feed,” came a string of gruff words from the innkeeper’s head bent over his writing.

Rhia coughed in embarrassment. She’d already done this before she entered the inn. “Er- Sir, I’ve done this alrahdy.”

Pagran gave her a sharp look and she flushed. Well, there goes what little trust he had in me…

Rhia abruptly changed what little subject there was. “I, er… Say, what’s all the racket i[ there?” She jerked her head at the general direction of the staircase.

Pagran shook his head distastefully. “Some of meh workin' girls ‘ave taken in a sailor fella. Dunno why- Baveras knows I tried ter talk 'em out of it, but therr's no convincin' their minds about 'im. Right disturbance he is too. Makin’ all kinds a noise. ‘Oo knows what ‘is problem is, but the sooner ‘e’s gone the sooner I c’n get some shuteye.”

Rhia made the usual appreciative noises. “Mister, uh, Pagran, when would ye like me te begin the job?”

The man gave her a steely glare before moving on to his next customer. “Now.”

So Rhia put her bags in her assigned room, then played her panpipes and sang with her lute while more customers trickled in. Her fingers danced across the lute’s strings drowsily. She was feeling drowsy, for Pagran had allowed her to sing by the fire, and the warmth was affecting her. Oldana was right, she reflected groggily as her voice wafted through the building, drifting through the ceiling beams, floating over the noise of the people. So far it seemed to be a good inn to work in.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on March 24, 2009, 10:59:35 PM
“See you later!”

Grallen scowled as the child slipped away, and then snarled to herself for letting the opportunity slip past. The raucous imitation of the girl’s voice by some kind of bird had confirmed her suspicions that the kid knew how things worked here, and moreover was considerably more loquacious than most adults she talked to. She snarled again, but halfway the sound caught in her throat as an uncomfortable cold feeling slithered down her back.

Damn! I thought I’d got him to stop doing that!

Gingerly but quickly, and with ill-concealed irritation, she stood up and shrugged her coat onto the stool, then awkwardly reached round and down the back of her shirt until clawed fingers brushed against something fragile and clammy. Gently extracting the frog from her clothing, she muttered to him; “I thought you were supposed to be the brains of the operation. I’d be much obliged if you’d stop trying to get yourself squashed at the first thing that frightens you, you tiny green idiot.”

Slumping back onto the stool, she released the frog onto the counter, where it gulped peevishly at her and croaked for a maggot.

“No, you don’t deserve one.”

It was only then that the reddish brown stain across the chest of her shirt caught her eye, and she remembered. Oh things just get better and better, huh? I guess it could be worse, it could be my blood. She quickly put her coat on again, and tried to pretend nothing had happened, distracting herself by listening to the conversation next to her. A half overheard phrase piqued her interest. Beauty of the south? What’s that? Sounds expensive…

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 26, 2009, 02:24:39 AM
Altario's eyebrow raised somewhat.  Strata?  Strata was the Beauty of the South?  Well, if there were gods, then one of them was looking out for him now.  Strata was a day or two from here.  And to think, that Denrykmar might have been here all along.  And Nayriss?  Maybe.  He could feel his heart beating more quickly in his chest.

"My broth-" he stopped in mid-sentence.  He glanced left to right, and was a little dismayed at the type of people that were crowded up to the bar.  Especially the one to his right, who smelled like he had been out on the road for weeks without bathing.  Since being here, in this oasis of peace in the great desert, since being with Valannia, who made him feel a peace he had not felt in many years, he had grown careless; soft.  Now, with news of Denrykmar and Nayriss, he felt the walls beginning to rise again within him, making him distrustful of those he did not know.

"I just have things I need to take care of there, Ana.  I'll be leaving at first light, so if you plan to get paid then, make sure you have the items written up.  I have enjoyed your company, and I will miss this place, but I have stayed here far too long."    Then he smiled warmly at her, when he thought he spotted some remorse in her eyes.  She was a gracious woman, and he would miss her, and the child, Lori. "Perhap's some cold taenish on loibl, for the trip?"    He winked. "For the three of us?  I'll eat the lady's share.  And a couple of your vegan rolls."

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on March 27, 2009, 01:47:29 AM
Damien woke up in a sweat and shaking. His dreams were becoming nightmares, and he kept on seeing a blonde little girls face, whose features were somehow familiar, but he could not recall and each time he tried to reach out to touch her, she would float away like some specter: He could not even speak to her, though he could see her lips moving, no sound came to his ears.

He threw off the sweat soaked sheet and sat up. He was surprised that it was much easier than the last time and his chest did not hurt as much when he took a deep breath. He glanced at the table besides his cot and saw the jug of water, but no cup. He then remembered he had thrown it against the wall.

He stretched, his head tilting upward and he felt unused joints all over the upper part of his body crack and pop, like a whip upon a horses flank. He then stood up, his hand resting on the nearest wall, ready to catch him if he should happen to begin to fall, but he held steady.  As before he now stretched his lower part of his body and felt the same. When he was finished, he was sweating terribly, his chest hurt more, and his whole body quivered and shook, especially his hands. He needed a drink. And be dammed these sisters who would stop him, He thought.

He took a few steps toward the door and stopped and a weak smile came over him. "I guess I better put some clothes on at least. Do not want to get arrested, already," he mumbled.

He went to his trunk, found the hidden latch that opened up a small drawer that held the trunk's key. He opened the trunk and put the key back where it belonged and closed the hidden compartment. Inside the trunk were all of his worldly goods, well at least the ones he had taken from his castle near Voldar. His castle, lands and serfs were the only things that King Voltigar allowed him to retain after...

Damien went through the trunk and found no clothes except his royal ones. He sure as a donkey's ass was not going to wear those, however just the black leather pants and his white shirt should do nicely.

As he got dressed he could hear that beautiful voice and he knew that it was not a dream and that voice seemed to be coming from downstairs. He pulled on some socks that needed darning near the toes, stamped his feet into his black leather boots and slipped on his white shirt. He reached into the trunk took out a wide black leather belt and wrapped it around his waist. Inside two sheaths, one on each side, were very sharp throwing knives and all around the belt were pockets that held different denominations of coin. 

He glanced down at a covered bundle and considered taking his Sengren, a short handled, two edged curved wicked axe, that was part of his tribes the Kyranians, legacy and pride and joy.  He decided against it and slammed the lid back down upon the trunk.

He ignored the sharp pains coming from his chest telling him he should be resting instead of walking about, but he wanted a drink and he wanted to see who was singing that song down below.

He went out of his room, softly closing the door behind him, so as not to wake Y'riss followed the softly lit hallway, down a winding staircase that ended in a common room.

The room was large, almost as large as one of Voltigar's castle's ballrooms. It was brightly lit with three large candle chandeliers that hung from cedar beams that criss-crossed the ceiling high above. The inn had one large bar that stretched from one wall to another. Many bartenders were serving the ever increasing crowd of thristy men and some women; most of the men were sailors, but not the usual crowd of raucious of them, but the more civilized kind, like where the Captains and officers of a ship would go and not the crew.

Damien scanned the room, his dark black eyes glittering in the candle liight. His head, at least a head taller than most overlooked those that were in the room. He found the source of the song that just would not get out of head nor heart. She was sitting in a high backed cushioned chair which sat upon a podium that was approximately a half ped higher than the common room floor. She had lustrous brown hair and wore a light blue dress that as far as Damien could see hugged her lithe body in all of the right places; as most of the men attested as they stared at her as if they had found a precious jewel. A lute was in her hands and her fingers nimbly brushed over the strings; Damien felt as if they were gently playing the strings of his heart, and the song brought back memories... but he did not want to feel that anymore.

Angrily he bullied his way through the crowd toward the bar, with protests of "Hey, and watch what you're doing?" ringing through the air behind him. He ignored their sounds of protests, stood in front of the bar, slapped some coin down on the top and snarled at the closest bartender that stood behind it. "Dwarven Ale, a bottle," he demanded.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: AnaMirl Goodwill on March 29, 2009, 01:39:25 AM
Ana‘Mirl has served the guest in an inn her whole life long. And there she has learned to control herself, her gestures, her facial expression, if needed. So she doesn‘t show any sign that she has noticed Altario‘s hesitation to talk about his ‚bro‘ - brother.

"I just have things I need to take care of there, Ana.  I'll be leaving at first light..“

So suddenly. Is there something with the Lady? Or has he met somebody?

„Of course, I‘ll bring you your bill up to your room as soon as possible. And I add some Thyslan spicecakes as a treat of the house for a pleasant guest!“ she answered him with a smile, but continued with furrowed eyebrows. „ Be aware though, that the sandstorms of last night may have covered the trails and it might be difficult to find the path, you might need somebody who knows the way. And....  enjoy a last drink of Shendar wine this evening, I‘ll send Lori to bring some for you and your company. “

While putting some mugs from one end of the counter to the other Ana‘Mirl and pretending to being busy, her eyes skimmed over the crowd and she saw a new customer standing near Altario‘s elven Lady. Oh yes, he wanted to have rolls for three and vegan rolls...

 So there was something brewing. Ana felt sorry, that one of her favourite guests was about to leave, she had enjoyed the presence of that Northern gentleman over the last two months. Very rarely customers stayed more than two nights and it had been agreeable to have him and his elven lady around. Somehow she didn‘t want to let him go - to an unknown destiny.  Strata, that beautiful town full of thieves, cutthroats and worse. She doubted, that he would tell her more when she brought him his bill up to his room, but somehow she wished she could help him and his beautiful elven Lady, protect him - though he surely needed not protection. Well, she could go to Strata as well, her monthly shopping trip was due anyway. Perhaps he would need somebody familiar with the town. But that was nothing to tell him in front of all the people.  But she would announce later, that she would travel by cart to Strata tomorrow, maybe she could earn some sans by taking some horseless customers along. 

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Airyn on March 29, 2009, 07:19:27 AM
”Ah, well, you know, it’s just Kassandra really.” Said the lady, pointing to the green bird atop her pink hat, ”She comes up with the most uproarious pranks. I’ll never be out of tales to tell as long as she’s with me.”

The elfess nodded eagerly and looked up at the bird. “Well, I look forward to hearing the tales of your adventures,” she said, holding her hand out to the green feathered animal. When it did not move and continued to stare at her warily, feeling rather foolish, the elfess withdrew her hand. Her human companion had been occupied by her wine, and hadn’t noticed. Hopefully.

A tug on the leather leash in Airyn’s hand distracted her, and her companion’s next words were left unheard. The now dirty ball of fluff at her feet had tried to run around the stool, to pounce on the shoe of a fairly handsome man standing between herself and a traveller with dark hair and yellow eyes. She pulled him back, not knowing what had captured the dog’s attention. Maybe it was more alcohol spilled on the floor near the man’s foot, or a sliver of meat perhaps? She hadn’t been watching him as he stood at the bar, in fact, she hadn’t even seen his face yet.

The dog protested against the elf’s restraint, but stalked backwards to sit at her feet again once she scolded him. “Sage, don’t act up on me now you little bugger!” Forgetting her manners for a moment, she frowned and shook her head at the dog’s pleading eyes, “not a chance, mister. You can’t run around in here.”

Airyn’s ears tingled as she heard the few words of the man’s conversation. She guessed him to be named Altario, as the innkeeper had addressed him. He had said something about a “beauty of the south.” Why did that sound so familiar? I don’t recall reading about it... Airyn knew then that the only way to find the answer would be to look up at him and ask. Simple.

Excusing herself politely from the conversation with the woman and her bird – Kassandra, wasn’t it? –, Airyn turned in her seat to face this Altario, and ask her question. Might as well do it now, while the bravery lasts. Her eyes scanned over his attire; neat, expensive, attractive, well fitting. He wore this to impress someone. Her heart fell immediately after she looked at his face. Please, please, please do not have noticed my staring, please, please, please. She cast her eyes to the floor, asking her dog for his confidence, but he looked away in a sulk and rested his small head on his two front paws.

She swallowed hard, making an awkward gulping sound, and looked back up at this man who was now waiting to be served. Taking a deep breath, she said “Excuse me, sir?” His face did not turn. He probably hadn’t heard me. She was breathing with more confidence now, and released the incredibly tight grip on the leash, also realising that she had left nail marks in the soft leather. “Altario?” She asked, hoping to catch his attention by stating his name. “I’m sorry, I heard the innkeeper call you by your name a moment ago. Might I ask, what is the Beauty of the South? The name seems familiar, though I do not remember being told about it.”

Airyn realised that this man probably assumed that she had been eavesdropping on his conversation. She could feel the redness climbing up her neck and onto her cheeks, and laughed quite awkwardly. “I’m sorry; you don’t have to answer that. I only heard...” The elfess began to stutter and closed her mouth. Why did this always happen around men?

She decided to quickly turn to the innkeeper, who was standing behind the bar. Since she had made plans to leave in the late morning, anyway, the elfess decided to ask for some means of transport. “Might I be able to buy a horse or donkey from you?” she asked, wondering if she was speaking clearly or not in her stress. “It seems that I have a need to go through Strata, and I have no way of getting there. I do have money, and will pay you for your generosity.” Airyn knew that she now made sense, and turned back to Altario with fearful eyes. Well, it could have been worse, she thought, I could have started rambling in Styrásh. That wouldn’t have made any sense at all.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on March 30, 2009, 01:24:34 AM
Seashoals Inn


Even Pagran's normally pessimistic, grumpy attitude softened as he listened to his new aquistion's voice and playing of the lute. The normal crowd of customers on a weeknight, actually swelled as more and more customers came in to hear and see her. He was quite pleased with himself as he filled up more and more glasses of wine and pocketed more and more coin as well.

His reviere was rudely interrupted when a rather tall, unkempt man barged through his customers, slapped some coin down upon the bar and demanded a bottle of Dwarven Ale!

Pagran glared at the man. The man glared back with dark piercing eyes, his hair was as dark as his eyes, except for some gray around the temples and was braided in one long braid. He had a peppered beard that reached almost down to the end of his collar bone. "Mister around here we ask, not demand. Why don't you go find another tavern to drink in. More to your liking I expect," Pagran growled out.

Damien blinked. No one had ever spoken to him like that before. Who did this piece of donkeys dung think he was speaking to? "Do you know who I am?" Damien asked, matching the growl in Pagran's voice.

"Nope, and don't care to either," Pagran answered and then turned toward another customer and filled his glass with wine.

Damien reached over the bar and grabbed Pagran by his collar, pulled him almost half over it and screamed in the mans face. "I am Baron Damien Scar from Voldar and you better damn well give me the respect I deserve and my station in life demands!"

Pagran smelled the man's breath and just could not help it, it smelled like the meat yards where rotten meat, roasting and bloating in the desert lay for days...weeks sometimes before it was taken and buried far out in the desert. He vomited right in Damien''s face.

Customer's quickly backed away, some ladies, added to the vomit that had dripped down the side of the bar and onto the floor.  The smell was awful and more and more customers either added to the ever growing pool of vomit or left the inn.

Damien had been so surprised at what had happened that he just stood there with vomit dripping all over his face and into his beard. Then like he had come out of a dream, he realized what had happened and his anger knew no bounds. He spit some of the vomit that had landed in his mouth back at Pagran, his left hand swung to pummel this man, when the sharpest pain he had felt yet hit him like an axe in his chest.

His hand let go of Pagran as it clutched his chest as he doubled over in pain. He fell to his knees. Suddenly he felt many hands upon him dragging him away through the vomit and spilled drinks on the grimy floor. He was tossed out into the street and they began beating him.

He tried to fight back, but the pain in his chest was unbearable. He gasped for each breath and then he saw a club in one of the bartender's hands swinging down at him. He tried to block the blows, but they came relentless; pounding on his arms, his chest, his ribs and then a blow hit him behind his excruciating shooting pain ran through his brain and then...darkness.


Y'riss woken out of her sleep by hearing a ruckus downstairs went to check in on their charge. She did not find him in his room. She quickly went back to her and her sisters room and woke the other two up; Salome, and Vyre. They quickly got dressed and went down the stairs. They all saw their charge being dragged out of the inn and then the bartenders came back, some with blood upon their aprons and on their clubs.

They went over to where Pagran stood, cleaning himself off. He was swearing up a storm, not because of what happened to him, but because all of his customers had left for the night; looking for another establishment to spend their coin on.

The sisters slowly made their way down the stairs. Y'riss was concerned about their charge, but they were also afraid of Pagran. They tried to get down the stairs without being noticed, but it was not to be. Pagran saw them.

" sisters. Look at what you have done! Our owner was kind enough to let you bring that bastard of a man into his place and look what he has done! He bullied some of my best customers. He accosted some of the ladies here. (which was a lie, but they did not know) His breath made them vomit and when I peacefully tried to get him to up to his room, he threatened me! Well, my men took care of him."

Pagran had always thought of the Seashoals to be his own, but he was just the head bartender.

Y'riss and her sisters stared in shock and awe as they heard Pagran's tale. "Sir, I am awfully sorry that our charge did this, but he is ill and does not know what he is doing. We were told that he is a very wealthy man and I am sure that he will pay for any damage done tonight. Please tell us where he is so that we can minister to him?" Y'riss asked.

At the mention of wealth Pagran looked down at the coins that this man had slapped down upon the bar. The coins were laying in a pool of vomit, and Pagran saw some sans, but then a piece of silver glinted in the candlelight. He picked through the vomit and picked up the coin and rubbed it off on his apron...he stared at the gleaming the gods, it was a silverbard! Pagran began searching through more of the coins, scooping up the sans, and cleaning them off, but he found two more silver pieces. He pocketed the silver.  What did the man say his name was? Damien, yes Baron Damien Scar from some place Pagran never heard of. Could this be true? That this man was actually a Baron! Pagran thought. And another thought came to him that made him afraid. What if the owner knew this and that is why he allowed these sisters to take care of him here? He could lose his job!

"Sir, where is our charge?" Y'riss asked in a more forcefull voice than she thought she would ever use, interrupting Pagran as he searched through vomit and picked out coins. Y'riss did not miss Pagran pocketing three silver coins in his pocket and frowned in displeasure at the man's theivery, but she would not accuse him; not with her charge out there in the streets, probably very hurt if not dead. She needed to find him quickly.

Pagran looked at the other men. "Quickly show the sisters where he is and do it in a hurry!" He ordered.

The men looked at Pagran with puzzled looks upon their faces. "Boss, we don't understand. We thought..."

"Shut up and do as I told you. Help them in any way they!" Pagran shouted, pointing his finger. "Or else you are all fired," he added.

The men rushed out the door calling for the sisters to follow them. Y'riss and her sisters quickly ran out of the door into the night.

Pagran looked over the common room. No furniture had been broken, the only thing actually wrong was all of the vomit and blood on the floor. That would be easy enough to clean up, he thought. Then he noticed Rhia, who was just staring at him.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Rhia on March 30, 2009, 03:30:28 AM
The inside of Rhia's mouth began to smack as she sang; she was thirsty. She lingered on the little podium for a short while longer, watching as a rough-looking man with a dark braid and a black and grey beard forced his way to the front of the bar, hollering and shoving in response to the objections of the people who had been there first. Hoping that that Pagran would begrudge her a little break, finally Rhia propped her lute in the corner that the fireplace provided, somewhat hidden from sight, and tucked her panpipes in her belt. The calf-length, flowy skirt of her vontromarine blue dress brushed against her legs pleasantly as she edged her way to the bar, providing both a pleasing sensation and a pleasing visual

“A glass o’ cow’s milk,” she shouted at Pagran over the general noise. A protesting look appeared on her face as she winced under the skeptical glances of those near her, and she could not help attempting to defend herself. “It soothes th’ weary voice.” The heads turned away, but they were no less cynical.

Sipping on the cool, creamy milk, Rhia watched Pagran swell up in indignation at the coarse man’s demand. “Sirrah, around here we ask, not demand. Why don't ye go find another tavern te drink in, one more te yer liking, how ‘bout.”

She could practically see the bristles rising on the other man as he growled an angry reply. “Do you know who I am?”

“Nay- and nor do I care.” Pagran pointedly turned to the next impatient customer.

From there it went downhill. The man with the braid announced to the innkeeper that he was a baron, hauling him up by his shirt in the process, to which Pagran could not seem to handle, promptly emptying his stomach in the baron’s face. Rhia watched in horror as a fight erupted before her eyes. It ended up with the baron being beaten to unconsciousness. He had put up a good fight, but Pagran and his men did, after all, outnumber him.

Most –if not all– of the customers in the common room hurriedly left after the fight. Pagran was left kneeling among the vomit, broken glass, and spilled food and drinks, greedily pawing through the man's belongings. Rhia could only stare outright at this, her mouth open in shock. They–they did not speak of this avarice in the ballads... The gruff innkeeper had his hands drag the unconscious man outside the inn, and then proceeded to have an argument with a pretty, dark-haired young woman, who she could only assume was a maid or worker of the inn.

"Where is our charge?" the young lady demanded.

Rhia could tell that Pagran wanted to roll his eyes, but he showed remarkable self-control –especially for someone like him– and only consented to her. "Quickly, show th' sisters where 'e is! 'N' do it in a hurry!"

After a little bit of waffling, the men obeyed, leading the poised young lady and a few others out the door. Rhia slowly turned her head to stare at Pagran. He seemed to be contemplating the mess that the brawl had made, though once he glanced at her, almost guiltily, but Rhia was not paying attention. And this is a reputable inn? When the innkeeper is this... this... How long did Oldana stay here? Or perhaps it was the inn itself that was supposed to be reputable, not the innkeeper. Rhia was not entirely sure. In any case, the thought that perhaps she should find a different place to work slid into her mind, lapping into her brain like the tide on a beach. Or were all inns and taverns like this? She could not remember– she had only been out on her own for so long. But once again the memory of the baron –Damien something or other, wasn't it?– crept back into her mind. Now she faced a decision– slink back into her room? Follow the others? Rhia pressed her eyes shut. After a few moments they slowly came open, revealing the stormy grey skies that were windows to the girl's mind. Well, I can always write a song about this, she thought making a mental excuse for hurrying out the door after the others. It will be good practice... Or something...

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 30, 2009, 09:22:40 AM
Altario smiled at Ana's generosity in adding the spicecakes.  She did, however, bring up some practical points to consider.  "Ana, I thank you for the spicecakes, but I'll pass on the wine.  If you know of anyone who is going there, I'd appreciate the guide.  If not, I'll just head south until I find it, or hit the sea."  Once he made the coast, finding Strata couldn't be that difficult.  Still, someone who knew the way would be much better.

He was then aware that the well dressed elfess was talking to him, her voice soft, almost like a whisper.  She was very shy, it would seem.  He looked at her more closely.  She didn't appear to be a threat, hearing Denrykmar's warning in his head.  "Apparently the city of Strata is the 'Beauty of the South'."

Why would she pick up on that, much less ask him?  It made him more curious than suspicious.  Before he could ask her why she asked, she was asking Ana for a donkey.  It seemed she was suddenly bound for Strata as well.  A little too convenient?  Or was he just getting spooked by Ryk?

No, he was being silly.  She was no threat.  Just another traveller.  In fact, it was her complete lack of outward appearance of danger that had Altario feeling somewhat sorry for her.  Someone like her would be a target for some of the less noble of people, some of which were in the room.  And that tiny dog-like thing at her feet would not protect her.  Back at Urimpaar, one of his Icemut hounds would eat that thing for a snack.  As would Garret's Shadowfoot.  The thing would be more trouble than help.

He suddenly found himself getting a bit angry at the elfess.  Why would someone so obviously ill prepared for the world be travelling by herself, let alone bring a useless animal?  He couldn't understand these southerners sometimes.  A Remusian woman would never be so foolish.  Nayriss would never have done that.  On the frozen wastes, you didn't get a second chance to make mistakes.  Foolishness got you killed.

"If you need company on the trip, you can come with us.  We leave at dawn.  If you are late, we leave without you."  Altario was as surprised as he knew Garret and Val would be at his magnanimous offer.  But, once uttered, it could no longer be taken back.  "See to it that you keep your animal out of my friend's wolf's mouth."  That, at least, made him smile.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: AnaMirl Goodwill on March 30, 2009, 01:09:30 PM
"See to it that you keep your animal out of my friend's wolf's mouth."

Ana‘Mirl had to smile at Altario‘s warning. Though he was such a well-mannered person, sometimes the rough Northern circumstances everybody up there had to meet while growing up or living there shone through. Probably he asked himself, how such a delicate little person as the young elven lady who was sitting there could survive outside of her protected home. But she was here and quite alive, and her animal, what ever it was, as well. Lady Vallania was as delicate, or even more so, but nobody would ever suspect, that she was a fierce warrior. Maybe that lady here had some hidden, unexpected qualities as well. That she needed a means to get away from here came in handy - the first customer for her trip to Strata had signed up. But first she needed some assistance to understand, that there was no need to fear for her pet. So Ana‘Mirl scolded Altario with a laugh in her voice.

„Sir Altario, don‘t scare our young lady here, as if any of your friends would bring a beast in here which assaults  my pet-customers. No need to talk so roughly with her!“
The smile she gave Altario however belied her words. Then she addressed the young woman.

„Lady, don‘t be scared by his words, he only pretends to be so rough, in his heart he is a gentleman who fears he could bee seen as a weakling, if he is too friendly to foreigners.
What your travel to Strata concerns - no, we don‘t have riding beasts to sell or lend - most  of my customers have their own. But I will go to Strata tomorrow as well, so you can accompany me on my cart.  I will do my monthly shopping a bit ahead of schedule, for I don‘t want my noble friend here to loose the path and end up swimming to Strata, for the coastline is rocky at parts, no way to use it as a „guide“.“

 The imagination of Altario swimming to Strata made Ana‘Mirl giggle, but then she composed herself quickly, after all she was a reputable innkeeper.

„So, be prepared tomorrow at sunrise, I will be ready to take you all along. And now I have prepare some rolls and find that little brat which was sitting on the counter not long ago.“

„Lori, Lori, you ne'er-do-well, where are you? If you want to come with me to Strata tomorrow, you better get to bed soon!“

With a nod to her guests she left the main room and entered the kitchen.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on March 31, 2009, 07:24:05 PM

Lori‘s bad mood she had been in, because she had missed the opportunity to see and to feed a grass green frog lifted, as she heard that word. Strata was the town she had grown up and though she had had a bad time there as a little thief, not knowing where to take the next food or if the stomach stayed empty another time, it was nevertheless a place of great wonders, of things to see, to smell, to touch. A broad happy grin appeared on her face, and her eyes looked more  mischievous as they did anyway.

The short thought crossed her mind, that there was some work waiting for her in the kitchen -  to cut up some dried bread for tomorrow‘s ‚baked semm‘, but as this was something which she did not favour very much, she chose to postpone it for . That was a work which did not vanish anyway, when it was  not done, she could do it later as well.

But first she had to get out of her hiding place, the table which stood near the door to the kitchen and where the plates with the food were placed for Moira to take them to the customers. This place was a good one, for though she could only see the lower third of the tavern, it was an interesting outlook nevertheless. From there she had seen the small dog, that the thin elven Lady had with her, which was nearly as interesting as the frog. She was tempted to go over to it and try to caress it, but she was not ready to leave her hiding place. There she could also have a look at that huge grey longhaired dog with the dark paws which she had not seen before, ever. She pondered for a while, if that was a real animal at all, or not a kind of friendly demon - for who had ever heard of a dog of this size?

She sat there and  considered for a while, if it was safe to go over and have a closer look, even a touch, but though Lady Valannia was near, she was very uncertain. This beast was big! The question was settled, as soon as the animal looked into her direction and golden eyes assessed her. Lori‘s self got a bit smaller and she decided to grow first a bit taller until she would approach that white demon-animal.

And then she heard the word STRATA. From then on all things were settled.  She crawled out of her hiding place (but of course not before Ana‘Mirl was in the kitchen again), for there she could not bounce or hop around, which her body forced her to do, out of anticipation of the coming day. Standing in the middle of the room, her hands and arms crossed behind her neck, for this was her favourite ‚thinking posture‘, she went through all possibilities for now.

 The frog-person, should she go to her and tug at her shirt and ask, hidden from the kitchen by the counter, if she could have another grub (She even might find the old one in Altario‘s pocket), but no, she was now far too much excited to slip quietly to that frog-person. She had to TELL somebody that she was going to Strata tomorrow and how great this was. The Kassandra-person had been so nice, she would talk to her. So Lori hopped over to the bird person, who was sitting still at the one corner of the counter and simply interrupted any conversation the lady woman might have led by grabbing her arm and starting to tell her with sparkling eyes:

I‘ll go to Strata tomorrow, Ana‘Mirl says! That is just ... She lacks words how great it is for a moment. That is awfully great! Strata is such a great town, so full of things to see, to smell, to touch. The harbour is just overwhelmingly big, these really big ships are there..  She stretched her arms wide to show it to Lili how big these ships are, but continued quickly . The streets have trees in their middle with fruits on them and  - have you ever seen a Baveras‘ temple which was so...  exciting, the water comes up and floods the floor occasionally and then, in the middle of the town is that market, where you can find everything, clothes, jewel-things and booths with food you never can imagine!  If you are fast, you can get away with some delicious food without  ... I mean, ah well.  She stops talking suddenly, aware that she nearly had given away, that she once was stealing food. So, she just stood still for a moment and looked expectantly in Lili‘s face:

If you come with us tomorrow, I‘ll show you around.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on April 01, 2009, 03:26:38 AM
Alley behind Seashoal's Inn

Fortunately two of the six men had grabbed a lighted torch before they left the inn. Y'riss quickly followed and was assaulted by a strong warm ocean breeze that whipped through the streets and alleyways of the city, and caused her and her sister's robes to flap and wrap around their legs.

The torches light wavered as the men led the ladies around the inn to an alley. They half-ran up the alley, afraid of Pagran, and puzzled at the same time. Why would he want this man back? And why follow these girls orders? One whispered to the others,
"What are we doing? Why should we be ordered around by girls, like servants? We should be bedding these wenches instead we're taking them to that stinkin' drunk."

"Shhh Tryas," one of the other men said. "If she hears you she will tell Pagran and then we are out of a job. Just do as he said, help these ladies find this man and then we go have a drink ourselves."

Tryas grumbled, but agreed, however his eyes could not keep from sweeping over the girl's bodies as they tried to keep their robes in place and in the light of the torches the sight was even more inticing to him.

Y'riss, was the oldest of the sisters and was not amused when she saw one of the men looking at her and her sisters in a manner that was not kind. A gust of wind whipped through the alley sending the grils garments a fluttering, exposing parts of the girls skin that was not to be seen, Vyrie yelped in horror as she tried to cover herself, that yelp made the men turn and stare.

"What are you looking at?" Y'riss yelled. "Find our charge or else!" She ordered.

Tryas growled, "Girl, watch yer mouth. We do not take kindly to being ordered around."

Y'riss realized that perhaps she had overstepped her authority. She had been so concerned about the man she was taking care of, that she did not consider the situation she had put herself and her sisters in. They were in a dark alley with six fully grown men. "I...I apologize gentlemen, and to you sir, if I was a bit abrupt. It is just that I am deeply concerned that we find our charge and give him aid," she said gently, hoping to ease the situation.

"Tyras did'n mean no harm miss, 'e is a bit thirsty, as 'e all are. Right gents?" Another man said.

There was some grumbling but finally Tyras spoke up. "Yeah miss, I mean no harm," he turned to the other men, "lets find this fellow and get a drink."

The men agreed and continued up the alley. They did not go long when they saw a body trying to crawl itself up the alley and then it collapsed.

Y'riss had to keep from screaming, but a gasp escaped from her mouth as she rushed past the men and knelt down by Damien. His shirt was in tatters and bloody. She wanted to call his name but did not know what it was, except "Lost"

"Lost! Lost can you hear me?" She asked, gently shaking Damien.

Damien groaned.

Y'riss glanced back at the men. "Help me take him to his room, please?" She pleaded.

The men looked at each other puzzled. "Why do ye call him Lost?" one asked as they rushed forward.

"That is what he said his name was," Y'riss answered, as they gently picked Damien up, but Damien was a big man and it took all of them to carry him. Damien groaned each time one of the men would take an arm or a leg. He coughed and blood sprayed out.

"Lost? He told Pagran his name was Da...Damien and that he was a Baron from somewhere, miss."

"Really?" Y'riss asked, a bit astonished.

"Would not a litter be better than trying to carry him?" Salome asked, interrupting.

"Aye, miss it would, but we have none, so we have to carry him," a man answered, grunting under Damien's weight.

"Here let me take a torch, Vyrie take the other one and let us go," Y'riss ordered.

She turned and was surprised to see a very slender woman, with long hair, holding her dress, staring at them all, especially at Damien. For the first time in her life Y'riss felt a pang of jealousy. But why? Because this woman was staring at Damien. She was probably just wondering what was gong on? She had no interest in Damien, so then why did she feel jealous of this woman?

"What are you staring at?" Y'riss asked, a bit curtly; which surprised her and her sisters who glanced her way giving her strange looks.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on April 01, 2009, 03:49:21 AM
Lili watched and listened in fascination as a lot of remarkable things were going on within a short space of time. The little girl, having joined the grim-faced stranger for hardly longer than a blink, ran off again. The stranger took her coat off, made a series of awkward movements with her arms, and produced a tiny green animal that seemed to live in the back of her shirt – in order to have a little conversation with it, apparently. In the front, this shirt had a rather conspicuous stain, which the stranger, having finished the dialogue with her companion, covered rather hastily. Interesting, interesting!

In a separate development, the golden-skinned elfess talked un-ladylike to her dog. It was hers then! Lili congratulated herself for guessing right. Next, the elfess got interested in a man who had struck up a conversation with a barkeeper. Don’t blame her, thought Lili. Fetching bloke, that. As the elfess spoke, she lost the light-hearted spring that had been in her voice while she had talked to Lili. Also, she flushed. Her favourite trick again! How does she manage to get such a murderously handsome red hue on her face as if on command? Buggered if I know!

And ... oho! It sounded like these two were going to travel to the “Beauty of the South” together, where Lili had just come from. (And of course, she’d heard of the Shendar’s proud epithet for their grand city.) Ooh, and I’m going north, and then I’ll miss my chance to ask this lady how she ... well, ... how she can be so damn lady-like! Lili felt a flash of disappointment. But once again, Kassandra came to the rescue, as she whispered into Lili's ear:

“Excuse me, sir?” It was said in the elfess’s voice. Of course! I must go with them! There will always be time to discover the Kuglimz lands later!

Lili was just pondering how she could best attach herself to this little party, when the little girl - the one who had brought the wine - came running from the-blood-bear-knows-where and grabbed Lili’s arm. What a delight this little rascal was! She was speaking excitedly, and she was providing Lili with the perfect excuse to join the party. It was this girl, then, whom the barmaid had meant when she had called for “Lori the never-do-well”. Well, this couldn’t have worked out better if someone had arranged it!

Lili bowed down to the girl, so that her face was almost at Lori’s level. ”Aaaah,” Lili said and frowned ostentatiously, as if she was thinking hard. ”Go to Strata, you say? Tomorrow? Hmmmmm. You see, Kassandra and I have a lot of important things to do. Very important things. Is that not true, Kassandra?”

Kassandra said nothing.

So Lili released her playful frown and smiled broadly. ”Oh, all right, so it’s not true. Of course we’ll come! I’m Lili, by the way! And you must be Lori.” Lili winked: "And it seems you know all about the wine here!”

… as well as the proper way to supply yourself with fruit, Lili added in her mind. The former bandit was not an educated woman, but she knew how tempting market stalls were for hungry little girls who have no money. She had been a hungry little girl with no money. Not very long ago. I'll have to tell Lori later to watch out what she says to strangers, Lili added inwardly. Aloud she said:

”Thank you, Lori! We’ve been to Strata, Kassandra and I – it’s where I bought this dress, in fact. But I’m sure you can show us something new. And if you’re not too scared, you can ride for a bit with us on our horse. Her name is Fiddlesticks! Now, do you think I should let your boss know that we’re coming? Onnamyull, did you say?”

"Ana'Mirl" said Kassandra, in Lori's voice.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on April 02, 2009, 05:56:33 PM
Lori put her hands firmly on the counter - that enabled her to jump even higher. And that was exactly what she did. Bouncing up and down, imagining sitting on Fiddlesticks, with a big smile on her face, she happily sang - or at least it was what she understood under singing, the melody freshly invented and any rhyme or rhythm forced or absent. But at least she had a nice voice.

„Lili comes with me to Strata, to Strata, huhuhu,
 Kassandra on her pinky hat, pinky hat, huhuhu,

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

I will ride on Fiddlesticks, Fiddlesticks, huhuhu
Jumpin‘ over many chicks, huhuhu..“

Suddenly she realised,that Ana‘Mirl was just behind that door, and she had still some business to do, so she threw a quick

„See you next morning!“

and dove under the counter, crouching and squeezing herself in the direction of the froglady. She stopped shortly at that white woolly little dog, which looked at her with wide eyes, but didn‘t see her as a threat and stayed quiet, what Lori appreciated. The next legs belonged to Altario, but he would surely not look down and so she got easily past him and around the froglady. For, the other side, away from Altario, was surely the better choice. Again she twitched a sleeve to get the attention of somebody:

„Psst, psst, I‘m here, I‘d love to feed Earnest, may I? He is so cute! But better put him on your lap, for if Ana‘Mirl sees him on the counter, she will coldheartedly serve him next time for dinner. You know,there ARE people who eat frogs. “

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on April 03, 2009, 01:48:02 AM
Grallen drained her second tankard, wondering what people thought they were playing at, serving such pointless measures for regular prices.  
Someone was pulling her sleeve. She forced herself not to snatch her arm away, and looked down.

„Psst, psst, I‘m here, I‘d love to feed Earnest, may I? He is so cute! But better put him on your lap, for if Ana‘Mirl sees him on the counter, she will coldheartedly serve him next time for dinner. You know, there ARE people who eat frogs. “

Focusing (after a couple of attempts) on the small child, Grallen nodded gravely, and retrieved Earnest from the counter, setting him down on her knee, where he did a good impression of being shocked and disgusted at the mixture of dust, dried mud and unidentifiable stains that clouded the fabric of her trousers.

“I’ll bear that in mind. Hey… did I hear right, that you’re headed for Strata t’morrow? Sounds fun. D’you know how long it’ll take t’get there an’ back?”

Graceless, clumsy and potentially dangerous, but how else do I put it, and I need to know, ‘cos I’d better damn well be away from here by the time they return.

Holding out the box of frog-food to the girl, Grallen watched the girl carefully, as if she wasn’t sure whether she’d bite, or explode, or do something inexplicable and noisy, like kids do. The world was muffled and confusing from the other side of two jars of brandy, and she knew the best way to make it clearer was to have three jars of brandy. Without turning from Lori, she waved absently for someone to refill the empty tankard.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lori Lo on April 04, 2009, 04:14:10 AM
Lori was very pleased, that the frog-person was not annoyed with her, but put the frog on her knee, where it was much more convenient for Lori to feed it. The box of grubs was offered to her and she enjoyed feeding the green animal. When she casually was asked, if it was true that she would go to Strata tomorrow and how long it took to go there and come back, she answered nearly absent-minded, only shortly looking up to that hairy head and the yellow eyes.

„Oh yes, I‘m going to Strata tomorrow, with Ana‘Mirl and Altario and Lili will come with us as well! And of course it will be fun! ..  Oh, how long it takes? Well, nearly a day, if you are slow, but if you leave at sunrise and you are quick, you might be there at Sunblaze, just before the really big heat sets in. .. And back? Well, the same, but I hope we will stay a bit longer. Ana‘Mirl has to buy things and we always visit her daughter who lives in Strata. I don‘t think, that somebody is stupid enough to try to get to Strata and back in one day!“

Earnest‘s belly got visibly rounder, but he was saved by a call of Ana‘Mirl.

„Lori, do you want to stay and look after the chicks while I‘m visiting Strata? If  no, then I want to see you in your bed IMMEDIATELY!“

„Oh, Earnest, I have to leave, I hope you are still here, when I‘m back. Are you still here?“

Lori asked the frog-person, but when she didn‘t get an answer immediately, she quietly rushed away in the direction of her bed. Ana‘Mirl hadn‘t said a word of washing herself or brushing the teeth, so there was no need to be too thorough.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Rhia on April 04, 2009, 11:38:01 AM
The hired hands and the young women rounded the corner of the inn, hurrying down a dark, cluttered alleyway. The rank stench of garbage and decay bombarded Rhia's nose as she hastened after them. What a motley procession we make, she reflected wryly, even as she clutched the skirt of her dress in an unconscious response to the setting. The hired hands, the Baveras' Aids, and the naive minstrel. The men began to whisper insolently, and from what the sea breeze brought to Rhia's charming little ears, it was just a little bit coarse.

"...should be beddin'... wenches... rottin' drunk..." Rhia gritted her teeth at the crude train of thought the man was following.

Another man snarled in return, his reply just a little bit louder in anger. "Shut yer trap, Tryas! ...Pagran... out er a job... "

The man called Tryas seemed to be mollified at whatever the other man had said, though he did not stop eyeing the Baveras' Aids with obvious craving.

An eddie of wind dove under the girls' robes and flared them up. The girls attempted to keep themselves covered, but the enticing glimpses of flesh made the men even more hungry. The girl who seemed to be the leader of the Baveras' Aids seemed to be enraged by the men's obvious lust.
Her chin lifted in anger and her nostrils flared. "What are you looking at? Find our charge, you flea-bitten mongrels!"

Tryas bristled. "Watch yer mouth, girl. We dunnot take kindly te bein' ordered about."

The girl stepped down, obviously frightened a little. A knot bobbed in her throat as she swallowed. "I...I apologize, gentlemen, and to you sir, if I was a bit abrupt. It is just that I am deeply concerned that we find our charge and give him aid..."

Another man spoke up gently. "Tyras did'n' mean no harm miss, 'e's a bit thirsty, as we all are. Right, mates?"

There were murmurs of assent, and the group scuffled up the alleyway. Rhia cringed and turned away. Further on down the alley was a weary body, struggling to get to its feet. There was a sharp intake of breath from the Baveras' Aid leader, who scurried to the body's side and collapsed on her knees, shaking his shoulder and repeatedly calling his name." hear me? Can you hear me?"

The only reply was a low moan of pain.

"Help me take him to his room, please?" She looked pleadingly at the men.

The men grudgingly picked up the man, who appeared to be quite ill- coughing blood. Rhia, unconsciously edging up closer to them, wished that she had had training in healing. But the men seemed to be doing alright. They lifted him up, eaching taking an arm and leg, and shuffled back towards the direction of the inn.

Rhia, staring anxiously at the baron, was caught by surprise when the leader of the girls turned and looked at her fiercely. She was alarmed to see possessiveness -and was that jealousy? But what could the woman have to be jealous about?- in her face.

The woman's voice was surprisingly harsh, especially considering how soft and pleading it had been just moments before. "What are you staring at?" she demanded. The other Baveras' Aids gave her startled looks; the men simply ignored it.

"I- I..." Rhia realized that she had, despite her earlier thoughts, no reason whatsoever for following them. What weak excuse had she given herself? 'Write a song about it later?' Sweet Baveras, what self-important, pathetic justification! A flush illuminated her face, heated twin sunsets on both cheeks, and she spoke in a low voice. "I thought ye might- I thought I might offer any 'elp I could give..." The lovely dark-haired young woman still displayed skepticism prominently on her features, causing Rhia to feel a need to elaborate further. "I, um, I was worried when they threw 'im out uncoonscious."

The men had now noticed Rhia and were beginning to eyeball her with budding interest. She gritted her teeth and resisted cringing, playing with her sleeve nervously.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: grallen gast on April 04, 2009, 05:24:09 PM
“…Are you still here?“

Watching the small child run off once more, Grallen found she couldn’t summon an answer as readily as she’d like. Two days, minimum. The clock is ticking, then. She grinned to herself, a sly smile which broadened and then vanished as quickly as it had arrived. Think of it as an incentive crossed with an ultimatum. She looked down at Ernest, still swallowing the last of the grubs, his toungue flicking convulsively in and out of his mouth as he cleaned up the crumbs; it was a feast, as far as he was concerned. He croaked shrilly, a reedy amphibian burp.

Reaching behind her to the bar, Grallen’s fingers found the tankard, and hopefully lifted it, but no, still empty – clearly her hint hadn’t been broad enough. She half turned and called out in the general direction of the bartender – “’Nother, if you please, an’ this time, fill it to the top, right? Really not in the mood for half measures.”

A low growl rose involuntarily in her throat as she waited, but was silenced as the mug was filled, her yellow eyes fixed balefully on the bottle, watching every drop. As she picked it up she spilled some and it trickled down the inside of her wrist, cold and very slightly prickly.

She drank until the tankard was empty and her head was full of hot orange clouds. Earnest had climbed into her pocket to sleep off his meal. Grallen was having trouble with her seat, which seemed to have at least one leg shorter than the other. She leant down to try to see which, and nearly tipped over, having to grab onto the bar for support, digging her nails into the wood and swearing in a slurred monotone. It appeared, on close inspection, that all the legs on the damn chair were shorter than the other. There was no dealing with some furniture. Hauling herself back up to a vaguely upright position, and seeing little flashing lights in her eyes as she did so, Grallen realised she felt very tired. She hadn’t really slept properly in at least… three years? No, wait… what were the other things? Shorter than years… ears? Maybe, or is that different? I think I would like… I think… her thought were coming slowly, separated by big gulfs of inviting silence, like lead weights falling through syrup.

Walking with the slow, extremely thoughtful gait of one who can’t easily remember how many feet she has to move, Grallen made her way to the door, and stepped out into the cold night air. Aargh, who turned the sun off, it’s s’posed to be hot here. Incompetence, it is, what more can you expect, they can’t even run a decent climate and it’s all… sandy, blows around and sticks to you… I’m so damn tired.  She shuffled past the stables, watching enviously the horses shut up in their cosy stalls. Some of them watched her back and she growled at them.

The combination of cold air and strong drink was sending her to sleep on her feet, so she made for the nearest sheltered place – someone’d left a cart outside the inn, tucked out of the way. She was about to climb underneath when she noticed a bulky, soft shape on the top of the cart – it was covered in blankets, presumably protecting goods of some kind. It looked roomy enough to admit a small orc, though, and it beat sleeping on the ground.

It took four attempts to clamber onto the cart, the third of which abruptly deposited her in the dust. Once she was up it was just a quick wriggle and she was safely cocooned in the dry-smelling darkness under the blankets. She barely had time to wonder what she was sharing a bed with before sinking into the unshakeable, silent unconsciousness of the dedicated drunk.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Lili the Elfcat on April 05, 2009, 04:14:30 AM
As quickly as she had come, Lori the little scamp vanished again, dexterously slaloming between the big people’s legs. Lili ordered another drink – and yes, that was the usual Desert Wine she had known from Strata. Lili was tempted to ask for the murderous stuff Lori had brought her, but she feared she might get the girl into trouble that way.

”We better keep schtumm about that, Kassandra! We’ll ask Lori later.”

Lili then arranged her place on tomorrow’s journey with a barmaid, who promised to let Ana’Mirl know, and also arranged for a room in the tavern. No reason to expose poor Kassandra to the danger of nightly robbers outside – he, he – if you’ve got the dough to put a roof over your daggerbeak’s head! And since the elfess seemed to divide her attention between her dog, the fetching bloke, and her own thoughts, Lili merely told her:

”We’ll do a bit of chinwag tomorrow I hope. Don’t oversleep! I’d better turn in and start singing lullabies, else Kassandra won’t be able to sleep and will keep me awake all night with her nagging!”

So Lili, with Kassandra on her shoulder, walked off to follow the barmaid, when a stranger, a singularly ugly man with a severe overbite and a profuse moustache, approached her.

”Do excuse me, madam! May I have a word?”

”Why, be my guest! Have all the words you want! I’ll bet you Kassandra here will have more, though!”

”Yes, yes. I saw your bird. A fine specimen of a female Sarvonian Gossiper, or Charlatan Daggerbeak. About 12 years of age, I would say. Did you know these birds are called ‘Babbler’ in Nybelmar?”

”I sure don’t know what Nablemyre you’re talking ‘bout, but if you mean to ask whether Kassandra ever stops gossiping and babbling, then the answer is ‘no’ – except to listen to people, so she can come up with the right response, you understand!”

”Quite, quite. Never mind. I merely wanted to ask about the amusing little tale you told earlier, about you and your bird's encounter with the captain. I was standing nearby and couldn’t help overhearing. Quite remarkable tale, really. Would you have any objection if I made a record of it, I wonder?”

”What you make of my story is up to you, but as far as you go, I can’t make heads or tales of you!”

”What I meant to say is this: would you mind if I put the story down in writing?”

”How can you put it down? It’s been told and is up in the air, and no writing of yours will bring it down! Really, mate, what are you talking about?”

”Ahem. Let me explain. What I mean is this: I will put into writing what you have said, word for word, so that other people can read it later, and, so to speak, listen to the story again, but without hearing it. Just by reading the words, you see?”

”I don’t see what I have to do with it. You can write whatever you want. If you’ve got trouble remembering things, though, I recommend you get one of them daggerbeak birds. Whatever I forget, Kassandra surely remembers. Word for word, as you say.”

”Yes, yes. Quite, quite. Well, it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I shall not trouble you much longer. But I prithee, will it please you to tell me whom I might mention as the author of your amusing tale?”

”Ooh, slowly, slowly, my friend. If you go on like that, Kassandra won’t sleep all night, coz she’ll just be wide awake to practice speaking in your longwinded way instead.”

”Will you tell me your name?”

”I don’t see why not. I’m Lili.”

”Just Lili?”

Lili brought her mouth close to the questioner’s ear, but then decided to shout out her answer anyway. ”My friends call me Lili the Elfcat, if you must know.”

”Ouch!” The stranger rubbed his ear. ”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!” And here the stranger, rather arrogantly, twirled the right handlebar of his moustache round his right index finger. ”I’ll have you know, I was the first person to describe it.”

”Oh no you weren’t, you old braggart! I’ve known Kassandra for half my life now, and you only just walked into this here tavern and claim you scribed her first? What a humbug!”

”You are quite right. A misunderstanding! Well, I do hope that you and, um, Kassandra will be blessed with a favourable destiny.” And with this, the stranger turned to make his way out of the Tavern.

”Hey!” Lili shouted after him: ”Now I’ve told you our names, you gotta tell us yours. It’s only fair.”

”With pleasure, madame. I do beg your forgiveness for my lack of courtesy. You may, indeed, have heard of me.” The stranger’s breast swelled with something Lili took for pride – rather misplaced pride, in her opinion. ”My name is Shabakuk Zeborius Anfang.”

”Why, with a name that long, no wonder you had to learn to write. How would you remember it otherwise?”

The stranger, visibly disappointed at not being recognized, smiled feebly at Lili - and went on his way. He appeared somewhat bewildered by the conversation he had just had, and almost bumped into the woman with the green animal, who had attracted Lori’s interest earlier. That one was clearly enjoying the local drinks, too!


Up in her room, Lili shook off her boots and lay down on the bed. ”You know, Kassandra, I’ve been thinking about destiny. What if we hadn’t found Fiddlesticks? Then we might have been in the Kuglimz lands by now. It seems every time I want to go north, something gets in the way. Here am, I have just left Strata, and I meet this murderously charming elfess, and that funny little scamp Lori, and now I’m planning to go back south. Do you think we’ll ever get to find out who my parents were? Maybe it’s not my destiny to find out?”

”Foolish Lili! ... A misunderstanding! I do hope that you and, um, Kassandra, will be blessed with a favourable destiny!”

”Oh, stop it, Kassandra. Don’t be talking like that snooty buffoon. Good night!”

”… to Strata, to Strata, huhuhu!”

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on April 08, 2009, 12:05:31 AM
"I thought ye might- I thought I might offer any 'elp I could give..." Y'riss studied the young lady for a moment. She is probably no older than I am," Y'ris thought. The the girl added as an after thought. "I, um, I was worried when they threw 'im out uncoonscious."

Y'riss glanced around at her sisters. Salome spoke up. "Y'riss, I believe this person is the one we all heard singing tonight."

" bird of the sea," A hoarse whispered voice said, and then coughed up more blood. Damien's eyes locked onto the young lady's and he felt a jolt, a spark of feeling that he had not felt in a long time and then he slowly closed his eyes and his head fell back.

Several things happened all at once as soon as Damien spoke those words; Y'riss's head swiveled toward him and she quickly cradled his head in her hands. The men began cursing and yelling for the young lady singer to go away.

Y'riss and her sisters had heard of they myth of sailors who when they saw death coming, called her the Song bird of the Sea, though she did not believe in myths, it would seem that these men did. She would have to do something quick, or else all of this agitation would cause more pain, and aggreviate the injuries Damien had sustained at these ruffians.

"Stop this childishness! Be careful with him and let's get him to his room as quickly as possible," she ordered the men, who seemed to snap out of their hysteria at the sound of her voice but made a wide berth around the singer as they took Damien down the alleyway with Y'riss cradling Damien's head.

Salome was the last to follow, saw the shock of confusion and horror on the young singers face and had pity on her. "Come with me," she said, holding out her hand. "My name is Salome and I am an Aide to Baveras. Do not be concerned about what just happened. It is an old sailor's tale. I will tell it to you if you wish. What is your name?" Salome asked.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on April 09, 2009, 02:20:53 PM
Trying to keep a stern expression toward the elfess was a lesson in futility as Altario listened to Ana chastise him.  He could only roll his eyes in consternation as she told the elfess that he was only pretending to be tough.  But, there was no use in trying to convince Ana otherwise.  He had been away from Remusia for too long now.  These people here were making him soft.  He had never been so transparent in his younger days.  Other than to Riztalyanna.  She could see through him, even then.  Was that the truth of him then?  Was he really a nice guy.

He smirked.  No.  He was Remusian.  Now, as well as back then.  If people tried to convey in that a nobler ideal than that, then they were only trying to make themselves feel better.  Inside, he was still as cold as the zekar winds that crossed the frozen wastes.

He turned and left the bar, returning to the table, where Garret and Val were quietly getting to know one another.  He looked at Val, who's face was covered in an expression of both bewilderment and concern.  He knew she did not understand what was going on, and he did not know how he would explain it to her.  That made him frustrated at his own lack of communication skills, making him seem more gruff than he might normally have been.

"Denrykmar is in Strata.  I'm leaving in the morning at first light."  His eyes met the elfess', those uderza orbs of hers questioning him in a silent plea for an explanation.  An explanation that he could not give her right now.  A short while ago, life had been so different.  He had asked for her hand in marriage, and was prepared to start a new life with her.  Now, it looked as though the old life had not loosened its grip on him yet.  Whatever plans that he and Valannia had would need to wait.

A cold fear swept through him.  Would those plans ever come true now?  The thought made his stomach tighten, and a wave of nausea swept over him.  He could not hold her gaze any longer.  "I- I need to get some rest.  You should as well.  If you are coming with me, then be ready for dawn.  We might have some companions on the way.  Ana wants to go to Strata, and so does some elf girl.  I said that we could use the guides."

He stepped away from the table, with one last longing gaze back to Val.  I'm sorry, was written across his weathered features.  Then, as he made his way to the stairs, he almost bumped into Moira, the waitress.  He dug into his pockets for some coin for the dinner.  "Here's what I owe you."  Along with cold coin, his fingers came across something slimy and soft.  Looking into his palm, he saw the wriggling form of a grub.  Using his free hand, he flicked the grub off into the crowd.  How did that get there?

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Airyn on April 10, 2009, 10:21:09 AM
Airyn met the eyes of the human man, noticing the strength he used to create a serious expression. He studied her for a moment, but she didn’t mind. She was too preoccupied in thinking about Strata, and what mysterious and interesting things she would find there. After leaving Nybelmar, life had become just one big adventure. She knew nothing about what lay around the next corner, only that she could not wait to find out. Now this journey to Strata, well that was another adventure in itself. She was to travel with people she had never met, and would be in their company through unknown and, most likely, dangerous places. What if something should happen to her? Or to the furry rascal at her feet? Shaking the unnecessary thoughts from her mind, the elfess looked from this man to the innkeeper behind the bar, and nodded her head. “I will gladly accompany you, sir, and I thank you greatly for inviting me.” She smiled, “Ana, if I may call you that, shall I meet you at dawn? Or are you planning to leave at a later time?”

A number of things happened after she spoke. First, this man said something about keeping Sage away from the mouth of a wolf! The elfess frowned slightly, but her expression appeared more confused than offended. Sage was able to protect himself! He would never do anything that would provoke a wolf. Wouldn’t he? She quickly stole a glance at the wolf across the room. It looked so friendly and harmless. Besides, I’m sure its owner would never allow it to attack. Right?

Next, this innkeeper, this Ana, tried to reassure her. Airyn laughed sweetly, grinning along with the woman behind the bar as Altario’s smile faded. He did not look like he had a mean bone in his body; in fact, he looked more charming than anything else. Then, Ana told the elfess and that friendly woman with the pink hat to meet her at sunrise. Airyn could not let her smile fade. Strangers, of all people, were inviting her to join their journey. That alone surprised her. They were willing to travel and converse with her. It was something like a breath of fresh air, after months of travelling alone with no one but the occasional sailor or travelling merchant to talk with. Something about that made her miss home.

One day she would return to Nybelmar, and it only took a few friendly words from some kind strangers to make her realise that. However, until that day came, Airyn decided that she would take this opportunity to have some company. It was far better than travelling alone.

She noticed that this man next to her seemed to be lost deep in his thoughts, and a vacant look appeared on his face. She then realised that she had been keeping him from his business, whatever it was, and lifted herself off her seat. Smoothing down her dress, and pulling the cloak around her body once more, she lifted her head and looked into his dark eyes. She then found that he was the man that she had been staring at after walking into this tavern, but, to her surprise, her cheeks did not turn red. “Congratulations,” was all she was able to say before he left her side with not much more than a short glance.

“Ana?” she called to the innkeeper, who had disappeared back into the kitchen, “might I be able to rent a room for the night? I’ll leave some coin on the bench for you.” Airyn knew that if she did not rest now, she would never get up in the morning. She placed a few coins on the bench and quickly turned back around to the woman who had been sitting on her other side, but it appeared that she had left already. Oh well, I will see her again soon, she thought as she walked Sage towards the stairs that led to the rooms upstairs.

Airyn chose a room not far from the end of the hallway. She led the tired and slow-moving canine into the room, and closed the door behind her. Slowly, she bent down to take the leash off the dog and yawned widely. She abandoned her cloak and dove into her backpack to retrieve a long and worn shirt. Airyn took off her dress with simple, practiced, movements and pulled the shirt over her head.

She crawled onto the bed and patted the space next to her. Sage jumped onto the mattress and circled a bit before choosing to rest on the unused pillow next to Airyn’s head. She stroked his long fur and watched him close his eyes. “Goodnight, little troublemaker,” was all she said before she too fell asleep.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Garret Arroway on April 11, 2009, 06:12:34 AM
Standing silently by, Garret watched as Altario read the letter, his eyes passing over the paper. Then he seemed to hover there, his eyes meeting those of the elven woman before turning towards Garret. A worried frown crossed the former Remusian scout. Something was wrong here.

He had known since the letter came to him though another messenger that something was wrong. Something had kept Ryk from meeting with him face to face. If it had been something as simple as being chased out of town for one of his usual reasons, he would have found another way to contact him, but he had left a message. The joy upon seeing Altario was muted. He wanted to ask what was wrong, wanted to find out what was going on, but before he could form the right words in his mind, Alt had turned and walked swiftly to the bar, leaving Garret and Shadowfoot behind with the woman he had introduced as Valannia.

Shadowfoot followed for a few steps, padding across the tavern floor before turning back and eyeing his human. Garret just stood there. He wanted to follow Altario, felt his should, but something held him back. Becoming slightly impatient, the older wolf walked back toward Garret, nudging his human's hand with his graying muzzle. The Kyranian just let his hand drop to scratch the wolf's head for a moment, grey eyes still following Altario before he turned back to the woman still sitting at the table, attempting to start up a calm conversation.

While speaking he heard his friend's voice over the noise of the tavern, saying something above leaving in the morning. Garret knew he'd be going with him at that point. Upon his return Altario explained what was going on, talking mostly to Valannia.

"Denrykmar is in Strata.  I'm leaving in the morning at first light."

That was all Garret needed to hear. When Altario had retired for the night he headed toward the bar, purchasing a room for the night before heading out to the stables. A few of the beasts in the stalls stirred at the smell of the wolf that walked alongside the tall man as he made his way to his mount, collecting the saddlebags before returning to the inn and making his way upstairs to a room.

Worry mingled with the effects of the heat and the desert from earlier, and upon entering the room Garret could do nothing more than drag himself toward the bed, drop his bags on the floor and fall onto the mattress. Face buried in his pillow he managed to turn, kicking off his boots with some effort before pulling the blanket over him. Dreading the thought of crossing the stretch of desert again in the morning, Garret closed his eyes. He only stirred slight from the quickly approaching cloud of sleep when Shadowfoot shoved his way into to too small bed. Garret scooted toward the edge a bit and the large wolf laid down, back against his human's side while he legs hung over the edge.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Rhia on April 11, 2009, 07:08:33 AM
Another Baveras' Aid added her voice to the conversation.  This one had a lighter shade of hair, a golden brown that shimmered in the torchlight, and her voice was low and smooth.  “Y’riss, I believe this person is the one we heard singing tonight.”

Rhia blushed, half-surprised.  But why was she surprised?  She was, after all, hired for people to hear in the inn.  Before she, or anyone else, could reply, Damien, hanging from the men’s grips, spoke up hoarsely. “So- songbird of the sea.”  He retched up even more blood, and the little troubadour winced.  To her surprise, he said nothing more, but shut his dark old eyes.  Even as the man had spoken, the girl named Y’riss gave him a sharp look, and then held his head in her arms.

The other men -out of fear, anger, aggravation, Rhia could not tell- began to clamor and curse for the young singer to leave.  Rhi flushed, and began to hurry, her head down, back the way they had come.  She had a distinct feeling that she did not fit in here, was not welcome- and not only because of the men.  The way that Y'riss seemed to glare at her, a somewhat accusing glower.  This little songbird did not seem to belong to this flock.  It was not exactly a pleasant feeling.  Rhia felt it, like a corset that fit too tightly, or was constricting in the wrong places.

"Stop this childness!  Be careful with hem, and let's get him to his room as quickly as possible!" came Y'riss's tight voice from behind her.  The men snapped to it and soon they and the Baveras' Aid leader overtook her.  After them came the rest of the young women, who talked in low voices and scurried down the alley, flurrying around and then past Rhia like a school of fish.  The girl's steps slowed a little.  You don't really have a reason to be with them, what's the hurry to stick to them like a burr on a saddle blanket? she reflected with a purse of her lips.  She couldn't help but wonder why it was such a great matter that the man Damien had called her a "songbird of the sea".  It had been a nickname given to her by her father- 'little songbird.'  Though it was a bit strange that he added the 'sea' bit.  Another moment of thinking brought further questions.  And how by Baveras's sea star did he know it was my pet name?

The light footsteps of a woman pattered their way into Rhia's ear.  Her thick brown braid swung, hitting her shoulder, as she reflexively looked behind her at the sound.  A Baveras' Aid was now by her side, one with a round, pleasant face.  In fact, it was the one who had recognized Rhia.  The Aid held out her hand with a small, sympathetic smile.  "Come with me.  My name is Salome and I am an Aide to Baveras.  Do not be concerned about what just happened.  It is an old sailor's tale," she continued, shaking her head to Rhia's questioning opened mouth.  "I will tell it to you if you wish.  What is your name?"

"I-"  Rhia swallowed.  "I am Rhia, thankee."  She gave a small polite curtsy and continued walking, linking arms with the girl Salome.  "I de not know this... sailor's tale...  This is me first time 'n Strata, on th' reccommendation of a friend.  I- I suppose I was merely lookin' fer a new scene."  And perhaps a little adventure, she added silently.  "Will," she began, then found that her mind had chosen that moment to become suddenly shy and nervous.  Stop that.  "Will yew, er...  The, um... Th' story? Will yew- Would ye tell 't? T' me?"  As soon as we get back into the inn- Rhia started threateningly to her mind, but found that there was not much you could to do punish your brain.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Tharoc Wargrider on April 11, 2009, 08:10:52 AM
A small cell in the City Watch headquarters


The Watch officer eyed the prisoner suspiciously. Although he was flanked by two of his biggest guards, both heavily armed, he wasn't going to take any chances and kept a safe distance between him and the orc.

"So, you're a roving Compendiumist for the University of Lorehold, is that what you're saying? And you've come to Strata looking for this fellow, what was his name again......?"
He consulted the notes he had taken during the preceeding interview.
"......ah yes, Garry Arrowblade."

"Arroway....Garret Arroway." sighed Tharoc.

"That's what I said..." growled the officer. "And you met this Gullet character at some party, you say?"

Tharoc rolled his eyes towards the uncomfortably low roof of the cell, "K'han'uck's tusks! 'Ow many times d'yer needs tellin'? Yeh, it were 'is hinau......hinnagra....hinogranation party. Ah'd bin hinvited cos ah'd jus' bin tekken on as a resucher. We got on right well, like, bein' as 'ee 'ad a wolf and I 'ad Valkree. Wiv bin resuchin' wargs t'gevver ever since, 'im in't sowf, me in't norf. "

"And Valkree would be......?" asked the officer, one eyebrow raised, quill hovering over the tatty parchment.

"Mi warg. Leastways she will be if'n ah ever sees 'er again. Say, y'aint seen 'er, as yer? Big fing, she is. All teef and black fur......" His eyes looked expectantly around the three uniformed soldiers before him.

The senior guardsman looked incredulously at Tharoc, then at his two subordinates, then back to Tharoc. "You mean to tell me that not only is there an itinerant orc wandering the streets of my city carrying, I might add, concealed weapons, but there's every possibility of there being a wild warg somewhere abouts as well? Ye Gods......that will never do! No, that will never do at all. I shall have to organise a search party immediately........."

Tharoc's eyes lit up. "Search party?.....Eeee, mister.....that'd be a big 'elp......ah c'n 'elp yer look if yer wants. Jus' gimme me pants back an......." He took a step forwards, reaching for his clothes which lay on the wooden bunk beside the soldiers. Also on the bunk were the contents of his upended rucksack.
The two goons across from Tharoc drew their blades. "Whoah, whoah, whoah......just you hold on a fraction," said the officer, "You aren't going anywhere, my lad. Leastways not until we've found this beast of yours and made sure it can't hurt anybody."
"Y'dont 'ave t'be frettin' bout that, mister, she's tamer'n a meadow full o' sheep an' twice as daft my ol' pa used ter say. She won' be 'urtin nobody....... not 'less ah tells 'er to. 'Sides," he continued, "Ah don' fink she'll be round 'ere anyways. It were in th'Sharadon Forest where she wandered off. Can't see 'er comin' all this way. Specially not wiv all that cursed heat an' sand twixt there an' 'ere, an' not a tree in sight."

The officer stared at Tharoc with a slightly glazed expression, obviously still trying to translate what he had just said into some form of inteligible language. After a lengthy pause he gave up.
"Riiiight...." he said slowly, in an attempt to hide his ignorance of the northern dialect. "Well, be that as it may, a search must still be carried out. We can't be too careful when it comes to things like this." He scribbled some orders onto a piece of parchment, gave it to one of the guards and whispered something into his ear. The guard nodded and left the room.
"Now then, about this Narrowblade character...."

"Arroway" corrected Tharoc, impatiently.

"That's what I said," snapped the uniform. "Tell me again why you need to find him?"

Tharoc tried counting silently to ten. He reached four before he had to use his fingers. "Whoah, whoah......" shouted the officer, lowering his head and covering his eyes with his hand. "Put it away man, for pity's sakes!"

Using his fingers to count meant that Tharoc had to move them from where they had been covering his exposed orchood. "What? Oh, sorry...." he blushed green, smiled weakly and dropped his hands. The silent guard standing beside the officer struggled to stifle the laugh that was hammering at the back of his teeth.
The officer threw Tharoc's travel-stained leather breeches to him without lifting his head. "Put those back on, before you have someone's eye out!" The big orc did as he was told.

Risking one eye, the senior guard cast a quick glance upwards and seeing Tharoc's modesty was now intact, continued with his questioning.
"Where were we......ah yes. Why do you need to find this Garroway person, and what makes you think that he's here in Strata?"

Forcing himself to ignore the guardsmans obvious spelling problem, Tharoc repeated his answer for what must have been the eleventeenth time. "Asides from my pa, may K'han'uck take 'is spirit, the only person 'oo knows more'n any uvver 'bout wargs an' their wily ways is Garret. If'n anyone c'n 'elp me find Valkree, it's 'im an' Shadderfoot. I 'eard tell of how 'ee's bin seen in these parts an......." Tharoc realised his mistake too late, as usual.

"Aha! I assume this Shudderfoot is another of your dubious cronies, eh? Coming to my city to steal whatever you can before slinking back into the night with one of our maidens under each arm, I'll be bound. Weeelll, not on my watch, matey. You'll have to do better than this if you want to outsmart Captain Thadeus Illogical!" He stood, gathered his parchments and quill and Tharoc's numerous blades and then made for the cell door. He decided to leave the rest of his possesions on the bunk, judging them to be innofensive enough. The armed guard followed him out and then locked the door noisily behind them.
"I shall be writing to the Lorehold to see if what you say is true, which I very much doubt. An orc being employed as a researcher, my foot! Until then, or until this Gabby Holloway chap turns up, you can stay right where you are." The small barred hatch set within the heavy oak door slammed shut.

Sitting down heavily on the creaking bunk, Tharoc eyed his rucksack dejectedly. Rummaging in the side pocket, he pulled out a small, grubby bag that the guards had obviously missed. Tipping it's contents into the palm of one huge hand, he smiled. Stretching out on the bunk with his hands crossed behind his head, he popped the fluff-covered honey-roasted Slygg into his mouth and began to chew noisily.

Title: Re: Chapter One - "The Letter"
Post by: Damien Scar on April 13, 2009, 03:39:20 AM
Salome was pleasantly pleased when the girl linked arms with her and told her her name was Rhia. "Rhia is a pretty name," Salome said as they continued to follow the men carrying Damien and her other two sisters. Damien, A real Baron? Salome was thinking when Rhia asked if she would tell her the tale. "Oh yes! But after we get into the inn. Y'riss may need help," Salome said excitedly as she hurried up pulling Rhia along with her.

Pagran was mopping up the floor when the men and two of the sisters came in and went immediately upstairs. The man, coughed and splattered blood fell on the railings and floor of the stairs. Pagran cursed. The man looked liked a mongrel of a dog living in the city. The man's shirt was torn to shreds and he could see dark deep purple bruises on the man's ribs, side and even his arm. By Baveras his men did a job on the fellow. If he is a real Baron, as he claimed, then he had better take real good care of him.

Pagran picked up his bucket and headed toward the stairs when another sister and his brand new singer came walking through the front door. They quickly went up the stairs, both of them noticing the blood on the stairs, floor and railing.

Y'riss opened Damien's door and the men carried him through, gently placing him on the bed. "Gentlemen thank you for your help. We do not need you anymore, you may leave," Y'riss said a bit breathlessly yet relieved that Damien was now in bed and in their hands.

As they left the men mumbled something which Y'riss did not hear as her full attention was on getting Damien undressed, once again, and to tend to his wounds. Her main concern was the blood that Damien had been coughing up. She really needed a full-fledged healer as she was only an apprentice as were her sisters.

Y'riss tore the rest of Damien's shirt off and then she and Vyrie began to work on his boots when Salome and Rhia came into the room. Y'riss glanced their way. "You two work on getting his pants off while we get his boots off," she grunted as she pulled at the heel of one of Damien's boots.

Salome shrugged her shoulders, nodded at Rhia and began to do what Y'riss had ordered waiting for Rhia to follow suit.