Adventures of Caelereth

Active Stories => Destiny => Topic started by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on February 11, 2013, 04:51:53 PM

Title: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on February 11, 2013, 04:51:53 PM
"My love, you must wake."

Altario felt his head aching, but managed to open his eyes, if only a little, seeing the glowing vision of Riztalyanna standing a few peds away, her long hair flowing around her face, framing it in beauty.  Then his eyes slowly closed again, Altario unable to keep them open.

"Altario, you must rise.  You cannot stay here."

"No," Almost a whimper.  "I'm tired, so very tired.  I don't want to go on.  I want to stay here with you."

"You cannot, my love. Not yet.  You still need to find our daughter."

Altario began to sob.  "Dead.  She's dead."

"No, not yet.  She lives and she needs you.  She is in danger.  You must save her, my love.  Only you can do that.  You must not give up hope."

There was a thud next to the Remusian's head, then a scrape.  A moment later, the sound was repeated.  When Altario forced his eyes open again, instead of the shimmering bright image of his wife, he saw the muzzle of Horse, not three fores from him.  A hoof came down hard, and then pulled across the sand, as if the animal were trying to get his attention.

Slowly, Altario raised his head from the sand, and crawled to his knees.  A wave of dizziness rushed over him, and he violently heaved the contents of his stomach onto the sand next to him.  When done, he tilted his head back as far as it would go and breathed deeply, praying a small prayer to Weabor, the Goddess of Wind, for a bit of cool air.  But, there was none and when he opened his eyes, he saw that accursed fireball directly over him.

He tried to rise, but could not.  However, with Horse so near, he was able to reach out and take hold of the reins and pull himself to his feet.  Leaning against the Remusian mount, he surveyed the scene around him.  He was in the desert, but alone as far as he could see.  How had he gotten here?  More importantly, where were the others?  

Altario waited for a moment before slowly lifting himself into the saddle.  Even from this higher perch, he could see no one.  Though, the effort to get mounted caused his skull to throb once more.  He pressed a palm to his temple, and when he removed it, his hand had blood on it.  What had happened?

Closing his eyes, Altario tried to remember the events of the last few days, but he could only get bits and pieces.  He remembered that the Arcanist had lured them into entering the city with him and his men; that they were looking for something old and powerful.  Magic!  Altario felt his anger growing at the thought.

They had been betrayed.  He could hear Drustai's screams in his head, but could not remember if they were from pain or anger or something other.  He could catch glimpses of Grallen’s sharp feral teeth bared; Lilies bird screaming.  The smell of smoke entered his nostrils.  The others, he could not conjure any picture in his mind.

What had happened?  What happened to his companions?  Did they live?

There was a sound, coming just beyond the crest of the next dune.  It was a horse.  Putting heel to flank, Altario urged Horse to trot in the direction of the sound.  His hand went to the hilt of his sword, him breathing a sigh of relief at feeling the leather wrapped handle of his father's Odomon Blade.  At least he had that.

Horse crested the dune, and below, Altario spotted Danilyn, the little wain he had purchased in Strata.  He headed toward her, though she trotted away, skittish as she was.  Still, Altario pushed towards her, taking a slower pace and angling toward her, askew so that she did not fear the approach.  When close enough, he leaned down and quickly grabbed the reins that were dragging on the sand.  Her head reared back, but she was entrapped, and the Remusian's quick and nimble fingers wrapped said reins about the horn of his saddle.

Now, to find the others.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on February 12, 2013, 08:41:43 PM
Her situation was not looking good right at this moment. She was sitting on Desert, her dune-coloured horse, in an actual desert. She had no idea how she had gotten there, she had no clue where any of her companions were, and she had very little by way of preperation to go into the desert, which told her she had probably come here a lot more suddenly than she had planned. However, the details eluded her, however hard she tried to recall them. The betrayal, yes, she remembered that, the moment of horrifying realisation that everything was going wrong. But after that her mind drew a blank.

One thing was certain. She would have to find the others, who she could only assume were trapped in the same situation, and then they would have to find their way out of this desert. Sooner rather than later, if they kept wandering around here they would start dehydrating before you could say Foiros.

Her first resolution, of finding the others, was more easily made than kept. They could be anywhere. She might as well ride around in circles until both she and Desert died of thirst. She had to think of a better plan. There was only one thing to do, something she had done often with her Sisters. Climbing to the highest sand dune she could find, Toama cupped her hands around her mouth and called out - not any names, but a yell with a certain inflection that she knew carried far in these sandy planes. If any of her companions were close by, they should be able to hear it, and hopefully come towards the sound and see where she was waiting.

As she waited, she wrecked her brain again, trying to figure out what happened to scatter them. No matter how she tried, she could not think of the answer to this riddle. All she knew for certain was that the manner of their departing was such that they would not be able to show their face in Thalambath for some time to come. A flash of memory showed how Altario had received a blow to the head, though at the time he had seemed dazed, not unconscious. Another flash showed her their headlong flight on their horses - that must have been how they had gotten seperated, though it did not explain the gaps in her memory. To her chagrin nothing more presented itself. She offered a silent prayer to Foiros that her comrades would find her soon. As she had decided earlier, they HAD to get out of here.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 31, 2013, 01:19:56 PM
With the sun beating down on him, it didn't take the Remusian long to discover that he was short a indispensable piece of travelling gear; a water skin full of water.  Had he been sent out here without one, or had he lost it?  Either way, it would not take long for dehydration to take its toll.

Altario began to ride, keeping the huge volcano, the Norong Sorno, to his rear and left.  He knew he was heading north, knew that was the direction he was supposed to travel, but could not recall why he knew that.  He just simply knew it was the right direction.

As he travelled, he watched the tops of the dunes, but saw nothing or no one.  He was alone, it seemed.

Down the lowest trough between dunes, Altario climbed off horse, and knelt onto the soft sand.  Sifting the sand through his fingers, he left handful after handful of sand fall until what stuck between his extended fingers was what he had been searching for.  He held it aloft and looked at it, a small round pebble, between thumb and forefinger.  Giving it a quick shake to knock off any excess dirt, he popped it into his mouth.

At first, the last remaining moisture in his mouth dried up with the addition of the pebble, but a few moments later, saliva started to form and he was able to lick his lips, which were threatening to crack in the arid desert air.  A flash of a smiling, giggling freckled girl came to his mind; Lori.  She was the one who had taught him that trick, back at the Thirsty Herald.  His heart began to ache, somewhat, as he realized he missed her.  Her, and Ana, and.....Valannia.

It was too late now, for that moment had passed, those two memorable months at the Thirsty Herald.  They were an island of peace and happiness in a sea of chaos that had been his life for the last few years.

Suddenly, Altario lifted his head.  Had he heard a yell?  He looked to the horses, each of which had their ears perked and were staring northward.  If the Remusian wasn't sure of his own hearing, he was confident in that of his horses.  Getting up, he swung himself back into the saddle.  A tap of his heals into Horse's flanks and they moved in the direction of the shout.

It wasn't long before he saw a rider sitting atop a horse at the crest of a dune.  He hurried forward and was relieved when the rider became recognizable as the strange woman, Toama.  He found himself breaking into a large grin as he coaxed Horse into a trot.  He raised his arm high into the air.


Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on April 18, 2013, 12:59:09 AM
Toama was almost starting to despair that any answer would come. Her Sisters of course knew about the call, and knew to either listen for it or make it themselves to find their companions, but her own party had no such knowledge. Furthermore, she was making herself a target for the sun beating down on her, here on top of this hill. Even though she had more natural resilience to the heat, having descended from a long line of women living in the desert, she was still a human being and therefore in dire need of water. If no one reacted soon, she would have to find her own way back to civilisation. She hated the thought of leaving anyone behind in this heat without a guide, and if she was forced to take this decision she knew she would hate herself for it, but if she killed herself looking for her companions, she would not be any more help to them.

Just when she was about to give up and look for any sort of growth that would provide some shade, she heard a yell from some distance away. When she looked in that direction she saw the leader of their little expedition, the weathered man Altario, riding one horse and leading another, coming towards her. Giving up on seeing anyone else - she had almost called herself hoarse, with only this one reaction right at the end - she spurred Desert to move towards the man. She raised a hand in greeting, glad to have found at least one other person. When they were at a distance where a normal voice could be heard, she said: "Altario. Are you knowink how did we comink here? And maybe knowink where are others? I have been callink some time, but no answer is comink, only you."

As she talked, she noticed that her mouth was drier than usual. She needed to drink, and soon, and if Altario was anything like her he would not have any water either. A decision would have to be made, and soon, but before anything they needed shade. "While talkink we are yes lookink for... hidink for sun? Inside sun all time we are not survivink. At some places are growink bushes. First we find, then we talk, yes?" She knew she might sound a bit brusque, but finding shade was imperative to their survival. They had already been out in the sun for too long, if they stood standing there for a lot longer they could get heat stroke.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on May 13, 2013, 06:06:49 AM
Nearing Toama, Altario heard her begin to ask questions.  It was a bit difficult to understand those questions under her thick accent, but even when he did understand, he had no answers for her.  She did, however, released him from answering with talk of finding shelter.

"Yes, we need shelter."  He looked around, but there was nothing immediate on the horizon.

"I'm not sure where we are, or which direction to head to find water or shelter," he admitted to her.  "But, I know we need to head north.  If we keep the mountain to our left, we shouldn't get lost.  I imagine we could see that mountain for strals."

At least the two of them were on horseback.  They would make more time, and the travel would be easier on them, physically.  However, it meant that they would need to find water enough for all of them.  That would prove to be very difficult in itself.

He kicked Horse in the flank and began moving north.  A quick glance behind him assured that Toama was with him.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on December 01, 2014, 06:37:17 AM
The two traveled north, keeping the Norong Sorno on their left and the inhospitable Makadi Gadi Salt pans to the east.  Without water, Altario was sure they would not last very much longer.  Three nights and two full days had passed since they had found one another, he and Toama.  They rarely spoke, mouths too dry to form words; lips to dry and cracked to want to move.

As bad as the two riders had it, the horses seemed to have it worse.  Danilyn had none of the youthful energy that she seemed to always have.  Horse had nearly stumbled more than once.  But, as much as he would like to give the old Koroch-fey-Mologh a day of rest, Altario knew they had to keep moving, and they moved faster on horseback.

So, they trudged on, the horse's heads low and he and Toama with closed eyes, shielding themselves as best they could from the sun.

It was about midday when Altario felt Horse stiffen and shy away.  He barely had time to open his eyes when the sand to his left seemed to explode.  In his ears he could hear the scream of Horse, as yellow eyes appeared from the sand cloud and just missed Altario's thigh to contact with Horse's thick neck.  The animal crashed to the ground and Altario was sent sprawling onto the hot sand.

Stunned for a moment, it took a few blinks for Altario to make sense of what he saw.  A large heavy bodied snake, measuring at least 6 peds long and mottled white and tan scales, had it's fangs buried into Horse's neck.  Dani was snorting and trying to back away, but was held tight by the rope that held her bound to the saddlehorn of Altario's saddle. 

The monster released it's grip on the wounded horse and lifted it's great body up and stared at the panicked younger animal.  A great hiss erupted from it's gaping maw and it began to travel forward with undulating movement. 

"No!"  Altario cried out while both scrambling to his feet and unsheathing his Odomon blade.  Standing there on shaking knees, he was simultaneously relieved and frightened when the giant serpent paused and twisted round to face him, it's yellow eyes burning with primal hatred.

The Remusian braced himself for the attack, his bad knee protesting beneath him.  He dared not look for Toama, for if his eyes left the creature for even a moment, it might be a fatal mistake.  Instead, he could only hope that she would be strong enough to help.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on December 03, 2014, 01:29:15 AM
Toama rode with her eyes half closed. In fact, her mind was turned inwards, and she was only barely aware of her surroundings. It was a trick  her people had for just such a case as this, when they found themselves going through large stretches of the desert without an oasis in sight, so that they could regulate their bodies' need of water. Unfortunately it also meant that her mental faculties were near to non-existent, as her whole being was bent on surviving the unforgiving rays of Foiros.

She would have taught Altario this trick, if she had known how to describe it in Tharian, and if it was not something learned over a long period of time by young Sand Sisters. As it was, she could only direct what little attention she still had for the outside to keeping an eye on her travelling companion, so that she could help him if he succumbed to the heat.

So it was that when they were attacked by something large - something very, very large - she could not react immediately. It always took a while to come out of her trance, and usually she had more than enough time to return to herself after the sun had set. It was only because Altario shouted something that she even realised something out of the ordinary was happening. The next thing to register was the terrified neighing of a horse. Toama took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and exhaled in a pattern - one, two, three short breaths and then a long sigh. Normally she would have to do this more often, but she could hear that there was no time, she would just have to pay the price of coming out of the trance too quickly.

Once she was able to, she turned her horse to face the threat. She could feel the tremblings under her thighs - Desert was as terrified as the neighing horse nearby, but was still obedient. The sight that met her eyes was something she had never seen before, and would never forget in years to come. The snake in front of them was big - no, huge even, and it was eyeing Altario, who had drawn his sword, looking for any weakness in the man. Drawing her own scimitar, Toama prayed to her god, Foiros, that Desert might still have enough strength left to help fight the creature. She could not afford to dismount, for then neither of them would stand a chance against the giant beast. She had no idea how quick a snake like this might be, but she had to draw it away from the man for a while, so that he might mount his horse again and have at least a fighting chance. On foot he certainly would not, could not win against the snake.

Yelling a Sorinyt warcry, she charged at the beast, brandishing the scimitar and hacking at the mottled skin with all her might as soon as she came close enough. She did not wait around, but wheeled Desert around immediately, spurring the horse away from the snake's range. She was making her horse use reserves he might need later on, but there was no choice - it was either this, or lie down and let the snake eat all of them. She risked a glance backwards to see if the snake had responded to the threat, or if it kept its eyes on its easier prey.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on December 07, 2014, 11:45:42 PM
Before the giant snake could lunge at Altario, he heard a war cry erupt from the Sand Sister, and the snake was attacked from behind.  He saw Toama's sword bite at the hide of the snake, which whirled about with amazing speed, lunging at the warrioress and her mount, but missing by only a hand span.

This was an opportunity that Altario had been hoping for.  Gripping tight his father's sword, he took three quick steps forward and brought down the blade.  This would cut the damned snake in two, and save he and Toama.  However, his confidence was only short lived.  His blade did indeed hit the snake and bite into flesh, but only slightly.  Looking to where Toama had slashed at it revealed that her sword had also only done minimal damage.

The snake whirled about again and it lunged with a ferocity that startled the Remusian.  He barely had time to evade the snake's attack but in doing so he was knocked off balance and sprawled out into the sand.  He rolled onto his back, the huge creature towering over him.  It would be over soon, his search for Nayriss unfulfilled.

"Forgive me, Riztalyanna.  Forgive me, Nayriss."

The snake opened its great maw, revealing two huge fangs that dripped poison.  But, the deadly strike did not come.  Instead, the beast's attention was directed to it's left.  Altario cast a quick glance in that direction, expecting to see Toama on the attack.  But it was not her.  Instead, a stranger dressed white shirt and trousers, with a blue tunica cover stood facing the snake.  He wore a white head covering of cloth that covered his face as well, only leaving a slit opening for his eyes.  He carried a two bladed sword, a double kilij, if Altario had to guess.  He had heard of them, but had never seen one.

The stranger whirled the double bladed sword like an expert, and it seemed to whine and sing in the air, drawing the snake's attention.  As the snake approached him, the stranger took a couple steps backward, continuing to spin and make the sword hum.  The snake narrowed the distance quickly.  When the snake was within a couple of peds, the stranger le the double kilij fall to the sand and drew a curved dagger from his belt, which appeared to be made from leather resembling the snakes skin, though much darker in colour.

Altario was about to get up, to assist the stranger, but the stranger used his dagger to motion for the Remusian to stay still.  Against his better judgement, Altario obeyed.  He could only watch in rapt fascination.

The stranger then stopped his backward retreat, allowing the snake to close in.  He then bowed reverently to the snake and shifted his feet and his body tensed and poised.  The snake raised itself to full height, easily towering above the stranger.  It then struck, its head flashing forward.

As fast as the snake's strike was, the stranger moved even faster, nimbly stepping aside and at the same time swinging the dagger around and embedding it at the base of the snakes skull.  His hand jerked the blade in an upward motion and twisted at the same time.  The snake fell to the sand, its great body continuing to wriggle in death.

Altario climbed to his feet and stepped toward the stranger, who quickly picked up his double kilij and assumed a defensive position.  It was then that Altario noticed that on the dunes surrounding them, as many as twenty strangers dressed as the one who had killed the snake, were watching them mutely.  Altario swallowed, then bowed his thanks to the one who had saved him.  He then cast a glance toward Toama to see if she noticed their company.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on December 12, 2014, 01:13:38 AM
Once Toama judged to be out of the snake's reach, she wheeled about and tried to gauge what damage her attack had caused. To her consternation, it seemed none whatsoever, or if any then so little that the beast was not even inconvenienced. To make matters worse, Altario made use of her diversion to attack the snake, but his blade did very little damage as well, and the snake's retaliation had left the man sprawled in the sand. Toama started to charge again, desparate to stall the inevitable, when she noticed they were surrounded by white-clad people. One of them, closer than the others, attacked the snake. It was obvious from the person's actions that this was not the first giant snake they had attacked - and, therefore, killed. One did not attack these monsters and live to tell the tale if you did not also kill them.

When the snake was lying dead in the sand, Toama dismounted and went to stand beside Altario, who had taken a step backward when the stranger kept their weapon at the ready. From what she could see of the stranger's face, the little skin that was showing around the eyes, these people were easily as dark-skinned as she was. They seemed as at ease with the scorching heat of this desert as she had been with her own people in her own desert. Add to that the killing of the snake, which spoke of a lot of experience, it was easy to see that these were the Shendar. The only previous time she had had contact with a Shendar had been to cross the desert from Strata, where she had landed after leaving her homeland. Altario and Toama were now in their domain without permission. With slow and deliberate movements, she sheathed her scimitar. She placed her hands in front of her, then crossed her arms in front of her chest and bowed. It was the sign of deepest respect in her culture. While she knew the Shendar quite likely did not have the same gesture, it would not hurt to express her peaceful intentions. The intent was obvious, even if the actual gesture was different.

After that, she kept her hands deliberately far away from her weapons and waited to see what the Shendar would do.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on December 12, 2014, 02:14:12 PM
The stranger seemed to relax somewhat when Toama approached.  She returned the bow, then reached up and pulled free the face veil that hid the face beneath.  It revealed the features of a woman, which surprised the northerner.

The stranger looked to Toama and motioned for her to follow, with an after thought and pointing of her finger to Altario.  "Bring mate," she said in a thick accent.

The Remusian frowned at both the incorrect assumption that he was Toama's "mate" and the fact that the stranger had very little interest in addressing him directly.

Before he could make his annoyance known, a gurgled snort from Horse drew his attention back to his wounded mount.  He approached carefully, first sidling up to Danilyn and calming her, who was still skittish with the presence of the dead snake.  He took the lead line and wrapped it around his arm, disentangling it from the saddle.  Kneeling beside Horse, he felt the animal's weak and laboured breathing.  

Altario turned to face he stranger, his expression imploring.  "Can you help?"

The stranger eyed the snake's bite-marks on the horse's neck, then shook her head.  "No."

Altario turned back to horse and stroked the large thick neck softly.  He leaned forward and placed his face alongside the animals face and whispered into the horse's ear.  "Travel on, my friend.  You have been loyal and true.  May Necteref take you to where the air is crisp and the snow crunches beneath your hooves.  May you be free until I join you in the next life."

Horse shuddered and the life faded from his eyes as Altario's blade entered its throat, putting the animal out of its misery.  For a moment he remained pressed against the animal.  This in some ways marked a turning point.  Horse had been with him for the last few years on this hunt for Nayriss, and the loss of his only companion left a deep hole in Altario's heart.

When he was ready, Altario let go of Horse and wiped away a tear that rolled down his cheek.  He then removed the saddle and other equipment and placed it on the younger horse.  Danilyn was saddle broke, but she had yet to take a rider, so the Remusian would be forced to walk to wherever they were going.  As the Shendar were also on foot, that thought did not worry him greatly.

"I'm ready."    He gave Horse one last glance before trudging toward the Shendar.

The stranger seemed to respect the man's loss and nodded once more toward Toama.  "Come."

While Altario followed he stranger, a few other Shendar approached with knives drawn and went to the snake, presumably to butcher it and salvage anything useful from it.  Most likely the skin.

"Hey.  Hey!"  Altario's voice was sharp.  When he caught the stranger's attention he pointed to the carcass of his horse.  "Leave my horse be."

The stranger nodded.  "Meat bad.  Poison."   She then uttered a few strange words to the others who gathered around the snake.  They glanced to Altario and nodded.

Satisfied, Altario looked to Toama.  "Looks like you're in charge."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on December 16, 2014, 02:14:12 AM
Toama watched the stranger unveil, and saw her presumption was correct: it was a woman. Her Shendar guide had been a woman as well, and at the time it had not occurred to her to question this, still quite used as she was to her own way of living. However, since then she had met very few cultures that was matriarchal in structure, and she had come to expect more and more that some man would be in charge. Not in the Shendar society, however, and Toama experienced a sense of return to normalcy that she would not let Altario know about - after all, she had pledged to help him on his quest, and it would not do to turn a travelling companion against her, no matter the gender. Who knew how much longer they would need to travel together?

While Altario was saying goodbye to his friend, Toama busied herself with her own horse, checking how much damage the days travelling through the desert and the subsequent charge at the snake had done. Desert was in bad shape, she could see. She would need to take great care in the coming days, until she was back to full strength. She was glad help had come when it had, she was not sure how much longer the horse would have lasted, and if Desert succumbed, she would have been lost. She pressed her forehead against Desert's neck, talking in her own language of lakes of water, mountains of feed, of a soft brush and a good night's sleep, of her gratitude for saving her life once more. She felt the start of the headache come on which was the result of coming out of her trance too quickly, but she ignored it and continued murmuring, putting her horse at ease.

By the time she was done, Altario had said his goodbyes and had given his equipment to his other horse. She put a hand on his shoulder and gave him a sympathetic squeeze. Right now he did not need too many words of condolences, even if she would know how to express herself in Tharian, but she wanted to let him know that she understood his grief. Desert was not her first horse, and in the desert climate you learned to trust your horse more than you trusted yourself.

She was glad the Shendar were on foot. It would mean less strain on Desert if she did not have to ride until she had rested. Altario seemed to have the same idea, as he was leading Dani. Toama turned to the stranger who had rescued them, following her as she had indicated. "I am thankink you for help. Without you, we were beink dead. If I am can repay, you will lettink know, yes?" Not for the first time, she cursed her lack of Tharian. She had noticed that the Shendar also had trouble with the fluency of the language common on this continent where she had found herself. It might prove difficult to communicate, but they were thrown on the Shendar's mercy now, and she would have to make do. Like she had said, without them, it would not only be Horse lying dead in the sand, but both she and Altario as well, food for the feasting snake.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on December 16, 2014, 01:42:43 PM
Altario had to admit that he was a bit taken aback when Toama laid her hand upon his shoulder and squeezed.  He did not expect that kind of compassion from her.  Until this point, she and him had never really made a connection the way that he had with some of the others.  It made him come to the realization that perhaps he had been taking her for granted because of her quietness.

When they reached the larger group of Shendar, a couple of skins were produced and he and Toama were each allowed to drink, as were the horses.  Even though Altario tried to thank them, most of their interest was in Toama.  They were not rude to him, they simply did not treat him as the leader of the group, or as anyone of any greater significance than anyone else.

It chafed at his pride, but he tried to bear it with as much dignity and graciousness as he could.  They could ill afford to offend this group who had just saved their lives and might be the only way out of this accursed desert.  So, he mutely stood in the background and watched as the Shendar marveled at Toama's dress, reaching out to touch her clothes and mutter amongst themselves at her tattoos.

An older woman approached Toama.  She was much older than the one who had killed the snake.  Her face, while pleasant and friendly, was weather beaten from a lifetime under this unforgiving sun.

She pointed to Toama then to Altario, then her hand circled round to point north.  "Come.  See Mother."  She reached out for Toama's hand.  "Come."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on December 24, 2014, 07:34:54 PM
Toama nodded when the older woman urged them to follow. She was surprised when her hand was taken, not many of the people she had met in Sarvonia had been likely to touch her in such a way when first meeting her. She smiled at the woman, whose grip was very firm. A short distance away, hidden by some sand dunes, they came to the Shendar's dwelling. Toama saw several large domes, which seemed to be connected together. They were far larger than the tents she used to sleep in back home.

The woman led them through a small connecting tent, which gave out to a central place. The large domes all had their entrance here. Several Shendar were going about their tasks, casting curious glances in the direction of the visitors. Toama detected a certain amount of reservation in their faces, though they were not hostile as such, more cautious. She would be too, if she had rescued two people in the Aeruillin desert without a clue why they were there with so little preparation.

"Come." the woman repeated once more, now releasing Toama's hand. She brought them inside one of the large domes. Toama stepped inside, curious to see how these people lived and how they might differ from her own way of living.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on December 25, 2014, 06:21:26 AM
Altario followed along.  It somewhat stung that Toama was receiving all the attention, while he was only given the occasional sideways glance.  Still, they were not being mean to him, or even dismissive, he just simply held no interest to them.  It is because they recognize Toama as another creature of the desert, Altario told himself.

After a short hike, they arrived at a series of tents.  They were led inside while young Shendar took their horses.  To Altario, it looked like six large domes with smaller domes attached and circling each and all of the attached in order to form a circle.  Inside the circle, he could see many entrances leading into the circle of domes.  They were escorted into one such entrance.  

Within, an older woman sat upon a pile of cushions.  As with the older woman in the desert, this woman's face was deeply etched in wrinkles from years of living in this harsh land.  Her eyes, deep blue, had a wisdom beyond definition within them, and her face held a countenance of serenity.

The old woman motioned for her guests to sit upon cushions set out on the floor, Toama closer while Altario set in behind.  Sitting on the floor proved a bit harder for him and he grunted as his knee protested the movement.  Once seated, however, he was brought a clay mug filled with cool water and a tray of fruits and meats to satisfy him.

The tent flap opened another time and a younger woman entered the tent.  Pretty, she was round with child.  She gave a cursory look to the two guests then strode over to the older woman and kneeled on a cushion beside her.

At this point the older woman began to speak, her voice strong and clear.  Beside her, the younger woman translated into Tharian.  "The Mother bids you welcome.  She has heard of your battle with the Rahaz'Estar and is impressed that you have lived.  It shows that the gods favour you.  The Mother asks how it has come to be that you were lost in the desert?"

Altario noticed that although the Mother looked exclusively at Toama, and the interpreter directed her voice to Toama, that she occasionally cast a glance at him.  Almost imperceptivity, he gave a slight nod toward her.  She then focused on Toama once more.  Something in that piqued Altario's interest.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on January 06, 2015, 06:53:49 PM
In broken Tharian, Toama explained how they were looking for Altario's daughter, and how they had gone to Strata in the course of this search, where things had gone south quickly, ending up with them being separated from their companions and having to travel through the desert as unprepared as the Shendar had found them. She also explained her reasons for travelling with Altario, which was a matter of honour, rather than romance as they seemed to assume.

While she talked, she studied the Mother and the younger translator. The Mother reminded her more than a little of the Wo'di'on and the Do'wi'on back home. It seemed to Toama that one did not become - and stay - the leader of a prosperous people in a harsh environment like the desert without gaining a certain degree of wisdom that those with less responsibility might never attain. There was a certain twinkle in her eye that made the Sand Sister feel safe, even if she did not understand the language. And yet one would be foolish to underestimate her. She was made of steel, even if at the moment the steel was sheathed in velvet.

The younger woman was softer than the Mother. Not weak, not by any means, but she was still being tempered in the fires of life, and only time would tell if she would grow stronger or if she would break. Her feet looked slightly swollen, but that was a normal occurence in pregnancies, especially in the later stages.

She concluded her explanation with her gratitude for the rescue, then waited to see if there were any more questions. She sat comfortably on the cushion, her legs crossed in front of her and her back straight, her arms lying relaxed in her lap. Very often back home she had sat in the same way, as chairs and the like were too heavy and unwieldy to take with you when you were travelling. It was obvious that she felt comfortable sitting like this, and could keep it up for a long time.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on January 12, 2015, 12:57:05 PM
Altario listened as Toama explained the details of their travels, ending with their encounter with the desert snake.  He could not help but note the similarities between Toama and these Shendar.  Were the two peoples related, much like the Remusians were related to the other Ice Tribes?  It was possible, he supposed.  They seemed to share colouring, the elevation of women in their society, desert life, even sitting on cushions.  They all seemed so comfortable, while his knee was aching and one foot was falling asleep.

The old woman spoke through the younger woman.  "The Mother wishes you to know that you are welcome to rest here.  You will be our guests.  When you are ready to leave, a guide will take you to safety, and you will be given food and water for your trip."

The younger woman looked a bit uncomfortable with the next bit of the translation.  "The Mother says that there is one condition to her generosity.  When you must leave, you must take with you another of our guests.  He is one that is touched by the gods.  He has been our guest for quite some time, since we found him in the desert much like you were.  But, the Mother believes it is time he was to rejoin his own people."

The old woman's voice had a stronger tone of authority now.  "The mother says to rest now.  You have been through much.  You and your mate will be taken to your own dome.  Your animals will be well cared for, and you will be summoned for evening meal."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on February 08, 2015, 08:54:31 PM
Altario followed as he and Toama were led from the Mother's dome to a smaller dome.  Apparently the Shendar were convinced that he and the Sand Sister were a couple.  Looking at their dome, his face reddened somewhat, as the dome was a little too intimate for his liking.  It was small and sparsely furnished with not much more than bedding laid out on the floor, bedding that they expected him and Toama to share.

"You get rest, now, and I'll go check on the horses," he told her.  Perhaps he could find a place to sleep outside, so as to not embarrass Toama.  "I'll meet you again at the evening meal."

Altario made his way back outside and it was hardly any trouble making his way to where the horses were kept.  As he approached them, he couldn't help but be impressed with the Aj'Nuvic he saw there.  He was careful not to get too near them, as the few Shendar watching the animals visibly tensed when he did so.  He knew how close these desert people were to their mounts, as the Remusians were to the Koroch fey Mologhs.

The were magnificent beasts, he noted.  Tall, athletic with an intelligent eye.  He had seen Shendar riding them, effortlessly it seemed.  They were masters of the desert with them, much like the Remusian horse made his people the masters of the Iceland's Coast.  In that small way, Altario felt a certain kinship to these desert people.

Finding his little horse, he fashioned a harness out of a length of rope.  He then led her out from the rest of the animals, out to a flat patch of sand.  There he began to run her in circles around him, while he pivoted in place.  Using the length of rope as a whip, he lightly touched her flank while urging her forward with commands, taking her from a walk to a trot, then halting her.  He had her go in circles in a left direction around him, then turned her about and had her perform all the same commands in the opposite direction.

He had to admit, his initial thoughts about her were proving to be true.  Though smaller than Horse, Danilyn was very intelligent.  Her eyes never left him, and as she moved, her ears kept turning toward him waiting for his next command.  Though he would grieve the death of his trusted companion, Danilyn would one day be a worthy successor to Horse.

"You look like him, yet you do not."

The voice took Altario by surprise, so engrossed was he with Danilyn that he did not notice anyone approach.
"Kinoch!"   he spoke in Remusian.  Danilyn came to an immediate stop, her front hooves digging into the sand.  He turned his head to the sound of the voice and saw the pregnant interpreter standing watching him.  "What was that?"

The woman smiled softly, her green eyes studying him closely.  "I can see your brother in you.  I was not sure at first, for where his face is one filled with pleasure and love, yours is more hard, with sadness etched in it.  But here, with your horse, it is unmistakable that you and he are related."

Altario furrowed his brow.  "What do you mean?  Who do I look like?"

The woman smiled and placed her hands across her swollen abdomen.  "The father of this child; Denrykmar Shialt-eck-Gorrin.  My husband."

Altario felt his knees trembling, as if he were about to sink into the sand.  "My- my brother is here?"

The smile left her face for a moment.  "No.  He has gone.  He is in search of your daughter.  He will return when he finds her."  She stepped forward gracefully and ran a hand along the horse's neck.

This news was stunning for Altario.  "How long has he been gone?"

"Several weeks.  I was not nearly this big when he left."

Altario stared at her belly, only now realizing that his family blood ran within the child inside.  Suddenly he felt a wave of guilt.  "I'm sorry he is not here."

Her eyes found his.  "My daughter is safe, and she will be here waiting for him when he returns.  He needs to help return your daughter to you, or he will never be completely happy with his life here.  He loves you so very much, as well as your daughter."

A lump grew large in Altario's throat.  He needed to think of something else.  "What if your child is a boy?"

The woman laughed gaily.  "You are indeed brothers.  He claims it is a boy, but a Shendar knows when a girl grows within her.  This girl inside me is meant for great things, Baveras has told me in my dreams."

Altario could not argue with her and he smiled warmly.  "My brother has given up much, a truly remarkable wife and future child to help me."

A slight grimace crossed her face, followed by a huge grin.  "Your voice is much like Denrykmar's.  My daughter grows restless each time you speak.  She misses her father."  She cocked her head to the side.  "Would you like to feel your brother's daughter move?"

Without waiting for him to answer, which he would have politely but shyly declined, she stepped forward and grasped his hand and placed it on her womb.  A moment later, Altario was grinning widely as he felt his niece, or gods willing a nephew, kicking within her.  "He is strong."

"She," she stated matter of factly, before a slight giggle erupted from her.  

"What... what is your name, my sister?"

"This woman is named Ta-Mayleene."

"Ta-Mayleene," Altario repeated, before bowing to her.  "I welcome you to our family."

Ta-Mayleene inclined her head toward him.  "And I welcome you into my family, Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin."  She looked toward the domes, which were now bathed in light from torches as the sun was dipping beyond the horizon.  "We should go within the domes.  There is to be a feast in your honour, and there will be a sword dance as well."

Altario nodded, seeing as it was getting late.  He had to tell Toama what he had learned.  They were getting closer to Denrykmar and perhaps Nayriss as well.  He led Danilyn back to the herd of Aj'Nuvic and removed the rope harness.  He questioned Ta-Mayleene on whether the herd would run away, as there was no corral or fence around them, but she assured him that Aj'Nuvic's did not run away, and that they would keep the horses close to them.

They entered the inner common area amidst the circle of domes just as food was being served.  Altario spotted Toama and hurried over to her.  He took a seat near her and slightly behind, while Ta-Mayleene took her place near the Mother.

While the food was being brought to them, he leaned forward and whispered to the Sand Sister all he had learned from Ta-Mayleene.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on February 11, 2015, 01:37:33 AM
When Toama and Altario were left at the smaller dome, and the need for concentration abated somewhat, the full result of breaking off her meditation incorrectly back in the desert came crashing down on her. If she'd had a headache before, it was nothing compared to the crippling pain that shot down from her head and through her body. She barely heard Altario tell her to get some rest before she crashed on the bedding, curling in on herself. She knew from experience that this was something she would have to struggle through, there were no medicines to combat it. Sleep would be next to impossible until the worst of it had passed.

By the time the pain subsided somewhat and she was able to think again, several hours had passed and someone was clearing their throat just outside the little dome. With every muscle in her body protesting, Toama considered simply not answering, but decided that would poorly repay her host's hospitality. Dragging herself upright, she opened the skin that served for a door. There was a girl of about 13 or 14 years old standing there, fidgeting nervously. Toama assumed she was not used to strangers, if she was already a woman it could not have been long. She smiled at the girl to try and put her at ease.

"Ehm... Eh, you are requested, uhm, to join the evening meal." Despite her age, she was rather fluent in Tharian. Possibly she was a sister to the pregnant woman who had translated earlier in the day. The Sand Sister nodded - carefully, the pain was still not far away even though she'd had the worst of it now. "I will comink. Please one moment." Turning back into the dome, she undid the bands in her hair, while grabbing a brush from her packs, which had been brought in when they'd been shown the dome.

She had not paid much attention to her hair in the past couple of days. Survival had been more important. However, for the evening meal she wished to appear at least a little bit presentable. There were quite a few tangles in her long hair. With a wry smile she went back to the door. "You will helpink, please?" she asked the girl, showing her the brush. She looked at the older woman with wide eyes for a moment, then a shy smile broke through. With a nod she took the brush. Toama seated herself cross-legged on the floor.

"You have very pretty hair." the girl said as she slowly drew the brush through the tangles. The Sand Sister enjoyed the attention. Getting her hair brushed by someone else was a rare pleasure. She would never dream of asking, for example, Altario to do something like that.

"Thank you."

"I'm Alena. What's your name?"

"I am beink called Toama."

From there the conversation flowed rather naturally, if a bit stilted on Toama's side due to her lack of Tharian. By the time her hair was all brushed out, she felt quite warmly towards the young girl.

They decided she would wear her hair loose, something she rarely did. Still, she did not expect much strenuous activity, so for one night it would be ok. Alena promised to come by the next morning to help her braid it again.

Together they went to the central dome, where the evening meal was served. She had only just been seated when Altario came in and spotted her. When he was seated as well, he told her what he had discovered about his brother. Toama smiled. "This is beink good news."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 02, 2015, 03:14:30 AM
"Good news indeed," Altario agreed, smiling excitedly.

There was a excited murmuring in the crowd and Altario looked up to see two men carrying an Aka'pi on a spit into the main area.  It was obvious that it had been roasting previously on some other fire, it's skin crispy and dripping fat onto the sand.  The two men then set the spit above a fire and a man with a long knife began slicing off chunks of meat onto platters.  These platters were then taken out into the crowd where people helped themselves.

When a platter was offered to Altario he took a large piece that had the crispy skin attached.  He took a bite and let out a small moan of pleasure as grease dripped down his chin.  This was some of the best freshly roasted meat he could remember eating.

While he chewed, another murmur in the crowd alerted him to activity in the center of the main clearing.  A man, at least Altario thought it was a man, entered the area.  He was dressed in cream coloured robes and billowy trousers while wearing a blue tunic and a blue head scarf that wrapped about his head and face leaving only a small slit for his eyes.

He took a stance and stood unmoving while a drumbeat began to echo and a small flute began to play.  The robed man carried a kilij in each hand, the blades gleaming in the torchlight, and the gems decorating the pommel reflecting the light.  Very slowly he raised up the two blades, crossing them above his head while lifting one leg high up.  His dexterity amazed Altario, who unconsciously grimaced at the flexibility of the warrior.

The warrior dropped his leg and stomped the sand, while the swords whirled about him and he spun about.  Suddenly he stopped once more and again moved slowly, putting his body into seemingly impossible positions.

Altario watched in fascination as the man repeated his pattern of slow deliberate moves punctuated by bursts of blinding speed, all of this in perfect concert to the beat of the drum and flute.  It was mesmerizing and the Remusian could not recall ever seeing a spectacle like this before in his life.

"Denrykmar very much liked the Sword Dance.  A sword dancer can spend their entire lives seeking perfection of their art and never be satisfied.  We are lucky that we have one of great skill in our dome."

Altario was mildly startled at Ta-Mayleene's voice in his ear.  He had not noticed her leave her seat next to the Mother.

"I have not seen the like before.  He's very skilled."

"She," Ta-Mayleene stated matter of factly, as if she were used to it, perhaps having corrected Denrykmar in the same way.  Remusians were not used to a society so female oriented.  "You have both enjoyed the food?  The Aka'pi was roasted in your honour."

"Delicious," Altario confirmed.

Ta-Mayleene studied the Sand Sister for a moment before turning her head toward Altario.  "Your partner looks very beautiful tonight, with her hair down, does she not?"

Altario felt his face redden.  "She's not my mate," he told the Shendar without so much as a glance toward Toama.

Ta-Mayleene turned back toward Toama and smiled warmly while reaching out a hand and stroking a length of hair.  "Still, I believe she is lovely and she is not my mate.  Can you not see as I do?  You say that the dance is good.  You say the food is good.  Is it so hard to say that your friend is beautiful?"

Reluctantly Altario looked at Toama.  Indeed, he had never seen her look as lovely as she did with her hair down and brushed perfectly, her face washed with the firelight flashing off of it.  "Yes, you look beautiful tonight, Toama," he mumbled awkwardly. 

Satisfied, Ta-Mayleene looked at Toama intently.  "The Mother has said that it is best that you be allowed to continue on your journey sooner than later.  This dome is to move into the deeper desert and it would not be safe for you to leave then.  Therefore, you will be accompanied north morning after next."

Ta-Mayleene glanced down to the sword dance for a moment, then turned back to the Sand Sister.  "There is another that will accompany you; another of your kind.  He has lived with us a short time, but the deep desert is no place for those inexperienced in our ways."

Ta-Mayleene looked over to a younger girl, gave a nod and watched the girl go off to fetch the other person.  "My cousin Alena will bring him to meet you."  She smiled warmly at Toama.  "My cousin likes you.  She enjoyed helping you with your hair.  She says you are very kind.  Thank you." She inclined her head warmly.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Shira on March 02, 2015, 05:43:39 AM
Shira sat amongst the other Shendar and watched the sword dancer. It was a beautiful dance, she thought, though her mother had told her the dances were done always with two partners. It was a competition. Maybe it was she that was the partner? Her dance was coming after. Perhaps that was it.

Shira bit her lip, and her stomach growled. She had no plate with her, no helping of aka'pi. She mustn't, or she'd be sore for the dance. She would eat after.

It was worrisome, though. There were so many people, and it had become not any easier to dance for crowds no matter how many times she did. Oh Eyasha, she prayed, still my nerves! She thought then that she shouldn't have offered, but it had been right to do. These guests were important somehow, that she knew. Armeros had said so. When a snake kills a horse, that was a sign it was. And the man was the brother of Ta-Mayleene's husband, chanced upon in the desert! The dunes take what they want, and give up only that which the gods will. The dome had been lead to them.

Shira turned her gaze towards the man. She wasn't sure his name. Ta-Mayleene's husband, Denrykmar she thought it was?, he had this long last name. Shira supposed the brother had the same, if only she could remember what it was. But the two hadn't looked the same. This one was sad, Shira could tell. Lines creased his face and shaded his eyes even when he smiled. It was the same look her mother had. Her mother's mother and her sisters and her brothers and all the women and men in Mother Kahi's dome all had great big smiling faces that could never fade, but her mother's was hard like this man's was hard. And he'd lost his horse. He'd lost his horse and held it to him and told no one to touch it. It was his aj'nuvic and he'd lost it to the snake. There were few things sadder in the world. And so it was that she'd cut off a tuff of the horse's tail hair and spent the afternoon braiding it. You should always keep them with you, she'd thought, and so she'd made a little memento that the man could keep. She'd give it to him after the dance.

Shira stood up and walked out of the dome to her aj'nuvic. Aki was lying down on the ground with his legs pulled up underneath him, but his eyes were open and he was watching the desert horizon. He liked the desert, Shira knew. She had always kept him in the city, when they were living in Strata, but he was a desert creature. Shira dropped down to the ground and then wrapped her arms around him as she pressed her head against his fur. "I'm happy you're not asleep," she said to him, "You can see the dance. It'll be outside, out here." There wasn't enough room inside, she'd surely burn down the tent if she tried.

"I know you don't want to go to Varcopas," Shira said as she rubbed Aki's neck. "I know you just want to stay with the dome. But the desert is for you, not me. The desert is for you and mother and Asey and Kahi and all of them inside there, but it's not for me. Like, like today. I never want to see a rock snake ever again. Were you scared? They're awful creatures they are."

The feast and sword dancing continued on inside the dome.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on March 17, 2015, 01:03:50 AM
Toama enjoyed the festivities greatly. Her headache had receded enough that it was only slightly bothering her, and the food was wonderful. She felt warm and joyful, fuller of life than she had been in the past days in the desert. She watched the Sword Dancer intently, enjoying every movement. Her people were fighters, too - at least manyof them were - and they knew the beauty to be found in the play of the sword, but that was nothing compared to the art she was allowed to witness here. She listened with a half ear to the conversation next to her. The smile in her eyes at the translator woman's kindly ways did not touch her lips, but it was there all the same. She was a strong woman, this one.

She inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement when Altario mumbled his way through the compliment. She knew that she was beautiful, if exotic to these people with the tattoo adorning her face, she did not need another to tell her this, but it was very nice to hear nevertheless. She was convinced Altario did not often notice her actual features, but rather saw her as generally part of the group - even if the group at the moment was only the two of them. But tonight was different. Tonight was a night of celebration, with a whole feast in their honour. Perhaps she could get an introduction to the Sword Dancer later, she would not mind talking with her. If she spoke Tharian, of course.

She smiled warmly at the woman when she mentioned Alena. "She is good girl." She was not sure what a co-sin was, some sort of familial bond probably. "Maybe she can will help tomorrow? Showink how live you? I am thinkink you will be busy wit' the movink, but may be she is havink a little bit time for us."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on March 22, 2015, 09:28:19 PM
Ta-Mayleene listened to Toama, then smiled.  "I am sure she would be very happy to show you around."

The pipe and drum came to an end and Altario watched the sword dancer take a bow, then strode off to an accolade of applause.  "That was fantastic entertainment, Ta-Mayleene.  Truly."  He plopped another morsel of aka'pi into his mounth.

Ta-Mayleene inclined her head.  "But, that is not all.  Next we shall bear witness to a fire dance."

Altario nodded appreciatively, though he had no idea what a fire dance was.

Ta-Mayleene's gaze covered the crowd until she saw her younger cousin approaching.  She smiled and turned to Toama.  "Look, Alena approaches.  Now you can meet your new traveling companion."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Ethyn Joran on April 02, 2015, 02:55:15 PM
Ethyn followed the young woman (Was it Alice? Alana? Alena! That was it!) to where he was suppose to be introduced to someone. He had heard rumours that there were visitors among them. He was told that when they left, he would be leaving with them.

Honestly, he looked forward to it. This desert was getting a bit too deserty for him. It was hot. And sandy. And even though the Shendar were very polite, he knew he could not stay much longer. They did not appreciate his talking to and about Kryptena. They also spoke a language he could not understand, which made talking about his goddess even more frustrating. Fortunately, none of the women seemed to be attracted to him, so that was good. Ethyn's hand gently tapped against a stick which  was held against his side by a simple rope belt. He didn't know what sort of people these visitors were, so he needed to be prepared for anything.

His eyes noted that something had just ended. Perhaps another dance? It seemed these people enjoyed their dancing.  If only they would listen to his teachings, than their lives could be so much more fulfilling. At least Kryptena was giving him a way out. Now he would be able to continue on his path of telling others the teaching of Kryptena.

And he would start with his new traveling companions.

Seeing the two new people presented before him, he gave a short bow. "Greetings, my new friends. Kryptena has certainly blessed us by bringing you here. I am looking forward to traveling with you."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on April 06, 2015, 03:45:17 AM
Ta-Mayleene smiled at the newcomer.  "Welcome, Ethyn.  Please make yourself comfortable." she swept her arm to the open places on the sand next to them.  "Eat, if you have not supped yet."

Altario nodded in return to the stranger.  "Yes, eat.  It's most delicious."  One more mouthful.

When he swallowed, he studied the stranger more closely.  "I am Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin.  What is your name and what brings you to this oasis of a camp this far into the desert?"

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Shira on June 10, 2015, 09:32:13 AM
After some time of mingling, the Mother funneled the crowd outside. The night was dark, but there was lighting near the tent from several tall torches that had been speared into the sand. One torch was set off by itself in a clearing to the side. The edge of the clearing was marked by a circle of red carpets. There was no proper seating available outside the tent, though several sat down on the ground atop the carpets. Some still carried mugs or plates with them, being slow eaters. The foreign group are brought to the front with Ta-Mayleene's friendly encouragment. The Mother stepped up in front of them and took a moment to speak and introduce the next dance.

Shira did not hear what she said. In her head instead was movement, rhythm and twirls. Shira had only been practicing for the afternoon, for a performance she had only offered to do at the last minute. She cursed at herself for volunteering.

The Mother stepped aside after finishing her short introduction, and all attention turned on Shira. Shira stepped up to the edge of the cleared space, holding a tambour in her hands, and closed her eyes. I call upon your fire, Foiros, Burning Lord. You are strong and I am weak. I bend it only with your grace. Please guide me, please bless this dance.

Shira tapped the skin of her tambour gently with her fingers and look a labored step forward. Immediately she took the liking of one that was exhausted, hunched forwards like an old woman. She continued to rap at her tambour slowly, in rhythm with each heavy step. A quarter of the way she stopped, and wiped the back of her hand across her forehead as if she were sweating. She continued on at her slow pace and raised her cupped hand to her lips as if she were drinking from a flask. An empty flask it was, for she turned her hand over and made two taps as she took an expression of distress. Woe was it to be lost in the desert with no water! Onward she trudged, as she beat a sorrowful drumming upon her tambour. At the far edge of the clearing she dropped to her knees, the music going silent. She pulled out a sandsick from her belt and rose into the air and shook it strongly, a sound not unlike that of a snake's rattle. Of course, the Ráhaz'Estár did not have rattles, but a performance with no sound would be dull. She turned to look behind her, terror exaggerated on her face, as she rose her arms high into the air. She remembered the rock snake, great and terrifying it had been, and as she looked at the torchflame, it rose with her arms, shooting high into the air: A serpent of fire. She dropped the sandstick back down and began to beat the tambour and shake its rings, a fast and dangerous rhythm this one was. She wove her arms back and forth and up and down, the fire shifting and coiling in the air. She ran and circled the torch and the fire slithered above in mimicry of her movements, for it was a hungry snake, angry and violent.

At last she stopped in front of the torch and threw her arms down. The fire coiled around and then drew back down into the flame with a speed as if the torch was its prey. Shira waited one brief moment and then again rose her arms high into the air. The fire again shot up high. Shira swept her arms across each other in front of her, right to left and left to right. The fire responded in kind, two points extending out at its sides. A sword it was now, not a snake, a bright cross in the sky. Shira held this for a few quiet moments and then threw herself down to the ground. She slammed her hands to the sand and then fanned them out to her sides. The sword of fire followed her movements and stabbed downwards before exploding outwards in a blast of embers. There were some cries in the audience where the expanding flame flew too close. Shira then beat the tambour, in slowing rhythm, like a fading heart beat. As it did she raised her other hand over her head, coiling it in a circle, and so did the flame as well. A slow coil it was, for this serpent was dead, and soon the drum was silent.

Shira withdrew the fire back to the torch and waited for a moment. At the last, she rose both arms into the air, in the shape of a temple, and the fire followed. She then threw one fisted arm out, and a part of the flame threw out. The shape it made now in the air was that of a horse's head, pointing high towards the stars. Shira held the figure for as long as she could--several long seconds--before drawing it back into the fire. Shira had seen the way the northern man had held his animal. He had loved it, like she loved Aki and like all Shendar loved their aj'nuvics. This was a sad day.

At last, her playing ended. She wiped at her brow with her arm, and it was for real this time as the sweat from her performance was stinging her eyes. She took a few deep breaths, and then stood. She walked over to where the man sat, and unhooked a small black trinket. It was horse hair, braided and wrapped around a hooked leather strap. She held it out to him. "So you may keep him with you, sir," she said.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on July 14, 2015, 02:50:31 PM
Altario obediently followed the crowd as they moved from the interior of the dome area to the exterior of the dome enclosures, as led by the Mother.  She and everyone else came to a spot where a series of torches lit an area.  There were carpets laid out for sitting but Altario chose to stay standing, not trusting his knee would forgive him for further discomfort.  He did take a moment to set down his plate in a pile of other plates to those who had still been eating when the crowd had moved.

The mother addressed the crowd, introducing the young girl that Altario only now noticed was standing within the torched enclosure.  She would be dancing for them.  Altario smiled and clapped his encouragement as did many others.  The Mother then took her place on a red carpet, and though she was years older than Altario, she knelt nimbly with little effort.

Altario watched the girl, a young woman thin of stature; Shendar to be sure.  She began to move slowly, keeping a slow steady beat with the tambour in her hands.  It was clear that she was depicting the steps on an old woman in the desert, fighting the heat.  Her talent at portraying someone completely different than herself impressed the Remusian.  His people rarely did anything so imaginative.

The old woman portrayed had run out of water, and Altario looked over to Toama and motioned toward the dancer with a knowing look.  They had nearly died in the desert from lack of water, so this part of the performance really struck home.  The tambour seemed to add to the suspense.

The dancer dropped to her knees, a look of terror on her face.  Something was wrong, the old woman was fearing for her life!  What could it be, Altario wondered with a great grin on his face?  He could almost guess what was to come.

The Remusian's blood then chilled, his stomach twisted and the grin disappeared from his face.  Fire rose from a torch.  It rose, it grew and it formed into the shape of a serpent, an orange and yellow and red representation of the beast that had killed Horse.

But, it was not the creature of fire that upset him.  Magic.  The dancer possessed magical ability, which was an anathema to every Remusian.  His jaw tightened and his hand reactively began it's journey to his sword hilt.  Instead of the leather wrapped handle of his father's Odomon blade, however, he felt gentle fingers intertwine with his own.

Altario turned to face Ta-Mayleene, who smiled serenely at him.  Her large expressive eyes bore into him.  "It is alright, Remusian.  You are under no threat here.  You are among friends."

Altario could only imagine that she had experience with Denrykmar and magic.  She squeezed his hand and strangely enough, he felt himself begin to calm.

"Watch the dance, Altario.  Honour her talent with your eyes."

Taking a deep breath, Altario turned once more to the dance.  The dancer was moving quickly now, the fire snake following her.  He had trouble watching both her and the serpent at once, for they both moved so quickly, but suddenly the snake melted back into the torch.  Only a moment then it became a sword, crashing into the sand sending embers flying out toward the crowd.  Apparently, the serpent was killed.  He recalled how gracefully the Shendar warrior had killed the serpent that had attacked Toama and him.

Altario felt a lump in his throat when the dancer waved he arms and the shape of a horse's head was created from the flames.  It was Horse, though how she could have known was beyond him.  And with that, the dance was over and each torch burned as if nothing had happened.

She then approached, and Altario nervously shuffled his feet in the sand, not wanting the attention that this dancer was giving him.  She held out her hand, a tuft of horse hair, Horse's hair, braided and tied to a small leather strap.

Fingers shaking, he took the proffered item.  "Thank you," he stammered.

Ta-Mayleene stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the dancer.  She placed a gentle kiss on the girl's cheek.  "You make our dome family proud, little one."

Altario then noticed the Mother looking on, a strange twinkle in her eye as she stared at the girl.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on August 01, 2015, 09:49:34 PM
Toama smiled politely at the man who was introduced as their new travelling companion. There was not much to learn yet from the few words he spoke to them, so she reserved judgement until she could get to know him better. On first glance he seemed normal enough, simply but neatly dressed. She made a mental note to inquire of Alena tomorrow if she knew much about him.

After a time, they were asked to go outside and given a place at the front of the group. Toama wondered what might be happening. She was happy enough to sit down cross-legged on the carpet and watch the proceedings. A young girl came forward after an introduction from the Mother, and started her dance. A heavy step, an exhausted figure. She wanted to drink, but alas, she had no water! Toama glanced up to where Altario was standing, and nodded at his gesture. It was clear which story was being told here.

She sat in rapt attention as the rest of the story unfolded, especially when the very fire of the torches helped to tell it. Foiros be praised, she was priviliged to witness such a display. The girl ended her dance with a gift to Altario. The sand sister hoped it would help him mourn the loss of his friend.

With their story fresh in mind, Toama wondered again what had happened to the rest of their companions, who had got separated from them after Thalambath - Lili, and Grallen the half-orc, Drustai, how were they faring? Had they perished, or had they found another escape and managed to get to safety? She'd thought about them before, of course, but then most of her being had been focused on surviving the desert heat. It was only now, with the dances and the company, that she felt safe enough herself to give them more than a passing thought. Another thing to ask - tomorrow morning - if the Shendar could at least keep a lookout for the others. She feared that with the amount of time that she and Altario had spent roaming the desert before they were found, it might be too late, but she couldn't not ask. She wished she could have spent more time looking for them back when she'd first found herself out in the desert, even though realistically she knew that had not been an option. And she would keep hope. As long as she did not know for certain that any of them were dead, she would assume them alive. They were resourceful, all of them. Their survival was always a posibility.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Shira on September 05, 2015, 01:47:01 PM
Shira smiled at the two guests, before looking at Ta-Mayleene. She returned the embrace and wrapped her arms around the other woman. "Thank you," she said between breaths as she pulled back and smiled meekly. She then turned her gaze towards the sand and turned half away. Her cheeks burned. It was over, at least. She prayed that she had not stumbled. It had gone well, hadn't it?

She took a deep breath and curled her lips back between her teeth before glancing back at the two travelers. The man's expression looked distant. Had she offended him? He had not wanted them to touch the body of his friend, but surely a token of remembrance was not improper? "I uh..." she said, "I hope it-... that I was not, not being presumptive, sir."

She looked towards Ta-Mayleene and then back towards the guests. This had been right, hadn't it?

The torch's flames flickered behind Shira, though there was no wind.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Altario Shialt-eck-Gorrin on October 13, 2015, 08:59:22 PM
Altario turned the horsehair gift between his fingers while the girl addressed him.  Truth be told, the gesture had touched him, but he did not know how to react.  With Drustai, it had been easy.  That magic user was testy and rude, so he could act in kind, though in truth they had come to an uneasy truce.  This Shendar girl, however, was very shy and unsure of herself.  Because of that, he didn't know how to act.  He opened his mouth to speak, but words would not come.

"It is perfect, Shira.  I am sure that Altario shall cherish it always." 

Altario felt Ta-Mayleene squeeze his elbow gently.  "Yes, thank you,"   he stammered awkwardly.  He could see what his brother, Denrykmar, saw in this Shendar woman.

He turned to Toama.  "I think that perhaps we should turn in for the night.  We should return to our journey."  He would miss these people.  He felt at ease here, perhaps more so than he had since leaving Remusia.

The Mother approached and began to speak, and Ta-Mayleene listened, then spoke back, before bowing her head.

Ta-Mayleene then looked at Toama.  "The Mother says that Shira and myself will accompany you to Varcopas."

Altario's brows knitted together.  "Is that wise?"

Ta-Mayleene rested her hand on her swollen belly.  "If it happens, mine would not be the first Shendar child born in the desert."  Ta-Mayleene listened to the Mother once more, listening and nodding.  She faced the Sand Sister.  "Toama, the Mother asks that you visit her in the morning before you leave."

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Toama SorInyt on March 14, 2016, 11:32:12 PM
Toama inclined her head when Ta-Mayleene told her to meet the Mother the following morning. "I will beink dere." Then she turned to Altario, having mulled over his words for a while to determine that he had suggested for them to go to sleep. She was actually torn for a moment about what she would answer - on the one hand, she was very much enjoying the evening, and had no particular wish for it to end. She still wanted to talk to the Sword Dancer they had witnessed earlier. On the other, however, her headache was still not completely gone, and in fact getting worse again, something only a good night's sleep would be able to fix. Their day would start early tomorrow.

She nodded once. "Yes, we go sleepink. Ta-Mayleene, Shira, I am wishink you good night." She turned and moved in the direction of their sleeping dome, her movements languid now that there was no more need to focus much on the company. She assumed Altario would follow. After all, going to bed had been his idea.

Falling asleep did not take long. The day had been long and taxing. Tomorrow their journey would begin again, and her body needed the rest.

Title: Re: Chapter Three- "Beauty of the South" -Part One
Post by: Shira on June 30, 2016, 05:43:17 AM
"The Mother says that Shira and myself will accompany you to Varcopas," said Ta-Mayleene.

Shira looked towards Mother, and then to the guests. She had not expected them to stay with the dome, that was true, though she had thought they would all move north together. Splitting up, traveling alone with these strangers? What if there were more rock snakes? The last time Shira had been alone in the desert, it had been for her aj. She frowned. They had not been attacked then, but it had been a frightening time for its loneliness.

It was the Mother's decision though, so Shira only nodded. She then excused herself from the group to get ready for the night. The odd-speaking woman had the right of it; Shira was tired after her performance and sleep would be welcome. She stopped briefly by Aki to wish him a good night, and then took to her sleeping space inside the dome.