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Author Topic: Chapter I - In Search of a Druid  (Read 22994 times)
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Rukaqua
Brashy Bladeswoman
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« Reply #90 on: December 03, 2008, 07:26:03 PM »

Ruka's usually unresponsive imagination flared up unexpectedly at the mention of the city of magic.  She had heard of it before of course, as a fair number of the people rich enough to need her services had some connection with the school.  She had never been there herself though - it was a long journey away from her normal haunts and as often as she heard about it, she rarely met an actual mage.  To be honest, this one seemed younger than her mental image of them.  Didn't they need years to study and gain the grasp of magic.  The school, though, that was supposed to be a sight in a life time.  Huge great towers, eleven of them, towering up into the sky with a rabble of other building nibbling at their ankles...

As she admired the picture in her mind Ruka realised she had left the young lady without an answer, and their horses had moved onwards a fair few peds in the process.  "Sorry, Miss Menweh," (she was glad the elf had specified not to use the long flowing name as the rush of syllables was quite a bit too delicate for her tongue) "I believe I was daydreaming.  I am a bodyguard for hire, I have been for several years.  In my tribe the women are the warriors and breadwinners, unlike most other places in Sarvonia.  I joined the army as soon as I could and then discovered that I liked travelling and bodyguarding more than I liked staying at home.  It is a respectable job among my people and I still try to do good by choosing the contracts which deserve my help the most.  I like this elf, she is kind to everyone even if they are...unusual."  Her mind flicked back to the huge figure of orc and warg.  Where had they got to?  "She shall have my sword as long as she has need of it."

The mage's answer to her last question wound itself back around her thoughts, flagging up a little sign of warning.  To go out in search of an adventure because of stories seemed a little childish.  Not in a bad way, necessarily, just as if the lady hadn't actually had much experience of it, or didn't really know what it was about but loved the idea.  But then again hadn't she said that she had travelled on a boat.  Ruka had never been on one of the big voyaging ones but she'd heard tales of the dangers.  It seemed so contradictory and fascinating.  "And what was it like, Miss, travelling aboard the boat?" she wondered aloud.
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Irid alMenie
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« Reply #91 on: December 06, 2008, 01:29:28 AM »

Irid nodded and looked away, delicately refraining from asking more. She was positive there was more to be known, but it was obvious that whatever it was, Maue was not ready to share it. She was sure that in the past, she’d have asked on without much regard for the feelings of the person involved. Not now, though. If she was ever going to hear more from Maue’s lips, it would be because the elfess wanted to tell her, not because she had dragged it out.

She glanced back for a moment at where Menweh was talking to giantess of a human woman, Ruka. The way she was constantly trying to get her horse to move at the same pace as Ruka’s brought a smile to her lips, though she made sure Maue didn’t see it. How could this ranger see anything but idealism in the mage’s actions? But then, that was personal experiences for you. Who knew, if her own accident had been caused by a mage somehow, perhaps she would  also be blaming all the mages she met, whether or not they deserved it.

But then, if she thought about that, she could not really imagine herself doing that. Just because one person had done something bad to her did not mean that everyone else would. She could not imagine herself judging one person by the actions of another, no matter what special talents they had. From that night of the accident she did remember the bandits who had attacked her, but that didn’t make her look oddly at anyone carrying a sword. But then, that was possibly just her ‘new’ personality speaking. She was still discovering every day just how profoundly she had been affected by the accident.

She realized that she had sunken deep into thought, and she gave Maue an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, my thoughts seem to have run away with me. They tend to do that sometimes.” She joked. Keeping her thoughts more firmly in check, she made some more small talk with Maue, though she was careful to keep the conversation away from mages. She would have to remember to ask Menweh to perhaps not stay too close to the ranger. Of course, they were only a small group, and smaller still because the knight and the orcess had still not made an appearance. Irid was worried about them a little, but she figured they were old and wise enough to take care of themselves.

When she saw the sky turning darker, she decided that they had ridden enough for the day. She kept her eyes on the road, and when she saw a small brook running beside it and then bending off into a cluster of trees, she called a halt for the night. “We’ll set up camp over there.” She pointed to the trees. When everyone had gathered and dismounted, Irid quickly divided the tasks – just a matter  of being efficient. She had seen enough groups where it took ages to decide who was going to do what, and after all, she *was* the leader of this group, wasn’t she?

"Ruka and Menweh, if you two can gather up wood for the fire, then Xanth and Xander can make the fire and cook some of the food we have in our saddlebags. Me and Maue can unsaddle the horses." She hadn't mentioned Leon and she knew it, but she had some trouble thinking of what he could do that did not require eyesight. Seeing his lost expression as he walked over to a tree, his cane and his free hand outstretched to keep from bumping into something, told her that he felt his exclusion keenly. It wrenched her heart, but there was nothing she could do. She wanted to go over and hug him, but she doubted that that would be taken in gratitude. He was not a child.

Instead, when the horses had been unsaddled and the bedrolls were spread out around the place where the fire would come when Menweh and Ruka came back, she went over to where he was sitting and sat down opposite to him. "I promised you earlier today that I'd let you feel my face. We have nothing else to do at the moment, so I'm ready to fulfil my promise." She could see that her offer cheered him up just a little - or maybe she just wanted to see that, she wasn't sure which. In any case, he did lift up his right hand and carefully stretched it out. Irid moved her face so that he could feel where she was. Then he brought up his left hand as well, having placed his cane over his knees, and with both his hands he 'read' her face. She patiently let him discover her face, even her hair, until he was finally satisfied. He still had a sad expression on his face though.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2008, 03:47:34 AM by Irid alMenie » Logged

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.
Irid al'Menie
Menweh Reolláolásh’miés
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« Reply #92 on: December 20, 2008, 05:35:41 PM »

A dreamy look spread over her face as she said, "It was wonderful..."  As they traveled Menweh began to tell Ruka about her youth on the mist runner. She had almost reached the part of the mutiny when the reached the spot that Irid said that they'd declared they'd stop. Menweh told the bigger woman about the mutiny as she attempted to dismount, which ended in Menweh becoming tangled and hanging upside down from the saddle.

Menweh felt her leg being stretched at an odd angle, almost like it had been when she'd fallen from the crows' nest from her father's ship.  Menweh looked at the mess she was. She untangled her leg and dusted herself off.

" Shall we get some wood?" She asked smiling broadly and slightly red from embarrassment of tangling herself in the saddle and reigns.
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The Illiana Twins
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« Reply #93 on: December 28, 2008, 12:54:01 AM »

As Injera dipped in the sky, Irid finally came to a stop in a clearing of trees, claiming it for their campsite that night. Their leader dismounted, and started doling out jobs efficiently. As expected, the twins got the job of cooking. Xander gave Irid a nod of acknowledgement, before swiftly dismounting. Xanth dismounted too, but slowly. “Ahh, ow.” Xanth grumbled to herself, frowning. Though she was long used to the soreness of her muscles after riding, it still stung. Shaking off her discomfort, she started to unbuckle the flap of her saddlebag.

“Let’s make it simple tonight. Soup or stew, with salad.” Xander said from behind her. “We’ll need to toss a separate one for Lyon,” Xanth reminded him. Xander nodded in agreement.  “We’ll make beef stew. Xander, if you could handle the washing of the vegetables, I’ll start chopping the meat. While you’re at the brook, get some water ready to boil when Menweh and Ruka come back with the wood. When you’re done, you can start tossing the salads. I’ll do the one with bacon bits, and you do Lyon’s one.” Xanth continued briskly, in full chef mode. Xander grinned and gave her a mock salute before reaching over and taking out three heads of lettuce from Xanth’s saddlebag.

After retrieving a large plate from his bag, Xander strolled to the water’s edge. Bending down, the elf started to untie the laces of his boots. Wet boots and socks were something that he wanted to avoid. Soon, both the boots and the socks were off and placed neatly behind him. The heads of lettuce were put gently on the ground, the wooden plate beside them. Xander then sat himself down, before starting his job.

On the other side of camp, Xanth had set up shop on a convenient flat rock near the surrounding bushes. Her chopping board was in front of her, and the elfess was busily chopping her bacon strips into bacon bits. Every now and then, she would sprinkle a small amount of salt over the bits. The salt was used sparingly though – they had a limited amount. A small bowl was beside the board, and it was gradually filling up. Soon, it’d be full to the brim. The elfess started to whistle a cheerful tune. She enjoyed cooking, and music just made it all the better.
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Morden Peshirgolz
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« Reply #94 on: January 10, 2009, 03:53:43 AM »

Morden sat at one of the many inn's of New Santhala, sipping a mug of ale. Somewhat tired, his thoughts centered on the fact that his beverage was sadly lacking of the strong taste he would obtained from a dwarven brew. On the edges of his consciousness, he picked out a faint droning, like the buzzing of so many flies before his face. Dimly, he wondered to himself what the noise was. He glanced straight ahead for a moment, realizing that a person sat in front of him. He began to realize that the person was speaking to him. With the sharpness of broken glass, reality suddenly protruded itself upon his mind. It was the innkeeper that sat in front, droning like a lazy honey bee. What was he talking about? Oh yes, Morden had asked if he knew of any work in the area. This had caused the sallow, nervous innkeeper to lose all sense of inhibition and launch into a rather long account of the local news. It took all of Morden's patience to pay the slightest bit of attention to the drawling voice, which had a slight lisp to it that grated the dwarf's nerves to a frazzle.

Morden was resolving that he must cut into the bore's monologue at some point when several phrases jab sharply into his mind. "Rhom-Oc orc, ya see. I recognized her tribe 'cuz I had actually heard of their kind from a northern cousin of mine...she had been asking around for a room at an establishment down the street. Owned by a friend of mine, actually, and he told me...left in a great hurry after some knight...seems that lately there was talk of some elf lady with a great quest and all. Very mysterious, really, but I heard that a number of people left to meet her..." Morden sharply inquired of the whereabouts of this lady and her party. The innkeeper was momentarily startled by the dwarf's abruptness, but his inertia carried him right back into the flow of his previous discourse. "Haven't heard much about them, honestly, but this morning I was talking to a merchant friend of mine, one Justice Kelvin, about his cousin...and then he mentioned that the knight I told you about, a friend of his actually, seems the Justice knows every body around here...they left headed north, I think he said, but I don't know where they'd be now..."

As the droning voice began to expound on why Judge Kelvin believed it was best to start carroots in early summer, Morden resolved to go after this party. The Rhom-Oc had done too much to hurt him in the past. Massaging the stump of his right hand, which ached with the memory of orcen steel, he dwelt on how much enjoyment he would get out of taking vengeance upon this lone orc. It would only go a small way to assuaging his torn heart, but he could not deny himself any chance to wreak pain on his former tormentors. He drained the last of his ale, muttering about its taste for a moment, before striding out the door. The innkeeper only realized no one was listening to his lecture on the good effects of carroots on the teeth and eye when Morden had already walked out the door.

Morden labored his way out of the city as best as his limp would allow him. His back was still only aching slightly, and he surmised that he could track them quickly if he was careful. He stumbled along the main road, taking note of the place they had camped and the track of their horses, leading northwards. Morden had no chance of catching them on the road if they were riding horses. He left the main road immediately, plunging into the forest. Here he was at home, and as he crept towards the heart of the woods his mind was relieved and exhilarated, as a diver feels as his hands break the water after a long absence. He believed if he cut through the woods, he could get ahead of them on the road. From the looks of their tracks, they weren't riding hard, and would surely camp before nightfall.

Morden continued to glide soundlessly through the trees, his cloak transforming him into a shadowy wraith of the woods as dusk enveloped the forest. The darkness was good for his eyes, considering that dwarves are normally nocturnal. Time with humans had caused him to alter his sleeping habits from occasionally, but the night was always his best hour, when he entered his element. Sneaking up on that orc now would be no problem, and he would dispose of her as he had done to dozens of other Rhom-Oc on nights such as this. Inside the folds of his cloak, his hand caressed the orcen dagger he had retrieved from his battles. It was this very blade that had severed his  hand, and now served as the instrument of his vengeance. The weight of his pack shifted slightly as he walked, his large stone battle-axe weighing down upon him. He was growing tired from the long walk, and felt that a headache brewing in his temples.

Finally, he heard several voices ahead of him, his woodsman's senses picking up the faint noises from afar. While he had not succeeded in getting ahead of the elf's party, he had still managed to find them with remarkable speed. Heh, that was the reward for knowing the forest. He had been able to cut a straighter path through than any road could have, though he was lucky that the road bent back for a stral or so here, or he would not have caught them. It was this bend that he had been counting on, having remembered it from his travels around the countryside surrounding New Santhala. He had done so much traveling because he had been searching for a thief who had stolen his baroomith, his silver flute. It was for need of information and money that he had traveled into the city itself. Back in Tyr Donian, several friends had given him the glistening rod that was now tucked within his cloak. But this replacement could not take the place of a family heirloom, causing him to leave in pursuit of the thief.

Now he was reaching the clearing from which the voices had come, and the trees were beginning to thin. He crept slowly, from tree to tree, soundlessly approaching their encampment. He took a moment to survey the party. There were mostly women there, and he recognized the one that must be the elven lady who had given the quest. No other person in the group had eyes like that, and her face had a peculiar wild tint to its expression. She would fit right in with the dwarves of Morden's own Tiber, the Susilgerim, were she not so tall. They were known for their wildness, and knowledge of the outdoors. Morden also noticed a man and women preparing food. They looked remarkably alike, and Morden thought that perhaps they were twins. Dwarves are always born in pairs, and so Morden was familiar with that unique likeness that only twins can share. Morden's own twin had been lost many years ago, in fact Morden had managed to lose all the family he had over the hard years. Trum-Barol had certainly never smiled upon often. Off to the side of the clearing was a man who appeared blind, and looked quite sad.

Standing next to the wild-eyed elf was another elf, obviously of different lineage. Her eyes were very nearly quite boring compared to those of the first elf, despite their bright green color. As she and the wild-eyed elf moved towards the horses across the clearing from where Morden hid, he noticed movement in the forest behind them. Two figures were at far edge of the clearing. He could only see one of them clearly through the trees, but the one he could see was huge! Morden was quite a tall dwarf himself, being as tall as many humans, but this woman would made him like several shorter than he was. If he was to get to that orc, he would have to avoid this woman.

Just then Morden realized that he hadn't actually seen the orc yet. Confused, he leaned forward from his hiding place to get a better look at the clearing. Perhaps the orc had gone into the woods? As Morden pondered the possibilities, something moved near his leg. As a snake slowly made its way up his leg, Morden tried to shift his limb quietly so he could remove the pest. As he did so his feet came to rest on a slippery log, and Morden jerked forward. The weight of his pack caused him to completely lose his balance, and he pitched forward into the clearing.

Morden sat up as quickly as his swimming head would allow him. His pack had fallen off, and his axe has lying on the ground beside it, its sharp edges gleaming slightly in the twilight. He pulled himself up to his knees and reached for his precious possession. As he did so, he noticed that he now had everyone's complete attention. Praying to Trum-Barol for deliverance, he tried to make his expression as friendly as possible, a difficult task since he was grimacing in a lot of pain. It was then that he noticed that the snake that had bothered him had landed on the plate of the man washing vegetables. It was slowly making its way to his hand, hissing loudly and angrily.

This did not look like a promising start. Morden wondered where that orc was, and if he would ever find his flute again. Most of all, though, he wondered if these fierce women would let him live.
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Irid alMenie
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« Reply #95 on: January 10, 2009, 06:34:40 AM »

She would never know, later, what had triggered it. She never did. All she could ever remember was whatever she had been doing at the moment it happened, and then waking up - sometimes hours later. When she thought about it afterwards, she could only assume that it had had something to do with the suddenly resounding crash, or the fact that despite her enhanced hearing, someone had managed to sneak up on them without her hearing them. Possibly she had been so engrossed in letting Lyon feel her face that she had simply not been paying attention to the sounds around her. In any case, happen it did, and it was only through what her companions told her that she knew for sure that it had.

The animal inside her had awakaned.

The wolf twitched her ears at the crash coming from behind her. She quickly whirled around and crouched, her fangs bared and a low rumble coming from her throat. The small  and mostly ignored little part of her that was still Irid must, in the last instant before the wolf took over, have grabbed her daggers, because they were lying in her hands. But to the wolf, they were not daggers, they were her claws. Levelling them at the intruder, she growled again. Her pack were with her, and she was not about to let this newcomer threaten them; she was responsible for the well-being of the pack members.

With the thought of protection foremost in her mind, the wolf bunched her muscles for a fatal leap, that would close her maw on the intruder's throat. But at the last moment before the leap, something stopped her. A hand, restraining her. An almost comical look of surprise slid over the wolf's muzzle as she looked to the side, where one of her packmembers was standing. The huge figure, towering over the wolf, was making noises that she couldn't understand, but the other packmembers were reacting to them; surrounding the intruder and levelling all sorts of weapons at him. The wolf acknowledged the other's superiority, relinquishing the responsibility of protection to her. Instead, she posted herself between the newcomer and the only packmember who had kept seated throughout the whole thing.

And that was the moment when Irid came back to herself. She 'awoke' to the sight of a sturdy young man being threatened by at least two weapons - three, if the mage's determined expression was anything to go by. Maue and Ruka both had their own weapons out - though Ruka had only one of her many weapons in her hand. Xanth seemed about ready to whip out her own weapon, though she seemed to think that at the moment everything was still under controll. A quick look back told her that Lyon was listening intently to all that was happening. The only one not exactly paying attention to the intruder was Xander, who for some reason had become quite engrossed with his plate.

Realising that she was standing crouched for some reason, Irid straightened. The fact that she had one moment been sitting next to Lyon, and the next she was standing up and facing *that* scene, told her that her affliction had acted up. Passing a hand to her eyes, she realised that she was holding her long dagger. She had no memory of taking it, but then there must be more than one thing that she did not remember. With a sigh she put her own weapons - with at least a sword and two daggers pointed at him, the man was not likely to try and escape any time soon. Then she rubbed her face once, straightened her shoulders and walked back to stand next to Ruka, who she let know with a small nod that she was back to normal - more or less. Her loss of the past moments was weighing on her, but decisions needed making, and she was the one who would have to make them.

Just before she spoke, she realised how very similar this scene was to the one she had arrived to after her trip in town. The two intruders were even about the same height. Something nagged at her mind concerning this, but she shrugged it off as unimportant. "Alright... Who are you and why were you hiding out in the bushes next to our camp?" She didn't know if he had, in fact, been hiding, but it seemed as good a guess as any - and if he wasn't, he could always explain himself. Irid crossed her arms and looked inquiringly at the man, unconsciously quirking an eyebrow as she did so.
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Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.
Irid al'Menie
Rukaqua
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« Reply #96 on: January 12, 2009, 05:46:25 AM »

Ruka nodded towards the delicate mage, giving her a rare smile: watery and tight-lipped, but definitely present. There was a hint of laughter in her eyes from the tangle she had managed to get herself in, but Ruka could see the obvious signs of embarrassment and so didn't press the issue.  She could always save it for a story when they knew each other a little better. "If you pick up some smaller bits for kindling getting the fire started, I'll gather some bigger logs Menweh," the warrior suggested.

Just as they moved away from the camp to the edge of the woods, Ruka heard a huge crashing thump of a body hitting forest floor, and saw the short, sturdy figure of a dwarf literally falling into their clearing.  Immediately she was racing across towards the intruder, conscious of her role in protecting them, and she barely missed a stride as she grabbed one of her swords from the floor were she had left it.  She hadn't even reached the dwarf when she heard something which was undeniably the grow of a wolf.  But there was no wolf.  Their leader was hunched in the manner of a large predator, the threatening snarl coming from her lips. 

Ruka's long powerful legs propelled her the last few steps and she halted beside the wolf, placing one muscular hand on the shoulder beneath it.  "Irid?  Irid?  What in the name of Seyella and all the twelve gods are you doing?!  You were the one who was telling us off for threatening the last weaselly little slug and now you go for this one? "  The elf didn't respond to the questions.  "Everyone get over here encase something's happened to her - and keep an eye on that dwarf too  Maybe it's a mage, do you know of any spells which can change someone into a beast Menweh?".  She kept her weapon obviously poised and ready in her hand, half watching the newcomer out of the corner of her eye. Their leader backed off but still didn't reply to Ruka's pertinent questions.  There would be time to deal with that later though, the new arrival was more urgent.

The warrior woman turned from the elf and faced their new dwarf, her pale green eyes blazing directly at him.  He was tall for a dwarf, and she saw with some degree of pity that he was missing one hand.  He didn't seem to be doing too badly for himself though, he had certainly snuck up on them without them noticing and his helmet looked well made, expensive.  As she was about to speak Irid's voice cut her off, and she realised with relief that the elf must have got over whatever fir of rage had consumed her just before.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 06:08:18 AM by Rukaqua » Logged

The Illiana Twins
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« Reply #97 on: January 15, 2009, 01:40:00 AM »

The movement of the cleaver was the only thing that Xanth was concentrating on. The bacon bits were coming along nicely, and she was nearly done. The turkey slices would be next, then she’d finish off with the chunks of beef for the stew. The elfess spared a glance at her brother’s position near the brook. By the looks of the plate beside him, he was more than halfway done with the washing of the lettuce.

It wasn’t a few minutes later before the tranquillity of the small glade was broken by a loud thump from behind Xanth. Someone tall had (to her at least) seemingly fallen from the sky onto their camp. As the dust cleared and whoever that fell onto their camp straightened, Xanth immediately took notice of three things. One, he was a dwarf. Two, he was *really* tall. Three, his axe looked dangerous. A low growl erupted from somewhere behind her. Xanth turned to look behind her, her hands half unsheathing her Whirlwind from its scabbard. Her reaction was slower than the wolf’s though. A streak of unexpected sognastheen flew past her and landed lightly between her and the intruder.

Her emerald eyes widened in shock. The “wolf” wasn’t a wolf at all – it was Irid, behaving like one. The elfess furrowed her brows in confusion. What, exactly, was wrong with their leader? Was it some sort of cultural thing, to act like an animal as a form of intimidation? Sudden questions exploded in her mind as she tensed up at the sudden development. Their dear leader seemed to be hiding something. Though, she’d have to find out later. It wasn’t the time now. By that conclusion, Ruka had calmed Irid down and the latter appeared to be normal, even going so far as to engage the newcomer in conversation. Xanth was still tense though, although it’d be hard to notice for someone other than her brother.

Xander, on the other hand, had been very happily washing the lettuce for the salads. As the heads of lettuce shrunk, and the pile on the plate grew, Xander found his mind wandering. As much as he’d rather be somewhere shooting something, it didn’t make sense for them to have a surplus. He didn’t want the meat to rot prematurely. Besides, his sister would never consent to washing any kind of things near water. Even something as small as this brook. He didn’t mind, though. Everyone had their inner demons. His sister’s one involved water, and his involved…

Snakes.

It was exactly like something from a horror book. The hero relaxes his guard and like a bolt from the blue, his worst nightmare appears in front of him. Two orbs of unending darkness stared blankly into his sea green ones. A long scaly body reminiscent of a thick length of rope rippled in the bright rays of the sun. The light shone off the scales, making the snake glitter like an unearthly jewel. A forked tongue slithered past two sharp fangs, its throat making a hissing sound to accompany the motion.

Xander froze. His very blood turned into ice, rushing around his veins like a frozen river running under the ice. Everything in the background faded away until the only thing he could see was the eyes of the snake, and the only sound he heard was the thumping of his heart. The quickening thumps sounded exactly like the crescendo in a funeral song.

The snake slithered slowly through the grass to Xander, hissing periodically. Xander didn’t move. In fact, he couldn’t. The image and feel of the long body surrounding his and choking the life out of him still shone fresh in his mind’s eye. The reptile was mere nailbreaths away from touching him before his panicked mind gathered itself enough to act.

The elf gave a loud yell. His hand scrabbled behind him and grabbed a boot, launching it at the snake. It hit it square on the forehead, but instead of knocking it out, the snake went into a frenzy. It leapt at him, fangs bared. Thankfully, Xander reacted in time, his reflexes saving him. The elf rolled sideways, pushing himself off the ground in the process. He stumbled back a few steps, and tripped over a rock. The snake moved lightning fast, relaunching itself at him, white fangs shining in the sun. Running purely on panic now, he grabbed the rock he tripped over and blindly threw it in a desperate last ditch effort to save himself.

The rock hit the snake in midair with a sickening thud, but it was the swish of Xanth’s Whirlwind that took off its head cleanly. Xander stared as the head fell from the air and rolled to a stop near his feet, the body just falling where it was. He flinched at the lifeless eyes, right before his sister fell to her knees beside him and threw her arms around him in a comforting embrace. She knew his fear, and she was worried. “It’s gone, brother,” she whispered reassuringly.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 01:43:10 AM by The Illiana Twins » Logged

Menweh Reolláolásh’miés
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« Reply #98 on: January 15, 2009, 04:51:18 PM »

Menweh's thoughts again had drifted. She had been gathering kindle for the fire and her imagination had again shaped the land in which she moved about. In her imagination she was a little girl, Ruka was her mother. Together they were gathering wood for a bonfire to celebrate the birth of her little brother. There was music about the wood as they glided across the forest floor picking up twigs and branches that would only rot and never grow. Menweh was silent as the day dream washed over her smiling at the comforting memory. The pain in her leg was far from her as she knelt to pick up the twigs, but something was wrong, wolves didn't snarl in this wood. In fact she could not remember the last time she had heard a wolf growl.

"Irid? Irid?"

Menweh's thoughts broke. In what felt like a wash of light, color, movement, and sound she saw everything take place.

Irid had been crouching before the group snarling like some wolf. Her movements had been, so fierce and violent her body looked as though some beast, some spirit had possessed her.  She'd read of powerful being that shifted their forms to become something else, but that was not what had happened. She was ACTING like a wolf not becoming one. Or at least that is what Menweh hoped.

Ruka had ask her a question when all of a sudden as Xanth raced, drawing some sort of weapon and made short work of what ever it was that had fallen out of the brush. It was fast work for all she heard was the quick, disgusting, sound of flesh and sinew being torn and a small round object that arced toward Xander. Menweh blinked several times as she tried to make sense of what had just happened. She shook her head and answered Ruka's question as she walked toward her, curiosity forcing her to investigate.

"No, the libraries at Ximax did not mention anything like that, I don't think that..." Her voice trailed off as she spied the dwarf. Still behind the giant of a woman she whispered, " Don't be surprised if you don't see me, I want a better look at him." With that she drew out a crystal, clear as glass, gazed into it deeply and murmured the incantation to Hide herself from view, accented in Yllfer.

It was unmistakable. No other race could sport a beard of that grandeur, although he was a bit tall. Most dwarves were not that tall, were they? She limped past Xanth and Xander, past Ruka and Irid, her desire to actually talk and observe the dwarf. It would be very interesting no? She had better not surprise him to badly when she wanted to talk with him. It would be awkward enough if she just seemed to appear from no where. No she needed to walk over to him and watch and see what he did. Maybe she could befriend him enough so he could help them? It was possible, but they'd see. She smiled as she tried to quicken her step. This was so EXCITING!
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Morden Peshirgolz
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« Reply #99 on: January 23, 2009, 12:11:09 PM »

To Morden's dismay, the startled reaction of several of the women in the party was to quickly grab their weapons. These were not the people he had wished to fight, it was the orc. But now he seemed to be in danger of dying at their hands, and all because of his accursed luck! It seemed that Trum-Barol was against him today, even after the good fortune of his finding this camp. Despite his wounded body and slowed reflexes, he pulled himself up fairly quickly. Leaning against a nearby tree with his stump arm, he hefted his axe in front of him, providing a buffer between himself and the rapidly approaching women. If it was not their intention to spare him, at least he would die a death deserving of a dwarf. It was a pity though, that there should be no one to carry his body to Trum-Barol. Ah well, he clearly didn't have the Stone Father's favor today, anyway.

He took a moment to study his potential adversaries, casting a steady gaze across each one. The giantess was the first figure he took notice of. She towered over Morden, her obvious strength vibrated through the air, like shock wave declaring her invincibility. Morden was a giant among his people, who were a race of giants among other dwarves. For the first time, he was intimidated by another's presence. The feeling was new to him, but gave him an inner thrill, setting every one of his nerves on edge. Here was an equal, one who would give him a fight worthy of the highest valor.

He turned his gaze from the tattooed warrior, and focused his attention momentarily on the noticeably smaller warrior that also wielded a sword against him. Her blazing green eyes showed no fear, only an intense drive and determination. If she had needed to fight the ocean, she looked as if she would have done it without a second thought, never backing down to anything. Her hair appeared to be an olive green in the twilight, providing a flowing backdrop to the fierceness of her eyes. Morden's heart began to sink as he contemplated these two foes. They did not look as though mercy was one of their strong suits, and so he began to think quickly, searching for a way to defeat them. Or at least, put up a strong fight.

At least two of the party did not appear to hold hostility towards him at the moment. Two elves, of the same height, were sitting a few peds away. Or at least they had been sitting, taking care of the food, a few moments ago. It appeared that the snake had upset the young male elf very much. The female elf, who looked very much like him, was attempting to help him with the pest. Morden scowled in contempt. How could anyone be so undone by a simple animal? Granted, that animal had contributed to his own predicament, but that was simply bad luck. The male elf appeared to be completely hysterical about it, his fear torn eyes accentuating his terror contorted face. At least, thought Morden, these are two less foes to deal with.

Morden attention wandered now to a member of the group he had not seen since his entrance into the clearing. A short elf, of white golden-brushed hair and blue eyes, had been at the far side of the clearing. She had been engaged in some activity with the giantess. Now the giantess loomed next to Morden, but the small elf was no where to be seen. Morden remembered the short glance he had seen of her face. She had looked very intelligent, but her eyes were slightly unfocused, as if they looked off into distances that only she herself could conceive of. Morden had been surprised at how much that look had reminded him of a Denirim, a sage-priest of the dwarves. There were the only ones he had seen with such a look. He had always thought it came from a deeper knowledge of Trum-Barol. What power did this girl possess, that she looked that way? What god aided her? The fact that Morden could not see her now was disconcerting, adding to the notion of her power. Her presence seemed close, like a dark cloud looming within his mind. Morden did his best to shake off the feeling.

The feeling was quickly dispelled by a deep, guttural sound. Morden recognized it, and it filled his mind with a blind hatred. It was a wolf's snarl. In the confusion of these last few hurried seconds, it sounded very much like the sound of a warg. Wargs had destroyed his village, their orcen riders killing his family. His eyes flew over the camp, searching for the Rhom-Oc orc that he knew must now be here. His piercing gaze had flown over the clearing for the third time, when he realised that the orc truly was not here.

That is when he once again saw her eyes.

The golden-eyed elf, the one whose wild, haunting gaze had earlier enraptured his attention, was crouched before him. Her dark hair had come down in tangles around her countenance, obscuring her face. In her hands were two long daggers, which she wielded with the deadly grace of claws. But it was her eyes that Morden noted above anything else. Before they had held the mere hint of an animal, of something untamed and free. Now their incarnation, their deadly secret was laid out in the open. Morden stared straight into a wolf's eyes. Seductively, hungrily golden, they were a plea for destruction, for warm blood and hot flesh.

Morden's mind flashed back to the last time he had seen a warg, the last time he had seen such eyes. It had been barreling towards him, those two pinpoints of evil light boring down into his soul, into his heart and his courage. But he had stood his ground, for what was left of his village and the people he loved. He raised his stone battle axe above his head with both hands, the last time he would lift it so. He remembered the roaring sound in his head and ears, and the quivering intensity of emotion flowing through his every muscle. Dying was the only option left, dying while taking as many of them down with him as possible. He heard voices flickering across the edges of his awareness, like shadows of ghosts. Cries rang from all directions, but he did not hear them. He only saw those two shafts of light, like daggers thrusting themselves into his mind.

He still saw those eyes when he heard her voice, "Alright... Who are you and why were you hiding out in the bushes next to our camp?". The beast that those eyes contained had once again retreated, hidden in a golden mist, like a distant object in a twilight rain. The elf looked at him with annoyance and anger mixed with doubt and curiosity. This lady must surely be a sorceress, thought Morden, how else could she assume the spirit of a wolf like that. That was the last straw for him, he could not fight against such a group like this. Besides the orc was not even among them, so dying here would gain him no vengeance.

Instead, he simply met those golden eyes with a determined gaze, while searching for the words that would placate the angry faces about him. Revealing his true purpose would likely be foolish, since these might be friends of the orc. Morden had been told that the Rhom-Oc was a member of their party. But he was a dwarf, and lying was not a practiced skill among his kin. Then he remembered the errand that had brought him to New Santhala. That would be a reasonable excuse for his presence, hopefully they would deem it reasonable as well. Straightening up, and lowering his axe, Morden spoke in a deep, gruff voice, "I was tracking a thief through these woods, one who stole a precious possession of mine. I stumbled upon your camp, and wished to ask you for information. I simply tripped walking to this clearing, or I would have announced my presence more peaceably. Have any of you seen a seedy looking man in this area?"

Morden hoped that would keep him alive, and allow him to go. A sorceress was no one to be messed with, and Morden did not want to risk being the recipient of a spell of hers. He hoped they would believe him, but the golden-eyed elf looked like one who could be reasoned with. Perhaps there was still hope for living past this mistake.
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Irid alMenie
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« Reply #100 on: January 26, 2009, 02:57:19 AM »

Irid passed a hand before her eyes as she listened to the man's explanation. It sounded plausible enough, in a way, except that there was something... oh, she didn't know, something inconsistent in the way he said it, and yet not. She didn't have the energy right now to really think it over. She felt drained, too tired to make any kind of decision, as if she had run some strals without pause, only without the breathlessness that would ensue from such an activity.

Her shoulders slumping somewhat in defeat, she just accepted his words as truth. She was still mulling over the period of time that she had no memory of, wondering what happened. It took up too much of her mind to  really pay attention to the truth of the matter. 'No... no, we have not seen anyone around here that meets your description. At least, I have not. Perhaps one of the others has.'

With that she turned and walked slowly to the other side of the camp, away from the people she hired to let them answer the question themselves. She rested her arm against one of the trees amongst which they were camping, her back to the fire - and the others. She put her head against the arm and with her golden eyes looked ahead, though she didn't really see anything. Time and again she saw in her mind's eye Lyon's face, followed by the sight of the group threatening the invader. Try though she might, she could not 'see' anything at all inbetween. She could not remember drawing her daggers, but they had been in her hand. She could not even remember standing up, but she'd been upright when she'd woken up. By the looks of things not *too* much time had passed, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that time *had* passed, and she did not know anything about it.

Giving up the struggle with her memory, she turned back to the fire and sat down near it, her knees drawn up and her arms around them. Her chin rested on her vontromarine-coloured pants. She studiously avoided looking into anyone's eyes, though somewhere she wanted to know what they were thinking about her now. The black-out she had could only mean one thing, and quite likely that one thing had drastically changed people's opinion of her. She knew that it had in the past, and there was no reason for that to change. She wondered if anyone remembered her words from this morning, about how she sometimes acted like a wolf. But then, even if they did, it was one thing hearing about it and quite another to actually see it.

"Irid?" she heard softly beside her. A man's voice; that could only be Xander or Lyon, the invader (if he was still there) could not know her name. She looked to the side to see the long black hair of the blind man, who was seating himself beside her. For a moment, she wondered how he had found her, but then she probably wasn't giving him enough credit. He probably smelled her. She knew all about that now, in the last couple of years she had started to rely as much on her sense of smell (which had greatly improved) as on her eyesight, and she had both. She could only guess what it would be like to have only one of those. She wondered what she herself smelled like. For some reason, while with other people she now identified them as much on their smell as on their faces or names, she could not smell herself. Lyon's smell was of wood and paper and ink, whereas Ruka smelled much like all the iron she carried with her.

She grunted non-commitally at his questioning tone, wondering if it had anything to do with her blackout. He couldn't have seen anything, obviously, but what if he had heard something? Had she made noise? And if so, what kind of noises? By Ava, she needed to stop it running through her head like that! Lyon's question probably didn't have anything to do with the whole business. His following words, though taking her quite at unawares (or maybe not quite, she had after all seen his forlorn look that evening), confirmed that theory.

"Irid, I've been thinking, and I don't think I'm very good to go on this quest after all. Tonight you could not find anything for me to do, and just now... well, let's just say I still don't know what exactly happened. I know I gave you my word to go with you, but... I just don't think I will be of any use."

After his words, Irid was silent for a time. If she had been in any kind of normal behaviour she would have convinced him to stay with them, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it, for the same reasons that she couldn't bring herself to find what exactly had been wrong with the intruder's words. She just felt too spent, too drained, and too full of self-doubt to rise above that and get someone else out of *his* self-doubt. So instead of telling him not to speak any nonsense, she merely nodded and said: 'You will stay the night with us? It is too late for any travelling, after riding for most of the day. After that you may go where you will, without any obligation to me. I will give you some coin to pay for the little time you were in my service.'

Lyon nodded, and Irid reached out and squeezed his shoulder in understanding. He might not have seen anything, but she was quite sure that he knew something at least. And anyway, his hearing was quite likely so finely tuned that he had picked up the doubt in her tone, even though the words themselves were not doubtful. Getting up from her position near the fire (though dinner should be ready any time now), Irid squared her shoulders and moved over to where Rukaqua was sitting. She could not see the invader anymore, but that didn't really say anything - there was still only one thing on her mind, and she arguably also didn't see Menweh, or the twins, or even Maue. Her mind was focused on Ruka, because for some reason she felt that she would get the straightest answer from the tall warrioress.

Touching her on the shoulder to get her attention, the golden-eyed elfess motioned for the woman to follow her to the same place where she'd been standing earlier - if not out of earshot for the sharp-eared elves in the company, at least having some semblance of privacy there. When she was there, she turned to the human woman and looked up at her, straight into her green eyes, just a little hurt by the distrust that seemed to linger in the back, which had not been there that morning. It only confirmed what deep down she knew already, that she had acted... wolfy.

Crossing her arms in front of her (though careful not to make it an aggressive stance, just a waiting one) she said: 'Alright, tell me - but tell me honestly. What happened?'
Logged

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus.
Irid al'Menie
Rukaqua
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« Reply #101 on: January 28, 2009, 02:27:58 AM »

Ruka stood her ground, holding her weapon pointed towards the dwarf.  She neither backed off nor increased the threat in her stance when his own weapon moved up to defend himself.  Although she didn't hold back from a battle, she knew the time and place to start a fight, and that was generally in a tavern once everyone was drunk and not holding sharp pointed objects at each other's throats.  The warrior felt this was a time for talking rather than fighting, especially now their leader was in her feet.  It must have been a spell or an incantation, although this dwarf didn't look much like the spell-casting type.  Didn't they need some kind of thing to do the magic through?  Just as that thought appeared in Ruka's head, Menweh moved behind her and whispered something in her ear, something about not being seen. The woman resisted the temptation to turn around, or to let her tension out by demanding that the girl made some sense.  Ruka was not one for riddles and clues at the best of times.

A sudden movement from one of the elf twins made her start suddenly and the tip of her weapon flickered towards the noise at the same moment as her eyes.  However, the threat didn't seem to be another person, just a long thin snake which the elf seemed very scared of.  The encounter was over quickly and the creature's head lay dripping blood into the earth.  Ruka had kept their unusual intruder within the edge of her sight, making sure he made no sudden movements.  She noticed, suddenly, that the mage was nowhere to be seen, she had vanished.  Perhaps that whisper had been more straightforward than she thought.  Maybe the mage had done that to Irid?  And something strange to the snake-fearing elf as well? Or it could be the dwarf....Ruka felt confused; she was not one for working out complicated issues, more for helping to solve them in the way she was told.  She waited a few moments more for an answer to Irid's question.

"I was tracking a thief through these woods, one who stole a precious possession of mine. I stumbled upon your camp, and wished to ask you for information. I simply tripped walking to this clearing, or I would have announced my presence more peaceably. Have any of you seen a seedy looking man in this area?"

Ruka couldn't tell whether the dwarf was lying or not, but it seemed a reasonable reason for sneaking about in this suspicious manner.  She waited for their leader's reaction before lowering her blade, although the elf seemed tired and dizzy; was she able to judge properly.  Oh well, Ruka's army training told her to respect Irid's decision, and so she would.   Although what were they going to do with the dwarf?  One look at Irid leaning against a tree showed that the elf should probably be left alone for a minute, and as she was the one holding the sword it should probably be her.

"We did meet one scrawny-looking man who looked like trouble, but that was this morning" she said. "If you want to sit and talk, there might be a bit of meat going, but you can leave that weapon there.  Otherwise you can leave."  The words were blunt but not malicious, and her body had relaxed from its poised readiness.  She moved towards the fire, laying her weapon down by the other, but not moving away from them.

The giant warrioress felt a light pressure on her bare shoulder, and turned away from the flickering flames to find the golden eyes of the elf glinting in it, but not quite meeting hers.  Something really was wrong then, but why wasn't this woman wondering where the spell had came from?  She looked...well, Ruka wasn't that good at reading emotions, and this one seemed complicated, but she definitely wasn't as angry or shocked as the warrior would have expected.  She followed to spot a little distance away, her concern for this problem outweighing her desire to keep her eyes on the dwarf.  Irid's demeanor was confusing her, worrying her a little, and her words just added to the feeling that she was missing something.  Her shock spilled out in the form of a rather blunt question.  "What?  Don't you know?  That's one bad spell that caught you, isn't it?" The warrior paused, then realised that she hadn't actually answered the original question.  "I heard a growl, a wolf growl, but it was you, like a spell had taken you over and made you act like a wolf.  You leapt for the dwarf there and went for his throat.  Why do you think it happened?  If that dwarf is a mage, a powerful one like that, should we really have him in the camp?"  Ruka's concern made her bolder than she usually was with an employer, but there really was something strange going on here.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2009, 07:35:32 AM by Rukaqua » Logged

Menweh Reolláolásh’miés
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« Reply #102 on: January 28, 2009, 03:33:34 PM »

Menweh felt intrigued by the dwarf. Firstly she noticed that his hand was missing. She pondered that. How had he come to loose his hand? Did it have anything to do with his quarry? As she thought about it, her spell began to dissipate. Slowly and surely, and much like a flower blossoming at the touch of sun light, she was relieved, lost again deep in though.

She had began to observe him. The fact that she just appeared out of what seemed thin air was oblivious to her (as she had let her mind wander, part of her still though she was not visible.) She had some how managed to be only a ped or two away from him and she was leaning on her staff. Her face slightly pinched in thought as she chewed on the inside of her cheek.

Still with furrowed brow, her blue eyes looking like they where focused on something far in the distance, The Wizardess began to mutter to herself, thinking aloud,"I am not sure if that man met your description. though Ruka was right, he was thievish looking, not that you'd be able to find him. He was on his way somewhere. It would be folly to go find him, you should stay with us, at least for the night. You don't look like you would steal from us in our sleep, poor thing you look worn. Maybe if I can make you some tea, ease those poor legs and that brow. I'd bet you my weight in jewels it'd take some worry off of your heart. We'd be able to find your thief, just sit around our fire," She chuckled musically to herself, "You did make quite an entrance! And the twins, oh dear me, that was something that would have scared me witless, maybe you can teach me about dwarven culture..." Menweh trailed off, her thoughts returning back inside her head as her gaze shifted from the horizon to the dwarf. She still watched him, and she was still unaware that she could be seen.
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The Illiana Twins
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« Reply #103 on: February 13, 2009, 04:52:49 PM »

Xander felt calmer than he was before, his sister’s embrace helping more than he realised it would.  His heartbeat gradually slowed down, the thumps lessening in frequency. The snake was gone. Forever. Well, anything would go when sliced by a Whirlwind, he thought, his head still a little light from the relief. Gently, he returned his sister’s hug. He didn’t need to say thank you; not verbally to her. They knew each other well enough. Xanth’s grip loosened as she saw that he was none the worse for the wear. Satisfied, the elfess pushed herself up, reaching out a hand to help her twin.

“So. What about the newcomer?”
Xanth said, deciding not to speak of the snake incident. Xander straightened, his gaze travelling over the abnormally tall dwarf. “I don’t know.  But we need to get back to the food,” Xander said, his responsibility coming back to him.

Xanth’s mouth formed a wordless O as she remembered the stew over the crackling fire. It’d boil over if she didn’t get back to it soon. Paying no more attention to the dwarf, the elfess strode over to the fire and took the wooden spoon sitting on the rock. She sat down, crossing her legs in a comfortable position before giving the stew a quick stir with the spoon. Lifting the nearly empty bowl of meat, she added what was left of the chunks. It wasn’t like she was paying any attention to the conversation behind her, but a quick glance saw the dwarf still lingering. Better safe than sorry; that was a motto of hers.

Up ahead, near the lake, Xander had long started tossing the salad. He had already done one, a small share for Lyon. There wasn’t any bacon in it, unlike the big common one that he was tossing now. Lithe fingers swiftly pulled a small bottle of oil from his pocket, his other hand still vigorously tossing the lettuce. He skilfully added the oil, the minute droplets hanging in the air before sticking to a lettuce leaf. Xander smiled quietly to himself. He enjoyed making the mere act of tossing the salad look like an art. In fact, to him and his sister, it was one. The flick of the wrist, the strength and speed of the toss – all was skill learnt through experience.

It was barely minutes before the salad was done. Behind him, by the fire, the stew was already being ladled out. One share for each person. Xander strolled over, bowls of salad in his hand. Xanth had already set out the cutlery on each plate. Xander placed the common salad on the flat rock, Lyon’s smaller share of salad next to it. “Dinner’s ready!” The twins announced in unison.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2009, 12:03:15 AM by The Illiana Twins » Logged

Morden Peshirgolz
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« Reply #104 on: February 13, 2009, 11:51:42 PM »

Morden felt his own words wavering out into the air, riding its tension like a teetering high wire artist. He watched the golden-eyed sorceress, for after her last display that must be what she was, waiting for her judgment. Considering the fact that she must be of considerable power (look at the powerful woman who was obviously guarding her!), Morden could only hope that she would leave him alone. But there was no reaction from her either one way or the other. She simply placed her hand over her eyes, as if out of fatigue, and replied in a defeated voice, "No... no, we have not seen anyone around here that meets your description. At least, I have not. Perhaps one of the others has."

This must be some sort of trick! The same elfess who had moments before masqueraded as a powerful wolf, openly threatening him; the one who was surrounded with several capable warriors as her retinue; and the possessor of those captivating eyes; she must be hiding something, some kind of power. The defeat in her voice, the neutrality and evasiveness of that reply, had to be a form of deceit. Couldn't it?

Dwarves are the most truthful race. They rarely lie, and rarely are they fooled by a lie. And though all the facts of this situation pointed to these people not being what they seemed, Morden was troubled by calling them liars. This lady had a few things to explain, certainly. But nothing in her voice or her body language seemed to suggest a deceit. But then, it occurred to Morden, if she was a sorceress he would probably never be able to tell if she was lying.

Morden remained undecided on the issue when another member of the party spoke up. "We did meet one scrawny-looking man who looked like trouble, but that was this morning," stated the giantess, still holding her weapon pointed steadily at Morden. "If you want to sit and talk, there might be a bit of meat going, but you can leave that weapon there.  Otherwise you can leave." Her words were steady as she spoke, but something in her face revealed doubt and confusion. She seemed to be struggling to reconcile some fact that seem too contradictory or complicated for such understanding. Morden mused that this lady seemed very straightforward, not prone to pretense or overcomplication. That was a common trait among dwarves, who hated to beat around the bush. This woman could not be part of the sorceress' deceit, and perhaps she could even be an ally.

The golden-eyed elfess, the possible sorceress, had moved away towards the campfire during this time. Now she moved back, and caught the giantess' attention. They moved off towards the side of the clearing, though Morden noted that the warrior kept her weapons near at hand. The elfess appeared to be asking the giantess something in earnest, with doubt and fear in her golden eyes. This did not make sense either. Why would a powerful sorceress act in such a manner towards someone who was her servant or bodyguard?

Morden could smell a stew being prepared over the fire, and thought hungrily of how long a walk it was back to New Santhala. While he did not want to lay aside his weapon, it might be worth it to get some food. Then he could get away from here, and find somewhere to stay for the night. As Morden began to set his axe up against a tree at the side of the clearing, someone suddenly appeared right beside him, the blued-eyed elf. Morden froze for a moment, staring in wonder at what must be a mage. He silently prayed to Trum-Barol, convinced that his end was at hand. But instead of casting a spell that would kill him for sure, she simply began talking in a singsong, far away voice. Her words simply sounded like they began out of some train of thought within her, and simply drifting away back into her mind when she was done.

"I am not sure if that man met your description. though Ruka was right, he was thievish looking, not that you'd be able to find him. He was on his way somewhere. It would be folly to go find him, you should stay with us, at least for the night. You don't look like you would steal from us in our sleep, poor thing you look worn. Maybe if I can make you some tea, ease those poor legs and that brow. I'd bet you my weight in jewels it'd take some worry off of your heart. We'd be able to find your thief, just sit around our fire," She chuckled musically to herself, "You did make quite an entrance! And the twins, oh dear me, that was something that would have scared me witless, maybe you can teach me about dwarven culture..."

Was she insane?!? An insane mage was surely more dangerous than a sane one, right? She simply carried on in that voice, as this were a picnic on a holiday, or a dinner at a friend's house. No one who had any sense would talk in that silly, careless, random way. Morden decided he had had enough. It was time for explanations from this odd bunch. Morden reached for his axe as he heard the words, “Dinner’s ready!” from across the camp.

No, normal people did not act like this. Normal people did not act as if they were angry, happy, scared, doubtful, carefree, and anxious all within minutes of each other. A wolf-elf ready to kill him is suddenly defeated and self-doubtful. A confident giantess is suddenly confused and uncertain. A young mage did not talk during a life and death situation as if she were at a dinner party. And how could those other two elves act scared to death of a snake one moment, then carry on with making dinner the next? As if they were at home, and ignoring him as if he was not here! And to be frank there were simply too many elves here to settle a dwarf's nerves.

He raised the axe and evenly pointed it a nailsbreadth away from the blued-eyed elfess' eyes. "In the name of Trum-Barol, who are you people? And why are you here? If you bunch of witches intend to kill me now, then do so. Don't toy with me any longer! Explain your business here, and let me go on my way. If you aren't what you seem, just let me have some food and explain what's going on here. But if you are the pack of lying witches that I think you must be, then I will die in a manner worthy of the Stone Father."

Morden further emphasized his tirade by raising his axe above his head, poising it for a blow on the elfess near him. Now he would certainly get a straight answer to the questions swirling within his mind, he mused grimly.
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