The Chronicles Of Reist

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Postby The_pointy_hat_trick » Thu Jan 27, 2005 3:43 pm

Pointy shifted comfortably on Daeglow’s back, now only glancing occasionally at the man on each side of her, she felt more relaxed now than she had since she fled. However, her hunger was more acute than it had been too. Noting the short supplies at breakfast she made no comment not wanting to sap anymore from the mercenaries valuable supply, but wondered if there was a chance of finding food when they stopped for the night. Glancing around her she then broke the silence that had descended.

“Do you know how far we are from any town?” She paused, not wanting to seem demanding she hastily added, “I do not know the land around here nor what direction we are travelling in.”

“Not exactly, but I should not think we are not more than a days ride from some sort of village. As for our direction, we are headed in the general direction of Calet, Garia and I hope to find hire soon.”, Cadell replied with a small smile.

As the company reached the better road Pointy began to glance around again, the plain path made her feel uneasy as now, as she realized they were approaching civilisation and would soon have to decide in which direction she would go and what she would do. As the light faded Pointy felt the first specs of rain fall on her arms and she pulled her cloak closer as the wind grew and bit at her skin. She noticed with some surprise the looks of satisfaction that Cadell and Garia exchanged at this alteration in weather, still oblivious to the mercenaries fears of possible pursuit.

Checking Daeglow to a walk she followed behind as Garia pointed out an area a few metres from the road that would provide some shelter from the rain which was now falling steadily.

“It’s Not much lass, but it’s better than being in the open” Cadell explained as he moved to hold Daeglow’s bridal as the girl dismounted. She gave a small smile, “I shan’t complain of it”, she replied quietly, “But I have however been a burden on your supplies, so I’m going to find some food, I can hunt and there are animals around, though you haven’t seen hide nor hair of them.”

“Whoa, in this weather?” Garia interrupted contorting his brows. Pointy turned to look at him and fully smiled, trying to suppress a laugh.
“I see you think me tamer than I am. Nay, I spent much of my life alone” she added sensing his surprise at her suggesting such an activity.

She strung her bow, her small hands working deftly, and headed away from the camp, the wind tugging at strands of her blond hair. Cadell squinted into the darkness, his blue eyes, curious yet slightly concerned, as he muttered “Careful lass.”

The night noises surrounded her as she padded silently into an area that was more populated with trees. She listened, her concentration focused on the movement in front of her. “Show yourself”.
Movement and then a fox stood, tensed close by. “Human?”
“No” she answered not knowing what she was denying. “You don’t see many humans then?”
“No, not usually” The fox raised his nose and sniffed the sent of Cadell and Garia that was blowing on the wind towards them.
“I’m hungry” she continued, “Are there animals that are fit for eating?”
“Rabbits, hares, in the clearing”
She fixed an arrow to the sting of her bow. “Thank-you, I owe you”.
She moved silently, then closed her eyes. She did not like killing, but she was hungry. She whispered sorry and then let fly three arrows in quick succession, each finding a target.

Returning to the camp she noted the figure of Garia crouched over a smouldering bunch of moss and twigs, blowing on them carefully to increase the flames, while Cadell was sharpening his dagger, pausing occasionally to stare into trees.
“I found something”. She spoke quietly but Cadell still gave a small start and then smiled, relief showing on his face, “You are skilled with a bow then? Garia seems to have got a fire burning, they shouldn’t take long to cook.”

The supper over, and feeling fuller, Pointy curled up next to the gelding and tried to sleep. Soon the rhythmic breathing of the mercenaries reached her ears, but worry drove sleep from the girl. She wondered what she should aim to do now. She had been intrigued when Cadell mention Calet, she knew this to be the city of the white Mages, and a part of her hoped that they could tell her something of why she understood and could communicate with beasts. Yet, she worried that if she revealed more to the two men, she would risk losing their help and company. She looked at the sleeping Cadell, yet his response to her gift remained enigmatic and his face was impassive. She imagined Garia snorting and laughing at such a revelation and abandoned the idea.
Eventually she fell into a restless sleep, only to be woken a few hours later by Cadell, gently shaking her shoulders. “Wake now lass, if we start soon we should come upon a town sometime today.”

Soon the small company were on the road again, and before they had been riding for four hours the horses pricked their ears at the new sounds around them, Orcaleon, pulling on the bit.
The three could now see small spires of smoke snaking their way upwards into the sky, and trotted quickly onwards.
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Postby undomiel » Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:35 am

"I hear you are something of an authority on the more arcane aspects of our lore of magic, or at least, you know more than the average mage does."

The voice came from behind him. Damian stood up carefully and turned. People who were interested in arcane lore were usually not people to be triffled with. Standing near the open balcony window was a woman. She was tall and dark and a breeze blew long black locks about her face. Her face was hidden by her black cloak and her voice came forth from its shadow. But I didn't open that window, Damian thought. "How did you get in here?" he asked aloud.

"Now really, do you expect me to tell you?" the woman asked. She laughed. "No, I have the advantage right now. I'll not give it up so easily." She strolled across the room, coming into the view of the firelight, and took a seat in Damian's chair. "Come now," she said, "There are better question you could ask me."

Damian studied her for a moment. She had smooth white skin and light eyes. The contrast with her dark hair and clothing gave her an almost otherworldly appaearance. It was the amused smile that most unnerved him though. She had caught him completely at unawares and he didn't like it. "Who are you?"

"That's better," the woman said with an easy smile. "Now we're getting somewhere. I'm called Chiel and I'm a windmage. Does that answer your question?"

"At least it explains your grand entrance."

"Does it?"

"Of course it does." Damian was getting impatient now.

"If you insist," said Chiel. "Shall I tell you everything I know about you? For instance your name is Damian and you didn't earn this grand house. Your wife doesn't know that you're using her, though why she trusts you is beyond me. You've lived far longer than is customary and you've used that time to accumulate quite a bit of knowledge. Don't bother asking how I know all this. I won't tell you."

"Very well, may I ask what you plan to do with that information?"

"That is a dilemma, isn't it?" Chiel's smile became voracious. "What am I going to do? I suppose I could reveal you. The Spirit Mages would be particularly interested, I think, in your little story." She watched Damian eyes narrow. "But that wouldn't be very much fun, would it? No, I have something infinetly more interesting in mind. A partnership."

Damian eyes widened in suprise. "You and me?"

"Who else? From what I've heard about you, and trust me the rumors abound, you search for the same power that I want to find. The power of the dragons, the power they greedily withheld from us, must be taken. And I would do anything to accomplish this. I think that you have knowledge that can help me in my quest."

"And what can you offer me?"

"I have a location."
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Postby Eltirwen » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:53 pm

Odunar got up early in the morning, to make ready for the Council meeting. Putting on his best robes, he made his appearance acceptable. Not wanting to wake Eltirwen after her strange night, he left a note on the door between their rooms.

Shaya, I have gone to the Council meeting. If you and our new acquaintance Voke wish to tour the city together, Neela’s son Puer will be very willing to do so. Feel free to go on your own, if Voke does not wish to – just make sure you take Onu with for protection. And perhaps some earplugs, although if you listen to Puer’s chatter you could learn much about the city. I do not know how long I will be, for I will try to speak to Lekan after the Council.

Locking his door securely, he went downstairs for a brief breakfast, lost in his own thoughts about his daughter and the girl they met the night before. Shaya did not often become angry, but when she did she usually had good reason. Perhaps he did need to give this Voke person more trust, although the thought of trusting anyone who was part Shade made his stomach churn. Walking to the Council, he was still lost in his own thoughts, and kept mostly to himself once he reached the Citadel. He remembered to ask Lekan for a meeting later in the day, which was quickly granted. The old man was probably hungry for news of Baeret. The time came to hear the day’s business, and they seated themselves at the table, Odunar taking his usual end seat. The envoy from Halin seemed a mere boy, although he definitely had power. The story that he told, however, was frightening. Odunar listened in horror, hoping Lekan would listen to reason for once and send someone to stop the girl. However, Lekan’s reaction soon showed he remained stuck in his obstinacy. The boy tried to defend himself, but Lekan overpowered him. While the mages from Halin tried to argue in the boy’s behalf, Odunar kept silent. When Lekan made up his mind, it was impossible to get him to change it. Inwardly he cringed at the thought of his meeting later – Lekan would not be in a good mood.

When they left the Council room, Lekan still looked incensed. “Odunar!” he barked. The mage dutifully moved to walk near his superior.
“Might as well get our little chat over now, so I can calm down after that pipsqueak’s fairy tale. News of home will be very welcome.”
Inside, Odunar felt even more dread about the meeting. He had hoped they would wait so Lekan had time to calm down – the man’s temper was more legendary than his talent. Perhaps a bit of small talk would put him in a good mood, and more likely to listen.

They reached Lekan’s sumptuous office, and sat down. Lekan leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on his desk, looking aggravated.
“Can you believe that twit? Coming here to trouble us with the fantasies of some girl and her imaginary dragons. The common people are simply much too gullible.”
Odunar gulped. The head of his order was apparently still convinced that dragons were a myth. This might get very interesting. He started speaking nonchalantly of recent events in Baeret, keeping his stories common-place and amusing. Lekan particularly liked the tales of the local council’s fumbles in a recent town dispute, chuckling as he heard of one mage falling asleep while the local merchants were haranguing each other. They chatted along these lines for a while, then Lekan stretched.
“Well, Odunar, I know you wanted to speak to me for more than just talking about town misadventures. What did you need?”
This was the moment Odunar had been dreading. He cleared his throat, and spoke.
“Well, sir, it’s about my daughter. She’s been having dreams again, and every time of Shades. Her dreams have been prophetic before, and I was wondering if you knew anything of a new Shade threat.”
Lekan’s expression quickly soured as Odunar spoke. When the lesser mage paused, the elderly man quickly interjected.
“You trouble me about that worthless foundling of yours? I wouldn’t believe any story of hers if my life supposedly depended on it. You should have left her where she lay in the forest. Besides, Shades are just as much an old wives’ tale as dragons. They’re just a story to keep the people happy.”
Odunar’s eyes flashed steely grey when the old man spoke so roughly of his daughter, and they grew even colder when Lekan dismissed Shades as he had dragons. Thinking of the young woman he’d met just a few hours ago, whose life was forever shaped by the Shades, and of others whose lives were ruined, he could not be silent as he had in the Council meeting. Abruptly standing up, he interrupted Lekan’s tirade.
“Forgive me sir, but I thought mages were supposed to preserve life. Shaya would have died if I had not taken her in, and I will thank you not to speak of her as if she were disposable. I know her worth even if you do not. Furthermore, Shades do exist, and you know it. You were there when we found my wife. You saw what those monsters did to her! That you can sit there and deny their existence mystifies me. Perhaps all this bureaucracy has shriveled your brain.”
Finding a measure of satisfaction in the shocked look on Lekan’s face, Odunar whirled and left the citadel. Making his way back to the inn, he found Eltirwen not in her room. Hopefully she was having a much better day than he was. His stomach rumbled, making him realize it was late afternoon and he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. He found Neela, and requested food. Sitting at a table, he saw a young man who looked vaguely familiar. The boy seemed to recognize him also, and started to walk his way.
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Postby erinhue » Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:39 am

The ancient volcano had an equally ancient name but those who lived in its uncertain shadow called it The Dragon’s Tooth. When the ground suddenly lurched beneath them, the citizens collected themselves and then hurried towards The Sanctuary.

In times of mortal crisis it is quite natural that people would seek solace and safety but that was not the purpose that drew the merchants and craftsmen from their shops and the farmers rushing in from their arbors and fields. They were responding to the call of duty.

According to the folklore and traditions that formed Yarlek’s society such tremors were not a cause for fear but a call to action. There was much to fear in what such quakes and tremors represented and it was far more than any volcanic eruption. Such signs were portents of an attempted returning of the Great Evil and the Dark Ones who served it.

The entire population of Yarlek, all that could physically make their way or be transported were making all haste to The Sanctuary. Once inside people took their places according to long held tradition and religious practice. All those who had not yet been called to the Choosing took their places in neat formation within the main chamber of the edifice. Their parents formed lines as the Stone Wardens who performed this honorary duty began to open the large cabinets running low along all the walls.

Each of these cabinets held row upon row of crystals, some large, some small in various shades of every imaginable color. On the top shelf of each one was a small globe of clear quartz. The Stone Wardens claimed those smooth globes and then handed out the others to the waiting adults. The head of each family picked out the appropriate colors for his or her family members, choosing milk white crystals for children who had not yet reached the Age. Infants who could not hold a stone were not exempt from this call to duty. Tiny pure white pebbles were tucked into their blankets and placed close to their delicate skin.

Bandar and Var arrived at The Sanctuary in time to see Magus Elar climb the last of the steps and enter. As they too reached the entrance and went inside, Var accepted a 4th degree violet stone and went to join the ranks of the Riders. He was, by some number of years, the youngest among them.

Elar beckoned for Bandar to join him in the raised forward segment of the chamber where he was unlocking one last cabinet. In side were several large globes much like the clear ones now carried by the Stone Wardens. Each one was of a different color but equal in their depth and intensity of hue. The stone in the center was a vibrant fiery red. Elar took it carefully from its place and handed it to Bandar.
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Postby Aiwe » Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:23 pm

Tour? Pah! Seelo snorted his unease and disgust. Danger. Run. Safe again.

Voke collapsed into a shaking heap on the bed, back in her own room. Seelo hopped up to join her. She lay still, clutching the pillow to her face to smother the dry sobs that shuddered through her body. Once breathing became easier, she reached out an arm and dragged Seelo's downy form close. He curled against her and pressed his muzzle to her cheek.Scared. Terrified. Others find. Others know. Too much! he thought-spoke, as he began to wash clean the fading marks Odunar's grip had left on Voke's wrists.

In the chaos of her mind, Voke's fears and Seelo's warnings became almost indistinguishable. She was petrified, to scared to move in case it brought the whole world tumbling down on her. Odunar knew exactly what she was now. Would tell others, undoubtedly. I have to get away from this place.

Yes! Danger. Run.

I can't let them find me.

No. Secret.

They'll burn me at the stake, or pick me apart bit by bit. They'll make me their lab rat.

Mustn't let them. Must run.

At least back home I knew they'd let me live.

Yes! Home! Safe. Friends there.

Voke jerked away. "No," she said, coldly. "Never home."

Seelo met her black gaze with his green eyes. Never safe, he whispered, the softest of whines escaping his throat.

She sat up, and took the jackal-thing into her arms. "No, never quite safe. Not even at home." She traced a little seam across his otherwise-flawless spine. "Remember when Uncle gave you that scar?"

Deserved. Bad Seelo.

"No, not bad. You wouldn't let him hurt me, so he hurt you instead. Brave Seelo."

The creature said nothing, but looked away and gave a half-hearted wag of his feathery tail.

"We can't go back. Not anymore. And we can't keep running for ever."

Seelo shook and whimpered. Must keep safe! Must hide secret!

"Maybe," Voke said, thoughtfully. "It's time we stoped running, and started trusting."

Trust Seelo?

"Yes, I trust you."

No trust Odunar. No trust Brahna.

"No, I don't," she sighed. "But I have to know what happens to my secret because of Odunar. I have to trust him not to hurt me."

No! No trust!

"I don't have much choice right now."

There came a tentative tap on the door. Voke stiffened and judged the distance to the window.

"Voke?" came the timid voice.

"Miss Eltirwen?" Voke asked, puzzled, recognising the soft and compassionate tones of Odunar's daughter.

"I just wanted to see if you were alright. I thought I heard you crying."

"I'm alright."

"I'm sorry about what papa said. He's not that way, normally. I hope you'll give him another chance."

Voke bit her lip, and glanced at Seelo's pleading face. "I....I'll think about it."

"Alright. Good night, Voke."

"Good night, and," she paused, remembering a phrase she'd hardly used in all her life. "And thank you," she mumbled.

Once the small footsteps faded and Voke heard the latch of Eltirwen's door click, she looked to Seelo again.

"Trust Shaya?" she asked, her voice a whisper.

Seelo turned to gaze at the spot where Eltirwen had stood.


The next morning, Voke hesitantly followed Eltirwen down to breakfast. "Can I come with you?" she asked. "Please?"

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Postby The_Fool » Wed Mar 16, 2005 5:50 pm

The day was humid, grey clouds that had not shed all the rain the night before lying low in the sky. It was the sort of day that made travel unappealing, but Cadell had risen with the dawn as always and with Garia's help they had packed quickly, woken Pointy and left the campsite in good time. The sun was dimmed by the expanse of the clouds and the woods on either side of the road dripped with heavy dew and last night's rain. Cadell kept his cloak pushed back on his shoulders, it was damp still and did little to relieve him of the muggy heat that clung to the ground and made the very air seem thick. He hoped it would rain again and let a little spring chill into the air.

They had been riding some hours when the tendrils of smoke were sighted, curling pearly-white into the stone grey sky. Thunder rolled over to the west, an ominous rumbling that promised more rain to come.

"I hope we reach the town before that storm hits us," Garia broke the silence, his gaze flickering upwards to the great clouds above them. He had been unusually quite and though thankful for a chance to think, Cadell had almost missed his constant chattering.

"We may," Cadell answered, sniffing the air. The scent of rain was heavy, and the clouds looked ready to burst. "There's barely a breeze about, this cursed heat speaks for that, and the thunder roll sounds at least a couple of miles off." He pointed across to the first glimpse of the vast wooden wall that surrounded the town as it rose within the trees. "I'd say we're no more than a crow's flight from the town. We should find a meal there, if we can find an inn that will keep us."

"Why wouldn't they?" Pointy asked, broken from her usual quiet observance to fix her eyes on the mercenaries.

"Well you see lass, the innkeepers generally don't relish the thought of our company," Cadell said with a small quirk of his mouth. "If we're lucky they'll let us sleep in the hayloft for a couple of coppers."

"Or the worst room they have if they're down on business," Garia piped up. "'Course the mattresses are always crawling with bugs. But if the serving maid's willing you can sometimes…"

Cadell shot Garia a glare that shut him up and had him studying his horse's mane with sudden interest. "Stop chattering," he growled. "She's not some base-born rider."

"As I was saying," Garia said, looking up "...if she's willing, I said, you might slip her a coin and get a clean blanket or two to lie on."

Cadell shook his head, the ghost of a smile on his lips and turned back to the road ahead. The thunder rumbled again, closer now, and the first drops of rain fell cold on the backs of Cadell's hands. Pulling his cloak back onto his shoulders he pressed his calves to his horse's flanks, setting the bay into a brisk canter as more raindrops fell from the darkening sky.

The rain was coming in thick sheets, a veritable deluge of water that had them drenched from head to foot when they finally clattered into an inn of questionable service. The sign that hung above the door was cracked, the paint peeling to come away in flaky red chunks with the rainwater that streamed off its rounded edges. "Hoi!" Cadell shouted into the door after dismounting, rainwater running down his face in thick rivulets that had him brushing a frustrated hand across his brow. "Anyone there?"

The innkeeper came bustling out to meet them, wiping broad hands on a dirty apron in a fussy and slightly irritating manner. It took one look at Cadell and Garia, at the swords at their sides and the grim look in the dark-haired Captain's eyes for his face to change to stone. "I don't house your type," he said gruffly. "Go find somewhere else."

"Oh for the love of the gods!" Garia groaned, throwing his hands up in exasperation and spraying raindrops everywhere as the thunder boomed over head, "we just want a place to dry off."

"That's your problem, not mine," the innkeeper snapped. "Your type cause trouble and I can't afford trouble."

"Whilst normally we would simply say good day to you Sir," Cadell replied, his tone bordering on annoyance, "we have a woman with us who is unused to the hardships of the road. She's been injured and is currently wet, tired and hungry. I wouldn't like to think that a man such as yourself would turn away a lass in the company of 'our type' now would I?"

The innkeeper cast a suspicious glance over the mercenary's shoulder to where Pointy sat in the pouring rain, the hood of her cloak pulled close over her head. She looked up as if sensing him, her gaze one of quiet acceptance at her current position. For a moment the innkeeper dithered, his hands wringing his apron twice as he considered this new development.

"We can sleep in the hayloft if you like," Cadell offered simply, turning his head to spit rainwater onto the muddy street outside.

"You'll sleep where I tell you to," the innkeeper snapped, "and you'll pay me up front. Take your horses round the back then come in the kitchen doors. You can leave your things in the stables. I want 3 coppers a room and you'll be taking 2 because the lady won't be sleeping with you."

For a moment Cadell considered arguing. This man was arrogant. He had some nerve talking to him like that; a man who had been the respected captain of a warband, who had held a Lord's favour. Ah, but he was Captain Cadell of the Badger Lord no more. With a wet snarl he slapped the money into his open hand and stalked around the back of the inn, leading his horse after him, lost in a temper as volatile as the storm that still crashed around them. More often than not, he hated his new way of life.
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Postby undomiel » Thu Mar 17, 2005 2:37 pm

I've failed. They were counting on me and I failed. What am I going to do?

Rien stared at the mug of ale sitting on the table in front of him. Despite the ache in his dry throat he found himself unable to swallow even a sip of the golden liquid. His heart was pounding so hard he felt that at any moment it might escape his chest. The decor of the Silver Dragon Inn's common room only made the feeling worse. He felt as though dragons were staring at him from all angle, boring into his mind, screaming "You've failed! Now the world will end!" Rien shut his eyes in defense. He grasped the wet handle of his mug and swung it up to his mouth. Without thinking, without caring he drank its contents down in one long gulp. He slammed the mug down on the table hoping the noise would drown out the Dragon's voices.

"I'll do something," he whispered to the surrounding beasts. "I won't let it happen."

"And what can you do, boy?" The Dragons leered. "Failure... Failure... Failure..."

A sudden self-consciousness caused Rien to look around him. Through the maze of patrons and tables he glimpsed a familiar face. The man with the sympathetic face from the Council. An idea formed in the back of his mind and pushed itsself to the foreground. He had no hope of stopping Chiel on his own. She had always been stronger than he. He could not succeed without help.

He stood and made his way to the man's table. "Councilman," said Rien. "I hope that I am not interrupting you, but there is a matter of grave importance that we must speak of."

"Ah yes, Rien, is it?" said the Councilman. "I agree. Sit and we will discuss your... problem."

"Councilman, I could not help but notice that your manner in the council today indicated that perhaps you agreed with the concerns of the Wind Mages, " said Rien. "The ruling of the Council was unexpected. There's no doubt in my mind that Chiel is a danger to Reist and must be stopped, but what can I do? I conferred with the Wind Mages here in the city and they cannot risk giving me open support. The Head Councilman, it seems, is not someone to be triffled with and they fear his influence. In short, I need help and I think you might be willing to give it."

A small smile was stretching the edges of the man's mouth. "Rien, you are a very astute young man. Call me Odunar. There are times when I'd rather not be reminded of my position on the council. Lekan is a stubborn old man, too set in his ways to accept any change. I disagree with him, and I want to help you, but first I must know what you have in mind."

"Master Odunar, I'm not sure of that myself," Rien confessed. "This is the first time I've ever been outside Halin. I feel like an ant crawling around in a world of giants. Chiel was different. She was always seeking knowledge of the outside world, of the past, of everything."

"Knowledge is power, as they say. She will be a formidable enemy. Tell me, Rien, just how far do you think your sister is willing to go to see her plans through?"

"That is what causes me to dream nighmares, Master Odunar. There is no doubt in my mind that she would do anything within her power. And there is something I did not tell the Council. She had recently begun to study other brands of magic in secret. I believe that she meant to try and learn to use them herself."

"Is that possible?" asked Odunar.

"I do not know, but if there is a way she will find it."

"You know her best. What do you suggest we do?"

"I think, Master Odunar, that we should gather others to aid us. We should assemble a company that includes all of the brands of magic in Reist. We must be strong when we find her," Rien said.

Odunar nodded thoughtfully. "Yes. Give me a few hours and meet me here for supper. I think I know just the type of person we're looking for."

"Thank you, Master Odunar."
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Postby Eltirwen » Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:52 pm

A cold, wet nose nudging against her hand woke Eltirwen up in the morning. Yawning, she sat up and groggily opened her eyes, to the sight of three animals staring at her with imploring eyes, obviously needing to go outside. She indulged in a giggle at the sight, then got up and pulled on her clothes, adjusting the protective hood, and opened the window. Naral flew out, probably headed to hunt some breakfast. Minya managed to jump out the same window from a chair, landing on the lower roof of the stables and stalking off to take care of her own business. Onu looked up at Eltirwen with mournful brown eyes.
“Yes, I know you can’t fit through the window. Let me see if Papa’s gone, then I’ll take you outside.”
Judging by how far the sun already shone above the horizon, Odunar was long gone. However, after the late night he might have slept in, so she checked. His covers were rumpled and empty, and he had left her a note pinned to the connecting door. She quickly read it, smiling at his concern, and headed downstairs.
A boy who looked to be about twelve bumped into her as she stepped into the common room. Falling on his rear end, he looked up at her, obviously intrigued by the large hood obscuring her face from light and easy viewing.
“Are you Miss Eltirwen? Mama sent me to see if you needed anything. She said I’m to be your guide around the city today! Have you been to Brahna before? The docks are cool!”
Finding a break in the rush of words, Eltirwen interjected.
“Yes, I’m Eltirwen. I have never been to Brahna before. You must be Puer?”
He nodded, seeming a little embarrassed for his outburst.
“Well, right now my dog really needs to go outside. Could you take him for me? His name is Onu, and he is very nice as long as you don’t hurt him or me.”
Puer grinned, eager to help.
“I like dogs! He’s really big! Oh, I almost forgot. Mister Odunar told Mama what you would like for breakfast, so it’s waiting over there in that corner. He said you can’t be in direct sunlight. Why is that?”
Eltirwen smiled, glad to have a sympathetic listener for once.
“My skin just doesn’t tolerate sunlight very well. Have you noticed that when you stay out too long your skin can get red and painful, and sometimes blister?”
The boy nodded, fascinated.
“Well, mine does that after about ten minutes of direct sun exposure. So, I have to wear this specially made cloak.”
Puer nodded, his curiosity seeming sated for the moment, and headed outside with Onu following him. Eltirwen moved over to the table, smiling at the sight of the fresh fruit waiting for her. Grateful for the darkness created by the closed shutters, she pulled back her hood and sat down. A sudden soft voice by her side startled her.
"Can I come with you? Please?"
Eltirwen smiled, excited Voke was coming with her.
“Of course! I really wanted you to come with, you know. Our guide is outside with Onu at the moment, so how about some breakfast?”
The other girl nodded, and Eltirwen motioned Neera over. The woman did not seem to like the idea of Voke with Eltirwen, but made no protest at bringing her food. Eltirwen noticed Voke’s jackal-like friend seemed to be nowhere in sight, but made no mention, keeping her conversation light and inconsequential. Puer returned with Onu and Minya tagging along, and after introducing Voke as a friend, the three set out.
Neela took her customary perch on Eltirwen’s shoulder soon after they headed towards the docks, Puer keeping up an excited chatter about how many boats came through the port and the strange lands they came from. Eltirwen stared, fascinated, at the tall boats, but at the back of her mind something was nagging at her. They continued walking through the port area, taking in the strange people and wares from far-off lands, and Eltirwen realized something was missing. Voke and Eltirwen were clad nearly alike, in long covering cloaks, and for once in her lifetime Eltirwen was receiving no strange or suspicious looks. Even her escort of animals warranted no second looks. She laughed.
”What?” said Voke, obviously wondering if Eltirwen had lost her mind.
“Nothing is wrong. It’s just that for the first time in my life, I’m not getting any strange looks for the way I’m dressed. I guess with both of us covered up, people must think it a custom, and therefore perfectly innocent. Have you noticed that?”

Rien got up and left after their conversation, and Odunar frowned. This situation could simply not be ignored, and it had fallen to him to remedy it. He would have to be extremely discreet, to avoid Lekan hearing of him directly disobeying Council orders. In fact, after his earlier outburst he was probably in danger of getting in trouble for insulting the head of the Council. To make matters worse, Brahna was not the best place for finding help in a situation like this, for the Council’s spies were everywhere. If he found any help here, it would have to be from people the Council did not know or care about.
The conundrum was making his head ache, so Odunar stood up to take a walk and perhaps clear his mind. He might even run into Eltirwen and Voke. Hopefully they were having a much better time than he was.
His head occupied by the pressing matters, Odunar walked through the streets of Brahna, not really paying attention to where his feet took him. For a city ruled by mages, the actual numbers of adept in Brahna were very low. For those who came here to study the elemental arts, like the young man he and Shaya had met yesterday, disappointment about the further travel needed often won over their desire to learn. Hoping for answers, he walked on, not heeding where his path led him.
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Postby The_pointy_hat_trick » Tue Mar 22, 2005 1:33 pm

Pointy dismounted and hurried cautiously after Cadell who stormed ahead in the torrential rain, Garia leading his horse to her side. After the furies of the weather the relative dryness of the stable seemed a blessing, she was soaked to the bone, and her dress clung to her making the cold reach to her very heart. Quietly the girl slipped her small dagger into her boot and pulled her soggy cloak around her. The animals seen to, the company made their way into the inn itself. The kitchen smelled of various spices and a fire burned merrily throwing light into the otherwise dank room.

The innkeeper reappeared suddenly and beckoned to Cadell.
“Your rooms are upstairs, and I suppose you will be wanting food?”
Cadell nodded, apparently not finding the man worthy of words.
“The serving girl will bring something”

Cadell led the way out of the kitchen and the girl quickened her pace so as not to fall behind, the innkeepers gaze had lingered on her slender form for longer than she was entirely comfortable with.

There seemed to be few guests, Pointy noted as they proceeded up the stairs. Her wet boots slipped on the worn wood and Garia shot out a hand to steady her. “Careful there” He warned “and careful otherwise too. A fine temper he is in and then he’s not one for talking.” He continued in a whisper only for her hearing. “It would be just as well to keep quiet”
Pointy frowned, “was it something I did, I didn’t –”
“No I don’t believe so. He’s thinking of the past, lass. What he was”

There was not time the ask further questions as they reached the second floor and their rooms for the night. She watched the two men disappear into their room then turned and shut her own door behind her. The room was old and smelled of must, but a fire burned in the small grate and the blankets on the bed were clean and inviting.
Pointy quickly removed her soaking cloak and dress and draped them near the fire to dry. Fashioning one of the blankets around her she held it in place with the pin from her cloak and then drew near to the fire herself, trying to rid her body of the cold that chilled her to the bone.

There was a hesitant knock at the door, followed by a girls voice, “Miss, I’ve brought you food”. Pointy moved to the door and opened it to see a girl not much younger than herself in a faded dress, carrying some bread, soup and a tankard of some liquid. She gratefully took the food and beckoned the girl in, and not wanting to be alone.
“What’s your name”
“Do you live here, or just work here”
“Just work. Sometimes stay.”
Her attempts at conversation weren’t progressing remarkably well, and yet while the girl seemed reluctant to speak she seemed to be willing herself to say something.
Pointy smiled encouragingly and waited.
“Stay in your room, please. Don’t let him in”
“Let who in… why-
“I don’t want him to.. we don’t get many women here, no, I mean he… but it’s always the same… when it’s not me…I..I have to go”

Pointy tried to speak but the other girl darted from the room. Pointy hesitated and then shrugging her damp cloak over her shoulders hurried after the girl into the passageway.

The girl was nowhere to be seen. Pointy stared into the dim light, brushing her loose hair away from her eyes, but after a few steps down the cold corridor, she made to return to her room only to collide with a form that had stepped out of the gloom.

Remembering the serving girl’s words she stumbled backwards, giving an involuntary scream and drawing her small dagger from her boot, only to realise that it pointed not at the innkeeper but at an overweight and nervous looking man, who backed hurriedly away, muttering “my lady I did not see you”.

Pointy opened her mouth to respond only to be silenced as two doors flew simultaneously open and three men appeared in the now cramped corridor, both Cadell and Garia with a dagger or knife in hand, the third she did not recognised, but who moved towards the other stranger sneering.

“Well, well what do we have here? A dirty little wildcat and two men who leap to her aid. Mercenaries I don’t wonder.” He let out a noise of disgust and his eyes roved over Pointy’s muddled attire.

“Now, now, Sermere,” the nervous man added in a rush, throwing his companion a meaningful glance, “mercenaries, that’s interesting. Very much so.”
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Postby The_Fool » Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:55 pm

"Keep your eyes on her face if you want to keep them," Cadell snarled at Sermere, taking a quick step forward, dagger aloft. He gave a broad and chilling smile, a preternatural flash of teeth that was akin to a wolf's aggression. Yet behind it there was a heated and wild delight that turned the merchant and his companion pale.

"N-No need for umm, unpleasant remarks," the merchant babbled, his eyes fixed firmly on the point of Cadell's blade. "Hmm, yes. Sermere will d-do as you ask."

"I want to hear that from Sermere," Cadell said, still smiling. It was enough to raise the hairs on the back of one's neck. The very air about him seemed to crackle with energy, his cornflower blue eyes dangerously feral.

"Stop throwing your weight around mercenary," Sermere said, though the arrogance in his voice wavered a little in the face of this unsettling display.

Cadell chuckled, a terrifying berserker rumble of amusement in the back of his throat. "That's right you worthless piece of dragon bait, give me a reason to do it." The dagger danced in his hand, eager, ready.

"Cadell…" Garia warned. He reached out to lay a hand on the captain's shoulder but he shook him off as a horse might shake off a fly.

Sermere had turned as pale as a roll of goat cheese and he took a quick step back, hands rising in slight panic. "Right, yes. Well you only had to ask nicely," he countered weakly.

Cadell snorted and with a flick of his fingers the dagger sat point down in his hand, the harsh prickling energy that had lay about him vanishing like smoke on a high wind. "Quitter," he mumbled and sheathed the blade in his belt.

"Come on Cadell," Garia said cautiously, sheathing his own dagger in turn, "you go finish your meal. I'll take Pointy back to her room. Make sure she's safe."

"Ermm ahh, actually," the merchant raised a hand on whose chubby fingers a number of gaudy rings sat, "I was wondering if I might have a word. You see we, err, me and Sermere, are looking for someone to hire as a wagon guard for a crossing over to Calet. Lots of bandits on the road you know and ermm well, we can't err, that is to say we don't know how, well Sermere does but…are you looking for a hire?"

Cadell glanced across at Sermere, then back to the merchant. "We might," he said finally.

"Well emm, I would be willing to pay you quite a substantial amount," the merchant offered meekly. "The goods are err, well, quite valuable."

A broad grin cracked the captain's face, the fine lines about the corner's his eyes crinkling into minute crow's feet. "Well then, let's get an ale and we'll talk about it, Master….?"

"Aywin," the merchant supplied his name with a hurried promptness.

"Master Aywin," Cadell said and sketched a mocking bow. "We'll just tend to our companion," he jerked his chin in Pointy's direction, "and then we'll be down in the common room to talk a little business. Right?"

"Err yes. Right," Aywin nodded his head so briskly he looked like a duck on the water. "Well emm, come on Sermere, let's ahhh, buy these men a drink." Sermere followed after, but not before turning to give one last look at Pointy. His gaze turned hurriedly back to the way ahead when Cadell stepped firmly between them and scowled darkly at him.
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Postby The_pointy_hat_trick » Mon Apr 04, 2005 3:53 pm

Cadell glowered ferociously until the pair had vanished downstairs and then hurriedly turned, escorting Pointy back into her room, while Garia brought up the rear and pulled the door closed behind them.
Blinking Pointy adjusted her eyes to the brighter light and on realising she was still clad only in blanket and cloak she clutched them around her blushing slightly.
Cadell paced the length of the room, coming to rest in front of the fireplace his eyes gazed with some concern at the flushed lass before him. “You’re not hurt are you? Nothing happened? If he distressed you I’ll-”
“No, no” she spoke hastily but her voice was quiet “I was just surprised, I was in no danger I wasn’t really… well…” she trailed off. Half formed thoughts chased themselves frantically around her head, jumbling and whirling. She couldn’t prove a burden… no that wasn’t an option, she mustn’t allow her presence to prevent the men from obtaining hire. She would just have to indicate that she could cope on her own, and that she had some plan formulated. What plan? The memory of Sermere’s lingering gaze forced itself to the front of her mind and the sneer that had occupied his face until it was confronted by Cadell’s reaction, his blue eyes glistening fiercely. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea then, to go wandering of by herself, if a man such as he was willing to presume that Sermere’s attention was dangerous.
She sunk down onto the bed, longing to replicate the groans that the boards issued and glanced at the two men. Contrary to her normal emotions, she felt a pang of sadness at the suggestion of loosing their company. She almost laughed at the thought, she was growing fond of them though still uncertain and wary as was her nature.

Garia was staring into the fire with a far off look in his eyes, which contained both uncertainty and intrigue while Pointy adjusted her blanket to prevent it from falling into an undignified position, and braved herself to speak.
“Well, I would guess that your drinks have been bought and a negotiation of hire awaits you. It would be foolish to allow… circumstances…to prevent you from taking such an opportunity.”
“Indeed” Cadell muttered, “a hire such as this is too good a fortune to be overlooked”
The girl fought to keep her face unreadable and started to count the floor boards as if it were a matter of great urgency.
“The problem is” Cadell continued, the hints of a smile now playing on his lips, “how to convince our hirers to provide for our mysterious lass.”
Pointy gave a small gasp and hoped that relief did not show too plainly on her face. Decision making had never been her forte and she really had no fixed plan for the future, near or distant.
Garia shuffled his feet and raised his hand as though to speak, before suddenly changing his movement, grabbing the poker and turning hurriedly to stir the fire. Cadell was pacing again, his blue eyes thoughtful and his brow slightly furrowed in thought as he glanced from Garia to the girl who had now removed her soggy cloak and was perched carefully amidst the blankets on the bed.
“I expect our dear Sermere will question why you are in our company and why you should continue to be so.” He gave a harsh laugh “and I do not believe he is one to accept an extra companion out of the kindness of his heart. But as for ideas, I confess, I am all out unless it is to say you are a huntress and could supply food. Still, this would be a planned journey and no doubt supplies have already been arranged.” He gave a sigh and lowered his gaze to regard Garia. “It’s your turn for a plan now, and I hope to the Goddess you can better mine.”
After a pause Garia dispensed with poking the fire vigorously and began to speak, choosing his words carefully, his eyes flicking from lass to mercenary.
“These men seem to mean to make us a good offer. And it also seems we are agreed that we must convince them to provide for you too lass” He gave Pointy a nod. “However, to me it appears that this Sermere doesn’t …er… hold by the same values we might like to expect when in the company of a lady”
He paused and now focused his gaze on Cadell who ran a hand through his hair, before Garia continued to speak.
“Therefore my suggested solution for the problem is to kill two birds with one stone. After the protective…er.. display you put up out there, I think it would seem reasonable to introduce our young lass to them as your wife.”
Cadell shot a furtive look at Pointy, expecting such a blunt suggestion to invoke fear or panic and indeed the haunted look returned again fleetingly to her eyes. But she did not move.
Pointy made an attempt to speak but her dry tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth and her blood pounded in her ears. She wished to remain in the company of the two men it was true, but this was by no means a situation that had occurred to her and the idea filled her with a degree of fear.
Seeing that his idea needed digesting further, Garia spoke again. “This is but an idea, yet it would give reason for a young girl being in the company off two mercenaries and also prevent unwanted, that is to say, stop any improper, well, behaviour.”
Cadell resumed pacing again, remembering the girl’s surprising hunting display. But yet she looked somewhat vulnerable, her small form pale in the dancing firelight. “It does seem possible” he voiced gently.
Pointy twisted the blanket around her finger and fretted. If she were to pretend to be Cadell’s wife, how would it be proven to the merchant and his friend. She would have to behave as though… maybe she was expected to… but she had never…
She pictured the patronising look in Sermere’s eyes and her resolve strengthened, she could play this role. She was not dirty, she had done nothing to earn such a term and she was no wench he could scorn as he felt appropriate. She raised her gaze from the blanket first to Garia then to Cadell. A faint look of determination shone in her eyes as she brushed her fair hair from her face and then nodded quietly.
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Postby Eltirwen » Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:43 pm

Lekan was furious. Not only had Odunar come here about that mongrel brat of his again, the arrogant idiot had actually shouted at him. The man was still convinced those mythical creatures existed, too. He was a dangerous person. Odunar was popular with the people in Baeret, if not with the city council. If he returned to the city, with a tale of Lekan’s rejection, there was no predicting what would happen. The time had come to take action. He rang a bell, almost enjoying himself.
“My Lord?” A citadel guard officer soon appeared in his doorway.
“Major, it is with extreme regret that I must have you arrest Master Odunar and his daughter, and her menagerie. They are dangerous to the entire country, and entirely capable of stirring up a revolt. If they attempt to escape, use any force necessary to bring them in.”
The officer bowed and left, to perform his duty. Lekan finally permitted himself a smile. Odunar would be a changed man, if he ever saw the light of day again. As for the brat he took so much care over, accidents happened often in the Brahna prisons, especially to defenseless young women. This action had been long overdue, simply waiting for an excuse.

Odunar continued his ramble through the streets, deep in thought. It looked like he would have to place trust in Voke, even if she was part Shade. Something certainly had to be done, and he could not trust anyone known in Reist. He neared the end of an alley, and froze. A deep voice had just spoken his daughter’s name.
“… and his daughter Eltirwen. Apparently they’re trying to start a revolt, and we’re to bring them in with force if necessary. Lekan said it was urgent.”
“Why would Odunar do something like that? He seems so reasonable.”
“I don’t know why, I’m just following orders. You should do the same thing.”
The group of guards moved on, and Odunar let out the breath he’d been holding. So, Lekan had not taken kindly to his outburst. He had to warn Eltirwen. Turning around, he raced through the streets looking for his daughter, keeping an eye out for any guards on the way. Finally, after several close calls, he spotted his daughter. She was strolling along with Puer and Voke, evidently enjoying herself. He ran up and pulled them all into a side street.
“Shaya, you must run. I can’t explain too much for now.”
Taking a deep breath, he turned to the young woman beside his daughter, who looked rather puzzled.
“Voke, I know we got off to a bad start, but I beg you now. Please, help my daughter get out of this city. She is in great danger. If you can, find Lian or Rien at the inn, and ask them to go with you – safety in numbers. But leave before nightfall. It’s probably not safe for you either, now you’ve been seen with us. Now go!”
Odunar heard armored feet approaching, and knew he had to go. He hugged his daughter swiftly, then ran out onto the street in front of the approaching squad. They spotted him immediately, and ran after him shouting. His only thought was to get them as far away from his daughter as possible.

Eltirwen stood frozen after her father left. She saw the guards running after him, and knew something was wrong. What could her father have done to make them want to arrest him? She turned to Voke, eyes wide and frightened.
“They’re trying to take Papa. What’s going on?”
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Postby Aiwe » Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:37 pm

"Nothing good," Voke muttered, grabbing Shaya's shoulder in one hand and the collar of Puer's shirt in the other, and hauling both back behind a stack of crates.

Eltirwen tried to break free, but felt Voke's claws digging through the fabric of her robes. "But, they're taking Papa! I've got to help him!" she protested.

"No," Voke whispered, harshly. "Master Odunar just forfeited himself for you, Shaya. Don't you dare let his sacrifice go in vain by getting yourself caught."

Eltirwen's gaze darted back and forth between Voke and the guards pursuing her foster-father. She seemed utterly torn. Voke couldn't blame her. She'd seen the doting love the old wizard had for his adopted daughter, the absolute trust that daughter put in him. Voke had envied them; now she pitied them.

Eventually, the pale redhead turned from the guards and sighed. Something in her heart had visibly shattered, but she said, levelly, resolutely, despite the tears Voke could see streaming beneath the veil, "I won't let him be taken for nothing."

Voke nodded. She had no experience comforting others, so she felt silence would be best. She turned to Puer.

The little boy was wild-eyed and scared. "What's going on? Miss, why're they saying bad things about Master Odunar? He never hurt anyone!"

"I don't understand it either," Voke said. "But the safest p[lace for you, Puer, is back home. Away from us."

Saying this, she extracted a few coins from her cinch-purse and pressed them into the little boy's hand. "Here, take these. Buy some fish for your mother's cook-pot. If anyone asks, your mother sent you on an errand. Alright?"

Puer was staring at her hand. Voke swore at herself--she'd forgotten to keep her fingertips out of view.

"You've got claws," the boy managed to say.

"Yes," Voke said, trying to come up with a suitable excuse. "To scare the monsters away. Now go to the fishmarket, and then head home to your mum. Go!"

Puer scampered off, glancing back over his shoulder several times before he disappeared from view.

"What are we going to to now?" Shaya whispered, fingers picking nervously at the hems of her sleeves.

"We're going to race the guards back to the inn while Master Odunar keeps them occupied," Voke whispered back. "Get our gear, try to find the others. And then, we are going to run and we are going to hide. It's not safe here anymore."

Out of the corner of her eye, Voke saw a tentril of mist curl near her feet.

Told you. Wouldn't listen.

Voke nodded slowly, and muttered, "You were right after all, Seelo."

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Postby Aiwe » Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:40 pm

DP :oops:
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Postby The_Fool » Sun Apr 17, 2005 1:37 am

"Are you sure lass?" Cadell asked, rubbing a tired hand over his eyes. Gods, this was a mess. How in all the hells was he supposed to act like a proper husband? He'd never been one for playacting. A straightforward and blunt sort of man, he never had mastered the art of vocal intrigue.

Pointy nodded again, this time voicing a hesitant: "Yes."

Raking a hand through his dark hair the mercenary gave a frustrated little grumble. They didn't even have rings. What kind of husband doesn't give his wife a ring? Or at least a betrothal broach. They'd never pass this off as truth. "Garia, this is a stupid idea."

"Why?" Garia asked pointedly. "It's the best way to keep that Sermere fellow away from her. All you'll have to do is share a blanket with her. You'll not have to do more than that to make them believe."

"But I don't even have a ring for the lass!" Cadell exclaimed, sweeping one arm wide in an agitated motion to encompass both the room and Pointy.

Garia gave a dismissive shrug. "Tell them you had to sell it when we ran short on coin. This will work Cadell, trust me. You'll have to stop calling Pointy 'lass' too. Makes her sound like your daughter not your wife."

"And what's wrong with having her play at being my daughter?" Cadell asked abruptly. "Seems a far more honourable position to put her in. Gives me as good a reason to keep that filthy slow-eyed dog Sermere from sniffing around as a wife."

"Sermere is more likely to stay away if he thinks she is already promised to you Cadell," Garia sighed in exasperation. "Which is why I think you should pose as her husband whilst we take this hire. It's that or don't take the hire at all. You saw the way he looked at her. You've spent enough time in barracks my friend. You know full well what was on his mind."

Grinding his teeth together in frustration Cadell ran a frustrated hand through his dark hair and nodded finally. "As much as I hate to admit it in front of the lass you're right. For her own safety I'll put on this front but I warn you Garia, if it looks like they aren't taking the bait you'll be the first to get an earful from me." Rubbing his knuckles he muttered, "preferably from my fist."

Rolling his eyes Garia hooked his thumbs into his belt and repositioned it, smoothing down the front of his shirt almost as an after thought. "Well I suppose we'd best get downstairs and talk business then. Pointy, it would probably be best if you stayed in your room. Is that alright with you?"

"Do you want us to get you anything to eat lass?" Cadell added.

"No thank you," she replied quietly, her gaze travelling to the food the serving girl had brought her. "I've got something already."

"Well and good then," Cadell nodded, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "We'll let you know how things stand when the deal is set. Until then do as Garia says and stay in your room."

"I will." Her words were soft, a mere whisper in the room. They gave the captain pause and he knelt to scrutinise her intensely with his bright blue eyes, frowning.

"You all right lass? Nothing you want to tell us about? You'll be fine waiting here or is there something else bothering you?" She was watching him out of the corner of her eyes like an animal uncertain, the fading bruise on her face making her appear frail, battered. Once again Cadell found himself wondering just what had been the cause of the girl's flight.

"I'm fine," she insisted after a lengthy silence.

Cadell shot her a piercing look that said he highly doubted it but he stood anyway. "If you insist. Come on then Garia. We've some coin to earn and a salesman to haggle with. Lousy merchant-class are always so blasted close-fisted when it comes to hard silver. We'll have to convince him we're worth it."

"Shouldn't be too hard," Garia muttered. "With the stories I've been hearing the roads are a lot less safe than they used to be."

"That's because the warbands are getting soft," Cadell grumbled, rubbing the pommel of his dagger absently with his thumb as he recalled the days when he had been in charge of the riders, keeping justice and order in his Lord's province.

"Whatever you say Cadell," Garia snorted, pushing the door open and leaning on it to let the captain through first. He leant back into the room before closing it, smiling in a congenial manner. "See you in a bit then." The door shut with an oiled 'snick', leaving Pointy alone in her inn room once more.

Cadell thumped noisily down the stairs into the common room, his hand running along the wooden banister until his boots hit the slightly damp straw. A couple of the inn's patrons looked up as the two mercenaries entered but quickly turned their attention back to their ale or meals. None wanted to be caught staring at men who travelled the long road. You never could tell how much offence they'd take to open scrutiny.

Hooking his thumbs into his belt Cadell raked the crowd with his eyes until he spotted the considerable bulk of the merchant, perched precariously on a rickety chair. Beside him Sermere lounged arrogantly against the wall, a mug of ale in hand. Cadell's eyes narrowed at the sight of him and the corners of his mouth twitched. Rash insolence had been something the captain had dealt with many a time, and Sermere's cocky attitude only grated on his raw nerves, making him itch to knock a little respect into him. Many was the rider who'd become too big for his proverbial boots and incurred the swift, sharp reprimand of the dark-haired captain.

Setting his shoulders and gritting his teeth Cadell strode casually across to the table, Garia close behind. Hooking the leg of a chair with his foot he dragged it out, leaving naked ruts in the dirty straw. Slapping his dagger down on the table he sat, glaring once at Sermere. To his right Garia had acquired a chair of his own and was seating himself comfortably in place.

"Ah, errm, good," the merchant nodded nervously at them both, a wan little smile on his lips. "So glad your could, hem, make it."

"Let's cut right to the sword's point shall we?" Cadell interrupted, leaning back in his chair as he toyed with the hilt of his dagger. "Any hire I take from you involves food and bedding for my wife as well as for me and my friend here." Cadell had the intense satisfaction of hearing Sermere choke on a swig of his ale. "We'll be happy to take the hire, providing the price is reasonable, and providing the destination is agreeable but we won't be taking anything on unless my woman's got a place in the deal."

"Your w-wife?" the merchant stammered, staring at Cadell in astonishment.

"Aye," Cadell said, turning to fix an icy glare on Sermere who turned a shade paler. "My wife."

"Well, this does ermm, complicate matters a little mercenary. I wasn't expecting to take on more than you and your ahh, companion. I don't know if we can afford to keep all three of you," the merchant replied, wringing his hands in an agitated manner as he glanced up at Sermere. "What do you think cousin?"
Last edited by The_Fool on Thu Apr 21, 2005 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby undomiel » Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:24 am

Rien anxiously paced along the entranceway of the Silver Dragon Inn. Give me a few hours and meet me here for supper,[i] he had said. And now it was well past that time. The Inn's many guests had already taken their meal, had even spent time singing and carousing in the common room and had finally gone off to bed. Only Rien remained watching for Odunar's return. The Councilman's room was empty, ransacked. Neela would no longer looked Rien in the face. [i]Something is happening.

Then he noticed something. Neela kept looking at the door to the storage room. Quick glances in a definite pattern. Was there some meaning to it? There's light under the door, but it's being blocked by something. Oh Blessed Sun, feet. There are men behind that door. For a moment Neela's eyes caught his. She nodded at the front door and went back to her cleaning. Rien took the message. Quietly, as only a Wind Mage can manage, he slipped out the front door and ran off into the street.

He had not gone far when a hand grasped his collar and pulled him into a black alley. But Rien had been ready for this sort of this. With a quick blast of air he broke the stranger's grip and then pulled himself into a fighting stance. But no blows came.

"Rien?" a voice whispered, female and young.

"Who are you?"

"My name is Eltirwen. Odunar is my father. He told us to look for Rien at the Inn. We've been waiting for you to come out for hours."


Another voice spoke, deeper than the first. "I'm Voke. Lian is with us as well. Suffice it to say we're both friends of Odunar."

"I trust them, Rien," said Eltirwen.

He relaxed slightly. "Alright, I am Rien. Odunar said he would be back for dinner, with others. What's happening?"

Eltirwen choked back a sob and it fell to Voke to explain. "He must have done something to anger the council. Soldiers came after him and Eltirwen. He drew them away from us so that we could escape. He told us to leave the city tonight."

"Then they know our plans?"

"What plans? Odunar had no time to explain anything to us before he ran off."

Rien's head was swimming in the import of what he had just heard. The Council knows. They are trying to stop us. Odunar is gone. We now have two enemies. He cleared his mind and made his decision. "No time for explanations. If you trusted Odunar then follow me. We must leave Brahna secretly. Things are happening in Reist and it's up to us to stop them."
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Postby Aiwe » Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:56 pm

Voke noted with a certain level of cynicism that she had a talent for thinking on her feet and taking charge. And it seemed a good thing, too, since everyone else's worlds had just crashed down around them. To Voke, betrayal and hounds at her heels were nothing new. Simply discouraging.

Leave. Run now! Sever.

Seelo was pacing, agitated, around Voke's feet.

"I'm not leaving them here," Voke replied. This drew curious glances from the three mages, but she chose to ignore them. She'd been seen with these people. The Watch would be after her as well as them. Best to work together.

Seelo refrained to comment further, which Voke considered a blessing.

"Come on," Voke said to the three mages. "We'll need horses if we're going to outrun these people."

"But, Voke," Rien said, "Even if we steal horses, the stables will be watched. They'll expect us to make a move like that."

"Oh, don't worry," Voke said, the light glinting oddly from her black-on-black eyes. "We're not going to the stables. We're going where the watch won't want to go. Follow me."

Confused and unsure whether they should trust this strange woman, the three mages followed behind Voke, hiding when she hid, running when she ran.

Voke, meanwhile, let some of her Shade half take over, The scents of death intensified and overwhelmed her, blocking out every other kind of smell. She knew that a rat had died behind this crate, that three chickens had just been killed for soup in that inn. Life became a pale shadow while dead things rose to the fore in her senses.

She'd had hardly any time to acquaint herself with the layout of the city, but that mattered little now. She focused on an area of town rife with rot and death.

"This way."

Soon the mages found themselves in the slummy outskirts of town. Rien and Lian pressed handkerchiefs over their noses and mouths, while Shaya held her veil close to her face.

"What is that stench?" Lian coughed.

"We've reached the stockyard district, I believe," Voke said absently. "Let me know if you see a knacker's sign, will you?"

She forced her shade-sense back into the little cell in her mind and locked the door. With all the slaughterhouses and tanneries lining the road, there was too much death for her to even begin to process.

"Over there!" Shaya whispered. To everyone's relief, she was referring not to incoming Watchmen but to a shop sign.

Your source for Glue, Dog Food, and More
Reasonable Prices"

"Looks promising..." Voke said.

"What are you trying to do here, Voke?" Rien demanded. "Find horses on their last legs? We won't find anything that'll be able to carry us, let alone get us out the city gates."

"Wait and see," she replied. Knots were twisting and tumbling in her stomach now that she realized fully what her plan would entail. She'd have to let these people see her use Death magic. They'd have every right as mages to kill her on the spot.

"Voke, I'm sorry, but 'wait and see' just isn't going to cut it. We're running for our lives here. We're trusting you, but only on the word of Odunar."

Voke took a deep breath. "Follow me," she said again. "It'll be easier to explain if you...see."

With that cryptic answer, she led the three mages around to the huge shed in back of the store. It reeked of rot and sickness. Voke had to fight the bile rising in her own throat.

"Over here--" she said, dairting over to a heap along the far wall.

There were horses there. Dead horses.

"What are you playing at? You're not going to--" Lian paused, revulsion floodsing his features. "No, no, that's sick--"

"Just trust me. Please. It's the only way to get us out of here..." Voke said, allowing a pleading note to enter her voice. This was it. They'd have to choose whether they could stomach the thought of trusting a necromancer.

Before anyone could voice the questions in their minds, Voke knelt down and selected a horse that seemed mostly intact. Four legs, one head. Check. She took the cold, stiff jaw in both hands and leaned forward, exhaling from nose and mouth. Sickly green mist flowed from her lungs. The horse shuddered. Its ribs heaved, sucking the vapor in.

"Rise," Voke commanded.

The horse rocked upright and heaved itself onto its rotting legs. It had probably died from overwork--bones jutted sharply from its sides despite the bloat of decay.

"Alright. Shaya, you take this one," Voke said brusquely. Then she focused black eyes on the horse's pearly dead ones and said, "She is your master now. You will obey her."

The zombie horse lowered its head and plodded towards Eltirwen. She seemed ready to bolt, but the horse lowered itself down to the ground, as if asking her to mount.

Quickly, before the two other mages could protest, Voke breathed unlife into the nostrils of three more horses. Two had died very recently. These she assigned to the two male mages. The third, the last whole horse in the shed, had been skinned already. Voke unclasped her waterproof cloak and laid it over the creature's back before mounting.

She looked back to the mages. They remained standing.

"That was necromancy," Lian said flatly. "Normal humans cannot perform such magic."

Voke took a steadying breath, then opened her eyes fully and stared right back at the wind mage. "But I can," she said. "Take it or leave it. It's your ticket to safe passage out of this place."
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Postby Eltirwen » Mon Apr 25, 2005 12:11 pm

Eltirwen stared at the horse in front of her. It horrified her, on a very deep level of her consciousness, yet she knew Voke was only trying to help. The other girl was using the powers she had, to help her, just as Odunar had requested. She drew in a deep breath, and turned to Voke.
“Thank you. I know Papa would approve of what you have done.”
She mounted the horse, and as if to approve of her decision Minya jumped up right behind her, and the other two animals took their customary positions. She turned to the others.
“Well, the problem of how to move quickly has been solved. Now, how do we get out the gates? They might not remember you two, but Voke and I are dressed rather distinctively.”
The two men looked worried, apparently not having thought of this complication. Eltirwen drew in a deep breath. The hours of waiting and hiding since last encountering her father had given her a chance to steady her thoughts, if not her nerves. She knew she could use her powers if needed.
“I am a Spirit Mage, after all. I can disguise our appearance. If we are stopped, one of you two men will have to speak to the guards, for I cannot disguise my voice. Now, here’s my plan…”
They all mounted and gathered together, listening.

A few minutes later, four young men on mules rode from the alley where the mages had been. A large scruffy golden dog dashed off in the opposite direction, to find his own way outside the city and rendezvous with his mistress there. The mules reeked, as mules often do, but the riders seemed not to notice. Packed behind them in bundles were mining tools. To any eye they were simply young men headed to try and make their fortune in the gold mines near Yalek. They headed toward the southwestern gate. As they passed through, one of the guards motioned to the small caravan for a cursory check. One of the young men spoke to him, calming his suspicions. The guards seemed distracted anyways, murmuring of an unusual chase on the other side of town. The unassuming caravan rode for a time on the road out of town, then turned off. Walking into a thick copse of trees, the four dismounted. In a blink the familiar shapes of Lian, Rien, Voke, and Eltirwen reappeared, and the mules became horses again. Eltirwen let out a huge sigh of relief, looking tired.
“Well,” Rien said, “we’re out of town. Where to now? I think we had better change our direction, in case they become suspicious. How long will these horses last?”
Eltirwen shrugged, looking at Voke. “In any case, can I have a ten-minute breather? That was the longest I’ve held that large of a spell.” The others nodded, and she sank down on a pile of bracken, absent-mindedly scratching Onu’s head.


After he left the two girls far behind, Odunar ran as fast as he could. At the same time, he used his power to create distractions for the guards, keeping them searching for him but never quite catching him. If he could keep it up long enough, their attention would be steered away from his daughter and the others. He led the guards on a frustrating chase far into the night, always making sure to stay far away from the inn. Finally, as the blush of dawn began to color the eastern sky, his fatigue began to overpower him.
Surely they were out of town by now, by whatever means necessary, he thought. He saw the guards getting closer, and sent up a quiet plea to whoever was watching him for the protection of his daughter as he was clubbed in the back of his head and fell into darkness.
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Postby Spirit_of_the_Willow » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:27 am

Rhavara strode forward, her face a mask of fury. Caedmon stepped backward hurriedly, holding his ink-stained hands out before him placatingly.

“I-I’m sorry, I was j-just looking for s-something to wr-write with,” he stammered, realizing that he was very much in the wrong. “I was not trying to pry.”

“There’s nothing in there for you,” she snarled, slamming the chest closed. She whirled again on the tall young man, who backed up further, startled by the feral light in her eyes, and fell again onto the bed, wincing as he caught himself on his injured arm. Rhavara moved forward as though she would drag him from the bed. But she stopped abruptly, her eyes on the large wolf, who had moved further into the cave. The two gazed at each other, and Caedmon realized with surprise and interest that they were obviously communicating in some way.

The strange wild woman at last broke contact with the wolf, and glared at Caedmon, who watched her warily. He had never before heard of anyone communicating with wild beasts in that way. She moved forward again, but this time to take his bandaged arm. He pulled back, unwilling for her to practice any more of her strange powers on him.

“No, I can take care of it now, thank you.” He paused, then continued as she sneered at him, “I know you saved my life, and I thank you for it, but I really am capable of taking care of myself now.” He thought of the methods she had used earlier, and shuddered. He did not want his soul removed again. He held his gray gaze steady against her furious glare. He might be curious about her as an oddity, but that did not mean he wished her to practice her witchery on him. And once he was more rested, he truly could take care of the partially healed wound.

“Have it your way then,” she snarled at last. “You think you are fine, then you need not stay.” She jerked her head towards the door, indicating that he should go. He looked startled, although he had tried earlier to leave, he was now not so sure he wanted to. He looked up at the drawings on the cavern walls, and hesitated.

“If I might . . .” he began.

“Get out of here!” she exclaimed, pointing furiously towards the door.

“First, can you tell me about the markings on the walls? I’m trying to . . .”

Rhavara’s gaze flew to the wall in question, then she jerked her head back, staring intently at the floor, for the first time refusing to meet his gaze. Her words were barely audible, the emotion behind them indecipherable, “No. Get out.”

Caedmon wanted to object again. He could not find a source of knowledge to abandon it now. But something in her posture stayed him. Her form was rigid as always, but there was something of desperation in the tautness of her muscles. The sandy head raised to look at the drawings again, committing every detail he could to memory. He would record everything he could at the soonest opportunity. Then he turned, and walked to the door. There he hesitated, looking out into the unfamiliar surroundings, realizing for the first time that he had absolutely no idea where he was, much less how to get where he was going from here. He had nothing, but he could not go back to Calet, for he knew they would not let him leave again. Perhaps Rhavara could tell him how to get back to where she had found him, and he might search for Amaris from there. He almost turned, but then stopped. She would not. She obviously despised him. He would not ask.

It didn’t take long for Caedmon to regret his decision. The way down from Rhavara’s cave was steep and difficult in his long robes, and his hands, unused to aught but gardening and writing were soon painfully scraped. At last he reached the bottom, and found himself at the foot of some frighteningly tall mountains. He could not see Rhavara’s cave from here.

His grey eyes scanned the forest for any sign of civilization. There may have been some, but none which his inexperienced eyes could detect. With a sigh, he selected a direction, and struck off towards it.

He was forestalled by the sudden appearance of the impossibly large black and grey wolf. Immediately his hands flew up in defense.

“Nice wolf,” he said softly, taking a step backwards, right into Rhavara. “Oh!” was all he could think to say. She looked at him silently, her expression unreadable, then turned, and walked silently in the opposite direction, motioning for him to follow. At least, he assumed it was for him, as he looked back at the wolf, which looked back at him.

Obediently, Caedmon hurried to catch up with Rhavara, making considerably more noise than the forest lady. “Where are you leading me to?” he asked.

“The edge of the forest,” she replied curtly.

“If it’s at all possible, I’d like to go back to where you found me. I need to get whatever is left there, and see if I can find my donkey,” he requested politely.

“I’ll take you to the edge of the forest, and if you wish to go back into the hands of those men who attacked you before, it is completely up to you.”
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Postby Rodia » Tue Apr 26, 2005 1:22 pm

The merchants eventually decided that they needed a moment to confer in private- not without a short quibble first, as Sermere impudently replied that he would prefer not to hire an escort that might prove to need more protection than it could offer. Judging by how the merchant cursed at him, it was not the first time he'd spoiled a deal for his cousin in this manner. Cadell's eyes darkened at the insult but he kept still, and since the merchant immediately ordered two more ales, he only calmly stated that Garia and himself would leave once they had drunk. The merchant pulled his cousin aside and they discussed, with as many hand-gestures as displeased glances towards the mercenaries.

Garia leaned back in the chair and sipped his ale, but Cadell's gaze was fixed on the merchants. "I think that regardless of how hard-pressed we are for a hire, we'd make a better choice to drink up and leave." he said quietly. Garia dropped back forward again and looked incredulous. "And you think we'll have three more offers tomorrow?" he demanded. "For heaven's sakes, we're not in the position to pick and choose. I hope they don't realise that." he gestured towards the merchants with his beer, and Cadell gently put a hand on his arm to draw it back.
"I'm considering all of our options."he said. "I don't like their way and I don't want unnecessary trouble."
Garia rolled his eyes to the heavens, and then, sharp on the turn of a new thought, brought them back to look at Cadell. The knight was infuriatingly serene, as usual, but as Garia looked at him he thought he almost saw the seams, a tiny thread of his companion's perfect composure unravelling.
Now this was funny.
"You're only saying that because of the girl." he triumphed.
Cadell broke his stare for the first time to look at him. "I did not say, when I agreed to your plan, that you may use it to ridicule me." he warned. "Of course I'm concerned about the girl. Aren't you?"
Garia gave a snort that meant the question was redundant. "She's a nice girl, though, isn't she. Polite. Hunts. Hunts well. Rides. Doesn't mind the rain...rain, I have learned, is the absolute number one fear of most ladies, Cadell. It ruins their whole, um, coif, you see." Cadell stared blankly as Garia waved his hands about in a wordless description of the excessive arrangements women might wear on their heads. "And if you think they'll come out when the sun's shining? You're in no luck, friend. The sun's just as bad as the rain. It gives them freckles. Whether they see a mouse run across the floor or a freckle run across their nose, they'll be screaming just as loud."
"If you like the lass so much, why did you not volunteer to play the husband?" asked Cadell, his surveillance of the merchants resumed. Garia laughed.
"Because she doesn't trust me as well as she trusts you." This made Cadell turn his head again.
"That's your answer." he asked flatly.
"That's my answer."
"I'm not daft, you know. I can see she's easier around you. Can't imagine why, I wouldn't trust your ugly soldier's mug." Garia joked, and wondered how he ever got used to Cadell's reserve. The knight always let him chatter on but his own opinions had to be dragged out of him. And it was hard to tell when he would allow a lark and when he would not. Garia found the whole husband and wife charade extremely funny, but he didn't want to push Cadell over the edge with it.
It was also that since the day they'd found Pointy, they had never really shared their suspicions and thoughts about her. Garia had a number of hypotheses on the subject and was certain Cadell did, too. The inn might have offered them a chance for a private discussion, but now that Cadell was to play the part of a married man, Garia would find himself in a room alone.
And that, too, might not be a bad thing- he thought to himself.
A nudge and grunt from Cadell broke him out of his reverie. He took a sip of beer and straightened up in his seat. The merchant and his cousin sat down at their table again.

A moment of silence passed, in which only Cadell seemed unmoved and perfectly at ease. The merchant twiddled his thumbs and licked his lips many times. Sermere gave Garia an ugly look, then started to speak. This worried the merchant and forced him to cut in. He obviously didn't trust his cousin's rude temper. While Garia wasn't fond of Sermere either, he thought all this very interesting. Judging by how hard he tried to keep his cousin quiet, perhaps the merchant needed their services quite badly.

"Ah, yes. Err, well, we must be sure to make it, erhm, perfectly clear to you, eh, gentlemen, " he said, and Sermere gave a little laugh of contempt at the word. Garia smiled inwardly, feeling smug at his suspicions being confirmed, as well as his skill in reading people's behaviour. The merchant was buttering them up. "It must be perfectly, uh, clear, that we are not in the position to make a mistake in hiring, uhm, someone who might not, uh, be capable of..."
"If you doubt our skills then you waste our time." said Cadell.
"Whatever it is, we're capable." said Garia at the exact same moment. Cadell turned his head briefly, delivered a warning look, then turned back to the merchants. Garia knew that look, he'd met it the very first day he'd met Cadell, and it had always and without exception meant "Shut up."
Oh, very well then, he thought, and found consolation in staring down Sermere. It wasn't too hard.

Meanwhile, the merchant met Cadell's icy stare quite squarely. He was in need, but he did not wish to gamble blind. Neither did Sermere who, to his cousin's horror, leant towards Cadell and spoke.
"A mercenary with a wife following is rare. In fact, I confess I've never seen the like of it." he said, his voice remarkably akin to the hiss of a snake, Garia thought. This man would be trouble. He was dangerous because he didn't seem to realise treating people like dirt often landed you in it.
Cadell's own voice was almost toneless. "Mercenaries of my skill are rare." Garia made a mental note of the singular form and promised himself he would talk to Cadell about it later.
The merchant raised himself in his seat, and to stop Sermere from speaking again, he thrust himself forward and closer to the mercenaries. Without meaning to they both blinked and recoiled slightly, as the whiff of garlic was astounding.
The merchant's voice shook still but grew steadier with every word. "I will not belittle your worth, if you do not belittle mine." he panted, the effort of leaning across the table pressing hard on his well-layered stomach.
"I am a mercenary." Cadell made his words sound clear, and bitter somehow. "I am hired to protect and I take the task very seriously."
"Of course. The thing is..."started the merchant, but Cadell interrupted him.
"To put it in plain language, sir, if I am not making myself understood - I fulfil my duties as I am paid to do, and no circumstance matters. Were you to put a cartful of dung in my custody, I would protect it with my life."
Eyes went wide all round the table, and the merchant coughed. "Ah. Quite.."
"Have you an offer to make us?" Cadell interrupted again.
The merchant pursed his lips, and shifted in his chair, presumably to strengthen his resolve. "My offer is ...uh..such.” he said. “ You will get us to Calet safely and quickly. We will make provisions for our joined party tomorrow, and ride out as soon as possible." His face went red, and sitting back down, he raised his double chin high. For all this attempt at appearing serious and adamant about his offer, the man looked much like a cornered hare. And like a cornered hare he seemed to have frozen, and didn't speak again. Garia felt a sort of sympathy for the fat merchant, but on his right, Sermere was making a viper impression that inspired no kind feelings at all. The silence continued until Garia blurted out annoyedly, addressing the merchant but glaring at Sermere: "That is our part of the deal, and yourself? Will you not name a price, must we be content with your thanks?"
The merchant then pronounced a sum that made Garia whistle, and even Cadell raised his eyebrows slightly. Garia regretted the impulse, as it only gave Sermere reason to mock, with a sneer, his impressionability. But the price was handsome. Not a fortune, but well above the usual wages and more than they had expected of a travelling merchant.
Thus, when the man spoke again to say "There is, however, a condition" Garia was almost as much relieved as disappointed that the gain would not be so easy.
"You will not receive a single coin of this sum until we have safely reached Calet and our destination."
Garia and Cadell looked at each other, as if contrary to their nature, suddenly neither trusted his own opinion and choice.
"That gives us no resources to prepare for the trip with." pointed out Cadell, and his comment was met with a small purse hitting the table. He weighed it in his hand and nodded.

"No circumstance matters? What a speech, friend. But I thought you were a man of honour?" chuckled Garia in a mischievous whisper as they walked away from the table.
"Honour is a value that no coin can measure, and so it has no place in the trades we make." Cadell stopped at the foot of the stairs and spoke with great sincerity. "Any man who presumes he could buy it from me is a fool beyond all expectation."
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Postby The_pointy_hat_trick » Sun May 01, 2005 4:33 pm

Pointy sat on the bed and gazed out of the small window, watching the rain that still lashed down.
“Well that was clever” she announced to the empty room “Very much so. You are now in a situation which you have no idea how to handle. You will most likely do something unnatural which will reveal the truth and maybe lose them their hire.” She gave a small groan and ran her fingers through her hair. This was ridiculous, what had she been thinking. Cadell had looked thoroughly unsure of the whole idea.
She listened intently for any noise in the outside corridor, waiting for the men to return from negotiating hire, and wondering if the bait had been swallowed hook line and sinker by the blustering merchant and his companion. Of the two she suspected that Sermere would prove the most difficult to convince.

She rose from the bed and slipped into her now dry dress, savouring the touch of warm fabric. It was comforting, her mother had hung her clothes by the fire to warm when she was very small. That was before… well, before she had discovered her ‘gift’.

She sunk back onto the bed and immediately jumped at the creak issuing from the boards outside the door. This was followed by a knock and then, to her relief Cadell’s voice.


She straightened the fabric of her dress and hurried to let the two men in. It was strange but she had begun to desire company. Solitude left too much opportunity for thought.

The two men entered bringing with the a draft of cold air from the passage. As usual Cadell was unreadable and it seemed Garia had also decided to employ and enigmatic appearance. She cast the two a hesitant, questioning glance, her blue eyes wearing something of her haunted expression, before drawing close to the fire.

After a brief pause Cadell regarded the girl with a flicker of what could have been a grin and announced.

“Well I am to play your husband it seems” He paced across the room and leaned on the window ledge grinning. “The reaction was quite…interesting”

“Hmm” mused Garia “we had the pleasure of seeing that snake choke on his ale. Almost better than a hire itself”

Pointy allowed herself a small laugh and some of the worry left her face, replaced by curiosity as further details were discussed and night fell, compensating for the lessening of the rain by a fierce wind that forced itself through every nook.

The girl’s eyes began to shut, exhaustion finally catching up with her. Garia nudged the mercenary silently and nodded towards her. “As you are to play her husband” He whispered “I guess you plan to stay here. I wouldn’t put it past a certain man to pay an early call to our room in the morrow to convince himself”

Cadell nodded and moved towards Pointy. “Lass?” she stirred half sleeping half waking “I’m to stay the night here, any noise will just be me. I’ll sleep here by the fire for now”. The girl nodded, reassured, and allowed herself to be half carried to the bed where she curled in a blanket and gestured for Cadell to take the other.

“You do not mind? … I could sleep on the floor I do not need--” she murmured before sleep consumed her mid sentence and she cuddled into the blanket her blond hair veiling part of her face.

Garia gave a chuckle, “Hunts like an animal, sleeps like a babe. We shall prepare for our trip in the morning then?” Cadell nodded and patted the purse as Garia headed for the other room muttering something about needing his beauty sleep.

Cadell began to grin at his companion’s words but then stopped short and frowned as he settled down by the dying fire. Something Garia had said had struck a dissonant chord. He watched the sleeping girl’s regular breathing. That was it, “Hunts like an animal, sleeps like a babe”. Indeed, sometimes she seemed almost wild, confident and mysterious. And then the simplest gesture could terrify her. He gave a sigh and hoped that in this marital farce his actions as a ‘husband’ would not cause her alarm, and that the girl indeed held some trust with him.

The next day dawned cold but bright, the wind having chased the deluge away as the three made their provisions for the journey. By noon having required all they needed, they spent the rest of the day preparing the horses. The merchant and Sermere, although displaying a desire for a speedy departure, seemed unwilling to spend a half day on the road for a whole night in the wilds, so it was agreed that the company should leave at daybreak the next morning. Throughout this agreement, Sermere had occupied himself by shooting inquiring glances at Pointy, who arranged her face into what she hoped was a haughty expression and kept close to the knight.

The journey started well enough, the cloth was loaded onto the pack animals; a number of mules and palfreys all of which looked healthy and well behaved and they left the town in good time.
The caravan travelled on that day with little excitement, Garia and Cadell alternately taking up the front and rear of the procession, occasionally spurring their horses forward to check the road ahead. Pointy made an effort to stay near Cadell, not only in an attempt to appear ‘wifely’ but also to prevent unwanted conversation. She did however long to talk to the animals. It was curious, she thought, why on a road such as this, the merchant and companion had been so keen to hire protection. She wanted to question the animals, remembering the words of the fox she had met who had conveyed the presence of something odd in the woods. However the day presented no opportunity for such antics, so instead she contented herself with nickering to Daeglow.

As evening began to draw on Cadell urged his horse away from the company in search of a campsite, till Rhan’s hoof beats faded out of hearing. Pointy shifted the reins and rearranged her dress, and in glancing to her left found herself riding alongside Sermere. He grinned. It was an odd expression. His mouth moved correctly but his eyes remained cold.

“So unfortunate” he began “not to have had a chance to talk”
Pointy looked hurriedly to Garia for an escape but saw Aywin deep in conversation with him.

Sermere continued, his voice bordering on sneer. “why I did not even know you were his wife”

Pointy stared at him coolly, “Well that I am”. This was easier than she had thought.

“It must be a dreadful sacrifice for you to make. One no woman would make unless she was very much attached.” His voice now boar no pretence of politeness.

“To the workings of a woman’s heart I hazard you know very little”

He gave a snort. “and so young. What must your father have thought?”

Her confidence fled her and she froze. Daeglow snorted and made to rear as Garia cantered forwards and the merchant bobbed after him in an ungainly pursuit. Let Aywin think she had lost control of her horse she thought, casting Garia a meaningful look as Cadell pounded back from his scouting.

Pulling Rhan to a halt he announced that there was a suitable site not more than half a mile off, before surveying the scene in front of him. Daeglow was prancing nervously mirroring the fear that his rider was trying to conceal.

“What happened?” he demanded urging Rhan towards the girl.

Before Garia or Sermere could reply, Aywin spoke.

“I believe something spooked the horse. Am I right my lady?” Pointy allowed herself to nod to the flustered merchant before glancing at Cadell and then dropping back with the merchant and Garia.

Cadell locked his gaze on Sermere who produced his favourite expression; a sneer.

“Don’t you even think of it” Cadell snarled, looking remarkably wolfish “Keep your distance, or by the Goddess I’ll give you pain.”
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Postby The_Fool » Wed May 04, 2005 5:57 pm

The man was infuriating. Cadell's hand tightened around the leather reigns, and with one final piercing glare in Sermere's direction he jerked his warhorse's head around. Rhan snorted in protest, large, feathered hooves stamping in the dirt as the heavy mount made a clumsy pirouette to accommodate the pressure on its mouth.

"There's a small clearing up ahead," he jerked his chin up the road, switching the reigns of his horse to one hand. "Used to be pasture by the looks of it but it's been long abandoned now. We can camp alongside the fencing wall and have a good eye in most directions. The grazing is sufficient for the amount of stock we've got and the trees will take the bite off this cursed wind."

"Can the wagons get past the wall?" Sermere interjected, his voice ice-smooth in the gathering dusk.

"No," Cadell said with a bitter winter nip of a snap. "That's why I picked it. So that you can stay on one side and my wife and I can stay on the other."

Sermere's jaw tightened and he scowled, obviously exceedingly irritated with the barb. "I don't think mercenary," he countered harshly, "that such an action can be called 'doing your job' by any stretch of the imagination."

"And I don't think I like your tone," Cadell remarked. "You're not in a position to question me Sermere. I'm here because you couldn't handle this little outing yourself. So from now on you shut up, you listen to my orders and by all the Shades in Hell you obey them."

"I will do no such thing!" Sermere spluttered. "I'm paying you to ride with us freebooter so mind you mind your tongue and you listen to my orders."

"You're not paying me. He is," Cadell growled, jerking his thumb at Aywin as he turned his horse in the middle of the road. Rhan's considerable bulk was now broadside to the delicate palfrey Sermere was riding, the warhorse shifting eagerly from one foot to the other as she sensed her rider's mood, nostrils flared.

"I'm warning you Sermere, don't try my patience." Cadell's voice came out deadly cold, like the hiss of a blade drawn from the sheath. Before him Sermere paled. Without another word the captain touched his heels to Rhan's flank pulling her head around as he did so. The warhorse shot out from under the palfrey's nose and into a gallop, terrifying the beast so extensively that it bucked and leapt sideways, almost unseating the ruffled Sermere and depositing him unceremoniously into the dirt.

When he had put some small distance between himself and the caravan Cadell slowed Rhan to a trot. It occurred to him that he was treating Sermere perhaps a little too much like an insolent member of a warband, his instinctive reactions and past experiences influencing him so that he was acting more like the captain he had been than the paid guard he now was. What he needed was a little breathing space, but the blasted rogue was panting down Pointy's neck like a dog every chance he got and Cadell was near to reaching that delicate point between restrained and berserk. Grinding his teeth he flipped the reigns to his other hand, using his left to instinctively tightening his sword belt. "Goddess give me strength," he muttered.

When he reached the spot on the road where they would have to brave the thin outspreading of trees he halted, sitting easily on his horse as he waited for the caravan. The night was not unpleasant, though the spring air had yet to acquire the semblance of summer heat. The setting sun over the tops of the trees cast the cloudy sky in burnished orange and yellow, the leaves flecked and dark, like a wave breaking over the light. Long shadows stretched across the short grass beneath the trees, casting unsteady bars of spilt ink over the ground. The birds of the evening were singing their twilight song, crickets chirping brightly though unseen.

Rhan snorted, tossing her head and stamping a foreleg. Sitting deep in the saddle Cadell kept her steady, rough, well-callused hands holding firm to the leather reigns. Shifting them to his left he raised his right to scratch idly at his stubbled chin; watching as the merchant and his wagon moved towards him, the additional aides caring for the small herd they'd gathered, Garia bringing up the rear. Cadell glanced over his shoulder, looking up the road in the opposite direction, ensuring their solitude on the highway. They would reach the deeper forest that stretched before Calet on the morrow. It would be then that their watch on the caravan would need tightening.

It was Pointy who reached him first, and he gave the lass a tired smile, dropping his hand from his jaw as she halted beside him. "He's not bothering you too much is he lass?" he inquired quietly.

She shook her head after a moment's hesitation. "Not at the moment."

"Good," Cadell grunted, glancing over her shoulder to where the subject of their private conversation was walking his horse beside the lead caravan. "He better ensure that 'not at the moment' turns into 'not at all'."

"I don't think he believes us Cadell," Pointy spoke up suddenly, chewing her bottom lip as she glanced over her shoulder. "That we're husband and wife. He keeps asking questions and sometimes…sometimes I don't know what to say…" she trailed off, looking up at the mercenary earnestly, her eyes wide with the distress her words carried.

Cadell swore viciously under his breath then covered the breach in etiquette with a hasty apology. "Sorry lass. Forgot there was a lady present. I'll hold my cursed tongue next time but by all the hells and their overlords this is blasted bad news." Pointy only nodded. Glancing over her shoulder at Sermere the corners of Cadell's mouth twitched. On any other man it would have seemed a nervous gesture. On Cadell it was slightly unsettling in its dangerous connotations. "Come on then," he said finally, pressing his heels to his horse's flanks. "They're close enough to see where we're headed."

Together the captain and his impromptu charge moved off the road and onto the small trail under the trees to the side of the road. As they passed through the grass the crickets would fall silent, only to begin once again when they had passed by. The dusky orange sunlight dappled them as they moved beneath the leafy canopy, flickering over their faces and the rumps of their horses. Rhan snorted and tossed her head, chewing on the bit before settling once more.

"Listen," Cadell said abruptly, turning to look at Pointy as he rode. The crows feet at the corners of his cornflower blue eyes seemed deepened by the evening's shadow. "If Sermere's not taking our bait then we have a problem. We'll either have to tell them the truth or convince him otherwise or we'll never hear the end of it. Now lass, if you really desire it I'll tell them, but we probably won't be paid for the trouble and I can't guarantee Sermere's reaction. Ah! Don't you get that look on your pretty face, I won't let him touch you for all the gold in the province but I'd rather avoid the situation entirely."

"What should I do?" Pointy asked. Cadell was slightly surprised by the determined, business-like tone she took. It seemed she was as resolved to keep their hire as he was.

"Just follow my lead lass," Cadell replied. "I won't be putting you in an unhonourable position, but we'll have to play our cards close to our chest and pretend at wedded bliss or he's going to pull an ace out of his sleeve and make us lose the game."

Pointy nodded, loosening her horse's reigns a little, letting him stretch out his neck. "I'll follow your lead then."

Reaching out between them Cadell patted her hand gently, grinning at her. "That's the way." He turned his attention back to the way ahead he spotted the jagged outline of the stone wall, tufts of long grass jutting from between the crumbling gaps. "Here's our campsite. Let's get our horses settled whilst we wait."
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Postby The_pointy_hat_trick » Thu May 05, 2005 4:59 pm

Pointy nudged Daeglow’s flanks urging him after Cadell’s mare towards the ‘campsite’ and through the break in the disintegrating stone wall. Daeglow stretched out his neck longing to start grazing after a day on the road. Seeing that Cadell had drawn his horse to a halt, the girl moved the reins to her left hand and made as though to dismount, halting as Cadell called quietly to her, slipping to the ground himself and dropping the reins over Rhan’ head.

“Stay there a moment lass. We shall play the first card and hope that small suggestions work on a suspicious mind.”

Pointy remained obediently upon her horse patting the gelding’s neck gently, until realisation dawned as the caravan moved into sight of the pasture and the mercenary moved towards her.

“Close enough to see and yet not hear” he whispered with twitch of a smile on his lips. Pointy glanced at the approaching figures of Sermere and his palfrey and smiled resolutely, though inside she trembled slightly and subconsciously wondered exactly what ‘wedded bliss’ entailed.

She let go of the reins and placing her arms hesitantly around Cadell’s shoulders allowed him to lift her gently to the ground, holding her in strong arms and to straighten her cloak in clear view of Sermere.

“Do not feel that you must act in a manner that is uncomfortable for you, lass”

She smiled gratefully. “and I shall in turn act so as to not lose you your hire, after such kindness as you have both shown me” She blushed slightly at such open speech as they turned to care for their horses. She removed Daeglow’s bridal and then twisted some long dry grass around her hand, making a wisp and brushing the day’s dust of his coat before checking his hooves for any stones or thorns.

Garia soon approached leading his horse behind him. “Well you missed the fun” he addressed Pointy “Upon seeing our Cadell with his arms around you he let out such a snort that I thought it was his mount.” Garia helpfully aided this with a demonstration of his own at which the girl started before giving a shy giggle.

He turned to Cadell who was absentmindedly rubbing Orcaleon’s nose. “It appears though, that neither merchant nor cousin wish to spend the night on the opposite side of the wall to their hire. They intend to bring the wagons through by widening the gaps in the wall.”

The captain rolled a growl around the back of his throat. Sermere he may have been able to treat as an insolent rider, but not his hirer. Cadell strode off across to where Aywin stood leaving Pointy with Garia and her thoughts.

It was strange and unfamiliar to act in such a way and whether it was a part she could play well she did not know. She fretted that her nervous nature would manifest itself to Sermere or Cadell. She glanced to where Sermere stood and felt Garia following her gaze.

“Don’t you worry. Cadell’s as good as his word. Though those are few and far between. That snake won’t get his dirty hands upon you”

Pointy smiled and did not care to voice that this was only half her worry.

The evening closed in. The nervous merchant moved the whole caravan within the pasture, seeming to find comfort in being surrounded by a wall. A meal was cooked and eaten and one of the hands travelling with the animals produced a lute and the sound of song floated on the air. Throughout the evening the three noted that Sermere’s gaze flickered unnaturally often towards where they sat even when in conversation with Aywin. Pointy shivered, placed more sticks upon the fire, and in an attempt to draw her thoughts from Sermere she began to speak.

“What is the danger that is feared on this road. I have not seen any trail or track of beast.”

Garia stared at her unsure of how to answer, “Well, it is not known for certain. But there are rumours that this is a changed land and that the road to Calet is… well dangerous” he finished somewhat lamely. The girl looked unphased.
He lowered his voice. “He’s watching. That dirty, fixated--”

Cadell sent him a warning glance and turned to Pointy whose was now visibly shaking, placing a protective arm around her. The maiden tensed and then slowly relaxed. She must play the part, she thought desperately, trying not to blush.

As dusk turned to the dark of night the music died and Aywin and Sermere retired. Garia rose to his feet and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword, “I will keep the first watch.” He turned to Cadell “I’ll wake you for your turn” He grinned “do not think you will be getting extra sleep just because you have a ‘wife’. ”

He sobered and when the lass’s attention was elsewhere spoke only for Cadell’s hearing. “Bear in mind who else may keep watch”.

Pointy curled up by the fire and let the first delightful traces of sleep wash over her, like the heat that radiated from the embers.

Cadell watched surprised at the ease at which she slept in unusual places. Garia was right, like her not minding the rain, he was sure that most other women would not like to sleep on the ground. He felt a gaze upon him and remembering Garia’s words fetched two blankets, laying one on the ground he lifted the slight woman onto it. She stirred and sat up staring into the darkness, and jumped when Cadell laid a hand on her shoulder.

“Apparently we are very interesting to watch” he whispered. Pointy shuddered. She was going to attempt to sense Sermere tomorrow, not that that sounded fun but she felt it needed to be done.

Cadell felt her tremor and hurriedly added “Not a finger will he lay on you. Now sleep, all we need is to share a blanket and he will not come near. Unless he likes pain, that is”, he attempted a stab at humour. It worked.

She lay down to sleep again and he placed the second blank over the two of them.

She lay quite still. The night was not chill, yet it was cold, all around she could sense the animal life, less complicated that the emotional web of humans. She sighed and jumped as a screech owl swooped overhead on silent wings. She strained her eyes into the dark, every noise sounded like a footstep, every breath of wind like a hissing sneer. Nervous and cold, she pressed against the comforting and solid form of he sleeping mercenary. A small sigh of despair escaped her. “I don’t think I’m very good at playing cards” she whispered to the darkness before slipping into an uneasy sleep.
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The Battle

Postby ElvenWanderer » Sat Jun 25, 2005 12:15 pm

Caedmon was giving her a pleading look, but she would have none of it. “It is non-negotiable.” She said firmly. She had mounted Morra, who was walking slow to keep up with the boy.

“How long will it take to reach the edge of the forest?” He asked after a few minutes.

“It depends on how much you slow me up.” Rhavara snapped. She turned to look at him, pulling her mask down over her face. The look he gave her was indecipherable.

As it began to get dark, she heard Caedmon begin to trip over roots rocks in the path. She ignored it until she heard him fall. His eyes were no where near as accustomed to the dark as hers. She debated with herself for a minute, and then-

Just do it. You can’t be so afraid of them.

I’m not afraid of him. What is there to fear?

You’re afraid of getting close to them again.
Rhavara was about to protest, but Morra interrupted. Don’t deny it. I know your thoughts. Defeated, Rhavara spoke to Caedmon, still looking straight ahead. “You’re making a lot of noise, you know.”

“I can’t see anything in this blackness.” He argued.

“Come here.” She said, reaching her hand down to him. He reluctantly obeyed. It was obvious that neither really wanted this interaction. He reached up and she hauled him up onto Morra so he was seated behind her.

After another hour of nothing happening, she could hear Caedmon begin to doze off. Morra silently padded along the trail, watching the darkness around them for any sign of movement.

I heard you the other night.

What are you talking about?
Rhavara asked.

You were talking with them again in your dreams.

They keep returning. I don’t know why. They’re telling me to leave here.

The Wise Ones know best. If they say so, it is for a reason.

I’ve been here for so long, Morra. I can’t leave now. I don’t even know where to go.

What do your feelings tell you?

I’m torn. The Wise Ones tell me to leave, and I know I must. But my heart is telling me to stay. I feel safe here. If I leave, it means going back to them. I promised myself I would never do that. It will only lead to trouble.
As if on cue, she heard a growling in the forest around her. She tightened her grip on her spear and turned to look at Caedmon, who was still sleeping. She heard large bodies rustling through the underbrush, snapping twigs as they went.

Three. Morra said.

Cursing under her breath, Rhavara turned to Caedmon again. She could see the dark shapes moving closer. Huge, looming. “Wake up.” Groans. “Wake up now if you value your life.” She slapped him and he started awake with a yelp. She clapped a hand over his mouth.

“Bears.” She said. She motioned with her other hand for him to be quiet. “Morra, get us out of here.” Mora began to pick up the pace. “Hopefully they won’t bother us and we can just move along past them.

“What are you going to do now?” Caedmon asked. A huge bear had appeared in front of them, blocking their path.

“Morra, don’t run. I don’t want one of them to take a swipe at you.” Rhavara said, sizing them up. She turned to Caedmon. “I don’t suppose you know how to fight?” From the look she received, Rhavara supposed not. “Just stay as far away from them as you can.”

Rhavara jumped down and help her spear in front of her, facing the largest bear, the one in front of them. It roared, and the tiny hairs on the back of Rhavara’s neck prickled. She turned around to see Morra hunched, snarling at one of he other creatures. Caedmon slid off her back “Stay close to Morra.” Rhavara ordered him. Watch him. Don’t let him die. Be careful!

The giant beast ahead of her roared again and stood up, more than twice Rhavara’s height. It came back down on all fours, the ground thundering as its forepaws hit.

“Rhavara, watch out!” Caedmon yelled. Rhavara whirled around. Too late. The third bear charged toward her from the darkness, barreling into her and knocking her flat on her back. She gasped for air, sucking it in gratefully. The charging bear was turning around now, coming at her for a second pass. Catlike, Rhavara got up, running towards it. As it started to stand up, it’s front paws barely grazing the ground, Rhavara thrust the butt end of the spear into the ground, launching herself into the air. Twirling her spear around, she landed on the beast’s back and plunged the spearhead into the bear’s back. It howled, thrashing from side to side as it tried to dislodge the spear.

Rhavara rolled from its back, watching it die. A few yards away, Morra was grabbing the second bear’s fur on the back of its neck as she struggled with it. Caedmon was watching the scene from a spot between her and Morra.

The warrior yanked the spear shaft from the dead animal’s carcass and whipped around to face the gigantic beast ahead of her. She lunged at it as it came towards her. It roared as its gaping jaws came down upon her, trying to block it with her spear. It clamped its teeth down on the wood and snapped it in half. Rhavara released the broken weapon, falling back onto the ground. She reached into her boot and pulled out a six inch dagger, its hit made of animal bone. The bear came at her again, she closed her eyes and in her panic, lashed out and stabbed the bear…it wailed and she opened her eyes.

Taking advantage of the extra time, she pulled the dagger from the bear’s eye and grabbed onto its ear, which was almost twice the size of her hand. She swung herself around and onto its thick neck. It reared up, and she stuck the knife deep into the animal’s flesh to hold on. It twisted around, trying to make her lose her grip. She clung for dear life, praying to the spirits to just let her live. Rhavara pulled herself up and grabbed onto its ear again, and it flung her forward. She was now crouched on the bear’s muzzle as it glared at her from its one good eye. She took the knife and began stabbing it repeatedly in the head. It reached one of its gigantic clawed paws up and swiped at her. She narrowly missed being knocked off, but didn’t escape the claws of the animal, which gouged deeply into her side.

She cried out in pain and almost fell. Her foot slipped and she barely managed to scramble back up before its huge jaw chomped her leg to bits. Panting heavily, Rhavara continued to stab at the bear, her strength ebbing away. Suddenly the bear roared terribly, throwing its head back and almost tossing Rhavara off, She looked down and saw that Caedmon had pierced the bears foot with the blade of her spear, diverting its attention away from Rhavara. It kicked at Caedmon with its other leg, throwing him onto the forest floor, and his head narrowly missed a tree trunk. Morra had killed the other bear, and now bit at the huge one’s good leg. It toppled forward, and Rhavara crawled onto its back as it fell, so as not to be crushed under its weight. It hit the ground and she thrust one last time into its head, connecting with its brain. She had just enough time to look down at the river of blood spurting from her side before she passed out.


She was in a forest. It was not hers, but similar. The path in front of her was clear, the forest cheerful. She came upon a clearing, in it a shimmering pool. The sunlight streamed down through the opening in the trees. A large white rock was on the opposite side of the pool, and she climbed onto it, kneeling and looking at the water. Far below the surface of the glittering pool was a cave, deep and dark, but not uninviting. She dove into the water, swimming for the cavern.

Rhavara woke up gasping and tried to sit up, but a sharp pain on her left side told her otherwise. She looked down. There was a bandage covering her side, with dried blood caked on it. Caedmon was a few feet away, sleeping. It was just beginning to get light out.

Morra? Where are you?

Right here.
Morra stood up and walked towards her.

Caedmon woke up about an hour later. Rhavara winced as she first sat up, then stood, bracing herself against Morra. “You shouldn’t be trying to move. You almost died last night.”

“I’m fine.” Rhavara objected. She did not take off the bandage, but as time went on, the pain slowly began to numb. She found her dagger, still lodged in the bear’s head, and used it to cut the claws and teeth from the bear. She mounted Morra and they plodded along through the forest. Caedmon chose to walk alongside them. Rhavara cut a strip of soft leather from the edge of her skirt and began working.

By the time they reached the edge of the forest that evening, she handed Caedmon a string of some of the claws and teeth from the enormous bear. “You showed great courage back there. You saved my life. Take this, and wear it proudly.” She tied it around Caedmon’s neck. “I bid you farewell. May the spirit guides watch over you.” Before Caedmon could say anything, the girl and the wolf were racing back through the forest.

I knew you wouldn’t hold out long. You’ve become fond of the human, you have.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

The human in you is starting to show.

No, Morra. I’ll never be one of them again.
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Postby Spirit_of_the_Willow » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:52 pm

As he watched the Wolf and Lady race away, the White Mage thought over the previous day. Caedmon scarcely knew what had come over him. He’d never been more terrified in his life, never had cause to be afraid of anything save that he might fail in his studies. Bears were things only heard of from villagers whose wounds he had tended. He knew plenty about the wounds they left behind, the depth of damage they could do with their ripping claws, but he never thought he’d ever be in danger of being ripped by those claws himself.

He knew that if Rhavara died, he himself would stand no chance of escape. But it wasn’t fear for his life that made him act. He could have run, he might have escaped then, while the bears were busy with Rhavara and the Wolf. But he couldn’t. Rhavara had saved his life, twice now. He just could not let her die when he might do something about it.

So he had taken up her broken spear, and rushed in, intending to pierce where he assumed the creature’s heart to be, but the beast’s paw got in the way, and the razor sharp blade slid into it, going through and piercing the ground. It stuck there, and he could not pull it free to try again before it’s powerful hind leg swiped at him, knocking him away.

He now fingered the bear claw necklace she had given him. A very incongruous piece for a Healing Mage, but he knew he would not remove it. Somehow, it made him different from who he was, and he liked that.

But what was he to do now. True to her word, Rhavara had taken him to the edge of the forest. But everything he owned, or what might be left of it, was back in the forest. Of course, without it he was a much less interesting target, so he might be safer. But he could not make his way as a Healer without his supplies. And what was the point of continuing to search for knowledge of dragons if he didn’t have his books to make records in?

No. He had to go back. He could not continue without his books. To do so would be conceding defeat, and if he did that he may as well return to Calet. He looked towards the last fading light of the sinking sun, and realized that he had absolutely no idea where along the edge of the forest he was. He could be anywhere.
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