Topic: The Adventures of Kith, the Cat, and the Khatun
Subject: The Defender
When he finished, he looked to Aranwen and Mosic. “When the guards hit the ground,” he said, gesturing vaguely to the milling throng of skeletons below, “make your way down as quickly as you are able. Do not wait. Kithran and I will not be far behind.”
Aranwen nodded, "Do not worry about us. I will protect Mosic. Focus on your targets, and be silent and swift, both of you."
The paw at her shoulder then, she didn't think too much of as she returned her gentle smile. As it lifted to brush her cheek, however, her eyes widened just slightly in surprise, before softening around the edges, and the faintest hint of a blush remained even after Ch'dau had turned away. It was sudden, and short, but she found herself wondering...
Just how long had it been since she had shared in someone's touch like that? Even if it were a brief, innocent touch. Would it even share the same meanings across the cultures? She couldn't be sure.
Aranwen shook her head, thinking of the stones beneath her feet, the very faint evening breeze tugging at her hair. She brought herself back to the here and now. The present. She needed to be alert. Atop the wall, Aranwen kept watch of the movements below on both sides of the wall, her head tilting one way then the other. In her scan, she saw Mosic's mouth open as if to speak, but no words came, and as she looked to him, he looked away.
"Something troubles you, Mosic," She murmured.
As she shared his thoughts, she couldn't help but feel that he was out of place. That he should perhaps be yet on the streets and seeing to others like the elder he had treated earlier that morning. Why choose them? Yet, she didn't dwell on it. If he was resolved to see this through, she would likewise be resolved to protect him, whether it was to protect him on their shared path, or protect him until he left to go where it diverged.
Little time to share her own feelings on that, however. Her gaze once more scanned her periphery, and she nearly swore as she looked to the streets below. A cloaked, unsettling shape investigating the garden where they were but a few minutes ago. Simultaneously, she heard the thuds of bodies striking the ground, even from this distance.
"It is time," Aranwen quickly grabbed the rope beside her, "Let us be quick."
Scaling down the wall, she was pleased to see that it seemed none of the skeletons remained to be in their direct path. They didn't have the intelligence to remain undistracted, it seemed. She drew her blade regardless, to have it ready. Then, as she followed Mosic, she watched and listened for any to approach them. None did, but she didn't relax even as they took refuge in the shadow of the exterior building. She kept looking to both sides, to be ready should they turn and advance. She motioned for the small shadowy Kithran to come towards them, while keeping her blade behind her in a reverse grip. All the better to keep some light from reflecting off of it and catching the attention of any of the skeletons.
“If nothing else,” Mosic quipped, glancing up at the bladesinger, “at least I’ll be able to say I’ve seen what kazari are capable of.”
"He is certainly impressive to see," Aranwen smiled, her eyes looking to the larger shadow still at the base of the outer wall, "And yet, despite how different he appears to our eyes, his heart is not so different. The very first words he spoke to me were in concern of a life not his own."
Perhaps, in some strange way, that is why I never saw him as alarming as others might, Aranwen thought to herself.
Posted on 2019-12-11 at 17:01:12.
Topic: The Adventures of Kith, the Cat, and the Khatun
Subject: The Waiting Game
The Cleric of Falloes’ suggestion of a rest prior to their storming of the Undolithe estate met a mixed reception. On one hand, there had been no disagreement that a respite would do them all some good. On the other hand, the little priest said he would need seven or eight hours and that didn’t seem to sit precisely well with Kithran.
“S-Seven to eight,” the thief gawked, almost blinking in disbelief, “I am uncomfortable again.”
Still crouched by the map drawn in the garden’s dirt, Ch’dau snorted out a short chuckle and gave a faint shake of his head. “Patience, Little Kitten,” he rumbled, erasing the map with the swipe of a paw before getting to his feet and turning his eyes skyward, “Khr’a’s Right Eye is still wide open. Seven or eight hours will certainly see it closed and, then, we will also have darkness to our advantage, yes?”
“What are you two going to do while we wait?” Kithran asked, bouncing on her toes and tugging her daggers free. She didn’t wait for an answer before barreling into her next question. “Samuel, you wanna lose a fight?..”
This evoked another chuckle from the Kazari and, again, that same slow shake of his head as he folded his arms across his chest.
“…Oh, actually,” the frenetic footpad continued before he could reply, “let’s fight when I get back. Unless . . .” her ebon eyes turned pointedly to Aranwen’s bag, “If you can manage not to cry, I will take you back up on your offer?”
“Morgana has seen both of us wearing my cloak,” the Bladesinger answered, “so if you grab one, make sure it’s not black.”
“Well then,” Kithran said with a clap of her hands and an impish grin blossoming on her lips, “I will be off then.” With that she turned and bounded off, pausing only long enough to call back over her shoulder; “I shouldn’t be too long, and I’ll stay nearby, but do not hesitate to rush valiantly in to rescue me if you hear me calling for Samuel.”
“Samuel will be there, kibibi,” The Silver Cat chuffed, lifting a paw in acknowledgement.
As he watched Kithran skitter away into Davnor’s streets, once more, Ch’dau refolded his arms across his chest, gave another chuckle, and turned his gaze on Aranwen. “How that girl has the patience for thievery,” he rumbled softly, “only Keziri knows.”
Aranwen nodded in agreement, giving a soft giggle herself, "The boundless energy of youth... without the wisdom of age for patience," she mused, "It's almost like looking in an odd mirror, in a way. I was no thief, but I was very impatient when I was young. Impatient to grow, impatient to prove myself ready before the eyes of the blademaster."
She looked over at Ch'dau, "What of you?" She asked, curiously, "You are skilled in battle now, and by what you shared earlier no stranger to hunting, but what of when you were younger?"
Aranwen sat at one of the nearby benches. Though she looked to relax, her head and eyes continued to scan their surroundings, looking one way then the other, maintaining a constant vigil over her companions.
Ch’dau offered a shrug at the golden-eyed warrior’s question and, as she retreated, followed her to the bench. “Much the same, I suppose,” he mused, settling in on the bench beside the Sylvari woman, “Anxious. Eager.”
His own gaze skimmed over the garden and the thoroughfares beyond. Before it returned to Aranwen, though, it settled on the diminutive blonde Cidal who currently knelt beside a well pruned hedge, apparently offering up devotions to his god… So much time kneeling, the Kazari thought, and not enough just accepting that your gods are watching. And so many of them, too! I fear none of what these monkeys do will ever make sense… He might have sighed, then, and, at last, his turquoise eyes fell back upon the golden ones of the Sylvari at his side. “When I was young, khatun,” he said after a moment, “I had not the considerations that seem common, here, amongst your kind.
I learned to hunt. I learned to fight. I learned the history of my clan. These were the things that were important.
This magic,” he nodded toward the praying Cid and, then, glanced briefly at the walls of Adedre’s compound, “This is a thing for khr’dun… how do you say? Shamans?.... and gods… and the Others. It is not something that, as cubs, we encounter often.” He shrugged again. “Here, though, it seems almost to be expected.
Even in my youngest of years,” he confessed, then, the words almost a whisper, “I was never led to believe that such things would be as common as they seem to be in your world.”
The cat-man’s head tilted curiously, then, and he studied the Sylvari’s face for a long moment. “Tell me, Aranwen,” he purred, “has magic always been so on Antaron? Is it the same among your people?”
Aranwen paused a moment as she returned Ch'dau's gaze, her golden eyes fading in thought, "Of the Sylvari too, there are those who dedicate their lives to their chosen god, clerics of many different paths. But, aside the power granted to them, other magics are very sparse. We feel that our gods take part in every aspect of our lives," She looked up, "You called that..." a pause for a moment as she tried to wrap her voice about the foreign word, "Keer'a's right eye?" She asked, "For that to be but the eye..." She paused as she tried, and failed to grasp the enormity of such a being. Such things were easier for Saeriel to visualize, "The ones we know seem much more specialized in their roles. The dancer of fortune, the lord of the trees who oversees the changing seasons..." She looked to Mosic, "The hand that aids those lost or in need..."
Aranwen looked back to Ch'dau, looking to his blue eyes, "But it has not always been so, if the older stories are to be believed. Those very old stories that you cannot be sure of how true they are, with how unbelievable they sound. A time so very long ago, where magic was as easy to grasp as breathing, where the very essense of magic lingered in the air, ground, and people. This was before the conflicts between people escalated, and then magic, the magical beings and ambient energies both, left Antaron, perhaps even left this world."
"I have to admit, it is almost too fantastic to believe," Aranwen offered with the shrug of a shoulder, "But she... Saeriel... she was an avid reader, and she showed me a book. A book that could not have been made with any craft or magic we know. An impossible book. And there are some stories of those who go missing, perhaps stumbling into that other realm, that realm of magic, wild and dangerous... at least, that's what it seems of those that return to speak of it."
“Hm,” the Kazari chuffed, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees as he tried to wrap his mind around all of what Aranwen had just said. “I suppose I can relate to at least some of that,” he said after a moment, “When I first awoke, here, I thought I might be in that magical realm you spoke of. Monkeys who wear finely crafted armor, wield forged steel, and build great cities of stone are not things I would ever have thought to see.
“And when I first encountered your folk,” he chuckled softly, then, turning his gaze back to Aranwen, “I was almost certain that I had fallen into some strange dream or that Khr’a had taken me away to show me some other world She had fashioned. Had I not discovered that there were other Kazari who had found themselves here, I never would have believed that we shared a world.”
Aranwen could not help but giggle at the description Ch'dau gave of Antaron. If all of his kind were as he looked, it served to reason that the species of Antaron would look as monkeys to them, "It is interesting to hear what it all looks like from someone to whom such sights are unusual and new. Even in the forests of the three kingdoms of the Sylvari, we are born in our dwellings and acclimate rapidly to what has been made by hands before our own, so quickly that we may not ever think of it..."
Once more, Aranwen's gaze scanned their surroundings. This time however, she was looking less for any new and suspicious presences, and instead looked with fresh eyes at where they were. She might not have completely grasped what it was she felt then, but it was a strange sensation.
Turning back to Ch'dau, Aranwen gave a warm smile, "But if you have stumbled upon a dream, I only hope it will be a good one," she offered, her eyes warm and sincere, "Even if recent experiences might suggest otherwise."
“It is getting better,” the Kazari purred, his ears and tail twitching as he nodded at Aranwen.
She held a hand to her chest; the words she spoke were as much for herself as for Ch'dau, "I was wondering though, that word you used in reference to me, Khatun, what does it mean?" She asked.
“Khatun,” Ch’dau repeated, “is a title of respect and honor. There are a few words in this Apanonese that mean the same… leader… commander… chief…”
Aranwen blinked, taken aback at being given such a title, "And you mean me?" She asked, "Are you sure? Such a title doesn't sound one to be given lightly..." she trailed off, uncertainty plain on her face and in her eyes.
The Silver Cat shrugged. “I have been fighting for as long as I can remember,” he said, “and, as a fighter, I am good. It does not take much to fight, though; a strong arm, a willingness to kill…” A faint chuffing sound, not quite a chuckle, escaped him then, as if he had suddenly come to finaly realize the truth of what he said next; “…the determination to live through today in order to fight, again, tomorrow. Simple things.
To lead, though,” his gaze dropped to where her hand rested on her chest for an instant and, then, lifted back to catch her eyes, again, “takes much more. I have not known you long, Aranwen, but, already, I have seen all of what it means to be a leader and more in you. I have served under many, fought alongside more, and in the few hours I have spent in your company, you have already surpassed the wisdom of them all.”
The Sylvari Bladesinger gave a soft sound, it seemed an embarrassed chuckle, her head bowed slightly, "I am honoured that you think so..." In her heart she wanted to object, to give voice to the concern that she was not truly qualified, but in this moment, she felt Ch'dau's sincerity in his words, and the warmth in them... it felt good. For the first time in a long while, she felt the flame within her kindled, and strong. She nodded, "Then, I will do my utmost to be worthy of the name," She promised, "For you, Mosic, and -"
“Were you not worthy, Aranwen Galandel,” Ch’dau rumbled pointedly, “I would not name you so. I owe you as much a debt as Kithran, it seems.” He lifted a hand and rested it lightly on the womans shoulder, his eyes fixed on hers; “I will fight beside you to the end, my Khatun, and, with honor, give my life at your command. My blood is yours, just as yours is mine.”
Aranwen blinked, as if the oath he’d just pledged was both unexpected and unworthy of being sworn to her. Her mouth hung open for a moment and several words began to form but never quite finished before, beneath the hood, Ch’dau winked. “All this means, khatun, is that is my pleasure to fight at your side for however long that may be.”
She smiled, perhaps a bit more at ease with the ‘responsibility’ with which he may have unwittingly burdened her than she had been at first. Then, deftly, turned the conversation to other topics.
Over the next short while, Ch’dau and Aranwen chatted idly, learning little bits of each other with each turn of phrase. While they chatted, Aranwen's hands were busy, putting knots into a length of rope she had retrieved from her pack. So it went until, during one of the Bladesinger’s perpetual scans of their surroundings, movement caught her eye, and she immediately turned, her head lifting towards the nearby rooftop. A skulking and mischievous figure already familiar to her was crouched up above, a young woman who clearly thought herself better hidden than she was, "Kithran!" She called up, "I see you up there. What are you doing?”
As Ch’dau’s gaze tracked the path Ara’s had taken, he spotted Kith’s form silhouetted against the sky as she rose from a crouch on a nearby rooftop.
“How, Aranwen?!” the rogue demanded, irritatedly tossing the bow back over her shoulder and the arrow back in its quiver. Her plot dismantled, she finds her way down and jogs back over to the others.
"I ran into your little girl, Aranwen, that Saina, and took this from her mother's shop." She steps back and turns, holding her arms out to show off the dark blue cloak, "Nice, huh?" She hops back over to them, "So, what did you talk about while I was away? Was it me?"
“Mostly, kibibi,” the Kazari chided, “no other subject could be quite as entertaining.”
Aranwen lifted a finger to her temples, "She's not my little girl, but at least we know she does have a parent... I did see her in the crowd before arriving here, asleep in the arms of a woman, but couldn't be sure," she gave a soft sigh, before looking over to examine Kithran's find, wandering over to test the fabric with her touch, "This is rather well made," She noted, before smiling at the half-syl, "Tightly woven, sturdy, and the fit... If I didn't know better, I'd guess that it was tailored to your size. A nice find indeed."
She had a strong feeling that in the moment that she had leaned in, Kithran's sticky fingers would have taken the silver pin placed at her belt, or possibly something from her bag, but she didn't react to it. It was simple, but well designed, shaped as a flame like would be seen on a candle, engraved so as to have depth to the flame.
"For the how," Aranwen chuckled, "You can thank Morgana for that; she ambushed me by a tripwire connected to a net placed up above in an alley, so I was being particularly watchful of the roof line."
Standing back upright, Aranwen looked once more to the walls of the estate, "If the pattern I saw continues through the eve, it seems as though there is a guard that passes across the battlements every ten minutes, moving from our left to the right. Given the leisurely pace they go, I can guess that it's one of the more relaxed, and probably coveted patrol routes in the estate. I can't say if their gaze crosses this wall again elsewhere on their patrol, but once we wait for them to pass there should be ample time to scale the wall."
"As to the scaling itself... we just need one person to get on top, secure and lower this," she offered the knotted rope she held, "and then it should not be too difficult for the rest of us to follow."
Posted on 2019-12-07 at 21:56:47.