Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
Ding dong, here I come to find you
Earlier, on the Dravnor streets...
Aranwen ran and wove through the streets, not going towards somewhere specific. She was only putting as much distance as she dared between where she was and where she knew Ch'dau, Kithran, and Mosic were. Then she'd put the cloak back in her bag and doubled around. At least that was the plan.
In a narrow ally, her foot caught on a tripline, and she nearly stumbled forward. Aranwen heard the line slip, and followed the sound up. A net was coming down directly at her.
In a fluid motion, she drew her blade, cleaving through the threads so two halves fell to either side of her. Aranwen was about to sheath her blade and keep moving, but a voice chilled her to her core.
Ah, so you switched clothing. Clever.
Looking behind her, Aranwen saw one of the same manniquins she had fought from thirty years ago approaching her, and she took an unconscious step back.
"You!" Aranwen gasped, "No, oh no."
Though she had spent the past thirty years inconsistently attempting to track down Morgana, now that she was face to mask with one of those puppets, Aranwen faltered, at a loss of what to do, and her blade likewise shook in her unsteady hands. The mannequin seemed to shrug its shoulders, head tilting to one side as the mask seemed to be even a bit more smug in its smile.
So, it is you. I couldn't help but wonder. That you've kept strength of will these past years is very... promising.
Hearing Morgana's voice snapped Aranwen out of her fear, "What are you doing here?!" She demanded, her blade steady as she held it ready between her and the puppet, "Don't tell me-"
Much sharper than you used to be, too. Yes, I happen to have a contract in the area. You, however, are not part of it.
Aranwen bit her lip. She knew Morgana had more than one puppet at her disposal, but perhaps, if she could just keep Morgana's attention...
"What did you do, thirty years ago?" Aranwen asked, taking a glimpse behind her with the reflection of her blade to make sure she wasn't being flanked by another puppet, "I want to know."
The mannequinn shook as if laughing, though Morgana herself didn't. Afterwards, it straightened up, lifting a hand to its chin as if in thought.
No. You really don't. But while we're on the subject... I wonder... might you be interested to hear a... proposition?
Aranwen's eyes narrowed, and she forced herself to keep breathing steady, "What?"
I wonder if you would be interested in... a deal.
* * *
Aranwen's blade shook in her trembling hands, though whether in fear or rage she couldn't say. The edges of her lips twisted between snarl and passive shock as she mouthed words she didn't put voice to. Finally, she spat at the puppet, "No. You cannot promise the impossible," she raised her blade, "How... How dare you" she whispered, her golden eyes burning with molten fury.
Your reaction is an understandable one. But you must realize that you do not know me. Nor what I am capable of.
The puppet suddenly stopped moving entirely for a moment, and Aranwen frowned, once again using her blade to glance behind her and be certain that she was not being ambushed. Then the puppet moved again, shrugging its shoulders.
It seems I must cut this talk short, my dear. Think on it, won't you?
The puppet turned its back. This time Aranwen moved to strike it. Keep it distracted. But her feet would not move.
"Ah! What?" Aranwen looked down, and saw that the loose threads of the net had coiled about her ankles.
Still don't look at what is already there, do you? Farewell, my dear.
Aranwen could do little more than glare at the puppet as it left the alley and disappeared from her sight.
Posted on 2019-11-11 at 13:49:57.
Edited on 2019-11-12 at 11:56:24 by Reralae
“Those are fair questions to raise, Kithran.” The bladesinger responded as Kith crossed her arms, “My thought was that, should I be ambushed, then I'd wager that I was successful in drawing their attention. Better for one to be caught than for all to be caught, in this case. Especially one that they are not actually after - I doubt they'd linger overlong when they realized they went after someone they weren't being paid for,"
The thief's face scrunched disapprovingly at the reply, “Maybe, Aranwen,” she sighed in resignation, there were too many ‘ifs’ she wouldn’t be a part of for her liking--and a captured bladesinger would sorely put a dent in their plans.
Kithran nodded at Aranwen’s suggestion to reconvene at the small garden near Adedre’s estate, her fingers itching instinctively as the Syl handed the Cleric her coin purse, "For the apothecary, and should I be ambushed I'd rather not have my coins added to their paycheck." Kith rolled her eyes and made her way for the kitchen door.
"Everyone ready?" She asked the group.
“As you say, khatun,” the Silver Cat chuffed, behind her.
Kith turned to wave at the bladesinger, “Be quick in your mind and your feet, Aranwen, and do not get caught.” And with that she disappeared into the kitchen, ignoring the surprised or angry staff who yelled at her only until the Kazari stalked in behind her. His true nature may have been more or less obscured, but even without those fangs dripping in one’s face, he struck a rather intimidating figure, one which she was glad to have around.
Their travel through the city looked much like their trip from the cellar to the inn: Kithran weaving ahead as their scout, avoiding as many unobscured routes as she could, and keeping an eye out for any would-be ambushers. This time she would make sure to take better note of the smaller folk in order to avoid another Saina situation.
Hardly any time at all seemed to pass before she found herself in an alleyway nearby the Lovely Lavender and Kith positive they had been followed by neither a vicious thug nor a harmless child. She waited in the alley for Ch’dau and Mosic to arrive, relieved that neither of them had noticed any eyes on them either.
“Hopefully we will remain out of their eye for the time being. Ch’dau,” she looked up at the cat-beast, “it is probably best if you stay out here. Keep to the shadows but do not hesitate to cry out for me if you need help.” She grinned and turned to the cleric, “And Mosic, you should probably do most of the talking. If I so much as breathe in their direction they’ll likely try to sell me some kind of perfume.” She shook her head, “Honestly, it is every time. I am either very beautiful or very smelly, or perhaps a combination of both, okay, let’s go, priest!” she said without taking a breath, and hopped around the corner to the store’s front.
She really did not want to go in first. She had been teasing, but she truly was not safe from the tonic and perfume peddling and was often bombarded with both in these places. She'd walk in for bandages and herbs to keep her wounds clean, and walk out smelling as though her rent were due.Still, the Cidal priest took a beat longer than she was comfortable with, especially without the added cover of her cloak, but he finally appeared around the corner and she ushered him toward the door.
The earthy and strange scents of herbs and medicines, incense and who knew what else filled Kith’s nose and lungs and she felt as though she could taste each of them.
The sound of clapping drew her attention to the store’s enthusiastic owner, "Please, come in," The woman greeted Mosic and Kithran, her voice warm and welcoming, and perhaps even a touch relieved. Mayhap it was a slow day for her thus far, "What might I be able to help you with today?" She asked.
"Good morn," Mosic replied with a smile, "I am looking for spare bandages and perhaps some balms or ointment to help soothe sutured skin. Anything also that you might recommend for treating open wounds or cuts."
Other than a brief interaction in which Kithran expressed her unfortunate inability to speak or to care what the woman had to offer her, she was left alone to wander and swipe as she desired. Upon initial inspection however, and with what painfully little she knew of medicinal herbs and the such, it appeared that the most helpful items were back on the display at which the shopkeeper now made her place.
She was a force, this one, and Kith almost felt bad for the poor Cid as he dodged her unabashedly aggressive selling style. If she could only find a way to signal to the priest to draw her attention now away from the good items.
The door to the apothecary swung open once more, if not a bit more aggressively than necessary, and Kithran slowly moved to put the wall at her back as she regarded the strange new character. Their cloak hid their features, but the long, lankiness of their build could mean nothing but that it was a Sylvari. Still . . . there was something about the way it sauntered in, purposefully, yet as though drawn forward. And that smell, even among the other pungent aromas that filled the store, its smell stung at her senses.
The creature seemed to scan the room through the hood's opening, and even the shopkeeper seemed unsure whether to greet the or hide under her counter. Both shopkeeper and priest followed the gaze of the conspicuoius Syl until finally it fell upon Kithran. It took a purposeful step toward her and her hands went to the handles of her blades, "Mosic . . . ."
The Sylvari lunged at her blindingly fast and Kith was just barely able to leap wildly out of its way. They crashed hard into the shelves of potted plants and jars, breaking everything in their path.
Kithran rolled from the floor to her feet and jumped backwards into the shopkeeper's counter as the woman ducked beneath it, and the Syl began to gain its footing once more. The thief reached back without looking for the Cidal's head to push him toward the door, "Go get Ch'dau, go go go go!" The priest raced toward the door as the cloaked figure lumbered swiftly at Kith again.
She dodged away once more as the creature slammed down on the countertop, breaking a hole it the wood before swiping out to the side at her. Kith ducked and from her crouched position, hurled herself onto the counter, dodging another swipe as she stood, pulling both daggers and leaping at its head. She landed with a leg on either shoulder, stabbing down into the dark face within the cloak.
But her blades slid away, deflected as the hood of the cloak fell away. What should have been a Sylvari face was instead a mask, smooth and all black save for the emerald in its forehead, and bright red lips, which remained unmoving as it spoke to her.
Well, aren't you rather fiesty, dear Kithran?
"What the--" but before she could finish the creature leapt, grasping her tightly to it as it slammed her into the ground.
Posted on 2019-11-11 at 20:13:37.
Edited on 2020-01-31 at 21:11:21 by breebles
Eol Fefalas Keeper of the Kazari RDI Staff Karma: 462/28 8484 Posts
Of Medicine, Masquerades, and Mannequins
As Aranwen pulled her cloak about her and exited The Countess and Cockatrice via the front door, Kith, Ch’dau, and Mosic made their departure through the kitchen. The Silver Cat was surprised, if not suspicious, that no more of Adedre’s henchmen awaited them. Following Kithran’s lead, they melted into the crowd and worked their way toward the apothecary. Ch’dau’s eyes were in constant motion, his senses sharp and keen for the faintest hint of trouble as they moved from one place to the next. Kith, too, seemed easily focused on seeing to it that she led them along the path of least resistance. Mosic, however, didn’t seem quite sure of what he should be doing other than following along behind the half-syl thief, and, after a furtive glance or two at the kazari that stalked surprisingly silently along beside him, at last coaxed a sidelong look from the cat-beast.
“What?” Ch’dau demanded softly, catching the little priest’s eyes peering inquisitively up at him.
“I… It’s nothing, I suppose,” Mosic replied, “I’m just curious, I suppose.”
“A lot of things, I admit,” the Cid replied with a faint chuckle, “Presently, though, the way you fought…”
The great cowled head turned and the priest caught a glint of light playing off the gree-blue eyes that peered at him from its shodowed depths. He had expected words to follow that look but none came.
“…I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone fight quite like that. It seemed as if there was no thought…er… no hesitation,” Mosic hastily corrected, “before you threw yourself into it.”
The diminutive cleric shrugged; “And… well… you killed them all…”
“Not all,” Ch’dau snorted, “Kith had killed one, already. Aranwen, also, took the life from another, I believe.”
“Well, yes,” Mosic nodded absently, pondering his next words, “but, with you, it seemed… indiscriminate?”
“I do not know this word.”
“It means… um…” The cleric of Falloes’ face twisted in an expression of puzzlement. “….Hmmm… You didn’t care who you killed, I guess might be the best way to explain it?”
“I cared,” the kazari snorted, “I did not kill Kithran, or Aranwen, or you.”
“Right,” the Cid nodded, “but the other, even the ones who no longer offered a fight, you didn’t hesitate to kill them. It was as is… as if you didn’t have a plan… that you…”
“I had plan,” Ch’dau retorted, “Kill the big one first. He was closest to Kithran. Posed the greatest threat.”
“What about the ones who no longer posed a threat? The woman with the bow? The one unconscious at the bottom of the stairs?”
“They entered the battle, little one,” the kazari chuffed, “They knew death was possible and should have accepted it before they did so. I do not know how your kind fight, but Kazari do not leave an enemy breathing on the field. If your enemy still breathes, your enemy can still fight and, so, is still a threat.”
“Your kind doesn’t believe in mercy?”
“Mercy is for the weak. If you seek mercy, do not seek a fight.”
Especially with a kazari, it would seem, Mosic smirked to himself. “Have you ever left an opponent alive?”
“Perhaps,” the massive shape beside him shrugged, “Though, if I have, I have not seen their faces since”
Mosic couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “No,” he snickered, “I don’t suppose you would have.”
“You are a strange little monkey, Mosic Townes.”
“And you, Samuel, are an open book.”
“I do not know what that means.”
When priest and mercenary arrived in the alley shortly after Kith, the little Cid was still chuckling softly. Her curious and, perhaps, slightly irritated glance flicked between the two and she asked if either of them had paid enough attention to know if they had been followed. Both responded in the negative.
“Good, hopefully we will be safe for now then. Ch’dau,” she looked up at the cat-beast, “it is probably best if you stay out here. Keep to the shadows but do not hesitate to cry out for me if you need help…”
“You will be the first person I call, kibibi,” the Silver Cat assured her with a nod.
…She grinned and turned to the cleric, “And Mosic, you should probably do most of the talking. If I so much as breathe in their direction they’ll likely try to sell me some kind of perfume.” She shook her head, “Honestly, it is every time. I am either very beautiful or very smelly.” She grinned, “Or perhaps a combination of both, okay, let’s go, priest!” she said without taking a breath, and hopped around the corner to the store’s front with Mosic close behind.
As the two disappeared from the alleyway and into the shop, Ch’dau pressed himself into a shadowed nook, his attentions on the street beyond and the traffic that passed, there. For a while, there were none who passed that roused his suspicion, only the traffic one might consider normal on the streets of any town or city on Antaron that he’d ever seen, anway. After a time, though, one figure passed quietly by his shadowed nook and set his nerves on end.
Built like a Syl, the creature was, but the smell was wrong. Rainwater, flowers, the sun shining through the forest canopy; these were the scents he usually associated with Aranwen’s folk. The one that passed by, though, seemed to be surrounded by a cloud of cloying perfume and, beneath that, ever so subtley, hung the odor of wood… dry and worked, not fresh and green like might emenate from a Syl. He wasn’t sure exactly why but the curious figure made him anxious and, after it passed the alleys mouth, Ch’dau slipped from his alcove and padded into the street behind it, watching as it made it’s way purposefully into the same shop that Kith and Mosic were visiting. The Silver Cat hesitated, unsure as to wether or not his suspicion warranted following the strange being into the shop just yet. As he deliberated, though, and only an instant after the thing had entered the shop, a shout and crash told him he had already waited too long.
Ch’dau reached under his cloak and tugged a short sword free even as he pounded for the apothecary’s door. As he reached for the latch, the door suddenly flung open before him and, standing in its jamb was Mosic. “Sweet Father Falloes,” the Cid blinked up at him, “I had hoped you were watching…” Mosic was already stepping aside, motioning to where Kith was being slammed to the floor by the odd creature who had drawn Ch’dau from the alley. “….Kithran…”
The kazari needed no further explanation, nor did he hear any if it was given. Rather, he strode past the little cleric and, snarling, reached out to haul the overly fragrant attacker off of the thief. He didn’t hesitate, either, in running a blade through the back of the thing. Instead of finding flesh, however, the blade sang out as if it had struck bone or wood. Ch’dau’s face was a mask of confusion, then, even as the thing’s head swiveled around to gawk at him through the sightless eyes of a smooth mask…
Posted on 2019-11-11 at 21:33:19.
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
Let's play a little game and have fun
With the impact forcing Kithran to the ground, the puppet wasted no time stepping over her and then kneeling down, pinning her lower body with its weight.
Looks like I have won, Kithran.
One hand went towards its face, but the puppet was suddenly yanked off of Kithran. In that instant where its feet weren't touching the ground, it seemed to flop backward like a limp doll, before it found its footing once again. Not even a moment later, and Ch'dau's strike hit true. A mortal wound on any living humanoid. Yet, instead of flesh, the blade struck wood, and the head on the puppet twisted completely around to look directly at Ch'dau.
The shopkeeper still hid behind the counter, but her veil was just visible over the lip as she watched the commotion unfold, backed up against the shelving and making herself as inconspicous as possible, her hands held in front of her in a pitiful defensive posture.
So, this is the cat... Ch'dau, if I heard right... Yes. I do see why she desires you so.
The puppet's arms bent at an impossible angle for a Sylvari, revealing that its limbs were not so limited in mobility. The actual structure of the puppet seemed akin to a poseable mannequin akin to those used by artists, but much larger, and shaped far closer to that of a Sylvari. It reached forward in an attempt to grab Ch'dau, but a retaliating slash against the outstretched hand served to repel that attempt.
Hm, she neglected to mention the extent of your physical strength. Little wonder Aranwen trusted you two to be safe enough without her.
One hand reached back towards Kithran quite suddenly, as though it could still track and see Kithran even with the mask turned towards Ch'dau.
No matter. What will you do now, Kazari? I trust you'll find me far more... durable... than those low grade mercenaries you slew earlier. And I only need hold you long enough to subdue you.
Posted on 2019-11-12 at 00:28:22.
Eol Fefalas Keeper of the Kazari RDI Staff Karma: 462/28 8484 Posts
Kazari do NOT play!
So, this is the cat... Ch'dau, if I heard right... Yes. I do see why she desires you so.
The kazari responded with little more than a growl as he wrenched his blade free of the wooden body hidden beneath the cloak. Even as he did so, the creature’s arms bent in a disturbingly unnatural manner, reaching back (or was it forward, now?) to grab at Ch’dau. The cat-man’s response was instinctual and swift, lashing out to easily bat the reaching appendage away…
Hm, she neglected to mention the extent of your physical strength, the creature’s disembodied voice said, Little wonder Aranwen trusted you two to be safe enough without her.
One of the thing’s hands reached back then, stretching out with the intent to grab Kithran even though the mask’s unblinking eyes were still fixed on the kazari.
No matter. What will you do now, Kazari, the thing taunted, I trust you’ll find me far more… durable… than those low-grade mercenaries you slew earlier. And I only need to hold you long enough to subdue you.
As unsettling as the masked thing was, Ch’dau couldn’t help but let loose an almost sadistic chuckle in answer to that last bit. It does not matter how durable you think you are, the cat-beast snarled, even the most heavily armored fighter has weak spots at it’s joints!
He took hold of the mannequin’s arm, just below where it’s shoulder should have been, and hauled it savagely back, denying it the opportunity to reach Kith. The thing reacted quickly, abandoning it’s attempted capture of the thief and, with one arm still free, swung it at the Kazari’s head. The blow staggered Ch’dau, though not enough that he fell or even failed to maintain his grip on the creature’s other arm. As the thing hauled back to deliver another blow, a flash of white and gold flickered in Ch’dau’s peripheral vision. There was a shout, then, followed by a solid thunk that seemed to vibrate through the mannequin’s body and the thing seemed to jerk in surprise as Mosic jerked the flange of his mace clear of the wooden body…
The little cleric gave a quick nod to the cat-beast, then, and scampered away to help Kithran to her feet. “Come, young miss,” he insisted, doing his best to lift the thief from the ground, “our welcome here seems to have as short a life as that thing is about to.”
…The shock of the quick little cleric’s blow forgotten, the mannequin sought to strike at the Kazari, again. Thanks to Mosic’s intervention, though, the renewed attack was half-a-blink late and Ch’dau caught the creature’s other arm in a grip identical to that which held the other. He pulled the thing close, snarling as his eyes glared deep into the empty eye holes of the mask. “You cannot hold me,” he growled, the muscles in his shoulders flexing as his grip tightened and he began to pull, “if you do not have arms!” With a roar and a jerk, he tore the things arms from it’s body.
Posted on 2019-11-12 at 13:37:10.
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
Our eyes are locked together
The wood audibly strained and splintered under Ch'dau's pull. It seemed more resistant than if it were flesh and bone, but not resistant enough, and with the sound of several threads snapping, the ball joints of the shoulders came undone, leaving scattered torn threads in the open socket.
Ch'dau could feel weight at his hips even as the puppet brought the mask closer to his face.
You are very much like Aranwen, aren't you?
The puppet twisted it's feet together behind the small of Ch'dau's back, locking its hold, and the gemstone seemed to brighten.
Though invisible to the others, Ch'dau could feel threads beginning to weave themselves upon his body. Individually he might have snapped them without a thought, but the combined strength of all of the threads began to stifle muscle movement where they spread, bit by bit...
I have a stabbing sensation right *gestures everywhere* here
Kithran’s eyes and consciousness flutter as she gasps for air.
Wake up, Kithran . . . .
A black mask, red lips, and emerald waver like water above her, intertwining and confusing her thoughts and her memories.
time for you to go home . . .
Looks like I have won . . .
Wake up . . .
The mask disappears and she takes in a deep breath as it feels like a weight has been lifted off of her. As more air fills her lungs, the room begins to fall back in place, and Kithran finds herself back in the apothecary, the sound of splintering wood vaguely in her ears.
Kithran leans up on her elbow gingerly, patting the spot in the back of her head that felt like a dagger slowly pressing into her skull and found it damp with blood.
. . . Little wonder Aranwen trusted you two to be safe enough without her.
Kithran’s head finally jerked up and her eyes refocused on the creature that had crushed her into the floor. It knew Aranwen?
Without turning its arm bent awkwardly back and a hand reached out for her, impossibly fast.
No matter. What will you do now, Kazari? I trust you'll find me far more... durable... than those low grade mercenaries you slew earlier. And I only need hold you long enough to subdue you.
Kith gasped in surprise and pushed herself away from it has fast as she could, slamming into the counter and groaning as her head bounced once more off the wood. Where it should have grabbed her, it missed, and Kith’s face fell forward into her hands as the pounding and pain riddled her senses. She could hear the fight continuing above her, but any attempt to look up at it caused the stabbing to spread throughout her skull.
She felt the small, now familiar hands of the cleric pull at her arm, “Come, young miss--”
“Kith.” she corrected and groaned
“--our welcome here seems to have as short a life as that thing is about to.” He tugs again at her elbow and Kith yanks it out of his hands.
“I am . . . having trouble, Mosic.” She presses on her temples, her face still buried in her hands, and wills it to bring her any kind of relief, “Fix me or . . . drag me. Those are . . . your options.”
The Cidal’s eyes widen at the blood dripping down the thief’s neck, incensed that he had missed it before, “Of course,” he places one hand on Kith’s shoulder, while grasping his symbol of Falloes in the other.
In moments that same warmth from the healing Mosic had offered earlier in the day washed away her pain, and the relief Kithran felt was immediate and insurmountable. She hopped up to her feet, “Thanks Mosic, you are useful!” she grasped her blades from where they had fallen beside her and watches Ch’dau rip the thing’s arms out as though it were a doll. Before she could jump in to assist, the armless creature wraps its legs around his waist.
You are very much like Aranwen, aren't you?
And it seems to squeeze the large Kazari with surprising strength, Ch’dau gritting his teeth, unable to break its grasp.
Kithran stays low as she approaches, readying her blades to strike at the joints, the only weakness she imagined she would be able to exploit. She lunges forward, striking upward with both daggers, then back down as the soulless mask turned her way. More confident now in the wake of the vexation of the beast, Kithran continues her onslaught until finally the leg and creature fall free.
Ch'dau regains his swords beside her and even the little Mosic has his mace at the ready as they loom above this thing, "It appears I've won, actually. You do not seem like one of the slitch's goons. Who are you? How do you know who we are?"
Posted on 2019-11-12 at 19:58:04.
Edited on 2020-01-31 at 21:33:15 by breebles
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
Our game has just begun
The puppet fell away from Ch'dau once Kithran's dagger had severed the threads that held its leg to its torso, causing the ball joint there to fall apart. The threads it was weaving faded into the aether, and the puppet collapsed onto the ground with a thud.
The puppet lay lifeless, unmoving, as the three loomed over it.
"It appears I've won, actually. You do not seem like one of the slitch's goons. Who are you? How do you know who we are?" Kithran asked it.
Morgana did not answer. Just about the only sound in the apothecary now was the sound of their own breathing, and a soft grinding sound, almost like the puppet was breathing as well. The silence was almost deafening in its completeness.
"I asked you a question!" Kithran poked the wood of the puppet with a dagger tip.
I'm in no state to answer. I'm a bit in pieces, as you can see. Morgana gave a hollow chuckle.
"You sure talk just fine."
But as everyone was breathing, the air almost began to feel heavier. Quite suddenly, a bowl landed in the middle of the group, breaking on top of the wooden torso of the puppet, scattering powder into the air. A glance to the source of the bowl revealed the shopkeeper with a hand over her lips in surprise, as if to say 'did I do that?'. The powder dispersed into the air from the impact, directly in the faces of all three intent on interrogating the puppet.
I am Morgana, and you are my prey.
The miasma of airborne sleeping powder slowly spread outward from the point of impact. In the enclosed space of the apothecary, it would not be long before it saturated the breathable air inside.
Despite the fact that the shopkeeper would also be exposing herself to the same powder, she remained standing behind the counter, seemingly unaffected as she watched the group around the broken puppet.
Posted on 2019-11-12 at 21:41:12.
Edited on 2019-11-13 at 08:54:46 by Reralae
Kithran sat crouched at the foot of the puppet, poking its wooden sole with her new plain blade repeatedly and waiting for it to answer. A silence fell over the fragrant room for just a moment before a bowl suddenly crashed on the torso of the creature, breaking apart and dispersing a powder almost impossibly quick around them. The powder filled Kith’s lungs as she jumped back up. Her thoughts somehow felt heavy, and slow as she stood, and she reached out for Ch’dau for support as her eyes began to droop.
I am Morgana, the voice spoke out to them once more through the haze, and you are my prey.
Kith looked down at the immobile puppet, then to the veiled shopkeeper, standing in the direction from which the bowl had flown. She seemed unaffected by the dust as she watched their group in their hesitation. Her vision blurred briefly and she pat Ch’dau’s arm where she grasped it, croaking as her throat was thick with the powder, “We have to get out of here.”
Trusting the Kazari’s movements, she grasped the cloak about his shoulders with one hand, and Mosic’s collar with the other as the trio shot out of the door of apothecary in a plume of powered clouds. Kith’s legs felt as though they were being dragged through molasses as she followed the large silver cat, but she was able to suck in deep breaths of clean air out here, and by the time Ch’dau lead them into another alley, she felt confident in standing on her own again. She leaned against the wall, focusing on her breaths as her mind caught up to her, and listened as the others wondered at what that thing, that Morgana, was.
With a heavy breath the thief pushed herself off the wall, “That thing knows Aranwen. A few of Adedre’s minions might be nothing for her, but if our bladesinger is ambushed by one of those creatures,” she shrugged, “I don’t know, but we may be out a bladesinger. Let’s head to the garden. Hopefully she will meet us there shortly.” And if so I can ask her why the f*** she didn’t warn us we might have more than a demented necromancer on us.
Kith reached for a third time for a cloak that wasn’t about her shoulders and readjusted their course for the small garden they had agreed to meet the Sylvari woman, hoping she would be there for her to berate.
Posted on 2019-11-17 at 23:08:43.
Edited on 2019-11-18 at 09:40:24 by breebles
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
The Other Side
In a place outside of the attention of roaming eyes mortal or magical alike, the one known as Morgana sat alone, perched upon her chair in the middle of an ornate octagonal room. Irritation gripped at her cheek, lifting her lips into a half snarl. She waved a hand, sending the two crystal mirrors she was looking through to be taken away upon their threads, to join the others passively hanging along the walls. A beautiful diorama of crystal panes, held aloft on blood red threads.
"Ugh, well, that went about as badly as it could have gone," Morgana gripped her forehead in frustration for a moment, before she relaxed, leaning back in the chair, "At least my beautiful doll is undamaged. I took a great risk using the lovely Lavender like that. Would that I could let her face be seen without the risk of revealing my hand..."
"Trouble?" The voice of another woman asked from the stairwell, "I've not heard you sigh so in decades."
"This latest commission is turning rather sour," Morgana leaned on one hand, idly fidgeting with the threads upon the armrest of her chair with the other, "Could have lost a mask, and had to reveal more of my hand to keep it out of theirs, at the risk of one of my beautiful dolls."
"My, that does sound vexing," The other woman offered with a soothing voice, "And your dolls are truly lovely. Speaking of which, have you decided on your next one? You remember your promise, don't you?"
The tips of Morgana's lips curled into a smile, "I have, and of course I do."
With a weave of her hands, Morgana brought one of the other crystal panels to her, before waving it off for the woman to see.
"I do think you'll approve my choice," Morgana's voice nearly purred.
"Yes," Morgana's smile grew wider, "Do you approve, my dear A'nia?"
Posted on 2019-11-18 at 21:53:06.
Eol Fefalas Keeper of the Kazari RDI Staff Karma: 462/28 8484 Posts
As expected, the wooden thing’s arms tore free of it’s body and clattered to the floor where he dropped them.Unexpected, though, was that, despite missing arms, the creature still clung to him; it’s legs calmping tightly about his waist, heels digging into the small of his back, and threads that he could not see, then, twining themselves about him and threatening to crush the breath from him with each passing second…
You are very much like Aranwen, aren't you, the mannequin jeered in it’s incorporeal voice as the mask pressed closer and the gem set into it seemed to glow brighter.
…I have only just met Aranwen, the kazari thought, his teeth clenching against the strain the puppet was placing on him, but I do hope so. Beyond the looming mask, Ch’dau saw Mosic moving to Kith’s side and, hoping to distract the thing from it’s own notice of the thief and cleric, managed to get a grip on either side of the creature’s ‘face.’ “This is a wat you will not win,” the Silver Cat snarled, pressing with all the strength he could muster on either side of the mask, “Hide your face as you will, but remember mine!”
Just as the first cracking sound snapped the air around the masked, wooden face, there was, also, a flash of darkness and steel. The increasing pressure about his hips and chest lessened and, then, fell away entirely as Kith’s attacks hewed through the thing’s hip-joints and the mannequin slipped from his grasp.
Tch. Almost. The voice was disappointed but far from defeated as Mosic, Ch’dau, and Kith loomed over the motionless thing to which it had been attached.
“It appears I've won, actually,” Kith sneered, glaring down at the thing, “You do not seem like one of the slitch's goons. Who are you? How do you know who we are?”
The dismembered puppet didn’t respond straight away and, in their curiosity as to how or even if it might respond, Ch’dau and the others failed to notice the apothecary, herself, still hastily grinding herbs and K’hra-only-knew-what-else in her mortar…
Irritated, Kith poked at the still, wooden form; “I asked you a question!”
I'm in no state to answer. I'm a bit in pieces, as you can see.
"You sure talk just fine."
… Quite suddenly, a bowl landed in the middle of the group, breaking on top of the wooden torso of the puppet, scattering powder into the air. A glance to the source of the bowl revealed the shopkeeper with a hand over her lips in surprise, as if to say 'did I do that?' The powder dispersed into the air from the impact, directly in the faces of all three intent on interrogating the puppet.
I am Morgana, the disembodied voice almost sniggered, and you are my prey.
Kazari are not prey, Ch’dau thought even as the spreading cloud threatened to numb his thoughts along with his body, we are predators! The feel of Kithran’s hand, clutching at his fur in that moment, prompted a blink from him and, in that fractional span of time, too, convinced him to hold his breath.
“We have to get out of here,” Kithran wheezed, patting at his arm, then.
Ch’dau’s turquoise glare flicked from the motionless puppet at his feet, to the look of feigned surprise on the apothecary’s features, and, finally, he nodded. Returning both of his blades to their sheathes, he filled his hands with the collars of Kith and Mosic’s garments and hauled them to and through the doors of the shop into the fresher air beyond. It felt as though he dragged them through the thick swamps of Gabonsa’a for as heavy as they seemed, at first, but with each breath, the weight of the two lightened (or, possibly, the pair managed to get their own feet under them). Either way, and in due time, the three found themselves in the shadiws of another dank Davnor alleyway, catching their breath and assessing the situation, each in their own fashion.
“That thing knows Aranwen,” Kith breathed heavily, pushing herself away from the wall against which she had been propped, “A few of Adedre’s minions might be nothing for her, but if our bladesinger is ambushed by one of those creatures,” she shrugged, “I don’t know, but we may be out a bladesinger. Let’s head to the garden. Hopefully she will meet us there shortly.”
“Knows,” Mosic wheezed, still trying to catch his own clear breath, “or knew?” The little cleric wobbled on his feet and blinked a bit as his gray eyes searched the faces of the half-Syl and the kazari who towered over him. “I don’t know how long either of you may have lived… or how long you might… but I do know that Sylvari likely live longer than us all. Mayhap this is an enemy our bladesinger has forgotten from long ago…” He stumbled forward, kept from falling on his face only by the kazari reaching out to keep him on his feet, then pressed a hand to the walls of the alley and heaved dryly, clearing his lungs and guts of the ‘sleeping powder’ before sheepishly suggesting; “Evil taunts and evil boasts. Our bladesinger may not even be aware of this threat, just now.”
“True,” Ch’dau half-sneezed, half-chuffed, his eyes darting between Kith and Mosic, “but I think it is wise if we follow Kithran’s suggestion and make for the gardens. We can ask Aranwen what she knows when she meets us there.”
He snorted, again, and shook his head, trying to shake off the mild vertigo and disorienting double-vision that breathing the powder had brought upon him. Then, as his legs steadied, surveyed the other two in his company. “Are you both well,” he asked, “or shall we wait a moment longer?”
7th Day, Olemra, 437 E.R., Calestra, Coria, the Wintergate
“Why are you staring at me? Stop it.”
Kithran tilted her head forward and raised her eyebrows at the lovely white flower in his lapel.
Castien lowered his gaze to the object of hers, “Oh,” he scoffed, “your ridiculous traditions.” He tapped the silly thing as they wandered outside the city walls, “Cinderfell’s eldest, Brevin, thought it was only fitting that I, as a ‘dutiful Corian’, honor this thing you people do in which you wear these wedding flowers--”
“Marriage Blossoms, yes,” she interrupted, her black eyes bright with laughter.
“--until you find your mate or some such. And then when you do you swap it out for that braid thing--”
“Star’s Light, Castien, that’s right.”
He sighed, “Ridiculous.”
“Well, I think it’s marvelous. You’re a true Corian, through and through, aren’t you?” He glared down at her but her teasing grin never wavered, “You are taking orders from Lord Brevin now?”
Castien shrugged, “Cinderfell’s orders.”
Kithran looked off into the forest ahead, "I've heard that where the father is cruel, the son is, what was the word . . . sadistic. How has that been?"
The young Sylvari's face scrunched, "I wish you would not say things like that around me. I have to tell them these things, you know? They could deny my requests to spend time with you."
Kithran’s stomach fluttered briefly and she took a moment to reply, “You don’t have to tell them, Castien, it is very easy not to tell anyone anything.”
He narrowed his eyes at her back as she lead him along, “I’ve seen various versions of what accounts for loyalty among your people, but to Sylvari there is only one meaning.” He sighed, "When Lord Cinderfell saved my life, I pledged it to their family, I will be theirs for each of the centuries that lie before me, and I will not waver in my resolve or my loyalty."
She shook her head at his bravado, "That is such a long time," Kithran turned off the main road and lead him down a much smaller path that she and the Lovers would sometimes take in order to discuss their next adventure. "Was moving you into Lord Brevin's charge your punishment for letting me go?"
Castien groaned, "I definitely wish you would not bring that up--" he dodged a branch she had let go of too soon and glared at the impish look on her face before she turned and carried on down the path. "To answer you though, yes and no. It was my first infraction in my ten years of service and thus a harsh and unexpected betrayal. I received some physical punishment-" Kithran spun around, her eyes wide and an apology on her lips, but he waved her away, "It was not all that terrible, but it was not the end. He could not think of anything awful enough for my real punishment, so I am in service to Brevin until he decides what he wants to do to me."
Kithran turned to him when they made the small clearing and grabbed his arm, "Castien, I am so sorry."
"What for? Stealing a wine stopper as a cute little girl so that five years down the line I would be less inclined to submit you to a Cinderfell indictment?"
"Well, no." She smirked and let go of him to dig into one of the many pockets she had sewn into her yellow dress, pulling the old, dull Shinara stopper out, "I'd probably do that again-HEY!"
He snatched it out of her hand before she could react and held it up to his face, dodging her as she tried to swipe it back, "I can't believe you still carry this thing around. What else do you have in those old pockets?" He handed the trinket back to her.
"My pockets are not old, Castien," she grumbled as she put the stopper back, "Because of that stopper I met Tara and you."
He grasped at his heart dramatically, "I’m touched! But you avoided me for five years so I can only assume it is Tara that little thing holds any real sentiment for," he raised his voice to a comically higher pitch, “daaaarling.”
Kithran made to shove him but he dodged away, drawing one of his daggers and thrusting it at her, stopping a few inches from her face, "You may be quick with your little fingers, Kithy, but you'll have to work a lot harder to out-pace me in anything else." She rolled her eyes and he stood up, flipping the blade and catching it by the tip, handing the leather-wrapped handle out to her. "Ready to begin?" He asked as she took the blade from his hand.
It was heavier than she had expected, but nothing she couldn't handle, not like Serena’s broadsword or even Danmar’s dual shortswords. The leather wrapped around the handle was hard, and molded into the shape of Castien's grasp. The blade itself was long and razor sharp, with an unfamiliar script that ran down the middle. She pointed it out to him, "Is this Sylvari? What does it say?"
"Ah, can't even read Sylvari? Do you parents not love you or something?"
"I am only half-Sylvari, and I live in a temple. So no, I don’t think they do."
"Oh, ah, sorry." He mumbled and moved up to her, running his finger along the elegant lettering, "This one says 'Debts Paid," he pulled out the other for her, "this one 'Debts Owed'. Rather on the nose, but that is what accounts for poetry among the Cinderfell lot."
Kithran chuckled, “So you are able to insult them, then? Won’t you need to report yourself? What will you do if they deny your requests to play with yoursel--” she stopped abruptly and looked away, feeling her face flush with color.
“Kithran!” Castien burst into laughter, patting the embarrassed girl’s shoulder as he doubled over, “Oh, oh gods, no wonder Tara keeps you around, she’s going to love that one.” Her mouth tightened at the comment, but she still could not look at him. “Oh my, incredible.” He was still chuckling as he straightened back up, “Whew, what were we talking about? Oh yes, your wildly inappropriate remarks aside, the Cinderfells would not consider a slight to their poetic abilities an insult.”
Kithran finally looked back at him, her pale face more pink now than red, “Really? What do they do for music?”
“Music?” He shrugged, his mouth still curled up in a smirk, “They will hire folk for parties, but they do not partake of their own volition, sadly, it is the only Corian trait I admire.”
The half-Syl’s face scrunched in disgust, “Then they are not Corians. You are more Corian than they are.”
“Absolutely never say that again. I would rather you say shocking things about my sexual life than say that.” Kithran’s face jerked away from his again and he barked back into laughter.
“Can we just stab things, please?” She grumbled and Castien regained a hold of himself.
"My pleasure, m'lady." He patted her shoulder again and stepped back, drawing his blade and once again finding his composure, “Mirror my stance.” He waited for her to fall into place and nodded his approval, “Hmm, good, let’s begin.”
“Hi Castien,” the maiden replied into Kithran’s thick black hair, hugging her ward in front of the Long Gamble after the girl had been off playing with knives all day. She finally held her back at arms’ length to inspect her, “How are you? How did you do? No new holes I hope?”
Kithran kept her blood-caked fists tight at her sides as she beamed and shook her head back up at her blonde mentor, “It was so much fun, Tara! Cast showed me how to hold a dagger, different stances, strikes, all kinds of things!”
Castien walked up beside her and grasped the wrist of one of her clenched fists, raising it up, “You’ll want to have one of your healers look at her hands.” Kithran glared at him to no avail, “She kept trying to flip the blades and catch them, or try some strange over-the-shoulder or under-the-leg tricks while I wasn’t looking, even though I told her multiple times to stop. She cut her hands up fairly badly every single time.”
Tara narrowed her eyes at the girl, “Let me see, darling.”
As Castien was holding her hand right in front of Tara’s face, there was no hiding the dried blood that streaked down the outside of her fists now. She opened the hand to reveal several painful cuts, some that would need either stitching or a cleric’s hand soon.
The maiden sighed, “Come along then.” She took Kithran’s arm from the Sylvari boy and headed into the loud hall, calling out behind her above the noise of the crowd, “You’re welcome to join us for supper, Castien, this will take but a moment.”
The young, red-haired Sylvari hesitated as they disappeared into the temple and gambling hall. It was getting on in the day and he would be due back to the Cinderfell estate, but surely he had a little time to spare? He moved into the crowded hall, dodging drinks and bodies as they flew past. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to finish his entire meal, but Tara had invited him to eat with her. Beautiful, kind, witty Tara. When would he get such an opportunity again?
Castien scanned the room. At fifteen he was average height for a Sylavari of his age, but already slightly taller than the average human. Regardless, his moment of hesitation had given them just enough time to completely disappear from his sight.
He groaned in frustration--that a gambling hall could also be a temple was beyond him, even if it was for a luck goddess. And tonight the crowd was dense. He was about to turn back and leave when a tug at his arm turned him to face the half-Sylvari grin of his little friend. Kithran held up her now wound-less hands, wriggling her fingers in his face before turning and hopping to the side of the room through the crowd. Castien managed to keep up until finally he was following her through a thin hallway on the west side of the temple.
The music and chatter began to muffle and Kithran slowed down, “Have you ever been to the Long Gamble before, Castien?”
He shook his shaggy orange head at her back, “No. I’ve walked by on several occasions, but have never had the pleasure of being tossed about inside.”
Kithran snickered, “I suppose it does take some getting used to. I was only seven when I started coming here, so I had to learn quickly how to avoid getting trampled on out there when Tara wasn’t around for piggy-back rides. I’ve had five years of experience now, so if you’re ever in trouble, just cry out for me and I will come save you.”
“How valiant of you.” He smirked at the small shoulders shrugging in front of him before the hallway opened up into a small, dimly lit room, where Tara awaited them with their meals.
Their days passed on mostly like this when Castien was allowed to train with Kithran. Tara would accompany Kithran to the Cinderfell stall in the marketplace in the morning, Castien and Kithran would run off to throw knives around in the forest, return to the Laughing Gamble and have supper with Tara, then Castien would leave and Tara would tease Kithran about her crush on the silly Sylvari boy.
On the days Castien was preoccupied with Cinderfell work, Tara would take Kithran out to better her thieving skills. Kithran would swipe more and more bold items in more conspicuous settings, attempt to keep them from Tara using tricks the maiden had taught her as well, and once Tara inevitably retrieved the items, she would return them without anyone being the wiser. The latter was often more difficult than the former, in Kithran’s opinion, as many times the original owner would be furious looking for what was lost, so it would take more than just swiping something quickly. However, Tara was a force when it came to this part; whether by her ability to divert gaze, her incredibly fast hands, or her irresistible charm, she always succeeded.
Randel would be returning in a couple days, and while Kithran was excited to tell him most of her adventures with Tara, she grew more and more sad each day that their routine would soon be broken. The maidens reassured her that once she was a little older, she would be more-than-welcome to join their traveling fold--even Esme expressed some excitement at the idea, and the offer felt like an embrace to Kithran.
Tara was of course ecstatic for her growing interest in the Laughing Maidens over the Lovers of Fortune. She just hoped the girl would be able to keep her resolve over the next year or so that she would be away. She really wanted to tell her before Randel returned so that the girl would have some time to be upset with her before coming around. At least then they could enjoy their last few days together before parting.
Kithran was flipping a wooden dagger around Tara’s room while the maiden prepared the bed the night she decided to tell her. The fake but still very hard toy had just crushed one of the girl’s toes when Tara told her to have a seat on the bed. The half-Syl sat, curious why her mentor seemed so uncharacteristically uneasy, but also sorely distracted trying to rub the pain out of her foot.
Tara let out a long breath and crossed her arms, then dropped them and clasped her hands together in front of her, “Alright, well, darling, as you must know, the maidens and I will be off soon . . . .”
Kithran’s face fell and she let her foot drop.
The blonde maiden’s arms crossed again and then she clasped her hands together again, this time behind her, “And I am sorry but we will be gone for a very long time, I can’t imagine it being less than a . . . a year--” the girl's mouth fell open and Tara could see she was about to protest, but she held her hands out in front of her to stop her as she sped quickly ahead, “but this is for me, Kithran. We are going to Sendria. You know my story, as do my friends, and they’ve agreed to help me find some, some retribution with my . . . offenders.” The thought alone caused her breath to quicken once again and Tara looked away from the girl as she tried once more to regain her composure. She wrung her hands in front of her now as she looked up to the ceiling, trying to stay where she was with Kithran, and not sink back into that headspace of her youth, “It’s just . . . there are some very powerful people we will need to . . . so it’s just going to take a long time. And I don’t want to be away from you for so long either, but it’s ju-”
Tara was stopped by her young ward as the girl barreled into her, hugging her and crying into her gown, “You have to go, Tara. I don’t want you to go but you have to go. I’ll be waiting for you here, I promise.”
“Oh, darling,” Tara wrapped her arms around the girl as relief washed over her, “thank you for understanding. I love you so much, Kithran. I’ll be as quick as possible so I can come back to you as fast as I can.”
“I love you too, Tara,” the girl mumbled into her chest.
And both cried themselves out of sadness, grief, and acceptance, and into exhaustion.
16th Day, Olemra, 437 E.R., Calestra, Coria, the Market
This would be the last day Kithran would be able to train with Castien before her father arrived. She would have this day with Castien, one last full day with Tara, and then her father would return and Tara and the maidens would begin the preparations for their trip to the north. Their routine would be changing a little, as Kithran was sure her father would not approve of her running off to the woods to knife-fight with with an unwaveringly loyal Cinderfell servant every few days.
Castien didn’t know of Kithran’s father or that she did not really live at the Long Gamble. The topic had almost been broached once, but the Sylvari boy had stopped her, insinuating that it was likely much better for her and for him to just go on believing what he did of her origins.
Tara and Kithran arrived as they normally did that morning around when Castien finished up helping to setup the Cinderfell stall. They were stopped however, just as they were about to approach the boy by a dashing man, his dark hair stylishly messy, and his meticulously stubbled face jovial as he intercepted them.
“Ah, so this is them, Castien? The breath-taking women you’ve been spending all of your free time with? I see it now.” He winked teasingly at the two in their matching red dresses.
Castien turned around at his name, his lips tight as the young Cinderfell spoke of them, but relaxing as he approached, “Lord Brevin, this is Tara, a Laughing Maiden of Shinara, and Kithran, her ward and my dagger-wielding apprententice.”
Brevin chuckled has he grasped the ladies’ hands and kissed them both, “A pleasure to meet you both, truly. Castien had mentioned you two were beautiful, but he could not do you justice.”
Castien and Kithran simultaneously felt the color rise in their cheeks, but Tara’s jaw tightened before she replied, “The pleasure is all ours, Lord Brevin, your father’s wine has brought much laughter to our maidens over the years, and in fact I am here to try to clear you out before our next venture. Perhaps we can let these two scamper off while we talk some business?” She asked, attempting to allow her ward and the boy to flee while they could.
Lord Brevin rolled his eyes before shooing the younger duo away, “Ah, business, always business. Alright, off you two, the adults must talk.” He gave Tara a bright grin as Castien and Kithran began to wade into the growing crowds.
“Wait,” Tara bound over to Kithran and took her face into her hands, forcing the glaring girl to look her in the eyes, “what did I tell you?”
Kithran groaned as the two men stared at them in amusement, “Tara . . . . ”
The maiden did not relent, “This is the only way I feel as though you’ve actually heard me, Kithran, now go on.”
The girl sighed, “Do not try to kick the dagger up from the ground and catch it.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because the last time I tried it stuck into my chin."
"Way too far.”
“And Serah said if it happened again she would have Esme magically put you to sleep and have Serena chop all of your hair off with her giant sword.”
"Exactly," Tara grinned and squished the girl’s cheeks together before kissing her on her forehead, and Kithran jerked her head away, “Goodbye darling!”
“Bye Tara,” Kithran grumbled before turning her glare on the laughing Sylvari and joining him to disappear into the crowd.
Tara turned back to the handsome, wide grin of Lord Brevin’s and forced the smile to stay on her face as they began their transaction. Having pooled the funds of several of the interested maidens, Tara had some leverage as they haggled and was able to get quite a fair price for all that they would be purchasing. They arranged a time for someone from the temple to come retrieve all of the bottles and the maiden began her goodbyes as she finally, gratefully able to leave the Cinderfell’s smarmy presence.
“Oh, just a moment,” Brevin called out as the beautiful maiden rushed away, stopping her in her tracks. He ran up to her, tall and lovely for sure, but with an air and a reputation Tara was not looking forward to disappointing. However, he had that look in his eyes, and she knew what would be coming.
He stopped uncomfortably close to her, but she held her ground as he leaned down and spoke low, close to her ear, “I was hoping we could do a little more business?”
She kept herself from rolling her eyes, but leaned away from him, smiling politely, “That is very gracious of you, Lord Brevin, but I am afraid we are just not interested in anymore of your wares.”
He chuckled, “No, your ward, I would very much like to speak with her in private sometime.”
Tara went cold and it was all she could do to not let her face twist into a sneer or tear his throat out where he stood as she replied, “Excuse me?”
He held his hands up in innocence as he laughed, “Don’t get me wrong! I am more than ready and willing to offer any sort of compensation you deem to be fitting for her time. Any. I know I have a reputation of sorts, but I can assure you that they are all exaggerations. I am very kind, very gentle. She will be in good hands.”
“Is that so?” The rage Tara felt was rivaled only by that which she felt during the attack on the road. It twisted inside her stomach and threatened to draw her blades, slaughtering him right there in the street. Somehow the cold that took her heart also allowed her to press a smile onto her face as she asked him, “Would you mind if we spoke about this in a less conspicuous place?”
His own smile was filled with relief, “Yes of course, where are my manners? Thank you, Maiden, we should have some privacy behind the stall to discuss terms.”
Terms. Tara nodded as she followed the monstrosity before her.
Hidden from the eyes and ears of the crowd, Lord Brevin turned back to her, his eager smile immediately dissipating as Tara kicked him into the wall and jerked the blades out of her sleeves. Before he could reach for his own sword, the maiden had a knife digging at his neck and one breaking through his shirt at his stomach.
“Don’t you ever speak another word to me or my girl. If I find out you have or that you have done anything thing to touch, harm, or even so much as breathe in her direction, I will rip out your vocal chords so that you will not even be able to whimper as I flay you inch by disgusting inch. Do I make myself clear?”
He glared at her, rage burning in his own eyes, but nodded at her threats.
Tara nicked his neck with her blade, as she swiftly jumped away, sinking back into the crowd.
Castien sighed as they made their way back through the woods, "Stop staring at it, Kith, I told you that I didn't want to talk about it."
"But it's Star's Light, Castien," she said, unable to drop the grin that had become nearly painful as she looked from his face to the braided flower that replaced the Marriage Blossom, "This must be serious."
He looked up to the sky, "I knew I shouldn't have worn this. You were useless with how distracted you were by it all day."
"Then why did you wear it?"
"I told you, it's that stupid tradition of yours that Brevin wants me to follow."
She raised her eyebrows, "So you've 'found your mate or some such'?"
"I . . . well I'm . . . " he sighed, "I'm not going to talk about it Kithran."
"I understand completely, Cast, but who is it?"
“You are so persistent.” He shook his messy red head in refusal. He liked the goofy half-Syl girl. She was fun, easy to talk to, a fast learner, and clever to boot, but she was no Tara. It was clear she taken some liking to him though, and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so for now there was no way he was going to tell her he was not in love with her but with her mentor.
“So I’ve been told,” She was unable to drop the happy grin from her face as she finally looked away and the two exited the cover of the forest. They had to stop early because Kithran truly could not concentrate with the braid on her mind all day. She was missing steps, holding the handles wrong, and couldn’t even stick the blade into a tree. These had all been hurdles she had overcome in her first few days. Now all should could think about was who Castien had switched the flowers out for.
“Do they know? Did they put in the Star’s Light for you as well?”
“No, maybe they know, so yes? But I don’t think so. And they don’t wear . . . the flower.” Like the girl’s smile, his guilt somehow grew along with his frustration.
“A moment, sir,” a young man in the Cinderfell livery approached Castien and Kithran as they walked back through the Wintergate and into the city, “Lord Brevin has asked that you join him the moment you re-enter the city.”
Kithran looked between the two young men, “What? No," she implored, already sure of what his answer would be, "this is going to be the last dinner we have all together! Castien, you have to go!”
He gave the servant a curt nod and put a hand on Kithran’s shoulder, “It’s alright, Kith, we’ll have supper another time. Let Tara know I am sorry I couldn’t join tonight. I will try to see her before she leaves though to say goodbye. Bye Kith!” He said as he jogged off in the direction of the Cinderfell estate.
“Goodbye Castien,” she calls to his back, as he disappears.
Castien found Brevin having his supper alone in the smaller, dimly lit dining room. The man allowed the young Sylvari to wait at the end of the table while he finished his meal, pushing the plate away at completion. He regarded the boy for a moment before sitting back and beckoning him forward, "Good evening Casty, I trust you had a wonderful time thrusting your blade around with that pretty little girl all day? She didn't think to insult me anymore, did she?" He grinned hopefully at the thought.
Castien bowed slightly to the handsome man as he approached, keeping the tightness from his jaw as he replied, "She did not mention you today, my lord, and we made little progress. She was distracted by this Star’s Light,” he paused, waiting for his master’s son to end his burst of laughter. “Otherwise she is very good, may even be able to out-strike me someday," he gave the man a small grin at the idea, "Maybe. Oh, Lord Brevin, are you okay?" He asked, noticing now the wrap around the younger Cinderfell’s neck, "What happened?"
Brevin's hand went to his bandage and his face suddenly turned regretful, "Oh, don’t worry about me, young Castien, I would rather talk about the reason I summoned you here. I have at last decided on your punishment.” He watched the boy unable to stop his eyes from widening, or to stop the color from draining from his face, “Once this task is completed you may return to my father’s employ in Coria City, pruning his hedges, or wiping his ass, whatever it is you do when your day is not filled with beautiful women doting on you.”
The young Sylvari took a moment, hoping he didn’t look as nervous as he felt, “Yes my lord, what would you have my punishment be?”
Lord Brevin looked down at his hands, rugged and strong, ruthless and brutal, capable of making any woman, young or otherwise, scream out his name if he so desired them to. He smiled at them as he spoke, “You will kill that Laughing bitch, Tara.”
Castien felt lightheaded, “What?”
Brevin’s eyes shot up to his, filled with faux shock, “Questioning me, are you? Shall I add her little girl to your punishment as well?”
The obedient Sylvari boy bent at the waist, his stinging eyes focused on the ground, “No my lord, no I would not question you,” he stood back up, “I . . . just . . . .”
The young lord’s eyes fell to the braid at Castien’s chest, “Yes Casty, I understand that this must be very difficult for you, but it would not be much of a punishment if it were not. I pray that you will have learned your lesson never to disobey your orders again after this.”
“Yes my lord,” Castien croaked through his tightening throat, Brevin chuckled. “May I ask what she’s done to deserve this fate, Lord Brevin?”
The handsome man examined his nail beds once again as he replied, “Her? Why all she has done is be pretty and sweet and deserving of all the love you could give her, Castien. Why do you think I requested you partake in that charming Corian tradition? Hmm?”
Castien looked down at the Star’s Light braid on his chest, understanding washing over him like a wave. It was him. It was his own fault. Tara would die because he loved her.
Brevin tilted his head to the side, “ Do you think me cruel, little Casty? And be honest.”
The Sylvari could no longer keep the water from his violet eyes, but looked at his master’s son as he nodded.
The young lord burst into laughter once again, “Oh, Castien, you are such a good boy. I appreciate your honesty, even now, even in your position. I will tell you what, you do not deserve a reward for completing your punishment--it is a punishment after all--but for your complete loyalty to our family, I will not order you to kill the girl this time--I was on the fence as whether to have you kill her or bring her to me to handle as I pleased, but I shall request neither--and I will grant you one day of mourning here before you return to Coria City. Does that seem fair?”
Castien nodded once again, staring at the table, unable to meet the man’s gaze any longer, “I appreciate your,” he took a breath as another tear fell from his face to the wooden floor below, “your generosity, my lord.”
“Good.” Lord Brevin grinned as he stood up, taller even than Castien, and riddled with muscle he had built out of vanity. He patted the boy’s back, “Now then, Casty, go ahead and take the rest of the night off to get ahold of yourself and devise your plan to kill the maiden. Goodnight!”
“Goodnight, my lord.” The young lord left, but Castien could not move from his spot. The next step he took would put him closer to killing Tara. And he couldn’t kill Tara. He had to kill Tara. But he couldn’t kill Tara. He couldn’t. He would, because he must. But he couldn’t.
Castien shouted in anger and hate and pain to the empty room, and finally took the first step toward his own.
17th Day, Olemra, 437 E.R., Calestra, Coria
Tara awoke the way she had become accustomed to over the course of the last few weeks: the sun warming her room, and a little dark-haired half-Sylvari girl attached to her stomach, drooling through her nightgown. Per her routine, Tara would gently peel the girl off and prepare herself for the day--whether that meant conspiring with Serah for Shinara lessons, conspiring against the townsfolk for thieving lessons, or finding something or someone to bide her time with until Kithran got back from her dagger lessons with Castien.
Today would be different, however, as it would be their last day together before Randel returned and took his daughter back to her normal life. She sighed, thinking of the unreasonable emptiness she would feel again without her kid around. Sure she would have her family of maidens alongside her, but they fulfilled a different space in her life--a different emptiness would be felt without them. She ran her fingers through the girl’s thick black hair. Kithran was who Tara wished she could have been at that age: strong-willed, clever, so smart, and just so happy. Even when Kithran was red with anger, it would not last long, and she was off again to frolic in whatever mischief placed itself in front of her.
Tara had not been so lucky, but the thought that she was making moves to rectify the horror that had been done to her and so many others, and to perhaps save countless children from also succumbing to it, that brought her hope. There was a sense of relief and contentment ahead of her, she could feel it. It would take the next year or so to reach it, but once she did, once she had rid all of Audalis of those who had destroyed her body and soul at so young an age, then she could obtain it. She would come back and Kithran would probably be nearly as tall as she was, stealing things from her with her refined talents, and kicking daggers up and catching them without stabbing herself or having Serah chop off all of Tara’s hair.
She smiled. She would stay with her then until Kithran was ready to begin traveling. She could be the mother figure Kithran needed and wanted so badly for her to be--who she so badly needed and wanted to be for her.
The girl rustled as Tara pushed the hair out of her face and her eyes fluttered open, “Tara?”
“Good morning, darling.”
Kithran smiled and searched for a dry spot on Tara’s gown she could wipe more drool off her face with, “You’re usually getting ready by now.”
She gave the girl a squeeze, “Yes, but I told you that today would be up to you. It’s our last full day together, did you decide what we would be doing? Shall we go steal from some unsuspecting people? Shall I show you what happens to Serena when you pretend you’re about to toss her blade into the fire? Take more of Esme’s apples? What did you have in mind?”
The maiden and her ward fled on horseback, their damp hair and undergarments whipping against them as they raced to find cover, and to put as much space between them and the monks who chased them away from the Lake of Heroes. Apparently it was too serene a place for the ruckus the two young women had created while splashing around, being rambunctious, and jumping from too high of heights to possibly be safe, into the lake. They had tried to avoid those meditating near the revered space, but the monks kept shooing them off, until finally they pulled together a large group to chase off the unclad troublemakers.
When there were a couple miles between them, Tara beckoned Kithran to follow her off the main path and into a clearing where they would be blocked from the road and could enjoy their lunches in their undergarments in peace. Afterward they lay back and let the sun finish drying them as they talked about little things and silly things, and everything they could in order to avoid the big things. Until finally, they did talk about the big things, and wept briefly before falling asleep for a nap.
“I don’t want to go to sleep, Tara!” Kithran whined as she threw her nightgown over her head.
“I don’t want to either, darling, but alas, we must.” Tara flipped the blanket up, her own nightgown flitting about her, and let the thin blanket float down to the bed as she prepared it.
“But I don’t want to,” she grumbled again, “Everything is going to be different tomorrow. I want it to stay like it is forever.”
The maiden stopped in her making of the bed and turned to the girl, “I know, Kithran, and it will someday, we just have to do some work to get there.”
“What if we just stayed up all night?” she bargained, “If we sleep, tomorrow will come faster, but if we don’t sleep, it’ll go slower, and it’ll be like we have more time together!”
Tara smiled, seeing the sleep in the girl’s eyes and knowing she’d likely not last thirty minutes once her head hit Tara’s stomach, “I can’t argue with that logic I suppose, Kithran.”
Her dark eyes lit up, “So we’re staying up?!”
“Yes!” the girl jumped in excitement and ran at Tara. The maiden was well-versed in these aggressive hugs now and braced herself for the impact so she wouldn’t be taken out this time. Kithran looked up at her, “Oh guess what, I can do the kicking-the-knife-up-and-catching-it trick now!”
Tara held the girl at arm’s length and narrowed her eyes at her, “What?! What did I say?! Do you want Serena to chop all of my hair off or something?”
Kithran pushed her hands away, still smiling, “No, I just didn’t listen to you.”
“Clearly, darling, did you at least perfect the technique?”
Her grin widened in pride, “Yes!”
“Want to see?”
“Of course I want to see, but it will have to wait.”
Kithran’s face scrunched, “I want to show you now. What if we don’t have time in the morning?”
Tara sighed, “I don’t know what you expect me to do. You know Serah takes them away from you and locks them in her room the moment you return with Castien. She has not trusted us since the chin incident.”
“I don’t think she’s trusted us since the barf incident.”
The maiden laughed, “Honestly, if she ever trusted us she’s a fool.”
Kithran’s eyes lit up, “I will steal the daggers from Serah’s room!”
Tara groaned, “Oh, oh no. What have I created?”
The mischievous little half-Syl ran for the door with a mischievous little grin on her face, “It’ll be like a final test!”
Tara shook her head, but her grin of approval gave her away, “Alright darling. If you are able to pull this off, we’ll entice some more pacifist monks into acts of aggression against us in the morning before your father arrives.”
Kithran laughed in the doorway, “Bye Tara!”
“Goodbye darling, good luck!”
The girl scoffed, and in her best Tara impression replied, “Fortune favors who it favors, darling,” and she closed the door on the maiden’s laughter.
Tara was still chuckling as she went back to making the bed for them, though hardly a minute seemed to go by before she heard the doorknob turn and the door softly swing open once more.
There was already laughter in her voice as she began to spin back around, “Oh, successful already, dar--” she gasped, as something punched her unexpectedly in her gut. She looked down, her legs feeling weak beneath her as she stared for a moment in confusion at the leather-wrapped blade handle sticking out of her stomach. A soft cry escaped her as a second joined it, and Tara looked up at the red-haired Sylvari boy racing toward her as she fell back onto the bed.
She tried to control her quickening breath as the pain began to course through her body, and in a moment her legs were lifted on to the bed and Castien sat hastily beside her, tears falling down his face, “Castien?”
“I’m sorry, Tara, I’m so sorry!” he stroked the hair from her face as he pleaded with her, “Brevin, Brevin made me, I didn’t want this--I love you Tara, oh gods, I am so sorry!”
Tara tilted her head back and could feel her body beginning to fade away from her. Tears started to fall from her own eyes as her mind was flooded only with Kithran. She looked up at the boy, “Castien, you have to protect her for me, okay? I . . . I won’t be able to now. I was supposed to be here for her . . . but now . . . now . . . Protect her, Castien, promise me. Please.”
He tried to wipe the tears from his eyes but they fell relentlessly, “Yes, Tara, I promise.”
“Thank you.” She turned her head to the door, willing it to open, willing to see her grin one last time, hug her one last time. “I wish she were here.”
Castien looked down at the blade handles sticking out of the beautiful, kind, witty Tara, “No you don’t, Tara, not like this.”
A small, sad smile touched the corner of her mouth as her eyes stayed staring at the door and her breathing slowed, “Yes I do.”
And then Tara was gone.
Castien cried silently to himself as he pulled the blades from the maiden’s torso, wiping her blood onto his pant leg and resheathing them on either hip. He couldn’t seem to move away from her. He had to, but he couldn’t. He had killed her.
Soon, the patter of feet on stone sounded down the hall and he stood up. He took one last look at her before making his way to the window, getting halfway out when the glittering of something caught his eye on the desk beside the sill--a dragonfly pin.
There was a clatter just outside the room and Castien heard Kithran cursing as she lifted the item back up. He swiped the pin and jumped through the window, closing it just as the door to the room swing violently open, and Kithran called out to her mentor.
“Tara!” Kithran was grinning, “I did it! Serah didn’t even--” the daggers fell to the ground beside her, “Tara?” she stepped forward slowly, unable to comprehend what she was seeing, but as she approached her blonde, happy, silly, bloody Tara, she screamed. She screamed and cried, and could not stop screaming even as the other maidens and temple attendants flooded into the room.
It took both Serah and Esme to wrench the girl free of Tara, though none of them could accept what they saw. The other maidens and the older Lovers fled the room in search of whoever had done this to their little thief.
Kithran punched, clawed, and bit relentlessly at the maidens holding her until she slipped from their fingers and launched herself back at Serah. She yanked at the young maiden’s gown until she could reach her collar and forced the healer’s tear-streaked face into her own.
“What are you doing?!” Kithran screamed, “Fix her!”
“Kithran,” she sobbed, glancing at her lifeless friend as the acolytes began trying to force them all out of the room, “I-I can’t. She’s already gone. She . . . I can’t Kithran, I’m sorry.” She made to hug the girl, but Kithran punched her in the jaw and shoved her away, “Then what use are you?!”
The acolytes reached Kithran but she dodged around them, “What use are any of you?!” Before anyone could catch her, she slipped through them and hopped onto the bed, throwing the blankets over her and Tara so it was just the two of them again. She rested her head on the maiden’s stomach, as she always did, just above her wounds, wrapping her arm around her, and cried.
18th Day, Olemra, 437 E.R., Calestra, Coria
Randel Aldeath had never seen the Long Gamble so morose. The gambling hall was open, but the tables were much quieter than he could ever remember them being. As he entered and began to make his way up the series of stairs to the maidens’ quarters, an attendant approached him as if she were waiting for him, and pulled him into one of the smaller chambers near the tables. A moment later the door flew open as Randel rushed out in search of his daughter.
He found Kithran in another small chamber, lost down a series of halls that lead to a room filled with flowers, incense, candles, wreaths, and other things irrelevant to the black-clad girl draped across the lovely box amongst it all. The young maiden cleric stood just outside the door, watching over his daughter as both grieved for their lost friend.
“How long has she been here?” he whispered, not taking his eyes off of his daughter.
She looked up at him with her own puffy red eyes, “All day. All night. She hasn’t left. The only time she was away from her was when she changed into her mourning garb.”
“And you, have you been watching her this entire time as well?”
“I . . . I had to.” Her lip began to shake and her eyes filled with water, “Tara would ha . . . I wanted to make sure she was safe.”
Randel put a hand on her shoulder, “Thank you. I can watch her from here. Please, go get some sleep before the ceremony tonight.”
Serah looked wearily at Kithran, at Tara, and wiped her tears with her sleeve, “Thank you, Randel.”
When she left, he walked into the room, approaching slowly. Her sobs were silent, but her body shook with them. As he got closer he could hear her snifling and noticed the white of her knuckles as she squeezed the box. He put a hand on her shoulder, and another on Tara’s coffin, next to Kithran’s.
In surprise, the girl lashed out at the unexpected touch and jumped away, swinging her arm out and striking at her assailant. She had told them to stop trying to comfort her, stop trying to tell her everything would be okay.
Tara was dead. Nothing was going to be okay.
Randel watched in shock as recognition fell over his daughter’s eyes and the small knife fell from her sleeve. Her face transformed from rage into pain and she ran into him. He knelt and embraced her back, careful not to let any of the blood pooling in his hand from her cut touch her.
Tara was taken to the Tomb of the Maidens as the hot summer sun began to set over Calestra. Serah spoke through tears of her joy, her often unbearable yet always endearing humor, the strength she carried despite the pain of a past that haunted her, and the warmth of her unwavering smile.
With her father by her side, any attempt Kithran had made to hold back her sorrow in front of the others melted away. She clung to him with one arm as tears racked her body, keeping the other hand on Tara’s coffin until finally Randel coaxed her away and the doors of the tomb were closed on the maiden, buried with her hands clasping an old wine stopper.
“Kithran,” Serah called as Randel and his daughter began to head toward the merchant’s cart. The cleric jogged quickly up to them in her vestiges and looked down at the angry, puffy-eyed half-Syl through her own bloodshot eyes, “May I speak with you?” she held up her hands defensively when she saw the irritation on Kithran's face about to lash out at her, “I promise it isn’t for any sort of condolences or the like,” she vaguely stroked her jaw where a bruise had formed from the night before, “I’ve learned my lesson, but . . . it does have to do with Tara. Would you mind?”
Kithran regarded her through her glare for a moment before finally nodding curtly, and Randel stepped away to give them some privacy.
The young maiden put her hands in her pockets, “I will keep this brief, as I suppose you despise me now in my impotence as a cleric. I despise myself as well, so you are not alone.” She sighed and shook her head at the ground before looking back to the girl, “I trust you were able to pull Tara’s story out of her?”
Kithran nodded, “Wine night.”
The first ghost of a smile in nearly twenty-four hours touched the corner of Serah’s mouth, “No wonder. Well, she may have also told you that we were preparing to head out and help her find some . . . retribution for what had been done to her,” whether Tara had told her or not was lost on her as the black-haired girl only stared blankly back.
She finally took her hands out of her pockets, bringing a folded piece of paper out with them, “She wrote the names down for us, each of us, because she didn’t want us to forget. She wanted us to know their names and who they were. She couldn’t remember them all, but many were important lords, business owners, and other high-profile people throughout Sendria.”
Serah held out the piece of paper, “I was only a few years older than you when I joined the Laughing Maidens. My circumstances were different, of course, but . . . I think Tara would approve of you finding her some . . . some peace. And we would follow you, Kithran, as we would have followed Tara, if this is a path you would like to take with us.”
Kithran’s dark eyes softened and she snatched the paper out of her hands in a blur, as Tara had done with Serah's fork the other day while she was trying to eat, in order to get a rise out of her and a laugh out of Kithran. The girl skimmed over the list of names, there were so many of them there, written down in Tara’s messy handwriting.
“You don’t have to make any sort of decision now. Or even in the next few years. This will take some time. More even than she had anticipated, I think, but she was optimistic because,” her voice caught as the lump in her throat returned, and Kithran lowered her head and her hands because she knew what Serah was going to say, “because she wanted to come back here to be with you.” The tears began to fall freely from both of their faces, “I am so sorry, Kithran.”
Without looking up at her or even another word to her cleric, Kithran turned around and ran. She ran out of the cemetery, past her father, past the other attendants, sprinting as fast as her feet could take her to the Long Gamble. She didn’t slow as she careened down the hallway into the main floor, where people jumped out of her way, and she hopped up the stairs and down the twists and turns of the hallways until she was finally panting outside the door where almost twenty-four hours earlier she had stumbled through to show Tara her new trick.
She looked back down at the paper crushed in her hand and refolded it, placing it gently into one of the several pockets she had sewn into her dress.
This would never be the door Tara was waiting behind for her again. She wouldn’t be on the other side sound asleep as Kithran crept in and woke her up in the middle of the night. There would never be another “darling” through this door. Just memories and the smell of her.
Kithran slowly opened the door, dim now as the sun had fallen beneath the horizon, and found a red-haired Sylvari boy sitting on the edge of Tara's bed, his face in his hands.
Castien looked up, and even in the fading light Kithran could see his face was a mask of her own, damp and twisted in anguish, “Kithran, I . . . I . . . .”
“I know,” she whispered back and closed the door behind her. She moved across the small room to sit beside him but stopped short when she noticed the Marriage Blossom back in his lapel instead of the Star’s Light, “Oh, Castien.”
He followed her eyesight and broke down again when he realized what she was staring at.
Kithran jumped to his side and wrapped her arms around him, she too becoming overwhelmed once again with tears, “I’m sorry, Castien,” she said and he wrapped an arm around her too, “I’m so sorry.”
Posted on 2019-11-20 at 18:15:01.
Edited on 2019-11-20 at 18:16:36 by breebles
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
Reconvening and Apprehension
It took longer than Aranwen may have cared to admit, taking care not to touch the blade against the ground while cutting her ankles free, but soon enough she was ready to pursue... if only she knew which way Morgana's puppet had went. Cursing inwardly, she decided her best course of action was to just head to the meeting place to begin with. Putting the black cloak back into her bag, she took the opportunity to once more don her armour properly, seeing as she had a feeling she might need it, and started retracing her steps towards the garden.
As Aranwen walked hastily through the streets, her mind likewise raced. If she didn't see them at the garden, what was her next course of action? Walking randomly through the streets towards the apothecary she was not certain that she would be able to find Kithran and the others, especially if they took an unusual route.
Or perhaps she'd skip the garden and go directly to the apothecary. She could not shake the feeling that Kithran, Ch'dau and Mosic were in danger. She needed to do what she could for them. And she needed to find them.
A glimpse of sandy hair gave Aranwen pause for a brief moment, and she turned and looked. Seeing a sleeping Saina being carried in the arms of a woman, presumably her mother, helped to calm her nerves for a moment.
Aranwen shook her head and took a breath. Perhaps she was being too hasty. Her first course of action was to go to their meeting spot. If they were not there, or did not appear within a few minutes, she would then head to the apothecary.
Though she was first to arrive at the garden, she could not bring herself to sit at any of the benches, instead staying on her feet and pacing back and forth in silent anxiety.
Seeing Kithran, and then Ch'dau and Mosic, washed her face with relief.
"Thank goodness." Aranwen asked, "My diversion seemed to work, perhaps too effectively given that I was mistaken for you and ambushed; but how did you fare?"
Posted on 2019-11-21 at 04:46:27.
Reralae Dreamer of Bladesong Karma: 142/12 2506 Posts
The First Song
357 E.R, Megilindar Nost
"Argh! I just don't get it!" Aranwen sighed, sitting down on the grass in a huff.
Saeriel sat down beside Aranwen, reaching her arms around for a gentle embrace, "It's not something to be forced," Saeriel offered gently.
Aranwen sighed once more, taking a deep breath as she calmed down. She motioned in front of them to the other trainees, "It just feels like we're getting left behind, again. Look, and listen. They practise their forms with grace and song. Why does the song elude us?" she asked.
Saeriel gave a soft giggle, "No, Ara," She shook her head, "Listen to their voices; what do you hear?"
Aranwen tilted her head a bit as she looked to Saeriel, before closing her eyes and listening, "The vocals are lovely..." and Aranwen paused, her cheek tightening a bit as she thought she heard what Saeriel was trying to point out, "But..."
"But not all there," Saeriel pointed out, "No one here has grasped the song yet; they are practising for when they do grasp it, training their breathing and the depth of their breath. Training their body to learn to connect them with the movement of each form."
"It feels a bit silly to sing when it isn't the genuine thing," Aranwen replied, leaning back in Saeriel's arms.
Saeriel shrugged, "Maybe alone," She agreed, before pausing as a thought occurred to her, "Come on, let's try one more time."
Picking herself up to her feet, Saeriel left the wooden practise blade where she was sitting.
"Wait, Sae, aren't you going to need that?" Aranwen asked as she stood to join Saeriel.
Saeriel gave a mischievous smile, her violet eyes sparkling in the sunlight, "Lend me yours."
"W-what?" Aranwen held her right hand up to offer her practise blade, and Saeriel clasped both the handle and hand in her left, "Sae...?"
"It's a good thing you're right handed, and I left," Saeriel gave a warm smile, a faint blush on her pale cheeks, "Together, okay? Let's just start with a simple scale."
Aranwen nodded, her heart fluttering but also feeling more confident. In that moment, there was no one else around them but each other.
What begun as a simple exercise, a simple experiment to overcome their nervousness together, turned into a duet as they took turns leading each other, moving together with one shared blade, and one shared song.
The trip to the small garden is their longest as of yet today. Kithran’s senses are on high alert after their bout with whatever that Morgana was, and admittedly it slows her progress down a great deal. She warns the others to stay vigilant in search of any creature that my be suspicious, and to ensure she is moving forward before they follow, as she may stalk a person or two she is unsure of. Any cloaked figure, strange smell, any shadow of what may have been a veil causes her to sink back into a crowd or hiding place in order to watch and make sure they are not after the trio.
At one point Kithran does notices two who stand out, but they are not creatures of Morgana, they seem more like the type hired by Adedre’s guard to find them. When Ch’dau looks her way, she points them out, and then makes her way into their line of sight, heading then to a less populated area.
One is another burly thug with a full beard and thinning hair, and the other more lanky, with long, greasy black hair, both carrying swords. One of them calls out to Kithran as she allows them to catch up to her in a narrow walkway, “Hey! Where ye goin’ little miss?”
They gain on her but she stops suddenly and spins around, smiling, “Oh, just to go meet my friends.”
“Yar friends eh?” the larger man chuckles and both pull double shortswords out of their sheaths, “We’d like to go meet ‘em as well.”
“Hmm, okay.” Kithran looks behind them, “Ch’dau, meet these gentlemen.”
Before they can turn, a shortsword pierces through their backs and out the fronts of their stomachs. Kithran then simultaneously throws both daggers into each of their necks, “Gentlemen, meet Ch’dau.”
The large Kazari lowers his arms and the thugs both slip off, revealing the grinning cat face.
Kithran skips over to pull her daggers free, pulling free the few coins they have in their purse before beaming back up at the Silver cat, “Beautiful work, Ch’dau.”
((OOC: chance for response))
She leans to the side, searching for the small priest at Ch’dau’s back. He gazes wearily at the dead bodies, leaning with a hand against one of the walls, “Are you alright over there Mosic? I apologize for not introducing you as well.”
He waves her false concern away, justifying the death of these men with the well-being of this bloody lot the Helping Hand had set before him, “I am fine, Kithran, are you alright?”
She nods happily, “I wasn’t hit by an arrow or nearly knocked painfully unconscious, so I am doing very well. She we continue?”
At their agreement, she sped off again and soon they would be approaching the garden. It had been some time since they parted, so hopefully Aranwen would have made her way back there. If not they could wait there for a little while, but with the streets crawling with minions of all sorts, they would need to find another place to plan their attack soon.
The worry was for naught as the first thing she saw as she turned the corner toward the small garden was the oaken-haired bladesinger pacing back and forth in her armor. Kithran didn’t feel the relief that was visible on her face, though she was grateful they were not down a bladesinger.
Aranwen noticed them then and her entire demeanor relaxed for a moment, "Thank goodness. My diversion seemed to work, perhaps too effectively given that I was mistaken for you and ambushed; but how did you fare?"
“We fared fine.” She rested her hands on the hilts of her daggers, “Say, Aranwen, who is Morgana? She mentioned something about Ch’dau being like you," she chuckled sardonically, "I don’t remember fully because I had nearly been knocked unconscious before she tied up Ch’dau and nearly put us all to sleep in the apothecary.” She shrugged, “Any of this ringing a bell, maybe?”
Posted on 2019-11-22 at 01:58:46.
Edited on 2019-11-22 at 02:05:33 by breebles