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  #676  
Old 12-21-2011, 05:46 PM
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"Do people in our line of work bathe often?" Mana asked. "That seems a prodigious waste of resources to me, but I wouldn't want to besmirch a time-honored tradition of cleanliness." With little ceremony, she removed all her clothes and stood nearby to await her turn.

"I wouldn't refuse some shelter, either. After being inside that castle for what is essentially my whole life, I think it will take some time to get used to being outside."
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:04 PM
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"No," she said as she watched Mana strip out of her clothing. "It is a luxury reserved for times of safety and convenience." When Mana was through, Nym reached down and picked up a towel and draped it around her back, then fed it under her arms to her front where she fashioned a functional knot at her chest to hold the towel in place. "There we go. Here, why don't you carry the linens and I'll carry the basin. Let's leave these boys to their imaginations." She gathered up the remaining linens and the bar of soap then draped the cloth over one shoulder and set the bar of soap in Mana's hand. Then Nym picked up the basin and, to avoid any further confusion, hooked Mana's elbow with hers and started walking towards the woods. It was a daring move, considering the knowledge that she would have of Nikta's experience with walking arm in arm. But Mana had shown that she was somehow removed from all of that, so it was worth a chance. "Just out to the woods a ways," she said.

After some distance they came upon a small growth of trees and shrubbery. Nym set the barrel down on the ground and the lantern flitted about trying to find an optimal location. She knelt by the barrel and held out her hand and softly said, create waterwater and the barrel was filled. "Okay," she said as she stood up and faced Mana. She gathered up the linens, folding them over her forearm and held out her hand for the towel. "Off you go, into the water. It's time to scrub away all of that newness. You and me both; I'm pretty new here too, you know."

While Mana was working on her bath, Nym draped the linens over a branch and began removing her accouterments and finally her clothing. She was, of course, covered in blood from the slaughter that took place within the castle. As she assessed her outfit, she determined the leather pants to be easily washed, but the bloody white tunic not so much. "Ah well, perhaps I could just turn it red," she said idly. "Or pink, more like. Pink is nice." She paused in thought. "I've also got others..."
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Last edited by Gath; 12-21-2011 at 08:07 PM.
  #678  
Old 12-22-2011, 09:27 AM
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Jake stared into the fire, as if he could control it with his mind, barely hearing Koma. "I don't think I could sleep anyways." He grumbles, before methodically undoing the straps of his leather armor, allowing his sweat-soaked shirt underneath to breathe in the cool air.

"It's just. Too much, you know?" He begins, "I've been doing this for years. Most of my life, really, if you consider Korso, and everyone keeps slipping through my fingers. Korso. Jane. Nib. Nikta.. and now Nib again." He takes a deep shaky breath, allowing Koma to realize this is the first time he's ever heard of this 'Jane'. He knew who Korso was, at least - Jake's old mentor. "For a while, I was happy with you all. We were making a difference. We were friends. But, I don't know if I can keep doing this. Maybe I need to find something quiet, safe. Like the spice-trading I was into right before this all started."

His hands were working as he talked, working oils into his dusty armor, having methodically disassembled the entire suit to get it into every crevice, "I had almost got out of the life before. This travelling, fighting, theiving thing. It was good. But then, I decided I needed to look into the bandits myself, and we found out there was a dragon threatening the world, and... Part of me wanted to stop it, part of me wanted the gold, and another part of me wanted to get back on the road. Only a little bit of me was shouting that this was a bad idea. And with each death, a little part of those first three has died. And now, all I'm left with is the idea that I should never have gone on this damn quest in the first place."
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  #679  
Old 12-22-2011, 09:34 AM
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One must walk one's own path through life, my friend. Garig smiled a sympathetic smile for his longtime partner. No one else can walk it for you.

He indicated with a motion the nearby camp, and then the rest of the vista with a sweeping arm. Choose your path, and your friends will support you on it, for that is what makes us friends.
Then, surprisingly, the little gnome said nothing else. Even Koma looked askance at the lack of a long winded story to support the gnome's logic. Garig smiled, and winked at the minotaur, and simply nodded his grey haired head.
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  #680  
Old 12-22-2011, 04:12 PM
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While they bathed, Mana gave occasional glances back toward the others. "Nikta is worried about Jake," she said at length. "She believes he will do something drastic, or that he will give up altogether." She frowned. "I believe she's right. But I don't think it is my or her business to make him stay. What's the point in this quest if it means the disintegration of self? I wouldn't blame him if he simply walked away. But if he leaves...where does that leave the rest of us?"
  #681  
Old 12-22-2011, 06:34 PM
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Huh. It looks like Garig realized that more words weren't needed. Koma thought. Moving to a sitting position, he began doing his own armor work. "Uh, what he said." Koma replied, lost for words. He hadn't thought of anyone leaving the group after so long. The women changed, drastically, as women were wont to do, even without supernatural reasons, but the men had been steady.

"Soo...spice trading? That was what you were doing?" He asked a few minutes later. He had tried pondering what he would do if he couldn't fight anymore, but couldn't think of anything. Fighting was all he was trained for, good at, and knew how to do. If he couldn't fight, what was he? Besides, mercenary work kept him semi-safe and contained away from humanoid populations that looked upon minotaurs as natural enemies. If he tried walking into an elven or human settlement by himself, chances were strong that he'd get a sword or bow in the face.[/I]
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  #682  
Old 12-23-2011, 06:40 AM
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”So do you still communicate with Nikta and Nibdelas? I mean, yeah.” She helped to dry Mana’s hair before the mage got out and took the towel for herself. Then it was Nym’s turn in the water. She took the soap and scrubbed her body, then began going to work on her face and arms. The latter two turned the water red. Having prepared for this, she picked up a water skin that she had set at the base of the barrel and poured water onto her face and hair. After washing her hair she emptied the waterskin once again to rinse, then wrung it out to dry and grabbed the towel and stepped out to dry off. Incidentally, the soap was scented with lavender.

”Here,” said Nym, handing Mana a set of clothing. She donned a similar set of simple unbleached heavy linen pants and tunic. Both the pants and the tunic had lace up fronts for a more versatile fit. The clothes were loose but the weight of the fabric gave them presence enough to be comfortable.

Once dressed, Nym toweled off her hair once more and took a moment to work it into two braids, one down each side. Her hair was longer than Mana’s, perhaps to the middle of her back so the braids were tidy and out of the way, more so than without. She looked at Mana’s hair questioningly and said, ”I normally put my hair in braids after a bath or before bed and again at dawn. It is a common practice and helps keep the hair healthy and even gives it body and life should you decide to take them out in the morning. I’d be more than happy to braid your hair for you if you like.”

She realized that she had completely ignored the Jake issue and so she decided to address that. ”Heh, sorry about not responding to your questions, though I think that to some extent they were rhetorical. I find that baths are a sacred time to step away from the troubles of the adventure and wash away the sins of war so that we may start fresh once more. Nothing righteous, just spiritual, you know? Now that it’s nearly over, perhaps there are a few things to be said.”

She stepped over to Mana and said, ”Let me see now, hold still a moment.” At first she touched her hair, fluffing it a bit to gauge it’s texture and weight. Then she gathered her hair up into both hands and split the back into two segments, setting one part to the side for now. Then she began working a braid down her left side and said, ”He has been so distant of late that I am not sure that much would change were he to leave, other than we would no longer bear the burden of a despondent traveling companion. What’s more, if his heart isn’t into it, then what does that mean about his survivability when things get tough? There is a difference between not wanting to kill things for a living and utter apathy. With the former, you look for alternate solutions. The latter usually ends up getting you killed just because.”

She abandoned the braid and moved to the other side and began again. ”If he wants to leave or if he shows signs of not being interested in staying, then I think we should encourage him to follow a different path. We should send him off with enough material goods so that he will be able to establish himself elsewhere, but were he to stay on because we pressured him to and he got killed, I mean that would plague me forever… And I don’t really remember much about him either.” She finished with her final braid and said, ”There! All finished.” And then she handed Mana a pocket mirror so that she could see herself in braids. Or perhaps see herself for the first time.

”Now let’s gather up all of this gear and head back to the camp. Why don’t you carry the clothes, towels and soap and I’ll take care of the rest of my gear.” Her leather pants were a little heavier than normal since she washed them in the bath, but not overly so. Nym slung belts over her head across her torso and hung straps and other gear over her shoulders. When finally she had all of her gear, she stepped on out onto the little animal trail that they’d followed, the lantern floating along in the lead about ten feet or so.

When they got to the camp, Nym dropped all of her gear and began working on the tent. ”There’s a barrel full of water about fifty yards up that animal trail if anyone is interested in a bath. You’ll need to use your own soap though.” She made quick work of the tent and laid out the two bedrolls and blankets. ”And there we have it,” she said triumphantly to Mana, her evening preparations complete.

Nym went about stuffing all of her gear into her haversack and set it inside the tent along with her sword, which took its place by her side. Then she pulled out her small wooden shrine, a box maybe a foot wide and deep and half again as much tall. There was a shelf about halfway up that was thick with wax that resided at the foot of a rendering of a sunburst. Nym opened the little drawer and pulled out a new small candle and a match. She struck the match and let the flame melt the bottom of the candle for a moment before she placed it on the altar and then lit the candle. Her nightly prayers were brief, more of a preparation for the morning ritual. Once finished, she blew out the candle and went out to see what was going on in the camp.

(ps – slippers come with the jammies.)
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Last edited by Gath; 12-23-2011 at 07:02 PM.
  #683  
Old 12-23-2011, 08:55 AM
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Jake nodded, slowly. "It was a simple existence. Buy low, sell high - sometimes that meant carrying stuff across Maxitone, but more often just across the desert. The trip was harder than around, but far shorter. If not for the giants interruption, I think I'd still be out there, in the sun and the sand."

Jake looked towards the castle, which had now settled down - devoid of motion and of life in equal measure. A brand new ruin.

"This place is positively chilly in comparison." He joked. It might not be a desert, but it was still warm out here.

OODMI think we've covered plenty for the night - anyone who wants to progress us to the next day can do so - otherwise I'll change it up my next post... some time after christmas.
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  #684  
Old 12-23-2011, 10:55 AM
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Mana let Nym braid her hair, but her thoughts were on the despondent rogue. She didn't care for him the same way that Nikta and Nibdelas had done, but she didn't like seeing anyone upset. When the bath was over, she sat down beside Jake.

She didn't know what to say, and she didn't want to say the wrong thing and send him spiraling down into proper melancholy, so for a while she just sat in silence, watching the fading sunlight disappear behind the trees.

"You mentioned Korso and Jane," said Mana. "And Nibdelas and Nikta, too. You've lost a great many, I'm sure." She hesitated; the Sterling parts of herself were encouraging her to speak, but she didn't understand everything that she was about to say, and she wasn't sure if it would make things worse.

"But you left one name off your list," she said. "Jake... I think it's time you told us about Erin."

He had never mentioned her while awake, but in the desert, at the start of their travels, Nibdelas had heard him murmuring in his sleep, and in the midst of a nightmare he had whispered the name, Erin, his voice full of fear and regret. It was that night that she had given him the golden locust Neida, and that night that they had become friends. But she had never asked him who Erin was, and now both she and Nikta were curious.

Mana only knew the name from reading their collective memories, and cared little for the girl's significance. But if talking would make Jake feel better, she didn't want her apathy to stop him from healing. "You don't have to say anything," she added quickly. "But I thought...maybe it would help you to remember her. And I promise, if Garig gets any ideas about transmuting a log, I'll disintegrate his spellbook for you." She offered him a nervous smile, realizing that she had probably poked a hole in what was probably Jake's last remaining secret. She hoped it wouldn't kill him.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:51 PM
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Garig looked up at the mention of his name. Oh dear, no. A log, never. The duration would be far too... Oh. Yes, indeed, never you mind, Garig, he says more quietly, and then lapses back into silence. His hands deftly pack more items into small pouches in the belt in his lap, moving components from one pouch to another, and from his backpack to the pouches.
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  #686  
Old 12-23-2011, 07:54 PM
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Koma got up quickly at the mention of water, and rummaged through his pack for his own cleaning agent before walking up the trail as the others conversed. He didn't really need to hear Jake's story about Erin. He had his own ghosts that haunted him, and he was starting to feel itchy from the dried blood covering his hide.

Cleaning off the worst of what he could reach, Koma skimmed off what was floating on top of the water in terms of dirt and looked around. The others were distracted by Jake for the moment, and it was the first time in a while that he had a breather from them. The last chance he had kept being interrupted by shipboard folks, including those three annoying humans.

Moving to a scrawny tree that gave him a good view of the path back downward towards camp, he sat with a sigh, leaning back carefully against it. As he glanced towards where the castle lay, he could feel a wave of sadness wash though him. Nikta was gone and Jake was leaving. He could feel self-doubt and what-if's rising in his skull. The fact that there wasn't anything he could have done was poor comfort against the nightmares he knew he was going to be having later. They happened on occasion, but never more so than after losing someone. Nikta hadn't been in their group for very long at all, perhaps a weeks worth of time in the group, but after traveling with Nib so long, and with her carrying many of the same mannerisms, it felt like longer. It would take a while for the same feelings to be true for Mana.

So, he indulged in a small little ritual that was becoming uncomfortably like a tradition for those friends of his that had died in battle. Drawing a line in the dirt as a marker, he glanced up at the sky and told it about every little thing that had annoyed, irritated, or otherwise infuriated him about Nikta, including exactly what he thought of Nikta's little stunt of charging in and not letting the party help out, using as many imaginative epithets as possible, and letting the rage and frustration he felt at her seeming arrogance and stupidity work itself out. At the five minute mark, he cut off, figuring that someone had got the message. Taking a deep breath, he let it out and relaxed. Now he had had his say, and there was no more reason to speak ill of the dead.

"Goodbye, Your Majesty. Thanks for the name." Chances were that he wouldn't see Nikta again in this life, and he would hit Garig over the head if he tried. And yet, Ankoz and Lkos were still out there somewhere. Damn evil liches! When are we going to find either of their phylacterys and smash it, permanently? I had even told them; 'I think we should finish Ankoz off. I dislike the idea of leaving enemies behind, particularly undead enemies that can hold grudges for centuries, and especially when the townspeople were apparently Called it almost two years ago, too. :Punable to deal with it themselves. We didn't even have to wait two months before he got his revenge. '

Koma stops the abrupt chain of thoughts with a quick shake of his head. "Alright, enough alone time, or you're going to get morose. Or enraged. Better to do that with a full mug of ale in your hand." He chided himself as he headed down the hill to rejoin his friends.

Passing Nym and Mana, he caught the smell of lavender and stopped. Leaning in slightly, Koma takes a slightly longer whiff and smiles as he continues to an empty space to stretch out again. Some of the polstices his mother made used to smell like that.
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  #687  
Old 12-23-2011, 08:33 PM
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Garig watches the others disperse about the shrubs and small trees, humming softly to himself as he inventories his spell components, and thinks about the following day. As the conversations lower, and his allies come, and go, he finds a suitable spot for his shelter spell, and casts it.. a few feet up from the ground, near a tree, with a small bush in front for some cover. He can easily clamber into it, and he does, setting his pack inside, and dangling his legs over the edge as he watches the sunlight fade from the sky.

As the others move about their businesses, sometimes quietly, sometimes with conversation amongst themselves, he casts the dirt and sweat from himself with a simple spell, and mends his cut and torn clothing, examining each piece closely, and wondering at times when this hem or that sleeve was cut, and by what. Since he had been but an apprentice, such magics, and the daily habits to use them, were old hat.

Antes, meanwhile, had flown off to find some peace to herself, and likely some field mice for a small snack. She had returned, and roosted herself in the thick limbs of the tree, above Garig's portal, where she rested, and observed the rest of the group. Garig kept a small conversation going with her, a tiny noise in the background of both their minds, very peaceful and calming after decades of doing so. The little dragon would occasionally raise her head to look around, then sink back down into the nook the branches provided, as if hiding. Still, she kept one sparkling blue eye watching Tep move about below, much to the gnome's amusement.

 
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  #688  
Old 12-23-2011, 09:10 PM
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At some point during the silence, Mana's recount of Nib and Nikta's perceptions of her rose to a head. Something had happened when she was remade and she didn't really recall what she was like before, unlike Mana who knew thousands of years of history fresh from the start. With Garig sitting there all too quietly, Nym couldn't resist the opportunity.

"Garig, can you tell me about me before I was me?"
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Old 12-23-2011, 10:37 PM
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Indeed dear, to which me are you referring?
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Old 12-23-2011, 11:11 PM
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"The one before now." Then it occurred to her that there might have been multiple incarnations. "Well, I suppose I don't rightly know now. I came back a few days ago. Work up to then?"
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