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  #166  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 02:14 PM
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Pnoah Seheppen
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Pnoah tucked his thumbs into the suspenders of his leather apron, rocking back on his heels with pride at having defeated the snakes (with a slight assist from several others). Traditional gnomish inventiveness combined with good old-fashioned quick thinking and common sense had saved the dwarf from the swarm of snakes. Of course, it needn't have been necessary to save her at all if she'd heeded his wisdom and backed away, rather than relying upon some antiquated structure of superstitions (no offense meant to the Great Reorx, of course), but this was no time to nitpick. Well, hopefully actual nit-picking wouldn't be necessary, considering that nits were actually lice eggs. And though he had very little doubt that many dwarves were infested with lice, being the hairy, dirty creatures they were, he hadn't noticed any signs of such parasites on Kaylen...who, he was forced to admit, was a cleaner, more sophisticated example of her race than he'd previously experienced. He was quite sure that snakes, being reptilian rather than mammalian, did not have lice, though he had heard that there were certain species of snakes far up north that actually grew hair, though scientifically...

At that point, he became aware that people were rushing past him to attend the dwarf and treat her rather severe poisoning. Oh. Right. Snake venom...hmm. Perhaps an anti-toxin? he startled, trotting toward the fallen dwarf to assist before noticing that the elf-woman who'd talked to Jabbal...and sensibly moved away from the snakes...feeding some sort of liquid to the unconscious dwarf. Ah, he thought, it seems that...Blainneth, was it?...already has an anti-toxin available. He was surprised at the preparedness of the otherwise frivolous-seeming elf, but grateful nonetheless. As it seemed that the matter of Kaylen's recover was well on it's way, he turned his attention to the other mess developing...a flock of rather aggressive and confused archers being berated by a rather indignant and hostile elf, with a rather well-meaning and lovely human lady attempting to avoid outright bloodshed. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a bit of a...hmm, lackluster?...quality about her Prior to any rerolls due to Elinir's granting of Advantage.speech in the face of such unmitigated chaos. The archers really wanted to shoot the griffon or drive it away, and the elf apparently really wanted to return the favor to the archers. The girl's speech, however logical and well-reasoned, was simply no match for the unbridled aggression forming a loop between the elf, the griffon, and the riders.

Fortunately, as always, Pnoah had a solution! Digging into pouches as the taller folk argued, he withdrew a device he'd built earlier and cannibalized the crank and turntable, storing the remaining parts in other pouches. Finding a flat, bagel-like cake he'd saved from breakfast, he used a needle to perforate the surface in a simple pattern he'd learned as a child, then installed the needle, along with several others, into an arm that hovered over the bagel when it was placed onto the turntable. The funnel from a different invention was quickly appropriated and attached, funneling sound now rather than liquid or gas.

As Devari pleaded for reason, Pnoah walked up behind her and placed an encouraging hand on her arm. Smiling encouraging up at her, mouthing Keep talking!, he began turning the crank. The holes in the bagel vibrated the needles above, sending the vibrations into the funnel. The result, curiously enough, was a rather relaxing musical tune being projected through the funnel. After trying to revive a corpse, negotiate a nest of snakes, firebomb said nest, then supervise recovery activities, Pnoah was feeling a little beat, but he kept cranking, despite the burning tiredness in his arm. Somebody had to keep the taller races from hacking each other to pieces at every opportunity!

 
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Last edited by Elanir; Aug 20th, 2022 at 05:27 PM. Reason: Added a Spoilerbutton
  #167  
Old Aug 22nd, 2022, 11:49 PM
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Kaylen Nightstone
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Kaylen's eyes fluttered open and she gently coughed with as peaceful return from the edge of death as could be hoped for in the mortal world. What torture had worked on her soul faded like a thin cloud in the Khurish sky until there was no memory of it at all, only the unsettled impression that something terrible had happened. Over her were faces...her saviors. Tegan, the armored warrior with golden hair, looked on with relief with his shield still held protectively over her. Blainneth was there as well. In her hand was an empty vial, the obvious source of her recovery. Sunlight filtered through her gauzy garb, seeming to tint her face with a bluish hue but only for a moment before returning to her flawless elven skin. And then there was Veraline exclaiming Kaylen's virtue even though she had made such a stupid and terrible mistake. She nodded to her but found it hard to look the beautiful human in the eyes.

Kaylen rolled her head to the side, her flush of embarrassment hidden by the lingering pale tinge of poison. The elven body was being pulled away. She saw most of the outlanders and they were all unharmed. Her eyes closed again. The lids felt puffy and rheumy and despite the curative power of the potion she still felt queasy. The dwarf said a silent prayer to Mishakal, thanking the goddess for looking over the others and not letting them pay for her folly.

She felt Blainneth pulling away and she stopped her by grabbing her wrist. The exotic beauty felt delicate under her mercenary callouses that had not yet faded away, but somehow stronger than the elf should be. "Thank you." Kaylen surprised herself with a voice that was clear and stronger than she felt. She looked at the potion and let go of Blainneth gently. "I do not think that was meant for me, but you used it anyway. I owe you my life. Mishakal works in mysterious ways. Maybe one day soon I will be able to repay your selfless act." Kaylen seemed to want to say more, her brown eyes searching Blainneth's for the courage to speak them, but none came. She sat up slowly and allowed Tegan to help her in that effort. She smiled sheepishly at him. He reminded her of Kef in some ways. "I am sure I owe you as well."

The cleric only vaguely followed the angry words between Isandril and the Khurish warriors. Kaylen felt the need to step in again, but Veraline mercifully did so for her with skill and a bit more cunning than she would be able to. She glanced at the letter the wizard passed to his countrywoman after first recieving it from the nimble Talia. "What does it say? I don't understand what is happening."

...

Kaylen couldn't seem to muster the energy to move now that the fallen elf's body was safely out from the reeds. Instead she sat and marveled at the care and kindness Aric showed the dead warrior. She listened to his human song and couldn't help smiling when he forgot some of the words. It was somehow more touching that he did. The boy spoke to the dead as if they could hear him. I was never like him, not even as a child. Why, then, am I the cleric and not him? Who is more deserving of Mishakal's love?. Aric seemed to notice her attention and came over to her. "I'm so glad you're alright." They were simple words and with a gentle embrace but they took Kaylen's breath away for how pure and honest they were. For the second time that evening a youth's arms wrapped her in an embrace, but this time she was able to grip them with her own and hold onto them tightly. "Remember when I thought it was you who was poisoned? Aren't we a pair?" she asked, unable to keep the quiver of grief and relief from her voice. " Aren't we a pair."

After some time, she let go of Aric's embrace. She slowly got to her feet which put her only eye level to the tall, kneeling human. "Would you be my helper, Aric? I don't know the customs of the Silvanesti. We should ask the two we know and then give final honors to this fallen soul. I hope he escaped the draw of the stones." Kaylen looked east as if she could still see them. Maybe dwarves could see rocks beyond the horizon. She looked back at Aric and smiled, helping him to his feet with her and dusting off the dirty knees of his pants with the swatting, fussing of a mother before asking again, "Hmmm?"

 
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Last edited by Hayar; Aug 24th, 2022 at 05:51 PM.
  #168  
Old Aug 24th, 2022, 02:21 PM
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Miraculous Healing
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Tegan watched as the whirlwind which was the foreigner known as Xi struck out with not only speed and power, but exacting precision. In a flurry of movement he devastated many of the snakes. One particularly large serpent was getting close to the exposed edge of the cleric's chain at the neck, and Tegan used the flat of his sword to swat it out of reach. As his blade lifted it briefly, an orb, unlike any Tegan had ever seen sliced through it's body and landed in another snake, eviscerating it. Isandril, the wizard, had shown his talent once again. Isandril seems logical and good-hearted, if cold. He is clearly talented at his craft. I need to make sure we stay on good terms. Tegan mused that he could say that about many of his newfound friends. Xi was almost equally enigmatic, and likely equally as deadly.

As the last of the serpents were vanquished, Tegan despaired at how close they had come to success without fruition. His soul was distraught at his inability to save Kaylen. Yet, his hopes soared as the other elf, Blainneth, threw herself near the dwarf, a light red vial in-hand. She poured it down the quickly graying, slightly-parted lips and the effect was immediate. Color returned to the cleric and her eyes fluttered open. She stared at Blainneth, almost with a look that looks beyond the natural. The moment passed and she sat up, expressing her thanks. Tegan glowed and an altruistic grin broke out across his face. One could really see how handsome Tegan was when he was the most joyous. Aric rushed to the cleric and embraced her. It was a touching moment and Tegan felt the cares of this world lifted for a time. Yes, the loss of this soul was tragic, but Tegan had faith that the gods used these kinds of events to turn tragedy into blessing. With their return, they must have plans for all, even this party. Returning to the moment, Tegan offered a hand to the still-seated Kaylen, who accepted, and assisted her in rising. "Most valorous, lady Blainneth. Your courage inspires me. And lady Kaylen, I am thankful that you awaken to see the sun's light once more. Kiri-Jolith smile upon you both for your bravery this day."

The others approached, as well as the archers Jabbal had sent out. Aric and Xi assisted in lifting the body, including a small ballad from the boy; it was heartfelt, but it lacked a certain... cohesion. Choosing to ignore this, Tegan engrossed himself in the conversation with the soldiers. Devari clearly had the situation managed for the time being, Pnoah attempting to add gravitas in his own unique way, but she was suggesting that they would take care of the griffon! As he mulled the thought over, it did seem the logical conclusion; Tegan just came to it a bit slower than Isandril or Devari. Seeing the soldiers accept her response, Tegan mentioned to the collected party, "If we are to take this creature under our watch, we would need to separate from Jabbal's party early. I am for this, as it is only right to honor this fallen warrior and we would be cleaving ourselves from Jabbal soon enough anyways. Regardless, a small delegation to explain the events and our plans would be wise. I will attend, if we agree that this is the correct course." Tegan looked left and right at the different members. His intention was not to lead or order others, and he looked for confirmation that the others agreed. As they discussed, Tegan wiped his blade in the grass near the water and returned it to his sheathe. He also recovered his shield. He doffed his coif and ran his fingers through his greasy, sand-filled, blonde hair. He could use a good bath, but for now he would try to look collected as he went with the party to explain their intentions to Jabbal. Kiri-Jolith, reward our bravery this day, in both action and conviction. Bless us by allowing Jabbal to accept this change in the plan.
OOCPer the OOC, looks like Blainneth will do the talking? Tegan will attend and assist as needed.

 
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Last edited by Tommyk382; Aug 24th, 2022 at 02:42 PM.
  #169  
Old Aug 24th, 2022, 11:54 PM
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Xihue of the Alan-Atu
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The sun was born beyond the reach of one's eyes, far to the East. Every morning it banished the stars, warmed the mountains, illuminated the fields, and crossed the length of the sky to die beyond the ocean in the West. The great cycle of life was short for the sun. It ruled the heavens briefly to be conquered and mourned for a span of time nearly equal to it's life and celebrated once again on the new day. It was given to the Alan-Atu to understand that Elves watched the lives of men in a similar way. A man's life flashed quickly by to be replaced by their children. As one man saw the days of many sunrises, so the Elves saw the lives of many men flash past.

Xihue wished to shine brightly, to be remembered beyond the span of his life, or to attain a place in the stars, ascended to a height where he could watch Elves and the ages of the world pass bye in splendorous wonder. He had slain nomadic elves of the plains in Northern Hosk who warred against the human tribes that shared those plains and mountains. Whenever they sought to invade his homeland, steal his sheep, or kill children, he would not hesitate to rise in defense, never as aggressor. Elves of Ansalon were completely different. They were noble, thoughtful, and often civilized. During his brief months on this continent, he had found them to be completely different from the tales told of them by the Minotaur mariners who's ships had carried him across the oceans. Their songs of the Dargonesti sea elves were nightmarish.

The finely armored corpse of this elf lay uncorrupted by its death. The fine features, marred by blood and mud, were only soiled, not disfigured or enraged by the rictus that afflicted men in death.

"Aric, Xihue… please take an end each…", Veralyne's words broke Xihue's revery and contemplation of lost sylvan life. He bowed in response and gracefully moved to attend to it.

"Peace be with you, Veralyne. I shall gladly assist in this task. Young Aric, allow me to support the heavier upper body. You appear taxed by your recent attempt at diplomacy."

As they transported the armor clad body, Xihue regarded Aric. The young man had inner strength that remained elusive to the boy's conscious self respect. He acted more like the damaged product of a torturous imprisonment than a lad of his presumed age might normally deport himself. The boy's apologetic eulogy was interesting. The variation in key and pitch was chaotic and quiet but the song's words were strangely appropriate.

"Peace be with you Aric." Xihue intoned as the teenager dashed off, back toward the river and the newly risen dwarf cleric.

Xi looked back toward Veralyne in time to see her confront the archers.

"The prince has ordered this monster slain or driven away. Whatever magic you used to charm it will not last for long. It would be better to attack it now, before the scent of the horses drives it mad again."

The statement brought quick retort from nearly everyone within earshot and Xihue could feel the Fates modify their plans as first Isandril, then Veralyne and Tegan advocated on behalf of the Griffon An'quesse. Talia took a battle posture, seemingly ready to fight the entire Khurish contingent. The Kender cartographer seemed to still have nothing but animus for Jabbal and his minions. Pnoah astounded the monk by spontaneously manufacturing a musical instrument and lending his unique contribution to the diplomacy.

"Peace be with all of you. Pardon my humble intrusion. Might I offer the suggestion that Isandril, Aric, Kaylen and I remain to care for the Griffon and the last rites for its fallen master while you beseech Prince Jabbal for his tolerance and forbearance on this matter? I would add my words to yours in asking the great, wise prince of the Khurs for clemency. It is unlikely that a creature known to eat horses will be tolerated here and we must have either Blainneth or Isandril stay with An'quesse. One must remain with the mount in order to maintain it's current passiveness. Considering Lord Jabbal's affinity for beautiful women, Blainneth and Veralyne should bring him whatever solutions you wish him to judiciously consider."

 
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Last edited by Black Jim; Aug 25th, 2022 at 12:04 AM.
  #170  
Old Aug 26th, 2022, 12:22 AM
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Blyne
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Blyne hadn't ever truly learned how to deal with the loss of control. Of course there were outside matters that were beyond her control and she was essentially convinced that Krynn itself had sworn itself against her to have brought the fate of the Irda upon her to face it alone, but despite any of her own flaws that she was slowly being forced to confront, the young Irda woman was not prepared to lose control of herself like she had today. Self-control had been ingrained into her as one of the most important aspects for an Irda to remain whole. The Irda followed Majere's tenets of discipline, as well as they believed that both mind and sorcery should hold mastery over the body. Those were ideals that Blyne had believed to have been strictly adhering to. So how was it that she was now sitting next to a poisoned dwarf, blinded by the blue light of Mishakal when Kaylen's amulet glowed brightly in response to a sacrifice that Blyne had given almost inadvertently? The high-ogre understood well that she had asked for a great gift from Besimeh when something as valuable as a life-giving potion had occurred to her as something a rich merchant woman might give her as a replacement for the company which she would have wished for instead. Now that potion was gone a mere day after receiving the gift. But it had been given with meaning.

Obviously any material thing was unequal to the value of a life, necessarily even compared to those of the lesser races. Blyne hadn't run and brought the healing potion to save Kaylen's life specifically. But that was what had happened. And now Mishakal had looked down on the face of Krynn and witnessed that the lost child of a dying race that was blessed by her hadn't squandered the gifts of goodness and been able to heal a true vessel of the Blue Lady's kindness when dwarven stubbornness had threatened to squander the life of one that had so much more to do in this world. The blue light shone into Blainneth's eyes and she was still as much in awe as she had been since she had reached this riverbank to be welcomed by an uncorrupted version of her mother's spirit. Even as Blyne didn't show much of it outwardly, she felt stripped of her control. She knew what she had meant to achieve in her heart and she had achieved it. She shouldn't be feeling as deeply confused as she was, but she did. Something inside the young Irda died and was born that day. But she had no way of knowing what it was. Just that too many things that she had always been taking for granted seemed to be changing at once. At least the change she had wanted to see most in the world at that moment had happened, and the young Irda could almost feel Mishakal's pride that Kaylen's life had been secured. Blyne's lack of discipline in the process could always be improved upon next. That much was Majere's domain.

In the moment of Kaylen's retrieval from the steps in front of the gate of souls, Blyne wasn't experiencing her own thoughts consciously, but more in a subliminal way. Blainneth looked down at the dwarven priestess and her elven features were still wide-eyed and tear-streaked even when Kaylen awoke and began to blink up beneath the fading sunlight. I wasn't in control. This life needed me to be in control so dearly. It had been multiple seconds in which the young Irda hadn't been listening to her own thoughts, but now it occurred to her how vulnerable she was right now. In the background, Aric was quietly singing a song for the fallen elf. The woman that was either called Devari, Veralyne, or neither, sank down next to the dwarven priestess and proclaimed Kaylen's success and that this fight against the snakes had ended in their shared victory. Blyne didn't feel it. Her thoughts were racing, but not even the young Irda knew where to. The solamnic knight Tegan smiled warmly as he seemed to agree with Veralyne, but as Blainneth motioned to pull away and regain some of her internal defenses, Kaylen was faster and her calloused, worldly grip kept the shapeshifter in the presence of the moment and didn't allow her to close herself off. The dwarven woman's thanks were so adamantine that Blyne could do nothing more but receive them. The blank face of Blainneth failed to react as Kaylen explained Mishakal's ways as mysterious and how the administering of the potion had been truly selfless. Blyne didn't know what to do with the feedback. Just in the moment as Tegan named her valorous and then helped a living Kaylen to her feet, the young Irda stored these moments away to unravel them later. Blainneth was still kneeling heavily in the dirt and trying to find her inner center when Aric visited to embrace the dwarven woman after she had survived. He was so genuine, both of them were, and the two of them displayed a bond that Blyne might have failed to recognize had she not met Besimeh a mere dozen hours ago. And still, the young high-ogre felt helplessly out of place even after she had done all which she had been able to demand of herself. The distraction by Isandril's curt discarding of an elven letter into her hands came almost from a blind spot, and although she would have normally been irritated by his demanding gesture, right then it gave Blyne something that she was welcome to focus on instead of puzzling everything else together.

With a brief glance at the offended-looking kender girl Talia, Blyne was able to retrace how this letter had come into her current possession. Since she had learned all three tongues of the first-born races, Blainneth's eyes roamed over the unexpected scroll before she couldn't help but have her attention drawn by the harsh exchange between the khurish archers and Isandril as the wizard stood up against their slight against the griffon named An'quesse. That's... true possibly. But badly put... Veralyne suggested that the griffon would be driven away, ensuring that the hostilities couldn't escalate further. Both through Isandril's mentioning of siblings and after Kalyen's request for understanding, Blyne's eyes were drawn back to the letter as she began to finish extracting its meaning. "A moment." Somehow Blainneth's voice didn't sound raw or faltering, which both surprised Blyne and encouraged her that maybe things hadn't gotten so out of control after all. The weary shapeshifter completed reading Larimielle's letter to the elf who had found his doom when he had refused to seek strength in numbers. And although the gnomish toy that was playing a melody in the background reminded Blyne that one specific genius had sought to explore the literal interpretation of friendly fire mere moments ago, there were too many impressions lingering in the back of the young Irda's mind and she could only settle them one at a time. For the moment she chose to focus on responding to Kaylen instead. "The griffon's name is An'quesse, and her rider roamed the east of Pashin. He was seeking to challenge and punish a deserter from the Knights of Neraka. And the bandits surrounding him. It must have been the reason he found himself here, wounded and overlooking the snake nest... before he died." As Blyne relayed the letter to Kaylen, it helped her feel stable and thus she gladly continued. "Larimielle, the fallen's sister has been wishing for her brother's temperance and has been awaiting him in Pashin, unable to join his hunt for justice due to her own injuries. An'quesse is without her rider now. That is... a bond supposedly as deep as any..."

Even after she stopped speaking, for a moment Blainneth kept regarding the letter as she pondered the happenings which were surrounding her. An'quesse as a griffon couldn't coexist peacefully next to the khurish horses. Yet as intelligent of a species as griffons were, setting her out into the wilderness was asking for misfortune to befall either the khurish people or An'quesse. Isandril as a true Silvanesti would likely find words to appease the riderless mount, but although Veralyne had prevented the archers to follow their original instructions they had sent one of theirs to receive further instructions from Jabbal. Tegan raised the possibility that the outlanders could take care of An'quesse in the wake of her rider's death, and he most certainly had a point that such a course of action necessitated an early departure out of Jabbal's company. Most assuredly it also required them to deliver their farewell since the khurish noble had at least been their patron momentarily. An elf is perfect to explain that this choice is most justified. Since I know about griffons, this should not be too difficult for me. I am a far better choice than Isandril too, evidently. When Xihue took up Tegan's proposal and nearly repeated Blyne's own thoughts on the matter, the warrior shepherd encouraged the young Irda that she had to speak for the outlanders in this. After all she meant to follow them on the journey to Pashin, and this was a task that Blyne felt capable of achieving for them. Right now she also needed to show to herself that she was still functional. Jabbal had been favorable towards her before. With no desire to capitalize on his renown baseness, Blainneth finally arose from the riverbank and dusted off her knees as best she could. "I will meet Jabbal and disclose our departure. I have the words to disarm him, should he be lacking of understanding. Please entrust this matter to me." Distantly it occurred to Blyne that in the flurry of events at this riverbank she had failed to respond to the plethora of feelings that the outlanders had directed at each other and even at Blainneth as well in the wake of a life and death situation. Unwilling to disturb her current stability, the young Irda neglected to allow these thoughts any further prominence in her mind as she joined the escort of her new companions to return to the khurish prince. As she walked among them silently, the image of Besimeh and her two irreplaceable friends appeared before her inner eye. Quickly Blyne pushed these thoughts down as she focused on what she would say to Jabbal instead.

Back with the gathering of khurish people, the atmosphere of unrest had not changed as it had done for the outlanders. Blyne could easily find Jabbal standing out among his subjects as he received a most likely unilluminated report about what had happened at the riverbank. Aware that she had people walking beside her and behind her, Blainneth gracefully approached the desert prince and did her best to tune out all the extras. It wasn't truly important for Blyne to settle the landscape of Jabbal's flustered, human thoughts, yet this was a moment that the young Irda could prove to herself the control that she still had over herself and quite possibly over others. Her position was clear and the rightness of the purpose that brought her before the tribal noble was certain. All it would take was wise words to transfer the reality of the correct approach into Jabbal's consciousness and then Blyne would be able to show herself that she was still her sublime, Irda self. She could let all of these people see her as Blainneth as much as she wanted, but at her core she would still be truly herself. Whole and immutable on the proper path. And maybe the outlanders would be glad for her presence if she relayed their intent in a way that Jabbal could accept. Once Blainneth had approached and fully captured the human's attention with a serene gaze, the current elf began to lay out her words both carefully and smoothly. "Your Lordship Jabbal, there has been a series of accidents that has unsettled all of us this evening. I see that you've received message already, but as hectic as the events have been I'm worried about misunderstandings arising unnecessarily. Please allow me to explain and illuminate the cultural clash that we mustn't allow to happen." Although part of the previous evening was a bit of a blur, Blyne naturally remembered the exchange which she had shared with Jabbal and the concessions which he had made then. If his emotions after his horse had been spooked beneath him were going to pit him against the outlanders' desires, then the young Irda had already laid all the groundwork to disarm him.

"The griffon that caused this unfortunate uproar has been present at this riverbank for some time prior to our arrival. A griffon is a dangerous creature, yet they are truly loyal as well. This particular mount is named An'quesse, raised and trained by one of the fabled Silvanesti griffon riders. An'quesse has been guarding her fallen rider who had been lying at the riverbank after having succumbed to the poison of a snake swarm. The beasts befell him when he sought to rest at the river to recuperate from arrows that he had suffered at the hands of human bandits." Spontaneously it occurred to Blyne that since he was a prince of these lands, she had thought to have seen Jabbal's duty to the people of Khur in the presence of his mind. The contents of Larimielle's letter were concerning enough to affect the prince, and quite possibly sharing them would give the outlanders further justification. "A deserter from among the Knights of Neraka has settled his camp of bandits in the east of Pashin, and my elven kin had foolishly sought to punish them for an injustice of the past as he went alone. A letter from his sister describes how she awaits him in Pashin, yet as he died in your lands he will never step before his sister again. That is not right." Blyne wasn't exactly sure why she had opted to frame her address like this. Jabbal had appeared honest when he had spoken about doing right by the Silvanesti under the protection of the Khan of Khur, and he had shown sympathy at Blainneth's grief for her mother. Which was Blyne's grief. And now possibly that of Larimielle. That wasn't right.

"The outlanders have the accord that An'quesse must be returned to her grieving family which awaits in Pashin. Since the town has been the shared goal of mine and their journey, as your Lordship is aware we were planning to leave your hospitality in the morn. Due to these new circumstances, we've considered saying our farewells sooner, to allow peace without further bloodshed. Your company has left naught wanting, your Lordship, yet where the matters of kinship are concerned we are pressed to guide An'quesse away from your campsite. We may find enough distance after crossing the river to return serenity to your noble horses, though our priestess Kaylen may wish to lay the fallen son of Silvanesti to rest before we travel too far. Do we leave your hospitality with your blessing? A sheet of cloth to cover the body might aid my cousin's rest as he found it too soon." Blainneth didn't give Jabbal much of a pleading look, but as she held his gaze she meant to convey that she thought this to be a humble request after an elf of Silvanesti had passed in these lands. A part of her sentiments was what she thought Blainneth would want, but part of it captured an earnest desire of the young Irda behind the mask. It wasn't much more than a notion, but in the back of her mind, Blyne noticed how she wished to see an offering of respect extended to the displaced elves of Silvanesti who had lost one of their own to the strife on Ansalon. They deserve more than they've been left with. The young Irda wasn't aware that she felt this way because it deeply pertained to herself. And that taking any side but her own hadn't been how she was raised.
 
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  #171  
Old Aug 26th, 2022, 06:24 AM
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Bonds that last beyond Death
The Kagonesti claimed that the heavens mourned each time one of their kin surrendered their body to the earth and their spirit to the gods. It was unclear if the Silvanesti, the wild elves’ distant cousins, were considered to be “kin” as well, since relations between the two groups were usually less than cordial, though things had improved now that both elven kingdoms had fallen. Whether the stories of the Kagonesti were true or not, in this case the heavens truly seemed to be mourning the loss of the nameless griffon rider. The dying sun had painted everything in the color of dried blood - the sand and stones, the mounds, the river, the heavens themselves. The whole world seemed to be wanting to express its sorrow at the unnecessary loss of life.


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The world mourns the passing of the elf


Kaylen looked around her and involuntarily shuddered. Had her companions not rushed to her aid, the heavens would now be mourning her own passing to the spirit realm as well. It had been close, far too close. Thankfully, she slowly felt her strength returning. The presence of the goddess was a great consolation as well - as was Aric’s heartfelt embrace. The boy was kind and gentle, he was someone who had faced darkness and in spite of it had chosen to remain innocent, a receptacle of light. He was precious, so very precious, just like Rolis had been.


Talia too was in search of something precious, though her definition of it varied greatly from that of the dwarven priestess. For the kender a freshwater starfish would have been precious, as would have been an old cap with a jaunty plume, a scroll filled with anecdotes about gnomes or a jar full of delicious jam. Had someone confronted her with the truth and tried to explain to her that freshwater starfish did not actually exist, she would have merely shrugged and grinned. This was exactly what would have made such a thing precious! Unfortunately, life was full of disappointments. Not only did the elf’s satchel contain no starfish, Isandril soon took from her the one thing that appeared to be of real interest - a sealed scroll case with a piece of paper within. It was a good thing that the attention span of kender was particularly short and Talia’s interest was soon drawn to another object. Was this a map? A treasure map perhaps? Or one showing the way to a dragon’s lair? Or both!? One could only hope.


As Talia rummaged through the griffon rider’s satchel, Aric’s eyes could not turn away from the face of the deceased warrior. This was not the first corpse the young man had seen in his life. Even as a small child he had daily come face to face with death, every time his father had returned home with a pair of rabbits, a duck, or, when luck had favored him, a wild boar or stag. At first he had cried, feeling sorry for the poor animals and silently asking Habbakuk to protect them from his father’s snares and arrows. As time passed, however, he realized that his father’s mood was as sour as vinegar when he returned home empty-handed and Aric was soon praying to Habbakuk to guide the hunter’s hands, if only to spare him his ire.


Familiar though with death Aric might have been, a dead rabbit or duck was nothing like a dead elf. This had been a person, just like him, and in fact had Isandril not saved him at the very last moment from the griffon’s talons, he might very well be lying next to the elven warrior now, staring at nothing. The realization hit him hard and he felt his eyes burning with unshed tears and his mouth forming words seemingly of its own accord. The youth’s voice was high, almost too high, and the emotions that ruled his heart made it waver widely, but Aric persisted nonetheless. He persisted even when his memory failed him and he had to start humming the melody in order to fill the gaps that were left by the words he could not remember.


The Khurish archers, glaring at the mage who appeared to be insulting them in his defense of the chimeric beast, heard the boy’s dirge and exchanged glances, just before they started sniggering. "If your goal is to wake the dead, boy, you might very well succeed!", cried out one of them and the laughter intensified.


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An’quesse

Aric shut his eyes tightly and placed his hands over his ears, hoping to drown out the derisive comments born of a malice that had filled his whole life. Until he felt someone beside him. Daring a glance, he was startled by the presence of the griffon next to him so badly that his singing faltered. But it didn't die. The griffon stared menacingly, but not at him. The fire in her gaze was clearly directed towards the archers, the people making fun of Aric. As the song continued the beast’s gaze became milder and the globes of molten gold turned to regard the boy. It seemed that the griffon had finally realized that her master was not merely sleeping, or in need of medicine, and that Aric was doing his best to honor him. The great eagle head was lowered until An’quesse’s eyes were at the same level with those of the youth.


Could… could she be thanking me? Me!?, wondered Aric, not used to being thanked by anyone, much less a griffon.


Devari, or rather Veralyne, as she had introduced herself, was concerned with more practical matters than honoring a fallen elf. She was concerned with making an impression upon the living, not the dead. With practiced ease she appeared to be everywhere at once and to have a solution for every problem, a wise word for every ear. What she had was a rare talent, but even Lady Veralyne had her limits. Neither politeness, nor sound logic were able to sway the Khurish archers initially, who seemed to fear their master’s anger more than they did the griffon’s beak and claws. Help came unexpectedly from a most unlikely individual in a manner that Devari could have never even imagined.


It was widely known that gnomish inventions were strange and that they usually did more harm than good, but Pnoah’s latest construction truly defied description. How was even one of the notorious denizens of Mount Nevermind able to make music out of pastry!? This was a wonder beyond even Reorx’s wildest dreams and no one could fault the archers for staring dumbfounded at the gnomish “music box” of sorts. Expertly taking advantage of their state of bewilderment, Veralyne intensified her efforts, which, coupled with her charms, persuaded the Khurish warriors not to do anything they would possibly come to regret.


As three of the archers stayed behind to make sure that the griffon and the outlanders would not cause any trouble that could lose them their heads, one ran back to the prince to report and ask for instructions. Knowing that Jabbal was as fickle as the wind and that he would never tolerate the presence of a griffon so close to the camp -and his precious horses- it was soon decided that the foreigners would have to leave the Khurish noble’s “protection” sooner than they had originally been meaning to do. Incurring his anger, however, was neither wise, nor honorable, as the Solamnic squire soon pointed out. A delegation of sorts would have to explain things to the prince in a way that would not result in him taking offense.


*********


Following Xihue’s advice, Blainneth, Tegan and Veralyne, along with Pnoah and Talia, swiftly made their way back to the spot originally chosen to serve as camp for the night. They found Jabbal staring sternly at them, a frown marring his usually jovial and graceful face. It was clear that whatever report he had received, it was not a favorable one.


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Jabbal

"I admired your valor when I saw you rushing off to confront the griffon, but now I hear that you not only failed to attack the beast, you also stopped my men from performing their sworn duty. This is unacceptable. I am responsible for the safety of all people under my command and I will not allow a monster to wreak havoc just because you are too afraid to stain your hands with blood. Step aside immediately and allow my men to kill the beast before it attacks my entourage. I have no need of your swords or poor advice."


The prince’s anger resembled a rumbling storm, but as Blainneth started speaking, her voice both soft and confident, the clouds slowly cleared away and the radiant blue of the sky was seen in his eyes. Jabbal caught himself nodding in agreement and in spite of himself he smiled.


"I see. Forgive me for once again allowing myself to be misled by the words of lesser men, men that are unworthy of being in my service." The searing look the Khurish lord gave the archer next to him, who would not raise his eyes to acknowledge it, left little doubt as to who had earned the prince’s ire.


"You have all acted with great honor and true courage and I thank you for it. Family is the only bond that can’t be severed, Mistress Blainneth. This is true both for the people of Khur and the elves born in the ancient forests of the world. I have learnt to distrust griffons, but your word has value. If you promise to keep the beast away from my horses and the people under my protection, I am willing to let it live. I will not hinder you in any way from taking your leave now. On the contrary, I will aid you as much as I can. You may take any provisions you require along with the sheet you requested. The dead must be honored properly after all. Was this not the reason you and I attended the Festival of Fire and Song? You most certainly have my blessings to carry on your journey - and more. Return to the griffon and make sure it remains pacified. I will join you presently."


As the group returned to An’quesse and their companions, Blainneth’s gaze rested for a moment upon Neilah. The girl, it seemed, was looking wistfully at her. Was it her impression or had Neilah truly given her a slight nod of farewell?


*********


The sun had fully set when Jabbal, flanked by four of his men holding torches, approached the outlanders. In his hands the prince held a bulging pouch and two letters, one of them bearing the Khan’s seal.


"As I promised, this is the steel for delivering the Khan’s letter to Old Ferhan in Pashin. Do not open it. The Khan’s words are meant for his merchant friend alone. Seek me out in Ak-Khurman and I will give you another two hundred pieces of steel for a job well done."


The lord officially presented the pouch and the sealed letter to Who?one of the companions.


"You will find that the pouch is heavier than you might have expected it to be. Know that I have added another hundred pieces of steel to reward you for having dealt with the griffon", Jabbal added with a smile.


"It would have made a magnificent trophy", he whispered, looking at the regal beast that was staring back at him. "A pity…"


Turning his gaze back to the foreigners, especially the heavily armored Solamnic, Jabbal’s smile widened.


"The lands surrounding Pashin belong to the Mikku tribe. Still, the Khan of Khans is responsible for everyone who resides in Khur and there is no virtue dearer to his heart than justice. Should you decide to apprehend or slay the group of bandits near Pashin, the Khan would be most grateful. I have heard that the mayor of the town has put a bounty on the heads of these outlaws. Give him this note to receive double the amount of steel he offers. Don’t let him fool you, however. He has a reputation for being cowardly and stingy. If he tries to, tell him that I will be coming for him. Mentioning my name is bound to make him more open to share his steel with you."


Jabbal gave Tegan the note and then he laughed good-naturedly. It was hard to imagine him as anything other than a gracious and benevolent lord, who did all he could for those who asked for his aid. Then again, if mentioning his name would force the mayor of Pashin to part with the steel he so eagerly hoarded, it meant that Jabbal’s reputation was not so flawless as he wanted it to appear.


"Farewell, my friends, and may the gods keep you. I know it in my heart that we will meet again."





Calendar5th Day of Aelmont (Winter) 422 AC / 38 SC, Evening

Solinari: 35/36 (Low Sanction)
Lunitari: 8/28 (Waxing)
Nuitari: 5/8 (High Sanction)

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White Robes -1 spell DC, DIS on spell attack rolls | Red Robes - | Black Robes +1 spell DC, ADV on spell attack rolls


 
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  #172  
Old Aug 26th, 2022, 11:48 AM
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"I admired your valor when I saw you rushing off to confront the griffon, but now I hear that you not only failed to attack the beast, you also stopped my men from performing their sworn duty. This is unacceptable. I am responsible for the safety of all people under my command and I will not allow a monster to wreak havoc just because you are too afraid to stain your hands with blood. Step aside immediately and allow my men to kill the beast before it attacks my entourage. I have no need of your swords or poor advice."

Initially, Tegan fought internally against a rage the party had not yet seen as Jabbal insulted them. Tegan didn't know how he felt about Jabbal. The man reminded Tegan of a play actor. In some ways, he was generous, respectful, and consoling. Yet he had a clear sinister perspective as well. The dagger of his glare and the quick change in words hurt the young soldier's pride; a wound more glaring than that of a blade for the squire. Had Blainneth not interuppted the young man, the encounter with Jabbal could have soured quickly. Tegan was about to reply to Jabbal about how his dishonoring statement's were an affront to his character as a sworn servant of the Knights of Solamnia and that, without propitiation, required action on Tegan's part. Furthermore, the idea that the party had failed was an unreasonable accustation. Last, Tegan's willingness to defend the innocent was attacked. One of the most critical elements to the young man's core was called into question when he had just put himself in the line of fire - literally when considering Pnoah's concoctions - to save a friend.

Tegan was wrestling with how to respond to the sharp, whip-like words. How did he balance correcting this leader, defending his honor, and also vindicating the feeling that he had been wronged, without dishonoring the knighthood or placing danger upon him and his newfound friends? The answer was Blainneth, although the knight-to-be knew it not. As Tegan's features flushed, luckily nearly unnoticable due to the sun's effects on his skin, the elf began to speak.

With words that were like cooling water over the soldier, Blainneth managed to do multiple things with ease. First, she disarmed the situation, lowering the tension. Second, she accurately accounted the events. Last, she succinctly explained their goals. Tegan felt justified by her account. He was now able to fight down the frustrations, working to maintain the peace of the situation created by his companion. Tegan's respect for Blainneth soared.

"I see. Forgive me for once again allowing myself to be misled by the words of lesser men, men that are unworthy of being in my service."

As Jabbal turned his suppressed fury upon his soldier, Tegan's emotions soured once more. It was in that moment that Tegan understood who Jabbal was. A flashback of Knight-Steward Caine came to his mind. Sir Caine uth Richard was, in all technical senses, a good knight. He was courageous, skilled, and led men with courage. Yet, his temper at the slightest inconvenience raining down upon his men did not reflect Tegan's view of a proper knight. He had experienced this firsthand in his lessons regarding the lance. Tegan, always strong, but never to be called exceptionally nimble, was not the most natural rider. He was passable, for sure, and had even become above average with training, but in his initial attempts, he had been unable to get the fluid seat that was needed to couch the lance, maintain the mount, and deliver an accurate, telling blow. It wasn't a poor showing but the, at the time, boy was shown no mercy at the hand of Sir Caine. Caine punished the regiment of squires under his command for every slight imperfection. There was no love lost between Caine and others. Most strove to avoid the man's attention so as not to draw his ire.

It was this connection that Tegan made in that moment. Jabbal had the facade of honor and generosity, but he couldn't maintain the mask at all times. Caine was breaking through. Tegan's compassion for Jabbal's soldiers was sobering. Yes, they were frustrating, but he knew that a difficult commander made tensions very high.

It only took the one look for Jabbal for Tegan's respect to be lost. However, the squire set his face like flint, determined to uphold a higher standard than Jabbal. It was then that Jabbal recovered. Tegan could see the difference now. There was a smile from the prince, but it did not reach his eyes. He agreed to Blainneth's proposition.

Walking back to the party, Tegan was bordering on morose as he reflected on the encounter. His spirits raised as he returned to his new friends. He looked at the pure intentions his spirit decided his companions had and pulled himself out of the growing anxiety. That didn't last long as in a few hours, Jabbal and his men arrived. He looked at the solamnic and smiled. Tegan bowed his head in an appropriate sign of respect considering the man's rank. As Jabbal offered the pouch of money, Tegan allowed another companion to take it. He reflected on what he would do with this money. Of course, he had to survive, but he didn't live a life of greedy ambition. He was particularly against wealth generated from Jabbal at this point. Maybe time would reveal a course for this.

He again looked at Tegan as he described defeating the bandits. He knew the soldier, with righteous intent, was unlikely to not want to address this problem. He was right. As for his description of the mayor, Tegan was able to catch onto the deeper meaning of the statement. Jabbal was proud of the aura of fear he emanated. He liked that other's were cowed before him. He even bragged about it to the party, recommending coercion of the mayor with Jabbal's name. Tegan did not plan to support this. If he were to deal with the bandit threat, it would be to honor this elf and protect others, not out of monetary gain. Besides, Jabbal had clearly stated that he had no needs of their swords just hours ago. Tegan's blade would never be swung to bring Jabbal glory. Only the Knights, Kiri-Jolith, and hopefully, his father would receive the glory of Tegan's deeds.

The prince handed Tegan a note, which the crest-fallen squire took. He looked Jabbal in the eyes. He didn't have an expression of frustration but he knew his coming neutral statement would be understood by Jabbal. "I do long to protect these lands from these bandits, but I seek no monetary reward to do so. A knight is not inspired by wealth or glory, but by service. I hope to be worthy of leadership one day, but I know that a leader must put aside his own desires for the good of his constituents."

Tegan did not openly suggest that Jabbal was a poor leader, but he felt that the leader could read between the lines. It was perfect, Tegan had maintained his personal code of conduct, communicated to Jabbal his distaste, while avoiding creating an open conflict. Tegan knew that men like Jabbal held grudges, but Tegan decided it was time to insist on morality. Jabbal could hold his grudge, Tegan would do the best with what he could.


Later, along the riverbank at their quaint camp, Tegan passed the letter on to another. He spoke softly in the evening air, "I don't like Jabbal. Nor do I trust him. I care not to read his letter or keep it in my possession." Looking at the stars, Tegan continued. "The night is long, we should take watches; I will take the first. As for these bandits, I do long to have justice upon them, but feel compelled to deal with out current commitment first." He gestured to the griffon.

When the evening conversations were done, Tegan did take the first watch. He left the warmth of the fire behind as he took position outside the camp, as he was taught. The cool night air was brutal, and the soldier wrapped his cloak around him. He made sure the fire was not directly in his vision. He had learned that while the fire illuminated within it's glow, it limited vision outside of that. By removing it from his view, he was able to have his eyes adjust to the night. He loosened his sword in his scabbard, determined an appropriate interval to patrol, and took some time to reflect. Since he had arrived at the festival, he had been managing social expectations so frequently, he had not stopped to consider where events were taking him. Was he on the path Kiri-Jolith wanted? Tegan consoled himself with prayer. He also journaled some of the events, dating them so that when he, someday, returned to his commander, he could deliver an accurate report of his comings and goings.
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  #173  
Old Aug 26th, 2022, 03:00 PM
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Talia Dawnstar
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Talia was sad now that the excitement had faded and left her with nothing but a dead man’s bag. She watched as the others ministered to the elf but her attention soon turned to the griffon. The creature no longer saw the strangers as threats to its bonded rider and the anger had seeped from the beast. Talia could see the anger fade from the griffon, slowly being replaced by a helpless acceptance. The kender’s heart almost broke and she sat with her new, undeciphered map, fat tears falling onto the surface as she sniffled and blew snot bubbles from her nose.

The little archeologist smiled suddenly as an idea entered her head. What if she could be the griffon’s new rider? She had already spoken to the beast… she even knew its name, An’quesse… in fact she knew it before everyone else, she just didn’t want to tell anyone in case the griffon was shy.

Now, the negotiations with An’quesse would probably be hard, he would probably want some sort of gift or binding contract before agreeing to a life of adventure with Talia. She buried her hands in her pouches, searching for just the right gift to seal the deal. Her and An’quesse were simpatico and destined to become legends together. She could already hear the tales they would tell, hushed whispers over dying embers about Talia the Terrible… not really terrible but alliteration made it sound good… so Talia the Terrible and her unstoppable griffon! No secret was safe… no safe was secret!

Talia looked up from her daydream only to hear that she was being voluntold to go with a few of her new companions to speak to Jabbal. She looked around, wondering if she had heard correctly, even looking at An’quesse for confirmation. The griffon merely fluffed its feathers and ignored her.

Talia did not think it was a good idea to accompany anyone to speak to Jabbal as she was on double top secret probation according to Khurish law and custom. Plus… if Neilah saw her… she might get Talia in even more trouble. Of course, Talia should have stayed behind with the dead elf… but she didn’t.

Instead, Talia hopped around as the other elf she didn't know very well talked… and talked… and talked some more. Her name was Blainneth, she was beautiful and she talked a lot. Blainneth Blah Blah! Talia thought to herself as she giggled mischievously during the negotiations. Rather than listen to the tedious back and forth, Talia instead studied her map but for the life of her she could not make heads or tails of it and her earlier tear marks did not make it any easier as they now appeared to be lake outlines where the salty liquid had soaked into the parchment.

As much as the kender wanted to sneak away and speak with Neilah, she knew it would be a bad idea… and either way she now knew that the newly formed group would be leaving Jabbal’s hospitality soon and that filled the kender with excitement… that and the package that Tegan received from Jabbal; a secret letter not to be read by anyone… at all… except for the intended recipient!

Later, when Jabbal had departed and the adventure was poised to begin, Talia stood next to the furry knight and smiled sweetly. “You know… that letter will get pretty heavy as we walk. I used to be a mail carrier, well not really, I took a mail carrier's pouch and delivered the mail to everyone who didn’t have any sent to them. I thought it would be more fair that way. Anywho… I could carry the letter for us?”



OOC7 history check on map damn it.

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  #174  
Old Aug 27th, 2022, 12:56 PM
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Pnoah Seheppen
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Pnoah was originally honored, and quite touched, when asked to accompany the Delegation of Adventurers With Mutual Goals and Somewhat Similar Interests to Negotiate Terms of Separation From Prince Jabbal and His Entourage In the Interest of Returning Home a Fallen Elven Warrior to His Sister Larimielle Who Currently Resides in Pashin and Also Safeguarding the Griffon Mount Known As Longfeather From the Wrath of the Aforementioned Prince Jabbal (a working title, Pnoah had come up with it himself). However, he couldn't help but feel a bit dejected when he noticed Talia was joining them as well. Reorx's Beard, he sighed. How important could this be?? Now I wonder if I'm merely being sent away to keep out of trouble! Then again, putting Talia in close proximity with Jabbal was hardly a recipe for avoiding trouble. Perhaps she was here so the others could keep her out of trouble? Yes...that made much more sense, and Pnoah was mollified.

He knew better than to try to pay attention to the specifics of the negotiations when humans bargained. It wasn't the amount of talking that bothered him...far from it. Human speeches were actually considered somewhat abbreviated by gnomish standards. It was just that they...talked...soooo....slooowwwwlyyy. A human speech half the length of a gnomish speech could easily take five times as long. No wonder they never got anything done! However, if there were one skill that all gnomes shared, other than creating combustion, it was the ability to stand through a speech and look interested while completely checking out mentally. He paid enough passive attention to notice that Jabbal followed his usual pattern: a.) the group was a menace and a disruption and needed to be dealt with severely, b.) one of the group pointed out precisely how ridiculous and stupid the accusations being made against them were, c.) Jabbal suddenly saw the light and proclaimed the group heroes worthy of lauding praise upon and saviors of his humble people. It was truly disconcerting how similar the pattern was to certain gnomish committee meetings, actually.

After they were dismissed, Pnoah returned with the group, eyeing the 'gifts' from the Prince with no small amount of skepticism. Pnoah's view of Jabbal had waivered at first, from blithering madman to sleazy politician to gracious host to seasoned warlord. And perhaps he was all of those, depending upon the situation. The prospect didn't make him any more trustworthy, however, and Jabbal had demonstrated that, as with many in power, his whim was the only moral code he truly relied upon. Suppose the sealed note read "Kill the fools who deliver this letter, and you can keep half the coin I gave them...mwa ha ha ha haaa!" Pnoah wasn't sure precisely why anyone would bother to actually write out villainous cackling, but it seemed sufficiently sinister. Fortunately, the pouch and sealed letter were handed to anyone but Talia, though she showed keen interest in the letter regarding the bandits.

Pnoah was unconcerned with threatening letters and coin, though he did have something else on his mind. "Jabbal offered us any provisions we required, correct?" he said, ignoring the conversation about who would be burdened with Jabbal's packages while scribbling formulae on a scrap of parchment. "There's not much for Longfeather to hunt out here, I'm afraid, though I'm sure he could supplement his diet with the occasional bird or lizard. Certainly not enough on its own, though. I've done some calculations..." He held up the parchment, which he had filled with math while speaking. "I estimate that the griffon weighs perhaps thirty-five stone, give or take. To maintain an appropriate level of energy for a flying creature, bred and trained as a war mount, approximately....twenty-six hundred times three-point-five...carry the one..." Looking up from his computations and shifting his spectacles, he said, "Thirteen pounds of meat per day. Give or take."

Sitting back, he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Do you suppose this qualifies as 'necessary supplies'? It could certainly be justified that butchering a pack mule for griffon chow would go a long way toward protecting the more valuable horses."

 
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  #175  
Old Aug 31st, 2022, 02:02 AM
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Xihue of the Alan-Atu
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"You will always be an honest man, Xihue.", said the ancient Master. His coiled hair was reminiscent of Toyaqual's (Solinari) brilliant light, thick and tied in a large topknot braid, wrapped in a sizable bun and pinned with a green jade comb. Long, snow-white eyebrows draped down to either side of laughing eyes to match a similar mustache that framed an ivory smile. An impossibly long argent beard, nearly as long as the man's arms, sat coiled below his uniquely angular chin as if a stream of silver water had frozen in hair-thin rivulets there.

"Simple men do not practice deceit. They cannot, for they do not possess the guile required to present things falsely. To be wise, a smart man must simplify his perspective and actively strive to remove deceptions from his life. The most common deceptions are born of pride, jealousy, hatred, malice and the hunger for power. Beware those who wish to be powerful. Trust them not. If you encounter a powerful person, assume that they have been corrupted until they prove to be one of the wise, smart men. These will be rare and worthy of your loyalty, choose them to be Boyla. In the absence of such leadership, surround yourself with innocence. Guard yourself from those who would try to use you for their own gain."

Xihue didn't understand a word of this lesson. Still, he had committed it to memory, dutifully implementing every word of his master's philosophy as if it were an edict from the gods. As the shepherd listened to Jabbal, he could tell that there were lies and corruption behind nearly every word the Prince spoke. This was not a humble, simple man. This was a power hungry creature of nobility, a venomous snake wrapped within a tiger's skin that pretended to be a loyal servant. He was a predator who's coarse plots were wrapped within smooth silken clothing. Without caution, the blissfully ignorant, simple sheep would follow him to their doom. There was just as much corruption in steel coin and Jabbal had both power and coin in abundance.

"Lord Jabbal. You are a generous leader and we thank you for having allowed us to accompany you this far. I would ask only that you might provide us with a tent or other such shelter that might protect us from the worst heat of the coming days. Our journey may be long and the sun is unrelenting. Peace be with you, Prince of the Khurish horselords, beloved of the Great Khan." Xihue bowed respectfully but his request remained practical and the honorific was formal rather than sincere.

Tegan knew as much, "I don't like Jabbal. Nor do I trust him." The Solemnic Squire echoed Xihue's thoughts as they camped later that evening. Kinder Talia was seemingly innocent but unfocussed. The small woman could be trusted to acquire every object of her immediate attention and likely lose any item that became boring or superfluous to her immediate passions. She was unpredictable but also genuine. The Taladan tribesman believed that her chaotic kleptomaniacal nature was devoid of malice but fueled by the wrongs that Jabbal had committed against her. Xihue also caught Pnoah glancing at Jabbal with the knitted brow of skeptical analysis. The tinker's thoughts seemed easy enough to read. He didn't trust the Prince either. All three of these companions appeared to reach similar conclusions from vastly different perspectives. It would be wise to expect that both the advice and the proposed service for which the outlanders had been employed would lead to unseen, and likely unwanted, consequences.

Pnoah fed the griffon from rations that Jabbal's caravan had begrudgingly provided. Xihue accompanied the gnome and bowed to the beautiful steed with respect and stood back to watch the creature ravenously devour every morsel provided. Isandril soothed and talked with the griffon and Xi thought that he envied the elf a little for the apparent connection the arcanist shared with it. Even more astonishing was the fondness that the skylord seemed to have for the young man it had almost slain. Aric had poorly sung a sincere lullaby for the departed griffon-rider. That had earned him An'quesse's appreciation.

The monk took time to help everyone set up camp then, as the sun began to set, he stepped apart from his companions and began his evening kata. His slow, purposeful meditation in motion began with a bow to the setting sun, to the present moons and then to the North, East and South before returning to the West. The first few sweeping hand and foot techniques were intricate, as if Xihue were engaged in some imaginary battle. Many of the forms were familiar to those who had seen Xihue engage with the snake swarm. Parts of the kata required extreme feats of balance while others needed stamina and breath control. Hands and feet flowed through a dance that was punctuated by strikes and kicks, silence and a few loud "Kia" shouts that encouraged the gathering of Xi's inner chi. After one hundred eight motions, the martial mastery concluded with a deep bow to the West as the last rays of light from the dying day fell beneath the horizon.

"Peace be with you all. I shall guard your sleep when I am needed. Please wake me when it is my time to share in this task. Those who wish to share warmth are welcome to do so."

That being simply said, Xihue went into the tent, arranged his tiger skin bedroll to one side and disrobed. He was asleep within moments.

 
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  #176  
Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 12:06 AM
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Blyne
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There was a tone to Jabbal that was decidedly different than the one he had used with Blainneth on the evening before. Blyne could hear it, and even though Jabbal had plausible reasons for his emotion of anger, shooting his words at her and the other outlanders wasn't anything else but offensive. Even though he was the second person that day who suggested that Blyne had been valorous, the young Irda was too affected by the royal's demeanor in the wake of the stress that she had just gone through to consider the compliment. To solve this unnecessary conflict and to say their farewells in peace, it was clear to Blyne that she had to be patient with the lesser races. Nothing reminded her more that she still had her self-control than Jabbal's blatant lack of it in that moment. And thus she spoke. The griffons, the elves, and even the bandits were all good reasons for Jabbal to brandish the resentment that he had harbored after he himself and his people had been endangered and his orders questioned. And even as he smiled at Blainneth in the end, the high-ogre sorceress couldn't help but understand how his ego searched for a scapegoat for his conduct which had been less than noble and rather base. He may favor my art of silk weaving somewhat, but there appears to be truth to his notoriety. I'm not surprised. How unbecoming.

Fortunately, Blyne had indeed resumed enough control of her bearings that her distaste for the display of Jabbal's own lesser nature did not make its way onto her currently elven features. Instead she listened placidly as the khurish lord made his concessions to her personally, and while this felt slightly as if a weight was put upon her, the hospitality that he resumed in offering provisions to the outlander party was both opportune and certainly a reconciliatory gesture. It wasn't lost on Blyne that Jabbal's words ended on an order and a dismissal, but just like on the night before the young Irda felt a distinct desire to escape the man's company and she wasn't going to prolong the meeting herself. "Thank you, your Lordship. The dead must be honored, yes. We take your blessing kindly, and we will ensure that the griffon understands that our loyalties won't allow it to act bestial. Please excuse us as we prepare ourselves." And with a formal bow, the slender elven silk weaver took her leave with no uproar or further insults exchanged. She made a quick inquiry with one of Jabbal's servants to arrange for additional provisions and linen for the elven corpse, and in the routine of having such an unaffected conversation with a human, it finally helped Blyne to fully understand that she was allowed to calm down. Only the impressions that she had stored away for later were still not allowed to rise to the surface. When she finally moved to return to the river, the shapeshifter noticed Neilah who she had protected from being broken in twain by a frightened horse. The girl looked wistful, for some reason, and Blainneth returned the nod of farewell as she realized that she might have made an ally for the future. Reciprocation of favours. Strength in numbers. Those aren't wrong.

Against all previous resolutions to engage the group of outlanders during this time in the evening, an exhausted Blyne returned to the riverbank after the mental strain of the last few days had only kept adding up and now she realized that she was in no condition to do the kind of interpersonal relationship work that she felt was necessary to create the ties that she had decided on in the privacy of her mind would provide security for her, and the outlanders as well. Blyne thought to have plenty of qualities that would make her invaluable to any party, yet given the most recent events she wasn't quite in the mood to go out of her way and lead all the little conversations which she had intended to have with the outlanders now that they would become comrades and travel companions. Will they want to share our strengths as a group? I can easily get them to do things for me as I do some for them. But that's not what I need, is it? The young Irda wasn't ready to face these new ideas that were competing with a lot of concepts that she had thought were fundamental and axiomatic to her own sense of self. Her mother had raised a splendid Irda even with how little time she had been part of her life, but somehow seclusion and distance from others appeared increasingly detrimental to Blyne's well-being. Even when she excused some of her own flaws as wounds left from her mother's unjust fate or as immaturities that she would have to correct through discipline and reflection of the proper Irda path, suddenly allowing herself to be drawn in new directions was disorienting to Blyne and she decided to not repeat the same mistake which she had made with Jabbal. Besimeh wasn't near and the leaves of bliss were poison. I need to be careful. Just occupy myself...

Until Jabbal eventually returned to the party, Blainneth passed the time by helping Kaylen with the preparation of the corpse. On her journey into Khur, Blyne had wisely assimilated more pieces of knowledge than she had learned about the Silvanesti on her home island, and their funeral rites had fortunately been part of this knowledge as well. Blyne tried her best to show herself tired as she intended to aid the dwarven woman through action and by offering only a few unobtrusive instructions, and when this work wasn't able to further occupy the shapeshifted Irda, she silently joined the side of Isandril and An'quesse as she had at least somewhat assumed responsibility for the griffon while they were still so near to Jabbal's horses. In truth, Blyne had also never gotten this close to a griffon and there was a bit of intrigue, now that An'quesse had been showing herself tame for a while. "She is beautiful, isn't she? Even in her loss. Our loss..." Even as she assumed her role as Blainneth next to the Silvanesti wizard, Blyne couldn't help but betray her own intention of silence as it occurred to her that she hadn't been pretending quite as much about who Blainneth was as she had thought. The young Irda regretted speaking up almost as soon as she had said it, but only a few dozen minutes later the khurish prince eventually joined the outlander group and thus everybody's attention was back on Jabbal.

To Blyne's surprise, she couldn't help but notice how there was quite the disfavor for the prince brewing in at least a few of her new outlander companions. The knight Tegan at least was quite contrarian in response to Jabbal's idea of benevolence. While Blyne herself had felt distaste at the man's desire to make An'quesse into a trophy and the courtesy of supporting extortion with the aid of his name was quite bitter, the solamnic male chose to display an indirect but not uncertain method of taking Jabbal's offer and laying it back at his feet, even as he did accept and kept the writ officially. Should I speak up? I... maybe this is something that needs to run its course. This night, Blyne felt no further reserves of strength, and so she decided to beware of involving herself in this particular battle. She knew that she had to preserve herself or she would risk slipping. Today her mother had been there, again, this time warm and appreciative. It was so much better than the despaired apparition of the day before, and yet Blyne felt unstable in a way that didn't feel safe. Xihue requested and acquired a tent for the group, and with the provisions that would include accounting for An'quesse having been delivered earlier, Blyne gave the men a few more moments to settle their differences in their own ways before she calmly and diplomatically said her farewells from Jabbal, in her own name but for added measure the rest of the outlanders as well. She couldn't help if some bad blood was intentionally created by Tegan, but she didn't acknowledge it. If possible, her own journey wouldn't lead her to meet Jabbal again. For now it led her to Pashin, and together with the outlanders into the night of the desert across the Silvanesti river. And when quiet would find her. Then Blyne would finally have to think.
 
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  #177  
Old Sep 2nd, 2022, 12:14 PM
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This 'Blainneth' was a smooth talker, that was for sure. Devari had to admire the elf's expert use of flattery and the way she had deflected the blame onto one of Jabbal's own guards. Could I have done as well? she wondered. The pang of doubt was uncomfortable so she chose to focus on something else.

Jabbal employed his own customary, rote flattery, and having witnessed it several times now it was becoming increasingly obvious that his heart was never in it. Apparently this is just how he was taught to speak. Still, he had stuck to his word so far, which was better than Devari had expected. They just had to keep him believing that doing so was in his own self-interest.

"The legends of your generosity are obviously true," Devari said as she stepped quickly forward and accepted the big bag of coins and the letter. "I will see that this letter is delivered directly."

She curtseyed and then stepped back, and as the attention of the prince moved on she peered curiously at the seal on the letter. This wax is still warm, she observed. Has Jabbal been simply snooping, or has he altered the letter somewhat?

The question was on her mind throughout the time when the outlanders were setting up their own separate camp, and so when conversation turned to the group's dislike of their former host, Devari smiled slyly.

"Jabbal is no better or worse than any other lord," she stated with a careless shrug. "Of course we should not trust him. In fact…"

She let the words linger as she pulled the envelope out of her bag.

"…when this was handed to me, the wax on the seal was still warm. I will bet any of you a tenth of your share that whatever is written on here will cause it's recipient, uh, Ferhan, distress. Perhaps Jabbal worries that whoever is the messenger will get blamed, and so he is passing the job on to us."

She shrugged again and put the envelope back into her bag.

"Still, we can deal with that when the time comes."

She stared at the fire for a little while, pretending to be unconcerned, and then when Xihue began performing his exotic exercises she watched that instead, unabashedly admiring the way that his muscles moved as he did so.

"He dances alone," she murmured, catching Talia's eye. "Why don't you join him, show him how it's done?"

But just then the dance was over and Xihue said his good nights, finishing with an invitation to 'share warmth'. Eyes wide, Devari looked around the women in the party and bit her fist, trying to hold in her laughter, although by the time the shepherd reached his tent she could hold it no longer, and bent over, tears running down her face.

"They're forward in the east, ain't they?" she laughed and then suddenly clammed up. 'Ain't' was not the kind of word that Lady Veralyne of Staughton would use. She had slipped there and she knew it. How was she going to keep this charade up for four more days, or perhaps even longer? She had to be more careful.

She noticed then how quiet the elf, Blainneth, had been this evening. Of course she is, she thought, that one is obviously a master at this kind of thing. Maybe she could give me some tips?

She shook her head at the thought. Wouldn't that be a fine conversation? Two imposters comparing notes!

 
 
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Last edited by Lazer; Sep 2nd, 2022 at 12:25 PM.
  #178  
Old Sep 3rd, 2022, 07:52 AM
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6th Day of Aelmont, Canyon of the Silvanesti river
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Pashin? No, never heard of it, Tanis




"All maps are liars and those who plan their journeys solely based upon them and not their own senses, are fools."


It was hard to disagree with the above statement, which was credited to Talia’s late father. After all, the man had been an expert navigator and had been forced to work with, and even make himself, a great number of maps in his adventurous life of sailing the seas. He had often shaken his head in exasperation when a tiny triangle was used to symbolize a mountain that reached almost to the sky or when a curly line stood for a river so deep and wide that it formed an impassable barrier between the lands it divided. Even worse were the empty spaces. One could easily be tricked into believing that most of Ansalon consisted of boring plains devoid of anything. Rarely did hillocks and thickets, minor streams and patches of wetland make it onto maps and yet they could make all the difference for an unprepared traveler.


Tagion Dawnstar had been an oddity, as were all afflicted kender. Most so-called true kender loved maps and they collected them with a passion that only people of their kind could exhibit. How could they not? They were so pretty! The oceans were filled with sea creatures, including monstrous turtles and giant squids, and the maps’ borders were full of dragons flying, fighting or resting upon huge, glittering mounds of treasure. There were compasses and sailing ships, giant hands pointing at the secret entrances of ancient ruins and large cloudy heads with puffy cheeks blowing with all their might.


Aric too was fascinated by such features and determined to add as many of them to his own maps as possible. He started with a fallen elven warrior and his griffon mount next to the wide line that was the Silvanesti river and added a dozen of snakes, fangs dripping with poison, for good measure too. People had to know what to expect, didn’t they? He continued adding ridges and rocky outcroppings, small crevasses and sandy dunes until his map became so cluttered that he had to start anew. Who would have thought that the land could be so… full of things?


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The Silvanesti river canyon


Jabbal had claimed that traveling next to the river was the easiest way to reach Pashin. What he had failed to mention was that the land was not flat, as it was usually depicted on maps. The Silvanesti river flowed inside a narrow canyon that the foreigners had to cross, east to west, following the stream as it made its way towards the ancient forest that gave it its name. That meant that the travelers enjoyed shade and water, both extremely rare and precious in Khurish lands, and that they were even able to forage and hunt as they slowly made their way to the south-west. Crossing the river was out of the question, however, since the narrow stream flowed too fast for two-legged creatures to do so without danger. They would have to come out of the canyon first to find a place where the Silvanesti was shallow enough for them to be able to reach the southern bank.


The ground was full of small pebbles that were quite slippery, especially in the muddier patches of earth next to the river, and sharp rocks that could cut through the thickest leather soles, if one was not careful. Further complicating things was the fact that the travelers were accompanied by two animals - one being the griffon, An’quesse, and the second Soft-Eyes in commonEyin-Nima, Jabbal’s parting gift to the foreigners. As usual the prince had proved especially generous to his guests - too generous in fact. He had provided them both with two each tent can sleep two and weighs 20 lbtents that were small enough to be carried along without great difficulty and with the means by which to do so without burdening his “friends”.


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Eyin-Nima or “Soft-Eyes”
“Soft-Eyes” was very aptly named. None of the foreigners had ever encountered a donkey that was so meek and gentle as was the one Jabbal had gifted them. "Only the best of the best for my friends", the prince had claimed and he had looked slyly at the young Solamnic man. The donkey could be used as a beast of burden to carry the tents Xihue had requested, Jabbal explained, and should the griffon grow hungry, it could also be used to feed it. It was only a two to three days journey to Pashin after all and even a young donkey, as was Eyin-Nima, should prove an adequate source of meat to sate even a beast of An’quesse’s size. As always Jabbal’s motives remained unclear. Was it practicality that had made him give the jennet to the companions or did he want to force upon them the hard decision of putting such a kind creature to death in order to feed the griffon they had decided to adopt? Perhaps it was a mix of the two, or perhaps Jabbal truly was the desert jackal he was rumored to be.


Whatever his true motivation, the companions, most of whom had grown to dislike the Khurish prince, were finally rid of him. Mostly sheltered from the sun and enjoying the relative coolness provided by the river, they could put their minds to other things like enjoying the natural beauty around them or better getting to know the people they traveled with. Yes, there were still hard decisions to make and yes, they could never fully let down their guard -they were still strangers with each other after all- but the fact that they weren’t around Jabbal and his lackeys anymore meant that they could all breathe a little easier.


It took the group the whole day to come out of the canyon and even though they had paused at regular intervals to rest, their legs still felt as heavy as lead after the long trek. Most of the companions weren’t used to covering such great distances on foot after all. As they had expected, the river grew shallower here and flowed with less force, making a crossing possible. Doing so at night, however, especially after having walked for a whole day, could prove dangerous, though it would allow them to reach the town a day earlier.



Calendar6th Day of Aelmont (Winter) 422 AC / 38 SC, Early Night

Solinari: 36/36 (Low Sanction)
Lunitari: 9/28 (Waxing)
Nuitari: 6/8 (Waning)

Boons/Penalties:
White Robes -1 spell DC, DIS on spell attack rolls | Red Robes - | Black Robes -


 
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  #179  
Old Sep 6th, 2022, 12:28 AM
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Aric Armitage
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For a good long while after the events by the river, Aric made no effort to socialize with those around him. Events were transpiring around him, but it was like the gods had reached down and turned the volume of the world down until all that was said sounded like it was underwater. As the saying went, the hits just kept on coming. Aric looked on as Kaylen did her best to prepare the body of the dead elf for travel, while An’quesse the griffon looked on, her big golden eyes unable to hide the sadness of loss. Aric understood all too well. His mother might not have been taken from him by bandits or serpents, but the agents of Beryllinthranox were snakes of a different sort, ones he hoped to cross someday. Vengeance might be poisonous, but if he had to choose a way to go out, it would be exacting justice upon those who had slain his mother.

Of course, that was a pipe dream. Here in this craggy desert beside an unknown river and surrounded by people he knew casually at best, Aric felt weak and inferior, a child out past his bedtime. He had taken one look at the rushing river and knew he would not be attempting to cross in the dark. The bright white moon of Solinari was at low sanction this night, its light a distant memory. Aric was tired. He had
Dice * Survival (Hunting game):
1d20+3sch10 (1 (natural 1))+3   Total = 4
attempted to shoot some small game for the griffon, but the beasts of this land were well camouflaged, and he saw nothing. And now he could only look on with indifference as the griffon eyed the small, timid donkey with hungry eyes. He had no illusions the donkey would survive to Pashin. At least its death would serve a purpose, that of feeding the griffon. So many people had died for far lesser reasons – or, at the very least, reasons which his mortal mind could not fathom. Maybe Habakkuk knew, but if he did, he was certainly not sharing with Aric.

Around the fire that night, Aric sat a bit away from the others, lost in thought. He had been working on a map of the area they had encountered An’quesse and her fallen rider, and like so many things he had attempted, it was going poorly. He’d wasted several pages already, as well as a fair bit of ink. Finally, his utter disgust at his cartographical efforts reached a breaking point and he slammed the journal shut, not caring about closing the still-wet pages. The rushing water of the river seemed to be giggling at him, and he quietly muttered ”Shut up,” – though whether this was directed at the river or to his own troubled thoughts was unclear. He stuffed the journal into his pack and wandered back over to where they others were huddled around a campfire.



Parting from Jabbal had not been without its own awkwardness. The group had met the Khurish fellow under less-than-ideal circumstances, and though he was no longer accusing them of attempting to destroy Khurish culture, even his parting gift seemed like it was steeped in bitterness. Aric had seen the set of Tegan’s jaw when he had informed Jabbal they were departing, and he could not fail to miss the thin smile and blazing eyes of the other man as he looked at the Solamnic squire. The boy sighed and looked over at the dead elf, seemingly unable to divest the fallen rider from his mind. Maybe it was easy for a soldier or someone else familiar with death to disregard the fallen rider, but Aric was still young and impressionable. He looked at the griffon, this majestic yet dangerous beast, and he had seen something of himself in its eyes. The person it had cared for had been taken from it in a cruel fashion and left it alone in the world. Aric thought back to his dead father Robard, who had taken days to die from a dagger-wound to the guts, eventually succumbing to fever and infection and fading away quietly into the void after his body no longer had the energy to scream. Aric had been alone then, just like An’quesse, only now they were alone together, along with over a half-dozen others from different walks of life. He might not have been able to speak elvish, but pain was a universal language.

”I’m sorry,” Aric had said to the griffon that evening. ”I’m still not very good at hunting, otherwise I’d have been able to get you something to eat.” The boy pulled out his pack and unwrapped several strips of -2 days rationsdried venison. ”Here,” he said, laying the strips of deer meat onto the silk bedsheet. It was cooler by the river, and he was no longer wearing the full sheet, having torn enough cloth to make a crude hood and storing the rest of the cloth in his pack. It seemed a waste, especially for cloth as soft as this. He munched his own jerky in between sips of tepid water. ”I hunted that deer myself, back before I sailed off to where I am now,” he said to the griffon while chewing absently. ”It’s hard, trying to find a place in the world. I keep thinking I know what I want to do with my life, but then something happens and makes me think I don’t know at all. I thought I could calm you down before, and you almost clawed me to death. I’m not mad, you were just upset. I get it. It’s more just…” He sighed. ”There’s so much I don’t know, about this world, about the people in it, creatures, bad things, bad people – all of it. I guess it’s a good thing you almost killed me, because I needed something to bring me back from up in the clouds. Who am I, thinking I can just go off and see the world and everything in it, when I don’t even know the first thing about it? I am just a child.” He picked up a rock and threw it into the river. ”That’s me, I’m the rock. And the river is the world, and that little splash is all the impact my life had on the world. And look? The splash is already gone, the rock forgotten. If you had killed me, I would have been quietly buried by that river, and that would be that. I’d already be a fading memory to those around me. At least your rider has you to care for him, and his sister.” The term existential crisis was not one Aric was aware of, but confronted yet again with his own mortality and his overall place in the universe had brought one out in the boy.

He looked over and watched Xihue performing a multitude of fluid movements as he faced toward the setting sun. Aric found his eyes drawn to the man’s rippling muscles and sweat-sheened skin and before he had even thought about what he was doing he was standing up and walking toward the older man. He stood there awkwardly in the dying light, not wanting to interrupt what seemed to be a sacred ritual, or perhaps just nightly exercise. When Xihue at last completed his kata, Aric gave the man a small wave. ”That’s really neat. Um, do you find… does that calm you down? Sometimes I find that I think too much when I try to sleep. Does that – would that, maybe, help me? I’ve been…” He trailed off, unsure about what exactly he was thinking or even feeling, but knowing that there was a lot of it, too much for him to handle. ”I could use something like that if it helps clear my mind. Would you – and I mean, you don’t have to, but if it isn’t too much trouble, could I maybe… could you teach me?”


 
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Old Sep 8th, 2022, 01:35 PM
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Isandril Moonsilver, Wizard of High Sorcery
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Earlier...

With the decision to separate themselves from Jabbal's caravan finalized, the Silvanesti mage joined the others and approached the Ergothian woman and the dwarven priestess as they were all about to depart.

"Thank you for earlier, Veralyne," he said with a bow of his head. "Your intervention was timely and your words much better than my own at making things right." He smiled a thin little smile. "You kept... how do you humans say it... a cool head, when I did anything but that."

"And thank you as well," he continued, turning to address Kaylen. "For agreeing to help me bring my kin's body to his sister instead of leaving him here." He paused as he looked at the others. "In truth, I have all of you to thank for it, but..." Another pause as he considered his next words. "But I would like to ask you, as a priestess of Quenesti Pah, if you would come with me when we meet with the rider's sister." The look in the mage's eyes made it very clear that that was a burden he did not want to shoulder alone.



Later...

At first Isandril stayed mostly quiet, keeping to himself more or less while they travelled. It was not just because of the griffon and her rider, the body of whom they were now escorting back to his sister, although that was certainly a meeting he was not particularly looking forward to. Another reason for his introspection was his own reaction, his outburst even, towards Jabbal's archers. Not that they had not deserved it, at least as far as he was concerned, but he had always prided himself for his composure and self-control. Eventually though he decided that even he had had enough of the quiet. Besides, what was the point of being a part of a company, even if it had been due to happenstance, and still be alone?

Looking at the others, he realized there were at least two with whom he wanted to talk; one that he could ask for help with a certain little item that had come to be in his possession, and one that he had neglected to speak with long enough.



"I put you in quite a spot with my... suggestion, did I not?" He asked the question conversationally, his tone friendly, as he sat down beside Pnoah. "I do apologize for that. Sometimes my curiosity, especially about something as mysterious as those Stones, can get the better of me." He smiled. "I have a feeling you know what I mean."

"Speaking of mysteries..."

Reaching into a pouch, the elf retrieved a misshapen piece of bronze, it's original form and function unrecognizable.

"Do you think you might be able to help me with this one? It belonged to a rather strange boy, one who struck me as having a curiosity and a keen mind much like yours and mine."



"Impressive, is she not?"

Blainneth was looking at the griffon when Isandril spoke to her. The noble beast was certainly worthy of admiration.

"I must admit, I would have expected us to have talked sooner rather than later," he went on with a shrug. "But I suppose there have been more than a few... distractions since the Festival."

Taking a moment to glance at the others as they were going about their respective business, he asked casually, "Such variety, yes? What do you make of them, if I may ask?" His tone, even though he did try not to sound like that, was not unlike that used by an elder when referring to children.

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