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  #16  
Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 10:29 AM
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Things had quickly become a good bit livelier at the Bleeding Heart Tavern. A performance dedicated to the random strangers regaled them as though they were heroes chosen to right some wrong that had deep local significance, a prank caused a kerfuffle that sent the dark-skinned man barreling out the door, and the studious fellow in the corner seemed to have solved some noteworthy problem.

Sir Whats-his-Name had a prudent request, and already the rag-tag crew of adventurers began to disburse in search of clues. Zenalia insinuated herself in the aftermath of the water prank. Runa approached the academic chap. Charlie was devouring a plate of--Huh? Where did that come from? The adorable elf for whatever reason was staring directly up at the ceiling. Kahuna snapped his fingers to snatch the lass' attention. "You're a learner, aren't you, Miss? It seems that gentleman over in the corner there has made some sort of discovery. You look to me like someone who knows something about astronomy, am I wrong? You should go over there and ask what he has learned. I'll bet he'd be happy to answer any questions you have, and I'm sure Runa won't mind if you join her. She's very affable, isn't she?"

Charlie seemed quite engaged in her meal as well as her thoughts at the moment, and Kahuna seized the opportunity to speak directly to the knight. They'd addressed each other indirectly, but as yet not man-to-man. "A very good suggestion, friend. Thanks for taking the initiative. I'll take you up on that as well. I'm interested in speaking with the bard. Knowledge Check to recognize local story in the song DC15, Result 18!I think I understand the connection to the song, though I might be mistaken" he said to the holy crusader.

"No doubt you've wondered about that hand as well? There are four reasonable possibilities--the poor fellow is clumsy with tools or some such and had an accident, lost them in a fight with a man or beast, born without them, or... our minstrel had a much different profession before he took up singing, and got punished for his thievery."

"But first..." Marion said, now fixing his gaze on Charlie "Not to interrupt your dining, Charlie, but I have a question. Do you know any of those boys who drenched the old fellow? They've been peeking in the windows since I got here, and I saw you glancing over at them as well.

Please, tell me what you know of those boys, and the wet man... and the giant."


"If we are to face great dangers together, my eager young friend, we will need to trust each other, won't we? Don't fib to me, now." Kahuna sat back in his chair and gave the end of his mustache a spin as he awaited Charlie's response.
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Last edited by ItsaVerb; Sep 3rd, 2014 at 01:08 PM.
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  #17  
Old Sep 3rd, 2014, 05:13 PM
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It was a bit strange, at first. Not because she was receiving the attention of so many of the tavern's patrons, she was used to that. But sitting together at a table that so quickly filled up. You see, when Akya usually approached someone with questions, or otherwise talked to them, it was usually one on one or in small groups. And now she was sitting at a very nearly full table and with most of the tavern's attention on the whole lot. And that was before the minstrel began his song with them specifically in mind. Of course, it did not take a genius to figure out what they were here for. Not because most of them were probably strangers to the town, or at least, not only because of that, but rather due to the 'Big Kahuna's' impressive voice announcing why he was here and inviting any others present for the same reason over to join him. It did make it sort of hard to go unnoticed one might suppose. Still, while waiting for her meal, Akya found a number of things to focus her attention on and ignore much of the staring or glancing inhabitants. Like the second to latest addition to the growing group. She called herself Charlie.

Akya herself was not sure what to think. She stared a fairly long while at the young human, not in the accusing stare of some of the other patrons, that all but said Charlie shouldn't be here, or as if they were expecting trouble from her. No, Akya's stare was more one of trying to figure out a puzzle. You might think she was trying to decide what the focus of her attention's past or background was. Or perhaps you might think she was studying closely, looking for lies and other falsehoods. But no, her stare wasn't accusing enough for that. Even when her eyes followed the girl has she grabbed the abandoned plate of food. Hells, she didn't even notice the young girl was grabbing a plate until she realized a couple minutes later that Charlie was eating something! In her studious focus, she also never saw Runa's reaction to Logan, nor did she really pay attention a few minutes prior to some random individual's random shouting. She even almost missed the song. Eventually she could not take it any more, couldn't keep her guessing game private. Her own need to learn and to know things was stronger than that. So she spoke again in that accented common, with the occasional elven syllable thrown in, and her head cocked slightly to one side in a curious manner. "How old are you?"

Charlie would have perhaps a second to think someone was on to her, or perhaps accusing her of something, or whatever the usual thing was whenever she was asked that question. Not that she would have time to reply just yet. "Oh, sorry. I forget how offended some people get when I ask that. It's even worse when I guess wrong." She left out just how often she was in fact wrong in this particular subject. "I am absolutely awful at guessing this for humans. Hmm..." A humming pause. "Twenty-five! Hmm, no, probably too high. Maybe twenty then, yes?"
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  #18  
Old Sep 4th, 2014, 06:16 AM
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It was an interesting group and Charlie was relieved to not have been ousted from the start, not that it would have done them any good, she would have followed anyway and once they left town she could vanish with ease and still keep an eye on them. Each one had their own story, their own lives and they probably had other places they could be if they had chosen differently than to come to Hengistbury, Charlie didn't.

Listening to the conversations was fascinating, the Kahuna had said something about dragons and treasure and strangely, he had said it to her. Although she had no idea what he was talking about, he seemed nice enough, underneath all the bluster and bravado, if he could make half as much wind with that big hammer of his as he could with his lungs she would have to remember to duck.

The one with the fancy cloak and all the finery bothered her a little, he always seemed to be scowling when she caught him looking at her, it made her feel like the time father had caught her burying nanny Jenkins's reading glasses. He spoke the way he dressed too, all flowery and clean like, and although he was, after a fashion, giving orders, his final comment expressed some doubt in his own abilities. She would be giving him a wide berth that was for sure, making sure she did more watching than being watched where he was concerned.

The big fierce looking woman had spoken in Charlie's defence and although that went a long way to making her more likeable in Charlie's books it was still hard to get past the ferocious appearance of the woman. It reminded her of when she had met old farmer Belson, he had wandered up to where the flocks were grazing looking for his missing bullock, damnedest thing of all, he had a pet wolf with him. It was just like a big dog, all wagging tail and licks but somehow she just hadn't been able to shake the underlying fear, it was a wolf after all.

The pretty young blond girl was staring at her she noticed and it was beginning to get a little irritating, hadn't the girl been told it was rude. Charlie was thinking about bringing it to her attention with a little rudeness of her own when she asked the question, Charlie's heart almost stopped, she had been foolish to think she may have slipped past this obvious hurdle so easily. Charlie was just about to reply that it was none of the girls business when she continued by making some apology for offence and guessing, before going on to do just that.

"Twenty-five! Hmm, no, probably too high. Maybe twenty then, yes?"

"Seems to me you guess pretty good." she replied smiling politely, "You should have a little more confidence in yourself."

Had she just been attacked or threatened Charlie wondered. She was considering how to deal with such a threat when the Kahuna decided it was her turn to make a speech, she had worried about this.

He wanted to know about the Mortimer boys, and she might have told him, why not, she owed the boys no favors and nothing she knew would bring them harm but before she could even begin he added:

"my eager young friend, we will need to trust each other, won't we? Don't fib to me, now."

'Don't fib to him, don't fib to HIM! Who did he think he was? this loud farrier! He even smelled like a horse. What was he going to do put her over his knee and teach her a lesson?' her elbow brushed instinctively against a sheathe for reassurance, her anger boiled. A liar, untrustworthy and a child all in one sentence even for someone as self indulged as him it was an achievement.

"I have no idea what you mean Mister! you obviously got the wrong impression of me." she hissed, "I have absolutely no eagerness whatsoever to be your friend! But since you are so good at talking to young'uns I might suggest you go and ask them yourself. I am sure they will be impressed by your muscles."

She thought she was going to cry and she was desperately hoping that her shaking wasn't visible to others, she had no idea if her legs would support her but she stood anyway, scowled at the ignorant smith and walked around the table to stand next to the blue lady.

"You showed interest in Tamas, the man who got himself all wet," she said as steadily as she could mange to, throwing a glare across the table at the smith she continued, "I'm going to go find him, talk to him, fancy a stroll? and..." she looked down at her feet and scuffed the floor with the toes of her left foot, "there's something I want to ask you."


 
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  #19  
Old Sep 4th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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"A very good suggestion, friend. Thanks for taking the initiative. I'll take you up on that as well. I'm interested in speaking with the bard. I think I understand the connection to the song, though I might be mistaken"

"You may call me Logan," the Paladin responded in between the Big Kahuna's vocal thoughts. With the wild woman off investigating one of the things Logan was curious about, it narrowed down his own choices. Marion had stated that he might have an idea about what the song meant, but soon proceeded to talk to the young girl. Of course he wasn't the only one. It seemed many of the people at their table had taken an interest in the child. Logan couldn't deny that he had his own interests in her. Although they were a little less about the friendly details and more about whether or not it was a good idea to have her hanging around with them. Once the young girl lashed out at Marion and moved closer to the exotically beautiful elf, Logan knew it was time to give the child a little space. After all, constant pushing might very well lead to her completely closing up on them and there was still one glaring question that needed to be answered before all was said and done.

"Well, I think I will go speak with the minstrel about his song," Logan said as he stood up. Standing over the table, his posture about as good as anyone's could be the knight looked at those still remaining. They were quite the interesting group. Not at all what he expected, but all things considered they should be able to do just fine together. Assuming they were able to get over some differences that was, "Perhaps you would like to join me Kahuna." Logan didn't need to wait for an answer. Instead he looked at Marion and shifted his eyes toward Charlie then back again giving a nod to signal the man that maybe they should give her a little time with Zenalia. Logan then turned to Zenalia and Charlie, "While we are away, I would appreciate it if you told Zenalia here something very important. Something we need to know if we are to take you with us. Tell her where your parents are. After all, I have no intention of putting myself in a position to be accused of taking a young girl from her family. Nor would I wish for a young girl to be separated from her family. I'm sure you understand." With that, Logan turned and headed over toward the three fingered musician. His mind shifting between the multitude of thoughts coursing through it until he finally reached the bard and focused on what he was there for.

"Excuse good sir. Might I ask you about that song you played for myself and my companions. It seemed to have a powerful effect on those within these walls and yet, I do not understand why. Perhaps you could enlighten me a little?" Logan asked the man all the while doing his best not to stare at the hand with the missing fingers.

 

Last edited by Foxtrot; Sep 4th, 2014 at 11:17 AM.
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  #20  
Old Sep 4th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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"Well met, Logan" Kahuna replied, "Indeed I will join you."

It wasn't a stretch to presume Charlie would take Logan's concern as another insult, but it was a damned good point the Paladin raised. It could be possible the child was running fugitive from her family, in which case whisking her off on some mercenary job would not be helping the situation. Best not to get in the middle of any family strife.

Kahuna stood stoic next to Logan as he approached the bard in conversation. There was something just a bit mysterious about the man, but it could just be his playing the part. Bards are always acting in some fashion. Still, Kahuna was very interested in how he would answer Logan's query. The song definitely referenced the story the old farmer had told him a few hours before, a local legend that could have significance in the present day.

Kahuna decided to remain quiet and see whether the bard would explain the origin of the song, and if he did, how much detail he would reveal--particularly whether this mission, which everyone in the place was familiar with, whether or not they knew it before visiting the Bleeding Heart that day, was in any way related to it.

 
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Old Sep 6th, 2014, 09:42 PM
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Any further intent Akya had for interacting with the rest of this fledgling was interrupted by the shouting coming from the gentleman who had been studying his papers so furiously. Though some of the table's occupants had already left to ask question elsewhere, Akya still does her best to politely excuse herself. "I shall return in a little while, certainly before our meeting with the sheriff yes?" Standing from her seat moves quickly over to the scholarly man, very nearly colliding with the barmaid carrying a tray full of mugs. Delayed by giving many apologies, she continues until she reaches the man. Amazingly she hasn't tripped. "The Dragon will pass in front of the Lady? Are you sure?" Akya peers over to read the man's notes, even if she has to do so upside down. "I can't remember the last time that happened! It certainly wasn't brought up in my studies. Do you think it means something?"
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Old Sep 8th, 2014, 09:04 PM
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The hour of Sundown is fast approaching, which means you should be on your way to your meeting with Sheriff Torek soon, but you're curious. Of course you are, or you wouldn't be here. Curiosity is an important ingredient to an adventurer. Sure, there are other ingredients; greed, renown, fear, but curiosity always comes out on top with adventurers. Want proof? Look no further than a mirror. Your curiosity has once more gotten the better of you and is now urging you to one of the "events" of the evening.

Three Fingered Jake - Logan & MarionStrangely enough, the only two men at the table decide to stick together. Maybe it's a bonding thing for the two big, burly warriors to stick together and have each others back. Regardless of the reason, Logan and Marion make their way to the three fingered bard who's now leaning against the bar enjoying drink and a well deserved rest. After all, he'd been playing for quite a long time, since before you entered a couple of hours ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Logan
"Excuse good sir. Might I ask you about that song you played for myself and my companions. It seemed to have a powerful effect on those within these walls and yet, I do not understand why. Perhaps you could enlighten me a little?"
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Turning to look at both of you with a thin smile, he quickly reaches out and grabs Logan's right hand with both of his, giving him a two handed handshake, and soon after does the sam to Marion. Nothing unusual about the handshake really, but it does feel strange with only three fingers. Two fingers and a thumb to be exact.

"Greetings! Greetings! It is always a pleasure to meet fellow visitors at the Bleeding Heart!" His voice is soft, yet somehow projects itself enough to secure the attention of whomever he wants to. The perfect kind of voice someone would need to be successful in his profession. He reaches back for his mug and continues.

"I would offer you a drink, but I see by the amount of drinks at your table you have had your fill." He looks in his mug, thinks about it for a second trying to decide if the remaining amount will fit in his mouth, and throws his head back to drink the rest, putting the empty mug down behind him.

"Now, you asked about the song, and since you know it not, I suspect you aren't from around these here parts are you? That would make sense, it's more of a local story for sure. It's my way of telling the story of Lady Sybil's Grandfather, once Lord Pemberton himself. Keep in mind, this isn't a song I would perform in front of the current Lord and Lady, it would be... distasteful. But the people should always hear the truths that need to be told, and reminded of both the good, and bad deeds, of those before us. I'm sure you would both agree? Well then, Lady Sybil's Grandfather, happily married or not, had himself a little fun with one of the maids in the castle. Now, we all know it is common enough amongst the higher social class, but the chance of a jealous spouse is equally common. Thus was the case with Lord Bemberton's wife, Lady Pemberton at the time. There was an imprisonment, a pregnancy, a dead newborn and the hanging of a Witch. I've left out a little of the story in between, but to this day the castle, which still stands but is abandoned, is believed to be haunted. Yes, like a child's tale."

Meredith passes by and exchanges the empty mug on the counter with a full one. Almost without looking, Jake reaches back and grabs it in his three fingered hand, raises it up above his head, "Here's to the bunch of you. May you find what you're looking for in your upcoming journey, and may they be daring and legendary enough to be worthy of a song I can sing!"


Gavin - Runa & AkyaThe two women who, if someone had to guess, would be the complete opposites of each other, approach the man who seems to be quite happy with himself. And they would be right if they only looked at the outward appearances of the two women. Runa, the half blooded orc warrior shaman. No matter what, she will always get a cold reception from others, trying to keep their distance. And Akya, the soft, ageless elven girl, whose innocent personality makes those around her at ease and want to spend time with her.

Some people are different of course, but this man doesn't seem to be one of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Runa
...she approaches the strange man in the corner to ask after the portents he has divined.
Looking at Runa as she gets closer, the man raises an eyebrow in a manner that suggests he's confused at what she would want with him. Before words are exchanged, Akya makes her way to both of them and speaks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Akya
"The Dragon will pass in front of the Lady? Are you sure?" Akya peers over to read the man's notes, even if she has to do so upside down. "I can't remember the last time that happened! It certainly wasn't brought up in my studies. Do you think it means something?"
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His eyes light up at the knowledge that he has someone to share his discovery with. His full attention is now on Akya, without even an acknowledgement of Runa.

"Yes! Yes! I am very sure! Take a look at these papers!" he says while holding up bunches of paper in each of his hands waving them around. "My calculations are perfect. I've been over them time and time again and everything points to The Dragon passing in front of The Lady! This is amazing, amazing I tell you! This hasn't happened in generations! Even your oldest people haven't seen this!" He drops all the papers to the ground and reaches out to grab Akya by her forearms. "Aren't you excited? We're going to see something most people will never see!" he lets go of the elf, turns around and starts picking up his papers from the floor where he dropped them moments ago. "What does it mean? I don't know really. There are legends of it being a powerful night and such fantasy stuff, but really, I believe it'll just be a moment of something rare that we can tell our children, and their children!"


Meredith - Zenalia & CharlieThe only two remaining at the table were the violet tinted elven beauty and the little girl. What made them different from the others was exactly what they were. An elven women so beautiful, that the gods tried to do something to lessen it by tinting her skin in an unnatural way. Unfortunately, the effect only make her more desirable. The child was also a thing a beauty, beautiful innocence that is. Or at least that's what people think when they see her.

As Meredith passes by, Zen grabs her attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenalia
"Excuse me dear miss? If I could have a word? I don't suppose you noticed the man who was seated there? You, know, the one who so recently received a full helping of that water bucket? I wonder if you would have some idea as to what happened exactly? Do you know what reason, if any, the rascals would have to take out their ire on the poor fellow? Who was he exactly, if you don't mind my asking?"

Zen then lowers her voice and leans in closer:

"I also noticed his food must have gotten soggy and has been cleared away. I would hate for the tensions between the rowdy children and the man to escalate should he learn that his food was ruined as well as his clothes besotted... May I pay for its replacement to help ease the tensions of the situation?"

She hands Meredith 2 gold pieces to pay for her own meal as well as the one Charlie appropriated, and waits for the serving lass's response to her questions.
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She stops and listens to Zenalia, tucking her serving tray under one arm and placing the other on her hip. She's showing a smile, but one that looks a little forced. "I didn't clear away his food." she says looking back at the table the dark skinned man once occupied. "I have no idea what happened to his food, probably taken by one of the cheap customers. Happens more often then you think."

She takes the two gold coins, "You didn't ask for change, so I assume you don't want any." and puts them in a pouch around her waist.

"As for Tamas, he's always getting picked on by the Mortimer brothers. They're a ruthless bunch if they decide you're a fun target. They're harmless though, just a bunch of pranks that will one day get them a good whooping. They deserve a good whooping if you ask me. Ask her if you want to know about the Mortimer brothers," she say pointing to Charlie, "I think her and the youngest have something going on. I have to go, Jake over there needs a refill."

Meredith turns and fetches a mug of ale at one end of the bar, and quickly delivers it to the other, switching out Jake's empty with the full one.

Zenalia sees movement at her side, and turns to see the young child Charlie looking for her attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie
She thought she was going to cry and she was desperately hoping that her shaking wasn't visible to others, she had no idea if her legs would support her but she stood anyway, scowled at the ignorant smith and walked around the table to stand next to the blue lady.

"You showed interest in Tamas, the man who got himself all wet," she said as steadily as she could mange to, throwing a glare across the table at the smith she continued, "I'm going to go find him, talk to him, fancy a stroll? and..." she looked down at her feet and scuffed the floor with the toes of her left foot, "there's something I want to ask you."
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  #23  
Old Sep 9th, 2014, 04:12 AM
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Charlie listened carefully to what the woman from the tavern said to the blue lady, her comment about cheap customers didn’t bother her none, better the food was in her than in the pigs out back.
When she mentioned her and Poke though she was a little perturbed, she kept a very low profile around town and if this woman thought that she not only knew her but also had insight into her personal life, well perhaps it was time to leave and find another town.

She had this meeting though, and she was hoping it would provide the opportunity to move on, back into the hills and forests where she belonged.

Zen began to shuffle about gathering her things and preparing to leave so Charlie thought now would be the best time to get out of this busy tavern and into the fresh air where she felt more comfortable.
She shot another glare at the blacksmith and threw her backpack onto her back before heading to the exit. It wasn’t until she reached the door that she realised her mistake, the bow slung across the top of her pack was going to make opening the door and getting through it quite the challenge. She was considering her options and which among them would make her appear the least stupid when the door opened and she came face to face with a man who looked extremely enthusiastic to be getting his evenings drinking under way. He hardly noticed Charlie and certainly didn’t hold the door for her but it was open long enough for her to scoot through sideways.

Outside in the street it was beginning to get dark as the eighteenth hour of the day rapidly approached, she looked up and down the road but there was no sign of Tamas nor the Mortimer boys. ’Oh well’ she thought to herself, she wasn’t really all that interested in the quarrel between them anyway but they had served as a good excuse to get away from the curious barbarian and his belittling questions.

She was just about to head off towards the sheriff’s office when she heard the tavern door close behind her and turned to find Zen walking over to join her.

She smiled as the blue woman approached, she had wanted to talk to someone all day about her fears and she liked Zen. She wasn’t sure what it was about the woman but she made Charlie feel at ease. There was of course the other obvious bonus, so long as she stood next to Zen the inquisitive blacksmith wouldn’t even notice her, in fact there probably weren’t many men alive who would.

"I wanted to ask you something" she began as Zen approached within hearing range "It’s been bothering me for a day or two now. It’s about this meeting you see.
At first I thought the meeting was just some Rainmoot fools prank, being on the first an’ everything."


She looked down at her feet, Charlie wasn’t really used to sharing her thoughts with others, especially virtual strangers, she was afraid she might appear a little stupid. Pouting as she considered whether to continue or not she thought about the options. If she said what was on her mind and she came out looking a bit of a Rainmoot fool herself it was better than the alternative, if she were right to be concerned she wanted to have more than just her eyes and ears wide open in that office.

"Have you wondered why it’s night-time?" she said looking up at the golden eyes of the blue woman, "The meeting I mean. See misses I been sitting outside the sheriff’s office most of the morning and it’s been real quiet see, sheriff hasn’t been doing nothing special. So why do you think he waits all day to have this meeting of his after dark, why not noon? Seems a little odd to me."


 
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 08:37 PM
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"You can keep the change," Zen says to Meredith when she walks away to serve her customers. So much for that, she thinks to herself. I was more curious about Tamas than those children, but she's right that Charlie may know something about them.

Just as Zen is about to go and ask Charlie about the Mortimer boys, she is startled to see her standing right next to her.

"My, aren't you the quiet one! Flitting about all over the place, making not a sound! You are quite good at making yourself scarce aren't you?"

The graceful and naturally quiet gait of the girl-child reminds Zen achingly of the way Gabriel had of always stalking about regardless of where he was or what his destination. He had that eery ability to startle her over and over again, never meaning to, yet always pleased with himself when he did. Charlie evidently had that same uncanny habit of moving like a cat.

Everything reminds me of you... she thinks. I feel you so close to me, I could close my eyes and reach out and I'd find your hand in mine.

Zen pulls herself from her momentary reverie and realizes Charlie spoke to her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zany
"You showed interest in Tamas, the man who got himself all wet," she said as steadily as she could mange to, throwing a glare across the table at the smith she continued, "I'm going to go find him, talk to him, fancy a stroll? and..." she looked down at her feet and scuffed the floor with the toes of her left foot, "there's something I want to ask you."
"Tamas? Oh, right. Yes. I was curious about him. That's a good idea actually, let's go look for him."

Zen looks at the others busying themselves inquiring about the other interesting things occurring in the Bleeding Heart Tavern when her eyes lock on Big Kahuna's as he is busy engaging the bard in conversation. She gives him a shy wave as she scrambles to follow Charlie who just made her way out the door.

"I'll see you at the Sheriff's," she says to him, exaggerating the words so he can read her lips. She nods at the others and exits the tavern.

Once outside she fills her lungs with the cool fresh air of the coming dusk and takes a second to enjoy the night time smells of spring coming into bloom. She is decidedly glad to be out of that stifling inn and away from the dank smells of old ale and rank bodies ripe from their workday toils.

She catches up to Charlie who is busy looking around for their quarry. Charlie shares some of what is on her mind and Zen muses for a moment.

"Rainmoot fools' prank? Hmm, the thought never crossed my mind to tell you the truth. It would be a rather strange prank to pull, not to mention expensive. Those notices were put up all over the place in Holdenshire. I, for one, would not be impressed with Sir and Misses Pemberton should that turn out to be the case and we all travelled all the way here for nothing!"

When Charlie then shares her misgivings about the more nocturnal time frame for the meeting, Zen is momentarily taken aback.

A face flashes before her with yellow eyes and a lunatic smile. A hungry smile... A shiver travels from the base of her spine all the way to the nape of her neck, leaving goosebumps in its wake across her body.

"No! I mean no, I don't think it means anything." Zen does her best to conceal the moment of abject terror that gripped her when Charlie's revelation sunk in, but is embarrassed when she realizes how obvious her momentary panic must have been to the observant girl.

"I'm sorry about that. You reminded me of something... I'd rather forget. You're right it seems a bit strange, but if it is Lord and Lady Pemberton who are doing the actual hiring, maybe the Sheriff didn't want to interfere with his more regular business hours for a task that falls outside of his normal duties to the town?"

He is NOT one of them! she tells herself, doing everything she can to choke down the panic which is threatening to overtake her at the mere thought of any other implication the sheriff's nocturnal proclivities might suggest.

Besides, Charlie said the sheriff was there all day, so he can't be!

Despite all this sound reasoning and rational explaining, Zenalia cannot quite shake the feeling that something might be off about the whole thing. She decides to distract herself by asking Charlie the inevitable question.

"Charlie, I know you don't like to talk about it, but maybe Logan was right and we need to address your age. Now please don't take offense, I only want to make sure you're not in any trouble. Are you an orphan, Charlie? It's just that you remind me so much of someone... someone I used to know. He was an orphan. So, are you? I just want to make sure someone who loves you isn't out there somewhere looking for you. I know what it's like to lose someone and wouldn't want that, for anyone."

 
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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 09:54 PM
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Charlie hears the blue lady assure her that there is nothing to worry about with the upcoming meeting but her face doesn’t match with the words. Something passed over the beautiful features, a visage of fear and deep seated worry, perhaps she has her own ideas about this meeting and was just sheltering Charlie from her concerns. No matter, at least there would be two of them alert and cautious at the rendezvous, hopefully, probably, there was nothing to worry about, but best to be cautious before than cursing hindsight after.

Feeling a little lighter having shared her burden she begins to saunter down the road towards the sherrifs office, enjoying the peace of the early evening, it was certainly true a problem shared did feel like a problem halved.

"Charlie, I know you don't like to talk about it, but maybe Logan was right and we need to address your age. Now please don't take offense, I only want to make sure you're not in any trouble. Are you an orphan, Charlie? It's just that you remind me so much of someone... someone I used to know. He was an orphan. So, are you? I just want to make sure someone who loves you isn't out there somewhere looking for you. I know what it's like to lose someone and wouldn't want that, for anyone."

Her heart stopped her breathing felt heavy and the huge hole she kept locked away inside her opened up onto the blackness within. Zen’s question was quiet and gently spoken and she didn’t take offence at it but the pain it brought welling to the surface crippled her thoughts for a few moments. She could feel the tears forming in her lower lids and she angrily remonstrated herself on showing weakness, her legs felt all weak and she thought that if she didn’t sit she would surely fall. In all these months she had talked this through a thousand times but only ever with herself, never, not once, had she shared her secret.
She struggled to compose her features before looking up in the soft golden eyes of the tall woman, it was hard to hate or be angry with one so gentle, so beautiful.

"It’s.." the word just popped out of her mouth, she never invited it, stunned a little to even hear her own voice breaking the silence the outside world came flooding through to mix with the raw emotions within.
She threw both her arms around the lithe woman and burying her face in the blood red cloak she sobbed, and sobbed, the dark hole was well and truly unsealed and months of lonely sorrow poured out of her and flowed down her cheeks onto the red cloth.
It could have been minutes, it could have been days but slowly Charlie became aware of herself hugging a virtual stranger and attempting to drown them both in her own tears.

She sniffled, wiped the back of her sleeve across her running nose, rubbed the wetness from her eyes with the palm of her hands and did her best to compose herself and pretend nothing had happened. But something had happened, Charlie felt different, she felt open, exposed, she felt vulnerable but she also felt better, stronger, clearer and even more determined.

She let the poor blue woman go and took a step back, looking again into those warming eyes, there was only concern and sincerity looking out from them and Charlie unwittingly smiled, the action itself seemed so absurd she began to giggle.
"I’m.....I’m... so sorry" she managed to say and then suddenly as if the magic were shattered by the words the laughter vanished and the sorrow flooded back in. Her face hardened as she once again took control and pushed the darkness within back into its prison.

Her breathing took one of those short, loud involuntary gasps that always follow an outburst of tears and she once again wiped her sleeve across her face and braced herself for what she had to verbalise. She owed this woman some kind of explanation, she wanted to offer this woman an explanation but where did such a thing begin how can you speak the unspeakable, what words do you use?

"Father," she began, it seemed like a good start and it was best to get the hardest part over first. The word hung in the air floating and within it whirled all the images, all the memories all the sorrow, within the one little word. She moved on quickly before it dragged her down again and she lost all control.
"He sent me away, he stayed to fight it, the thing that came in the night." she jerked her chin up towards the hills far to the north of where they currently stood, she knew what it meant but she was sure it failed to convey her intention.
"I ran away, I left him there."
She had to pause here and force her mind away from the internal images pressing for attention, forcing them back down, into the blackness.
"He said he would follow me, but he hasn’t found me yet, he...the thing...I will find him, I will find Father, he must be worried about me, I will find him or I will kill it." she said finally.

There it was out, not gone, the blackness lurked beneath ever present but a little pressure had been released, some breathing space, a small reprieve from the distress. She realised she had been talking to her shoes and she looked up to see if the blue lady was still watching her, dreading the reaction.

Suddenly aware of reality she panicked.
"Please," she said, trying not to sound desperate or weak, "don’t tell the others Zen. They won’t like me, won’t let me come if they know I ran away and left him, by himself. Please don’t say anything?"


 

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Old Sep 9th, 2014, 11:28 PM
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She held the weeping child in her arms, holding her as tightly as she was herself being held and felt herself open up completely to Charlie's pain and grief. Every sob and every tear tore at Zenalia's heart and worked to swell the already strong urge to protect and shelter this courageous and lonely child.

Zen had let herself admit that she knew another who had suffered the unimaginable and unbearable grief that comes from losing one's parents and she had been speaking of Gabriel, her lost beloved. But now, as she cradled Charlie to her breast and felt her trembling with her impotent release, she felt her own tears come. Zen, too, had lost so much and Charlie's grief and pain and loss were only too familiar. Zen, too, had cried herself to sleep night after night, hoping, wishing, despairing...

Zen squeezed Charlie as tightly as she knew she needed to be and received as much comfort from the weeping girl as she tried to give.

"I know, Dear Love, I know..." she said, her own voice swollen with her grief. Zen rocked back and forth as they stood there locked in each others' desperate embrace and let the healing light of Erastil engulf them both.

When Zen's mother had left her in her earthy cradle beneath that old oak so long ago, she had poured all of her love and light into her. She had wrapped Zenalia in a blanket of warm life which ultimately shielded her from the fiends which took her mother's life. That light had left its mark on Zen and every now and then, she was able to call it forth again to preserve a life.

Zen called on that light now and though they were not now facing the finality and certainty of death, Zen wanted to drive away the darkness which held them both and replace it with love and light and life.

The moment ended and Charlie pulled away.

Zenalia wiped away her own tears, but did not try to hide them or deny them.

"You did not leave him, Dear Heart. You did the only thing you could. You made his sacrifice matter. You are here now and there isn't a single doubt in my mind or heart that that is all that matters to your father, whether he now travels this world, or the next. I will not tell the others because there is nothing to tell. I will take care of you, though I know you don't need me to. To the others, such things may matter and if they ask or try to push you away, they will answer to me. Because when you find your father, or the one who took him from you, I will be there with you. If you want me to be, that is."

Zen dried what was left of her tears and fixed her cloak and gear as best she could and also breathed a deep sigh.

"Shall we go meet this Sheriff Torek and see what great adventure awaits us wayward orphans?"

 
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Old Sep 10th, 2014, 11:15 AM
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Runa tilts her head as she considers what words to use as her eyes meet the eyes of the scholarly gentleman. But before she speaks, Akya appears and makes it look so easy, and appears so much more intelligent than she might have. The shaman takes a moment to watch the pair interact, giving a smile as she leaves them to it for a moment. As they speak, she crouches, exposing even more of her legs as she calmly gathers the papers from the tavern floor. She catches a glimpse of the writing and suddenly feels out of her own depth, 'The dragon and the lady? It seems that they speak of stars, but maybe I know them as different names.'

The unnamed man turns to her for a moment, continuing to ignore the savage woman as he scoops up the papers in order to show the elven lass the writings. She tilts her head, feeling a rush of sadness for a moment, as she longs for the river and the life she had before. Still, Hanspur had not brought her here without reason, and so she stands and glances towards the papers once more, before speaking. Her own words are excited, and though it's obvious that she doesn't know about this like Akya, she is very interested, "When will it happen, sir? And what legends are tied to it? Oh, my name is Runa." She smiles brightly, hoping that the man will be able to forget her rough appearance for the other aspect of her appearance; her femininity.

 
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Old Sep 10th, 2014, 04:44 PM
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The man turned out to be very eager to share what it was he had learned and discovered. His energetic almost bouncing feat and animate hand waving were all keenly contagious and passed on the Akya as well. The prospect of getting to see and witness something that no known previous generation had possessed the opportunity to see was quite exciting. It was some small wonder they had not started a celebratory jig with the sheer excitement and happiness they were both no exuding. Honestly it was probably a good thing they hadn't, as Akya would have been bound to trip over and crash into so many things as to leave her knocked out and the entire room likely to be askew. No doubt proof that there were in fact some small miracles prevalent in the world after all.

The grasping of her forearm, would have been considered uncouth in certain circles of high elven society given their barely acquainted state. Many an elf in those circles, circles Akya herself had grown up in when not studying, might have reacted badly. But Akya didn't react to it at all, and it was barely even noticed by the excited elven mage. "This is grand news!" When Runa finally speaks up after gathering up much of the scholar's papers, clearly curious at what was going on, Akya did her best to explain. "You know how the Lady, the blue moon, passes in front of and eclipses the Dragon, the red moon, right? Well soon the Dragon will pass in front of, eclipse, the Lady. Finally catching her if you follow the old tales." Akya takes a glance out one of the windows at the much dimmed sky. "It's almost time for our meeting with the sheriff, we need to get going I fear." The elf's face is somewhat dimmed and saddened, clearly having already enjoyed even brief conversation with the scholar. She turns to him. "Are you here often?"
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Old Sep 10th, 2014, 08:40 PM
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Kahuna had no more use for the bard at the moment. The explanation for his missing fingers might make for an interesting story, but it seemed better to get down to business. The big fellow unloaded his pack and donned his chainmail armor quick as a wink. The Sheriff needs to know what he's renting, and Kahuna knew better than to show up to an interview not looking like he was ready to ruthlessly smite whatever monstrosity it is the potential employer has a particular reason to want smote, regardless of what his or her private reason may be.

He saw the same conclusion accumulating in Logan's eyes, and slapped him on the arm, offering a hearty smile to the paladin as well as the bard. "Let's go then, shall we? We don't want to keep the Sheriff waiting!" he said jovially, as he grabbed Logan around the shoulder and pointed the two of them in the direction of the door. "Thanks so much for the wonderful story, Jake." Kahuna added over his shoulder.

As the two warriors set their direction, Kahuna's eyes were captured. It had begun already to be a familiar feeling, and about a veritable stranger. Between he and the door, Zen moved urgently toward it. She was leaving, and she made a point to check in--to let him know though he couldn't see her he'd know where she would be. It was the sort of familial contact one associates with a family member, a loved one, the way she mouthed the words, and used her expression to to tell him he shouldn't worry, and how she searched his eyes for the recognition she expected to be there...

Breathe, big guy...
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Old Sep 11th, 2014, 08:48 PM
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Those fingers... Logan didn't know why he was obsessing over the bard's missing digits, but the handshake definitely didn't make it any easier to put the unnerving thoughts out of his mind. Even more unnerving was how everyone in this town seemed to know why they were there except them. Logan wasn't exactly comfortable being in the dark. After all, this isn't how it was supposed to work. Then again, when he traveled with Gloria they often didn't know the details of their job until they reached their destination. Not knowing bothered him then and it was now apparent that it was going to bother him now. Maybe it would have been better not to ask the minstrel to elaborate on his song, but even that would have annoyed him to no end. This was his first real test from Iomedae. His first opportunity to prove to himself that he was worthy of aiding those in need. Logan couldn't fail. Not now. Not before he even had a chance to try. Of course it wasn't like he would give up and walk away. It was far too early for that. It was just the feeling of being blind to his surroundings left much to be desired. Perhaps it would have been better to just go straight to the sheriff's office and wait. At least then he wouldn't be wavering in his confidence. Not that anyone would be able to see that he was. The knight was taught better than that. Even if he was faltering, he couldn't let others see such a fault lest they loose confidence in him and eventually themselves. There would be time for self reflection later. That was part of his morning prayers after all.

Logan considered the song a little more. Why would the bard leave out a part of the story? Was there no significance to it? That seemed unlikely. Something must have happened between the birth and the hanging of the supposed witch. The paladin's brow furrowed in thought as he tried to put the pieces of the puzzle together only to find a few of them were missing. Hopefully they had figuratively fallen on the floor and he would be able to find out more at a later date. The haunting seemed suspiciously realistic given that it sounded like no one went near that castle. Then again, it could all be a trick or illusion put on by a resident of the castle to keep people away. All in all, the story created just as many questions as it answered. Regardless, if that was where the sheriff was indeed sending them, then the sheriff could hopefully fill in the details of this local legend.

A loud clank and the feeling that someone just whacked him with a club shook Logan out of his thoughts. After seeing what hit him, it might as well have been a club given the size of the large man's hands and the force whether intentional or not hit him with. Marion's smiling face and reminder that they should get going if they didn't want to be late for the sheriff was enough to get Logan to nod back in agreement. The knight then nodded at the bard, "Yes thank you good sir. I also hope we find what we are looking for and if it is legendary enough, I cannot think of anyone better to sing our song than you."

With a quick look for his other companions, Logan noticed the exotic elf and the child heading out, while the other elf and the woman who gave him the death stare seemed to still be in conversation with the man who was so excited not so long ago. Logan paused for a moment as he watched the trio. The small elf looked ecstatic about whatever the discovery was. The way she was slightly bouncing made him wonder how long it would take for her to completely lose control of her body and just dance her excitement away. Runa on the other hand reminded Logan of how he probably would have felt in a conversation with such intellectuals. It was here that he found at least one thing he could relate to her with. That was a start he supposed. Regardless, time was running short. "Go on ahead Kahuna. I'll catch up after I get the girls. You might want to make sure Zenalia and Charlie are headed in the right direction too."

Logan nodded to the warrior and then proceeded over to Akya and Runa being sure to stop where everyone could easily see him. The last thing he wanted to do was startle either of them. Were he to do so, he would probably freak Akya out and Runa... well Runa would probably deck him whether she knew it was him or not. "Ladies... I'm sorry to break up what I have no doubt is a very enlightening conversation, but our time is getting short. We have a meeting to be getting to, so I suggest you finish up whatever wonders you have discovered so we can be sure not to be late."


 
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