Bromern Sal A Shadow RDI Staff Karma: 145/11 3886 Posts
The response brought a strange image to the ranger's mind, but it also brought another image to Char's mind. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the street waif wrap herself back into her shadowy embrace and take the abused dragonkin with her. His lips pursed as he tore out the brightly colored tail feathers. Then, quite suddenly, he made a decision.
"So, wha' ya tink o' the two slingers?" His voice was low, carrying only to Dapple's ears.
(OOC: sorry, couldn't remember what I'd posted the question for and it confused all who read it, so I've edited the post.)
Posted on 2006-12-05 at 23:59:32.
Edited on 2006-12-07 at 20:05:59 by Bromern Sal
The waymeet was luxurious by Jal’s standards – or, at least, what his standards had been up until his return to Freegate anyway. Compared to the fetid, tumbledown hidey-holes of the back-alleys that he’d grown up in and especially to that cramped and moldy room in the Master’s tower, this place was a piece of the good life. He shuddered as the memory of that place came back to him. The Master seemed to be following him today, though… first, when the thri-kreen had laid him open and he had cursed himself for not being able to remember any of the spells the old codger had used to heal him while he carved away at his flesh, then, when those dark hands had reached for Wynter – she had screamed, then, much as she had the day the Master paid his visit to the mill – and now, recollections of that little, rat infested closet of a room… He was grateful for the chance, now, to splash some of the cool well-water on his face in an attempt to refresh his weary eyes and chase away those dark images. It had helped, for a time, to get the blood and road dirt washed off and to let the mind be still and rest a bit.
Look, my love, Wynter giggled a bit later, stirring him from his half sleep near the hearth, the dragon is back.
Jal smiled, more from relief at hearing Wynter’s voice than at the return of Sunset or the rather humorous exchange between the psuedodragon and Valentine’s familiar. “So I noticed, dear girl,” he replied. The little creature’s presence had rumbled his stomach with its odd sausage craving as it crept up under Dapple’s cloak. “You have been quiet, too,” he whispered, the taste for sausages inspiring him to dig through his pack in search of some herbs and spices that could help to season whatever game Char might bring back, “something troubles you?”
He hoped to goad her into telling him more about those hands or, at least, something that hinted at who they belonged to but… No, my spellbinder, she answered, nothing troubles me. I… I simply wished for you to rest… The spectral girl had fallen silent again and, at present, seemed to have slipped off to be on her own. He worried that his occasional prodding might irritate her and chase her off but he desperately wanted to know the meaning behind those hands.
“I’m sorry, my love,” he muttered as he felt her slip away, “I did not intend…” The urchin-mage sighed heavily, bundling the herbs and spices he had selected from his pack before closing it… Didn’t you? He chastised himself; You knew when you first mentioned it that she didn’t want to speak of it and yet you persisted… when she wishes you to know, she’ll tell you…
Shaking his head, Jal toes his pack aside and, clutching the bundle of seasonings, turns his eyes toward the fire and the shapes of the ranger and the rogue sitting just beyond. Neither of these two seemed the friendliest of sorts and both – particularly the woodsman who had gone to great and not unnoticed lengths to avoid him – seemed more than a little put off by Jal. The wizard didn’t quite understand why but he hoped he could perhaps help to rectify that by contributing more than simple magical skills to this venture… Tentatively he approached the hearth and regarded Char and Dapple with a look that was a mixture of curiosity and apology for intrusion… for, as he drew nearer, he realized that the two were in the midst of their own hushed conversation.
“Forgive the intrusion, gentlemen,” he offered a tired smile and his eyes ticked briefly to Sunset’s tail as it whipped out from under Dapple’s cloak then disappeared back into the folds of fabric, “I thought, perhaps, a bit of seasoning might serve to make those birds all the more tasty.” His stomach rumbled as he held out the bundle he had prepared, uncertain to which of them he should offer the thing; “I…if you like,” he suggested, “I…I could help to cook…”
((OOC: Not really expecting that Jal will be invited to sit and listen in on the convo, of course, and if he's "stared at blankly" or otherwise made to feel as if he's intruding, he'll simply leave the herbs and go tend to the business of the bug-mage's staff and amulet... The staff he'll decide to burn on he fire since it can't be used properly, but the amulet is another story... he'll share his discovery of it's properties with at least Talas and possibly Arien...))
Posted on 2006-12-07 at 10:12:13.
Raven Resident Finn RDI Staff Karma: 69/3 1004 Posts
OOC: Bound to be lots of mistakes and typos. No time to check, sorry.
Reaching the Waymeet brought more memories from their previous mission to Kilgim. He remembered vividly the strange sorceress and her silent guardian. Despite himself, the stout dwarf couldn't help the chill running down his spine as the images of the ominous couple flashed through his mind. There'd been something terrifying about them.
Kilgim shook off the uneasy feeling and led old Grumpy into the stable. The burn of the acid, though healed by magic, still reminded him of how close they'd once more come to losing one of their number so early into the trip. As he entered the main building, the bald priest suddenly noticed how tired he was. The battle had been fairly rough and exhausting for sure. And he'd used nearly all his powers to heal himself and his companions. But the weariness was something different.
He was no oracle or soothsayer, but he had a feeling the days to come would not bring anything nice and peaceful with them. Dwan was worried. He wouldn't send a group as experienced as theirs out on a simple scouting mission. He was worried something big was about to happen - something that might shake the very foundations of the Iron League. And if Dwan was worried, how could Kilgim not be. He put his faith in his elder cousin's leadership skills and wisdom, like he always had. And the attack of the gigantic bugs never seen this north before, only made the near future seem even more foreboding.
Going to offer to take the first watch, Kilgim kept the words to himself as Char beat him to it. The cleric's first thoughts were to decline the ranger's offer, but the weariness made him decide otherwise. Nodding his thanks to Char, he chose a spot to fill with his bedroll and blanket, and was soon sound asleep completely oblivious to the smell of sausages or anything else.
Posted on 2006-12-08 at 04:00:45.
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
She's actually talking!!!
Sunset appeared to forget her fright, or more likely, set it aside to figure out later. The dragonet settled into the folds of Dapple’s cloak, nibbling on a finger and radiating a reminder that spicy sausages were still much desired. That left Dapple little reason to ignore Char, and she looked over at him, then the two mages, her glance as always sliding away before it could provoke a return look. She looked down at her booted feet as she answered the ranger.
“They’re mages, Char,” she replied quietly,” and so are different from ordinary folk like us. Alloryn’s a noble, and her magical talents just made her more arrogant, but Arien kept her grounded, I think. With these two, who knows what drives them, or how they will be when things get tough. I mean, why would a mage, with all that power at his fingertips, carry around a sword?”
Dapple wondered at her own daring, speaking so much at once, and she waited for the lash of disapproval from within to silence her. Before she could say anything more, she lifted her head and spotted Jal approaching. She gave Char a discreet nudge with her elbow before turning an expressionless face up at the ragged spellcaster standing before them.
“Forgive the intrusion, gentlemen,” the youngish mage spoke tentatively, “I thought, perhaps, a bit of seasoning might serve to make those birds all the more tasty.” Dapple’s sensitive ears caught the sound of his stomach rumbling as he held out the bundle he had prepared, a look of uncertainty on his smudged face. “I…if you like,” he suggested, “I…I could help to cook…”
“Cooking would be good…I’m used to getting my meals in a tavern, not doing for myself,” Dapple replied, making a face at the dead, denuded birds at her feet, “Maybe if we really spice up one of these birds, we’ll get Sunset out of our heads and bellies for a while. “ A crooked smile lit up her sharp features in the firelight before fading away.
Posted on 2006-12-09 at 10:17:30.
Bromern Sal A Shadow RDI Staff Karma: 145/11 3886 Posts
Thoughtful silence, or...?
Char gave a slight nod at Dapple's assesment of the mages and then glanced up from underneath his brow and through his hair when she nudged him to see that spooky, unnatural approaching. When the wizard suggested he help cook Char was about to say he had it covered, but Dapple spoke up before he could. A chill settled in across the ranger's skin, setting goosebumps astride at the proximity to Jal. It was probably self-induced, but Char didn't care to think of it any further. Taking the birds up by the feet, he rose quickly to his feet, flipping his antler-handled knife in his hand so that the blade was now pointed out... towards Jal, though not necessarily in a threatening manner.
"Needs t' gut an' clean 'em firs'. Den ya be spicin' these ones up 'ere, bu' no' this'n. Don' much care fer the unnatural flavors." The ranger's eyes were hard and narrowed a bit as he strode towards the door. Cleaning the game would take place outside where the entrails could be ditched far enough away from the waymeet that it wouldn't cause problems by attracting scavengers.
Char returns some time later with the gutted birds. He tosses all but one down before Jal and without a word returns to his cross-legged seat near Dapple and Sunset. He'll wait his turn to cook the bird without spices, allowing those who are interested in the flavored meat a chance to get the other game cooked before roasting and eating a share of his.
Posted on 2006-12-09 at 14:04:25.
Edited on 2006-12-09 at 14:05:23 by Bromern Sal
Alacrity The Tired RDI Staff Karma: 291/33 6273 Posts
Rain, Rain, Rain ...Bear!
Dm’s note – Moving you ahead. Feel free to back post.
The evening passes without incident or invasion. The morning skies are filled with dark gloomy clouds threatening to make your travels miserable. You awake, do your individual routines and practices, and then prepare to head out. This day will take you to the end of the badlands of Iron League Country and then it will be mountainous terrain from then on.
By mid-morning the rain begins. It starts out slow, and then picks up after a few hours. By afternoon, it has become a heavy rain and the rocky ground is slick and muddy. You have moved into the foothills of the mountains. High cliffs and rocky outcroppings surround you. Rivers of rainwater form in every shallow gully and crevice.
Char scouts ahead as usual, but this day passes with no assaults or would-be thieves. Perhaps they have better sense than to be out on a day like today.
It is dark by the time you reach the final Waymeet of your journey. With all the rain and dreariness, you are all looking forward to shelter and a warm fire. But, you are all disappointed. Char brings back bad news that the Waymeet ahead has met with some misfortune – in the form of a large tree that has fallen through the roof. This apparently happened some time ago, now rot and decay have literally eaten away the shelter you were planning to use for the night.
You discuss the possibility of using the stone wall of the Waymeet as a place to rig a shelter for the night with the equipment you have. No one is looking forward to doing so in the rain and the chance of finding dry firewood now is extremely dim.
“There is a cave nearby,” Jal says quietly. “Could we could use that?”
Everyone stops and looks at the mage. He points towards the rocky cliffs to the west. “That way, about a quarter mile.” He relates, “It is rather large, and should hold all of us.”
OOC: I assume someone will want to ask questions here
Char heads off in the direction the mage pointed and looks ahead. It takes a while, but the Ranger does find the cave. It is deep within the bottom of a cliff, and consists of two chambers. One is very large, and goes straight a ways back. The other chamber is shallower but more twisty-turny. The smell from the smaller cave reveals to Char that there is an occupant here – a bear. Whatever it was, the source of Jal’s information had neglected to mention the bear.
Posted on 2006-12-10 at 10:15:48.
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
Picking up the threads of the game
The brief moment of almost companionship was past, and for Dapple, the wards were up, the drawbridge raised and the battlements fully manned. By the time Char returned with the cleaned and gutted birds, Dapple was lost in her own thoughts, her gaze haunted as she stared at the fire.
She portioned out her share of the spiced flesh with the dragonet, watching with cold amusement as the little creature stuffed itself beyond the ability to fly. “You assume that I’ll take care of you if you can’t fly away from danger,” she thought at the pseudodragon, wondering if it could hear her thoughts. “But I guess you are right at that.”
As Dapple settled for the night in a corner of the Waymeet, back firmly against the wall and facing the door, she wondered about Sunset's seeming attachment to her. She did nothing to keep the dragon with her, nor to even attract it’s attention, but still it seemed to return to her after visiting briefly with the others. Your hands set it free whispered the dry voice within, but it is still caged within its mind. Once the creature realizes it is truly free, it will be gone.
“Everyone leaves eventually,” she muttered to herself. “I don’t care.”
The constant rain hammered at Dapple’s mood, and the condition of the Waymeet sunk her into a deeper gloom. Trying to tell herself that she felt nothing was hard when she was soaked to the skin, and she had started to shiver, pale flesh rising in goosebumps. When Jal spoke up about a cave, she felt a brief thrill of excitement, replaced by a chill colder than that of her wet skin.
“How the hell do you know that, Spellbinder,” she asked coldly,” when Char does not? You don’t strike me as someone who left the city to stroll the countryside.” Unfriendly eyes bored into Jal’s, demanding an answer.
OOC: Not posting anything about the bear, as I assume Char went scouting alone, and so is the only one who knows about it.
Posted on 2007-01-02 at 09:50:53.
Edited on 2007-01-02 at 18:01:34 by Vanadia
At the Waymeet
Whether it was Char’s intention to be threatening with the blade or not, Jal noticeably flinched and nearly cowered away when the point of the knife flipped around and aimed in his direction. Up until that moment, Jal had hoped that he might have gone a step towards breaking the ice between himself and these other two (who seemed to be the most wary and untrusting of him for some reason) but, confronted with the glinting point of the antler-hilted blade, even the rogue’s uncommonly inviting smile had been chased away. Any hopes he had entertained of a ‘normal’ conversation had already been skewered on that knife. The ranger was saying something about the birds needing to be cleaned and how he preferred for his game to be untouched by spices but all the mage could think about at the moment was how many times the Master had turned a blade on him like that… and what the gesture had often led to afterwards.
After that, Jal kept his distance and his silence – though he did keep his promise to help cook and did so without a word when Char returned and dumped the birds at his feet – for the rest of the night, mumbling only to himself on occasion before drifting off into a fitful sleep. Dreams of the Master carving spells into his flesh tormenting him for several hours… Countered by Wynter’s whispered singing coaxing him back to sleep.
The next day
The urchin-mage had maintained his silence throughout much of the next day’s traveling – he had spoken once or twice to Talas but neither conversation had amounted to much aside from comments on the trail and the miserable weather. Occasionally, too, through the pouring and running of rainwater, the Spellbinder could be heard muttering to himself (or whatever invisible force it was he so often chattered to). Aside from those moments, though, the only words Jal had spoken to the others that day didn’t come until Char returned with his report on the sad state of the waymeet where they were to have spent the night.
“There is a cave nearby,” Jal said quietly and, even then, only at Wynter’s urging, “Could we could use that?”
Everyone had stopped and looked at him then… the expressions were unreadable, at first, but there was something a bit disconcerting in the gazes that were leveled at him. Jal was hesitant then to reveal anything more…
And suffer the night in the damp and gloom?, Wynter chastised, as he shivered in the heavy folds of his saturated cloak, You’ll catch your death of cold, my love… all of you.
Still somewhat reluctantly, Jal pointed towards the rocky cliffs where the phantasmal girl had indicated the cave could be found. “That way, about a quarter mile,” he said. “It is rather large, and should hold all of us.”
“How the hell do you know that, Spellbinder,” Dapple demanded, startling the odd little mage a bit, “when Char does not? You don’t strike me as someone who left the city to stroll the countryside.” The boy was glaring at him and, he sensed, so were the others.
Jal’s gut told him to run… he’d spoken of Wynter to other people in other places and had found himself chased from town as a madman… other folk had wished to hang or burn him… No, the knowledge Wynter imparted to him he was more than willing to share but experience had taught him that revealing the source was not always the safest of decisions.
Gwanelle knows and she doesn’t seek your demise, my Spellbinder, Wynter cooed, her ghostly fingers stroking his cheek. The girl’s face materialized through the rain before him, smiling softly as if to reassure him. And wasn’t it Gwanelle that placed you among these people? Do you think she would have done so if any of them would kill you for it? They’ll need to know sometime, Jal, my love…
He nodded faintly as she dissipated from his sight and, somewhat sheepishly, fixed the young rogue in his pale eyes; “Wynter…Wynter told me,” he said softly. “She… she tells me things… shows me things…”
((OOC: don’t want to get too far ahead, I suppose… Good to be back in action ))
Adrian smiled at the misery of the others. This was half the reason he wanted to march with the Grays. Long campaigns in harsh weather, a chance to show his endurance, and besides - he loved rain.
For the first few hours at least. At that point he *seriously* considered unleashing some magic or grabbing a useful item from his stash. He formulated a plan of having an unseen servant carry shelter over them...
Nah, save it for when they need it. A little water is good for you.
Valentine remained conspiring of new ways to use his gifts, including specultions about the others, especially that dragon. Spicy sausage was not in his diet, but he was aware of their telepathic abilities. Perhaps he could later convince Killer to let him inspect the creature. It's possible it was another familiar at one time. Maybe it has secrets of the art to share.
His thoughts remained along these lines all the way until they find their "rest" area. It wasn't in any shape.
"I can conjure supplies to make a viable shelter, including fire, if you wish..." he piped up.
Jal responded with mention of a cave. Perhaps saving resources would again be appropriate. Nonetheless, he always had his tiny hut at his fingertips. It was at least enough for him and his rodent to get a decent sleep.
Posted on 2007-01-03 at 12:16:56.
Edited on 2007-01-03 at 12:18:57 by Admiral
For Talas the rain falling from the sky as they approached the Waymeet was just another way of knowing he was yet alive and free. If he had still been a captive warrior he would have been watching this rain fall through the bars of his indoor cell.
With the findings of Char relied to them that the Waymeet they headed for was in fact destroyed a discussion of possible alternatives ensured.
Talas not really familiar with the area chose to remain quiet as the others debated their next course of action.
Here it was then that his friend Jal did speak up.
“There is a cave nearby, Could we could use that?”
Everyone had stopped and looked at the little mage then as if not believing what he was saying and to Talas it seemed one or two even appeared hostile.
“That way, about a quarter mile,” Jal continued. “It is rather large, and should hold all of us.”
Then it seemed it was as Talas feared as the boy thief stepped forward as if in threat
“How the hell do you know that, Spellbinder,” Dapple demanded “when Char does not? You don’t strike me as someone who left the city to stroll the countryside.”
Moving slowly as to hopefully not appear threating,Talas moved himself somewhat in front of Jal and gave Dapple a look as to tell him to calm down, but did not speak.
“Wynter…Wynter told me,” The mage said softly from somewhat to the right of Talas “She… she tells me things… show me things…”
With the party all staring at each other and Jal, a sort of stalemate set in each awaiting the words of the others and that of their leader as to what to do next…..
Posted on 2007-01-03 at 18:26:44.
Bromern Sal A Shadow RDI Staff Karma: 145/11 3886 Posts
On the road again.
Char had left early that morning, mounting Northwind and riding ahead to scout the countryside after casting a considering gaze towards the dark heavens. He knew it was going to rain before it started, knew in his bones that it would be a heavy and cold pour, but he wasn't bothered by it. There were few creatures that preferred the rain so Char figured that the worst they could hope for would be a mudslide and that suited him just fine.
That sentiment hadn't remained as benign when he discovered the waymeet in its tattered state. Cursing, the ranger had rode back into the midst of his companions and revealed their plight. He was about to say that he'd return to the trail seeking something that offered at least some shelter when Jal spoke. The man creeped Char out despite his cryptic statement, but the knowledge of farseeing he possessed caused imaginary spiders to crawl in droves up and down the ranger's spine. Despite himself, the rugged mountain man's mud-streaked face hardened and his eyes narrowed, but it was Dapple who spoke first, obviously just as unnerved as he was... and Jal's answer did little to defuse the situation.
Char had heard the ex-red's comment about magically conjuring some shelter, but the remark was shelved for later investigation in the face of Jal's revelation. Wha' in the nine 'ells!? Char felt the ridge of his nose crinkle with suspicion. The big galute of a gladiator had moved in front of Spellbinder as though to protect him from any harm that Dapple might be intending and Char used that opportunity to turn his head and peer through the rain in the direction the wizard had indicated. From his position atop Northwind's back, the ranger could make out only the faint shape of the mountainside groping for the sunlight that had to be hovering above the cloudline. Ain' no way this feller seen up der.
"Stay pu'," the ranger muttered. "I be fer doin' a li'l scoutin'."
That said, Char turned Northwind on a coin and put his boot heel to flank. It took no small effort to find the cave through the downpour and unfamiliar terrain, but Char did so, dismounting from his stallion to scramble up a short incline rife with slippery mud, further covering his arms and legs in the stuff. At the entrance, Char slipped an arrow to his bow and crouched slightly as he entered. He padded softly through the poorly lit entrance, moving about the cave until the darkness within threatened to deny him his vision. About him were the telltale signs that an animal called the cave home; bones, dried offal, matted hair. It was then that he smelled the animal slumbering within, heard its heavy, even breathing, and made out the shape of the beast.
Northwind thundered to a stop in front of the wet and tired crew, Char reigning in just in time to cause the heaving animal to slide to a stop a few feet from Dapple.
"Aye," the ranger said, casting a suspicious look Jal's way. Who's dis Wyn'r dat tells 'im tings? An' 'ow'd it know 'bout da cave, bu' no' the bear? "Der be a cave. Two cham'ers, bu' be sore press'd we be t' fin' quie' comf'rt seein' as be der a bear a'ready sleepin' tight widdin.
"We no' be sleepin' der dis nigh'." Char wasn't about to allow for the animal to be uprooted, especially since doing so would likely mean unecessary combat with a peaceful and simple beast. He scanned the faces of his companions while water coursed through his tangled hair, waiting for a challenge to his decision. They could use the waymeet as partial shelter, or Valentine's offered magical shelter (though that didn't sit too well with the ranger either) for all he cared, but he'd not condone disturbing the bear at this point, provided he had a choice. His gaze paused on Spellbinder's face for a moment, cold, icy blue eyes trying to see into the man's soul, to read the natural meaning behind his strangeness. Who be Wyn'r 'nyways?
Jal shrank a bit from the suspicious and scrutinizing eyes that were trained on him and cast a questioning glance at Wynter who lingered nearby; “Why did you not mention the bear, my love,” he whispered, half-hidden behind Talas’ hulking form (and, currently, more than happy to be shielded so as the limited trust the others may have had in him seemed to have been stripped), “First bandits that turn out to be nothing more than boys and now a cave with a bear?”
I knew of the bear, Wynter returned, but I didn’t think it was a concern. Does this one’s kind not have the capacity to speak with beasts, her ethereal arm swept out to indicate Char, causing Jal’s eyes to follow and come to rest uncomfortably on the glaring woodsman; perhaps he could simply ask permission to use the shelter? Or, the ghostly girl continued, between yourself, dear Jal, and this Valentine, I’m sure that the creature can be convinced to remain a-slumber…There was a skittering mote of light dancing behind her eyes and, Jals was sure, at any moment, that mote would spill forth in the ghostly equivalent of tears… I’m sorry, my love. Have I gotten you into trouble?
The mage couldn’t help but smile at Wynter’s answers and suggestions and he found himself on the verge of reaching out a hand to touch her cheek… “No, dear girl. All will be well,” …but then he remembered that the others were watching… and listening. His gaze ticked nervously from Wynter to the soaking knot of adventurers and the tender, loving smile diminished, turning instead to something more appropriate to apology and embarrassment.
“Wynter…” Jal began, stepping from behind the protective wall that was Talas and nodding a silent thanks to the gladiator as he did so. He swallowed and tried his best to meet the ranger’s stern glare; “Wynter imagined that you… Char… could ask the bear for permission to share the cave,” he explained, “or that, through the use of our skills, that Adrian or I could perhaps keep the animal asleep whilst we rested...”
He glanced back over his shoulder at the spot where Wynter last floated, offered another smile, and then turned to the living members of the party again. “She… she has a great confidence in my abilities, it would seem,” the odd little mage seemed as if he might be blushing, though it was difficult to say for sure through the rain, “and… I suppose, of your’s, as well… I don’t… I don’t think that she intended any harm…”
((OOC: Just “running with it”… ))
Posted on 2007-01-04 at 10:46:04.
Vanadia Den Mother RDI Staff Karma: 111/12 1188 Posts
A bear...minor detail...hardly worth mentioning...
Dapple survived in a world where the odds were stacked against her by knowing when to run, when to fight, and when to bluff. None of those options seemed truly viable here, so under her rain-heavy cloak, she shivered with both cold and repressed adrenaline. When Talas stepped forward to place himself between Dapple and the oddling mage, Dapple almost laughed at the idea of her attacking a mage openly. She settled for a “you have got to be kidding” look towards the gladiator, but opened her hands and arms wide to show an absence of weapons.
But when your hands ARE your weapons, how do you disarm yourself? mocked the bitter voice within, but Dapple ignored it. Instead, she nodded grimly when Char said that he’d scout for the so called cave.
“Wynter…Wynter told me,” Spellbinder muttered from somewhat to the right of Talas “She… she tells me things… show me things…”
Dapple glanced quickly at Arien and then to Adrian, hoping they had more of a clue of what the mage was talking about. Arien had been very quiet of late, but he did have more experience with Alloryn’s magical ways than any of them, and well, Adrian was another mage. When she didn’t see a reaction from either of them (damn! Is being inscrutable part of a mage’s training?), she figured she was the only one rude enough to force the issue.
“Who or what is a winter?” she asked, but tried for a calmer tone to not provoke the gladiator. “Is that your familiar, or maybe one of those, uh, unseen servants? I’m thinking we don’t have another pseudodragon around or Sunset would have given some sign of it. So…”friend”…spill. I’ve had enough of your mutterings without a bit of explanation.”
Char thundered back at that moment, and his big horse slid to a halt within a few feet of Dapple. She sidestepped the spatter of mud thrown up by enormous hooves and gave Char a sour look. The ranger’s news, however, made her forget the near collision.
The mage’s stuttering explanation did nothing to actually explain, and Dapple’s blonde eyebrows crept higher and higher towards her hood edge as the man spoke. He plays games with your lives, and you would be fools to listen to his counsel!
“Intended any harm?” Dapple grated through a throat gone tight,” Let’s bunk with a bear and maybe we can sing him to sleep!? Are you mad? Do you think we are?”
Dapple couldn’t look at the fool anymore without her hands wanting to clench into killing fists, so she shook her head and instead looked at the others. Her rain-streaked face, framed with draggled curls, was angry, confused and somehow pleading.
“Who or what is a winter,” the rogue demanded, “Is that your familiar, or maybe one of those, uh, unseen servents? I’m thinking we don’t have another psuedodragon around or Sunset would have given some sign of it. So… friend…” the lad spit the word as if it were a curse rather than any sort of endearment, “spill. I’ve had enough of your mutterings without a bit of explanation.”
Jal shrank bank a bit in the face of Dapple’s barrage. Firstly, because the lad had just strung together more words at a single time than he had in the few short days Jal had known him and, secondly, because he was truly at a loss as how to explain Wynter to make the rogue understand… A familiar? No…Jal pondered as he blinked rapidly against the flury of Dapple’s questioning… A familiar would serve to impart knowledge of magic and the like. Wynter has never done such a thing; though, I suppose, she has offered encouragement and guidance at times…Unseen servant? Definitely not… Unseen to all of you, perhaps, but not a servant…never that…
Still looking a bit puzzled, Jal had opened his mouth to speak – though he had no idea what he might tell the lad – when Char came thundering back into their midst and informed them of the bear that currently occupied the cave he had suggested at Wynter’s urging. He had tried to explain it to them again but defining Wynter and how she… how any still-Oerth-bound spirit perceived things and worked around them. There had been more than one time in the past when the ghost-girl had asked him to follow her only to disappear through the wall ahead of them, for instance. Even if Wynter hadn’t seen the bear, its presence in the cave wouldn’t have been a consideration for her… she may have wanted to know if it was a cute bear, or if it was a cuddly bear but, otherwise, she wouldn’t have wondered or worried any more over it. The more Jal sought the words to make the rest understand, though, the more he found he agitated Dapple (and, likely, the rest as well).
At least this lot speaks to you, Jal, Wynter noted, her voice fading a bit as if the conversation was boring her and she was wandering off in pursuit of more entertaining diversion, the last scarcely noticed you unless they needed a spell or some such…
Jal’s gaze had shifted, following the diminishing voice, but snapped quickly back when Dapple, once again, angrily challenged Wynter’s motives (as Jal saw it anyway).
“Intended any harm?” Dapple grated through a throat gone tight, “Let’s bunk with a bear and maybe we can sing him to sleep!? Are you mad?...”
“Perhaps,” Jal replied simply… early on, when he realized that he saw people that others didn’t, the urchin-mage had questioned his own sanity on several occasions – even now, at times, he found himself brooding over the state of his own mind but then Wynter was always there to bring him back by reminding him that the ability to question ones own sanity was surely the sign of a lucid mind; “Many seem to think so, and I’ve been called far worse…”
“…Do you think we are?”
“No,” the urchin-mage said, shaking his head before reaching up to push aside the rain-soaked strands of hair that had become plastered to his face, “I do not.” His gaze ticked, following the lad’s exasperated glances, from the face of one party member to the next. He sighed heavily and glanced up at Talas for an instant, then turned his ice-hued eyes back on Dapple; “But I don’t think that you would understand even were I to explain it… The dead do not see the world as you might, Dapple Moon,” he shook his head slowly, turned and moved to haul himself back into the saddle, “or any of the rest of you, for that matter…”
Jal! You’re being rude!
“I begin to wonder if I even care,” Jal snapped back, now openly conversing with the nothingness rather than trying to hide behind mumbling and muttering, “Even were I to explain it, they’d not understand!
And why shouldn’t I be rude? From the moment I left that damnable tower, people have treated me no better than he did! Thrown stones at me… spit on me… hid their children at the sight of me… called me evil, mad,” he shot a glare in the rogue’s direction, “Spooky!”
Not Gwanelle, Wynter reminded him softly, and what of your new friend, Talas?
“No,” the mage replied, lowering his voice again, “not Gwanelle, dear Wynter…” And Talas… his gaze turned in the direction of the big gladiator… so far, aside from Wynter, Talas was the closest thing he had ever had to a true friend but Jal wasn’t sure that the man really understood. Neither was he sure the man would remain his friend after this…
“Let us find some shelter from this weather,” he sighed, once more tugging the rain-heavy folds of his cloak about him, “and then, if you’ll listen, I shall do my best to explain…”
What are you going to tell them, my Spellbinder, Wynter asked curiously as Jal, without waiting for a reply from the rest, urged his horse away from the group.
“I don’t know, my love,” he mumbled, “Everything?”
Posted on 2007-01-05 at 10:20:10.
Bromern Sal A Shadow RDI Staff Karma: 145/11 3886 Posts
Char stared with narrowed eyes as Jal went on about Wynter. The word "dead" registered as well as a number of additional words--some even forming sentences in the ranger's mind. What actually came together to solidify as something coherent was a mix of perceived notion brought on by the recent ramblings and concessions of the mage, and bard's stories. As was human nature, Char's hearing was selective and the word "dead" led the march.
"Necr'manc'r," the ranger hissed, his hands dropping to rest upon the hilts of his strangely curved swords. The word was uttered in a low whisper so that it could barely be heard by one as close as Dapple and then, only so much as if they were really concentrating. The last thing he wanted to do was give a necromancer cause to "fire up".
He remained on edge, saddled and ready to pounce should Jal give him any reason to.
It was then that a voice of reason penetrated his fear. After all, the troop had been formed, not come together by accident. Why would people who weren't trustworthy be sent on such a mission? Char didn't like it, but he was going to have to overcome his misgivings of both mages to at least a point where they could operate. Dunna 'afta like 'em, Char-lad. Jus' work wit dem. Such a conclusion was not a quick process for the mountain man. It wasn't that he was slow and dumb, but more that he preferred the natural to the unnatural and mages were very unnatural. This deliberation, with its conclusion still in minor debate, was ended when Jal mounted up and took to the road in a snuff.
The ranger blinked away the rain and then wheeled Northwind about to give chase. Stealing himself against the proximity, he pulled in the reigns just as he came parallel to the wizard.
"Th' cave'll no' do," he worked his jaw to loosen the reflexively tightened muscles as thier horses sogged along the trail. For a moment, Char wondered if he'd "passed through" the spirit Jal had been conversing with. Then an even more disturbing thought flitted across the ranger's brain: what if they were always walking through dead things!? He quickly fought through the shiver that overtook his spine and continued. "Da waymeet be rubble an' I no' 'ave any luck findin' somet'in' proper." With a sigh, he glanced back at where Valentine endured the weather. It was almost painful to make this concession. "So, if'n one er two o' you spellslingers'd kindly make somethin' dry an' warm where's we can' take 'r res'... I won' be objectin'."
By da gods! Dat was bloody 'ard 'nuff! Their last jaunt together had been hard enough without them at each other's throats all the time. Char'd followed enough troops around to know that infighting did not lead to success, and he'd be a stuck pig if he were to be the cause of that.