The bard offered a laughter to the night and it was gobbled into its folds. Even Shepherd was impressed by the way the man could so quickly dissolve the awkwardness into the air. Shepherd may have many talents but relating to others was not one of them and he was even grateful for the cleansing the ambience had been sent through with the ringings of wonderful laughter.
"I'm glad." Shepherd replied to the grinning man responding with a smile of his own. His face remained as fixed as stone but yet his eyes suddenly lightened and seemed young and full again as they looked into the bard's.
The man was astute as well or learned at least. He had picked up on the fear of wolves that harbored in the unconsciousness of all Balding Bear residents. Shepherd's face was slowly becoming the friendly face that he had worn regularly centuries ago and now only seldom sported.
The bard had a soft-spot for alcohol which Shepherd was somehow not surprised to see in this jovial man. Shepherd drank very rarely, he had nothing against it and would be the first to advocate for its taste, he just did not have the money or the company to support such a habit. Perhaps...
Shepherd saw what was happening a moment before it happened. It was a vigorous throwing back of the head and what may have even been intended to be a kick of the leg. In the end the whole body was tossed backward while both legs fumbled over each other slipped from the others' feet and it seemed to be implying a crash of epic proportions but Shepherd had starting moving first and the pipe had been cashed, latched to his belt and both hands had dived out catching the collapsing man and re-righting him on his feet, all in the matter of seconds.
Shepherd leaned back and looked at the bard. "You best watch yourself." There was a pause then "Shepherd" the face was unchanged but the eyes were now dancing with laughter and happiness, a strange combination of both youth and age. Many a man had been fascinated by his eyes, hours could be spent staring into them and to have the opportunity to see them in the state they were in now could fill any soul with unquenchable joy.
Bezmir couldn't halp but start laughing again. "Seems I wanted those last few drops just a little too much. Thanks for catching me. Oh, by the way, do you know anything of that woman over there? Not many people have the gold to spare on the homeless, unless she's just that kind."
Bezmir dug around in his bag until pulling out three knives, and he then began to juggle them.
"I wasn't always a bard, but I've always been a performer. I've been in theatre troupes, circuses, all kidns of things. But I found music one day, and something about the songs just felt...almost magical."
He kept juggling while talking, though his eyes never went towards the knives. He missed though, and one sliced his hand a bit. He cursed, dropped all three, and looked down at his bleeding hand.
"Hahaha. Well, I guess that's what you get from mixing liqour, good conversation, and sharp objects."
From a formal meeting of two unacquainted men to a cheery and entertaining atmosphere. It was quite the scene that was played out before her. Two men both outcast from the town for one reason or another finding an easy friendship between each other. The very edges of her lips curled into a smile when the bard nearly fell over backwards. He didn't seem drunk; just enjoying being alive. Once again the other man's expression didn't change aside from a smile but his eyes lit up brighter than the moon settled in a black sky. It quickly became apparent to her that he had been among many crowds but without a true companion for a long time. His age was not reflected by his looks though there was vast knowledge behind the mask he wore.
There was a genuine connection as their energies were intertwined creating a unique feel. Unlike the mood of the inn, there was joy and innocence. A child's view of the world looking from the eyes of men. An untainted vision of what mattered most had always been from the child's perspective. No amount of money or goods could replace a laugh that ripped through the body from the heart of the soul.
Knives were drawn by the bard and her thoughts were once again on the two men. Zau listened to his story and found it amazing how something so simple as music could turn someone's whole life around. She wondered if the bard had always been searching for a place in which people truly appreciated his gifts. Perhaps the man, Sheperd was what he said his name was, had also been searching for something he had long lost; unlike herself. Zau had been for something she never had.
The bard juggled the knives amusingly until he slipped and a few drops of blood were absorbed into the ground. She knew they were curious about her and although it would add to their interest, she pulled out a few leaves from her bag and walked up to the bard. Zau took his bloody hand and turned it so it was on a slight angle that was just enough to let the blood drip.
The leaves easily crumpled in her fist and a thin stream of juice dripped onto the wound. Zau let the withered leaves fall from and then turned her hand palm up. A small amount of bandages appeared and she wrapped them tightly around his hand. A small stain of red appeared but the bleeding stopped at that. A small step back out of the shadows caused the moonlight to brightly reflect from her aqua eyes giving them a mysterious shimmer. White light diluted the color of her hair making it more platinum than blond. She held her hands in front of her and looked each man in the eye.
"My name is Zau." Soft spoken words yet they held the world to her.
Bezmir gasped as the stinging in his hand abated, and the blood ceased to flow, and the wound closed. He stared in amazement and the now faint line that had once been a cut. He heard the whisper, picked out the words, and pieced the to gather information. He stood and gave a flambouyant bow.
"Good evening, Zau. I must thank you for the aid you have given my hand." He nearly doubled over laughing. "Gosh I really suck at formalities. My name is Bezmir. I see you have a certain talent. I'm assuming that's not the limits. How coincidental. I also have a talent. Two talents, actually, but one isn't very special. It seems I have the power to...stir emotions, as it were, through music. I don't know how else to explain it. The one I consider not so special is empathy. I can tell that both of you have something pressing heavily on your mind. You, dear Shepherd, haven't had a true road companion in a while, far longer then I guess I'll ever suspect. You, lady Zau, will need to speak with me further for me to guess anything more then you have a special bond with nature and it's creatures, and that you most definitely have more pressing matters then to speak with a bard and a traveler."
An amused smile tugged her lips at Bezmir's display of attempted formalities. It was easy to experience his explained talents as she felt comfortable among the men. "Good evening," she replied with a small nod towards each. "And you're welcome." Even among Sheperd's more quiet approach to company, there was still a welcoming air about him.
Zau tilted her head in the slightest gesture of interest towards Bezmir though her eyes revealed more of just how intent she was listening. It amazed her how observant he was in just a short amount of time. Her eyes slid to Shepherd at the mention of his name and then back to Bezmir. She had never really considered the relationship she had with nature special; it was merely what she grew up with. As for her other "talent", she looked up and said, "Though I may have a certain gift, it is not much practiced." Normally she would not give any detail about her gift let alone show her power to any human.
"The moon is still high," she said looking towards the sky. "What's a little time with good men before dusk?" Though her gaze lowered, she was still looking off into the distance. "Judging by your bags, you were not planning to stay here for much longer. Where is it you were planning to go?" For as far as she could see, there was no open plains to travel to the next town. Noticing he didn't have much traveling gear with him, it would be unwise to travel the forest unless one had years of experience.
Her attention was turned to Shepherd when she spoke again, "You are traveling without a true destination, but with a purpose. What is it you are looking to find?" The curiosity behind her eyes gave them a faint blue glow. Sheperd seemed more knowledgeable when it came to traveling through unknown land. Perhaps it was the years of wisdom that was evident with his words and actions. She couldn't help the thought that perhaps their paths were somehow connected. Even if it were only this brief meeting, each would walk away with more than they could have expected.
For now, the present was a comfortable place for thoughts and words. With a future meeting scheduled with the sprite, there was no need to rush time the time that would still drift at its own pace.
Posted on 2008-12-08 at 22:31:25.
Edited on 2008-12-08 at 22:39:45 by Zau
Shepherd was beginning to feel relaxed as the bard performed and began to juggle. He still kept his eye on the streets, specifically the woman and the homeless man, but allowed himself to calm somewhat with the humorous bard. A rapid slip of he knives drew a trickle of blood from the entertainer's hand and before Shepherd could make a move the lady had arrived and had cured and bandaged it.
So, just as he had suspected, there was more to this woman than a midnight stroll through Balding Bear. Zau was her name and it seemed these four words meant more to her than just a greeting. Perhaps this was something not everyone was privy to.
Bezmir, he said his name was now and Shepherd was glad to finally learn it. He did seem to have some kind of gift with words and music and Shepherd was glad for it, he had not spoken a friendly word in too long a time and this was the perfect context.
It seemed that Bezmir had a certain level of perception as well that was not common to the average human Shepherd had met. It was true he had not travelled with a companion in so long. He had had his share of fellow travelers. Their weight was always on his shoulders and yet he had put those thoughts, those memories to the back of his mind and now they came fluttering back into his realm of consciousness. Shepherd silenced the past, the present was where he was and was meant to be. The welcoming air did not disappear from him and neither did his expression. It seemed that Zau and Bezmir had found a certain kinship as well. Shepherd was glad for that. Zau had a certain longing or loneliness in her. There was a past long gone in her. And yet, it seemed recently stirred into her mind just as his own had been.
"You are traveling without a true destination, but with a purpose. What is it you are looking to find?" Zau had turned to him and Shepherd looked at her, her eyes held a blue glow of curiosity and Shepherd thought, how much should he tell them?
"I'm something of a passer through. Shepherd means much more to my identity than just a name." Shepherd smiled gently at the end of his statement. A smile so rarely seen. They were a small few that were still living that had seen his smile and they're ghosts carried the warm memory of Shepherd's smile which gave great joy to all around and created a certain rare feeling of comfort and certainty in life. Shepherd's eyes met her blue hue with a kindness. He could not tell them more. For his own safety but more importantly for their safety. And yet, Zau had a mission of her own, this was no home that she planned on settling down in and even Bezmir had his own quest, whether he knew what it was yet was another question.
"And you, you are not a permanent member of the Balding Bear community, I'm sure."
Posted on 2008-12-09 at 05:47:28.
Edited on 2008-12-16 at 05:48:55 by Dragonblood
Bezmir looked at Shepherd. Something inside told him this question was a bad idea, but bad ideas were what made life fun.
"So Shepherd, does that mean you're here to keep us from the proverbial wolf?"
Even as he said this he hoped that Shepherd didn't take offense and attack him or anything. Bezmir could hold his own against a normal person, but the hulking frame of this man intimidated him just a hair.
Deep down, Bezmir had found a happiness, a content feeling with his company, that hadn't matched any other group he had ever traveled with. When Zau asked for their destination, he had no clue how to answer. He hadn't given it any thought himself. All he knew is that there was something magnetic to him about Shepherd, and just like a lamb, he would follow this man until whatever end came.
It was said that a person's eyes revealed most about the soul. For Shepherd, conversation had stirred a few fragmented thoughts of the past, if not a memory long buried. Bittersweet times that had long since passed and Zau and Bezmir were a simple reminder. He also seemed to understand her past and the path she chose for the future. After she had asked her question, a battle of words seemed to be taking place as for which ones to use within his mind. Her curiosity increased as she listened to his answer. Very simple yet held the world. His words held a weight of kindness; the type that held so much power from being withheld for so long.
So then who was the man standing before her? She decided not to press anymore questions but let their stories unfold as needed. If it were meant to be known, it would be in time. "A permanent resident of the town no," She lightly shook her head. "I have only been here since a few hours before sundown and was planning to leave a few hours before dusk. The world is my home with no one place particularly visited more than another." She had always traveled along the most current path.
Each town she came across was new to her and held some form of disappointment when she found no one who could help her with her questions. She picked up a few treasures here and there in the towns which was mostly why she would visit them. Subconsciously she brought a hand to hold the strap of her bag. Among her traveling, mountains and plains were no obstacle but they held less things of interest; she loved the forest best.
She turned a little sharper than intended towards Bezmir when he mentioned a wolf. Narrow featured softened as Bezmir reminded her of a small child exploring the world with its mother for the first time. Unsure and yet so eager. A bond of true companionship had formed between the two men even if one had not been fully aware. A soft laugh faded from her lips as quickly as it had been heard. Bezmir and Shepherd each had a path that intertwined at this very moment allowing each to explore old feelings of friendship. The idea that perhaps they could all travel together, even for a time, was not one that she would allow to become a conscious thought. Hope led to disappointment but it didn't mean that the feelings weren't still there.
"What is this proverbial wolf of which you speak?" She asked bringing herself from her thoughts.
The excited tones in his voice made her wonder how long the townspeople had been bothered by the thought of the wolf. Being around animals on a daily basis, Zau couldn't quite understand why a wolf would roam even close to a town. They stayed in packs only hunting in order to stay alive in the cycle of nature and fighting only to protect themselves. Surely the townspeople did not travel the forest disrupting the balance. It would have been more than easy for her to pick up the presence of humans based on certain tracks they left. Her eyes traveled to the opposite side of the town where the forest began again. Was it from there that the wolves and humans were crossing each others' boundaries? Still, it was not her place to interfere with bonds shared by nature, even if they were disrupting balance.
"I'm not sure what the said wolf would be. I was hoping our friend Shepherd might have a clue." Bezmir looked at the man who, although just meeting, he felt as if he had shared an entire childhood with him in a simple look. He turned to Zau, and offered her a seat. His brown eyes kept darting back and forth between the enigmatic Zau and the emotionally suppressed Shepherd, waiting for some sort of communication between the two.
Shepherd drew a deep breath from his pipe and listened to Bezmir's question, allowing the smoke to slip form his lips. This young man had so much passion for life, so much curiosity. There was a world out there to be met by wide-eyed wonder and tears for him, Shepherd saw there was yet a long path within the bard's heart that held so much more than singing songs in bars. He was fun and entertaining and yet there was a vivacious quality that would serve Bezmir in ways he could not imagine. Shepherd watched him closely, how interesting humans could be...
"So Shepherd, does that mean you're here to keep us from the proverbial wolf?"
Shepherd almost smiled at the question a gentle laughter slipping into his eyes. It was more true than Bezmir could know. How could he tell him the evil of the world the dark breath that wafted through the streets seeking to fill men's hearts, the smoke of malice that drifted through caves filling their crooks with shadows darker than blackness.
Shepherd turned to Zau, she had travelled far and wide already and held the dust of the world on the soles of her shoes and yet naught but the forest's dew lingered on her soul. She was not human, but Shepherd had known that from the moment he had seen her.
She shared a dialogue with Bezmir, they sought to know so much of this so-dubbed 'proverbial wolf'. Shepherd felt a closeness had crept into the corners of his heart and he hid the hurt that this touched him with. He could not travel with these two though he knew that the desire, whether conscious or unconscious, had filled the atmosphere. It was too dangerous for both of them. Zau would be pulled from the mission that guided her steps, there was a path she bore... how could he distract her from it. He could not show Bezmir the world through his eyes, he would steal the youth from the musician before he had truly drank of that abundant cup. As for himself, well... There was only one thing that could be done, end this interaction now. Shepherd rose from his seat, tapping the ash from the bowl of his pipe and restoring it. Before he could speak, a clatter of feet upon the cobblestone road rang down the street and Shepherd turned to see the town watchment running towards them.
"Wolves! The wolves are coming!" He was screaming, there was a bone-chilling tremor in his voice and Shepherd saw an unnatural terror in his eyes. What were these abysmal wolves that haunted the quiet Balding Bear. The hairs on Shepherd's neck pricked up and he turned his head to the alleyway that had borne the homeless shape... it was now empty. Where had the form slipped off to in such a rush? There was something at foot here, something proverbial about these wolves... Shepherd turned to the two he had been sharing discussion with.
"Please warn everyone to hide, they may protect themselves if necessary but under no circumstances should the go out to meet these beasts. Spread this news between the town, I will meet the wolves who seek my sheep." Shepherd said to them staring into both of their eyes. He was not sure that they would do as he asked but he turned from them and strode towards the forest. The hourglass was emptying itself and still there was so much to understand.
Posted on 2008-12-19 at 05:21:01.
Edited on 2008-12-19 at 20:28:51 by Dragonblood
Musicianship had a valuable effect on Bezmir at this point. He was able to belch out his warning so loud, that the homeless man jumped. He saw curious heads poke out the bar, and then go right back in, shutting the locks. Bezmir calmly opened his pack, and pulled out a hand crossbow and a small pack of bolts. "Ahh, but in this case, your sheep are armed." Also, he twisted the head of his lute, removing it to reveal a short, slim blade coming from it, similar to a short rapier. He may not be the best fighter, but he would be able to hold his own. He'd learned his combat from bar brawls breaking out over the matter of some of his songs. He turned to Zau and stated "Do you fight?"
Shepherd turned sharply. "We don't yet know if fighting is necessary. Simply because it has been the automatic response of the people does not require us to fall in to pattern. There are more effective ways of sending off predators some times. Let me look into it before we leap into battle. In the mean time warn the people of this town to stay within their homes. I don't want pitchforks and brands of flame getting involved with this that will only leave more corpses. You may meet me where the forest meets the city after and join me in confrontation then." Shepherd desired to have them along but knew that this mission was more pertinent for them. It would be saving more lives in the end, it would be the truly heroic thing he thought to himself. He looked each in the eye squarely. What would be done?
The wind whistles softly in a blue-haired girl's ears. She might have not seen them coming, but she heard them. Thankfully, it was a simple matter to climb higher in the tree she was sitting in. It would be unlikely that they would go after so small a target as her, and even if they were to jump, chances are they would not be able to ascend the tree even if they wanted to.
Although, it pays to be prepared.
At her side, previously hidden in the tree, a metal rapier is sheathed. Judging by the hilt, one would say it is made of silver with gold inlay and decor, but the 'silver' has a bluish tinge to it, and the 'gold' a reddish one. Reaching along the side of her backpack, the girl slips out what can only be described as a wand. Made of the same reddish gold material, yet woven in a majestic manner along its shaft, and at its tip is a diamond cut quartz crystal. She looks over the side of the branch she sits on, holding the wand at the ready, just in case a wolf got lucky, to jump up and successfully land on a branch.
"It seems this may be one of the more interesting decades I've seen." the seemingly 8-year old girl murmurs.
A silent exchange drifted between the three of them like a circling wind. Shepherd's thoughts were hidden by the few words he spoke and the calm expression he wore. On the other hand, subtle changes in the air around a person revealed a lot of what went unsaid. Shepherd admired Bezmir, that much was obvious. Zau mused on the idea that perhaps Shepherd saw a younger version of himself though she couldn't be sure on that one. He was also hesitant on company; mentally she had to laugh because she knew that Bezmir was not one to give up so easily. To Bezmir, having to travel alone would be like depriving a baby of mother's milk. Being alone for most of her life, it would be just as easy to slip back into enjoying the company of nature.
Zau abruptly ended her musings and whipped around to see the man running through the streets. As the moments passed, it felt as though the blood of the town was slowly draining leaving nothing but an empty shell. Her eyes narrowed slipping towards Shepherd. He wanted them to warn the town? Her gaze once again swept the streets. Somehow she didn't feel that was necessary even if she would have considered it. A few strands of hair fell loose as she shook her head; she would have considered it with one look into the two men's eyes. It was one man's duty and another's home. Most of all, it was two men she had taken a liking to. Before she could reach an ultimate decision, Bezmir had carried out the request with an exceptional result.
Instantly, she was drawn to the weaponry that Bezmir revealed. Simple yet effective - against humans. Something told her that these "wolves" were not of mortal nature although the flesh was still just that: if one could get close enough. The small blade concerned her only slightly because any man holding a weapon ran the risk of being overly confident. It was especially dangerous when one didn’t know exactly what they were up against. Just as she was about to voice her opinion, a question was asked that took her by slight surprise.
A frown tugged her lips downward when asked if she could fight. Instinctively her hands tightened the straps on her bag. Tattered and worn as it was, the bag wouldn’t break. If she lost it, well, that was just not something she would allow to happen. Her brow arched when Shepherd offered the alternative method to battle before her own answer could escape her lips. The curious sparkle returned to her eye as she looked to Shepherd. They had that philosophy on battle in common which was a rare thing to find. He met her gaze silently asking what she would do before asking the same of Bezmir. Zau took a soft step and turned towards the watchman and Bezmir, "Go." It was a quiet command but it held the weight of experience and wisdom. "We will meet later," she assured.
Turning back to Shepherd she gave a curt nod. "I shall go with you to the forest as that is my intent anyway." Was the sprite aware of these wolves too or did they simple coincide with neither getting in the way of the other? As she pondered the thought, her eyes gazed downward and it was then she remembered her outfit. “Maybe I should change quickly. This dress is only meant for towns,” she said as she slipped into an empty alley. She reached into her bag and pulled out her skirt and shirt and slipped into them before sliding the dress off from underneath. A mere half a minute had passed and she tucked the dress back into her bag as she emerged back into the light.
Zau was trying to keep off the topic of fighting. She was physically strong simply from her travels although what should be her strongest point was her weakest. It was not something she revealed to many though she would if the need arose. She was hoping that within the next few days, it would something she no longer had to concern herself with.
Bezmir looked at Shepherd. He did not want to leave this new companion, but he also could not deny the importance of this task. He sighed, but the short blade back into the lute neck, and threw his pack and instrument onto his shoulders. "I'll go then, and meet you at the designated point. But please, everyone, be careful."
Bezmir started a jog towards the center of town, using his lungs to relay the news much like a courier would, turning back one last time to see what his two comrades were doing.