After learning how to place a hook through a rather large fish, Damien was made aware of the fact that marlin loved them. Which meaned that he would be hauling in an enormous fish if he landed anything. Though intimidating, it also fascinated the dark man. One fish like that would surely feed the entire crew!
Secretly, it disappointed him somewhat that Rinrin couldn’t use the mechanism that he was, due to her size. He didn’t let it show outwardly, though. It just didn’t do him well to see someone so enthusiastic have her idea be downsized to a fishing pole. She seemed happy, regardless, so he put it to the back of his mind and began to bait his own hook. It took him much longer than it did for the crewmen, but that was understandable, as he himself had no practice in this particular area. But, when he finally did hook the fish, he was quickly able to understand how to work the rope and pulley system. Connecting the hook and metal hoop, he dropped the line until it turned yellow, and waited.
Damien had heard from many people in his travels that fishing was a game of patience, but he didn’t have any real idea of just how true that statement was until today.
Although Zohan and Hareef told him that they would teach him at no price, Damien found that some sort of performance might do them well. He was growing bored with the wait, anyway.
“Ah, this indeed is a long game of waiting,” Damien spoke in low tones, though not with disappointment or any such negative emotion. “You’ve travelled a lot, I assume. Be there chance you’ve heard this particular song in your journeys? I learned it at a time in my life where I was a rather interesting tribe of people. Out in the wilds, they had no civilization as we are more accustomed to. They wandered the lands, nomads, they were. They lived in tents, and moved onwards every few days. Perhaps it will interest you?”
Clearing his throat, the bard kept his hand on the handle of the mechanism to ensure that he would be made aware if he got a bite.
“Onwards, we walk this winding road,
the changing land our guide.
Roaming where our spirits lead us,
like eagles, we shall fly.
Always the great wheel will revolve,
our times will come and pass.
Forever our legacy shall remain,
ancestors, we shall become.
We spread our magics across the lands,
leaving behind where we may walk.
In every word we speak in song,
the spirits dance with us.
Onwards, we walk this winding road,
the changing land our guide.
Healing the wounds of ravaged land,
like the heavens, we shall cry.”
His melodic voice worked the song chords in ways that could only be achieved from years of constant practice. Finishing the final verse, he licked his lips, and bowed his head slightly, chuckling ever so softly.
“I know it doesn’t have an overly steady beat to it, but when I heard it, it was accompanied by a wooden flute. If I had one, I could probably replicate the sound for you, but I can’t do both at the same time.” Smiling slightly, he looked from Zohan to Hareef to Rinrin. “I hope you all enjoyed that. I know I did the first time I heard it.”
With that, the performer went back to the rail. After waiting a while, he will ask Rinrin what she does for a living, and why she decided to come with them.
As Damien wove the song, with soothing voice, not only did Zohan and Hareef listen. Several crewmen, who had been busy eithe fishing, or lulling about in cardplaying groups, turned their attention to him, and listened intently.
When he finished, he was greeted with hooting, and clapping of many men. Grinning, Zohan patted the bard on the back and said.
"A real gift your voice is. Why if we could fish like you can sing, I'de be rich enough to own a palace! Indeed we have enjoyed your song!"
Rinrin could feel her excitement building as Hareef showed them the different mechanisms for catching the large fish, that is, until she was left staring at the man's back as he walked into the cabin.
"Um...I just realized...Please forgive me miss, but I think you're too...petite. Marlin put up a fight for a full grown man...I'm afraid I can't let you use these." He had said, and the gnome's wide smile slowly faded. Only moments later, however, it had returned. Hareef had spent only a minute within, emerging with a stout fishing pole, much like the ones Rinrin had seen her fellows in Gnomefeld using.
"We can let ya use this though."
He said, beaming.
"We gots some minnow in a bucket back there. Tell ya what. You catch anything good enough, and we have it fer dinner."
She gave him an enthusiastic nod before running over to the bucket and meticulously hooking a minnow. She wanted to make extra sure that it wouldn't come off in the waves; not without a bite, at least.
Rinrin cast her line out just as Damien began his song, and nearly forgot she was fishing by the time it ended, the tall bard giving a small bow of his head.
"I know it doesn't have an overly steady beat to it, but when I heard it, it was accompanied by a wooden flute. If I had one, I could probably replicate the sound for you, but I can't do both at the same time." Smiling slightly, he looked from Zohan to Hareef to Rinrin. "I hope you all enjoyed that. I know I did the first time I heard it."
Rinrin tried clapping, then fumbled with her fishing pole. Laughing at her clumsiness, she smiled up at Damien.
"That was beautiful!"
Her words were echoed by the crew and Zohan patted him on the back before he returned to the railing. A pleasant silence settled over those patiently fishing. Rinrin hummed an old tune from her homeland to herself. Conjori had even decided to abandon the bed and relocate himself next to the gnome, his soft snores sounding from around her heels. She patted him absently on the head with her free hand as she stared out over the water.
After a while, Damien turned to her, asking her about what she does for a living, and why she had joined them. She grinned broadly, remembering the last night she had spent in Gnomefeld.
"My duties were to the church of my hometown in Gnomefeld, so I suppose that was my living. I kinda joined you guys on accident, too, I think. My family, my town, had chosen me to go out and represent them in the world...I guess it just seemed to be the best way to do just that! It was such a wonderful party we had, too, the night before Conjori and I left..." Rinrin giggled before shooting headlong into a detailed description of her parting from the Rushflare town.
((Basically her story is akin to what I have written for her background in the Q/A, Tek. She's simply rambling on to pass the time, basically, and is still paying some attention to her fishing line. Once she either finishes her story or is stopped in her rush by Damien, she'll ask him about the same: why/how he became a bard and his reasons for joining in the group. Sorry for the delay, I've been terribly busy with things.))
As Vilyamar and Scourge watched Damien and Rinrin fish off the side of the ship, they became well aware of the crisp, serenity that has been washed over Sea Chum with the soft, salty breeze. Aside from those who were teaching the two party members to fish, the crew did not seem to wish to interact with them. They were busy doing nothing together.
(Really, there is nothing for me to post. Your conversations must come to a close in order for me to continue)
The gnome’s past was of interest to Damien, though he knew very little of the region she was from. He had only ever heard tales of the territory that the small folk dwelled in, and had little desire to go there in his lifetime. However, Rinrin told the story in such a way that it piqued the dark bard’s interest.
Looking down at the small woman, he felt a few strands of his long hair fall against his face. With a quick toss of his head, he threw it back, away from his eyes. He had never known where the few crimson hairs originated from, having never known either of his parents a great deal before their demise from sickness. At a young age, he had set out on his own, his home no longer worth living in.
“My Mother and Father passed on to the next world when I was very young, Rinrin.” He began, licking his lips as he took a quick glance back towards his fishing mechanism. So far, nothing. “I set out into the world when I was six, far too young to be out on my own with no family to support me, but I found a way to make it. I had been gifted with a voice that people loved to hear, and was able to make a meager living by singing and telling stories I picked up from others. I was quick to learn instruments, as well.
“When I was sleeping in a rented room at an inn in the town called Brunderholm, I heard a great commotion in the street outside. It woke me from my sleep, and I looked out the window to see a troupe of performers in the street. They had people singing, tumbling, eating fire, and the like. Well, that seemed something that I could do, so I went to join them. They made me sing, first, to see if I was good enough. I was eleven at that point.
“They trained me to be an acrobat, and I learned quickly. With no family left, I had little worry for my own well-being. I was eager to attempt anything they set for me to try. I made it to the high-wire acts, and was given a partner to work with. We fell for each other, and took great pride in the acts we were to perform with each other upon the tightrope. We could do all manner of flips and saults and such tricks.
“But then...an accident occured. We were separated through my own fault. I left the circus and began to wander the world, making use of my vocal talents to earn a living for myself. However, my preferred style of oratory talents changed from hymns to dirges, and people began to feel my sorrow.
“It was when we were deceived by an elderly man to pluck leaves from a great tree among the elves that I realized I had been drawn into something more. He gave us a simple job, in which, I may add, I spent a week or so in the depths of hell, and when we completed it, we were destined to do battle against a dark god reborn.
“We took a windship to reach the Ralnarian desert, and en route we were assaulted by a barbarian skiff, pulled by four drakes. The savages boarded, and fighting erupted on the deck. A viscious fight broke out between our sides, and a few members of our group were killed in the process against a massive warrior. I know not his name, nor what his goal was, but our ship lost a wing, and that is how we encountered yourself.”
Damien turned his head, looking out over the water with a blank look in his eyes. Suppressing his emotions at the thought of his deceased lover, killed in the accident where he failed to catch her...
Swallowing, the bard shook his head slightly to clear his thoughts, though it tossed some of his hair to his eyes. Offering a faint smile to Rinrin, he tried his best to act as though he were fine. He would need some time on his own, to think, to allow the memories to resurface just once, out of respect. He had never forgiven himself for that tragedy, and likely never would. But, he would pay her one last respect...
"I trust we will hold our counsel until the appropriate time. Unless there is anything else, I shall take my leave of you both. Daily routines call," Vilyamar said, smiling faintly. He inclined his head to both Orion and Scourge, and then he turned and walked back towards his cabin. As he passed the others, his ears picked up bits of their conversation. However, he didn't pay any attention to the details and kept on going past. He spared on look at the bard and gnome, in conversation about past and recent events.
Upon reaching his cabin, he entered and meditated upon his bunk. He will answer only when spoken to directly and will meditate and do his daily routines for most of the journey.
His story told, Elandor couldn’t help but notice the bard’s reaction. He did not see the masked doubt, for he himself believed too much in the nature of the orange powder. What he did notice was the change in tone. Earlier on their adventures the bard would’ve grunted a small “yeah, nice” or something similar. Now however, he replied, and seemed truly interested. So it was with an even bigger grin that Elandor answered:
“I’m 28 years old, dear Damien. My nephew was my elder sister’s oldest son and I’m just 7 years older than he is, you see, my father remarried a much younger woman later and I was born from them. So actually it’s not directly my nephew but he’s more like a step-nephew and we could get along quite well as kids until I was struck with what we call wanderlust and had to head out of the village and got involved in years of chasing adventure and being chased by it. It was only recently that I finally met my nephew again and he was so happy and we exchanged some of our pouches content. I gave him my ‘ever-turning jewel’, which is a magical gemstone that turns for pure magnificent display, and I got this powder plus a wonderful story in return.”
Elandor heaved for air after this long reply, which he had uttered in one single, stretched out breath. Getting the powder back the kender started wandering around along the deck, spending most of his time peering over the railing to see the waves bubble and fizzle where the Sea Chum parted the water. He too heard the invitation to learn how to fish, and joined the little gnome and Damien in this. He marveled at the bard’s song and wished he had a flute to present.
Fishing proved much more boring than Elandor could ever have imagined. After several minutes he dropped his fishing pole and just stood next to Rinrin, listening to her story and giggles, and Damien’s memories of a life in the circus.
Cloak wavering in the soft breeze, he stood with his magical hoopak ready to help either if they caught a fish. His mage hand could certainly prove useful.
With the conversation at it's end, Scourge and Orion turn their gazes out across the churning waves. Scourge even lets himself fall into a reverie leaning against the rail and closing his eyes, his thoughts turning to times past, to times peaceful, to times before... the fall.
Rinrin slightly regretted asking the bard about his past, but she smiled in spite of herself. Smiling was the best way to help sad people, she thought, as she pat Damien sympathetically on the arm.
"'Everyone lives, but no one really lives without doing something abnormal.' At least that's what my grandpa used to say before he went off to test his invention – some sort of fire-powered travel device. Pity it never worked properly..."
Lapsing into silence after a small laugh, Rinrin reeled in her fishing line and sat down next to Conjori. The large white dog was fast asleep again, and she began to absently stroke him. Her mind was drifting to the gentle roll of the waves before she looked up again, turning her smiling grey-blue eyes towards the Kender standing next to her.
"What about you, Elandor? How'd you get to be here?"
Rinrin turned her attention from Damien to Elandor, who had recently abandoned his fishingpole to listen to her conversation with the bard. Damien was left with his thoughts, briefly.
Suddenly, his pulley-like fishing reel began to spin fearcely; letting loose a mechanical whine that caught not only his attention, but that of the fishermen as well. Hooting with excitement, several of them gathered at the rail beside Damien's reel. For a moment, Damien stood, puzzled, watching the reel unwined. He realized now that he had never really been told what to do had he gotten a bite. The shouts of the fishermen, seeing as they were in Levathonian, gave no hints.
Suddenly the reel hit it's limit, and the rope tightened. The 5 foot pole it extended from bent like a bow. Damien grasp at the handle of the reel and began turning. The handle fought back as the rope tugged and yanked viciously. Damien realized now that this would be a battle. But the fishermen were watching! He couldn't look bad now. Gritting his teeth and leaning into the handle, Damien slowly began reeling in the mystery fish.
The other members of the party that were on deck were obviously alerted to the action by the shouts of the crew, and perhaps surprised at the number of them that had gathered around Damien. It was just a fish. Why the interest of so many people? One crewman; the one named Hareef bolted for the cabin, and returned with several, long, slender spears, and one small hand saw. Handing the spears out to eager hands, he turned to Rinrin and Elandor, who had been standing beside Damien, and motioned for them to back up.
Damien's arms ached, and his palms hurt from the pressure of the handle, but he would not give in. Not to a fish! As he turned and turned the handle, Hareef appeared by his side and peered over the rail.
"Not like trout fishing is it?"
His heavily accented voice was cheery and laced with excitment. In the outskirts of the crowd, Rinrin and Elandor were able to peer over the railing (You stand near the cabin). A dark form cruised just under the smooth, clear surface of the water. It was big. Bigger than a man. Suddenly, the water erupted in white splashes, and a beautiful fish, the color of saphire leapt from the water. He reminded the two of a sailboat with his frilled, dorsal fin and sleek body; but the feature that captured their attention most was the long, swordlike tip of his nose. To think of what could happen if anyone fell into the water?
The rope was pulled tighter now, and the fish was forced beside the ship. The water churned and boiled with his helpless flailing, before finally, a strange, hammock like net was lowered by four men, on opposite sides of Damien. Once netted, they began to back up, pulling the fish from the water. Hareef lay a hand on Damien's shoulder, and he stood erect, and peered over the rail, for his first glimpse of the beast. Pulling him back with him, Hareef handed the bard the saw.
A space was cleared, and the flopping fish was spilled onto the deck. Even out of water, he was violent, and with that swordlike nose, very dangerous. Men encircled teh fish and plunged their spears into it again and again. Sea water and blood slickened the deck. Who would have known fishing could be so violent?
At last the fish's violent flailing began to whither. Hareef and two others bolted forward and, diving atop the beast, tried to hold it down. It was bigger than two men combined, and still struggling. Its saphire sword slashed and cut the air.
"Claim his sword!"
(Yup, still conversing....Sorry...Soon enough we will move on)
Damien hurt as he cranked the pulley, trying with all his strength to reel in the monster of a fish. Had it not been for his years of acrobatic training to develop his muscles, there wouldn’t have been the slightest chance of bringing in the catch, and even with that endurance, he felt about to collapse. But to think about the embarassment he would suffer before the hardy seamen about the deck fueled his resolve, driving him ever onwards to try to bring in the fish.
The crewmembers hooted and cried out in support, Hareef running off and returning with a large number of spears and a saw. Damien assumed that the spears would be used to kill the fish when - if - he was able to get it on the deck. The saw, however, was a mystery to him. Surely fish were gutted with a knife?
When he was finally able to bring the fish above water level, the bard almost released the crank in sheer awe of the beast. It was a gigantic creature, sapphire blue in color with an immense dorsal fin atop its back. It was monstrous, larger than any human he had ever seen! And, perhaps the most intimidating feature of the fish was not its size, but the great blade-like protrusion from its face.
Four crewmen netted the fish and hauled it aboard as Hareef handed Damien the saw. Though he felt about to collapse from the exertion, he was certain that he heard clearly what the sailor told him.
The crew immediately set to work thrusting their spears into the mammoth body of the fish. Beautiful as it was, it proved itself extremely violent in its thrashing. It was truly amazing that it failed to slash anybody with the sword-nose.
“Surely you can’t mean...?” Damien whispered, staring at the behemoth with awe in his eyes. His guess was confirmed as the fish began to slow down, its lifeblood seeping away from its many injuries. Hareef and two other crewmembers leapt upon it, trying to pin it down.
“Now!” Hareef bellowed, and Damien licked his lips.
“Claim his sword!”
Tensing his exhausted muscles, Damien stepped around to approach from the body, keeping careful not to get skewered by the sword. It took him a moment to steel his nerve before he dropped down beside it, placing the saw to the base of the sword and beginning to cut away at it with renewed vigor. Back and forth, he pushed and pulled the notched blade as he watched the wild eyes of the fish. To be trapped as it was must be terrible, he thought, but it was too late now. It would surely provide a meal enough for the rest of the voyage! This would certainly be a memory he would never forget. The feeling of triumph as he bested the might of the swordfish. The adrenaline pulsing through his veins in sheer excitement.
In a few moments, he felt the saw cutting nothing but air, and in his free hand, he held the slender blade of the fish. The stump upon its face was no longer threatening, no longer capable of spearing the crew upon it.
Stumbling back, the bard fell against the railing, his legs extended before him, despite the cold water seeping through his leggings. It had been an epic battle, perhaps one he would remember through song or story, depicting a battle between a single man and a behemoth of the deep. That time would come later, though. He needed to rest, or eat. Eating first would be the best idea, to replenish his energy. With a low chuckle, Damien dreaded the thought of how badly he would hurt on the following morning. He was still a young man!
Staring down at the horn in his hand, the bard gazed upon it with pride. It was a trophy more than any stuffed buck’s head or pair of antlers. This, he had wrestled with in a tremendous contest, and succeeded, rather than simply shoot the animal with a bow and arrows.
Shutting his eyes momentarily, Damien opened them to look at the crewmembers. He held the sword in his upraised hand, his slender fingers curled around it. He looked to Hareef and the other sailors, who had finished their kill of the fish.
“Is...this mine to keep?” He asked them, indicating the horn of the swordfish.
(OOC: I made the assumption that the removal of the sword would happen as it did, so that we might avoid making a number of short posts that solve little. I want the storyline to keep going as much as possible, for I love this game!
If the events should not turn out as I portrayed, feel free to change my post as needed.)
"What about you, Elandor? How'd you get to be here?"
The question came unexpected. So far, people had shown interest in Elandor mostly when they needed something or wanted something returned to their property. This question showed real interest and Elandor wasn’t sure at first he heard correctly. He looked around to see Rinrin staring at him and a rush of joy squeezed his heart.
“Well…” he hastily began, “ you see, my life was always one of sniffing around where, according to other people of course, I wasn’t supposed to be. I never really understood why I wasn’t supposed to be somewhere while if I wasn’t supposed to be there I don’t understand how I ever came there in the first place. I mean, don’t you agree that if people don’t want you somewhere, they should take better precautions to keep you out?”
“Take this one guy… He didn’t want me to enter his castle, and only put up 5 guards that patrolled the gates with a certain schedule. You can’t blame me if they didn’t check the low window on the right flank at 3:15 every day, and that being the spot where I decided it would be nice to enter? Who wants to walk under an iron gate that can crash on top of you any minute….”
It was obvious that he got sidetracked majorly and waved his hand in a dismissing gesture.
“I’m sorry, all that doesn’t matter to your question of course. When me and my mom, who I traveled with, settled in a little village because one of her legs got some stiffness disease and refused to walk anymore, I felt this urge to keep exploring the world. I had accompanied my mom ever since I could walk and I rather enjoyed it. So this one day a group of adventurers (there is a clear twinkle in his eyes on this word) arrived in the village. They were on some quest to save a magic dragon or something exiting I can’t remember, and I decided to join them, to aid them in their journey, to share with them in the wonders of adventuring.”
“It wasn’t long before they started to like me and play games with me. They would tie me up and I had to find my way back to the group, etcetera, you get the picture. So I had a really really good time. But then all of a sudden they just left me, after I saved them from this terrible witch who took on the shape of this beautiful woman in distress. I told her to *@#$ off, and to leave honest adventurers to their task. I fiercely put that we wouldn’t fall for her lies and that her masquerade was the most horrible we had ever seen.”
The face of the kender suddenly became more grim as he continued.
“After they told me that they didn’t want me in their group anymore, and explained that it really wasn’t a joke and that I really should stop following them, I cried for many days. I remembered the witch and thought she would make for quite an interesting adventure after all, even though I thought I was on to her. I tracked her for many days, but never did she take off her disguise. Bored I left her and found my way into many adventures on my own.”
It was then that Damien scored his catch and achieved the amazing sword. Elandor had never seen the Bard so happy and glorious. A wonderful feeling spread over him. He returned his attention to Rinrin.
“Then one day I was sitting in this inn, when an old man came in with many, many pouches! I wanted to trade with him, but he had a far more interesting proposal. Thanks to him I’m on this ship today. I’ve seen so much of the world and I have met so many people, friendly and not very friendly. I have even made friends! Do you see this cape? Scourge made it for me! He’s Orion’s familiar, you know.”
Arnakian Sea-Siris RiverSoutheast-Central Ralnaria
The week spent aboard Sea Chum was the most enjoyable time the party had spent together since their departure from the Brownleaf Tavern, one month ago. The crew were both friendly and entertaining. They invited the party members to join their dice and card games, and they shared stories with those who wished to do so. They taught Damien and Rinrin how to fish, and even laughed at Elandor’s tales and jokes. They were humble, hard working men; and it was clear that life, in it’s own accord, was something that each and every one of them cherished. These, it seemed, where the good days.
Damien’s highlight was clearly, the day he had challenged the great, sea beast, and had been victorious. Hareef had allowed the bard to keep the horn of the monster, but only after leading him into one of the rooms in the ships bowels. Lifting the lid from a wide, black barrel, he had explained that there was still flesh on the horn, and that it would stink, should he just leave it be. The barrel was filled with a clear liquid that burned the eyes and stung the nostrils. It was the distilled fluid squeezed from a particular plant, grown in the mountains of Levathon. Damien left the horn within the barrel for the rest of the journey, allowing the alcohol to cleanse the bone of all flesh.
Rinrin had turned out to be a better fisherman than any of the crew had expected. Her tiny hands seemed to have a knack for duplicating the delicate jerks and twitches that attracted so many fish to the bait, and he lithe frame was far sturdier than it looked, when she did get a bite. The pretty little gnome would pull in long, glimmering, or flat, brilliant fish again and again. Once, a school of strange little silver fish with long, wing-like fins had leapt from the water, and had sailed right onto the deck. Several of them lay, flopping in the sunlight, right at her feet. Thus, the fishermen had named her Little Siren, and had told her that her spirit must be tied with the sea, and that hers was so beautiful that it drew fish to her, and their deaths. She was a Siren to creatures of the sea.
The week passed pleasantly for the party, including Damien; and yet Teros had spent nearly his entire time onboard, locked in his room. Rarely did he come on deck, and when he did, he would lean against the rail, and write in his tan, leather journal. He didn’t speak much to the party, and infact, seemed to avoid them. Why the change, none could guess. Perhaps it had to do with the death of his friend, Derrak? The crew seemed to give him his space, not bothering to trouble themselves with those who didn’t want to be social. They had more entertaining things to do.
Even in the enjoyment of their trip, the party members were constantly shadowed in unease. They prayed nothing would happen on this trip. One destroyed crew was enough. These men were too good; too humble to experience what they had gone through. The week passed, and the unease slowly subsided.
On there fourth day at sea, land appeared in the distance. A vague, emerald haze that rose uneasily from the smooth, sapphire horizon. Slowly it grew, and smaller islands appeared on both sides of the ship. Other, small, fishing ships dotted the sea, casting out and dragging in large, white nets of wriggling silver. Buildings, docks, and anchored ships lined the shore. The Sea Chum sailed parallel the land for nearly half a day, before it turned to the gaping mouth of a massive river. By that night, the river joined with an even greater river. This, as the crew explained, was the mighty Siris. They were in Ralnara.
As everyone on deck knew, Ralnara was another name for the Ralnarian Desert. The biggest and most arid of deserts in Noldaria. To the west, years could pass between rainfalls; and the Endless Dunes was a sea of sand, mythically endless. Yet, the shores of Siris held no clue to the hostility of the surrounding land. The banks were green, plush. Massive, cypress and pomegranate trees stretched their arching bows over the shore. Gardens and flowerbeds decorated riverfront yards. Flamingos, strange, small birds of every color, and strange, white birds that sported a crown of yellow waded between canoes, or sat in trees. Ralnara was beautiful.
One, particularly unpleasant aspect of this new land, however, struck the party almost minutes after entering the mouth of the river. The heat. Levathon, perhaps due to its sheltering mountains, or sea currents, had been a warm and sunny land. It had been hot, but not like this. The open sea carried a cool, wet breeze at all times. This however, was heat. Heat that the party, all of whom hailed from northern kingdoms, found nearly unbearable. They had not been wearing armor, incase of storm or the chance of stumbling overboard, but heat had never effected their thought of doning it. Yet this heat, they could not measure, but were certain was far to unbearable for armor. Scourge and Damien especially, felt anguish in their black garments. The fabric felt fresh off a grill, and sweat poured down the faces of the entire party.
Teros no longer hid in his room. Infact, he spent his says on deck. He once again sported his turbin. It was wrapped in a strange style, veiling the brim of his nose down. He wore a baggy, white cotton shirt, and baggy white pants. He wore strange pointed shoes, rather than the boots he had previously constantly donned.
He paced the days away, or leaned against the railing, peering into the passing, crowded streets.
The written language, with its accented curves, and strange, unfamiliar symbols was far from understandable by the party, but over the next 3 days they passed through, what seemed like one big village. Buildings and docks never ceased to dot the shores, and they were certain they passed several taverns, though they could not read to be certain, save Teros, who was silent. The ship never stopped, but Hareef explained that they were only a few days from the capital of Ralnaria, Kubal.
Two full days passed, and the Siris remained a constant bustle. The Sea Chum had spent the first day sailing along the bank for the simple fact that it allowed the party to see the sites, but congestion of water traffic became too great, and the ship made it’s way to the center of the river. The Siris measured, perhaps a mile wide, and obviously, both banks were constantly in site. A few, treed islands floated by, and on one occasion, Elandor pointed out, in absolute excitement, a 15 foot, brownish green reptile. It lay, unmoving on the bank of a nearby island, and it’s long snout was agape, revealing rows of very sharp teeth (Obviously, crocodile). Every twilight, both evening and morning, a strange, sharp horn blast would echo over the river. When asked about the purpose of this horn, (and there were obviously many, lined all along the Siris, considering in 2 days, they heard the horn all four times), Hareef explained that the people of Ralnaria took the time that the sun broke the horizon, or was finally cloaked by it, to halt their activities, and kneel in reverence to Lavuria, their Goddess. Teros had never been on deck during these times.
Nights were very, very cool, and thus, very treasured by the party, who were more used to cold temperatures than the locals; and it was on the dawn of their third day into the Siris, that the party members came on deck, rubbing groggy eyes, and stared in amazement at the city they were about to pass into. Massive, towering ivory buildings reached into the pink brushed sky. Many seemed to balloon out near the top, forming an almost bulblike shape. Gold gleamed in the breaking dawn, and to the parties amazement, they realized that many, many buildings had windows framed in gold, or golden caps. This was a very rich city. The river narrowed here, but was still, several hundred yards wide. White, arching bridges bowed the entire length of the river, high enough for ships to pass under their delicate, vine pattered beams. Between these, 10 foot, ivory and silver statues stood on 20 foot wide, circular islands. Flowers of every color sprouted at their feet, like a bed of jewels. The statues depicted humans, from what the party could tell. Warriors stood, bearing silver halberds, and bald men in glimmering, stone robes gripped silver-lined books. They ship passed beneath four bridges, at least 100 yards apart, before pulling to a long, sturdy dock, and casting anchor. This was their stop.
The crew was somber as they helped the party bring their gear on deck. (State whether or not you want to done your armor. Remember, wearing armor increases the chance of exhaustion and heat stroke….The temperature is on average, 105, and 20% humidity. My father was in Egypt….that’s what it’s like. The low humidity makes it not SOOO bad.)
Once all their gear was donned, and the party was ready to go, Hareef brought Damien his horn. It was still blue as a deep lake, and it gleamed in the sunlight. His face was split in a brilliant smile, and his eyes shone wetly as he handed the bard the horn.
“You have earned this, my friend. Keep it with you, and remember us. All of you. Remember the humble fisherman who became your friends.”
The man was more emotional than some, and he went from party member to party member, embracing each, and smiling that brilliant smile. Several of the crewmen did the same, and even the captain, stepped forward and shook the hands of all the party members. In his hand he held a rolled, browned parchment. He handed it to Damien (who is standing nearest).
“This is map of Kubal. On back is map of surrounding area. Use it. Good luck travelers. Perhaps we meet again.”
Farewells were complete, and the crew watched as the party unboarded. They remained on deck, despite the fact that it had been a week since they had stepped on solid ground. After a moment, the party spun back around to the shouts of Hareef, who had climbed to the crows nest.
“Little Siren. The sea has a gift for you!”
Casting his arm out, he launched something through the air. It whirled and gleamed, before landing in the dust before the Gnome. Bending over it, for she was short enough to not kneel, she inspected it. It glittered brilliantly in the sun, and her hands covered her mouth in awe. It was a necklace. A small, white pearl, encased in spiraling silver, and linked to a thin, silver wrought necklace. When she looked back up, the man had climbed back down, and had blended with the rest of the crew.
Damien peered at the map…
(“lucky” for you, the map is has common and ralnarian titles, so you can identify places by matching their writing. Anything you need, you can likely find. Communicate, and discuss your next move. Also, remember your quest….
Tharanduil's Mission Briefing
“If you wish to save a doomed world, then you must head to the Ralnarian Desert, to the South. Remember what I have to tell you. The location of the four God Stones can only be found with an artifact located in the midst of Hajin Ra, known by some as the Land of Glass. Whether or not you have heard of it is of no consequence. Aside from those on the coast, every village in Ralnaria is found on the Siris river, which runs from North to South. Hajin Ra is located West of the Siris, in the barren and empty desert. Quasal is the village closest to Hajin Ra, so I suggest you find your way there, if you intend to find this artifact. First, however, you should follow the road that led you to this forest, until you come to its first branch left, to the east. There should be a sign that says Elderast, and an arrow pointing down that branch of the road. If you did not already know, Elderast is Thollin’s capital. From there, catch a windship that is heading to Ralnaria. It is likely that one would go to Kubal, the desert’s capital. Luckily enough, Quasal is not far north of there.”
On the back of the map, you see that Quasal is a village, several miles north, along the Siris river as Kubal. The siris runs from the north to the south, before curving east where it spills into the Arnakian sea.)
Damien had heard stories of the Siris river before, though he had never picked up anything in great detail. He had been told that it was a river of immense size, but never could he have imagined it to be like this. The gateway into the arid realm of Ralnara, the ship sailed into the mouth of it, past smaller fishing boats out on the waters, and began their trek deeper into the heartland of the desert.
Taking him completely by surprise, the intense heat struck him like a hammer. The bard quickly found himself far too hot beneath his black clothing, but refused to remove it in favor of something lighter. He would endure it, however harsh it may be. It would take his mind off other things that might return to haunt him, though the trip had been fairly enjoyable for him. His time with Rinrin had lightened his spirits for the time being, as had his struggle with the mighty swordfish. The slender horn was kept rolled-up in a thick sheet, safe from harm. It was his trophy, and something that he intended to take with him as a reminder of the journey. It would be a good memory to take with him when they finally set foot into the Abyss, or wherever it would be that they would face off against the Dark Lord.
Provided we make it there,
Shaking his head to throw out those thoughts, Damien pulled his hair back away from his face. All it was doing was absorbing heat he would rather have leave him alone. He was terribly afraid of getting a vicious sunburn here, as well as heatstroke or dehydration. All of those things, he had been told in his travels, were potential enemies out in the desert. He had never expected that one day, he’d actually be here, though...
At least the landscape was pleasant to look upon.
The lush vegetation was something he hadn’t expected to encounter here. He had seen plants wither and die from being out in the sun for too long, and he had assumed that the same would happen here to all greenlife. The entertainer was proven wrong, though, as the riverbanks supported a great myriad of plantlife. It was quite unlike anything he had ever seen before. Trees and other plants that he had only been able to imagine in stories before adorned the waterside, creating a very tropical appearance as a fore-drop to the arid wastes beyond.
It wasn’t long before they entered a great settlement built along the water. Damien realized that it was likely the only way to truly support life, unless they had some other means of doing so. It was simple logic that told him that where there was water, there was life. Suddenly, he was very glad he hadn’t spoken his thoughts aloud. Some of the people he was with certainly did not need to capitalize upon a dumb thought on his part, not after the way he had treated them. Despite his enjoyment with the crew members, he did not regret his previous actions.
The script the Ralnarians used was unlike anything Damien could comprehend. There were a few words where he thought maybe it looked familiar to something he had read before, but soon came to see that he had no hope of understanding anything written here. It was far too exotic for the poet to make any sense out of. Teros kept to himself, and he was the only one who would be able to read this writing. It concerned him little, though. Reading would be helpful, but not an essential. If it came down to needing directions, then Teros was here to translate.
A strange ritual was conducted by the peoples of Ralnaria, taking time at the dusk and dawn of every day to halt all activities and pray to their god until the sun either crested or fell beyond the horizon. It was not something Damien found interest in, but made no remarks about it. He did notice, however, that Teros was never around at these times, though the bard never made effort to find the man.
The architecture of this civilization was amazing. The sheer style in which some of the buildings were developed seemed almost to defy logic, being ballooned at the top of a tall tower. He couldn’t see any reason to this style of construction, but admired it nonetheless. With the way that many of such structures were adorned with gold, he guesses that it must be a very rich city, although he didn’t ask any questions about it to any of the crew members. He simply stared on in pure admiration.
By the time the docked, Damien realized that it was likely he would never see Hareef or Zohar again. It stung him, for the fishermen had become good friends to him, and he had shared his catching of the swordfish with them. With that tie, they would never be forgotten, though he wished that he might one day meet again with the men. When Hareef handed him the horn, now cleaned of all flesh from its bath in the powerful alcohol, Damien felt himself at a loss for words. It was still blue as it had been the day he hauled the fish from the water, still in perfect shape to be an anchor to the memories onboard the ship. They would be the first good memories he had felt in many, many years.
“You have earned this, my friend. Keep it with you, and remember us. All of you. Remember the humble fisherman who became your friends.” Hareef spoke to him, and Damien saw that his eyes gleamed as though full of tears.
“I shall, my friend.” Damien nodded his head and extended his arm to clasp Hareef’s thick forearm in a gesture of friendship. After they released, he was handed a rolled-up piece of brown parchment.
“This is map of Kubal. On back is map of surrounding area. Use it. Good luck travelers. Perhaps we meet again.”
Smiling slightly, Damien passed the parchment to the crook of his arm that held the great horn. Laying his hand upon Hareef’s sturdy shoulder, he looked into the fisherman’s eyes for the last time. “Thank you, Hareef. For everything you have done for us. For the times we spent together.” He dropped his gaze to the bone sword in his left hand. “We will meet again, one day.”
Watching as Hareef turned and walked back to the ship, his attention was drawn back at the hearing of the fisherman shouting to Rinrin. As did the gnome, he watched as something was hurled to the young woman, landing in the sand at her feet. From what he could tell, it was a beautiful piece of jewlery, though he did not make move to inspect it. It was a treasure for Rinrin, not himself. If she chose to show it off, then of course, he would look at it.
With a great wave, Damien showed his last signs of well-wishing to the fishermen aboard the Sea Chum. He would not soon forget them, he swore to himself.
Gently, he lay a hand upon the gnome’s shoulder before unfurling the map and spreading it out, carefully placing the sword on the ground just prior.
“Though I know nothing of the land we face, I do know that the sun has been cooking me alive so far, and we’ve only been here a few days. Waterbags is something we shall require if we are to survive in this blasted wasteland.” He was thankful for the common words to match the Ralnarian ones on their map. Otherwise, it would have been completely useless to him. Pointing at the docks, he tried to indicate their position as accurately as possible. “Here we are. We were told to go to Quasal, which is where I believe we should go first. Anything we have to do, we do now before leaving.”
(OOC: Damien will buy about six waterskins full of cold water, and find someway to fasten them to his gear so as not to hamper him too greatly. He will also search for anyone whom he believes can use magic to strengthen the swordfish horn to prevent it from breaking or being damaged. You know my intentions for it, though those will come at a later time.
The rest of the journey seemed uneventful after Damien’s large catch. Much of Vilyamar’s days were spent in solitude, though he talk once and a while with a crew member who approached him. He was never once asked about his heritage, for which he was thankful. In fact, the crew of the boat never seemed to notice the slight points to his ears nor the almond shape to his eyes. Vil did not often wear his cloak on the boat and would sit upon the prow or simply upon barrels on the ship, cross his legs and meditate. Few bothered him.
His eyes drew to the Scourge every time they were within sight of each other and after every passing day, the monk grew more and more uptight about the future. Strangely enough as he grew more and more introverted, the human bard who had been so melancholy before seemed to grow more and more cheerful. In fact, these moments were the happiest points that the monk had seen him since they had started their quest together. Being half-elven, Vilyamar had never forgiven the human for the way he had treated his mother’s cousins. Perhaps he was changing.
Left enough time to contemplate the matter, Vilyamar would surely have gained enough strength of will to approach the man, but as of yet, there was still something that the monk held against him. Perhaps it was still his pompous attitude and the fact that he thought he knew the most important things, yet it was the truth that he lacked. Vil suspected that it was mostly the truth about Damien that Damien did not know and that was what caused his darkness.
After 2 days of traveling along the Siris, the Sea Chum entered the city. By now, the whole party must have realized that the heat was going to be deadly. Vil remembered what his father had taught him long ago of surviving in the heat. His father had traveled here once before, and learned a little from the natives that could speak common. He had learned that light, loose clothing but being fully covered was the way to be in the desert of Ralnara. Anything more left you exhausted from heat and anything less left you burnt by the desert people’s goddess Lavuria.
They all noticed the horns that blew along the banks at sunrise and sunset, when all Ralnarians prayed upon their knees to Lavuria. Vilyamar did not care for religion; his way was of the body and soul, not necessarily of the divine. He held respect for the gods, but did not revere them in this way. Erenall, the Judge, held his favour and respect more than any other, though Inenhalla came a close second. He did not pray to a god, for it was within him that he would more often seek and take guidance.
Their departure was emotional for some and Hareef, the man who had been their guide to the ocean, took the time to take each one in an embrace. Vilyamar took the man’s hand and squeezed an equal strength into it, no more, no less and bowed slightly from the waist, saying nothing, but looking Hareef in the eye. There was nothing to be said.
Vilyamar looked at the map upside down as Damien unrolled it. The monk’s face remained expressionless and he said nothing. He turned when Hareef called to the gnome, and his eyes caught a glint of something metallic as the man flung the object from the crow’s nest, calling to Rinrin. The object landed in the dust in front of her, and as she bent over and inspected it, her eyes widened in surprise. As she brushed it off, Vilyamar could see that it was a fine pearl inlaid in a silver holding on a silver chain. He thought that it should be looked at by the Scourge, for it would be interesting indeed, should it be magically in some way, but the half-elf did not voice his thoughts. Few seemed to honour them any respect in any case.
The heat was beginning to get to the half-elf and he knew that they should have to gather more water should they wish to travel during the day at all.
“You are right about supplies, Damien. But we should find ways to sleep during the daylight. As you must have noticed, we are much better adapted to the cool air of the nights here. In my opinion, we would be much better off traveling when the sun takes refuge below the horizon,” said Vilyamar. “But nonetheless, we shall need more skins to carry water. My father told me once that coverage of the skin is a necessity here, lest you be burned as if you were exposed to fire but anything heavier than the thinnest wool with overheat you to the point of exhaustion. But we should be fine if we purchase light tents of some sort and sleep during the day.”
((OOC: Vil will accompany Damien and buy 4 waterskins for himself and a light tent, something that could be unfurled and staked in a few minutes but would cover his entire body length, and perhaps wide enough for another.
Also add 1 weeks worth of trail rations!
And a loose outfit of native cloth (light and sandy coloured)
needs more shuriken, but...that'll have to wait
Should be all..))
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