The path from Irrundanil's plaza court takes the four riders and their steeds to the Outer Wall
, and through the gates, past the Ruundan, who salute the party as they trot past.
Dtalk salute them as well, and all wish each other the best of luck. The trek out of the mountains is steep in places, and a bit slow-going, but by an hour and a half of journeying, the hills are not nearly so bad, and the forest edge is in sight. The party makes a few jokes to get everyone in good spirits, and Dtalk congratulates the two girls on becoming citizens in Irrundanil.
"Where did you say you were from, Gwyn?" he asks her after a few moments.
Gwyn blinks, staring at him intently for a moment. She then turns away, looking past the hills they had traveled and at the beautiful horizon. "To be vague, the South." She ends the conversation abruptly by turning to talk to Lian. "How long have you had these horses? Do you have any more?" She seems to have a vague interest but she seems preoccupied.
Dtalk cringes at his own bad decision to bring up her past, scratching the back of his neck nervously, thinking, I need to remember that not everyone is quick to speak of their past. By Moradin, I hope I don't bring things like this up often...
"I'm sorry if I offended you, iiara" he says lightly to her, trying not to interrupting her conversation with Lian.
Gwyn turns and smiles at Dtalk. "No need to apologize, it's just a sensitive spot for me." She goes to turn back to Lian but remembers what he had called her. She turns back and raises an elegant eyebrow at him, "Iiara?"
Opal answers her "Female mages, it's what we are."
Gwyn laughs in understanding, "Oh! Iiara....I'll have to remember that."
Patting her steed lovingly Lian sits back in the saddle. "I brought these horse because they were promising, also because they are my favorites. I have a stable, and there's horses of every size, temperment, and color. I hope they'll be okay while I'm gone..." Lian looks at the fiery sky as the sun begins to set.
is one of the titles the dwarves use for girls, young girls, or even human women. Maidjaala
is a word meaning 'esteemed mage or eccentric'. It can also be used for artists and musicians. It is purely Ruundan in nature, and most dwarves will know its meaning" Dtalk explains.
"I get so used to talking that way, that I forget that some people do not know what I am saying.
you a mage?" he asks, after assuring Lian that her friend at the stable will probably keep a wary eye on them while she is off journeying.
The trail ahead of them is softening into soil as they pass into a lush and blooming forest, the land of Tariwynn. The chirp of birds echoes that of the flock of sparrows that follow Lian and the group, and the sounds of animals and running water are a sign of life aplenty in the woods.
Gwyn smiles wryly, holding her hand out so a chirping bird can land on her finger. "Not exactly. I have the Sight. Thief's magic." She blushes and pets the bird gently.
"Hey wait minute, Madjaala means eccentric as well as esteemed mage? Should I be offended?" Opal asks, but laughs to show she's only joking, "Anyway, you shouldn't be embarressed by your magic, any power is a gift and thiefs abilities are usefull."
Gwyn nods vigorously, giggling. "Preaching to the choir...Useful as in saving my life! Without it, I would most likely starve to death." She shrugs and kisses the bird softly on the beak and nudges it to fly away but it just flies in a circle and sits on her shoulder, preaning it's feathers gently. Gwyn giggles and looks at the bird fondly.
Smiling at her flock Lian relaxes to the pattern of Secret Star's gait. Rubbing her forehead she mutters something sounding minutely like so many voices...
Dtalk misses the comment, and grasps one of the many water flasks brought with them, reaching it at his waist, and taking a swig, before riding onward.
Quite a while later, it has been dark for a couple hours, and only now does the group get the feeling that it may not be safe to travel further, and it's decided that everyone make camp. It starts to drizzle rain, and Dtalk suggests that we sleep in the carriage, instead of making a fire.
"I'll get out some rations, and we'll snack a bit before we sleep. There's plenty of room to lie down behind the supplies we've got strapped in."
The covered wagon is more than sufficient at keeping the rain out, but to keep out the animals, the flaps will have to be drawn and tied. It's warm enough outside to not worry about a fire either.
Gwyn hops off of Arakia with a whine, "Common Dtalk, can I sleep outside? Under the stars?" She takes the reins over Arakia's ears and leads her to a tree, tieing her to it and petting her nose fondly. "Pretty please?" She pouts her bottom lip out at him and the bird seems to mock her from it's perch.
Dtalk chuckles lightly scrunching his eyebrows at her silly patronizing, and agrees to let her sleep as she wants.
"But if you get sick from getting wet, I'm afraid we only have so many healing salves to get you better, and once they're gone....well, you know the drill. You did just get better only a day ago...." he chides. Another bird mocks him from a branch above them, and he squints at it curiously.
"Lian, your birds sure do have quite a lot of personality..."
"Yes, you do." Lian coos to her flock. Holding out her hand she calls the birds to her. "You see, they grew up with me so some of their habits are actually very humanlike. She smiles at Dtalk. On her shoulders several sparrows mock him.
Gwyn glares at Dtalk while the bird pecks at her ear. "You don't think I have enough magic to heal a common cold? A sniffle? HMPFH!" The bird tweets in affirmation with Gwyn who nods.
"I can help too..." Lian murmers. She gracefully swings out of the saddle before clicking a lead rope onto Secret Star's halter. The stallion snorts but follows her lead, grateful for the rest.
Dtalk rolls his eyes, chuckling at Lian cooing to the sparrow on her shoulder.
"Well, then don't let me stop you from getting soaked while you sleep, but I think I will stay in the back tonight."
Smirking a little, he chides, "Enjoy the stars." He unties the flaps on both ends of the wagontop, and asks, "Does someone need to stay up to keep watch, or do we want to take shifts?"
Gwyn shrugs, "I'll keep watch if need be." She hunkers down against a tree trunk, still petting the bird and still looking up at Dtalk with respect.
Opal drops silently beside Gwyn and smiles at her, "Do you recognise any of the constellations?"
Gwyn stares up into the night sky with a thoughtful look on her face, "I was never tought them...To be honest." She blushes slightly and sighs, still staring up at the stars.
Walking over to the wagon Lian says, "If someone wakes me up at midnight I'll take that shift." She helps Dtalk untie the wagontop. Finishing, she hums as she busily ties the horses to nearby trees, careful to check if they have shade and cover from the rain. "I'll groom the horses if someone else makes dinner, I'm ravished!" Checking the hooves of each horse and checking for rocks, she mumbles, "I'd burn a salad if I tried to make one...."
Gwyn giggles and pipes up, "I can make a mean stew!"
"With what fire?" Dtalk jokes, holding a hand out to the dusk rain, which slowly begins to come down harder.
"Here. Stew tomorrow. Rations tonight." He hands a couple clay bowls out, along with a sack of fruit&nut trail mix.
"I'd make a permanent fire, but we'd have a tough time extinguishing it when we're done, and that could be hazardous... Plus, we should rest early, so that we can wake early."
And the sparrows mocking him from the wagontop....
Withdrawing back into the wagon, he munches on some dry rations before falling to sleep. Calling out to Lian, he tells her to wake him up after she gets tired on her shift.
Opal mutters ungratefully at the dry rations before offering half to her wolf Moonstone who in turn is thoroughly disgusted. "Suit yourself," she shrugs at him.
Lian, a fruit lover, eagerly wolfs down her rations. Sitting it down she gets out her staff. Its crystal tip glints in the fading light, complimenting the steel blade at the end that shines with a faint blue tinge. Lian stands aware at the edge of camp, looking this way and that. Slowly the sky fades to darkness. The moon glows like a gemstone in the sky. Yearningly Lian stares at it, distrustful thoughts filling her mind. She jumps in surprise as one of her sparrows land on shoulder, clutching to her vest in its minute claws nervously. Becoming more aware to the sounds outside the camp a sixth sense warns her of something- not quite right. In the distant woods, nary an animal sound can be heard. Unsure, Lian waits for trouble.
Her eyes drooping heavily, Lian realises it must be late into the night. She sits her staff at the opening of the carriage. Reaching inside she goes to shake Dtalk awake. "It's your turn," she says in a whisper, "but be careful, something's not quite right..."
Gwyn sits, nibbling at bits of her fruit. The bird has fluttered to her side where it sleeps peacefully. She shakes a hand at Lian, "I'll take his watch...Let him sleep, I think he deserves it." She rubs her eyes and finishes the rest of her ration, setting the bowl down beside her.
Dtalk slowly awakens to Lian's comments, not hearing the one about danger, and sleepily thanks Gwyn for taking the shift while he sleeps. He quickly drifts back off to dreamland while Gwyn sits up in the dark night. The rain still comes down, but not quite as hard as before.
Feeling better after Gywn's confident response, Lian goes over to the cover of the trees. The horses sense her exhaustion and one of them lies down. Lian lies down beside her favorite mare, Golden Honey. Speaking softly to her she lays her head on the horse's neck, using it like a pillow. Her chest rises and falls gently as she snores lightly, fast asleep.
Gwyn sighs with boredom and scoops up a handful of rocks. She tosses them at different distances ahead of her, the farthest landing against the wheel of the wagon. She sighs and holds her palm out. She flicks her pointer finger inward and the closest rock bounces into her hand. She giggles as old memories float through her head: her brother and herself making oranges dance into their readily hungry mouthes, making the money dance out of tourists' pockets into their own, and her wonderfully pudgy nanny swatting them over the hands for doing so.
One of the stones goes hurdling off into the ground foliage, skipping away from its course. Just after, Gwyn can hear the clopping of more horses' feet and brush moving.
As the rain begins to let up, Qéla draws the horse in closer to the camp of their predecessors, leading Mirriam and Robin on their horses as Roth and Vasseht follow silently behind.
Gwyn, alert to the riders, watches as a thin, short-haired dressed in fine leathers saunters his horse into the clearing where the girls sleep. A bow is mounted 'round his torso, and two riders, a male and female, follow behind him a ways.
The horses all poke their heads up at the approaching steeds and their riders.
Robin is looking around confused 'riiight. What happened in the last ten minutes? I was riding with Mirriam, trying to find Lian. Then we were paralysed, a couple of weirdo's interrogated us and ow they are taking us to some camp. Who the hell are these people? Where are we? How on earth can I get out of here? Not soon anyway, unless I want to get out by dying. I guess I'll have to see what happens. And when does this rotten rain stop? I'm so damn cold, I bet I'll be sick in a few days.'
Robin shakes the water out of his hair and rides on, following the bowman.
Gwyn snaps to attention, standing up and immediately sliding her wrist daggers into her hands. She saunters over to stand infront of the bowman. She puts one of the dagger tips under her nail and idolly asks, "So, who do you think you are? Intruding on our campsite." She arches an elegant eyebrow at the bowman while still cleaning her nails.
Lian was dreaming, the same dream. It was always this dream, and it had been going on for several weeks. Once again there was a girl singing, and a man in tortured agony.
With a start, she woke to the sound of horse hooves gently clopping into camp. She looked up and recognized one of the hara that she had met while with Dtalk. He had told her all about the wraeththu that had incepted him.
Riding amongst the party, looking like prisoners, was a man and- was it her? -It was..... Her - the familiar girl from her dreams, exactly the same in every way. The same tall thin and curvy girl with thick black locks of hair. The same face with clear, green eyes. Lian's locket, sitting next to her purple gem, warms around her neck.
"Mir-r-riam?" she gasps out.
Riding behind the strange buff and beautiful men, and beside Robin, at the same moment Mirriam looks up and spots a girl underneath the trees, behind a small flock of horses. "Lian!" she shouts as she recongnizes the small delicate and slender girl. The girls gentle face framed by gold-brown hair shows disbelief. Her blue eyes spark with excitement. Unable to dismount for fear of threatening their captors, Mirriam has to simply watch for the girl's reaction.
Robin looks around quickly, looking first at Mirriam, then following her gaze towards the girl underneath the tree. 'So that's Lian? Wadda ye know? Our captors actually brought us to our goal. Now let's hope we aren't sold as slaves or so while we're so close to Lian...'
Gwyn looks, extremely confused, from Lian to the girl, then back to Lian. Then she eyes the man infront of her and slides her daggers back into theyre sheathes. She stammers, "Am I the only one completely lost here?"
Roth canters his steed to the front of the line, eyeing Lian steadily, "You know her, then?"
Glancing quickly to the har in back, Roth sees that Vasseht is glaring angrily at having been proven wrong, but remaining silent. He sees the necessity for release, and calls to Qéla, "Let them dismount. We'll camp here with them for the rest of the night. Vasseht, you can help keep watch with the girl for the remainder of the night hours."
"Oh, and this is a command, I assume...?" the har in rear responds, which Roth quickly ignores with a light grunt, and dismounts.
Looking to Lian, he asks, "That will be alright, for us to camp here, now that we've made sure you're no longer being followed by spies, or the likes..?"
Qéla dismounts, and begins leading his horse to Mirriam and Robin's. Looking up at Robin, he notices that he is sniffling, and that he will indeed become sick soon. It doesn't look like the rain will end completely by morning, either. Hoping to realign the two's trust, Qéla offers to help them both down with his steadying, as it is difficult to land properly in the now thick mud tracks.
Robin notices his own health's state as soon as the har that lead them here did.
Dtalk remains asleep in the wagon. Not finding him anywhere, Roth asks Lian of his presence as well.
Robin gets of his horse, sinking away a fair amount of centimeters in the mud. He wipes his nose. Not that it helps a lot, but it was more of a reflex anyway. 'Luckily we found that girl then, because I could really need a hot bath a a bowl of chicken soup now. Let's hope we will enter civillized lands soon. I like hunting, but I do prefer good weather! Ugh...'
Opal emerges, awoken by the noise and glares at everyone sleepily, "We being attscked Gwyn?"
Lian fumbles with her belt and shuffles around in a pouch. She takes a few herbs out and puts them in her canteen before waving her hand over the bottle twice. She Walks up to the strange man beside Mirriam and smiles. "Here, this will stop your nose from running- and it will start here soon. It will help but it won't cure it." She leaves him with the canteen before helping Mirriam dismount. She looks at the horse before walking with her friend behind the carriage. "How are you, where have you been, what's happened?" as she speaks the horse walks over to the rest of its kind and quickly becomes aquainted. (I hate spelling!)
"Ok so not an attack, seems more like a party than anything else..." Opal is muttering to herself again, a veyr bad habit. She wanders over to the wagon to wake Dtalk up as this will probably make more sense to him.
Robin gladly accepts the bottle and uses it. His nose did stop running, but he could feel that he indeed was still sick. 'It's better than a constantly running nose.'
He wanted to say "Thank you" but Lian had already gone to Mirriam. Logical, as they probably had a lot of catching up to do.
'I guess I'll thank her later then.'
Robin looks around, and wonders what to do next. Go to sleep? he was tired, but this was an entirely new party to him. But Mirriam trusted them...
So Robin sat against the nearest tree, quickly falling into an uneasy slumber.
Gwyn tosses her hands up into the air and sinks down next to opal. She looks at her and raises an eyebrow, "You as lost as I am or is it perfectly normal to have strange people barge into you're camp..."
Dtalk mumbles incoherently, lost in the sleepy state of half-consciousness as Opal tries to wake him.
Seeing Opal make the new group known to Dtalk, Roth wanders over to the wagon, leaving his steed to wander as well, knowing that he would not leave without his rider.
Looking at Gwyn as she rants about the intrusion, Roth feels a sense of guilt, but doesn't let on. Climbing up inside the wagon, he nudges Dtalk awake to speak shortly in private for a few moments.
Qéla watches Robin with curiosity while he drifts off to sleep by the tree. He approaches slowly, trying not to wake the young man, and sits down beside him.
Vasseht watches the entire scene with distaste, but remains silent, seeking a clean place to rest until morning, when this would all be worked out.
Robin finds himself coughing and sniffling while he rests.
Robin opens his eyes, finding he couldn't really sleep. he was cold as well. When he wants to grab his backpack he sees somebody sitting besides him. It was one of their captors, he believed they called him Quela, or Qelai or something with a Q anyway. He looks up, not knowing if he'd have to thank the guy or dislike him. He decided for both.
"Goodnight to you sir. I guess I must thank you for bringing us to our goal, though I must say, the way of doing so wasn't entirely... pleasing. I'm sorry, but if you were paralysed I think you'd find the same thing."
Then Robin grabs his bag anyway, takes out a blanket and lays it over himself. He coughs again, sniffs, and wonders if this Qeul, Qa, Qem, Q person, will reply, or still want to sit next to him now.
The har named Vasseht finds little purpose in remaining awake, and begins to try drifting off to sleep for a bit.
Qéla lowers his eyes as the young man soeaks to him, looking down at his hands as they hold his knees in front of him, a tiny smirk raising on the right corner of his lips.
"That man, Vasseht," he says "Believe it or not, he is the one in charge of this operation. He called for you to be held fast, so that you couldn't escape."
Looking directly into Robin's eyes, he explains, "You could have been attackers, and it was our duty to see Dtalk and his party safely out of Irrundanil before joining them on the trail."
Once again looking to his knees, the lean and effeminate man speaks quietly, saying, "I apologize for the distress, myself, but it was all three of us who held you steady."
Qéla looks back at Robin's face, seeing his blushed, wet nose and droopy eyes, and chuckling lightly a little at his soaked appearance.
"I bet you feel like hell" he says, and chuckles.
"Tiahaar Qéla Ilarion" he introduces himself, extending a hand to the sniffling, soggy Robin.
Dtalk follows Roth back out of the wagon's drapes, and past Lian and Mirriam, who Dtalk pauses to talk to.
"We are going for a walk on the paths. I'll return shortly. They would like to remain with us.... Is this alright?"
robin gets a small grin and shakes the hand. "Robin Woodsman, and yes, I do feel like hell."
He leans against the tree again and says: "I don't really blame you for paralysing us, you were just doing your job. I just didn't know why and that's annoying, when there are people with bows and blades and all."
He smiles, and finally begins to warm up to him a bit.
Qéla nods in agreement, then smiles.
"Surely you understand the dangers of the lands... You look like you have seen many things.. Where are you from?"
His warm and delicate face peers at Woodsman's runny nose as he waits for an answer, and says quietly while still listening, "Hold still a moment."
He reaches up with his hand to lightly brush Robin's forehead with the tips of his slender fingers.
The rain has stopped, but a new, cool, calm feeling subdues Robin into a very relaxed state while the har retracts his hand slowly, and hands Robin a cloth kerchief.
Moonstone puts his head in Gwyns lap and looks at her resignedly as if to say 'make all the strange people go away', Opal grins at her "Normal is generally a relative term around mages, but I have an idea, come on," and grasping Gwyns arm she pulls her up and stalks over to the Har with her wolf following behind them.
Gwyn shrugs and takes Opal's hand, walking along willingly.
Robin nods "Yes I know the dangers."
After Qela's touch Robin felt much better "Thank you, Qela. So, as we are talking anyway, I saw the girl over there is Lian, whom we were searching for, but who are the others? I wanna know who I camp with. And I'm quite sure they do too..."
Lian looks up to Dtalk and nods. "It's fine with me if they stay. Friends of yours are friends of mine." She begins to get up, but seeing that everyone is leaving or drifting off to sleep, she decides to leave introductions till the morning.
"Where should I sleep?" Mirriam asks, feeling weariness steal over her.
"I think there is plenty of room in the carriage..." with that the two iiaras bring their sleeping items into the protection of the carriage.
Dtalk grins sleepily at her, then looks to the girl Mirriam saying, "Good night, and sleep well. Lian, I'll take the rest of the night, and stay up, since Roth will keep me awake, I'm sure."
Roth grins wryly, and hits Dtalk in the shoulder, which makes him chuckle.
Then, seeing Opal and another unknown girl approach from behind, Roth turns to them as they walk forward.
Qéla looks to the others.
"I'm not sure I'm up for introductions right now..." he says lightly. "But I know that the girl Lian is a friend of Dtalk, the dark-skinned man there, speaking with my comrade Roth. That winged girl there is Opal char, and I'm not sure about the other girl. No one has seen her before, not from my party."
Taking a glance at Vasseht, who has managed to put himself into a sleep, Qéla says, "And the angry one, Vasseht, is asleep finally. I thought he'd never be quiet."
"Roth, why are random people following us?" Opal asks, smiling sweetly.
Gwyn blushes slightly, taking a step to stand next to Opal, her shoulder touching her wing.
Robin looks at the persons while Qela names them. Then finally his eyes stop at Vasseht. "Yes, we could overhear your fight. What was wrong anyways? I couldn't entirely follow it, being paralysed and fearing for my life and all..."
Qéla chuckles heartily at Robin, and says, "Fearing for your life.... I'll tell you, the ones that actually FEAR are typically not the ones that make stupid moves when confronted, and therefore you were never in any danger. Your innocence," he pauses a moment, "would have saved you anyways."
Looking at Robin's deep-set eyes, he suggests, "Sleep, rest, just lie back, but be still. I can clearly see that you are not in good health yet, so just lie back, as I will do, and when morning approaches, we will make introductions, I'm sure."
As he says, Robin does notice his underlying sickness, which is kept at bay by the har's earlier cleansing touch for the moment.
Roth looks around the forest edge for a moment, leaning his head to listen. He then answers Opal.
"There are no further approachers, I assure you. These two were apparently on their way to find Lian, when my comrades and I cut them off, thinking that they were perhaps stalkers, intent on killing mages, or even others with more horrific intents."
Glancing at Gwyn, he continues, "I don't remember seeing you the evening I met Dtalk's other friends. What is your name, miss?"
Dtalk comments, "Gwyn, this is my dear friend Roth. Roth, the young maiden Gwyn found herself fainting on my front doorstep one evening after you'd been gone for a few days, and the girls and I nursed her back to health. She's been with us ever since.
"No wonder Vasseht's angry. We didn't know about her at all... I'm sorry," he says, extending a hand, "Nice to meet you."
He shakes his head a moment, his handsome face cringing at the idea of Vasseht screaming at him in light of day, while he thoroughly out-stepped his authority in lieu of a detail they had all missed until this evening.
"Tomorrow may be an unpleasant day," he warns Dtalk.
"I'll be prepared." Dtalk answers.
"Gwyn, these...men...will be accompanying me on my trip, and have a location that they must take me to." Dtalk begins to explain things to the girl, when Roth's face goes sour, and Dtalk finds himself revealing too many details in front of the har.
"We will have to be more discreet, tiahaar," Roth suggests to Dtalk. Looking to Gwyn and Opal once more, he shifts his weight from one leg to another, and crosses his arms on his chest.
"I'm sorry" Dtalk says to the girls, "but we should speak more in the morning. I would sincerely like to speak in private with my friend for a while. Could you excuse us?"
He tries not to put them off, but he senses Roth's quickly-growing impatience intuitively, and decides to leave intros until morning.
Robin nods a Qela, and says "Thank you once more for surpressing that illness. I might be able to get some rest now."
He lay down and pulled the blanket far over his shoulder. After laying awake for quite awhile, he eventualy did fall asleep.
Gwyn shrugs and without saying a word, spins on her foot to go back to her tree. She sits down moodily on the soil, a look of bewildered anger stuck on her face. She crosses her arms over her chest and huffs stubbornly.
Opal joins her after a moment, her hands buried in the fur at moonstones neck. "The har really annoy me you know. One moment they're friendly as anything and the next they're sulking and refusing to explain why." she's speaking low at the moment to avoid being overheard.
Gwyn nods vigorously, "He's the first one Ive met and I already agree." She reaches out to stroke moonstone's nose a bit.
"You know he really likes you," Opal looks a bit affronted, "he's not supposed to like other people, he's supposed to be my familiar come bodyguard."
Gwyn giggles and lets her hand slide under his chin to give him a good scratch, "I don't know....For some reason Ive always been liked by animals. Heh, thats how I met my not-so-familiar familiar." she sighs and folds her hands in her lap, looking up at Opal. "About him...I'm extremely sorry..."
Dtalk and Roth walk off into the woods for some time. It seems everyone else, besides Opal and Gwyn are drifting to sleep.
"Ah that's fine, he didn't actually manage to hurt me you know. And I do think Dtalk overeacted a bit, he's scary when he's mad." They sit in silence for a few moments, "What exactly happened to him anyway, your familiar I mean?" Opal asks.
Gwyn snorted back laughter, "I doubt he could hurt you! He's just a jerk....Eh, with his 'big responsibilities'....Probably boozing in some other universe." she giggles softly at her mocking him.
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