Bridge Across The Myrannen Tributaries
From Journeying the Milsnivvah and the Hara Leave
Down the winding river's edge, far away and behind the Kieen forces, a party of mounted riders comes upon a worn and broken bridge that hangs perilously over a fast-moving section of the streaming tributary of the Myrannen River
Qela lets Dtalk pass as he nods to him, indicating his need to lead them.
He dismounts, his golden robes falling around him as he lands rather gracefully.
Reaching into his belt pouch, he retrieves two medallions and closes the pouch up once more.
Dtalk sets the medallions on the tops of the two banisters that hold up the rotted, worn ropes and boards that extend to the other shore. He then taps the insides and outsides of the posts in a patterned fashion, one that he has obviously done many times before, and within moments, the bridge becomes a fine, well-made rope bridge with excellent wooden planking.
"This bridge took nearly two weeks to build, and another two to enchant," he explains lightly, hoping that Vasseht was not still in ear's reach. They had tried their best to stay away from where they perceived him to be.
"We can take the horses across, as well," Dtalk informs the others.
"We have a stablery at the estate. Don't be afraid if everything feels awkward when we reach the other side..... That always happens."
Roth and Qela both give the dark man an inquisitive look, but say nothing.
As the horses cross the bridge, it sways peacefully over the water, and at the other side, the air ripples and glides away from the horses and riders like water itself.
Dtalk steps out onto a small pathway from out of a circular stone passageway, onto a gravel path between four sets of stone pillars, shaped like giant obelisk-talons that jut toward the sky.
Just a ways off from the pathway is a fine house and farm estate, with a complete marsh, lake, field, and forest in its midst. Odd and mystic trinkets adorn the lawns and gardens, where many herbs and plants sprout forth abundantly.
"He needs to pick those," Dtalk says, gesturing toward the tomato plants.
"Is this going to be safe....for us?" Roth asks hesitantly.
"You will be fine," Dtalk assures him, and steps toward the farmhouse.
Robin looks around, pleasantly surprised by the many plants. After he had been to a few villages which would sacrifice their dearest possesions for some food he always appreciated vegetables and fruits and the plants that grew them.
"So what was this place again?" he asks, while his mood is getting better.
A man in grey robes stalks out from behind the main house-building, a full pile of roots and herbs in his arms.
"Dtalk!" he cries, lifting his whole body up at the word.
"How good to see you! On your way to the south again, I take it?"
"Dystanul, it is great to see you too. We are looking for a place to rest and stay unhindered by some who might follow us..." he explains. "The big garden is looking overgrown."
The man known as Dystanul laughs.
"Ah, yes. Today was the day to start on the side garden, and this afternoon is the big one. I may start seeding the field tonight as well, if all goes according to plan," he chit chats with Dtalk.
Dystanul is an elderly human male, dressed in fine grey robes of the sort that any aristocrat or wealthy merchant might wear, but less intricate in detail. It is obvious by the eccentric objects strewn about the lawn that this man is educated in arcane magic and items of the same purport. The gate entrance into the estate was only the beginning, it seems.
"Well, you know that you are safe here. I have not known a single entity capable of following us here at any time before now, and I doubt that it will happen as you are here," he explains.
Looking back to the back field, he says, "So, if you boys want to rope those horses up, you can start helping me with these herbs and vegetables, and I can get Maraya to cook us up a fair meal..." he suggests.
"Maraya?" Dtalk inquires.
"A new pupil. One of Lockheird's daughters. A very skilled girl. Good with divination and cards. You'd enjoy talking with her after dinner," he answers.
"Are you....staying for a while?" he asks Dtalk.
"Well," he says, glancing back to the group, "we are actually on our way out of Eastonia, and we needed..... a safe place. This one here," he gestures to Robin, "Is very sick. To the point where you may not be able to heal him..."
Dystanul Shshshs's him, noting his amusment at the challenge.
"Oh, Dtalk, you'd be surprised what hard-boned ailments I can cure with this new girl. She's good, and getting better."
Shaking his head, he tries to collect his thoughts once more.
"Well, we can bring him inside, and get him started on something to fix him right up, and you and the others can start on the back garden. Sound good?"
Dtalk nods, and looks up to Robin.
"Follow him inside. He'll see what he can do about the sickness," he says to him.
Roth and Qéla dismount, and tie up the horses.
Dystanul smiles warmly at the boy, and beckons him inside as he carries the plants inside.
Robin looked at Dystanul and it seemed like a friendly man, so he followed him inside the house. On his way to the front door he picked up a herb which had fallen from the old man's arms and carries it inside as well.
"This way, this way," the old man says warmly, "Watch your step, there's a lot of things in the way..... Spring cleaning, you know."
He's right. There is stuff piled on tables, chairs, desks, and the floor. It looks like it may have been organized at one point in time, but that day is not today.
Noticing the herb he had dropped in Robin's hand, he smiles.
"Oh, thank you, lad. Very kind of you.... Say, do you know the name of the herb you're holding?" he quizzes him churlishly, his round, red cheeks rising as his smile takes over his face. He tries blowing a stray strand of hair out of his eyes as it falls over the middle of his face.
After taking Robin through the front arbor room, the two find themselves in a large den.
Dystanul warmly awaits the boy's answer.
Robin slightly smirked. "No, I'm a hunter, so I know more about animals. And to be honest I'm the kind of man who enjoys flowers but doesn't have the slightest idea of their names or their uses."
Robin looks around the den and makes sure he doesn't step on anything either while looking.
Dystanul's smile drops momentarily as he listens to the boy's answer, and after, one side of his lips rises into a thought-filled smile.
"Wolf's Bane," he answers simply, and continues walking into the next room.
As he enters the kitchen, there is a woman in there, brooding over a smoking cauldron. She looks up as they enter, her face expressionless as Dystanul then explains.
"It is a very potent and powerful herb, one that many animals do not attempt to eat or even go near it, as it can be very poisonous. It is an incredible herb for ritual, and even better for medicinal purposes."
He pauses, putting down his large stack of plants and roots, and courteously accepting the Wolf's Bane from Robin, and putting it on top of the other.
"Right, Maraya?" he says to the silent girl.
"Well, actually, it isn't very poisonous by itself. It's poisons are set off by the acids in the digestive tract of animals. It's actually non-harmful to birds and lizards, who have no such acids in their stomachs," she says politely, in a quiet tone.
She looks up at Dystanul, hoping for acceptance of the answer.
"Very well done, my girl," he says heartily, patting her gently on the back.
"Now, as for you, I have just the thing..." he says to Robin. He goes to a cupboard, opening it, and rummaging through a huge stash of jars and vials.
"Hmmmm, now where is it?" he questions himself.
Maraya smiles warmly and silently as he rummages, continuing to stir the mixture she was preparing in the huge black pot.
Robin wonders if he might have insulted the old man slightly with his answer, but then follows him into the kitchen. He looks at Maraya and nods as a greeting because he didn't know if the two herbalists wanted to be disturped by conversations. Then he watches Dystanul going through his stuff, wondering what he'd have for him.
Looking back and forth between Robin and Dystanul, Maraya stops stirring for a moment, and extends a hand over to the boy, who is only a few years older than she, and says, "Well, I think my mentor is a little too distracted to introduce us...."
She smiles a wide, warm smile.
"Maraya," she speaks her name with her hand extended to him over the huge pot.
"Oh, silly me, I'm sorry. I was lost in thought..." Dystanul says, his head still inside the cupboard.
"I just kept thinking of how I'd need to introduce you to Dtalk.... I just plain forgot about this new boy..."
He pulls a jar of dried herbs out of the pantry finally, and looks over to the boy curiously.
"Say, what IS your name, boy?" he asks politely.
Robin shakes Mayara's hand and then turns to the old man.
"Yes, I'm sorry I haven't introduced myself either. My name is Robin Woodsman. Nice to meet you both." he said with a friendly smile. "I understood you and Dtalk know each other?"
Dystanul laughs wholeheartedly.
"Hahaha, KNOW him? Robin, my dear boy... Both Dtalk and his father owe their well-being to this house. I taught his father the Arts, and I taught Dtalk nearly everything he knows. Dtalk grew up as a boy, doing exactly what this beautiful young girl is doing now..."
Laying a hand on Maraya's shoulder, his comment makes her blush, her eyes dancing over to Robin only momentarily.
"He was a clever student, and a wonderful helper. Here, chew this."
He suddenly hands off a root that he pulled from one of the jars, sniffing it once before placing it in Robin's hand.
"Don't swallow it, just chew," he explains.
"This house, my boy, is probably older than you by another two lifetimes, and had many more stories than it has years of life."
His eyes seems older as he says the words, and a glimmer of memory shines behind his eyes. He takes in a deep breath, and opens a cupboard in the lower pantry, which gives off a faint steam as its opened.
"Oh, goodness, we're going to have to chip the ice off the insides of the icebox again...." he says.
Maraya sighs, knowing it will most likely be her job once the brew is finished. She continues stirring, looking down into the cauldron in concentration.
As he pulls out a singel vial of a red liquid, he hands it to Robin, uncorking it, and asks, "So, Robin, where are you from? ..Oh, yes, drink that."
Robin, who had just begun chewing on the root, took the vial and asked: "Do I have to drink it while chewing on this thing?"
Even though he had the root in his mouth it came out understandable, but it did sound a bit funny.
"Only after the root loses its flavor.... Is it doing that?" Dystanul asks.
Indeed, the bittersweet taste of the root is quickly becoming a bland starchy feel, that is more texture than anything else.
"If so, spit that out in this," gesturing to a bucket of food scraps, he continues, "Then drink the mixture. You'll be healed of nearly everything outside of mummy rot.... And I expect that you most likely have not been digging up any ancient kings of the dynasties of the past?"
He poses the question more as a rhetorical joke, smiling warmly.
Robin spat the root at the other food scraps and drank the potion. He slightly smirked and answered: "I don't think so, unless one of Dtalk's friends lost his bandages or something. Thank you anyways for the cure, I was beginning to feel really miserable. When will it start working anyway? And now we're talking about, what exactly did I catch up? Dtalk or somebody, might have been Qela too, said it was lethal."
Dystanul takes the vial from him, smiling and answering, "Oh, probably just some horrid parasite or a blood infection... Nothing a little Velar root and an elixir of air elementals can't clear up..... It won't take long... You'll be feeling like a million gold coins by tomorrow morning."
As he places the empty vial in the sink, Maraya goes into the other room to grab her shadow book.
Dystanul begins sorting the plants he had brought in, and says, "Well, you may feel well enough to join us for a fire tonight, but you need rest and a good meal first."
Maraya walks back into the room, and he takes the book from her.
"I'll finish this, if you would be kind enough to show the young Robin to the spare rooms..." he suggests to her.
She nods and smiles, gesturing for Robin to follow her down the hall, where she heads to.
As she leads him into a small room with a soft cot in the corner, beside a cluttered lamp table, she gestures inside.
"Go ahead and rest for a while... Let the potion take effect while you're not working to death, and I'll bring some food up after it's been prepared," she instructs him.
The slow sensation of cooling, soothing herbs sets in, and the thought of lying down doesn't sound too bad.
Outside the nearby window, Dtalk speaks loudly, laughing every so often, along with the other hara. Birds and insects whir and chirp, and it seems like a very peaceful setting.
It is soothing to know that you are no longer in any danger from Vasseht and the others, and that your body is back on track.
Robin thankfully smiles at Maraya. "Thank you once more for the medicine and for your hospitality. I'll see you all at dinner again then."
Robin walked to the bed and lay down, falling to sleep quite fast into a dreamless slumber.
"Rest well, Robin of the Woods," Maraya replies as he gets into the bed.
She walks out of the room, peering back in once more, to see if he would remove any of his clothes. When he doesn't, she walks off down the hall, sighing.
When he wakes it is nearly nighttime, when the dusk sky changes from blue to a violet grey.
Outside, Dtalk and Roth can still be heard, moving the last of the wood logs into a pile by the fire, joking and laughing with each other.
Robin sits up, and notices he is beginning to feel better. Inside his head he thanks the old herbalist once more, and then swings his legs over the edge of the bed. He looks outside the window and sees the night is starting to replace the day already. He listens a while to the sounds of Dtalk's and Roth's voices, but he can't understand any words of what they say. He looks around the room once more, seeing no food and concluding dinner wasn't ready yet. He also understood the many plants outside a bit better now. Or, at least he understood why they grew so fast. The climate was wet and warm and the sweat had stuck his shirt to his back. He removed his shirt and lay on the bed, on the blankets instead of underneath it. He wondered for a while if he'd take off his pants as well, but realised that as the food hadn't been brought in yet, Maraya could walk in any moment. He figured he'd spare the girl that experience. He lay down and this time he didn't really fall asleep. It was more a state of absent-mindedness than anything else.
After a few quiet moments, Dtalk and Roth can be heard walking inside, laughing along with Dystanul, who opens the door for them.
Maraya walks in, and sees Robin awake.
"Oh, it's good to see you awake.... You must be feeling better."
She smiles, leaning down to pick up his shirt from the floor beside the bed.
"Dinner is almost ready, but Dystanul says that you should eat in here tonight, and for you to take the time to rest. I'll bring it in shortly...." she pauses, looking at him for a moment.
"I hope you like roast boar," she muses as she walks toward the door, turning back once to see his answer.
Robin's mind came back to reality as Maraya began speaking. He listened and sat up. He smiled and said: "Roast boar would be just fine, thank you. And I'm indeed beginning to feel a lot better, thank Dystanul again for me."
He accepted his shirt from her, but didn't put it on. Instead he took another shirt which wasn't all dirty from his bag and put it on.
"Silly boy, I will wash this," she says, pulling the shirt back out of his hands.
"Give me that one, too."
She takes the clothes, smiling, and says, "I'll get another for you... It will get cooler tonight. No sense in wearing dirty clothes.... Dear heavens, these are filthy. I'll wash them, you rest."
With that, she leaves, smiling.
As Robin is left shirtless on the bed, it is very peaceful in the room, and quiet, calming sounds outside drift in through the open window.
Robin must have drifted off to sleep for a few minutes or so, as he realizes when Qéla walks in the room through the doorway, carrying a platter full of sweet-smelling meat and veggies.
"Hey, you awake?" he asks, walking in.
"I brought you food. Figured I'd keep you company while they are outside... They're eating, and making a fire afterward."
Sitting the food down on a chair nearby, he moves a small table over to the bedside, and sits the food platter on the top of it.
"Here, it's really good. I already ate, as I was helping Maraya... She really likes you," he says.
He lowers his eyes as he smiles warmly. Looking off to a nearby lantern, he lights it with an odd spark from his fingertip, and the room becomes visible once more.
"She's not the only one...." he says quietly, sitting down near the bed on the floor. He keeps his eyes from looking at Robin's bare chest.
Robin sat up and frowned, wondering what Qéla exactly meant with 'like', in both cases. Robin had an idea about what it might mean, but he just pushed it away from his mind as that hadn't happened in years anymore.
"Thank you for bringing the food and keeping me company, and I suppose I find Maraya a very kind girl too, but what did you mean with that last thing you said?"
Qela tries to keep his cool, but ends up blushing rather profusely, keeping his eyes away from Robin's.
"Only that you are notably well-mannered and respectful.... And that she... as well as others..... would find you appealing to their tastes in..... Well....." he pauses, losing his line of thought.
"I'm afraid I'm beating around the bush..." he looks up into Robin's eyes only momentarily, when there is a loud crash outside, along with a large amount of commotion and yelling on the part of Roth and Dtalk.
Qéla jumps to his feet, running to the door.
"Stay here," he warns Robin, then leaves the room quickly.
Outside, the voices of Vasseht and his crony can be heard shouting at and against Roth and Dtalk. There is the sound of fighting that lasts only moments.
Robin frowned and some voice in his head said: 'It was too good to be true anyway.', while another said 'Oops, busted'.
Robin stood up, looked if Qela had gone and stared outside the window to see what happened.
The fighting had lasted only seconds, and not much is visible from the window. The noises still continue, however, and it is obvious that Qéla has gotten outside a bit too late.
Vasseht and his large-bodied crony are headed away on horseback, after taking only enough time to attain their revenge on the hara, and to dash away into the forests once more. Outside, Qela can be heard crying out in anguish over the painful site before him. Dystanul and Maraya are holding each other within sight of the window, and Maraya has a terrible look of dread on her face as she stares down in horror at the ground outside. Flickering torchlight lights up the side of the yard as Qéla is heard wimpering and howling somewhere nearby.
Suddenly, Maraya shoulders herself away from the elderly man's grasp and runs back inside. Dystanul is left staring sadly down at the side of the building.
Vasseht and the other are nowhere in sight or within hearing anymore....it was so fast that it may not have even happened, had it not been for the remaining painful sobs issuing themselves from Qéla's mouth.
Robin's head falls against the window, his eyes closed. 'Just when you think you're safe... They did everything they could to help me, and they didn't even know me. And now they're dead. I didn't even have time to thank them... I don't even know why they did it...'
Robin's eyes open, and he stares to the ground, not really seeing anything. He was listening to Qela's crying, and wondered if he should go to him. But then again, what could he do? He knew Dtalk and the others as much as they knew him. Unless they knew something he didn't. Even so, he didn't share Qela's memories, nor thoughts, and so there was little he could say to comfort him, probably. Robin turned away and sat on the bed, his head leaning on his hands.
A few moments after the outer door has closed, Maraya comes hurriedly through the door to the small room, looking panicked.
"You're still here. Oh, dear, I thought they might have tried to kidnap you after what Dtalk had said about your journey. Are you okay? Did you see what happened?" she half sobs while firing away questions at the seated man.
"They took Dtalk.... And, and.... Roth's dead. They got him with a blade. Oh, it was so fast..." she tries to explain, hiding her lower face in her hands.
Robin stood up, thoughts going through his head 'Dtalk is dead... or at least, it isn't sure... But Roth, by a blade. At least it went fast, there are worse ways to die...'
Then Robin forced the little optimistic voice inside him to look so bright upon the death of somebody who had helped him just a few days ago. Then he looked at Maraya. "No, they didn't get up here. And I didn't see it either, I just saw Vasseht and the other one race away on their horses. I'm okay, I think. Shocked, scared maybe, but otherwise okay... I'm glad Dtalk is not necessarily dead, although I wish not to think about what they could do to him..."
Maraya sighs heavily, the thought of it running through her mind. She lets out a light whimper, when the terrible mental images are too much for her. She sits down on the edge of the bed, her mouth and nose still hiding behind her slender fingers.
"How in the world did they get here?" she asks, looking up suddenly at Robin's face.
"It is so terrible difficult to get through the gates here, aside from the proper rite (ritual) of passage.... Oh, poor Qela... He is so sorrow-stricken..."
Outside, his sobs still issue quietly forth from near the front of the house.
"When he came out and saw Roth's body on the ground, he thought he might still be able to help him. When he didn't move, he just..." She stops, only listening.
After a few sullen moments, she wonders, "Where do you think they could have taken him? Dtalk, I mean?"
Robin sat down besides her as she talked, and shrugged on that last question "I don't know. I don't really know them. I just got kidnapped, and they dragged me along untill I escaped with Dtalk and... Poor Qela..."
Maraya nods her head in agreement, looking sad about the whole ordeal, when Dystanul passes in front of the window.
Maraya stands up to see what is going on, and sees him leaning down to the hara's sides.
Qela is still sobbing, and Dystanul gently presses him aside to check the body with his fingers on his neck and chest.
"I'm sorry," he says gently to Qela near his friend's side, and extends his arms to the har. Qela embraces him for a moment, then releases him and stands, walking away in quick strides, holding a hand up to his mouth. He walks away toward the rear of the house, while Dystanul looks down at the body somewhat knowingly, and with a light frown on his features.
"Oh, he is so upset," Maraya comments on Qela's mood, moving away from the windowsill slowly.
"I guess you and I will have to help move the body to the shed... Wait, you're sick. You should stay here and rest, and Dystanul and I will take care of him."
She begins moving toward the door.
"When will I be able to go outside again? I feel useless, not being able to go outside and all..." Robin said when she stood up. He looked outside, feeling sorry for Qela and for not being able to help.
"Please, is there anything I can do?"
She walks silently over to him, and lays the back of her hand along his forehead to test his temperature.
"You should be fine, so come outside, but if Dystanul thinks you're not ready, he'll say so. You can help me carry him to the shed, where the body can be prepared to go out on the river. Come," she says, brushing his arm.
"Put this on," she says, and hands him a shirt as she leaves the room, and heads out front.
Outside, Dystanul is sitting beside the body of the beautiful har, his dark hair tossed over his neck and face, and blood seeping from a wound at his side. The blade cut straight through his thick leather armors.
Dystanul stands as Robin walks out, and says, "Oh, Robin, please..." he begins.
Maraya says, "He's feeling better, and wants to help. He heard what happened."
Dystanul gives him a calm look of sympathy.
"People have been killed today. Maybe more than he," and gestures at Roth's body. "Dtalk is gone, too.."
"I told him," Maraya says to him.
Dystanul nods slowly, and moves to the house, thinking to himself.
"I'll return," he says, and walks to the shed nearby.
When he returns moments later, he is carrying two long poles with a sheet of cloth draped between them.
"Move him over onto this here," he says, and lays out the stretcher by his side.
"Help me, Robin, if you will," Dystanul asks.
Qela walks from behind the house, tears drying on his cheeks.
"Robin, grab his feet, and I'll get his upper half," Qela's voice comes out cold and a little upset still.
Dystanul moves out of his way, seeing that he wishes to take control of this.
Robin nods and takes his feet. On the count of three they lift him and put him on the stretcher. When Roth was put down Robin looks at Qela. "I'm sorry for you Qela. If there's anything I can do... well, you know, tell me."
Qela lowers his head for a moment, and nods silently.
"Let's just get him up and out of the open... He needs to be prepared for death. It is only proper," he says mournfully.
Dystanul lowers his head sympathetically.
Hoping to break the tense mood, Maraya says quickly, "Well, we can take him into the shed. There is a long medic's table in there to prop him on..."
A set of tears roll down Qéla's cheeks as he says in sobs, "One, two, three, lift."
He lifts the two poleson the sides of the makeshift stretcher, with Roth lying in the draped cloth between them, his side still seeping blood and staining the cloth badly.
Qela sniffs once as he takes him toward the shed.
Maraya pats Robin on the shoulder once as they move away from the place of his wounding, giving the man a sympathetic look.
Robin apreciated the look, but is too busy lifting Roth to reply. Inside the shed Roth is put on the table, and Robin looks at him once more, making a gesture towards him, in his religion meaning something like "Rest in peace".
Qela gives the table a very far-off look, while he says, "Thank you, I can take care of it from here... Good night, Robin Woodsman. Please ask the old man to come in here, to help me if he can."
He sullenly begins to uncloth and clean the wound while holding back all his most terrible feelings.
Dystanul enters as Robin is exiting the shanty, patting him on the shoulder and saying, "Why don't you go on inside and have something warm to drink, and get some rest. I'll help him and secure the plantation, and I'll be with you for breakfast."
As Robin walks in, arm in arm with Maraya, they find their way to the kitchen, where Maraya brews up a fresh kettle of Kagé teawine, and the two console each other quietly for a while.
Dystanul helps Qela for a few moments, then leaves to secure the perimeter and entrances into the estate by magickal means, fearing the return of the angry harrish thugs.
After a warm brew of light, musky teawine, Robin and Maraya find themselves exhausted, Robin because of the drink and his remaining minor sickness, which is nearly gone.
After retiring to each other's respective rooms, the two drift off to sleep rather well.
In the morning, Robin is awaken by the odd scent of bacon, onion, eggs and pine nuts cooking over the makeshift stove oven just outside the kitchen double doorway.
Dystanul is sitting down to the table that Maraya is sitting at, while steaming food is sittong on platters. Juice and warm black tea sit in containers on the table.
Qéla can be seen in the common room, sipping on a large flask of an acrid liqueor and staring at the wall. He doesn't notice Robin's entrance, but both Dystanul and the girl look up at his figure.
Dystanul says in a light tone, "Sit and have some early morning black tea. Fix yourself some of that up on the counter, too, if you're in the mood to eat."
Having finally beaten the worst of the sickness, all seems back to normal with Robin's body, and the mention of food does arouse a certain craving. Pine nuts and needles give the food an odd but alluring scent.
Maraya eats silently, sipping on her warm tea.
Robin gratefully takes some of the food, and eats it quick, with something of a smile on his face. Every now and then he drinks some of his tea. When he's finished he sits back a little, enjoying the absentness of the hungry feeling. "That was a very good meal, thank you."
Then, a little bit softer, so it wouldn't be heard in the common room "How is Qela faring? He doesn't look like he's coping with Roth's demise well."
"You are most welcome," Dystanul asserts to his thanks.
Maraya shakes her head slowly, agreeing with his statement, but does not answer.
A moment later, he realizes why.
From the common room, Qéla, with his exceptional hearing and sight, lifts himself up groggily from the floor, spilling a bit of spirits on the wooden floor, and walks through the kitchenry with flask in hand.
Heading toward the door, he looks at the group in disdain, glaring at Robin.
"Leave it to the bloody humans to speak like I'm not here..." he mutters, and walks out of the room, leaving the three in tense silence for a moment.
After the front door shuts behind the har, Dystanul says to Robin, "He is very good at hearing us, apparently, and he is bitter for now. His anger will pass, I assure you, but for now, he is drunk and despairing. Roth was his lord and mentor, and not easily substituted.... He will be more sympathetic in time... For now, it is us who should remain sympathetic to him."
"That's why we have left him alone this morning, to do as he pleases... He is acting very strangely for now... Not like he was when everything was well last night," Maraya adds, then begins eating once more.
"How do you like the pine-cooked meats?" she asks, gratified by his reaction to the food.
Dystanul smiles warmly at the boy.
Robin, slightly confused by the sudden shift of the subject, looks at his dish. "The food uh... ow yes, it was really good, I don't think I've ever quite eaten this well. The inns I usually visit mostly don't make meas this rich."
He smiled a bit, and decided to go along with the subject, thinking it would probably be better if Qela had some time for himself, like Dystanul and Maraya said.
The morning conversation is light and cheery, as Qela spends time outdoors quietly by himself. Dystanul and Maraya talk about the story the hara had told of what happened the day before, and asked him questions about it, making the conversation a pleasant one.
After a moment's pause after this, Dystanul looks to the boy after sipping his warm drink, and asks, "So now what do you propose that you will do? Qéla speaks only of avenging Roth's death, but his words are... Well, I would say they are shallow. He has no look of death in his eyes... only anguish. He will do this only if he loves his own death as much as he loves his lord's..."
At the end of his assumptions, his eyes went to the front patio, where no sound could be heard, but where he was sure that Qéla was within hearing distance.
"Surely, you would have no part of that, I would think... What shall you choose best, now that you are on your way to good health?" he continues.
Maraya looks on curiously.
Robin looks at Dystanul, and came to the conclusion that question hadn't crossed his mind yet. Robin started thinking. What did he want? "I... I don't know. A lot has happened lately, at least for my standards. I've helped a young woman find an old friend, that wasn't too bad, but then I got abducted, got fatally ill, escaped from Vasseht and the other one, got here and got cured, for which I am still very gratefull to you. Seeing my former life excisted mostly of hunting and living a fairly quiet life this was quite an experience. I don't wish to pursue Vasseht along with Qela, one because I didn't really know Roth, and second because I wouldn't make a difference anyway. If Vasseht really struck down Roth that fast and was able to take Dtalk... I don't think I could stand up to them. But speaking of Dtalk, he has been very kind to me, and I think I would want to help if somehow we could save him from Roth's fate..."
This said, Robin had both cleared his own mind up a bit, and hopefully gave Dystanul a fairly good answer as well. He did have his doubts though. He really thought he couldn't stand up to Vasseht and that other hara, and it wouldn't change if his quest, if he was going to undertake it at all, shifting from revenge to rescue. He sighed and scratched his head, not knowing what to do.
Dystanul smiles in his warm, comforting way beneath his bushy grey-white beard.
"Robin, my boy... Please do not feel the need to chase after Dtalk. He will be well, and does not need anyone's help.... He has a path that many would never understand, nor walk themselves for that matter. Do not worry yourself about my Dtalk, he will be fine."
Sipping his drink one last time, he stands and says, "Come with me, if you will," as he leads Robin up and out the rear rooms, toward the rear patio.
Maraya sits silently, watching as he leaves, eating her food thoughtfully. She peers toward the front yard only momentarily.
Robin raises an eyebrow, glad Dtalk apperently will be fine, but wondering where Dystanul is going. He stands up and follows him to the rear patio.
Upon opening the large wooden intricately-detailed doorway at the rear of the house, Dystanul slides aside a mesh screen and walks out to the back garden-walk that surrounds nearly the entire backside of his rather large house, beckoning Robin to follow him.
Once along the path, he clears his throat, takes a deep breath, and says, "Robin, my boy, I shall show you my garden, and we will talk. There is much that is known in this house."
"Well, then," he begins, "first, I'd like to ask you how many years of age do you think I have existed on this world?"
He smiles warmly in the mid-morning sunlight at Robin with the pop question.
"Well, " Robin thought for a moment. It sounded like a serious question, not the one where you give an lie for answer to make somebody feel better. "I took you for somebody in his mid 50's. But seeing the question I have this suspicion I guessed wrong."
The elder man chuckles heartily and says, "Oh, it's good to know that I've kept this old carcass in good shape, but no, I am not that young. I have been on this rock for eighty-seven turns of the sunstar, believe it or not. And in that time, I've learned a few things... In fact, I've made quite a name for myself teaching many different people things, too."
He pauses shortly to admire the wildflower fountain along the right side of the stone pathway.
"That 'man' out front is lost right now. I'd like to help him AND you find your way, since you have become a bit lost in all of this as well." He turns, leaning down to raise a vivid blue lily to his nose, sniffing it lightly through his long nostrils.
"This is a good time to find your way... When you have time to smell the flowers, so to speak."
Lifting a tiny jade green stone to the flower, he rubs it against the stem, causing the flower to separate from its base without harm, and within moments, the stem heals over once more.
Standing once more with lily in hands, he turns once more down the pathway.
Robin looks confused. Was he supposed to follow, or should he go and smell the flowers? he shrugged, thinking that if he had more important to say Dystanul would come to him. So Robin began a walk through the garden, smelling flowers. Occasionally he had to sneeze hard, but he did have to admit the old man had a good taste for nice-smelling flowers. He still didn't know what the old man ment though. A good time to find his path. Time to smell the flowers? That almost sounded like he should go and find a druid and become an apprentice... But he doubted the old man ment that. Perhaps he just ment that he should think stuff over now, now he had the time and peace to do it. Either that or there was some flower out here somewhere which would clarify my thougts, a little voice in his mind sarcasticly said when he was smelling another unknown flower.
While the elder man walks down one path, he watches the young Robin stray off around the island garden between the two stepping-stone walkways, holding the lily delicately in his mottled hands.
Seeing the thoughtful look on the boy's face, he pauses at the spot where the two paths meet once more, waiting patiently for the boy to finish his literal interpretation of the man's recommendation to stop and smell the flowers of his garden.
"Come, now. Follow me, this way. There is more... You will have time for yourself when we are finished," he comments, seeing Robin sneeze dazedly at the last flower, a deep orange crocus.
As he begins to walk slowly in his lightly shuffling manner down the stones, he explains further his thoughts.
"You see, like that man out front, you have no ground beneath you anymore that is familiar walking territory... You will find, in time, that you are in fact quite lost as well as he is." He raises his eyebrows and inhales deeply, continuing, "You may even find yourself in some very dark days, with very odd and unfamiliar surroundings... Things might never be the same as they once were for you."
He places the lily in a wooden lattice piece, winding it into the vines and leaves of another plant, that instantly begins wrapping itself around the new flower, incorporating it into itself.
"Very soon, if Qéla finds his feet beneath him again, he may run away from here... Or, he may find his footing, and walk away from here with some form of honour. The plan that was originally in mind for you may not be the same plan he takes, or it may be EXACTLY what he intends... But what it is that you do will ultimately make your path for you."
He pauses to turn around on the path to look Robin in the eyes to say, "Robin of the Woods, I know that you are a humble man of simple thoughts and simple ways, and I know that nothing of his world is familiar to yours.... But some day, perhaps very soon even, he may ask you to become a part of that world that he lives in, and it will seem very frightening to you, I would think."
Taking a deep breath he further continues, "And, I suppose that in your place, I would be a bit reluctant myself to become involved in these plans.... But this is not my choice, you see... It is yours, and only you can walk the path set before your fine boots."
He reaches out with his sandled foot to tap the side of the boots worn by the young man, then smiles warmly as he again continues down the path.
"I cannot say that I could make your choice for you, because it would be foolish for both you and I... But you more than I."
He flashes the boy a sly grin.
"What I can say to you, is that it is first and foremost of importance to know where you come from and where you are going... And then, to whom you do belong. Who is your family? Your tribe? Where are your strengths? Your loyalties? ....There are many things to consider... But it is in your heart that you will forever find the answer."
The old man comes to the end of the present path, which is an open plot of dirt, with a few piles of fine soil placed along the outside, along with the future bulbs and seeds that shall someday be planted here.
"You see this unfinished portion?" he asks suddenly as he stops and gestures to the place.
Robin who followed him, shifted his eyes from the boots, to the portion. He looks at it, can't help noticing the similarity he has with one of those seeds. The seed is something, like him. He is Robin, he's a hunter, he knows some magic. the seed is a plant, which will become blue, or yellow, like it's parents before him. But they would both grow and become something unique during the following time... If he had to believe Dystanul, anyway, and that was something which seemed logical. it had probably already happened. Even if he returned to his old life, right now, he would never be Robin Woodsman again. The abdution, the escape, and especially the losing of his saviors pulled a cut through his mind, and it was likely to leave a scar. he would always wonder what had become of Dtalk, he would never be able to sit in the rain without that first night of meeting the Hara come to his mind. All of this, and possibly more, went through his head in a flash, in one of his rare philosofical moments. Moments he usually quickly banished, as they were unwanted in is former life. Now however, things were different. He held the thought for a few seconds, untill finally the reflex got the best of him and dismissed the thought. But this time, he wouldn't forget it. As soon as he returned to his old thoughflow, he looked at Dystanul. He replied dryly, without really being interested in his answer, more or less trying to find back the thought he just lost. "Yes, I see it. Another plant is to join your garden, I suppose? What will you plant? Herbs?"
The old man smiles warmly, lightly taking the boy's hand in his own, and opening up his palm.
"That, dear Robin, is up to you."
A small spade drops from the man's hand into his own... The tool had been previously unseen beneath the sleeves of the old man's robes.
"While you are here, I will ask only that you help me tend to my gardens, and assist Maraya in preparing dinner for all of us in the evenings. This plot will be yours to finish, in any event, and you will make it appear as you see fit. Qéla may take his leave before it is finished, or he may not, but in either event, this plot will be yours to see to its end. In return, you will have a room of your own in this home, and food and clothes for your days. Does this sound fair?"
He looks up into the boy's eyes with a curious, questioning glow, with the man's smile lining his face in a soft manner that is familiar to Dystanul.
"It will be good for you to ground yourself while these days ahead pass... And, of course, it will be better for your back than for mine..." he says, smiling a bit more widely at Robin beneath his silvery white hair.
Robin smiled. "Yes, it sounds fair. I think I'll take the deal. You'll have to work me in a bit though, I've never had a garden before and never really saw the use of growing plants myself. A vision that has somewhat changed since I've been here though."
He laughed, and took the spade. "I think I'll leave the plot here for what it is for now though. Let's just meet the resto f the garden before I begin with this one. If there's only one plot in the garden not seeded yet, it's best not to ruin it, right?"
"Ah, but there is no way to ruin a garden, now is there?" the man enquires simply, taking a step to turn onto the path once more.
Toward the rear of the huge garden, there is a section of high, looming wildflower patches, across from a stone bench and a tidy altar to a large array of deities, including the Reman and Archaic gods of old. Behind that, there is a contrastingly neat array of fountains and ducts that feed water to the gardens by channels that sprout out from the neat, clustered groups of tidy flowering bushes and grasses.
Past all of this, there is a large section of vegetable gardens, some of it still unsown, that connects the entire rear of the gardens by a curving pathway. Along the pathway, lanterns sit to be lit in night hours.
A huge lantern sits in the midst of the central dias, with three Reman era statues line the three corners of the dias, with short stone benches on all sides of the huge unlit lantern.
"You may look around for some ideas, and have no worries about finding the right supplies... I have a great many books on plants inside for you to see from. I will show you how to plant and seed, and if you would like to learn how to decorate it with items, I have been taking Maraya's advice, since it is so easy for her to see in her mind before she creates it. She sometimes helps me when she is not studying, or working around the estate..."
He begins to wander, looking here and there for things to be tended to.
"Now, Robin, what's important it to take your time and enjoy the things around you.... It is easiest to learn about one's self when you content with your life and your place in it... Take all the time in the world to finish this..." He takes a deep breath as he smiles once more, and says, "Well, it is about time that I spoke with Qéla, since we have to move that body out soon.... It is going to begin to decay soon, and it would be best to have it sent out on the boat as quickly as possible."
He rubs his hands together to get the soil and plant residue off of them, but as well as a nervous habit.
Robin nodded, knowing that if there was one place he could find rest or content it would probably be here. He looks around, taking in the scenery, somewhere in his mind noting that bards could sing songs about this wonderfull place. Then he sighed, not really happy with what had to be done, but knowing he'd have to do this one final act as if to thank Roth. "I will help with the body, if you'll let me."
"If Qéla lets you.." the old man corrects him, and waves for him to come after him as he heads around to the front of the house, hoping that the har would not be too bitter to help the others.
"Yes..." Robin said, sadly sighing a bit. "If Qéla lets me..."
Then he follows Dystanul towards the front, wondering what Qela is doing now.
As Dystanul heads around toward the front of the yard, he can see that the shed door has been swung open once again, and that light can be seen from inside, flickering from within the small oil lamp.
Peeking inside, Dystanul finds Qéla trying to prepare and move the body himself.
"Qéla, what...? Would you like some help...?" the elderly man asks cordially, slowly stepping within the shed's doorway and moving toward the body.
"You know, I'm already two steps ahead of you..." Qela begins as the two of them enter.
Then, as Dystanul begins to take hold of Roth's legs from beneath the white and gold sheet that covers the body, Qéla begins to shout, "No! You know what?! You.....!" and after crying out at the two of them, he stops in mid-sentence to rethink his outburst, then lowers his head and looks at them with less anger.
"I'm sorry... Just... Robin, can you help me? He shouldn't be doing this..." he comments more courteously.
Dystanul makes a face at the statement, but gives Robin room to move in to help the har shift the body from the table to a stretcher which fits on a small canoe-like boat that sits near the entranceway to the estate.
"Why don't we just get him out to the front yard, and onto the boat, and then we can get this started, okay? The quicker we start, the quicker we can finish....." he says to Robin, quite a bit more calm and balanced than this morning, which was obviously a bit too tense for the har. Qela breathes heavily, keeping himself calm and collected.
"One, two, three," he says as he hefts Roth's body onto the stretcher with Robin's help. He tries to keep his eyes from meeting Robin's, and it is obvious.
The har almost seems embarassed at his own actions, but says nothing about it.
Robin lifts the other side of Roth on the stretcher, but he was watching with the glazy stare of somebody more active inside his head then out. Thus he didn't notice anything of Qela's embarrasment, not even when they were carrying the stretcher outside to the boat. He didn't get out of this state untill they putted the har down inside the boat, suddenly lifting up his head, and sadly looking at the body. Robin couldn't help feeling at least aprtly guilty for the har's demise.
Finally looking up at the quiet human they had all helped to save, Qéla watches the look on Robin's face.
"He was a wonderful har, and a terrifying fighter.... His death was unnecessary, and will be avenged, either by will or fate... He is beautiful, and I wish..." he holds back a sob and continues, "that his sould have had more of a chance to continue its ways. I wish you could have known him better."
He looks up shortly to Robin, remembering his lord and sire.
As Dystanul approaches from behind, he is holding an incense lantern full of smoking herbs and oils, which hangs from his right hand. With the wave of his hand, and an incantation that takes a few moments to finish, he places two wooden and two brass coins onto the entrance pillasters that the boat sits in front of.
With a final breath and word, the row of thorn-like pillasters ripple like heat waves, until a portal opens like a wound, and a river begins to flow from the entranceway, off into the image of a riverbed on the other side. A forest of shimmering light exists beyond, and at the entrance, there is a man dressed in grey robes of simple premodern design, and he drops down into the boat with a large pole, and begins to sail it on its way down the river Oceanus, making no notice to the mortals on the other side of the portal.
Dystanul watches placidly as it leaves, and Qela releases a pair of heavy tears from his eyes as he also silently watches on.
Maraya peeks out from the front porch doorway to watch on as well from a distance.
Tossing a violet rose onto the body as it departs, Dystanul crosses his body in an arcane spiritual fashion, and mutters a silent prayer as it leaves for good.
He slowly closes the portal after the boat drifts out of sight, manned by the solitary man in grey robes, into the infinite vastness of the Other Side.
Lifting the wooden and brass coins from the pillars, there are only one of each left, as the others were taken by the ritual as payment to the messengers of the Outer Realms.
"His memory shall live for all eternity," Dystanul says with wisdom.
Qela huffs at the comment, and turns away.
Dystanul lowers his head, but does not look up at the har.
In the distance, there is a low grumble of thunder as a storm begins to roll in from the west. Clouds thicken and gather.
Robin makes a gesture of final goodbye as his religion thought him too, and keeps staring at the place where the boat dissappeared for several minutes after it had gone away. Then he turns away, silent, but unlike Qela, looking at Dystanul. "It's been a bad time, and a sad day. And it looks like the weather feels the same way. Shall we go inside? It won't help to stand sadly in the rain... I'd prefer being sad around friends really..."
"Yes, a good idea. I'll have to find us some tobacco or lotus, and we'll have a smoke together. That might help a bit," Dystanul suggests.
"Wait," Qéla says to Robin, "It's not going to rain just yet...." He looks up at the sky as if making sure.
"I want to talk with you about something, so we should take a walk before we go in."
He speaks quietly, and looks at Dystanul after he is done speaking, without a word.
After Dystanul walks toward the house, Qéla leads Robin away.
"C'mon," he suggests, with a wave of his hand.
After leading him toward the back shed, Qela turns away from the gardens, and leads Robin toward the forest edge, where he is often found sitting near the riverside, thinking heavily about whatever he thinks about when he is alone.
"I have to admit, I'm not very good at talking about things like this.... I just...have a hard time with other people."
He sighs heavily, and decides to get to the point.
He stops, giving himself a look of dismay at the terrible beginning.
"Dystanul and I were speaking, and....."
Hunkering his shoulders down, he looks away at the river, and its other shore, which is laden with moss and fallen timbers.
"You know, I thought this would be easier," he finally exclaims in his modest mood.
Robin wonders what Qela is trying to say and why it is so hard, but he could also see this would probably be quite important to him. So he found it best not to be hasty, if they wouldn't finish before the rain, well, they would only get wet, no big deal. "Allright, take your time. I'll wait and listen and do my best to understand."
Qéla slowly raises his eyes to meet Robin's, looking guilty and remorseful.
"It's just that, I still haven't...." he begins, then takes a deep breath, and continues, "I never got to apologize for being involved with your kidnapping..."
He sighs, kicking a stone into the river's edge.
"When Dystanul came to me last night to speak with me, he and I had a very long conversation about what my intentions were, and..... Well, it occured to me that we had done you a very wrong deed, and I had never even thought to apologize for involving you in all of this. In all of my selfishness, I never once thought to actually try to see eye to eye with you about all of this, and now you are lost in a place you have never been, and it is all our fault..." he stammers, becoming a bit more emotional, having reminded himself of Roth's involvement in the recent events.
"When Vasseht told us that we would be taking you with us, I.... I didn't even think..."
He sobs, wiping his eyes and nose with his long sleeve.
"I just wanted someone else with us so badly.... Someone else to be rational and pleasant, who would help me to ignore that stupid bastard.... Someone..." he stops, inhaling deeply and recomposing himself a little.
"When I realized that he wanted to incept you, all I could think of was how beautiful and strong you would be, and how much I could.... How... I just thought that you would be an incredible friend. I could imagine you riding with us, being a close companion.... Maybe one day you would join Roth and I when we rose up against that vile, treacherous Vasseht, and we would flee, taking Dtalk and you to some far-off wonderful place where we could find peace...."
He turns directly to Robin, stepping closer to him, and reaching out his hand.
"I still want to be your friend... I want us to be close... Companions. I just hope that I have not lost your trust from all of this."
He looks down at the stone and dirt below them, then back up into Robin's eyes.
"I am truly sorry for forcing you to leave your home...and for putting you through all of this. It was my selfishness that kept me from seeing you as a person, and not as a possession..... And for that, I wish only to re-earn your trust. Now that Roth is dead, and Dtalk is gone, it is just us and these friend's of Dtalk's...." and looking back toward the large cottage, he continues, "And I know nothing of these people... Except their good intentions. I trust them.... More than I have trusted anyone in quite a long time. You have to understand.... Well, there is a lot that we don't understand..."
Lowering his head, he begins to think once more about Roth. After a few moments, he looks back up to Robin's face, showing a faint glimmer of a smile, his eyes watering.
Despite his masculine attire and posture, it is times like this one when the hara appear most feminine. The only indication of his masculinity still showing is his shaven head and his open shirt, with his bear chest exposed.
"I don't know how ...to make it up to you... We can't leave this place... I can't take you home.... At least, not yet."
He takes Robin's hand in his own.
"Please forgive me," he begs through teary eyes.
When Qela had finished, Robin didn't quite know what to say. At one point, Qela brought up the kidnapping again, something Robin didn't like to think about, and said he was also to blame and wanted him as a possession, sort of. On the other hand, he apologised withy all his heart, apperently. Now for the abduction Robin had forgiven him already, at least in his heart, because Qela also saved him from Vasseht, before they were going to do... whatever creepy thing they had in mind. Then the confusion struck Robin. "But how do you mean... incept? And that thing about me becoming beautifull and a trusted friend? I don't see how kidnapping me could result in close compangionship? Please Qela, I have nothing against you, in fact I think you're a really good person from what I've seen so far. But I just don't understand..."
"Gee, when you say it like that..." Qéla chuckles lightly through his somber mood.
"Looking back on it, you're right, I know. There was no reason for me to think that I could force you to be my friend, but the weeks I spent with Vasseht and Iridar before meeting you were so terrible, with that damned fool screaming and treating us like filthy dogs..." he pauses to look at Robin.
"I know that's not you fault, and it's true that I was wrong to think that you could be some kind of miracle cure for my own pain... I just needed someone to be there, to understand... Which is why.... When Vasseht said that we were taking you with us.... I just knew that you were not like him.... like.. them. Even Roth... sometimes..... He could be like an angry, rabid beast, even. He is dangerous, too.... But he is.... was.... compassionate."
He pauses, looking down, and it begins to sprinkle as he talks.
"You don't know what I'm talking about when I say 'incept', do you?" he questions Robin, looking him in the eyes, and seeing his obvious agreement.
He chuckles. "It means 'to enter' or 'to begin'... It is a change... That creepy thing that we would do to you.... to make you one of us. Har."
"It is because you are unhar, that Vasseht wanted to incept you... He hates humans. Despises them and their weak women. He kills women and children, many of them, and he is not....." he stops, considering the route his words have taken. "I guess that's not really what I want to talk about right now... It's just that with the magic that Vasseht knows, it is possible... to incept you. To make you Har. Even I could do it..... But it might not be so clean, or even done all that well..."
Looking up into the sky, he reluctantly asks, "You don't want to go in, do you?"
He looks once more at Robin.
Robin looks up. "Erm, we could stay a little longer. I can handle some water if it would take long."
Looking back at Qela he sighs, and starts again, with less confusion but with many doubts. "So you wanted me to become a har, like yourself, and you hoped that by that you could gain a friend. Well, I suppose that making me one of you to become a friend sounds more logical than kidnapping me to become friends..."
Robin gave a sad grin. "I don't even know what a har is. I know you are one, and Dtalk too. Dystanul probably is too... But what hara exactly are? No idea... And then to think I wasnt far from becoming one."
"Oh, no, Dystanul is not... He's human, I'm sure.... He looks far too old to be har."
He shakes his head, and drops of water begin to accumulate on his short hair.
"I guess the only way to know what it is to be Wraeththu is to BE it... But without that option..." he begins, then turns to walk along the river's edge.
"It's a lot like being human, except it feels more alive... I guess. That's really not all there is to it, but that's a good way to start.. Hmmmm... Well, hara are essentially both male and female, joined together in a single body... One single gender." Seeing the odd look creeping up on Robin's face, he smiles.
"It's not as odd as it sounds, I promise. I still think of myself as a man, and I still call the other hara 'him' and 'he', even though I know that they are not men. We are like brothers... Most of us. There are those who are more like women, and there are those who look as though they are not even human at all, but they are hidden away in secret places that most men cannot tread. I've been to a small few of those places, when I protected the Titan Prince on his trips to and from my tribe's king's land... But that was so long ago, now."
He pauses, remembering his first days after becoming har, but still walking the river's edge while Robin listened to him. The rain began to mist rather heavily, and the drops dripped from Robin's long hair, Qéla's shirt and chin.
"It is magical sometimes, to be har. It is like seeing heaven inside the living and the stones and rivers of the earth. It is like knowing the true names of your enemies before you meet them, or seeing the spirits of the world while you dream or even while you walk... If you listen, you can hear the gods call to your soul, while it rides on a wind, constantly adrift in the astral fog... A leaf in the gales." He closes his eyes and becomes lost in his other-consciousness.
"Sometimes," he speaks in a voice not his own, and lower, with a resonance and echo of its own, "you can summon other souls to your aid... Even the souls," and pausing only momentarily, he speaks in Roth's cold, deep voice, "of the dead."
He opens his eyes, breathing in deeply, still walking slowly, and finishes, "but it is still much like being a man... Just different, really. It is like knowing the truths of the ultimate Mother, while still keeping the honours of the Father... It is like being another, much like yourself. It is not an easy thing to gain, and some can die from the change... But you would not... Your soul is too strong."
"Your words sound beautifull and much like a poem, so I guesst hat is good," Robin replies. "Even though I don't udnerstand msot of it. And it would seem odd to be both male and female..."
He wipes away the wet hairs from his face, or at least his eyes so he can see properly again. After doing so he realises it wasn't of that much use, as the heavy fog made it impossible to look far anyway. Sighing, and wondering how he came into this situation and what to do next, he dropped silent for a little while. Then he started wondering, and asked the question which had risen in his mind. "Do you still want me to become a har?"
"It is not so odd..." Qela answers to his comment about the strange nature of being hermaphrodite.
After the few silent moments of contemplation in the misty rain, Robin's question makes the har look down in deep thought.
Some moments later, he answers reluctantly, "I would wish... Robin, that you would do what it is that you want to do with your life. I would always encourage our friendship, but I could never ask you to do something that you did not agree to...."
He looks up into Robin's eyes again, and says, "If you choose to remain human, I cannot force you into my own decisions, but..." He stops to think it out for a moment.
"One day, Robin, you will become old... You will age, as all men and women do. And in that day, I will still remain the way I am now... I will have lost my only true friend."
He looks down at the ground once more.
"You know, I really should not speak words like that... It's so gruesome. And negative, really. Dystanul has already scolded me for having a bad outlook on life," he continues. "I guess the most positive thing we could do is to go find Dtalk... That would make one more in our circle of friends."
He smiles at Robin, but only for a moment.
"Robin, I would love to make you har... But I can't.... I can't make you do anything you don't want to do."
Drops of rain wash down his face as he looks to the river beside them.
"It is your choice."
Robin nodded. He didn't know what to think of it, but as all humans, he feared the unknown. And so, he answered: "At the moment, I wish not to become a har. Maybe this changes as I get to know hara better, but I feel uncomfortable about it... Right now at least I do. I still don't understand what hara are exactly. Your description was about something beautifull, certainly. But I haven't yet seen it, and so, I'm afraid... I'm sorry."
"I do agree though, with the idea of finding Dtalk. Ifeel that after rescueing me it's the least I can do for him. But for now, maybe it's best to go inside before we get sick and will have to wait longer before we can leave. I just restored from a fathal illness, and even though I'll probably just catch a cold, I don't like the idea of being sick anymore." He said with a ironic smile.
Almost as if in answer to the thought of sickness, Robin's stomach suddenly lurches, as though reminded of its turmoil. Perhaps it was just hunger pains....?
"Yeah, let's go in. I feel like reading tonight. Something dramatic and catchy... You think Dystanul has any books like that?" Qela asks, smiling in amusement, hoping to change the serious nature of the conversation, and turning back toward the house.
"Maybe we can try to plan something for the next few days... see if we can find where they've taken Dtalk," he suggests.
Robin's skin goes cold.
"Yes let's do that," Robin answers, looking very unhealthy all of the sudden. "Because I really think I'm going to be sick now. I need some dry clothes and a hot bath very badly."
"Are you alright?" Qela asks, looking concerned at Robin, who is becoming quickly pale as his illness creeps back up on him.
A bit confused after having it remedied by Dystanul, Robin feels a bit dizzy, and stumbles a bit on the way inside.
"Whoa, Robin, watch out. Hey, WHOA!" the har cries as Robin falls into darkness.
Qéla catches him only just in time.
As he loses consciousness, he can still hear Qela crying out for him to get up and to go inside.
Groggy and shaking, the first memories Robin has as he wakes up is being patted with a warm damp cloth by the girl Maraya.
"He's in and out again. I can never tell when he's awake..." she says to Dystanul, who must be nearby, just out of sight.
As Robin looks over, he can see Dystanul paging through a thick book on medicine and illnesses.
"You know, I'm just not sure what this is... I am a very perservering man, and I have never been one to give up, but this is becoming a very big proble....."
Dystanul stops short, seeing Robin's eyes open.
"Are you awake, dear boy?" he asks him lightly.
Robin tries to say yes, but only brings out some rasp coughing, so he nods. He falls back on his pillow, wondering what happened. The last he could remember was being in the garden, while it was raining, with Qela. Where was Qela? Robin didn't see him, but he didn't feel good enough to look around and again his mouth only produced some rasp coughing and words nobody could understand.
"Alright, hon," Maraya says calmly, helping him to lie still after the coughing fit, "Don't upset yourself... Just take a little time to return to..." she pauses, not wanting to use the word 'normal', and decides to say instead, "to yourself... And just rest. This is the first real answer we've gotten out of you in a few days... So just rest and let us take care of you, alright?"
Maraya's soothing voice is the only comfort available as he looks down to his hands, which are a pale white, his veins appearing a sickly blue-violet through his flesh.
Hunger is not an issue, since his illness is so thorough that it has rid him of all of his appetite. This is more apparent when he realizes how thin he has become these past few days of fuzzy haze.
Dystanul stands up, setting the book aside, to come by Robin's bedside, and takes the cloth from Maraya, beckoning her to stand.
She moves aside, and he takes her seat and the cloth, which he dips in the steaming bucket of warm water nearby.
Herbs are burning on a censor disk nearby, and the musky aroma is light, not a choking haze of smoke. Robin decides it must be some kind of incense remedies... The old village shamans used to use the same trick sometimes.
"You have had a rough week, my boy," Dystanul begins, patting the wet cloth of warm water on his head, which smells as though it may have been infused with another herb, like chamomile or eucalyptus...or both.
"Don't try to move or speak. It will be better when you are more rested. You,"
He pauses, considering the message he delivers to the boy as Maraya finishes cleaning up and moves from the room.
"You are in particular danger, dear boy, and it is possible that you will never again leave this estate if you do not fully heal. I say this because I believe that you can understand the challenge that we are faced with in bringing you to full health... It will not be easy, since the plague with which you have been afflicted is not one that is recorded in any of the medical Ptolearies that I have in my possession... Still, it is my responsibility to see you through to better health, and after administering a deterrant to Qéla, Maraya and myself, we are as protected from its contagion as we can be. Qéla insists that he is immune to whatever illness it may be, but he has been protected nonetheless. Now," and his voice assumes a more severe tone, "It has come to our attention, after a thorough talk with Qéla, that Vasseht was apparently armed with knowledge of diseases and plagues, and the magic that brings them.
"It was originally planned that he would infect you with a magical plague that would severely damage your body and mind, then when you were most in need of his help, he was going to incept you with some form of blood ritual, which Qela says he informed you of when you were still awake..." He stops patting Robin's face and shoulders, and drops the wet cloth into the water bucket. Picking up a dry woolen towel, he pats Robin's skin dry before it has time to become too cool for Robin's own good.
"The good news is that you have one of the best mages in all of Eastonia and Tearra Réhm at your side, and though I have still not figured out the nature of the illness fighting your body, I am doing everything in my power to help you."
He drops the towel beside the bed, on the wooden planks of the floor.
"I guess the first trick didn't work," he says, chuckling lightly at the temporary fix he first worked out for Robin when they arrived, wishing now that it had worked.
"Qéla says that without Vasseht, we may not be able to reverse the effects of this plague, and so he is making plans to go and find him, which I have tried to convince him that it may not be the best method of going about this... He is still here, but I am not sure when or if he will leave to find him."
Looking thoughtfully at the young man, the old wizard says sympathetically, "I know it doesn't mean much, but we're going to do everything we can for you, Robin." Smiling, he continues, "I want that garden finished."
Robin tries to smile to thank Dystanul and succeeds in this somewhat, before he was overcome with the bad feeling again. He lay himself down and closed his eyes, hoping Dystanul would think of something. Even though he tried, Robin didn't fall back to sleep and could do nothing but lay still and look around with foggy eyes, not being able to focus well, sometimes seeing things double.
Many hours had passed, and Dystanul, Maraya and Qela all took turns caring for him through seemingly erratic high and low points, where in his highest, he could attempt a chuckle of them trying to make light of him in his sad position, and in the weak moments, he was wretching blood and tissue, and bruises appeared and disappeared as if ghosts pressed them into his flesh and let go.
At a few terrifying points, his flesh actually went yellow, orange, and a green-brown after long points of quiet, and he would begin to turn worse just following.
Though it seemed like days, only twenty-two hours had passed, when Dystanul came to him with a new idea. He had put a few lingering ideas to work, and concocted a potion that he would not release the ingredients within to anyone else. He said it might just sicken them further. Qela had already told him that the old mage was bringing it in soon, forewarning him of the smell. Though he heard it all, Robin was actually a bit too wretched to actually react to the words, let alone pay attention to them.
When it came in, it was corked in a clear glass vial, filling it only halfway. The upper half of the container was steaming mist, which tried to seep up through an upper glass tube which poked through the big cork, and had its own cork plugging it.
Bringing it in with tongs, he sets it in the table stand that he had prepared as Robin dazily watched on.
Opening the top cork, a tiny bit of the mist is allowed to sift up out of the tube, as Dystanul has already donned a face mask of thick cotton. The smell is rancid. It is a most terrible scent of the worst smell imaginable, tenfold.
Working quickly, the old mage picks up a few pebbles of a deep blue stone, which powders up very easily, and drops it into the top cork with a small flat apothcary knife, then quickly corks it back off.
The semi-clear mixture, which has a smoky grey haze to it at first, immediately froths up on contact with the liquid, and the mixture begins to acquire a vibrant orange-red hue, the stones beginning to look deep green in the bottom of the glass as they vaporize.
Robin is entranced by the process in his simple state.
When the entire mixture has mixed, the glass is filled with what looks like a deep crimson blood, thick and coating the sides of the glass with its phosphorescent red-orange waves, which slowly fall down into the mass at the bottom.
Having removed his face mask, and setting it aside, Dystanul has lit a small fire inside a black metal dish, and picks the glass up with the tongs once more.
Passing it over the flames for a mere few moments, the mixture heats up both in temperature and color, as the whole thing takes on a vibrant, metallic gold tinge. It falls from the sides almost at once to coalesce in the bottom, gleaming brightly as Dystanul removes its large cork with his hand, and the terrible smell that once permeated the room with its tiny wisp, is at once no more. A new smell occupies the room at once, of faraway islands, fresh torpical plants and fruits, and the wind. It totally negates the first aroma.
Both Maraya and Qéla look on in pure curiosity, the mixture is gripped in Dystanul's hand as he asks Maraya to keep Robin's head and neck up for him while he helps him drink. Without it, he was almost lifeless, until Maraya hoisted him carefully up to drink. The motion and touch made him ache and spin dizzily. Trying to remain positive, he is fed the mixture, which tastes like nirvana in a glass. It feels cool and welcoming in his throat, and coats the entire inside of him after a few moments.
After the event, he falls soundly to unconsciousness.
When he awakens, Robin feels rested, though his body aches as though after a tough day of hard work, but his stomach and skin feel great. He is not dizzy, and his vision has returned.
No one is in the room with him.
His small room is fit with the thickly blanketed raised cot he rests on, a few clean and wet towels, stacks of clean clothes, and a few books on medicine, humans, Titans, and diseases and curses, along with a folder of plant types and specimens contained in clear parchment bags of some type, accompanied by writings on trees, flowers and fungus.
Open to a page that is marked with a piece of parchment, a book on dragons is opened strangely to a page on their breeding habits and lairs, upon closer examination. Scribbled notes are written on the piece of parchment inside, and the book rests on the tall seat in the middle of the room, beside the long table Dystanul had set up to perform his tasks earlier.
Maraya can be heard talking to Qéla just outside the kitchen porch nearby, though about what he cannot pick out.
Sitting upwards, Robin rubs his painfull back and checks if all his body limbs are still okay, wondering where this new good feeling came from, as he also rememebred being very sick. Though he knows little about it anymore, his mind being to weak to leave much memory to it, Robin remembers some weird potion which tasted really well. He guessed that eventually Dystanul had come up with something.
The wooden floor felt awfully solid to his bedrested feet as he stood up from the bed. Stretching his sore muscles, he walked over to the clean clothes and pulled them on, laying his old dirty ones in their place. Although Robin felt alot better, he didn't want to go out already, his muscles still dissapproving of too much movement. So he sat down and looked at all the goods which had been put down in the room, apperently all for him. As an idea grew into his mind he might not have been very far from death, he warily walked over to the literature on plants and followed the row of books to end up at the open book. Giving a quick look at it, he could make out it was about dragons and breeding. A little confused on what dragoneggs, a thought that immediatly sprouted into his mind, could have to do with his well being, as he could only think of the mas dangerous vile creatures to be avoided, Robin wondered if he should, or would, dare to read it all. And maybe, a little voice in his head said, Dystanul doesn't even want me to read it. What if it was dangerous knowledge? It would be quite ungratefull to thank him by reading stuff anasked. But then again, what did he have to do with dragons? So Robin looked at the book again, and noticed the little scribling along the pages. He was curious, but the small handwriting was somewhat hard to read, so he decided to read the page first, before trying to udnerstand what the markings were about.
Though at first, Robin had thought that the books were laid out for him to look at, upon closer inspection, he finds that these were the books used in trying to find a remedy to his terrible curse, and were left right where they were, in case Dystanul should need to return, and start the process over.
The scribbles, though somewhat illegible, look like a series of notes written as if in thought of what would need to be done for the mixture to have the properties necessary to combat the terrible disease, whatever it was.
The book on dragons is opened to a page that begins in the middle of a selection on mating dens and localities of interest to draconic-blooded entities, then finishes, and goes onward to the actual biology of draconic reproduction.
A small scribble on Dystanul's notes reads:
'Component - catalyst - Elder Titan blood or Dragon's Essence.... More in Dragons: A Full Biology'
From there, it is obvious he copied remaining material from the book, which begins explaining the actual biology of dragon reproduction, including details written by an old scholar of some mage guild about the specialized organs and fluids associated with the activity.
"Dragons are especially adept at mating between other species, many times because of their ability to polymorph between draconic and other humanoid forms. Even in full Wyrm-form, it is often still possible for dragons to mate with other species because of a pair of specialized organs, situated just above the natal Artietrix, and below the actual navel. These glands produce a magical substance known as Artius, which is a powerful and potent component in mage spells dealing with dispelling and creation. Because of its difficulty in attaining the secretion, it is highly valued, and often expensive. This is because the essence of Artius is only effective and activated if the dragon it was portioned from is still alive and in existence, which means that Artius from a slain Wyrm has no real effect as a valid component of such spells or potions.
It is also helpful to know that the Artius of the Draconic race is also very similar if not congruent to the properties of the Essence of Titan, and holds mystical value to those who are intimately involved in magical bloodlines.
Essence of Titan is also extremely potent as a protector against human and elven disease and afflictions. When used properly, it can even nagate the effects of both lycanthropy and vampirism."
The segment of the book makes Robin think deeply about the actual components of the mixture he took, but because of his lack of knowledge in potion and remedial admixtures, it was a bit too difficult to understand the actual connection.
All the other books remain open to the pages which Dystanul had quickly copied scrawled notes onto his small parchment strip, most of them on plants, potions, and magical alchemical component unfamiliar to him.
Though the thick old tome of diseases sat out with the rest of them, by its position, it looked as if the book had given the old mage not a single word of advice, by the way it was tossed haphazardly where it now lied. It looked like Dystanul must have found nothing helpful within it, and tossed it off to the side before any other book.
All together, it made nothing clear to him, except maybe about the ingredients of the potion. Robin looked at the book once more, but had no idea what other connection it could have with the potion, him or his illness. He did figure that if it could also cure vampirism and lycanthrope, his illness must have been extremely serious, if something as powerfull as that had to be used. Seeing the component was so rare, Robin couldn't help wondering what the old man had to do to obtain such a substance. But maybe he didn't want to know, he thought, although that thought was suddenly following by another: I do want to know. Robin couldn't help admitting he became interested in all of this, but rightn ow probably wasn't a good moment to start studying, he thought. He walked away from the desk and towards the doors, searching the others to tell them their potion had worked and he couldn't thank them enough.
Walking through the hall toward the open kitchen area, he could hear Maraya's voice talking to another male voice, but it seemed it actually was not Qéla at all.
As he arrived on the back patio below the huge canvas tarp, he saw that Maraya and another human male were sitting under the tarp on a set of cushions near the edge of the patio.
Dressed in black and violet robes, the man and girl both turn around to look at Robin, and Maraya's eyes widen in surprise.
"Oh my gosh, look at you! You look wonderful! Oh, wait until Dystanul sees you!" she cries, standing up, completely forgetting to introduce her unfamiliar companion.
Robin smiles. "Thanks, I feel alot better, truelly. It's amazing what you people have done for me."
He scartched his head, not really knowing what to say. "I guess I'd really like to thank you but I couldn't think of anything which would come close enough to repaying you in a just way... Well... Who's your guest then? I'm Robin."
He stretched his hand out towards the new guest.
Maraya interrupts excitedly, "Oh, you know you don't have to worry about repaying, you're a guest, and Dystanul really cares for you.... Oh, jeez, I'm so sorry... this is....." she begins, and the man sticks his arm forward, past her.
He is a few years older than the girl and in a smooth, calm voice, he says, "Pleased to meet you, Robin, my name is Andronius Lockheird. Maraya is my younger sister. I once mentored here, too, a bit before your friend Dtalk began his visits here.... It's getting colder outside, and it sounds like you were pretty sick there for a while.... You might want to put some more clothes....."
He would have finished his suggestion, except that he found himself paying attention to another sound from the yard.
Qéla and Dystanul are both just around the corner of the house's rear patio, and an argument has started, apparently heating up intensely these past few minutes.
Qéla cries out, "You know nothing of harish magic! You don't even know of what hinders his health!"
Dystanul tries to calmly respond, "Now, Qela, he has been given exactly what you and I agreed was the best possible method of medicating him, and indeed, he is looking quite better..."
"He is only going to be doing better for a while, and it will return. It is no laughing matter. This is not arcana, it is Grissecon. It does not need magic, it is harish magic, not human magic!"
Qela is becoming increasingly frustrated.
"But the mixture that we agreed upon will do enough for us to find another method even better. Mimicking Titanic blood is just as pure as Titanic magic, if indeed that is what harish magic is so close to.... There is no need to get boligerant about this...." Dystanul attempts to calm him.
Qéla begins to turn away, but spins on his heels to face the elderly man and says something quietly to him, directly into his face and apparently a rather brave statement, when he walks away afterward, staring directly ahead of him, and not even seeing Robin, who stood behind Andronius in Qéla's view as he walked away and out of the yard, into the now tall grasses. A huge living tree regards him as he passes angrily nearby, then turns back to look at the estate that it guards.
"Gosh, I wonder what that was about," Maraya says sarcastically, and very quietly, so only the two men heard her, knowing full well that Dystanul and Qela were once again arguing over how to help Robin.
"It seems that this is all quite a predicament," Andronius suggests.
"You could say that," Maraya replies. "Between this and losing Dtalk to that other har, Vasseht, Dystanul is not doing so well at all, and when Qéla gets like this, it is like a bigger burden than we are used to dealing with. I think that Dystanul is becoming very unwelcoming to him..... I have never seen Dystanul actually ask someone to leave, but this is not the same at all, I think."
Looking at Robin, she says to him, "Don't think that any of this is your fault.... You are not in this.... Well, at least not like Qela is being right now. He is very difficult to deal with for us. He says that the potion that Dystanul made for you will not be enough, because his solution could not work well enough to overcome the magic worked by he and Vasseht...."
"It all sounds very strange to me, and I'm not sure that I trust it at all," claims Andron, who looks away over it, regarding it all to himself. He issues forth an air of coming from a rich family, where Maraya does not give that impression as quickly, aside from her good manner to guests.
"Sirrah, I wouldn't know what is being done to me at all, but I do trust these people." Robin started. "They have been kind to me every minute I've been here, and it pains me to see they're fighting over me, or rather, perhaps, my illness and it's medication."
Robin sighed, his brains trying to soak up everything he just heard, but naturally failing. "What's this about harish magic? I didn't know there were more kinds of magic... Is that what my medication was? Something ment for people... like Dtalk and Qela? Is that why they're fighting?"
Maraya smiles at Robin as he speaks boldly to Andronius.
"Please forgive my brother, he is a guild mage, skilled in the most detailed of arcana, the Art of Wizardry in its most refined form," she says, issuing him a look that he returns with one of his own.
"He is not as open to OTHER forms of magick, including the ways of the hara. Perhaps he believes that his magic is the only true Art, but it is true that the hara have practiced other, much more potent magick, that was not described in any studybook I have ever read or seen. And if it is as Qéla says, than the potion mixed for you is only a substitute, not a cure..."
She gives him a look up and down.
"But as far as I can see, you have returned to wellness perfectly, up walking and about. You're not so pale now," she says, touching his cheek.
In one glowing hot moment, two things are obvious: how much Maraya adores looking at Robin, and how little Andron enjoys seeing it. His temper flares through his eyes, but is quenched from within, while attempting to remain modest.
"Any mage of Dystanul's rank and importance should not be second-guessed by some hooligan rebel tribe of har-shamans or whatever they are... And regardless, if Dystanul says that the process has been dutifully imitated, then the ritual that Qela says the boy needs is unnecessary in my book. A high mage knows best. Better than a warlock, tribal medicine man, or..." Andron drones on, interrupted by Dystanul's approach and Maraya's elbow in his arm.
"It's true," he attempts to convince her.
Dystanul walks slowly to the back porch. As he nears, listening to the elder brother's words, he answers them all with, "It's not."
Andron looks directly at the old man in astonishment.
"What?" he asks in utter confusion.
"It's not true," Dystanul responds once more.
"Titanic magic is an entirely different sort of magic, and the hara have utilized it in ways that men like us can only imagine, and not easily," he says, smiling only lightly at Andron's obvious despair of being proven wrong.
"An Imitation of a spell like the one cast on Robin here is not the spell itself. Rituals like this one can be triggered and countered by radically different stimulus than our own form of human arcana. It is like a biologically-oriented magic, like that of dragons, but even more non-arcane. It is almost like that of a divine-arcane mix, and deeply rooted in the Deeper Arts."
Looking Robin directly in the eyes, he speaks mainly to him, "But we shall not worry, for even if this further remedy fails us, we have afforded ourselves more time to consider further options. And, as is apparent, Robin is doing better. I am glad for this."
Gesturing them all to the back patio, and the long wooden table built long ago by one of Dystanul's pupils, along with the fine chairs made to go with it, he begs them all to sit.
"It has been a long day, I will fetch us all Maple Tea, which has been brewing on the back sill all week," he continues, walking to the back window table, where the jar of brwing tea had been growing more potent by the hour.
"Andron, come help me, will you?" he finishes as he rounds the corner.
Andronius, who was preparing to sit down by lifting his elegant cape, looks to the others apathetically, and rises once more to help him, giving Robin one last sour look as he departs.
Many things became clear to Robin in this short amount of time: one, he'd never become a wizard, it made his head hurt. Two, he wasn't cured. Three, this Hara thing was a weird as the wizard-thing, even though they seemed intwined. A good point within this all, was that Maraya seemed to like him. Robin was glad because of it, as he liked Maraya as well, he'd rarily met anybody quite so gentle and nice. He didn't really know what to do with it though, now that her brother was around. And it seemed to be a rich bloke that was pretty proud of himself too. Robin found that the confusing state he had gotten into still hadn't ended, and he didn't know how to clarify things either. More and more though, he became determined that he'd get cured one way or another, and he'd show these people how grateful he was for their help while they didn't know him, and he had no one else to count on. He sat himself down at the table, next to Maraya, and really looked forward to some tea. It probably would not help with solving his trouble, but it would at least provide a calming effect, on all of them.
Seeing the thoughtful look on Robin's face as he sat down, Maraya smiled at him and said, "Don't worry about Andronius. He can be a jerk sometimes. He's just mad about Dystanul taking in the hara, and, well, he's always been protective of me."
Robin gave her a thankful smile. "If you say so. He's rather weary of the hara, isn't he? A High Mage... Well, whatever happens now, it's alot more than I could have expected in my youth. You know, where I come from, mages are shunned, even hunted at times. A High Mage in those lands would be... well, I can't even imagine that to happen."
"A High Mage?" Maraya chuckles lightly. "Andron is hardly that. Mage-in-practice would be a more suitable title..."
She smiled at him lightly.
"You mean Kiee? I have heard a lot about that country... Are they violent, or just intolerant of magic? It just seems so strange... they think that just because elves use magic and they don't like THEM, that all magic is wrong and harmful..... And even some of their clerics can still use priest-magic, so I just don't understand their views..."
"As long as the magic comes from the Gods, it's pure. When one is making magic on his own, he's accused of trying to be a God, or at least an elffriend. After which he naturally is a heretic, or a traitor." Robin said. "And in some areas, punishment can be quite... violent. I lost a friend to it once..."