[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Valan on May 21st, 2011, 12:43 am

32 Summer 508

The fresh-faced boy squinted up at the tower gates with a bit of an anxious air. He was in his early twenties; new to the world and obviously a bit nervous about it. It was evident at first glance he was a Drykas- he was well-tanned, clearly accustomed to the Sea of Grass (of which he had just emerged from on the back of a dun horse) and, more than anything, a windmark traced it's way down his left cheek to his neck and out of view underneath his plain cotton shirt.

Valan Windrider was new to the job of guiding and while he was a bit nervous at approaching the Akalak city for the first time, he was astonished he had made it there at all- due to the rigors of his new job, the boy had thought it was a good idea to travel around the region before trying it with someone depending on him to do such a task.

As it was, this was the first time Valan had visited this part of Cyphrus. As such, while triumph and excitement shuddered within his bones, and made him whisper a fervent prayer to his God and lord, Zulrav, a touch of anxiety had descended on him in the form of a bead of sweat, dropping down his brow. He scraped it off hurriedly, hoping no one saw it. That would be one great way to start out with the Akalak warriors- show them he was scared.

With a sudden decision, Valan clicked his heels against his Strider, Raisa, and the horse trotted forward obediently. He loved the horse- bonded as they were, he could not help but do so. Out of reflex his hand started petting her neck, but his eyes were focused on the city gates and the dark-skinned humanoids that stocked them. Despite his ill-bearing towards the city (or perhaps because of it; Valan wanted to conquer his fears), he couldn't wait to get inside; while Valan was a fan of travel, there was only so many days a man could take living on the hard ground and chewing on hard rations.

As Raisa and Valan approached, he couldn't help but notice a strange stone structure arise next to him. He had taken a strange path to Riverfall, though he did not know it at the time; he knew however, that this structure was not on the beaten path to Riverfall and usually not seen by it's inhabitants. He stopped his horse and spent a moment examining it; it was almost lost in the tall grass of the Sea, but it was quite obviously still in use. Who would want to hide here, and for whatever reason they did, why would they do it so close to the city?

His curiosity piqued, Valan got off his horse and approached the crude stone structure.
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Azurk on May 21st, 2011, 9:43 pm

oocJust wanted to make clear that this is taking place before Azurk has been marked as a Cerulean. I did some calculating and decided that he'll be marked in 509 AV.

In his right hand was his Lakan, sleek and masterfully crafted only a few months before, with the help of his father and his mentor. Spirit and strength had been imbued into the birth of the weapon, for it was unique and it would represent the honor of its bearer until the end of his days. Should he do battle, it would be sheathed into the flesh of his enemies. Should he attend a ceremony, it would be a complement to his outfit. Should his life be saved, it would be offered to his savior as a token of gratitude. In many ways, it was destined to be an extension of his self--to represent him.

Over his chest was a light shirt, tattered and dirtied by routine training in combat and endurance. His legs were partially covered by his trusty, hardy breeches, still relatively new and bound to last a few years. Over his back was a pack, housing water and a light snack. He was sweating and slightly tarnished by dirt, and overall was not the most admirable sight, but his appearance was only a reflection of the practicality of his condition: his clothes were designed for comfort and movement more than anything.

Azurk was returning from a lonely exploration of the nearby grasslands, testing his ability to navigate and sustain himself in the wild plains. He had dedicated a lot of time to familiarizing himself with his Lakan; he had trained with other Lakans before, but now that he had his own, it was important to become accustomed to its shape and nature. Better acquaintance with his weapons could save a warrior's life on the battlefield.

Since he was coming in from the less-traveled areas of the grasslands, Azurk knew that he would pass by Takula Outpost, the home of the Cerulean. Of all the aspects of Riverfall, Takula was the one he had seen least, for he never had business there, and most Akalak did not, either. It was riddled with dark folk who could not be trusted. Fortunately, they were good for battle, and would serve their kin well should the need for war arise.

Knowing the use of the Takula Outpost made Azurk imagine there was some dark cloud over the place, for he harbored a secret fear of his own darker side. Its presence was not strong, but he understood that the rise of a dark brother in manhood was an ill event indeed. The later the arrival of the second soul, the more strength it seemed to have.

But Azurk had a second soul. He thought he did, anyway. He heard it some times, like a foreign, compelling whisper. He did not know its name, but he sensed it. It watched. He wondered if it was waiting.

As he passed the Outpost, Azurk noted a Drykas examining its high walls. A horseman of the plains.

"Perhaps he knows some about surviving and hunting in the Sea of Grass,"
Azurk whispered to himself in Tukant. His sole ambition of late was preparing for his Rite of Manhood. He would be tasked with finding and killing one of the terrible Zith. He had thought to do it with a group of fellow warriors, but his father and peers had pressed him to tackle the obstacle alone. Azurk would not let them down, though he feared what may happen while he was on such an isolated hunt...

He had to ready himself, and this Drykas might have invaluable advice. Azurk approached.

"You look to Takula Outpost," Azurk said confidently (though his Common was not the strongest), smiling as he neared the curious Drykas. "Home of warriors, but not a nice building for Riverfall. There are nicer ones in city."
"Men don't follow titles. They follow courage."
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Valan on May 22nd, 2011, 12:29 am

Valan jumped as someone spoke next to him. With reaction born from living in the hard Sea of Grass, his hand instinctively darted to his hip. It was where his knife was sheathed- he was actually not that good with it, instead preferring ranged combat, but his quiver (and bow) laid across Raisa's back. He looked and saw a large Akalak standing there, having seemingly emerged out of nowhere. As the Akalak continued speaking, Valan relaxed a bit, knowing that (for the minute) the man meant not to harm him.

However, he was still on his guard. The next words were muttered somewhat cautiously.

"I've heard of Takula Outpost. My father talked about it a bit; he's been to Riverfall before. Isn't it's the home of the Cera...the Ceru...argh, I forget the name. Oh well. I don't want to sound rude, but who are you?"
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Azurk on May 23rd, 2011, 6:25 am

The Drykas was visibly nervous, or at least wary of potential attacks, and Azurk noticed his tenseness. He would not call the man out on it, so long as it was not problematic, but it was possible that other people might infer fear from the mannerisms of the Drykas. To make the man more comfortable, Azurk slipped his Lakan into a small half-sheath on the side of his breeches, leaving it there and keeping his hand away from it.

"Cerulean live here; warriors." Azurk knew that it was unbecoming of an Akalak to reveal the truth behind the cryptic Cerulean cult. It was largely a mystery to himself, anyway. "I am called Azurk Avol. Riarik Avol is my father." He nodded and wondered about who this young Drykas might be.

"What do they call you? Is your father known well in Riverfall?" Azurk did his best not to encroach too closely to the Drykas, for he meant no offense and had heard that humans often valued space.
"Men don't follow titles. They follow courage."
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Valan on May 29th, 2011, 5:44 pm

Valan shrugged; he had relaxed considerably, finding the Akalak in front of him a companionable sort of fellow. "I am called Valan Windrider. My father is Fadanil Windrider. As for your next question...I have no idea, actually. My father is a horse breeder and doesn't spent much of his time out of the Sea of Grass nowadays, but in his youth he traveled a lot- or so he says." Valan gave a sly smile. "With the outrageous stories he tells, I can never be quite sure if he's lying or telling the truth. The travel to Riverfall and meeting the Ceruleans was one of them- supposedly he once bested four Ceruleans in hand-to-hand combat all at once- given the skill of you Akalakian warriors, I'm pretty sure that is not true. In fact, I asked about Takula Outpost and the Ceruleans just to see if that was true or not." Valan chuckled.
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Azurk on June 4th, 2011, 4:55 am

The markings across the Drykas' skin were perhaps the most profound of all his features. Azurk was familiar with the sight of the Drykas, but recognition by sight was far from understanding in lore. Their traditions and cultures were alien to him, although the art of tattooing was not uncommon in Riverfall. The tanned skin of the Drykas likened them to the Akalak, setting their breed apart from other humans with a tone of color.

This Valan Windrider was a man descended from a well-traveled line, and that probably meant he had done a small amount of traveling himself--granted, Valan looked rather young, so whatever journies awaited him later in life were likely greater in number than the journies he had already completed. Valan's ability to ride a horse was beyond doubt, for as a Drykas he would be more skilled than most adults of other races.

Azurk felt a connection to the Drykas because Azurk himself was young as well--among the Akalak, he was not fully seen as a man. And he would not truly be man until he had passed his Rite of Manhood.

"I do not know of you father, Valan Windrider, but I am glad to meet you in this time. The Cerulean are hard fighters. Never have I known of any to overcome four in one time. But was your father a good warrior? Maybe it is possible for him." Azurk could only wonder why a Drykas would end up in a scuffle with Cerulean, although it was entirely possible that the aggressive Cerulean had attacked him.

"What come you to Riverfall for? You have duty here?"
"Men don't follow titles. They follow courage."
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Valan on June 20th, 2011, 1:32 am

Valan bowed his head is deference once Azurk had greeted him. However, this serious facade lasted for but a second; after the bow, he popped back up, a smile of mixed relief and excitement on his face.

"A good fighter? He's decent, I guess. I saw him take down a glassbeak once, which is no mean feat, but it was wounded, and beyond that..." Valan shrugged. "...It doesn't seem that likely. I think it's more hot air than anything else."

To the Akalak's next question, Valan chuckled. "Duty? No, good sir. I'm simply passing by. I've recently acquired a job as a guide, and I want to learn the lay of the land, so to speak."

A small snort behind them. Valan swiveled his head, and saw that Raisa was getting nervous; she was pacing in place rather nervously, and watching Azurk rather suspiciously. Valan walked over to her and petted her snout, speaking to her in a low and calming voice. She stopped moving so anxiously, though she still regarded the scene with a almost-maternally protective eye.

Valan turned back to his new companion, and spoke: "I'm sorry about that. Raisa isn't too fond of strangers. It won't be a problem, though. She warms up to people pretty fast."

"And what of you, Azurk Avol? What are you doing out here, outside the Riverfall walls?"
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[Flashback] A Timely Encounter [Azurk]

Postby Azurk on July 1st, 2011, 7:26 am

Azurk could only think to nod; Valan's father surely had a colorful history of travel and adventure, but as skilled as the Drykas were on horseback, it was difficult for an Akalak to imagine being bested by any other race in an unarmed melee. Still, if Valan's father had been mindful of the direct fighting style of the brazen Cerulean, perhaps he could have channeled their own aggression against them.

Azurk had judged Valan to be relatively young, and the man confirmed Azurk's guess by indicating his inexperience as a guide. Even inexperienced Drykas, however, was likely to be far more capable in the grasslands than Azurk. He had no doubt that Valan had learned much about the Cyphrus wilderness, despite not having been a lead guide up to this point.

Mindful of the horse, Azurk thought it best to explain his own circumstances and need of teaching regarding the grasslands.

"Raisa. She has pretty name. Soft, like gentle wind." Azurk's dark hair fluttered over his shoulders as a breeze rolled over the land. He shut his eyes, keeping them closed just long enough to give the impression of having taken a long blink.

"I have come outside Riverfall for long training. With Lakan, I like to train in grass. For learning of the wilderness, so I am ready for Rite of Manhood. I must slay Zith in grassland to succeed. But much I have to learn about Sea of Grass."

Azurk tilted his hips and smiled at the horse, watching her eyes.

"How she got her name?"
"Men don't follow titles. They follow courage."
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