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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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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Gwin on December 19th, 2014, 7:44 pm

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Winter 3, 514 AV
The Water Park


Winter came and brought changes with it that, once again, singled out the Akvatari from most other residents. Unlike Konti and Akalak, Gwin didn’t particularly mind the falling temperatures. The sea was colder than the air, day in and day out, so winter only meant it got slightly colder. If she dove deep enough near the cliffs, the temperature became consistent and not altogether unpleasant.

Still, she found herself adopting the habits of everyone else, spending more time indoors and underground. She was only following her audience, she told herself, but part of her craved company. It didn’t even mean talking or listening to words, just the possibility of doing so satisfied her. Thus Gwin spent the first days of winter huddled up in a corner of the Blue Gem writing music, humming songs of spring and summer. At some point, however, she stopped humming and frowned at the page. And then she decided to get out, get some fresh air.

As always, she was only wearing a thin strip of black fabric across her torso with the violin case hung from her shoulder. Her blond hair fell in slightly tangled blonde locks past her shoulders, acting as substitute for a scarf. Apart from that, the green fur covering her tail was enough to keep her warm. Turquoise stained-glass wings carried her over the rooftops and waterfalls. North and north until she’d left the city behind. Suddenly she noticed threads of steam rising from the land in several places and remembered things she’d heard about the water park. Supposed to be north of the city proper, its underground pools and exhibition space could be used for free by all…

Adjusting her violin case, Gwin sought out the main entrance and plunged into the dim lamp light. Heading this and that direction, she discovered many cozy corners for couples to meet or artists to work in solitude. Then she crossed a large hall full of sculptures, stone, wood and stranger materials, that she observed with the mild interest of a fellow artist.

After that, she happened upon a large pool where the walls threw back voices and laughter. A few people were soaking in the steaming water. Setting the violin case aside, Gwin tried the water herself. It had an unfamiliar scent to it, intense and unpleasant, but the water itself seemed to caress her body with warm hands. With a sigh, Gwin sank in so deep that only her head remained above water, closing her eyes and ignoring her surroundings.

Slipping into a half-dream, she heard a beautiful melody dancing around her shoulders, brushing her arms, mocking her grasping hands. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t catch it while it circled her and teased her ears. Gwin knew she had to catch it though… otherwise…
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Timothy Mered on December 20th, 2014, 10:36 pm

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Date here


This place is brilliant! A bubble of laughter escaped his lips and ricocheted against the jagged walls, mixing with the laughter and music above. He’d lost count on how many stairs he’d descended to find the small, dimly-lit pool, but it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t the largest or hottest in the complex, it was his and his alone. Tossing the towel he’d nicked from a kissing couple to the floor, Timothy dipped one toe into the water again, a fuzzy warmth seeped into his veins.

Once more he craned his neck around the alcove’s entrance. He was alone, aside from some water dripping in the distance and the muffled chatter from above, he was alone. Within mere ticks, he had thrown off his rags and submerged himself entirely, the hot water washing away the filth accumulated over weeks past. Sputtering, he resurfaced, brushed his mope of hair back and let the cool air tickle his cheeks.

If mother could see me now, he grinned to himself. How often had she chased him around the house with that wicked soap of hers. Now, he wished he had some. Gods what he wouldn’t give for a washcloth and some a decent bar of soap. Closing his eyes for a moment, he leaned back against the rock and thanked Yahal for guiding him to this place. One moment he’d been mindlessly following the flow of the crowd and the next he’d found himself inside the stone labyrinth. After having scrubbed off any dirt and grime the best he could, he decided to step out of the pool and make his way back into the city. He wasn’t quite sure how to go back, so it was better to leave early and make sure to pass through the gates while they were still open.

Shivering, Timothy dried himself. Outside he resented the wind and cold that chilled his bones, but in here, he felt nothing short of reborn. Even his tattered clothes, though rough, felt like silk to his skin and if he closed his eyes he could imagine a rekindled light radiating from within.

With a faint smile plastered onto his face, he began making his way back up the narrow stairs to where the large pool was. Clearly, the Akalak weren’t a prudish people as many bathed alongside each other without the slightest hint of embarrassment. He could only grin at the heads floating in the water.

Had a young Konti woman not bumped past him, he would not have turned, nor would he have noticed the unguarded violin case sitting idly in the corner. But she did bump into his shoulder, he did send an inappropriate gesture at her back, and he did notice the case. His heart leapt to his throat. This place is brilliant, he repeated to himself. He hadn’t the faintest clue how much the instrument was worth and he wouldn’t have been able to identify it as a violin if he hadn’t seen one during the wedding last summer in Kenash. It has to be worth something though...

Freezing on the spot, Tim glanced around. No one seemed to be paying him any attention. Most visitors were too pre-occupied studying the art on display, others were too pre-occupied with each other, and those that hadn’t brought any company along simply bathed with their eyes closed and their necks craned back in relaxation. the only dissonant in the pool was a woman with long, flowing locks who, for reasons Tim couldn't fathom, had decided to bathe with her dark dress still on. Maybe she's a little tipsy..., but he didn't think too much of it.

There was a tick of hesitation as he snatched the case up and began pacing towards the exit. It’s rightfully mine, he justified, whoever it belongs too should’ve known better than to leave it there! Any fool could’ve taken it…
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Gwin on December 22nd, 2014, 10:16 am

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The melody went on and on, remaining just outside her reach, teasing her with playful overtones. Eventually Gwin gave up and extended one arm for her violin case. Perhaps her fingers on the wood and bow on the strings helped tune her memory finer than conscious effort could.

Her fingers touched only solid stone. Finally she opened her eyes and lifted herself halfway out of the water with an elbow and a flutter of turquoise wings. No violin case. Blinking, she looked around. Just out of the warm water, the terror of that discovery didn’t quite touch her yet. Then she saw a slip of a boy with a black case in scrawny arms. A black case… Gwin’s eyes widened.

“Hey you, boy! Wait!” He was already making for the exit, but Gwin had physical properties on her side. In one fluid motion, she hauled herself into dry air and let her wings carry her towards the exit. If she flew as fast as she could, she’d reach the door before the boy.

At that point, all lethargy had left her, burned away by a hot rush of adrenaline. When her violin was in danger, she’d do anything to protect the instrument. It wasn’t only her companion on countless travels, but also a symbol of her music and identity. Without the violin, she’d be a fish out of the water. She’d be nothing. Likely Gwin was far more desperate to get her treasure back than the young thief was to escape with it. She’d get it back, no matter how.
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Timothy Mered on December 27th, 2014, 3:59 pm

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3rd of Winter 514Av


There was a flapping of wings as Timothy slipped to a halt. A rush of cold air shifted over him and every wet hair on his head turned to ice. Before him stood the oddest creature he’d ever seen. He recognized the blonde-haired, soft-nosed woman in her soaked dress but she wasn’t nearly as much human as he’d thought. Creamy, narrow shoulders were flanked by wings of a similar hue through which light shone as through stained glass. Her collarbone showed skin but she had no feet. Instead a glistening green fish tail hovered just inches above the ground. He blinked. She blocked his path like a dark specter and he thought he caught a glint of sadness in her eyes.Is she under some kind of curse? What is she? he wondered as he tried to glimpse past her. The exit wasn't far away. Yet for all her strangeness, Timothy couldn't resist glancing up at her as if she were some poisonous green, yet beautiful flower, a glow emanating from within.

She seemed to have read his mind and Timothy could see no way past. “Hello,” he met her gaze, a scalding heat rising to his cheeks. “Can I help you with anything?” His eyes flitted to the heavy case in his hands. “This yours then?” Eyes buried deep into blue-tinted skulls scorched his back, the general buzz started to quiet down. “I saw it laying near the water and uh…” He swallowed, “I thought it’d be safer to put it somewhere else or it might get damaged,” he started, “it must be very valuable…”
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Gwin on December 28th, 2014, 11:50 pm

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He greeted her. Gwin managed to cut off his way just before he got to the exit, but he… greeted her with a casual hello and even asked if he could help with anything! She could almost feel all the pacifism being burned away by the anger sizzling in her chest. What nerve.

Still, she lingered and listened until he had finished his little speech. Small excuse for a small boy, wasn’t it? When he finished, she met his gaze with a sneer. “Put it somewhere else? Like what? An ordinary music shop? A bazaar even? Wherever you planned to exchange this treasure for coin, that isn’t a better place. This case and its contents belong to me.”

Her turquoise eyes, usually calm and serene like the Suvan Sea on a perfect day, were more akin to its murky depths now, full of unknown and potentially dangerous greenery. Still hovering in front of him, she extended a hand. “To me, it’s more valuable than you can even imagine. So give it back.”

Then she gave a mocking bow of her head. “I’m done bathing too.” Of course, the case that protected her precious violin was waterproof, but the boy had no way of knowing. A subtle yet ironic twist it was… Suddenly Gwin wondered if that was what the witch had meant. Sneaky little boys. People like snakes. All those that had been boys like him in the beginning. But where did the circle start and where would it end?
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Timothy Mered on December 29th, 2014, 10:06 pm

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3rd of Winter 514Av


Timothy retreated a pace. She was angry, he could feel the heat emanating from her. But when she extended her hand, he did not yield. You should’ve asked nicely, Timothy thought as he scoffed at her mock bow. The general buzz of voices and music quieted down to a threatening silence. Yet he remained, frozen like a statue, his eyes solidified in defiance.

“I won’t give it back,” he scowled. “You can’t even prove it’s yours to begin with.” Without warning, he spun on his heel and started to address the small crowd observing them. “She’s lying! It’s not hers, she’s trying to steal off of me! Help!”
A tall, gruff looking Akalak pushed his toned body between Timothy and Gwin. “Who are you?” his voice was deep and demanding, and Timothy ceased his change to hide behind the man’s skirts and began to tip-toe away. “Hold it, you,” the Akalak’s hand latched onto Tim’s shoulder and dragged him back, “not so quick. I won’t rest until this matter is settled.”

Whereas Timothy would’ve cringed at laying the blame on someone else before, now it didn’t seem so hard anymore. One thing was certain, he didn’t want to intimidating Akalak to conclude that he’d been lying all along. “My name’s Thomas,” he piped up, “I’ve had this instrument for years now. She’s just trying to…to…to make me look bad!”
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Gwin on December 30th, 2014, 12:33 pm

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Just like the boy, her hand froze between them. Apparently neither of them had any intention of yielding to the other. They’d remain where they were for some time, Gwin blocking his exit and the boy trying to get around her with meaningless excuses and lies on his lips.

They only fueled her irritation. Eyes narrowed, hand trembling, she hovered in the air and watched in astonishment. How dare he turn the situation around and play the victim like that? A little boy! He was just the reason why Gwin tended to avoid children, played up to the extreme. For a moment, she was truly speechless.

Then the Akalak came between the two, protecting both from each other, but also separating them. Gwin felt her violin case being carried further away and it was like a physical ache in her chest. She needed it like she needed air and water. Without it, her entire existence would crumble. True, she could buy another… but why pay if she was the one being tricked? With a light beat of wings, she approached the Akalak and swallowed the boiling lump in her throat. “I’m Gwin. I was bathing over there and lost sight of my case for a moment when he…”

Spinning around, she inspected the boy with fresh disdain. Thomas? Possible that was his name, but there was no way he could prove what he claimed! “Is that so? If it’s been yours for such a long time, surely you can play it with some skill? Why don’t you show us?” she hissed.

A meaningful glance was cast at the Akalak. If he stuck with his role as peacekeeper, he’d certainly encourage her proposal.
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Timothy Mered on December 30th, 2014, 9:31 pm

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3rd of Winter 514AV


OOCLet me know if this is taking it too far. I won't break the violin without your permission of course (and I do not intend to break it). Feel free to NPC the Akalak as well. Also, blame the personality reversal for this mayhem :P

A leaden weight thudded to the pit of his belly as the devilish woman demanded him to play. The middle-aged Akalak scratched his square chin, then nodded slowly. “That seems like a fair request.”'

Reluctantly, Tim dropped to one knee, set the case down and opened the lid. Fingers grasped clumsily at the polished wood and tensed strings as he pulled the violin out of the case. Frankly, he hadn’t a clue how to hold it nor did he know what to do with the hair-horse bow.

“Well?” The Akalak demanded, his piercing eyes narrowed.
He clenched his jaw. “I don’t know how to play,” Timothy breathed.

“Say again?”

He looked up, heat rising to the fringes of his eyes. That cursed woman had tricked him, he should’ve kicked the case into the water, let her beloved instrument sink to the bottom of the steaming pool. He returned every dirty look she sent at him twofold until his brows pressed so deep into his nose-bridge he worried his skull might crack.

“I don’t know how to play,” he said through gritted teeth. “You can have your useless violin back, I don’t care for it.” It was a pitiful lie of course, a last-resort defence. He wanted nothing more but to hurt the woman for her betrayal, for forcing him to confess. Gone was the blessed warmth the bath had granted him, gone was the cleansed feeling, gone was the soft glow of his skin. An infernal heat had risen to his cheeks and he shot glares between Gwin and the Akalak, daring them to utter another word.

“So,” the Akalak began pensively, “Gwin here is right. You do not know how to play, the instrument isn’t yours and you were trying to take it from her?”
Timothy scowled at the Akalak.

The middle-aged man puffed up his chest and crossed his arms. “We don’t take kindly to thieves here in Riverfall. It’s a lazy, honorless profession and we do not like lazy people laying their greedy little fingers on stuff that isn’t theirs. If I were your father, I’d be deeply ashamed. Now hand it back kid, you have nowhere to go.”

His mind called for defiance, but no words rolled off his tongue. He merely swallowed and extended the violin to Gwin. Just short of reaching her grasp however, he pulled back. “No,” he slurred. “I am not a fool! If I give it back you’ll take me gods know where!” He held up the violin like a club. “You must let me go, or I’ll break it on your ugly heads!”
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Gwin on January 1st, 2015, 2:08 pm

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OOCDon't worry, this is a pretty exciting scene. I'll let you know when it's too much. Happy New Year!


To Gwin’s surprise, the boy set the case down and opened it. When he touched the light wood, she shivered with anxiety. It was obvious from the way he grasped it, held it with hesitation that he hadn’t handled an instrument in his life. Perhaps a flute, nothing more. Gwin hoped with every fiber of her being that he wouldn’t drop it.

So she stood frozen, caught between fire and ice, and didn’t utter a word as the Akalak argued with the boy. Eventually the latter gave in. He’d give it back? Truly? Eyes narrowed. Fear for her beloved instrument had replaced all the anger, but a sliver of mistrust remained. The Akalak spelled out the moment for them and ordered the thief to give it back. Something in his words, however, alarmed Gwin. She tried to remember the rules written out in the guidebook they’d given her the day she’d entered Riverfall. How exactly were thieves punished? Wasn’t it just an unfortunate incident? When she looked at the little boy again with a clear turquoise gaze, she saw more than the petty criminal. Anger had clouded her judgment, now it felt like waking from a nightmare.

Still searching for the right words, she extended a hand again to take her treasure from the boy as their peacekeeper had suggested. Just before her fingertips touched the wood, however, it was pulled back. Only thin air. She winced at the barbaric way he handled it again. Just like that, something slipped and Gwin gave up. She’d do anything to get her violin back in one piece.

A flicker of turquoise brought her closer to the boy. She laid a hand on the Akalak’s shoulder, but never took her gaze from the young thief. “Enough, please! If you give it back, I’ll promise nobody will do you harm. I’ll accompany you up and outside to prove it. See, I’m not armed or anything.” With the other hand, she opened her satchel so he could look inside and confirm her words.

Lips pressed together, she waited. A part of her was still screaming, screaming all the time in her head for the one thing that belonged to her.
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Caught Between Fire and Ice

Postby Timothy Mered on January 4th, 2015, 1:17 am

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3rd of Winter 514Av


Timothy backed away until his spine hit the broad Akalak’s chest. With nowhere to run and the law looming over him, he finally yielded to the she-monster’s demands. “Fine,” he bristled. “Have it back,” he tossed her the instrument, partially hoping she wouldn’t catch it and let it break on the ground. The Akalak wasn’t so easily swayed however. “Forgive me for intruding,” he addressed Gwin, brushing her hand off his shoulder, “but the law is the law. Theft is disallowed and to simply set him free now would be most…” he meditated on his words for a tick, “detrimental.”

Timothy glared up at the Akalak. The man was too big to be allowed, too scarred and rugged to speak so softly, even though the words themselves made his innards freeze. “Let me go, stupid petcher!” He writhed, but soon ceased his attempts as the blue giant slung an chiseled arm around his entire frame and restrained him. “Stop it,” he hissed, “you’re hurting me!”

The Akalak ignored him. “Do not think only of yourself, woman. If you are to let him go now, he’ll be robbing someone else within a bell. I know his ilk. This boy is from Sunberth, that’s the only place where little scoundrels are allowed to disrespect their elders so.”

The grazing bull’s hot breath fumed down on his neck and he hoped dearly the winged woman would save him from the Akalak’s clutches. Fate really hated his gut it seemed.

“Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? You’ve done nothing to make up for this mess. You haven’t apologized, you haven’t tried to be reasonable, you’ve just made things worse for yourself. If you were my own…” the Akalak clicked his tongue, then dropped his arm.

He was free. All he needed to do was dash past the stupid woman and leave her and that blue oaf behind him. Yet he remained. To run now would give every witness cause to report him and he had no intentions of making the city guard catch him.

“I dearly hope you know what you’re doing,” the Akalak said to Gwin as he turned around.

“Well?” Timothy crossed his arms, staring down at Gwin with mild disdain. “Aren’t we supposed to be going?”
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Timothy Mered
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