Solo [Blue Bull] Two Sides of Every Miza

Lian gets a glimpse of the darker side of the city.

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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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[Blue Bull] Two Sides of Every Miza

Postby Lian Windrunner on January 30th, 2016, 6:43 pm

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13th Day of Winter, 515 AV


You're going to let me come with you this time, right? Talise asked hopefully.

Lian sighed, and shook his head. He wanted to say yes. He really did. But he was planning on going back to the library to see if he'd have any better luck finding something that might explain the mysterious powers that people seemed to be getting. He loved being able to really talk to Talise. That was by far the best part of his new ability. But it was incredibly useful in a thousand ways. He could see how it would help him considerably when it came to training animals if he could learn how to do so reliably. Breeding animals would be a possibility to...if he could teach himself how to do it well. And that was another reason he wanted to go to the library. Now that he knew there were books about how to train animals, he wanted to find more. With his new ability, he saw ways of working with animals opening before him. Ways of becoming even closer to the horses and striders that he loved. And if he did well, he might be able to work with them for a living rather than just teaching other people how to ride.

The problem was that there wasn't really any place Talise could wait comfortably while he went about his business. Even if she was willing to stand outside Valkalah Academy for bells waiting for him to find what he was looking for, the other citizens of the city would probably object. They weren't used to seeing striders moving among them freely as they did in the camps of Endrykas. The Akalak guards that patrolled the area might well think she was a stray or a runaway horse, and try to take her away. Lian wasn't willing to take that chance, even if Talise was.

"I'm sorry, Talise. I can't. Besides, it would be boring for you, anyway. You'd be standing outside a building all alone for several bells. There wouldn't be any grass nearby for you to graze if you got hungry, or water available for you to drink. Would you really want to be stuck like that for a good part of the day?"

I guess not... Talise "said" dejectedly.

The tone in her "voice" sounded uncertain, and depressed. Lian knew that she missed spending most of her time with him. And Lian felt the lack, too. He didn't have any specific memories to go along with his feelings, but he did feel that something vital was missing in his life.

"How about if we go out for a nice ride before I go? Just the two of us."

Talise perked up at that, and her mood lightened considerably. She agreed readily, and Lian grinned at the pure bliss radiating in his mind as his strider's happiness infused him, lifting his own mood in the process.

"Then it's settled. Let me get your yvas, and we can be off in a few chimes, okay?"

Lian headed into the boarding barn to get his yvas. When he returned, Talise was waiting with barely contained impatience. Her feeling infected his own, and he too was impatient to be off. It had been far too long since they had taken a good, long ride together. Lian put the yvas on his strider quickly, but he was still careful to make certain that it was fastened correctly. Then he mounted the excited mare, and they were off.

Strider and rider held themselves to a leisurely walk until they passed through the gates of the Sanctuary. But once they had, Lian squeezed Talise's sides with his calf muscles. He felt her bunching up under him, and then she launched into a gallop. They raced along the cliff overlooking the Suvan Sea. The wind whipping through his hair was a glorious feeling. It was familiar, and comforting. In some ways, it felt like...home.

They moved as one. Lian shifted his weight as Talise all but flew over the ground, so he wouldn't be a useless burden to his friend and partner. After a while, Lian leaned back, silently asking Talise to slow down. She obeyed reluctantly, but Lian sensed that she understood why he was making the request. Neither of them wanted her to exhaust herself too soon. That would bring an end to their ride sooner than either of them would like.

So they walked for a while. Lian wasn't sure which one of them decided to move away from the cliff, and enter the near by woods. But it felt right to them both. Their speed was held to a walk since the trees surrounding them made moving at any real speed risky. They were used to wide open spaces filled with tall grass. Places where Lian could give Talise free run and really let her race whenever she wanted to. But the slower pace allowed them to focus on simply enjoying their time together.

Time passed, and all too soon, it was time for them to return to the Sanctuary. Lian gave the signal, and they left the woods for the mor open area around the cliff. Then Talise leaped into a full gallop once more. It felt as though they were flying, and Lian loved every moment of it. It reminded him of something. A similar sensation that came with doing something Lian loved deeply. Memory fragments teased him, and Lian divided his attention as best he could. Part of him was focused on the ride. But he was also chasing the memory fragments, trying to piece them together.

Perhaps it was the sensation of the wind racing past them as they ran. Or the familiar, welcome feeling of flying. The image of glowing blue strands soaring beneath him filled Lian's mind with a sense of deep contentment. He was in the Web, nestled deep in its soothing embrace. Or at least, he was as his memories finally came together. He was a Webber. The Web was as much his home as Endrykas was. And Webbing was a deep passion of his. One that he had had for a very long time. He got the feeling that as a child, he would rather practice his webbing skills, and explore the Web than anything else.

The memory didn't fade, but Lian set it aside in favor of concentrating on what he was doing. He had reclaimed a piece of himself. And it was an important piece. But if he didn't pay attention to his surroundings, and was likely to get himself, or his strider hurt...or worse.

When the Sanctuary came into sight, they slowed to a brisk walk. As they passed through the gates, Lian couldn't help but feel a pang of regret. One that was echoed by his strider.

"We'll have to do this more often." he promised Talise.

Once back in the riding arena, Lian walked Talise around the arena several times to cool her down. Then he led her into the east pasture.

"When I get back, I'll give you a good brushing, okay?"

Lian felt both eager agreement, and wistfulness that she had to wait. He smiled as he stroked her neck gently for a few chimes. Then he removed the yvas, and stored it back in the boarder's barn. He returned to the pasture with a carrot for Talise. But when she had finished eating it, it was time to go.


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[Blue Bull] Two Sides of Every Miza

Postby Lian Windrunner on January 31st, 2016, 5:56 pm

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The trip to the city went well enough. But soon after he passed through the city gates, things began to go wrong. When he came to an intersection, he couldn't remember if he was supposed to turn right, or left in order to get to the Valkalah Academy. He was reluctant to ask for directions because he knew that he needed to learn his way around on his own. After a while, he decided to turn right. If it turned out that he had chosen wrong, he could always backtrack to the intersection, and go the other way.

It didn't take him long to realize that he was completely lost. Anxiety rose up in him briefly. If he were hunting out in the Sea of Grass, all he would need to do was enter the Web to find his way back. The thought caught him off guard, but he realized it was true. Hard on that thought came the memory that he used Webbing for a lot of things...including to make up for a lack caused by not paying attention to lessons that he should have learned as a child...because he had been focused on exploring the Web instead. There was a great deal of irony in that thought.

As Lian looked around, he realized that he hadn't walked all that far. Better yet, he hadn't taken any turns save for the one he'd had to make when the road divided. It would be easy enough to backtrack, and go the other way. But should he? What if he had chosen the right direction, but simply hadn't gone far enough yet? How far was the Valkalah Academy from the city gates, anyway? He'd only been there once, and he'd had other things on his mind at the time.

In an attempt to figure out where he was, Lian took careful note of his surroundings. He was standing in front of a building called the Blue Bull, judging by the sign. His ability to read Common wasn't great, but with some effort, he was able to puzzle it out. Judging by the name, and the drunken sounds coming from within the building, Lian guessed it to be a place that specialized in the sale of alcohol. He knew that he hadn't passed it on his first trip to the library, so that meant that he had chosen the wrong direction.

A sharp, frightened barking caught Lian's attention, distracting him from his problem. The barking sounded urgent, and Lian could sense a feeling of fear, anger, and distress coming from the source of the sound. There was pain as well, making Lian wonder if the animal was injured somehow. Lian frowned, and searched for the frantic animal. The barking was coming from an alley off to the side of the Blue Bull. Lian followed the sound, wanting to help.

"You leave that poor dog alone!"

As Lian entered the alley, he saw three young children squaring off against two other children that were both larger, and older than they were. All five of the children were dirty, and their clothes were little more than rags. They would do nothing to help keep the kids warm in this cold. Who were the kids' parents? And how dare they allow their children to run around in such rags? The thought infuriated Lian. Children were so very important to his people...were people here truly so different than the Drykas as to not care about their own children?

Was that the exception to the rule? Lian couldn't remember seeing other children dressed as these five were. Then again, he had not gone into the city all that often since he had come to stay at the Sanctuary. And when he had, he had been preoccupied with his own concerns. It was possible that he had seen such things, and simply not noticed it. But Lian doubted that.

The dog whimpered again, drawing Lian's attention to it. It was a puppy. A black and white puppy. It was holding one of its forelegs off of the ground, and Lian realized that that must have been the pain he had felt. It was an aspect of his new found ability that he hadn't realized existed until now, the ability to sense when an animal was injured. But it would be a very useful one, especially if he could hone the ability to tell him exactly what was wrong with the injured animal.

Judging by the rocks scattered around the injured puppy, and the enraged demand he had heard earlier, it didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened. The two older children, who were standing in front of the terrified puppy must have been tormenting the poor creature. The other three children were clearly trying to protect it. Perhaps it belonged to them?


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[Blue Bull] Two Sides of Every Miza

Postby Lian Windrunner on February 1st, 2016, 9:29 pm

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"What's going on here?" Lian demanded crossly, as he folded his arms across his chest.

Lian eyed each of the children in turn, silently judging them as he waited for an explanation. The two older children bolted. Lian let them go. Cruelty to animals wasn't something he was willing to tolerate. But the children weren't his. He had no authority over them. Nor did he know the ways of the people who lived here well enough to punish them for their actions. Still, if they were willing to torment one defenseless puppy, they were likely to harm another. Their behavior would surely be noticed by their parents. Let them deal with the unruly children.

Lian knelt before the injured puppy, and picked it up gently. The only pain he felt coming from the puppy was centered in its leg. But this new aspect of his ability was just that; new. He didn't know how accurate it was, or even how to use it properly. So he looked the puppy over, taking care not to jostle its injured leg. As he examined it for further injuries, he absently noticed that it was a female.

He felt the puppy's injured leg as carefully as he could. He knew nothing of healing animals, but he thought he could feel a break in the bone. The puppy yelped, and whimpered in pain as Lian examined her, and he stroked her fur gently in apology. When Lian looked up, he wasn't surprised to see the three younger kids watching him warily. While he had been focused on what he was doing when he'd checked the puppy for injuries, he still would have heard it if the kids had run off. But even though they had stayed, they looked terrified of him, and that disturbed him greatly.

"I'm not going to hurt you." he promised quietly, careful not to raise his voice for fear of frightening both the children, and the puppy.

"Is this your puppy?"

The silence stretched for so long that Lian began to wonder if he was going to get an answer. But finally one of the kids, a girl with long, dirty blond hair, and wary hazel eyes shook her head. If the puppy didn't belong to them, then it seemed likely that it was a stray. With an injured, and possibly broken leg, she wouldn't last long on her own. Lian decided that he would keep her.

Lian stood, with the puppy still cradled in his arms. He was about to ask the children why their parents allowed them to run around in the rags they were wearing when the door of the Blue Bull opened. A giant blue skinned man with a heavily tattooed face stood in the doorway, snarling angrily in a language that Lian didn't think he had ever heard before. The children paled. Two fled in terror. The third hesitated only long enough to tell him to run. Then she, too, was gone.

Lian didn't hesitate. He raced after the children, following them as quickly as he could without hurting the puppy in his arms more than she already was. When the three children stopped, Lian stopped as well. His sides ached with the exertion, and it took a chime or two for his breathing to return to normal.

"What was all that about?" he asked.

The three children looked at him warily. Two looked as though they were ready to bold again, and the third watched him with equal measures of curiosity, and wariness. Lian got the feeling that if he took so much as a single step closer to them, all three would vanish into the streets. He was careful to stay where he was, and he tried to look as harmless as possible.

"It's simple. You helped the puppy, so I helped you."

Lian studied the girl who had spoken. To him, it looked as though she was the leader of the group. That seemed strange to him, since the boy looked like he was at least a year older than she was.

"'Sides...no one deserves the kind of trouble you'd get if that man caught you. Especially after what he said."

"You understood him?" Lian asked curiously.

The girl nodded.

"What language was he speaking?"

"Tukant. That's their language."

By "their" language, Lian guessed that the girl meant the Akalaks.

"What did he say? And why would I be in trouble if he caught me?"

"He said he was gonna flay us and boil us alive for making all that noise."

Lian frowned. The man had been clearly drunk...but that was still nothing to say to a bunch of kids. And judging by the girl's obvious fear, she believed the man to be capable of doing exactly what he had threatened to do. After a couple of ticks, Lian repeated his second question.

"People like him are mean. Cruel."

"You can tell cause of his face." the boy added, sounding as though he thought that this was something that everyone knew.

Lian realized that they must mean the tattoos that the man had on his face. Brightly colored tattoos that covered his face completely. Had Lian not seen the man's blue hands, he might have thought the man was something other than an Akalak. From what the kids were saying, it sounded as though the tattoos meant more than simple personal preference. Which made sense. Lian had seen a lot of Akalaks since he had come to Riverfall, but this man was the first one he had seen wearing any tattoos. So the tattoos might well signify a particular group among the Akalaks. And if all Akalaks with tattooed faces were cruel as the girl suggested, then it was a group that Lian wanted to stay well away from.

"Where do you live? You kids helped me out back there, by telling me that that man was dangerous. The least I can do is get you back home safely."

The offer was genuine, and made out of a desire to help the kids. Unfortunately, it seemed to frighten them. The kids alternated between staring at him in wary silence, and exchanging unreadable looks with each other. The looks troubled Lian, making him think that something was wrong. Finally, as one, the three kids split up, and bolted like frightened rabbits. Within ticks, all three had disappeared without a trace. Troubled, and confused, Lian began making the long walk back to the Sanctuary with his new puppy cradled safely in his arms.


NoteThe 50 GM for the puppy has been subtracted from my ledger


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Lian Windrunner
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