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Just when she thought she was safe, Aladari learns she's being hunted

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This shining population center is considered the jewel of The Sylira Region. Home of the vast majority of Mizahar's population, Syliras is nestled in a quiet, sprawling valley on the shores of the Suvan Sea. [Lore]

All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Aladari Coolwater on December 13th, 2016, 10:17 pm

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2 Winter 516
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She just couldn't believe it. But there it was, clearly etched in an ink so heavy that she could feel the grooves under her fingertips. She ran her hands over the letters one more time in shock.

One thousand Mizas.

Morwen and Her followers.

Lessons must be learned.

She knew what the words meant. Her Common had grown over the last few seasons in Sunberth, and although reading was the hardest aspect of literacy, the words were very clear. But no matter how many times she read them over, they didn't seem to sink in.

An entire race being hunted? It simply couldn't be possible. No civilized being would stand for it! Let alone an entire civilization! And yet at the same time, she knew no sane being dared go against the demand from Seasons themselves. It was more powerful than law; it was divine judgement. There was no way to disregard it.

Despite the unseasonably warm weather and Morwen's usually warm Gnosis on her shoulder, Aladari shivered. She wrapped her cloak tighter around her, carefully manipulating it so that the snowflake on her shoulder was covered in full. She stood for a tick, her mind devoid of thoughts, at the same time more full than it could possibly be. She didn't even register what she was doing before reaching out and tearing down the poster to hold in her quivering hands.

Her fingers made indentions in the thick paper where she gripped it, and her knuckles turned white around them. She knew her watering eyes were the brightest pink they'd ever been, and she also knew that it was exactly that which would give her away. If not her hair or her accent or her name, then at least her eyes would reveal her true self. She had always loved that, and now...

Aladari expected a knight to yell out at her. She expected an alarm to sound, or hounds to howl after her scent. Her body stayed tense as she awaited her fate there in the streets.
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Last edited by Aladari Coolwater on December 28th, 2016, 2:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Beodan Clathony on December 20th, 2016, 1:32 am

The Horse Herbalist positively beamed at first the parchment blotted heavily with black ink, then to Sahfri who merely quirked an amused brow at him, not looking up from her stock of herbs. On the page was a crude stamp of various herbs pressed into the page, with text that said “Beodan the Herbalist” in horribly choppy letters that appeared to have been traced with the end of a doorknob. To him, it was a work of art, his first piece of advertising besides word of mouth. Sure, it was just a simple poster, but you never know what that might bring! Sahfri had suggested making one, since he did not have an impressive shop in the city like Stormhold Salves. She had thrust parchment and small amount of ink at him, and for some reason a feather, as a reward for going above and beyond in the last shipment to her for the fall. The poor quill had sat unused as he had dipped leaves and his fingers into the ink. Much to his chagrin, the black ichor was as good at staining skin as paper.

With his creation in hand, the Kelvic practically skipped down from the bazaar to just before the main gates, where a familiar billboard sat. He passed it, as countless others did, every time he entered and exited the city. People gave him strange looks as he passed, though that could be attributed to the deep, happy humming that seemed to spring right out from his chest. It was horse like indeed, and those few souls he was acquainted with waved and were infected with his mood. The autumn wind had stolen the moisture from the ink by the time he arrived at the board, the rough surface dotted with various notices and scripts. With another smile, he impaled the flyer on two nails that were already stuck in wood, probably for quite some time now. Stepping back, his grin only widened as he admired his work with hands on hips.

Ah yes, this had been a good idea. Beodan felt so… Official! What was next, he wondered, investors and fancy clothes? He snorted softly, still grinning, at the image that conjured up. Could you imagine? But perhaps that was what was—

Sniff. Sniff SNIFF. Dan’s train of thought came to an abrupt stop as the smell of adrenaline and stress washed over him. Fear. His ears perked, he darted his head from side to side, searching a person or animal in peril. Rarely did this scent present itself in the city; the walls seemed so safe and there was always drink and hot food to be had. No being hunted by wolves, or caught in a snare. It stood out like the day at night. His chocolate eyes found a young woman next to him, who seemed to be attempting to both press her fingers through a piece of paper, not unlike the one he had just put up, and set it aflame with the intensity of her gaze. The fact that he could just make out a hint of pink in said gaze through her eyelashes made his eyes widen. He edged a little closer, and the scent got exponentially stronger. It was her. Perhaps she was sick? But that didn’t explain the paper.

Deciding to offer his help, the Kelvic approached, “Umm, excuse me miss. Are you alright? You smell like you’ve just been surrounded by wild beasts.” His eyes were wide and earnest, as he nervously adjusted the empty pack on his shoulder. He had forgotten to ask for a name again, or say hello. He hoped he had not ruined the whole interaction.
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Aladari Coolwater on December 20th, 2016, 2:08 am

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2 Winter 516
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She had no idea how long she had stood there motionless. Syna had not moved, but her numbing fingers told her it had been a significant length of time since they had gotten blood. She stared at them, silently willing them to loosen. They did not obey. Aladari gave up, closing her eyes in frustration.

"Um, excuse me, miss." Even the soft, concerned voice startled her in her current state. Her hands flew under her coat, hiding the paper as though it were evidence of her crime. The boy didn't seem to notice. He just kept talking, leaning ever closer as he did so. Then, lightly, he sniffled again.

"Are you alright? You smell like you’ve just been surrounded by wild beasts."

"Yes. I'm al-" She paused. Had he said....smell? The idea of hounds coming after her surfaced again in her mind, but she shook the thought like a lingering dream. No, surely he hadn't said such a thing. Why would he?He was just a boy. "I'm a'right." She finished.

As his eyes stayed wide and inquiring, she continued as if prompted. "I was...readin' these pep'rs. This one, like." She snatched a paper down at random. She read it over absentmindedly, stopping only when she saw the name pop out at her again. Morwen. Without thinking, she let go of the paper, watching it drift from her shaking hands to the ground.

Aladari looked back up at the boy nervously. He passed no judgment in that soft face. Everything about him was soft- his eyes especially. If he had been Vantha, Aladari might have assumed that she could read the innocence in those eyes. But his hair didn't shimmer the way hers did, and his eye colors didn't swish and swirl. No, he was no Vantha, but still she felt she could read those eyes, and they screamed not anger or distrust, but simple concern.

In that moment, she made a swift decision. It was nothing short of life and death, but she didn't have time to second guess it. She bent down and picked up the paper, holding it out to him as an offering.

"I was just' readin' this." She gulped (visibly or not, she couldn't tell), and waited for him to read the flyer, praying to Morwen that he would be just as accepting as his wide-open face implied. The suspense was painful, and she almost wished she could cry to lessen it, but her eyes remained hauntingly dry.
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Last edited by Aladari Coolwater on December 28th, 2016, 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Beodan Clathony on December 20th, 2016, 5:51 am

OOCBeodan is seven years old, but his physical age is in the early twenties.

Here assurance that she was not under duress of any kind was shaky at best, by Beodan’s reckoning. It was one of those ‘alrights’ where you did not actually feel alright, but felt some strange compulsion to tell others that nothing was wrong. He had never understood it and tried to avoid having to take part in such small talk whenever possible. And usually that was through just forgetting in the first place, but that is besides the point. Why couldn’t people just be honest with each other? Pretty lies never sat right with the Kelvic. The only problem was, what could he do about it? Especially in this case. He did not want to pry too deep into a stranger’s affairs. Perhaps if they knew each other better, he would have cause to, but now he only held rights to a hello.

Those eyes. Dan had never known what it was like to be a book until that moment. Judged by his cover. He did not know what she was looking for, but he hoped she did or did not find it, whichever one was good. Under her gaze, the paper disappearing under folds of fabric faded to background, its importance lessening in his mind as quickly as it had left his view. Her irises were amazing, he had never seen anything quite like them. Sure he had seen Vani before, on occasion, but not this conversational of a distance. They were mostly pink, though on closer inspection had flecks of green and purple swirling around their depths. He mentally scratched his chin, wondering how exactly they were able to change color so vibrantly like that.

She pulled him from his thoughts with the sound of tearing paper and an explanation. Had she been reading that flyer? He could not recall. Though it hardly mattered, after all. She seemed to agree, as she flung the page to the dirty cobble street as if it had bitten her. When she looked back at him he froze again. She was looking through him again, like he was a glass jar. After a handful or two of ticks, she picked up the flyer with care and presented it to him.

Dan took it gingerly, half afraid it would sting him. There were words written in bold letters. Nice and easy to read, which he was grateful for. Following the script with his finger, he moved his lips with the words. There was a description of Vanthas, a bounty, Morwen’s mark, and a whole lot more trouble. “Oh bother,” he muttered under his breath. This girl was in a whole heap of trouble. That the bounty extended to him if he was caught aiding her was not a good thing, not at all. A 1000 Mizas was more than he made in a good season. “Rak'keli and Priskil, give me the strength to fight this darkness,” he prayed, again under his breath. He could use some divine courage right about now.

What to do. What to do! “I would keep your hood up from now on, if I were you,” the Herbalist whispered to her, “I’ll help you get set up in the woods, but I can’t have you stay with me. At least, not for a long time.” Dan felt torn, more torn than he ever had. The had to leave the city without being suspected, or their identities known. She would keep her hood up and head down, and ride right out the gates on his back. He would do the rest. Perhaps he would make her haven further in the woods. His abode was hard to find, but there were people who knew its locations. Most of them friends, but some less so than others. Yes, it would have to be further.

“Okay, follow me.” He led her into a nearby alley and started stripping off his clothes and stuffing them into his pack, explaining as he did so. “So, you are going to keep your hood up, stuff your face in my mane, and we will ride out of the city like weary travelers. I’ll take you to a safe place deep in the woods, alright?” Now completely naked, and at her dumbfounded expression he hastily elaborated, “I’m a horse Kelvic! Oh and you should rub some dirt into my hide before we set off, don’t want anyone to catch sight of my luxurious glossy coat.” Humor hard pressed, under the circumstances.

“Well, what do you think?”
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Aladari Coolwater on December 28th, 2016, 2:29 am

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2 Winter 516
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Her time in Sunberth had drilled into her mind the trust-none mentality. She had taken to sniffing her drinks for a trace of drugs, taking no more than two gold's worth with her at a time, and training her combat skills once a season. And yet, somehow, all those trained instincts disappeared.

When the boy told her she could stay with him, she felt not distrust, or suspicion, but sheer relief. When he told her to keep her hood up from now on, she obeyed without question, throwing up the thin cloak's hood and tucking her hair within. Even when he led her into an alley- the kind of place people in Sunberth were drugged or killed- she still followed. If he murdered her, at least it might be quick and merciful, rather than the beheading that the flyers seemed to suggest, she thought.

It was, however, startling when he began to strip down.

"I..." She began, unsure of how to express herself. She was grateful for his help, of course, but she had lasted so long without resorting to whoring that she found the idea near repulsive now. Luckily, it appeared he had no such thing in mind.

"I'm a horse Kelvic!" He explained upon spotting her uneasy face.

She almost laughed; it sounded like the start to a joke. The man must've been a horse Kelvic, for the size on him! But he carried on before she could think it through any further.

"Oh and you should rub some dirt into my hide before we set off, don’t want anyone to catch sight of my luxurious glossy coat!"

This time, she did laugh, if only out of nerves. She rested her hand on her own shoulder and squeezed. It was a familiar gesture, and one that was normally accompanied by a surge of courage and faith, but she only felt hollow and afraid. She pulled her hand away from where the Gnosis lay under her cloak quickly, almost as if it had burned her, and turned her attention fully to the boy.

"Well, what do you think?" He asked expectantly.

Aladari nodded soundlessly. She hated how cowardly the gesture felt, and defiantly cleared her throat. "I t'ink I oughta go. You...ye'll keep me safe fer awhile?" Despite the fact that it was clearly a question, she knew that the answer didn't matter. Either way, this was the best option she had.

In acknowledgement of this fact, she moved forward and picked up his backpack, now bulging with his clothing. Up close to him, now, she could see the hair on his body that marked him as not a boy, but a man. It was oddly reassuring to know that he was not so young, and perhaps he knew a thing or two about the way the world worked. I sure as Hai don't!

________________________________________________________________

Once he had shifted and appeared comfortable, she knelt to the ground and rubbed her hands in the dirt. She didn't know if the comment about his coat had been a joke or not, but it was truly rather shiny, and any risk was too much for her. She haphazardly tossed the handful of dirt onto him and rubbed it into the fine hairs. She felt odd doing it, like she was massaging a stranger- and in a way she was. Her hands moved over his coat and ground in the dust and grime until it looked as though he had just come from a long road. Once she was satisfied with her work, she stood up next to him and whispered in his long, equine ear.

"If ye can still un'erstan' me, I'm sorry 'bout this."

She had never mounted a horse before, let alone one which was also a part-time Human. Aladari first tried standing on her tiptoes and simply swinging her other leg over, but he proved to be rather tall for such a technique, and she only succeeded in kicking him roughly.

"Sorry..." She muttered.

Next she tried using her knees to brace herself against his rear haunches. This was somewhat more successful, as she lifted herself from the ground with it. Combined with a bit of mane-pulling and grunting, she finally managed to mount him. She sighed a sigh of relief and patted the side of his head as she had seen travelers do to their steeds. She had also seen many of them pronounce something grand as they took off, such as "Onwards!", or "To greener pastures!". She could think of no such thing, and settled for breathlessly sputtering whatever came to mind.

"A'ight. Git me outta 'ere."
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"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Beodan Clathony on December 28th, 2016, 6:37 pm

Dan nodded slowly in response to her somewhat rhetorical question. With each shake of his head, his mind was more made up, as if the action was shaking his thoughts and feelings into their proper place. While he had not seen much of the world, nor many Vantha, most everybody were decent folk. He figured that this girl was at least decent as well, and no matter of winter shenanigans or what have you would be cause for her death or genocide in general. He hoped that the majority of the city would at least turn a blind eye to the Vantha’s existence. While that much gold would be tempting to some, a life was surely worth a lot more. He furrowed his brow, his thoughts on slavers and their uncanny ability to put a price on lives. If one were to meet the Horse Kelvic, they would say he was a gentle soul. But if anyone deserved a hoof to the throat, it was them and this horse was only too happy to oblige.

Seeing that she had picked up his well worn pack, Beodan grinned. He had not even thought of how a passenger would make dealing with the one-strapped pack so much easier. Before he could have attached it to a limb and then shifted so it fit snuggly, but with only one strap, that was nearly impossible as it liked to slide down his legs. Just as he was about to shift, he stopped and looked to her nervously. “Uhh, miss?” he started, rubbing the back of his neck with a cupped hand, “I don’t suppose you’ve had riding experience?” At her negative, he nodded grimly, expecting as much. “Well, we are in luck, because riding a horse that speaks Common makes things a lot simpler!” he said with an easy smile, before explaining, “All you have to do is sit and hold on to something. My mane, in my hair, around my neck… Whatever you can get a grip on that is not my face or ears. I’ll do the rest, and if you need something, like to slow down or stop, just tell me.”

That said, the Kelvic nodded once to reassure himself as much as her that it really was that simple and shifted in a flash of light. Large chocolate eyes turned to his rider, blinking with an audible click. He cocked his head to the side and puffed air out of his nose, making a purr-like sound of excitement as if to say, ‘Let's go!’ He could feel his energy levels rising, adrenalin despite not being in a threatening situation at present. She was covering her Gnosis quite well and her hood was up. He knew they would merely trot out of the gates without hardly a second look from the guards, but the anticipation was enough. He felt her rubbing dirt in his hide, oh that would itch later. A bath was in order! Maybe two, considering that it was probably not just dirt sitting on the floor of this alley. Alright, this was it, time to show these guards who was unimportant. Just walk by smoothy, just like any other day. Trot casual, not a care in the— OFGH!

Having missed her whisper with all the nerves, he was unprepared for the leg that bashed into his flank. He snorted and clicked his teeth at her, his ears going back, ‘Hey, watch it!’ He did his best to kneel down a bit for her next attempt. With all the grace of an intoxicated seal, she clambered up after a brief apology, much to the chagrin of his abused mane. Finally settled, he took off at a brisk walk at her prompting. All was quiet save for the normal sounds of a large city’s inhabitants and the rhythmic clopping of hooves on stones. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a pair of shady individuals heading into the Rearing Stallion. The door closed behind them before he could see their faces, but they looked like they had only just arrived in Syliras. Two and two made four, Dan quickened his walk imperceptibly. In a chime, they were passing through the gates, with not a word from the guards ever at attention. He thought he saw one give a small nod to him, but he was probably imagining things. Once a stone’s throw away from the gate, he gave her a nicker, ‘We are home free!’ and slowly accelerated to a three-beat canter, which he figured would be nearing the max of her comfort zone.

A little over a bell later and Dan pulled off the road and headed through the trees in a seemingly random direction. No paths this close to the road, save for a game trail that took him in the right direction part of the way, then more twisting around trunks and over logs. Suddenly, now about twenty chimes since leaving the road, a quant clearing appeared. There was a tent in the far corner, nestled among densely packed trees, some of whom were being used to offer structural support to the tent. There were beds of plants that grew wildly, only a hint of rhyme or reason that set it apart from the rest of the forest. Plant pots to the right of the tent flap were more obvious, but half were empty. A firepit sat to the left and further away from the tent entrance. His abode was well hidden, especially because this part of the woods was dense enough that if you missed it by a quarter stone throw, you would not even guess it existed. The trees were just wide enough for a horse and a passenger, at parts. Most who found it wandered in completely by accident.

A familiar bright light lit up the clearing and the Herbalist now carried her piggyback, his hand already holding her legs to keep her from falling (this was not his first rodeo). Setting her down gently, he said, “Home sweet home.” He stretched with arms above his head, groaning as his back cracked. He gestured for her to follow him inside the tent, holding the flap open for her. He lit the lamps around the room, including the one that had been modified into a stovetop to heat water. Said kettle of water was already on the now lit flame. He pointed one more at a bed that sat in the back corner. “That’s yours, I’ll take the couch,” he said, leaving no room for argument in that respect. He was nothing if not a good host. “Mind the herbs,” he warned, gesturing at the countless herbs that hung from ropes on the ceiling, “Could hurt yourself on a few of ‘em.”

“Tea?”

OOCThere is a terrible ms paint drawing of his abode on my CS that is meant to give you some idea of the layout.
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Aladari Coolwater on February 13th, 2017, 6:57 pm

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2 Winter 516
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OOCHoly shyke, I'm sorry I totally abandoned this. If you want to continue, I'm here now. But if you're ready to be done, I totally understand.

Aladari barely noticed the scenery that passed by. She was far too busy keeping herself upright. The horse seemed to wobble from side to side beneath her, and she momentarily wondered if he was trying to throw her off. She tried her best not to yank on his mane or clip his rear with her heels, but she knew that there had to be at least minimal injury.

By the time she had started to figure out how to sit (leaned slightly back, back straight, seat firmly planted), the horse sped up. Aladari couldn't stop the small squeak of surprise, even at the mostly gradual change. She gripped the mane tighter for a tick, before reminding herself to lighten up for the Kelvic's sake.

After the initial shock, it was not such a drastic change for Aladari, and she managed to hold herself upright for the remainder of the chimes.

Again, within a handful of chimes, the horse's pace shifted, and Aladari was thrown crookes. Luckily, the horse had also shifted his form, and the once again Human hands steadied her atop his back. He let her down gently, in a practiced motion that indicated he had done so before. While he stretched out his likely worn muscles, Aladari observed the area.

It looked rather rag-tag, with plants gathered haphazardly over the ground. A tent took up a good deal of space, slumping against its surroundings lazily. He walked inside, and she followed him blindly.

He introduced her to the surroundings, showing her the single bed and warning her of the herbs dangling from every inch of the ceiling. Aladari eyed them nervously, wondering which ones could be poison. Would they be brighter colored, or duller? Would they be sharp-looking, or deceptively soft?

His voice was the only thing that halted her spiraling thoughts.

"Tea?"

Aladari sighed and wiped her hands on her pants. The inside of her legs were rubbed raw and sore from the ride, and her cloak and boots were muddied from the muck kicked up behind her. Slowly, she removed her cloak and set it down, then seated herself on top of the cleaner inside.

She had never had tea before, as she very much preferred the sharp burn of alcohol to drown her problems. But seeing as this man had already offered her so much, she felt it would be too much to ask for.

"Tea's good." She told him.

While she waited for him to make it, she messed with her hands nervously. Trying to fill the short but pressing silence, she tried to make small chatter.

"So ya do this for a livin'? Is nice. Calm. I'm a fisher. Is nice an calm too. I like it, mostly." Then, after a short pause, "I'm Aladari, by tha way."
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"The sea always filled her with longing, though for what she was never sure."
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Aladari Coolwater
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Beodan Clathony on February 17th, 2017, 1:48 am

At the Vantha’s affirmative, the Kelvic set about fixing up the tea. A heavily worn iron kettle was set upon a simple oil lamp stove, water sloshing on the inside as he set it down and begun to pick out herbs in mechanical, routine motions. Chamomile, peppermint, and… hmm… a little bit Connal to ease the day’s worries away. Not a pair of chimes later and they were each holding glazed ceramic mugs filled with a fragrant amber liquid that steamed charmingly in the cool air of the pavilion.

Beodan hummed a yes at her question, swallowing a mouthful of tea before elaborating, “Yeah, I’m an herbalist of sorts. I like it too. The calm that is.” He trailed off, looking out the open flap of the tent, “I can't stand the city. Far too noisy, smelly… A lot going on, and not a lot of room for a horse to stretch his legs!” Frowning, he rubbed the stubble on his chin. Had he ever been fishing? He could not recall that he had. He supposed there was not much attractive about it to a creature of the land like himself. He had never been on a boat, but he did much prefer to have at least two legs on solid ground at all times. And only the divines knew what was in that water besides fish. Shuddering, he continued to listen.

“Aladari,” he tested, looking her up and down, “I like it! I’m Beodan, but everyone calls me Dan.” A question popped into his brain, and with the stereotypical filter Kelvics were famous for, he blurted, “So, what do you think about this whole winter thing? Like, we need winter and your goddess isn’t doing her job and that’s bad, but they also want to kill you to get to her and that's bad too-” Out of breath, he inhaled, which gave him time enough to think maybe it would be best to stay silent rather than continue to probe. He gazed at her with wide, expectant, orbs of chocolate.
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Aladari Coolwater on February 22nd, 2017, 7:42 pm

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2 Winter 516
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The way he moved was so methodical it was almost intimidating. She couldn't keep up with which herbs he touched and threw into the pot, and she certainly couldn't tell which might be poison. Again, she was forced to trust him without any idea of intention.

Regardless, when he handed her the mug, she managed a stiff smile in thanks. Anyone who knew her would she the chaotic swirls of blue and purple and green in her eyes and know her real feelings, but there was no reason to hide it anyway. It was likely that he already knew.

Dan. Beodan. She mulled the names around in her head as she sniffed at the tea suspiciously. She liked that he had a nickname- it felt warm and personal- and she almost felt tempted to tell him her own nickname, but the thought of it brought to mind her father. She still missed him too much to let anyone else call her anything but Aladari.

Finally, she lifted the mug to her lips and took a sip of the tea. Although originally scalding and tasteless, the minty taste eventually took over. She knew that most drugs and poisons were bitter, and that mint was edible, but beyond that, it was back to trust.

She wasn't surprised when he asked her what she felt. She had been expecting the question. Really, what else was there to talk about? But she hadn't been looking forward to it by any means. What did she think of, as he put it, "the whole Winter thing"? Uncertain, but happy to have a vent, she began to think aloud.

"I've always loved Morwen since I was li'l. My ma do too. An' we're all marked. Tha's 17 years of frien'ship an' love an'..." She stopped, taking a gulp of tea that stretched her throat to an ache in an attempt to stop the tears. When she found her strength again, she continued. "I can't throw tha' away. But at the same time...She left us here. Not just me, or the Vantha, lef' here to die, but ev'ryone. She lef' us all. An' there's gotta be a reason. I gotta believe there's a reason or I got nothin' else, but...I don' see it, y'know?"

Aladari shrugged her shoulders half-heartedly. She didn't know what else to say. Everything rushed so quickly in her head that she could think of nothing else. Instead of thinking about it anymore, she passed the buck.

"Wha'd'you think?"

Word Count415
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All Comes Crashing Down

Postby Beodan Clathony on April 3rd, 2017, 6:41 pm

Beodan nodded, concerned but interested, along with her. He couldn’t imagine having existed following one thing for 17 years, well over double his age! He had only lived on his own for a handful of winters presently, and though he had been doing much the same as he had always done during that time, it still added perspective to Aladari’s devotion and attachment to her goddess. The Kelvic had experimented with faith, but never really found something that fit him quite right. Perhaps one day, when he had seen more of what the world had to offer. Until that day, however, he was content to live according to the gods he knew; the sun and rain. He also figured that any connection, or what have you, to the divine would not be quite the same profound experience of having a bondmate. He hoped it was all that and more, but what god would connect themselves to a single person when they had their pick of the litter?

The Herbalist grunted his agreement; even if he wasn’t a follower, he had been left by Winter. True, some of his plants had lived due to his vigilant protect, but he had not been able to save the vast majority of them that fell victim to the out of season heat and the plague of pests that followed. She was right, there had to be a reason for it. Winter couldn’t just stop. What would you even call the space in between Spring and Fall? Come to think of it, would there even be a Spring if Winter never came to cull the earth? But what could happen to a god? Perhaps she grew weary of cold, and decided to take a little holiday? She certainly deserved it after her dedication in past years, surely she should be able to skip a year or two here and there.

At Aladari’s prompting, Dan voiced, “Well, she’s a god, ain’t she? Can’t well have been messed with by someone, right?” He scratched the whiskers on his chin contemplatively, and continued somewhat hesitantly, “Perhaps she needed a break? I’d imagine she works hard, what with all that divine responsibility… Though you’d figure if her followers were being cut down like so many rogue cattle, she’d do something to stop them; even from vacation.” He felt a rare emotion rize in him; anger. There was nothing that ticked this Kelvic off quite like seemingly pointless death. He understood the natural order of things (things with pointy teeth and knives on their paws hunted things that didn’t), and he accepted that. But just killing for the sake of killing… Something was wrong. His hands itched for action, so he turned from his guest and went to his work table and begun to split some sort of dried pods with his knife, extracting seeds from within, and setting them in a glass jar, talking all the while. “I can’t believe the other seasons would do that! Hiring assassins… It isn’t your guys’s fault that your goddess is gone! It’s not like she told you what she was doing!”

The Herbalist paused. “Did she?”
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