Flashback Unforgiven, Unforgotten

Chronicling Dra-Vaerin's adventure through the Unforgiving.

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The vast mountain range of Kalea is home of secret valleys, dead-end canyons, and passes that lead to places long forgotten or yet to be discovered.

Unforgiven, Unforgotten

Postby Vaerin on June 24th, 2017, 2:21 pm

72nd of Winter, 515AV

Do-Vedenza Kina was held earlier than was typically expected. It was not necessarily a bad thing in Dra-Vaerin's eyes. It would give him an earlier start on travelling: thereby hopefully reaching the port of Alvadas sooner. It was from there that he would find passage to Syliras, the final destination. How long he would be there he had no idea. He knew he would not come back until he was successful though. They were about four days out of Kalinor by now. The young Dra had a sense of optimism about him that was irrepressible. This was in no small amount due to the feeling of accomplishment he felt over the victory he had procured. This victory was gaining acceptance into one of the harvesting parties leaving for Alvadas. His being a Dra made it a challenge, to say the least. The final bargaining chip that had caused them to begrudgingly accept him was Dra-Vaerin pleadingly offering to carry their supplies and cook for the duration of the trip.

Within the group were five other Symenestra men. Many of them undertaking their second, and even third Harvest. However, one other was undertaking their first. This individual had grown up and went to school with Dra-Vaerin. Though he was never particularly close to either of them. However, he had idolised one of them from afar for nearly as long as he could remember being in school with him.

This Symenestra's name was Avarien Hellebore. A very tall, nigh on perfect example of Symenestra masculinity both physically and mentally. He was classically handsome with pale gold eyes that could either fill one with a sense of total security, or dread depending on the man's feelings towards them. He always seemed to get his way, and was arguably the most popular of those he attended school with. And how Dra-Vaerin wished he was able to be like him.

Yet it never seemed to extend into the realm of jealousy. He supposed he was just as susceptible to the man's charms as everyone else. Not that he had ever caught Avarien's gaze - even in ire. Dra-Vaerin was sure that the man hadn't known he had existed until he had nearly on the verge of tears begged Avarien's traveling party to join. The desperation and unfiltered desire to please them in order to get his way bought a degree of mirth to Avarien's face as he listened to the halfling little more than a few weeks ago.

There was another that was of a similar age to them. Darion, was of the Arctium web and had always given Vaerin an unsettled twinge in his stomach. Darion had been three years older than Avarien and himself. He felt dangerous in the way that a predator's tensed muscles would to its prey. He didn't know just how dangerous the man could be - only that he was. The older men accompanying them were Olvanas, Erandev, and Venzestren. All had garnered reputations for being efficient and strong in their handling of travelling across Mizahar. For Venzestren, this would be for all intensive purposes his last harvest. He had already sired two children. He seemed determined to keep going until he was no longer capable of siring.

In truth, Vaerin had known about all of these men were going to group together. He knew of them in some propensity. Which was not that hard to do considering how small the Symenestra numbered as a people. During his school years he had of course seen both Darion and Avarien. And during the festivities of Notok throughout most of his adolescence, the other three had often been praised for bringing back rather radiant surrogates. Whilst none of them apart from possibly Avarien had ever been particularly famous or noteworthy, they were very well regarded by other Symenestra. Even Darion had been talked about as having potential as being quite the hunter if he focused on his art. Dra-Vaerin could only imagine what having such things being said about him without the speaker having a sour expression, or it meant in the cruellest of jest.

He also knew they carried with them the highest chance of helping the fledgeling traveller to reach his goal unscathed. As such, Dra-Vaerin did not have much concern of arriving safely in Alvadas. He felt that his biggest concern would have been to make sure that he did not anger his travelling party on their long trip - lest they lash out at him. He knew their opinion of him was low and that they had little desire to talk to him outside of the absolute necessities for functioning as a cohesive expedition daily. Whilst he could say that not every single Symenestra held such low esteem for the Dra, it was a very common sentiment that manifested itself in a number of different ways. So he had occupied most of the last few days since leaving his cavernous home by taking in the mountainous beauty that he was exposed to for the first time, and daydreaming of life in Syliras when he arrived and became just as well liked as Avarien.

Granted, the youth couldn't let his mind get caught up too much with these flights of fancy. Even though they were not very far out into the wilderness: the Unforgiving had gained the namesake for a reason. Kalea was a deadly mistress for those that did not have their wits about them. Already they had narrowly avoided being set upon by a pack of creatures whose name evaded Dra-Vaerin. The animals had clearly smelled the rations from the large backpack that Dra-Vaerin struggled with carrying. However, both Darion and Erandev put on such a frightful and aggressive display with their weapons that the animals hastily retreated. It made the youth thankful for the unusually large party that he managed to join. He believed that not everyone's final destination was to be Alvadas, but he knew he was the only one travelling to Syliras. Though at that point, he was not concerned because he planned on taking a ship to the city.

It was obvious to even the most sheltered individual that what he was facing would be a much greater challenge in comparison to anything he had faced so far. It was only dawning on him how truly dangerous the land of Mizahar was. Kalinor was not without its dangers but since he very rarely travelled outside of the populated quarters of the city; he never felt threatened or in danger. Up here he felt nothing but threatened and in danger. As a natural reaction to this, his fangs were almost always exposed - ready to bite and poison. During the days there was no end to the potential amount of danger, and at night it was not much safer. Caves, which were something which he regarded as fairly safe before now, were potential tombs. They had to make sure that their food or campfires did not attract attention when they set up for nights in said caves when possible. Often one or two of them would stay up into the small hours of the morning to make sure that they were safe in the middle of the night.

It was a stressful experience, and Dra-Vaerin had no idea how long it would take them to get to Alvadas. His desire to please the men he was travelling with would mean he wouldn't ask for fear of irking them with stupid and inane questions. He even apologized profusely when he needed to halt them to relieve himself or to catch his breath. He even went to the trouble of giving them a delicious snack to appease them for such a transgression. Even though such kow-towing for such a trivial thing was probably ridiculous, Dra-Vaerin did not want to risk them thinking him uncaring of their time.

He often lagged behind them: unable to deal with the accumulation of the light of Syna upon him, the weight of their belongings and food supplies upon his back. It didn't seem to grate on their nerves at the moment: but Dra-Vaerin imagined that it would only be a matter of time before they started snapping at him for taking so long. He only hoped that over time he was able to keep up with them. He knew his fitness was not a cause for questioning - how could it? He was an aerial dancer of some talent. Even though he was a Dra. It was more the challenge of the extreme geography he was contending with. The young man was not equipped with the same blessings of his full-blooded kin that would have made such a difficult trek easier. They often had to hoist him up onto one of their backs and scale down steeper inclines in order to make their entire journey slightly faster by what may have only amounted to mere bells, or if they were lucky a few days at most. He secretly wished that the would also stick to a nocturnal travelling routine: so that they could have avoided the almost blinding light.

The group of Symenestra men carried on trekking in silence for bells, until Darion started up a conversation about what kind of surrogates each man was going to search for. It was a rather lewd conversation that led to much guffawing and crude commentary from everyone but Dra-Vaerin and Avarien. Why Avarien didn't join in the more cruder elements of the conversation was beyond Dra-Vaerin. However, he knew that his own reasoning for staying silent was due to him finding such talk highly distasteful.

He knew the significance and importance of the Harvest. It was without a doubt essential to the survival of his race. He was aware that the process of this rite of passage would be negatively viewed by the outsiders to the suffering race. As such, he recognised the need to keep it enigmatic. Yet he felt that its implementation should have only ever been willingly from the surrogates that returned with them to Kalinor. After all, the birth of a child should only ever be a beautiful thing that is a gift - even if the mother's life had to be forfeit for it to enter. However, the reality of the lives of most surrogates during the harvesting process was usually very, very different. Irrespective of that, he felt that the surrogates that accompanied them back should be talked about with more respect than what was being shown to them. After all, they would be making the ultimate sacrifice to bring something truly beautiful into the world. In addition to this, this utter dreck that didn't deserve to be called conversation was in his eyes thoroughly uncouth and unneeded. It did make him a little happy to see that a person he had admired for his character for such a long time also seemed to share this view.

The dark haired youth perhaps secretly hoped that this trip would allow for a friendship to be formed. Of course such a longing was pitiful to admit to. Nor would it have been likely in any case. After all, had the man - or any of them - really desired any chance to converse with Dra-Vaerin, surely a friendship would have been formed by now.

After the conversation dwindled down, they walked in silence. It was a mindless march through the mountainous range which was more than occasionally very damp and treacherous because of the snow that began to thin into puddles that made the uneven mountain terrain all that more difficult to traverse. Eventually, Syna gave way to Leth, and the light from the sky became much more appreciated by all members of the party. It was like being back in Kalinor. Had he not had to keep his eyes on the road to make sure he would not tumble, Dra-Vaerin would have found himself lost in the beauty of the night sky. Since trekking away from Kalinor and seeing it for the first time: he knew it was his favourite part of the outside world. The nebulas and star constellations resembled precious jewels adorning the most beautiful dark dress. Perhaps not even the lights of the opalgloams could truly compete with the beauty of them. He doubted anything else that this outside world would ever hold as much beauty as that did. Even then he still felt Kalinor's beauty was unrivalled.

The only reason why they walked so long into the night was due to their race's incredible ability to see in the dark: so they were not hampered by the lack of light. Even Dra-Vaerin, whose blood was in a sense thinner than theirs still possessed rather impressive eyesight in such dim conditions. However, they were still subjected to the issues of fatigue and hunger. So they stopped and set up camp in an obscured rocky outcrop that suited their needs. The group - well, without asking for Vaerin to contribute - had decided that whilst they were still energised from the festival and excitement of conducting the glorious harvest was still fresh that they would power on and make as much headway as they could before their energy reserves lagged. The youth was not sure if he felt this to be the wisest of ideas. He felt that perhaps a more even and consistent pace that didn't wear them out would have been a better option. However, his experience with the wilds of Mizahar was non-existent. Perhaps his opinion was based on wrong assumptions? So he kept it to himself. They had been outside Kalinor before: he hadn't. It would undoubtedly sound like uninformed mewling.

The men ahead of him made gestures indicating that they would be stopping very shortly to rest for the night. Immediately Dra-Vaerin's mind started racing over what could quickly be prepared for them that would be satisfactory. They had walked much later into the night than they had previously. It had to be closing in on twenty-three bells surely. If previous trends were to be followed the next morning, they would rise with Syna and not tarry at this camp site. He was lucky that the feast in these men's honour was so filling, as it did sound as if none of them was still particularly hungry since their last proper meal. He felt lucky. Properly tending a fire and then cooking a more substantial broth would have taken close to possibly a bell and a half. These men were not the kind to wait patiently for their food as he was quickly discovering.

About ten chimes elapsed, and they found a suitably hidden place to set up camp. He quickly set about taking the bulky pack off, laying it on the ground and searching it for some of the preserves that would be easily digestible and not require any cooking. Young Dra-Vaerin had heard Dovnadev complain of feeling tired shortly before arriving at this location. Dovnavas set about stoking and managing a campfire. As the amber sparks from the flint that Dovnavas used lit the tinder ablaze, Dra-Vaerin felt a sense of dread wash over him. Vaerin was uneasy about having a campfire raging in the middle of the night in a place that had such a foreboding name. However, it was a necessity. It was very cold at night, as they were still in the clutches of winter. The young aerialist did not desire to freeze to death, and would actively set out not to do so. Including dealing with the campfire which surely would give away their position.

"Dra. Food now. It's late and I am tired." Olvanas curtly implored from his position hovering over the young flames. The way he spoke in Symenos made Dra-Vaerin shudder. His enunciation was rather slurred and lax, and his vocal tone, while having a distinct deep timbre to it, was often monotone. To him it sounded lazy - as if he didn't care about his people's tongue. Though to be fair, his speech patterns in the common language were not much different.

"Right away, Dovna." He responded, quickly fishing out two jars of a well loved pickled insect from the floors of Kalinor and unscrewed the lid. Though opening the lid was quite a feat: so tight was its seal. The taste of the flesh had a sweet taste to it when it reacted with the venom and began to melt in the mouth. It was a rather small creature that easily fit into the mouth and could sit as the saliva and venom mixed together to corrode it. The vinegar, garlic and mustard seeds infused the dish with a rather pleasant savoury aspect as well. As a child Dra-Vaerin had not cared for it very much. He found the vinegar too sour and the seeds too spicy. Now, however, he was quite fond of it. Although maybe he found the taste a little too sweet every once in a while.

It was lucky he enjoyed it: as they had just about half a season's supply if they stretched it out. The pickling agents would ensure the freshness for most of the trip. Truthfully if there were not as many of them travelling, it likely would have lasted them at least three-quarters of the way. Perhaps not as the only thing that they ate - as their small size only filled one's stomach so much. But certainly enough to keep them sustained while searching for more plentiful food sources.

"May this blood give greater life." He said solemnly as he passed the jar to the older Symenestra. The man took a small handful and stuffed it unceremoniously into his mouth. Dra-Vaerin felt his lips purse for the briefest of moments. He usually expected other Symenestra to return the prayer to their god before partaking in eating. That and he found it rather gluttonous to take so many of them when they had eaten so heavily less than a week ago. Such avaricious behaviour would only deplete their own reserves of food faster. They still had a very long way to travel through the mountains and surrounding land.

Vaerin did also consider that it was not that terrible perhaps. After all, clearly they had to have known that at some point they would need to forage for their own food. As long as they all pulled their own weight and gave him enough food to work with to keep them well-fed it did not matter as much how much they ate. He felt it better that the men that knew how to defend themselves be kept as healthy as possible. Dra-Vaerin would be the support and pack-mule. And he would conduct himself with all the earnestness that he danced with in this particular role. Even if he found it to be somewhat degrading. Such was the price he would pay to achieve something truly great in the long run. Not much later after forcing himself to at least have two of the little creatures, Dra-Vaerin retired to his sleeping roll. It did not take him long to drift to sleep. The day had been draining and he did not realise how tiring it had been until his head hit the soft padding.
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