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    Canonfire :: View topic - Chapter 2: The Outsiders
    Canonfire Forum Index -> Expedition to the Land of Black Ice
    Chapter 2: The Outsiders [ 1, 2  Next]
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    Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:26 am  
    Chapter 2: The Outsiders

    When they left the Icepick, it was as if each one of them, in turn, had been punched in the face.

    Some of them felt Beory's caress more acutely than did the others. Njord bore the thin sheen of lard upon his skin that took most of the sting from the wind and the driving snow, like the bare edges of her nails, raked across his exposed flesh. Sævil was not unused to the fury of a bitter winter, but this turn of nature was something unheard of even in the lands from which he hailed. He found himself raising his arm, hiding his eyes away from the icy gale and the blinding glare that reflected from the unblemished white with which it covered the world. Ohrin seemed the best pugilist of them all, the blessing of his deity somehow forcing the weather to ignore him. If one looked closely enough, they could see the way that the wind and the snow gusted powerfully in his direction, only to avert its path a hair's breadth from his person. By contrast, Kahss had the hardest time of it, having to turn his head against the worst of it, gritting his teeth against the painful cold and the whirling frenzy of a storm of falling icemotes, like so many tiny razorblades.

    They walked in procession behind Captain Fireheart. The spire of the Icepick behind them, she led them down Corus' central prominade, slogging her way through knee-deep snow all the way. As they had chosen to see their new headquarters for themselves, it had fallen to her to take them to its door. So it was the Little One had said, and so it was that she had taken up the task – as was ever her way, without rebuttal or complaint. Njord was close at her heel, watching the way that her cloak billowed or snapped at its end with the whim of the wind. The way she moved – undeterred by the elements, indeed, as if their wrath only seemed to spur her resolve onward – she was almost like a force of nature, unto herself.

    Five minutes from the warmth of the flickering torches they had enjoyed in the Mayor's presence, Kahss had considered asking the Captain how much further they'd have to walk before arriving at their destination. Eventually, he abandoned the notion. Why bother, he considered the gale, when surely no one would would hear you?

    Eventually, the five of them – shadows on a tapestry of winter white – arrived at the door of a large structure. It was not a place unfamiliar to any of them. It was set along the inside of one of the settlement's inner stone walls, that had once marked the edge of its bounds before it had expanded to take on a growing population. Perhaps a hundred feet in length and twenty feet in depth, there were two large, iron-bound doors in its grey rock and mortar construction that barred easy entry within, about fifty feet from one another. Mercifully, each one of the members of the newly born fellowship noted two chimneys rising from the back of the building, pillars of gentle grey smoke wisping from their tops before being ripped away by the wind's ferocity.

    The Captain pulled at one of the doors, fighting for a moment against the snow that had piled up at its foot. Eventually she conquered its weight. “Come,” she bade them, having to raise her voice to be heard. “Be swift.” None of them had to be told twice.

    Within the structure, warmth assailed the flesh, almost as painfully as had the snow. The collective gazes of the four men among them surveyed their new surroundings. The two fireplaces had been lit, crackling flames roaring in their mouths. Along with the torches, numbering perhaps two dozen, set in sconces along the walls, they provided ample illumination by which to see easily. The walls, it was obvious, had once had windows, but those were long-ago shuttered and barred against the snowfall. It was a grim reminder of their dire situation.

    Gazes traced the walls, leaving the stack of cut wood for burning that lined one of them and four beds – more cots than anything else, with heavy trunks at the foot of each one – that would serve to provide comfort for the weary. Not far from them were four small desks, chairs at each one, with unlit candles and sticks upon their wooden flats. Only a few feet from those furnishings, a table bore three tapped casks atop of it. In center of the room was dominated by a great table, chairs aplenty ringing it. It looked like it might seat two dozen men; the notion that it very well might have to do exactly that escaped none of them.

    Captain Fireheart shook some of the snow off of the shoulders of her cloak. “This building,” she explained, “will serve as your new headquarters. The Little One has seen to it that it is appointed handsomely...but if it does not serve your needs for some reason,” she looked between them, “make known that which you require and we will see if you can be accommodated.”

    To meet her eyes was a difficult thing, as ever, for Njord. The ravishing warrior's dark hair seemed to drink in the light about them; her deep brown flesh seemed like an unbroken field of chestnut. Her eyes were a day's work, just to look into them.

    “That you would come here directly was not expected,” she continued. “I will require some time before I can return to you with the list of volunteers available to you. Given the importance of this labor, I will put the task to as many Guardsmen as I can spare. You will have your names within the hour,” she promised. The way she said it, there was no doubt of it at all.

    “Have you any questions of me before I set about it?” she asked.
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    Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:18 am  

    Ohrin smiled at the captain, "Thank you for escorting us here. We shall," he added, while looking at his companions to make sure none of them had any immediate requests, "quickly know whether or not this place has any needs and should be able to advise you upon that upon your return. I look forward to seeing the list!"

    Ohrin then gives the captain one last nod and begins to wander about the place, examining the structure and its furniture.
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    Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:09 pm  
    Chapter 2: Sævil: The Outsiders

    Sævil squints as he takes in the room. He grabs a chair and pulls it toward one of the fires, sprawls out, and sighs happily.

    Once Fireheart leaves, he turns as if to answer her, "Ja, I hardly see the beer keg in here!"
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    Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:57 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Njord

    Njord managed to pull his gaze from Captain Fireheart only briefly. He quickly examined the spacious headquarters. Not a single discernable thought about the place entered his mind before his eyes had moved back to the captain. He stepped toward her, keeping a respectful distance, but the burning within intensified. A quick bow of his head and a deep breath before speaking allowed him to gather his voice.

    "Captain, i have question. Are you going with Good Mayor Highmountain to attack 'Egg'?"

    He feared and yet hoped for a specific answer.
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    Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:12 am  
    Kahss, Njord, Ohrin, and Saevil: The Outsiders

    Ohrin smiled at the captain, "Thank you for escorting us here. We shall," he added, while looking at his companions to make sure none of them had any immediate requests, "quickly know whether or not this place has any needs and should be able to advise you upon that upon your return. I look forward to seeing the list!"

    Ohrin then gives the captain one last nod and begins to wander about the place, examining the structure and its furniture.

    The Captain returned his nod, saying nothing in reply. Instead, she turned and made her way for the door and the task at hand. Just as she was steeling herself against the icy gale awaiting her beyond the wooden barrier, the voice of one of her Guardsmen gave her pause.

    Njord managed to pull his gaze from Captain Fireheart only briefly. He quickly examined the spacious headquarters. Not a single discernible thought about the place entered his mind before his eyes had moved back to the captain. He stepped toward her, keeping a respectful distance, but the burning within intensified. A quick bow of his head and a deep breath before speaking allowed him to gather his voice.
    "Captain, I have question. Are you going with Good Mayor Highmountain to attack 'Egg'?"

    He feared and yet hoped for a specific answer.

    The weight of her gaze was a palpable thing, its intensity darkly furious even in repose. Njord had to force himself to meet it in kind, to not turn away. “No,” she replied. “I will not. It has fallen to me to remain behind. I will lead the City Guard and Defenders not involved with either yours or the Mayor's groups, organizing them for the defense of the city, should the Blackmoorians be so foolish to attack whilst you are away. We shall see that they have a proper welcome from the good folk of Corus.” Captain Fireheart offered a wry smirk to punctuate the notion. It promised much in the way of pain. Njord suddenly realized that he hadn't breathed, the entire time she'd spoken.

    “Each of you should be honored,” she said, glancing about them. “Just as the Mayor explained that Ohrin's name was put forth specifically by Master Retlishin for this expedition – so, too, were each one of you chosen by one whom the Little One trusts. This is not a niggling thing. Perhaps knowing that might give you courage to face the trials doubtlessly ahead of you.”

    Near the back of the room, Ohrin stroked his hand across the flat of one of the desks in the course of his inspection. Wood. Darkly stained, it was hardly the work of a master craftsman. Nay, instead, it was built for utility. It was composed of so many flats, secured together by heavy iron bolts and bucklings. But it was wood. In a place such as Corus, it was something of a rarity. Trees were sparse, here, precious. Those good enough to be felled usually comprised the substance of the fishing boats that filled the bellies of the folk of the settlement. Furnishings and other objects were made of stone whenever possible. Failing that, the occasional bits of driftwood that made it to the shores of the Brink Islands from the icy seas surrounding them were used.

    He considered that the furniture might have belonged to Corus' founder – the renowned Sorillion Ro, himself. At least it was brought here during the days in which he walked the settlement's streets. The Little One had not exaggerated: She truly had given them the best of that which was available to her.

    Perhaps of greater interest, though – not far from the section of the room where the cots lay – he noticed a door. Its rectangular seam was flush to the wall and was difficult to see from the furthest reaches of the room.

    Captain Fireheart nodded in their direction once again. “I will return soon.” She pushed the door before herself open, plunging the room for a moment into the heart of winter. The sudden roar of the wind outside seemed to fill the structure up in an instant, until the door abruptly closed behind her once again. Warmth began to chase it from within once more. It took far too long for any of their liking.

    Sævil squints as he takes in the room. He grabs a chair and pulls it toward one of the fires, sprawls out, and sighs happily.

    The licking flames within the fireplace began to fill Sævil's limbs with life. It would have been easy to pass into blissful slumber, in that position.

    Once Fireheart leaves, he turns as if to answer her, "Ja, I hardly see the beer keg in here!"

    From Ohrin's position, it was not hard at all. One of the casks on the table seemed to be full of the stuff. Or perhaps wine.

    To one such as Sævil, it might not matter so much.
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    Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:55 am  

    Ohrin, clearly curious about the door, examines it more closely. If it has a handle, etc., he will go ahead and open it, assuming it's a closet.
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    Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:44 am  

    Kahss' mind was on the cold, on the list, and on supplies. Following Saevil’s lead he also pulled a chair from the table and sat close to the fire, angled facing towards the door.

    It was plain to see that the weather traveling to the Land of Black Ice would become only more difficult, and if accommodations were not made to fight the cold, he felt as if he might freeze solid before being any use.

    In thought as feeling returned to flesh, Kahss glanced at Ohrin as he ran his hand along the desk; it was certain that wood for arrows would be of concern, and preparations would also need to be made to procure and carry as many as possible. They would be useful for hunting and trapping, a skill honed over the course of a lifetime, and ensure preparation for any situation.

    Lastly, the list. More to travel with, mouths to feed, and hands to watch; more possible spies to walk amongst the living. Upon receiving the list he would make a copy and consider spending time within the next three days learning of the members it contains; both directly and indirectly. He would work with his new fellowship, listen, and keep his eyes ever watchful.

    The flames were pleasant, and would be the last reminder of the comfort of true shelter. Enjoying it while he could, Kahss began to harden his mind for the preparations and journey into the unknown that would come next.
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    Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:59 am  
    Chapter 2: Sævil: The Outsiders

    Sævil sighs when he spots the cask on the table. He concentrates closely and extends his arm toward the cask, flexing every muscle involved until his entire arm is quivering.

    After a few moments, he drops his arm and glances around the room, "Damn," he says, "I still can't do it."

    Finally he slinks up to the cask, uncorks it, and while watching what Ohrin is up to, has a sniff.
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    Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:24 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord

    Njord walked into the middle of the area to look around and finally take in his surroundings. The heat in his body still churned but began to subside. The image of the captain faded. As he finally became present, he noticed Saevil's failed magic trick. He moved over to the table where Kahss and Saevil had stationed themselves and, with a slight smile, addressed the would-be magician.

    "You practice sorcery to bring drink to you? That would be good skill to master. Perhaps when it is yours, you teach me."
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    Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:02 am  
    Kahss, Njord, Ohrin, and Saevil: The Outsiders

    Ohrin, clearly curious about the door, examines it more closely. If it has a handle, etc., he will go ahead and open it, assuming it's a closet.

    Kahss' mind was on the cold, on the list, and on supplies. Following Saevil’s lead he also pulled a chair from the table and sat close to the fire, angled facing towards the door.

    It was plain to see that the weather traveling to the Land of Black Ice would become only more difficult, and if accommodations were not made to fight the cold, he felt as if he might freeze solid before being any use.

    In thought as feeling returned to flesh, Kahss glanced at Ohrin as he ran his hand along the desk; it was certain that wood for arrows would be of concern, and preparations would also need to be made to procure and carry as many as possible. They would be useful for hunting and trapping, a skill honed over the course of a lifetime, and ensure preparation for any situation.

    He watched Ohrin inspect the flat of the door, his hand tracing one of the edges of its seam before stopping at about the level of his waist. That was where he found its handle: A small wooden lever that he pushed downward and pulled upon gently to force it to swing towards him.

    The space beyond was not overlarge. Dark, Ohrin opened the door a bit wider to allow the sliver of light that cast from the room outside to become a broader cone of brightness. At last, he could see what lay beyond the door's threshold. A small table inside the door provided a flat on which a twisted iron candlestick could rest. Past that, a squat stone square on which one might sit. A sizable hole was cut into much of the throne, however, a deep well stretching down from that into blackness. Next to the stone arrangement, he saw a series of clay pots, meant to hold water to wash with.

    Kahss watched him gaze inside the tiny room while he considered their situation anew. Lastly, there was the list. More to travel with, mouths to feed, and hands to watch; more possible spies to walk amongst the living. Upon receiving the list he would make a copy and consider spending time within the next three days learning of the members it contains; both directly and indirectly. He would work with his new fellowship, listen, and keep his eyes ever watchful.

    The flames were pleasant, and would be the last reminder of the comfort of true shelter. Enjoying it while he could, Kahss began to harden his mind for the preparations and journey into the unknown that would come next.

    Sævil sighs when he spots the cask on the table. He concentrates closely and extends his arm toward the cask, flexing every muscle involved until his entire arm is quivering.

    After a few moments, he drops his arm and glances around the room, "Damn," he says, "I still can't do it."

    Finally he slinks up to the cask, uncorks it, and while watching what Ohrin is up to, has a sniff.

    From where he stood, it was hard to tell what Ohrin saw inside the dark room into which he gazed in silence. Whatever it was, it seemed of only little import, given the lack of expression that cross his features.

    Njord walked into the middle of the area to look around and finally take in his surroundings. The heat in his body still churned but began to subside. The image of the captain faded. As he finally became present, he noticed Saevil's failed magic trick. He moved over to the table where Kahss and Saevil had stationed themselves and, with a slight smile, addressed the would-be magician.

    "You practice sorcery to bring drink to you? That would be good skill to master. Perhaps when it is yours, you teach me."

    The three casks, Saevil saw, each contained different contents. One was filled with wine, another some kind of beer, and the last, clean and fresh water. In his experience, in the settlement of Corus, there was little guessing as to what the first two might taste like. The folk of their community came from many different places in the world, called many different cultures their own. As one might expect, each prized different flavors when it came to their food and drink. For one who enjoyed trying new experiences, it was a paradise. For the more conservative, each new cask posed a moment of anxiety.

    The crackling fire in the fireplace had overcome the moment's chill when Captain Fireheart had opened the door, at last. Warmth spread across the flesh of the four of them.

    That it would be one of the last warm hours for all of them, was not lost upon any of the quartet.
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    Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:47 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord

    Njord, after thinking a bit, spoke.

    "I have questions. Please give moment. First question to Saevil. What is Jungle, or This Not Jungle, or something such? You spoke this in Icepick Tower and it made confusion for me. Another question. We are to plan. Would it be good for list of plan? For supplies and such things? I write but am not best with common-script. Maybe Ohrin is best for this? Maybe Kahss?" Njord looked in their respective directions as he made the queries. Then he turned to Saevil, smiling. "I guess Saevil will have tankard in fist -- no room for quill. And i might join him in such."

    "I think last question." Njord's hint of joviality disappeared entirely, his expression turning grave. "Is this duty madness? I see not how we have chance to find place on haunted Black Ice and rebuild Corus there. I am willing to task, but seems, maybe, doomed for fail? Have better hope to kill 'Egg' and leave Corus solid on island. And even if place can be found, would Black Ice be best? I respect Mayor Highmountain, but maybe not of decision. What thoughts have you?"
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    Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:07 pm  

    "Of course, a privy," Ohrin said aloud. Ohrin then gathered up the clay pots, took them outside, and filled them with snow. These were then placed near the closest hearth for the snow to melt. Once melted, he returned them to the privy room.

    While the snow was melting, Ohrin moved to the sleeping area and casually looked at the cots before turning to look back at the hearths and his companions.

    "Comrades, might I suggest that, in order to conserve wood, we slide the large table forty feet to the left, so that it is directly in front of the left-most hearth. Doing so will allow us to bring the cots closer to the right-most hearth. We can then allow the left hearth to die down, conserving wood, while using just the right hearth to keep ourselves warm as we sleep. We can always restart the fire in the other hearth when we have need to use the great table. Thoughts?"
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    Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:51 pm  
    Chapter 2: Sævil: The Outsiders: HQ

    Sævil tips back in his chair, "Ah friend Njord, That's No Jungle! was the name of my old adventuring band. Good times!"
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    Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:23 pm  
    Re: C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord

    Syzygyst wrote:
    "Another question. We are to plan. Would it be good for list of plan? For supplies and such things? I write but am not best with common-script. Maybe Ohrin is best for this? Maybe Kahss?"


    "Good idea. I will fetch quill and paper from my residence and will be happy be our record keeper."

    Syzygyst wrote:
    "I think last question." Njord's hint of joviality disappeared entirely, his expression turning grave. "Is this duty madness? I see not how we have chance to find place on haunted Black Ice and rebuild Corus there. I am willing to task, but seems, maybe, doomed for fail? Have better hope to kill 'Egg' and leave Corus solid on island. And even if place can be found, would Black Ice be best? I respect Mayor Highmountain, but maybe not of decision. What thoughts have you?"


    "I think it is a fair and reasonable question. I know almost nothing about this area or how we will go about our search, let alone while leading such a large party! However, if the Little One and Master Retlishin think the population might have to relocate, then I will not question their judgement. Still, I wish we could first visit Ramshorn before making our way into the unknown. It may be that Baron Ramshorn, who is the deposed leader of the city I hail from, could provide us with some advice."
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    Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:10 pm  

    Ohrin's opening of the door let another gust of wintery bluster into the large structure. Even when he closed it behind himself, toting the pair of pots from the privy back into its small space, it seemed to linger within. It was yet more encouragement for Sævil to test the contents of the casks.

    Once the first was tapped, his tankard ready to catch its contents, he instantly realized that it was hardly any beer within. The scent of the drink was much sharper, the color dark, like peat. He recognized it instantly. It was rum. More specifically, it was the Old Man's rum. He had five casks of the stuff, or so he claimed, that he had somehow managed to bring to Corus from a faraway place he called Hep-Mona-Land. The stuff looked evil, but its thin consistency was delicious to the taste: Just spicy enough to tamper the heat of it, just sweet enough to make one wish for one more mug.

    He knew that even as he was filling his tankard. He'd had a taste before -- but just a taste. The Old Man did not part with the stuff easily. Indeed, to him, it was a prize far more valuable than gold.

    It gave the northman no small amount of pause.

    He knew precisely what its presence implied.
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    Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:15 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord

    "Good! I'm sure you will make fine scribe for us," said Njord, responding to Ohrin. "I like idea of moving tables and cots closer to fire-hearts for to keep from burning so much wood." With that, Njord took hold of the edge of the table furthest from the cots. He grasped it and tried to lift, assuming it would be very heavy.

    Looking at Saevil, who was enamored of the contents of the casks, he asked, "Friend Saevil, what is reason for name of traveling group, Thats No Jungle? Seems like name with story." His query to learn that story might also work to rouse Saevil from his spirits-reverie into helping with the furniture.
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    Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:25 pm  

    Ohrin and Njord shuffled the heavy wooden furniture about the room -- a labor much easier for the northman than the half-elf -- while Sævil and Kahss continued to enjoy the comfort of their chairs, warming their bones by the roaring fire. The former of the two hadn't answered Njord's question, which drew his attention toward the heavy, dark liquor in his tankard. He wondered if his silence bespake its potency.

    In short order, the more industrious of the four of them had the room arranged to their liking. It seemed much more suitable to serve as the headquarters of their newly-minted fellowship. The work took the better part of a quarter-hour to complete. If the Captain was as good as her word, it would not be long before she returned to them with their list of volunteers. Who could say how many of them would be suited to such a task? Any that might sign up would certainly be brave, aye.

    But possessing skill to match that courage was another thing altogether.
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    Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:10 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Sævil

    Sævil sets down the cask without drinking and stretches in his chair.

    He glances at Njord and laughs, "I was raised on the same coast near which our mission truly begins, you know. My step-father saw me well educated for a Xeai, but when I arrived in Perrenland, I barely spoke the common tongue, and my experience of the world was narrow."

    "After a few years of mercenary work, a group of us who'd become friends decided to go off adventuring on our own. We'd been arguing over what to call ourselves, and the drink had been flowing all night. Right as a temporary lull overcame our argument our magicker Sarya finished telling Dramm the story of the time I thought a swamp was a jungle," Sævil sighs and gazes at the fire.

    "The telling of which she liked to end with 'That's no jungle!'" He drifts into silence, and closes his eyes as he manipulates something at his throat.

    "Well friends, how can I help now?" He gestures to Ohrin and Njord moving furniture.
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    Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:52 pm  

    "Ha!" said Njord. "That is good story for name! I look forward to you calling hills, mountains, and calling streams, rivers!" Njord welcomed Saevil's joining he and Ohrin with the room arrangements. "I have heard of this Perrenland. It is to south near Lake called Quag, is not? My homeland is not far. I am from forest called Burneal. But i have not had adventures like good Saevil. Will we pass Tusking Land on way to Black Ice? Maybe you see your homeland?," he questioned toward Saevil.

    Turning to Ohrin, he asked, "Has Mistress Highmountain told you road to take to Black Ice? Do we have map? Maybe we go to this Ramshorn you speak? I know not. But I think Black Ice is not place to live." He became silent, and somber.

    Momentarily, he looked at the quiet Kahss, who still seemed lost in thought. "Do you have story, Friend Kahss?"
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    Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:28 pm  
    Kahss, Njord Ohrin, and Sævil: The Outsiders

    Kahss turned in Njord's direction thoughtfully, his lips pursed as if he was about to speak. Whatever his thoughts might have been, he never had the chance to give them voice. Instead, he was interrupted by the sound of a boot, heavily planted on the foot of the door behind him. The portal was thrown open roughly a moment after: The harbinger of Captain Fireheart's return.

    She was not alone. Two men followed at her heels and, behind them, the everpresent icy wind that plunged the room's temperature instantly into an uncomfortable chill. The snow from outside whistled into the room, making her heavy cloak and the crackling flames in the fireplaces dance alike, until at last one of the men deigned shut it tight behind them. Both Sævil and Njord recognized both of them right away: Pol Yrnigaard and Resti Sargath, each of the City Guard. Strong, powerful men, they bore their longswords at their sides, still shivering slightly from the bitterness of the cold outside, despite the heavy furs and thick layers of cloth they wore underneath them. Both were but junior in rank and accomplishment, though Sargath in particular might have made something of himself had he not lost his eye to a Stoneholder's crossbow bolt sometime previous to his arrival in Corus. Such was their mettle that neither of them were especially well-known to the northmen, though.

    The Captain clutched a long tube of bone in her gauntleted hand. All watched as she opened one end of it, producing a rolled sheet of parchment from within its hollow. She was as good as her word: It had not quite yet been an hour since she'd first left them. She placed the wax-sealed document in the center of the immense table at the end of the room, coolly regarding the new arrangement of the furniture as she did it. What she might have thought of it – if anything at all – she kept to herself.

    “This is the list of men and women that have volunteered themselves to your service,” she said. She didn't seem to address any of them in particular; it was as if she spoke to them all collectively. “I have ordered Guardsmen Yrnigaard and Sargath to attend to the security of your headquarters. They will remain outside your door for as long as you have need of them. Should anyone seek your attention, they will first announce them, then conduct them to your presence. If you would like to speak to anyone on the list, you have but to tell them to fetch them – and it will be done.”

    She cast her ever-intense stare between the two men, as if to bid them acknowledge their understanding of her orders. Both nodded quickly in response. Ohrin got the very distinct impression that they were terrified of the Captain of Corus City Guards.

    To Njord, it was a virtual certainty.
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    Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:04 pm  

    lamashtu wrote:
    Sævil sets down the cask without drinking and stretches in his chair...

    "Well friends, how can I help now?" He gestures to Ohrin and Njord moving furniture.


    "We could use a hand shifting the big table down the room, centered on the other hearth," Ohrin replied as he and Njord finished moving the desks and cots into their new positions.

    Syzygyst wrote:
    Turning to Ohrin, Njord asked, "Has Mistress Highmountain told you road to take to Black Ice? Do we have map? Maybe we go to this Ramshorn you speak? I know not. But I think Black Ice is not place to live." He became silent, and somber.


    "You know exactly as much as I do, my friend, about our future travails. I plan to ask Master Retlishin for a map--or the Little One if Master Retlishin is unable to provide one. I definitely think it would be prudent to seek an audience with the Baron Ramshorn so long as the Little One does not object."

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    The portal was thrown open roughly a moment after: The harbinger of Captain Fireheart's return....


    Ohrin nodded his thanks at the captain as he eagerly moved to the table, quill and parchment in hand, in order to look at the list. As an afterthought, he said, "I think we should lock and bar the far door so that these two stalwarts merely have to guard one door. Also, they should probably build a firepit so that they don't catch their deaths of cold. At the very least, each should take one of our torches for warmth and light."

    Ohrin then turned his attention to the list and began to copy the names down on his own parchment. He then moved to his desk and began muttering to himself in elven as he made notes next to the names of those he recognized.
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:27 am  

    Quote:
    "I think we should lock and bar the far door so that these two stalwarts merely have to guard one door. Also, they should probably build a firepit so that they don't catch their deaths of cold. At the very least, each should take one of our torches for warmth and light."


    "These ideas are good, Ohrin." Njord responded slowly, almost as if in a daze. He wasn't even looking at the group's scribe as Ohrin began examining the scroll left by the Captain. No, Njord was gazing at Fireheart herself. Something was churning in him, and it moved him a step forward. He remembered his station and stopped. Then bowed his head, asking,

    "Captain, we will see you again before we leave?"

    Something was different this time. Something was shifting inside, but he couldn't discern exactly what that was.
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:12 am  

    "I think we should lock and bar the far door so that these two stalwarts merely have to guard one door. Also, they should probably build a firepit so that they don't catch their deaths of cold. At the very least, each should take one of our torches for warmth and light."

    Neither of the Guardsmen responded. Yet it was evident in their expressions that Ohrin's thoughts were well-received and appreciated. Their respect for their Captain was all that held their tongues in check.

    Captain Fireheart nodded, glancing in their directions, each one. "Let it be done, then," she said. And dutifully, both men turned and made for the door, eager to get their labors underway. Winter returned into the expanse of the room for a moment and was gone again when the door closed behind them.

    "These ideas are good, Ohrin." Njord responded slowly, almost as if in a daze. He wasn't even looking at the group's scribe as Ohrin began examining the scroll left by the Captain. No, Njord was gazing at Fireheart herself. Something was churning in him, and it moved him a step forward. He remembered his station and stopped. Then bowed his head, asking,

    "Captain, we will see you again before we leave?"

    Something was different this time. Something was shifting inside, but he couldn't discern exactly what that was.

    She turned to face him, as if the sound of his voice was something perhaps unexpected. When she did it, Njord understood why it was that the deer could not bolt to safety beneath the gaze of the hunter. It was as if the quality of Captain Fireheart's eyes penetrated his stare, pinned him to the spot with its weight.

    "Perhaps," she told him. "Perhaps not. If you've something to say to me, Tholjorsonn -- you should make it plain while the moment avails us."

    That indescribable something in the pit of his belly seemed weightless, seemed to tumble away helplessly.

    He hadn't been aware she knew his name.
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 3:27 am  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord

    Njord felt odd, like he was naked, but on the inside. He searched quickly for something to cover up with, for some barrier to put between himself and the Captain. Somehow he found it -- a small truth, simple but solid, with which he could shield himself from her evicerating gaze.

    "Captain, i merely wonder if we are to contact you for questions. Or it is we go to Good Mayor Highmountain?" The words both slid and stumbled out of his mouth. And still he could not look away.
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:15 pm  

    She listened to him speak, remaining silent for a few, long heartbeats after Njord's voice had died from the air. No one was speaking now. The quiet was a palpable thing. Before him, Captain Fireheart seemed to be deconstructing him with her ever-intense eyes, pulling him apart. Searching for something...deeper, beneath his surface.

    When she spoke, her voice cut through the air like thunder. Her words, sharp as lightning. "Njord Tholjorsonn," she said, at last, taking a step towards him. Her presence seemed to have weight to it, something that made him want to begin to tremble at the fingers and toes. "You are a man of the Raven-Folk. A survivor of a Plague-Sister's embrace. Yesterday, a Witch-Wife. You are a man of my Guard. And you have something to say to me -- yet for all the courage I know that must lie sleeping in your belly, you cannot seem to bear to wake it. Indeed, it must be of no small import to die stillborn upon your tongue so."

    She was an unbreakable mare, majestic and wild. Her beauty was like a thunderstorm in its ferocity and spirit. "I offer you a final chance to give your thoughts voice, Wintercrown," she said. Her expression was the falling rain. Another stroke of brilliance was about to light the skies of his imagination.

    "Or have I somehow mistaken your mettle?"
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:36 pm  

    Sævil ceases his labors and looks first to the Captain, and then at Njord. He chuckles softly, and then gets his head down before either might spot his rather wide grin.
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    Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:37 pm  

    Usually Njord's thoughts flowed through his mind like a meandering stream, but now they were a river: a crystalline torrent under the mid-day sun. That she knew what she did was a surprise, but evoking that information in the midst of his fellows was astonishing. And what was this Wintercrown she mentioned?

    Somehow he kept his composure. Not only were his thoughts racing but so too was his body; energy coursed through his heart and lungs. His skin, especially on the outside of his arms and throat, was hotly itching. And that which he had momentarily lost, returned as a weight in his pelvis -- a solidity in his center. His feet were firmly on the ground and his legs were stout. And, most of all, his adrenals were on fire. He hadn't felt this for many moons, and he remembered what had happened the last time they burned so. But this time was different.

    Njord took a step toward the captain, intentionally moving closer to her than ever before: not threateningly so, but probably crossing some boundary of official decorum. As he did so, he bowed his head -- not in reverence, but simply staring down at Captain Fireheart, a full head-and-shoulders below. How tiny she was! He had never noticed that before. His arms may have been slightly shaking as it was all he could do to keep from reaching out with his hands to gently take hold of her. Then, with a more firm, resonant voice than perhaps he had ever brought forth, he stated:

    "We have things to speak about. This is not place or time. I will find you when is better moment. Now, we have work at hand.... Captain."

    He actually began turning away from the commander before he had uttered the honorific, which he had never dared do. He still intended the respect she deserved as Captain, but he was letting her know, perhaps, that he no longer cared that she outranked him. The little world of Corus was being swallowed by Kakasho, maybe summoned by the strange 'Egg.' Highmountain and her companions would soon face that danger and likely die. He and his fellows were likely to perish on the Black Ice: a great dark graveyard that blanketed the northernmost of the Flanaess. Undoubtedly, formalities should be among the first pieces of their tiny civilization to fall.

    He moved toward Ohrin to begin helping with the plans that, in his mind, were likely doomed to fail. And yet, indeed, he intended to seek out the captain soon enough.
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    Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:38 am  
    Kahss, Njord, Ohrin, and Saevil: The Outsiders

    Even as he towered above her, the Captain of Corus' Town Guards did not offer even the merest of flinches. She simply stared up into his eyes, unblinking, unmoved. The moment lasted perhaps a breath longer than Njord might have expected.

    Then: "Very well," she replied, nodding ever so slightly. The northman could have become hopelessly lost in the darkness of her hair. "Be present at my office after sunset. I will await you and your cloistered thoughts there...Wintercrown."

    Another breath. A pause. Then, Njord watched her turn on her heel, making her way for the door. The curves of her figure were deliciously maddening, even covered in furs and armor, and he watched them sway with her every step away from him.

    Had he sat where did Sævil, he might have seen the thinnest of smiles grace her lips.

    Her back to him, though, he did not.
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    Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:37 am  

    Ohrin, completely oblivious to any subtextual undertones occurring in the room while immersed in reviewing the list of names, raised his head to ask the Captain one last question before she departed:

    "Captain, have you any thoughts or advice on Ramshorn and its baron? The baron is the former ruler of my former home city and I am hoping we might arrange for an audience in order to glean some information about what lies ahead; he is a most skilled worker of the arcane arts. However, I am unaware as to whether this settlement, and its leader, have had dealings with him in the past. Any advice would be most appreciated."
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    Fri Apr 22, 2016 3:12 pm  

    Njord was glad to hear Ohrin's voice as he moved to the far side of the mage, away from the captain. As Ohrin conversed with Fireheart, Njord leaned over the table a bit and firmly planted a gloved palm on its solid wood surface. It helped to ground his still roiled energies. Staring at the table, he shook his head slightly, slowly, both in some disbelief and as a means to stabilize his thoughts. Then he focused on the papers about Ohrin. His eyes were relieved to have something to behold other than the captain. Wintercrown? And she had called him Witch-wife! He would begin to hope for some miracle that could withhold the sun from setting, thus preventing the appointment that she had managed to ordain!
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    Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:41 am  
    Kahss, Njord, Ohrin, and Sævil: The Outsiders

    "Captain, have you any thoughts or advice on Ramshorn and its baron? The baron is the former ruler of my former home city and I am hoping we might arrange for an audience in order to glean some information about what lies ahead; he is a most skilled worker of the arcane arts. However, I am unaware as to whether this settlement, and its leader, have had dealings with him in the past. Any advice would be most appreciated."

    She looked back over her shoulder in Ohrin's direction. "I fear I can offer you little," she replied. "Ramshorn is some distance inland and Corus has precious little dealings with that place. However, we have friendly dealings with Mosshold to some extent, and the folk of those towns are allied. So perhaps they will treat with you well?"

    The Captain paused. "You are aware, however," she considered the matter more carefully, "that the very Egg of Coot is said to be situated directly between Ramshorn and the Land of Black Ice." The way she said it, it was not a question. "Your voyage to the latter place would either be perilous -- should you go there directly from the former of the two -- or rather lengthy, should you take pains to avoid it. This is something you should take care to plan for, whatever your decision. Perhaps you might send some members of your fellowship in one direction, then others in another?"

    She shook her head slightly. "I wonder too much," she finally decided. "The choice is for thee and thou fellows to divine, Master Ohrin. I have my duties elsewhere and should tend to them."

    The Captain's eyes looked past Sævil, gazing into the darkness of his tankard, then Kahss, watching the play of the roaring flames in the fireplace before him. Then, at last, upon Njord, trying his best to lose his attention in the mess of papers set before him and Ohrin. Predictably, he failed miserably.

    She turned once again and made for the door, saying nothing of what she might have thought. It was ever her way. Winter returned to the room for an instant, gone just as quickly as the heavy wooden door closed behind her.

    The breath came out of the northman, all at once, in the form of a sigh.
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    Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:47 am  

    "Thanks!" Ohrin belated said at the departing captain's back before returning his attention to his comrades.

    "Comrades, I need to return to my quarters to seek a map from Master Retlishin and to fetch my belongings. I shall return shortly and hope to have some thoughts about our selection process upon my return. I am very interested to learn what you each have to say about our volunteers. I, myself, recognize a great many names on the list."

    Ohrin then gave his comrades a moment to opine before leaving the headquarters. Once outside, he spared a glance to make sure the two guardsmen were not frozen to death before continuing on his way to his quarters. Once he gathered up his bedroll, rucksack, armor, etc., he sought out Master Retlishin to ask him about Ramshorn and procuring a map, suggested routes, etc.
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    Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:40 pm  

    "I go also, it's best I have all my gear available here."

    Sævil walks home, his eyes slightly unfocused the whole way. He gathers up all his gear, and returns to the new headquarters. He finds a likely looking spot, and lays it out compactly on the floor, with his bedroll ready to be loosed quickly when ready.

    "I'll sleep far from the fires, as my bedroll is made for far colder places than this!" he says as he returns to the table and begins examining the list of volunteers.
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    Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:46 pm  

    "Thanks!" Ohrin belated said at the departing captain's back before returning his attention to his comrades.

    He thought he might have detected the slightest nod of her head before her lithe figure was lost to the wind and the snows -- the the closing of the door behind her. On the far side of the room, the Guardsmen to whom she entrusted their safety were finishing the labor of barring the door. They wasted precious little time in following their Captain's path outside, once finished.

    The closing of the door behind them left the newly-minted fellowship alone in their headquarters, but for the company of the crackling fire.

    "Comrades, I need to return to my quarters to seek a map from Master Retlishin and to fetch my belongings. I shall return shortly and hope to have some thoughts about our selection process upon my return. I am very interested to learn what you each have to say about our volunteers. I, myself, recognize a great many names on the list."

    Ohrin then gave his comrades a moment to opine before leaving the headquarters. Once outside, he spared a glance to make sure the two guardsmen were not frozen to death before continuing on his way to his quarters. Once he gathered up his bedroll, rucksack, armor, etc., he sought out Master Retlishin to ask him about Ramshorn and procuring a map, suggested routes, etc.

    The two men were in the process of building their firepit, when he came upon them. They had broken the frozen ground with a shovel, digging enough of it away to place a small iron kettle within its confines. It would prevent the wind from snuffing out the fire with its icy breath, he realized. The two stopped their work at heaping dry driftwood into the metal container, offering him the best smile they could muster, through their shivering. "Good day, Master," Yrnigaard said. The comment almost took him aback, to hear it. That title was usually reserved for Retlishin alone.

    Sævil followed only a few steps behind him, eager to gather his things and set his affairs right, as well.
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    Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:59 pm  
    Ohrin: A Notion of Propriety

    Ohrin made his way back to Master Retlishin's laboratory through the knee-deep snow and the furious wind. The streets of Corus were empty, silenced by the harridan gale. He mused upon returning to the exact place he'd left short hours ago how very differently the day had eventuated than he might have ever expected. Yet if ever a reminder of the truth found in the Little One's words proved necessary -- the weather certainly provided them. There was simply no way the folk of Corus would survive this winter for much longer a time. Indeed, it seemed a miracle that they managed to yet live at all, considering the spectacle about him.

    Master Retlishin's tower was an unusual place. It was possessed of no obvious entry at all: It was simply a featureless column of dark stone, topped by decorative crennelations. It was an imposing obelisk in the shadow of the Icepick. The Master generally came and went as he pleased through the use of his magics. All others would have to wind their way through the buildings -- like the laboratory -- that served as a footer for the tower.

    That was how Ohrin entered. He opened the door into the expanse of his workspace, knocking his feet and cloak free of the snowfall accumulated upon it. Within, Verenna and Zoltan stood, their attention torn from the beakers and alembics by the introduction of the wind and the cold.

    "Ohrin...?" Verenna posed him the beginning of an unspoken question.

    Perhaps she already knew.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 12:08 am  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil pushed his door to his modest home inward. Instantly, he knew that something was amiss. Light bled into the sleeping area from lit torches. He felt his entire body flinch, his hand reflexively dipping for the weapon at his side. A battle cry was rising in the hollow of his throat.

    Just as quickly, it was stillborn. The tension fled from his thews, his spine. Sitting against the wall, in one of his chairs, was a face familiar to him. It was the Old Man. He was chewing that foul root he so prized, and Sævil could smell it even from where he stood, across the room. Somehow, it managed to cut right through the scent of fresh fish and the wild and open sea. Half-lit by the torch, he regarded him.

    Sævil watched a sly smile cross his face, revealing a black-toothed grin.

    "So, lad," he said by way of greeting. "It's a fine mess I hear you've managed to get yourself into, eh?"

    He turned and spat into the iron basin beside him.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:10 am  

    [*Note: using brackets/brasterisks for contextual/OOC data.*]

    Njord was fairly quiet while Ohrin, and then Saevil [and Kahss?], prepared to head off and tend to personal matters. Before they left, he informed them that he, too, would be off to gather his gear and would return promptly. After they had left, his mind now clear, he again looked at the list on the table. He read through the names, making mental notes at each one. Perhaps thinking of these possible allies would busy his mind as he, too, went to collect his things; he'd rather have the Captain absent from his thoughts while he journeyed through Corus.

    After he scanned the list and pondered the names, Njord checked out the headquarters, making note of items that seemed absent: kettles, candles, cookpots, oil-lamps, [fresh-water / ice-blocks,] and the like. He noticed, oddly enough, that the place could probably use scented candles, given that it was to serve as a barracks, and since the latrine was essentially built-in. Then he wondered if he could even find scented candles here in Corus, realizing he hadn't actually lit one since his time under the branches of the Burneal...

    [* If Kahss did not leave, Njord will tell him he'll be back shortly. He then checks with the guards as he leaves, addressing them by name, and asks if they need anything. He will try to find any requested items for them. *]

    Njord trudged his way home through the relentless wind. At his small apartment, he gathered all his belongings: weapons, blankets, bedroll, travelling gear, and so on. Everything he owned he could manage to carry in one large heap on his body. He'd probably have to get rid of a few personal effects before leaving Corus to lighten his load, but for now, his life's possessions were on his own frame. The living quarters were now as stark as when he had taken them over nearly a year prior. He offered a moment of thanks to the room, having proven a sturdy, secure place to reside. Then he headed back toward the headquarters: his new, albeit very temporary, home. At each step, a labor due to his burden and the adversarial wind, he realized he was one moment closer to facing the formidable Captain.

    [* Njord will pick things up for the hq or the guards if they are not too sizeable and on the way. Upon returning to HQ, he plans to plant his gear at a bed-station, and, if the others have not returned, he'll go "shopping" for items that would be suitable for the environment/guards. *]
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:39 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord trudged his way home through the relentless wind. At his small apartment, he gathered all his belongings: weapons, blankets, bedroll, travelling gear, and so on. Everything he owned he could manage to carry in one large heap on his body. He'd probably have to get rid of a few personal effects before leaving Corus to lighten his load, but for now, his life's possessions were on his own frame. The living quarters were now as stark as when he had taken them over nearly a year prior. He offered a moment of thanks to the room, having proven a sturdy, secure place to reside. Then he headed back toward the headquarters: his new, albeit very temporary, home. At each step, a labor due to his burden and the adversarial wind, he realized he was one moment closer to facing the formidable Captain.

    As he trudged his way through the winter white, Njord saw that his fellow Guardsmen had managed to light their fire in the freshly-dug pit next to the door. Both men were swathed in heavy furs and wore a thick coat of lard to protect those bits of flesh that could not otherwise be protected. Still, they were certain to linger as close to the flame as was possible. Such was the roar of the wind and the relentless pounding of the ice and snow it carried upon its invisible wings. They way made him feel slightly guilty that he had not found anything he considered over-useful to lighten the burden of their duties.

    They exchanged a word between them as Njord approached, punctuating the short discussion with a nod. Then, as he drew nearer, Yrnigaard left his place at the door, opening the heavy wooden portal for him. "Greetings again, Tholjorsson," Sargath said, trying on a smile in defiance of the weather's ferocity. "Kahss remains inside. None others have come or gone since your leaving."

    He passed the Guardsmen by. When he entered the headquarters, it was as if his limbs had gone aflame. The heat from the crackling fireplaces within brought an almost painful warmth with it. Soon, he knew it would be comforting; in the moment, it was hard to imagine.

    The door closed behind him, shut by Yrnigaard. The stain on his imagination was lessened considerably when he saw Kahss in his chair before the fire. He had, apparently, at some point, fallen asleep in its embrace. He made a gentle purring noise by way of snoring, something like a contented cat.

    He watched him sleep as he laid claim to one of the beds, arranging his belongings about it or in the trunk at its foot.

    He wondered if, where he dreamed, it was snowing there, as well.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:56 am  
    Re: Ohrin: A Notion of Propriety

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    Verenna and Zoltan stood, their attention torn from the beakers and alembics by the introduction of the wind and the cold.

    "Ohrin...?" Verenna posed him the beginning of an unspoken question.

    Perhaps she already knew.


    "Well, that was...interesting. I'm guessing that you," he said while looking at Zoltan, "already know some of Master Retlishin's plans for the near future. It seems I too have been chosen to help, albeit in a different way. Not sure how much I can really share yet but I'd like to ask for your thoughts on some of our local individuals--specifically their temperaments and abilities. I've made a list; can I ask each of you to take a look at it and to note your thoughts next to the name of anyone you recognize?" Ohrin laid out his copy of the list on a nearby table for them to see.

    "Also, I'm looking for a map of the region that includes the Land of Black Ice. Should I ask Master Retlishin if he has one I can borrow or do we have one lying around here that I can appropriate for the moment?"
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:47 pm  

    Zoltan's expression was impassive. Instantly, Ohrin realized that all was not well. Though he took great pains to conceal it, there was no mistaking the hint of fire in the quality of his stare as he regarded him. Unspoken venom lingered there. "I know nothing of the Master's plans, I fear," he said, voice curt and short. "Only that you will soon be leaving and that I should wish you well."

    Silence filled the air for a moment. Venenna looked over at the Master's most senior apprentice. She seemed as if a reply lingered upon her lips, but she could not bear give it voice. "Indeed," he said, straightening the shirt beneath his robe. "You will forgive me. I have errands of my own to attend to for the Master."

    Zoltan turned abruptly and walked away, leaving the laboratory through the door at its rear. With the sound of its closing, Verenna sighed.

    She looked back at him, her head slightly cocked. Her eyes offered an apology, of sorts. "Perhaps I can help with your list," she said, setting down the glass container full of cyan fluid she held. She turned down the flame beneath a beaker, bringing it to a simmer, rather than a boil. The soft plume of white smoke rising from its top faded to nothingness.

    She circled the table and gazed upon his parchment. "The Land of Black Ice is poorly-understood," she told him, as she read. "I doubt that you will find a map detailing much more than the outline of the landmass -- regardless of where you look. You may be one of the first civilized folk to explore it to any great extent, you know. This expedition represents a great opportunity to gather knowledge of a land that is merely a fable to most."

    She looked up at him, cleared her throat. "I, ah," she blushed, "managed to learn a bit about your journey from one of the Guardsmen," she confessed.

    Punctuated with an impish smirk.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 4:27 pm  

    Njord, after settling into the westernmost bed-station nearest the center of the head-quarters, pondered his next move. Perhaps he should go grab some gear or provisions for the several days they would be staying in the stark quarters? Perhaps he should bathe? No, that was best left for later after the coming encounter with the captain. These thoughts rolled across his mind at about the same pace as the snores lumbered out of Kahss.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:06 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord, after settling into the westernmost bed-station nearest the center of the head-quarters, pondered his next move. Perhaps he should go grab some gear or provisions for the several days they would be staying in the stark quarters? Perhaps he should bathe? No, that was best left for later after the coming encounter with the captain. These thoughts rolled across his mind at about the same pace as the snores lumbered out of Kahss.

    He stood in that way for some time, lost in thought. It was difficult to say how long it had been, in the way that transient thoughts can flit about like so many ephemeral butterflies. When he heard the sound at the door behind him, it almost startled him, snapping him from his reverie.

    The door opened, one of the Guardsmen holding it wide. Through its threshold, four tiny figures waddled into the room. Behind them, it closed. Each one was holding all manner of things: Blankets and pillows, food and drink, cutlery and containers. Their arms were so full of those things that they piled high in front of their faces. That was why they wobbled and meandered on their way: They couldn't see where they were going at all.

    It took Njord a moment to recognize them: Tanner Ruddyfoot's four children. He didn't know all the names of the gnomish youths -- two boys and two girls -- wrapped in their thick furs and hats, gloves and boots. Eventually, the first in the line ran into one of the beds -- eliciting a cry of surprise -- but finally made his way to one of the tables, where he dumped his armful of supplies. He breathed a sigh of relief; he was barely big enough to reach its wooden flat.

    With the act, he finally saw that they gnomish children weren't alone. He quickly took off his hat, holding it in front of himself. "Master Tholjorsonn," he bowed slightly. The other children heard his voice and, in the act of trying to see who he spoke to, began running into one another. The littlest one, at the end, fell on her bottom, though she managed to hang onto a heavy bag of bread and cheese.

    He was surprised they knew his name.
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:00 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord and the Gnome-Kids

    Njord quickly moved over to the fallen gnome-girl. With one hand he reached down to lift the sack of bread and cheese. The other hand he offered to her in assistance for regaining her feet. As he did so, he spoke:

    "Please excuse. I am not knowing your names. You are children of Tanner Ruddyfoot, yes? Are these gifts for us?"
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:31 pm  
    Sævil: Sævil's Home

    Sævil swears in his native tongue, but lets his hands fall to his side.

    "Old Man Ocean lurking in my own home! And somehow he knows our plans," he barks a laugh, "I shouldn't be surprised, but there's one matter on which you're wrong - I volunteered for this mess!"

    Sævil looks beside the Old Man, "Quite unlike my poor basin!"
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:33 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord quickly moved over to the fallen gnome-girl. With one hand he reached down to lift the sack of bread and cheese. The other hand he offered to her in assistance for regaining her feet.

    The little girl blushed furiously as Njord reached down for her. Shyly, she brushed a bit of downy chestnut hair from her face, managing a smile as he helped her back to her feet. Her hands were so tiny! So soft! "Bedankt," she said, her voice quiet as a mouse. There was something in the way that she spoke that reminded him of Sævil's accent.

    As he did so, he spoke:

    "Please excuse. I am not knowing your names. You are children of Tanner Ruddyfoot, yes?"

    The smallest one's sister admonished her while the largest of the children spoke. "Aye, good Master," he nodded. "I am Hoddy Ruddyfoot. These is my brother, Goodwin, and my sisters, Marta and Matildya." He spoke in the way that someone did when they were trying to appear bold, but were actually rather terrified, inside. The rest of the children regarded him in the same way...all except the last, who he'd helped up from her fall. Instead, she looked up at him with wide, blue-eyed wonder. She looked awed in his presence, the dappling of freckles on her face like the constellations in the night skies. He imagined she must be Matildya.

    "Are these gifts for us?"

    He nodded. "Aye," he repeated himself. "The Mayor asked my father and mother to hurry about and see that you were tended to. They're still gathering things, even now. They told us to bring what they had managed so far, lest you think we were..." he looked for the words, his brow furrowing as they eluded him.

    "Ungrateful," the older of the gnome-girls finished.

    He looked at her as if perturbed by her interjection. "Ungrateful," he nodded, nevertheless apparently satisfied with her choice of words.

    Starry-eyed Matildya still stared up at him, fascinated. "My mommy and daddy say you're going to make the winter go away, Master Njord," she said, still shy and hesitant. Her voice was so quiet. "Is it true? Are you going to make it warm again?"

    Her brother sighed softly. "Matildya...."

    She was undeterred. "The snow killed Benny," she told him. Tears began to sparkle in the corners of her eyes. "And Agnetha, too. Mommy and daddy say it's too cold for mice, here in Corus, now."

    Her sister put a hand on her shoulder.

    "I still have Bjorn and Frieda," she confessed. "But they don't want to eat anymore. They're tired all the time and don't want to play. I think they're sick now, too."

    Her tears looked like they might fall at any moment, now.

    "Can you please make it warm again?"
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 9:43 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil swears in his native tongue, but lets his hands fall to his side.

    "Old Man Ocean lurking in my own home! And somehow he knows our plans," he barks a laugh, "I shouldn't be surprised, but there's one matter on which you're wrong - I volunteered for this mess!"

    Sævil looks beside the Old Man, "Quite unlike my poor basin!"

    The Old Man laughed. "Iuz take your basin," he kicked at it with half a heart, sending it skittering a few inches from his boot. "I'll spit on your floor instead, then."

    He paused, regarding the northman up and down. "You may be lucky, boy, and a good sword-arm," he decided with a gentle cackle, "but you're not exactly the brightest lad in Corus, are ye? It's a good thing you're so handsome. The likes of young Þóra sure isn't captivated by your cleverness!"

    He leaned back in his chair. "I know about your plans because it was me that put your name in Mayor Highmountain's ear in the first place," he confessed. "So don't boast of brave volunteering to me, boy. We're in this together, after a fashion."

    He chuckled again, then did as he said he would -- spitting a vile black glob of sputum onto his floor.

    "It's only fair, now, that we should talk about what happens next, eh?"
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:20 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Who said anything of brave? I'm just tired of being soaked aboard your boat near every day," Sævil grins, "I wanted a vacation!"

    He gathers items from throughout the room and tosses them onto his bed as they speak,

    "Tell me Old Man, what do you know of things, and where is my place in your designs? You well know I'm cannier than the average fighting man of my people, and better educated besides.

    "I've seen enough of the world to know there are few places one's heart is going to call home. Corus, is sparse in mere things, but rich as walrus blubber in people. Corus is where my heart's home has been found, and I'm happy to defend and support it. So tell me what I must know to do exactly that."
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    Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:59 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Who said anything of brave? I'm just tired of being soaked aboard your boat near every day," Sævil grins, "I wanted a vacation!"

    "Oh, you'll get your vacation, I reckon." He flashed him his gapped, blackened grin once more. "And by the time you're a fortnight in, shoulders heavy with ebon snowfall, I'll wager you'd give much for another day at sea at my side."

    He gathers items from throughout the room and tosses them onto his bed as they speak.

    From his place on his chair, the Old Man watched him. He looked ever-bemused by the young northman's every move.

    "Tell me Old Man, what do you know of things, and where is my place in your designs? You well know I'm cannier than the average fighting man of my people, and better educated besides.

    "I've seen enough of the world to know there are few places one's heart is going to call home. Corus, is sparse in mere things, but rich as walrus blubber in people. Corus is where my heart's home has been found, and I'm happy to defend and support it. So tell me what I must know to do exactly that."

    Sævil had his back turned to him, folding his blankets. He listened to the Old Man hack up another wad of spittle. This one was big enough that he actually heard it hit the floor when he expelled it from his lips. "Why d'you think I put your name forth, boy?" he asked him. "I know how you feel about Corus. I feel just the same. When I had noplace else to go...it was here that I found a home. A thousand strangers that all had turned their backs upon...so they decided to be boon friends and neighbors to one another. It's a miracle, this home of ours...and I'll be damned if I'll watch it freeze solid while there's a breath left in these old bones."

    "I know you'll fight and die for Corus, boy," he said. "And that's why I told the Little One that you were the one to send forth onto the Dark Glacier."

    He sighed gently. "What you need to do is to find a new place," he said. "A place where we can build homes anew, should the worst come to pass."

    He snickered. Another was of spit hit the floor. "Amidst all that flat ice, I suppose it'll be easy enough, eh?"
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    Tue Apr 26, 2016 4:07 am  

    Njord saw the tears welling in the little girl's eyes. How awful it would be to disappoint her! Looking around at all the gnomes, and nodding to each one in turn he said:

    "Is good meeting you, Hoddy, and Goodwin, and Marta, and Matildya. I...we...my comrades and my self are most thankful for gifts. They will help great much." Njord had made a motion toward the slumbering Kahss upon mentioning his comrades.

    Then, focusing on Matildya, he offered, "We are to try very best to deal with cold. But is not only my few fellows, but also many others. Good Mayor Highmountain said that many strong people from Corus will fight against winter. I think we have big chance to bring the warm back, and hopefully, your mice, your Bjorn and Frieda, will no more be sick."

    He felt the lie above his heart. Every time he spoke words that seemed false he felt at least a tickle in the space between his heart and throat. This was no different, and it was only the word "big" that turned his statement into a blatant falsehood. But this tugging at his high-heart was mixed with true sadness for little Matildya. He quickly took a deep breath and managed a broad smile, both to encourage the girl and to fight back the possible tears he now felt. Then, mirroring Marta, Njord reached down and placed a gentle, reassuring hand on Matildya's other shoulder.


    Last edited by Syzygyst on Wed Apr 27, 2016 12:01 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:09 pm  

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    Zoltan's expression was impassive. Instantly, Ohrin realized that all was not well. Though he took great pains to conceal it, there was no mistaking the hint of fire in the quality of his stare as he regarded him. Unspoken venom lingered there. "I know nothing of the Master's plans, I fear," he said, voice curt and short. "Only that you will soon be leaving and that I should wish you well."

    Silence filled the air for a moment. Venenna looked over at the Master's most senior apprentice. She seemed as if a reply lingered upon her lips, but she could not bear give it voice. "Indeed," he said, straightening the shirt beneath his robe. "You will forgive me. I have errands of my own to attend to for the Master."

    Zoltan turned abruptly and walked away, leaving the laboratory through the door at its rear. With the sound of its closing, Verenna sighed.

    She looked back at him, her head slightly cocked. Her eyes offered an apology, of sorts. "Perhaps I can help with your list," she said, setting down the glass container full of cyan fluid she held. She turned down the flame beneath a beaker, bringing it to a simmer, rather than a boil. The soft plume of white smoke rising from its top faded to nothingness.

    She circled the table and gazed upon his parchment. "The Land of Black Ice is poorly-understood," she told him, as she read. "I doubt that you will find a map detailing much more than the outline of the landmass -- regardless of where you look. You may be one of the first civilized folk to explore it to any great extent, you know. This expedition represents a great opportunity to gather knowledge of a land that is merely a fable to most."

    She looked up at him, cleared her throat. "I, ah," she blushed, "managed to learn a bit about your journey from one of the Guardsmen," she confessed.

    Punctuated with an impish smirk.


    Ohrin was still quite stunned by Zoltan's response and departure and only half-heard Verenna. Snapping out of it, Ohrin looked at her and said, "Well, that was odd. I suspect he either wants to accompany Retlishin or wishes he had been given the assignment I received. After all, he is the more powerful mage."

    Ohrin then looked down at the list and recalled the rest of Verenna's words. "Regarding a map, I'm just hoping to learn more about the settlements between ourselves and our destination; to help us pick our route there. As for the list of names, your help would be most appreciated!"

    Ohrin then gathered up some small items of his that belonged to him to take back to the headquarters as Verenna looked over the list.

    "I'm going to go seek out Master Retlishin to see if he has any advice to offer. I'll be back in a bit."

    Ohrin then turned to go; while opening the door, he turned back with a wry smile on his face and added, "Oh, and tell that guardsman to lock it down. Loose lips sink ships!" With a chuckle, he departed the laboratory to seek out Master Retlishin.
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    Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:40 pm  
    Re: Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil smiles softly at the Old Man, "Maybe the grandmother's tales of warm forest hiding somewhere in there is true. Whatever chance we have, I have faith the Mayor wouldn't send us out if she didn't truly believe something good would come of it.

    "She'd have us stay," he stops his packing, "She'd have us readying an evacuation. Seek contacts to smuggle to safety those of us who aren't wanted elsewhere. The city will be weaker without us if the worst comes.

    "So what advice do you have for me?"
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:35 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord saw the tears welling in the little girl's eyes. How awful it would be to disappoint her! Looking around at all the gnomes, and nodding to each one in turn he said:

    "Is good meeting you, Hoddy, and Goodwin, and Marta, and Matildya. I...we...my comrades and my self are most thankful for gifts. They will help great much." Njord had made a motion toward the slumbering Kahss upon mentioning his comrades.

    Goodwin covered his mouth to stifle a chuckle. The eldest of the girls glared at him disapprovingly, silencing him immediately. She stepped a little bit in front of him and performed a deft curtsy. "Then we have done our part to help," she nodded with a little smile.

    Then, focusing on Matildya, he offered, "We are to try very best to deal with cold. But is not only my few fellows, but also many others. Good Mayor Highmountain said that many strong people from Corus will fight against winter. I think we have big chance to bring the warm back, and hopefully, your mice, your Bjorn and Frieda, will no more be sick."

    He felt the lie above his heart. Every time he spoke words that seemed false he felt at least a tickle in the space between his heart and throat. This was no different, and it was only the word "big" that turned his statement into a blatant falsehood. But this tugging at his high-heart was mixed with true sadness for little Matildya. He quickly took a deep breath and managed a broad smile, both to encourage the girl and to fight back the possible tears he now felt. Then, mirroring Marta, Njord reached down and placed a gentle, reassuring hand on Matildya's other shoulder.

    Njord had to kneel in order to reach her tiny, thin-boned arm. The little gnome girl -- now level with him -- gazed into his stare, searching, wandering in their blue color. In hers, the northman saw reflected the kind of naive innocence only found in the eyes of a child.

    All at once, she sprang at him, throwing her little arms around his neck and crushing herself to his body. Her embrace was warm and soft. Her breathing reminded him of that of a small bird. "I love you, Master Njord," she whispered into his ear.

    Behind her, the other children watched the spectacle. Hoddy offered a small smile. Goodwin rolled his eyes, eliciting a sharp smack on the back of his head from his sister.

    Matildya hugged him for a long time. Maybe longer than he expected. When she finally allowed her arms to slip from him, she turned around with purpose. The small gnome girl had a little haversack upon her back and she placed it down on the stone floor of the headquarters. Njord watched her open it up, digging for something within.

    "I know you might be scared while you're so far away from home, Master Njord," she said. "But you need to be brave. When I'm scared at night, I have somebody to keep me company."

    She turned back around and produced a small toy. In her hands, she held what looked like a stuffed animal. Well-worn from the loving play of a little girl, he saw that it was a stuffed owlbear. It's eyes were stones of striking blue color. The down of its fur was carefully crafted by an expert hand. It was unmistakably the work of the Dark One.

    "This is Olivia Owlbear," she introduced the toy. "She's soft and nice and she'll keep you warm when you sleep if you hold her really close. And she's an owlbear," Matildya said, nodded with serious earnest -- as if it was the most obvious and important thing in the world. "She's brave and strong and fierce, like you. She'll help scare the monsters away from you, when you're not looking."

    She held the stuffed animal up for him. It looked as if perhaps a bit of the feathers within it might be ready to loose a sewn seam. "Olivia loves Corus, too," she said. "Please take her with you, Master Njord."

    "She can help fight for our home, too."
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:20 am  
    Ohrin: A Notion of Propriety

    Ohrin was still quite stunned by Zoltan's response and departure and only half-heard Verenna. Snapping out of it, Ohrin looked at her and said, "Well, that was odd. I suspect he either wants to accompany Retlishin or wishes he had been given the assignment I received. After all, he is the more powerful mage."

    Verenna made a little face. "Zoltan feels betrayed by the Master," she replied. "Of us all, he knows him best. Ever has he been his first apprentice; he has been his trusted companion and confidante. I do not know why it is, but he has bidden Zoltan to remain here, to protect the folk of Corus while he is away and while you go forward on your given task. I fear that his very blood boils with wrath. He feels it should have been him, entrusted with such an important labor."

    Ohrin then looked down at the list and recalled the rest of Verenna's words. "Regarding a map, I'm just hoping to learn more about the settlements between ourselves and our destination; to help us pick our route there. As for the list of names, your help would be most appreciated!"

    "Ah!" she nodded. "Forgive me. That, I can provide. I would imagine you have much to discuss with Master Retlishin -- and perhaps Zoltan, as well. Whilst you set affairs aright, I will procure you that which can be provided."

    She looked at the parchment anew. From her pocket, she unfolded a small pair of spectacles, thin twisted metal of fine gauge that wrapped about thin lenses. Verenna had truly catastrophic eyesight, he had long known. It may well have been why her name appeared not on his list, he realized. "As to your list," she mused, "I recognize many of the names upon it. It is likely that, given that we often travel in similar company, you know much of the same things that I do. Yet I will try and offer you insight perhaps unknown to you."

    "I might have known Lady Osson would volunteer her sword for such a labor," she said. "She is one of Corus' Defenders, brave and true. Know ye of the legend of Osson's Ride? It that it is said that the Armiger is no less than that one's own flesh and blood. I know not the truth of it, mind -- but her courage skill at arms makes it a plausible claim, indeed."

    "Ah," she smiled broadly. "The Viscountess has also put forth her name. That one is...well, I have heard things of her. It is said that Idriel von Fluss-Amberhill was once gnomish royalty in the northern reaches of Perrenland. When she was young, I have heard tale told that she fought against no less than the forces of the Old One during the Wars. She is somewhat aged, now...but if the tales are true, perhaps some life yet lives in her blade, hm? I know that she is somewhat of a recluse, ensconced in some deep sorrow, but when I have treated with her, she has always been quite lovely."

    Ohrin watched her eyes slit as they passed the name of Mirka Daňo. No small venom lingered in her gaze at the sight of it, but she gave it no voice. "I cannot speak so well of Narend Martracin," she continued. "Whispers hold that he accepted contracts for the murder of men in the City of Greyhawk," she told him. "I would not be surprised if he was here in Corus to avoid the fate of a blade between his shoulders. He seems shifty and dishonest. And he constantly wears that damnable hood of his! He makes me shiver to think of," she made a face.

    "I see that the ebon-feathered one has likewise volunteered," she said. "Do not be so swift to judge her by appearance. She is strange is manner and look, of course, but I know for a fact that she has often risked much to warn the Little One of ominous boats off our northern coasts. Too, Crow Jane was the first to have seen the metal birds that flew above the island before the snows obscured them. Likewise, she was the first to realize that they were likely spies in the employ of the Egg of Coot. Those in power within Corus trust and respect her -- even in spite of her ill reputation."

    She looked up from the parchment at Ohrin. "These things, I think, may not be known to all," she said. "Perhaps they will help you decide who is fit to accompany you on your great quest."

    Ohrin then gathered up some small items of his that belonged to him to take back to the headquarters.

    "I'm going to go seek out Master Retlishin to see if he has any advice to offer. I'll be back in a bit."

    She nodded. "Very well," she said. "I will consider your list further. If I think of anything else you might find of interest, I will be certain to let you know."

    Ohrin then turned to go; while opening the door, he turned back with a wry smile on his face and added, "Oh, and tell that guardsman to lock it down. Loose lips sink ships!" With a chuckle, he departed the laboratory to seek out Master Retlishin.

    Before he could quite leave, Ohrin saw a look cross Verenna's face. It was clear there was something she wanted to say, yet held her peace.

    Whatever it was troubled her greatly.
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:41 am  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil smiles softly at the Old Man, "Maybe the grandmother's tales of warm forest hiding somewhere in there is true. Whatever chance we have, I have faith the Mayor wouldn't send us out if she didn't truly believe something good would come of it.

    "She'd have us stay," he stops his packing, "She'd have us readying an evacuation. Seek contacts to smuggle to safety those of us who aren't wanted elsewhere. The city will be weaker without us if the worst comes."

    "So what advice do you have for me?"

    He looked at Sævil carefully.

    "My first bit of advice is that you should be careful to whom you so freely give your trust," he said. "I have known the Little One for a long time, boy. Longer than anyone here, I should say. And you're right when you say that she wouldn't send you out if she didn't think something good would come out of it."

    He turned his head, spat again. Sævil could smell that horrid root even from where he stood at his bed. "You should ask yourself what she truly expects that outcome to be, though," he added. "Aye, she would cut the arm from her own body to save this city, 'tis true. But perhaps there is much more to this than it might seem, on its surface. I would advise you first to be wary, boy. Keep your trust for those who earn it with deeds, not words."

    He leaned back in his chair. "I am old and I am tired, boy," he said. "I have seen many things not easily believed by ones so young as you. Perhaps I give her too little credit. Perhaps she hides nothing. But I have seen with these old eyes many things that she did, when Master Ro yet drew breath. Terrible things. Things left those those with darkness for souls. To be off your guard about her is to be off your guard about a slithering serpent, boy. And I know you are not fool enough not to know how such things end."

    "You are...important to me," he nodded. It sounded as if he had to force his lips with great effort to form them into a shape that would utter the word. "But I will not sail forth with you. The Little One has asked me to ferry her group to the shores of Blackmoor. Perhaps it is best this way. That way, I can watch her closely. But you? You, I will not be able to watch over."

    He smiled, what teeth remained in his mouth, covered in inky darkness.

    It said a great deal without saying a word.
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:55 am  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord / Olivia Owlbear

    Quote:
    She held the stuffed animal up for him. It looked as if perhaps a bit of the feathers within it might be ready to loose a sewn seam. "Olivia loves Corus, too," she said. "Please take her with you, Master Njord."

    "She can help fight for our home, too."


    "I...uh. I...." Njord was surprised by Matildya's gesture. At first he wasn't sure if taking a child's toy, even at her behest, was proper. But then he realized how brave the girl was being with such an offering, and it was apparent in her vehement gaze. This was her direct contribution to the fight against the foul winter.

    He reached out his hand and, as gently as he had gripped Matildya's shoulder, he took hold of the creature-doll and examined her with pride. Then he returned his eyes to the gifting girl. "I accept Olivia Owlbear, her feroce company, for journey!" Njord enthused (in his usual slightly tattered Common speech). He smiled again at the gnome-girl, and this time there was no effort to do so; his smile was genuine, and well-deserved by the bold little girl. "And i thank deeply you for gift. In way, you will be with us on journey. My self and companions will think of you when Olivia raises claws to fight enemies!"

    Still smiling, Njord cradle-hugged Olivia beneath his chest to show Matildya, as well as the other Ruddyfoot children, how much he cared for his new friend. Maybe even the unconscious Kahss could sense his appreciation.
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 2:39 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    He reached out his hand and, as gently as he had gripped Matildya's shoulder, he took hold of the creature-doll and examined her with pride. Then he returned his eyes to the gifting girl. "I accept Olivia Owlbear, her feroce company, for journey!" Njord enthused (in his usual slightly tattered Common speech). He smiled again at the gnome-girl, and this time there was no effort to do so; his smile was genuine, and well-deserved by the bold little girl. "And i thank deeply you for gift. In way, you will be with us on journey. My self and companions will think of you when Olivia raises claws to fight enemies!"

    Matildya seemed absolutely delighted by Njord's response. A brilliant smile lit up her face and her constellations of freckles almost seemed to twinkle. The gnome girl got up on her tippy-toes and craned her neck so she could give the stuffed doll a gentle kiss on her beak. Then, she shyly walked back to her brothers and sisters. She seemed too bashful to even respond to what he'd said, but the furious blush that had risen to her cheeks spoke loudly for her. Njord recognized it in himself, really. He often was wont to do the same when he was overcome with emotions.

    Still smiling, Njord cradle-hugged Olivia beneath his chest to show Matildya, as well as the other Ruddyfoot children, how much he cared for his new friend. Maybe even the unconscious Kahss could sense his appreciation.

    Hoddy had a big grin on his face. Marta gave her sister a great hug. A little tear rolled down her cherubic cheeks. Njord was hardly the only one touched by the gesture. "We should go now," the eldest of the gnome-children said. "We were told not to make ourselves a nuisance and I fear we have already asked too much of it. Come," he bade his brother and sisters to follow him for the headquarters door. "Let us return home now."

    The group of tiny demi-humans made their way from the headquarters. Njord heard Marta whisper to her sister that was an incredibly brave thing you did, small one. I am proud of you. For her part, Matildya barely listened. She watched Njord and Olivia the entire way out, offering him one small wave of her hand -- a simple opening and closing of her fingers, the way young children often performed the gesture.

    It was the last he saw of her before they were gone. A wave and a smile.

    The empty room seemed filled now with the sounds of Kahss snoring. The warmth of the little stuffed doll still under his arm.

    The time to leave for the Captain's office was drawing nearer.
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 6:34 pm  

    As Matildya and the other Ruddyfoot children departed, Njord thanked them all for the gifts they had brought, naming each gnome in turn. But he kept most eye-contact with Matildya, waving with one hand, cuddling Olivia close with the other, letting the gnome-girl know that her cherished friend would be kept safe and well. His waving had also come to mimic Matildya's -- the finger-waving of children. As Njord said a final, "Fare well, good Ruddyfoots," they were gone. The door, now closed, again hid the ominous, darkening day beyond.

    Njord looked at the little Owlbear and gave another smile. He'd do his best to take care of this little Olivia. And, indeed, this creature would remind him of dear, apple-faced Matildya. Before he might include either in thoughts more grim, he seated Olivia proudly at the head of his bed, snuggly against his pillow. For now, she would be a vigilant sentry, staring tirelessly at the door.

    Njord then busied himself gathering all the provisions brought by the gnomes at the end of the table nearest the sleeping area. Trying to be somewhat quiet, so as not to rouse Kahss (had he a late night?), he unpacked the gifts. He arranged them into temporary piles: sleeping-gear in one, cookware in another, food and drink in yet another, and so on. At that point, he noticed he was hungry. He looked for some jerkey or blubber or some other quick snack. He then checked for water, realizing his thirst was even more urgent than his hunger.

    After satisfying those needs [* if possible *], he went to his bed-station and began arranging his things, placing some under the cot, and others into the chest. While at this task, he would often catch a glimpse of Olivia. He wondered if he had time to sew some of Olivia's wounds. As he pondered this, he also hoped that his comrades would return soon. He'd like to begin speaking of the candidates. With that, he decided to peruse the list again, leaving Olivia's surgery for a later time.

    As he seated himself at the table, he realized he wanted to do just about anything other than pay a visit to the captain.


    Last edited by Syzygyst on Wed Apr 27, 2016 11:50 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:49 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil shivers and frowns at the Old Man's warnings.

    "Are you aware of the list of volunteers we've been provided with? I haven't seen it yet."
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    Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:48 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord then busied himself gathering all the provisions brought by the gnomes at the end of the table nearest the sleeping area. Trying to be somewhat quiet, so as not to rouse Kahss (had he a late night?), he unpacked the gifts. He arranged them into temporary piles: sleeping-gear in one, cookware in another, food and drink in yet another, and so on. At that point, he noticed he was hungry. He looked for some jerkey or blubber or some other quick snack. He then checked for water, realizing his thirst was even more urgent than his hunger.

    Njord's labors only served to stoke the flames of hunger in his belly. So when he completed the task of sorting the goods brought by the gnome-children, he took to the foods with great vigor.

    The first thing he found was a woven cloth basket filled with all sorts of breads and cheeses. Though only tepid, they were fresh, and he tore into one of the rolls atop the pile eagerly. To his delight, they were clearly from Flowerfield's oven, and the cinnamon-spiced bread, rolled into a broad spiral virtually melted in his mouth. So delicious! In a lined box, he was able to find long strips of salted pork that set off the rolls perfectly.

    A short distance from where he'd placed the foods, the wooden casks of drink rest. He filled an empty tankard with the drink that Sævil had enjoyed before. It was thick and heavy, black as the night itself in color. Yet he found it to be quite excellent in taste, the liquor setting a low, but pleasant, flame to his throat and belly. It tasted something like the expensive drink that the men of his tribe occasionally raided from merchants to the south. In his homeland, it was prized stuff, so expensive as to elude his lips. But this particular liquor was far better than even that drink. He wondered from whence it might have come. It suddenly made sense to him why Sævil had lingered almost trancelike as he'd sampled its flavor.

    After satisfying those needs, he went to his bed-station and began arranging his things, placing some under the cot, and others into the chest. While at this task, he would often catch a glimpse of Olivia. He wondered if he had time to sew some of Olivia's wounds. As he pondered this, he also hoped that his comrades would return soon. He'd like to begin speaking of the candidates. With that, he decided to peruse the list again, leaving Olivia's surgery for a later time.

    As he seated himself at the table, he realized he wanted to do just about anything that was not going to visit the captain.

    Imaginary sands bled down to settle in the bottom of the hourglass, still.

    Outside, the sun was just beginning to set.
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    Thu Apr 28, 2016 2:12 am  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil shivers and frowns at the Old Man's warnings.

    He shrugs. "What were you expecting, boy?" he said. "The Little One is something of a legend amongst thieves. She's The One Never Caught. I reckon if you go to almost any pub, port, or guild on Oerth, you're liable to hear a tale or two about her. Most've them are just that -- tales, spun by so many drunken fools -- but just as many're true. She's famous because she's not famous. Nobody knows her name, because she's never made a mistake, never failed. Every young cutpurse or mugger dreams of being her when they're old and grey."

    "But you don't get to be what she is without doing a few awful things, boy," he added, he snickered. "You gotta break eggs to make an omelet, savvy? A person like that...they're capable of anything. So you always have to think like they do -- three steps ahead. That's what I want you to do. It's the only way to make sure you don't end up with a dagger in your ribs, when the day's done."

    "Are you aware of the list of volunteers we've been provided with? I haven't seen it yet."

    "Hah!" he laughed. "Not all of us are as smart as you, boy. All I ever knew was how to read a map. I was never much for all your books and parchments."

    He spat again. At the rate he was going, Sævil would be glad to get out of the room and back to the headquarters. His quest for a new home might have become ever more important. "But yours was hardly the only name I put forward to the Little One," he added. "And I can guess at a few others that might've been fools enough to volunteer on their own. So if you have questions, you should ask them now, boy."

    "Soon enough, it'll only be time for answers."
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    Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:29 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Headquarters / Njord / The Sun Sets

    Quote:
    As he seated himself at the table, he realized he wanted to do just about anything that was not going to visit the captain.

    Imaginary sands bled down to settle in the bottom of the hourglass, still.

    Outside, the sun was just beginning to set.


    Njord examined the list for about 10 minutes. He pondered each name, and noted those individuals he knew about or had worked with. He also tried to commit as much of the list to memory as possible, as he might have questions for the captain.

    He grew anxious, and moved over to his bed-station. After examining his weapons, he realized his shortsword could use a little sharpening. Back at the table with a whetstone, he drew the piece across the length of the blade, keeping rhythm with the steady snores from Kahss. Occasionally, he again looked at the nearby list, now formulating definite questions for the captain.

    Meanwhile, Olivia continued her vigil.
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    Sat Apr 30, 2016 12:22 am  
    Ohrin: Vermillion

    Within the belly of the Master’s towers, all was ensconced in crimson.

    It was an affectation that Ohrin had long become used to, the wizard Retlishin’s odd predilection towards red hues. Although no one could claim to know the truth behind it, Verenna had once confided in him her belief: Within his innermost sanctum, there hung a painted oil portrait of a ravishing titan-haired beauty – beneath her visage, the words Wherever I May Find Her. She was certain that he was haunted by the memories of a long-lost lover…and deigned wherever he might look, he would continue to see her.

    Leading away from the laboratory were a labyrinth of slender, stone passageways. A long, unbroken carpet of vermillion traced its length. At ten feet distances, rather than torches lighting the way in rocky sconces, glass spheres hung weightlessly, inches above the protrusions. In each one, the illuminatory gland of a fire beetle was sealed, suspended in a preservative liquid. Their radiance cast a red pall along the whole of the hallways. Their subtlest movements cast strange shadows that danced and played in dark conspiracies along the stone walls. It gave the whole of the mazework structure an uneasy and eerie countenance. To walk along it was to be filled with a strange sense of shifting scarlet; to be immersed in the macabre dread of blood.

    Nevertheless, Ohrin strode it boldly. He reminded himself that he had nothing to fear from the Master. And so, he walked about the complex intersections of hallways, treading their steep staircases and passing through their heavy iron doors in relative confidence. In all, the whole of his journey took him perhaps a half-hour.

    At its conclusion, at the absolute apex of a winding spiral staircase made of some unidentifiable ruby metal, twisted as a half-melted candlestick: The Master’s door.

    He reached up and made ready to use its knock – a stone sculpture in the shape of a leering gargoyle, a metal and stone loop beneath it – but from somewhere past it, his voice interrupted him before his hand was halfway through the gesture. “Enter freely,” he said, as was always his wont, “and unafraid.” He was clearly all-too-well aware of the effect of his demense’s appearance upon visitors.

    Ohrin pushed open the door. Behind it, a wide open space.

    It was not like anything he had ever seen in his lifetime. It was not as it had been at any time he had visited the room before.

    The entirety of the room was filled with darkness. Utterly black, utterly bleak, it seemed to drain away heat and life into the unending void that composed the Master’s chambers. It was terrifying in its infinite and majestically horrific manner; to gaze into its depths for too long sent spider legs a’climbing up the ladderwork of Ohrin’s spine. Floating amidst the tenebrous abyss, he saw gentle tufts of crimson floating by, as if clouds set adrift on an ebon sky. The clouds seemed angry with furious flame-hued lightning that rippled through their substance. It was this that offered illumination within the strange place, though inconsistent and darksome, it was. Floating motionless in the effigy of a room’s perimeter, he saw bookcases aplenty, odd desks and tables with various apparati and objects set upon them that he could not place or recognize. Stretching out from the door’s threshold, there lay hundreds of wafer-thin flats of ruby. These provided the firmament for the furnishings; these served as a walkway by which to navigate the room. They rose and fell like stairs, extended out like paths, in a vaguely organic fashion, as something alive might, not inanimate. He wondered what might happen to one so unfortunate to stumble and fall from the path into the heart of darkness.

    All the while, he found himself surrounded in complete and total silence. Such was the crushing weight of that nothingness that he instantly became aware of his heart, his breathing. Yet, he was not alone. Some distance ahead, down and then up a length of bloody staircases, he saw a great desk. Because of the angle at which he stood, he saw nothing of what might lay atop its surface.

    Behind it sat the figure of the Master.

    As he ever did, he wore his robes – a majestic crimson affair with twisting and lilting patterns upon it in lighter and deeper shades of the same hue – over his thin and humble mannish frame. Strangely enough, he looked no older than Zoltan or Verenna. He was young by the standards of humans, certainly too young to be a mage of any real accomplishment. His long brown hair – the color of chestnut – hung in many braided pleats, cast long over his shoulders and down his back. He greeted Ohrin with a welcoming, if weary, smile. He slipped thin spectacles down the length of his nose, as he was wont to when he was regarding something of interest.

    “Welcome, my student,” he said with a subtle nod. “Come. Questions. I’m certain you have them.”

    A step deeper into the room. The sound of his tread tried to echo forth, but died strangled, devoured by the darkness about them. But the new angle revealed the shape of a rectangle, set behind the Master, hanging over him as if keeping vigilance upon his person. It was a painting of a woman, her hair all wild vermillion curls and twists. Her skin was alabaster; she had the countenance of a rose in bloom, to behold. Ohrin found her beautiful in her eternal repose in oil.

    Beneath her image: Wherever I May Find Her.
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    Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:26 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord examined the list for about 10 minutes. He pondered each name, and noted those individuals he knew about or had worked with. He also tried to commit as much of the list to memory as possible, as he might have questions for the captain.

    He grew anxious, and moved over to his bed-station. After examining his weapons, he realized his shortsword could use a little sharpening. Back at the table with a whetstone, he drew the piece across the length of the blade, keeping rhythm with the steady snores from Kahss. Occasionally, he again looked at the nearby list, now formulating definite questions for the captain.

    Meanwhile, Olivia continued her vigil.

    Before long, Njord noticed that shadows within the room began to draw long and encroach in thin fingers across the flat of his bed and the tables, across the floors and chairs, and finally over Olivia Owlbear. Outside, he realized that the day had slowly drained from the skies above Corus. All that remained was the wind and the snows, the darkness of dusk.

    At last, the time had come. Kahss, three paces distant, oblivious to it all.

    Captain Fireheart awaited.
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    Sat Apr 30, 2016 11:51 am  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Fair, Old Man," Sævil sits across from him and leans forward, "Milleen's offered to train me a wolf, and I'm like to take her up on it. But I can't help thinking we should convince her to come. We'll need dogs and sleds, and I doubt most of my comrades have experience with them. I do, but know little of the animals. Do you think she's safe to bring, if I can convince her?"

    "Who else did you put forward? And what are your guesses as to volunteers?"
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    Sat Apr 30, 2016 4:35 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Fair, Old Man," Sævil sits across from him and leans forward, "Milleen's offered to train me a wolf, and I'm like to take her up on it. But I can't help thinking we should convince her to come. We'll need dogs and sleds, and I doubt most of my comrades have experience with them. I do, but know little of the animals. Do you think she's safe to bring, if I can convince her?"

    “The scaly one?” the Old Man asked with a bemused snicker. “I would trust her farther than most of those you’ve already assembled. I remember the day she arrived upon Corus very well, boy. I brought her here aboard the Wayfarer, myself. Have ye ever heard me tell tale of Standis Ritkarssen, before? Likely not: He was here and then gone long before you came to us. A good lad, strong and smart – something like you, actually, boy. But no matter, no matter.”

    “Standis was a Pathfinder,” he explained to him. “One of those that the Little One has tasked with going forth out into the world, bringing back goods and supplies, the men and women that might be our neighbors, to our isle. A few years ago, he returned with a man named Ilkka Suhonen. He was a very accomplished fighting man of the Fruztii, but something of an oddity amongst them, too. He had the kind of…how would you call it?” he asked, taking the time to spit upon the floor again as he searched for the words, “appetites that those effete nobles have in places like Greyhawk and Rel Mord. It’s why he ended up in Corus, truly. The folk of those lands wonder about a man who prefers silks to furs and the gentle sounds of the lute to the ugly music of sword and axe. He was an outcast, even if he was skilled in the ways of war.”

    The Old Man smiled his black, gap-toothed grin to remember him. “Sometime, along his travels,” he said, “he told me the tale of a day in which he had come across a small tribe of the little scaly folk. Pitiful and hungry, they were terrified of him; he could’ve wiped them all out and hardly break into a sweat. Ilkka was not of a cruel face: He knew that and would have mercy upon their lot, leaving them in peace. But before he left, one of the young females of the tribe begged him to take her with him. She knew her lot amongst the scaly folk well – she would be resigned to a life as a lesser, a tool to make babies for the chief alone – and she was curious about the world outside the caves in which she’d grown. She saw Ilkka, strong and powerful, smart and skilled…and she wanted more. She wanted to be something like him. He was able to see this in her for himself and deigned agree to her request. He made her his butler and manservant, teaching her the ways of the civilized world he’d learned in his travels away from his homeland. He loved the wolves of his homeland dearly, so she turned herself to the task of rearing them for Ilkka. This young female kobold was Milleen – and she learned well.”

    “Milleen’s a smart one,” the Old Man said. “She’s clever and cunning like the rest of the scaly folk – but far, far more than that, too. She’s well-educated, thoughtful. A man of refinement like Ilkka could not abide a traveling partner who was anything otherwise, y’see. By the time I ferried them to Corus, she served something like a herald for him, announcing him, handling all his personal affairs. It was difficult to talk to the man without talking to Milleen, first. But such was her manner that, once you got used to her face, it was a pleasant enough experience.”

    He watched Sævil work at his bed, gathering the last of his personal effects, while he finished his tale. “I don’t know how long ago it was before you came,” he said, “but Ilkka was one of the first ones to grow ill, when the weather turned. He coughed and sputtered until he spat blood. ‘Tis a pity that it took the blade of Incabulos’ poisoned sword to fell a man of war such as he, but so it was. Since then, she’s kept at raising her wolves, but hasn’t much traffick with the rest of us. I don’t think she knows what to do, now that her master’s died. If she’s volunteered, maybe she’s finally figured that much out.”

    The Old Man nodded. “Aye,” he said. “If she’s willing to train you a wolf – you’d be a fool not to accept. And if she’s willing to come along with you, and you deny her – you’re double the fool. I remember that she’s got no kind of sea legs at all,” he chuckled, “She whimpered in the hold of the Wayfarer for half the journey home, sick as you can be. But once you walk upon ice and snow, that much won’t concern you, eh?”

    "Who else did you put forward? And what are your guesses as to volunteers?"

    “Well,” he considered the question. “I would think at least Persides would ask to come along. I’d stay clear of that one, though. Bad luck, I think. Mannenheim, too. He’s a Perrender, as well, so you two might be fast friends, eh? I would guess maybe Lukasz Ravel, too. He’d be a good one to take. Tough, honest…doesn’t ask too many questions.”

    “Myself, I put the dancer’s name to the Little One,” he nodded, leaning back in his chair, as if to judge his reaction. “And the treasure hunter, too. I like that one, boy. She’s even more clever than Milleen, boy. She’s sly, sharp. Never misses a thing. I’d have courted a woman like that, in my day. I always aimed to bed me a Halfling, if just to see how I’d have to bend myself to make it done!” he confessed, punctuating the notion with a short cackling. “T’Shanna and Swiftstoat’re their names. If they’re on your list, you should look hard at each one, I think.”

    He paused, considering it further. “I think that should do it, eh, boy?” he said, before adding off-handedly: “Oh, and I also hand-picked the captain that’ll be taking you rowdy lot to the Bleak Shores.”

    His old, dark eyes twinkled with mirth.

    “But I think I’ll be keeping that one a secret, for now.”
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    Sun May 01, 2016 7:13 pm  

    Quote:
    Before long, Njord noticed that shadows within the room began to draw long and encroach in thin fingers across the flat of his bed and the tables, across the floors and chairs, and finally over Olivia Owlbear. Outside, he realized that the day had slowly drained from the skies above Corus. All that remained was the wind and the snows, the darkness of dusk.

    At last, the time had come. Kahss, three paces distant, oblivious to it all.

    Captain Fireheart awaited.


    Njord had wished to wait an hour or so after dark had set in. His anxiousness, however, disallowed this. About a quarter-hour after the sun had truly set, he was at the door, opening it. The blast of cold from the outside felt good, washing a vitality over and through him to help him face the captain. He acknowledged the guards, and told them he was headed to the captain's and should be back in a while.

    He trudged through the snow and wind toward the captain's quarters. With each step he felt stronger, probably realizing that it was one step closer to finishing this business with Fireheart. When he finally reached her domain he stood straight, took in a deep breath, and knocked on the outer doors, using the large, frigid, iron ring. It sounded like a bell, dull and muted as though it were caked in layers of frost, ice, and scorn.
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    Sun May 01, 2016 8:59 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord had wished to wait an hour or so after dark had set in. His anxiousness, however, disallowed this. About a quarter-hour after the sun had truly set, he was at the door, opening it. The blast of cold from the outside felt good, washing a vitality over and through him to help him face the captain. He acknowledged the guards, and told them he was headed to the captain's and should be back in a while.

    Both men replied with a nod. Yrnigaard added his voice to the gesture: “'Ware and were, friend” he grinned, his beard turned a sheet of ice beneath his chin. Njord recognized it as a greeting and farewell exchanged by the folk of his homeland, though he could not confess to understanding its meaning. The way that he offered it seemed pleasant enough, though.

    He trudged through the snow and wind toward the captain's quarters. With each step he felt stronger, probably realizing that it was one step closer to finishing this business with Fireheart. When he finally reached her domain he stood straight, took in a deep breath, and knocked on the outer doors, using the large, frigid, iron ring. It sounded like a bell, dull and muted as though it were caked in layers of frost, ice, and scorn.

    Even through a gloved hand, the frigid metal of the door's heavy ring was enough to send a chill down his spine. Though, were he being completely honest with himself, perhaps he might admit that the sensation truly had little to do with the clime.

    Through the thick substance of the rime-covered door, her voice issued forth. “Come,” Captain Fireheart called. Her voice, as ever, was terse and direct. Somehow, it seemed capable of cutting the wind and wood asunder, reaching his ears with unmuted clarity. As if directed by her voice, rather than the dictates of his own desires, Njord felt his hand fall to the portal's latch and squeeze its catch. He pushed the door open gently, no sort of noise in the least accompanying its swing. Perhaps, knowing what was to come, it had fled the air like a frightened mouse.

    The office of the Captain of Corus' Town Guards was not an unknown place to Njord. Indeed, he had been there on several occasions before. The place was perhaps a quarter of the size of his fellowship's new-minted headquarters. Unlike that wide, largely empty agora, the office was a series of suites connected by many heavy doors that might be bolted and locked tight with swiftness. The first room was little more than a foyer, branching off towards the other, purpose-designed chambers. The deeper one penetrated into the office, the more important the location was. At its very heart was the Captain's room, perched directly atop the small series of brigs that passed for Corus' only jail. When he had been there before, each occasion had been official in nature. He had been sworn into the Town Guard's service in the entry foyer, before a small crowd of smiling townsfolk. He had received his uniform slightly deeper within, some of his equipment, deeper still. When he had investigated the Martracin Affair, the official registration of his written testimony had required him to visit a room just outside the Captain's. He had never gone deeper within the structure than that.

    He wasn't precisely sure why it was that he had expected her to wait for him in her room, but he had. Instead, she met him no more than five steps inside the door, in the main foyer. The room was appointed with a small desk and chair at its rear; it was sparse and undecorated but for a rare bloom in the form of the Captain, herself. The truth was: But for the telltale cant of her almond-shaped eyes and pointed ears, it might have been easy to misplace her fey heritage. Her skin was much darker than most elves he'd met, like smooth and unbroken plains of shadowy bronze. Her wore her hair in a midnight blue band, restraining its short sides, and allowing its length to spill out at the top in gentle waves and curls. It was so utterly black that it seemed to drink in the light of the room in which they stood. The brown hue of her eyes was so deep that they, too, almost seemed to be as onyx. Still, for all that, the Captain's mien betrayed her origins. She was two full heads shorter than Njord and for all the power hidden in her frame, she remained ever-lithe and graceful. Petite in that way, she moved completely noiselessly, with the preternatural elegance of something feline: A great cat; a huntress.

    She did not wear her armor, Njord saw. She did not have her everpresent spear or buckler. As the light from the candle set upon the table behind her flickered and sent shadows playing throughout the room, perhaps that stunned him most of all. No, Captain Fireheart had chosen not the garb of war for their meeting. Instead, she wore high, though soft, riding boots and leather breeches above that the color of chestnut. They clung to the supple curves of her hips maddeningly, a sight that caught the northman's very breath in his throat. Above that, she wore a blue linen shirt, fine and smooth in appearance. It matched her headband flawlessly. Njord was aware of the sound of his heartbeat in his ears, like thunder. Something within the bottom of his stomach was unfettered and sent floating weightlessly away from him. He nearly trembled. She was incredible to behold; a lilting bit of poetry, given life and soul. She was easily the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life before.

    Captain Fireheart's eyes pinned him to the door behind him as if she were mounting a butterfly for a frame. Ever incisive, ever penetrating, they seemed to stare directly into the heart of who he was. To her gaze, nothing was hidden. All secrets were known. Yet when she finally spoke, in her ever clear, pointed way, it was with a question. “We have things to speak about, you said,” she nodded subtly. “'Twas not the time, nor the place, you said. But now...here you are, Tholjorsonn. Later...in my office. Alone.”

    She stopped the air in the room dead in its place with her utterance.

    “What would you say to me now, Wintercrown?”
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    Mon May 02, 2016 10:04 am  
    Re: Ohrin: Vermillion

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    “Welcome, my student,” he said with a subtle nod. “Come. Questions. I’m certain you have them.”


    "Hello, Master Retlishin," Ohrin said while giving an appropriately deferential bow to his current arcane mentor before warily entering the room and moving to approach the desk. He did not bother to hide his surprise and curiosity at the state of Retlishin's space.

    Once Ohrin had arrived a comfortable distance from the desk, he once again bowed and then said, "Master Retlishin. Thank you for seeing me. As I am sure you are aware, the events of today have proven to be very...interesting, for me. I appreciate the confidence that is being shown in me and will do everything in my powers, arcane, divine, and martial, to see that we succeed. Towards that end, I have several questions for you, if you don't mind.

    "Can you, or any books in your library, tell me about the Land of Black Ice that may help with our mission? I fear that by my very nature, I have become the strategic thinker of our group; so, I want to make sure I am informed before leading anyone astray."

    "Do you have any maps of the region which I might borrow, or hastily copy?"

    "What didn't the Little One tell us?"

    "Can I please ask for what you know about the individuals on this list? I don't even know all of their races, let alone their capabilities and temperaments. Your input will help me to finalize my thoughts on who should accompany my team." Ohrin produces another copy of the list (because he would have been smart enough to make two copies even if I forgot to mention it).
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    Mon May 02, 2016 5:49 pm  
    Ohrin: A Matter of Propriety

    "Hello, Master Retlishin," Ohrin said while giving an appropriately deferential bow to his current arcane mentor before warily entering the room and moving to approach the desk. He did not bother to hide his surprise and curiosity at the state of Retlishin's space.

    Once Ohrin had arrived a comfortable distance from the desk, he once again bowed and then said, "Master Retlishin. Thank you for seeing me. As I am sure you are aware, the events of today have proven to be very...interesting, for me. I appreciate the confidence that is being shown in me and will do everything in my powers, arcane, divine, and martial, to see that we succeed. Towards that end, I have several questions for you, if you don't mind.

    Retlishin offered a wan smile. It was ever his way. Ohrin had long ago noticed that it was a colossal endeavor to persuade the Master to anything resembling powerful emotion. Mirth or anger, passion or warfare, seemed to have long since fled the cloisters of his soul. Perhaps they had run away with the flame-haired beauty in the portrait behind him. Wherever I May Find Her. Indeed, he seemed to perpetually vacillate between states of serene ennui and disaffected boredom, alternatively. “Please,” he bade him with a subtle nod, indicating that deference was hardly required. “You are prepared to make of yourself a hero of my adopted home. I can at least offer you the courtesy of some dignity.”

    Another subtle nod. Ohrin had navigated the ruby flats, weightlessly hanging above the dark infinity of the bleak abyss below them both, and stood perhaps ten feet from the Master's desk. From his new position, the tops of writing implements and opened books upon its wooden expanse revealed themselves. He noticed that Retlishin had had a quill in his hand – the brilliant plume of a peacock's tail, become a brush for his work – when he'd entered. He replaced it in an inkpot that looked as if it were filled with liquid silver. “I would expect nothing less,” he replied. “And I mind not making time for you in the least. Indeed, I expected you, after a fashion – in the forms of the flesh, and of inquiry.”

    The lazy smile returned to his lips. “You assert your intellect already,” he replied. “This is a good thing. You honor me by proving my choice in you a wise one. Surely, your fellows will come to prize your presence greatly in very short order.”

    "Can you, or any books in your library, tell me about the Land of Black Ice that may help with our mission? I fear that by my very nature, I have become the strategic thinker of our group; so, I want to make sure I am informed before leading anyone astray."

    Ohrin watched the Master fold one of his hands over the other. With a crisp snapping noise, he heard him break his own long, aristocratic fingers into a configuration that a man's digits were never intended to form. A rivulet of blood wept from three of his knuckles. The effort – something long practiced, long-ago mastered – left him as impassive as ever. He watched him turn his ruined hand over, idly gesturing with the other. The slightest crimson glow surrounded each in a soporific haze; in an instant, it seemed to catch three tomes in his bookshelves likewise alight. Scattered all over the room, they gained lives of their own and began to float towards Ohrin's position. “Little is known of the Land of Black Ice,” he told him, the labor of levitating the books seeming so insignificant to him that it was as rudimentary as breathing. His effort belied the power that Ohrin was well aware required to bring such an alteration into being, however. Truly, he was in the presence of a magi of great accomplishment. “But this has far less to do with its remote location than it does the very physical properties of the land itself. Indeed, that which has stained the rime into shadow vexes the Invisible Art. It makes it unstable and difficult to predict. Attempts to divine its expanse by way of scrying or projection are rebuffed – often with quite catastrophic results.”

    The books stacked themselves neatly at Ohrin's feet, shuffling gently as the fell into position. “Those three tomes represent the whole of what is known regarding the region,” he continued. “In each one, there is but a passage or two describing expeditions there prior to your own. In total, they amount to perhaps fifteen pages of knowledge. You will, by necessity, be treading a path into mystery.”

    Retlishin took his glasses from his face, folding them neatly before placing them on the desk before himself. Somehow, when he hadn't been looking, Ohrin noticed that his fingers had returned to their proper, natural positions. Only the trails of blood remained as a legacy to the power he'd brought to bear. “However, I can offer you one bit of information that you may find of critical import, during the course of your journey,” he said. “That which has stained the glacial ice that perpetually coats the land is known to me. To the contrary of the assumptions of most sages, it is not some powerful artifact or invocation that has steeped it in darkness.” Ohrin watched him reach forth, producing a small glass vial from the place next to his spectacles. It was filled with utter shadow; rime and frost coated its outside completely. “In some manner unknown to me, the pollen from some sort of mysterious form of flora has spread itself – through some manner that I do not yet understand – across nearly the entirety of the region. It permeates the ice, lending it its tenebrous quality. Of course, as I said, its properties are highly resistant to arcane force, so it is difficult to learn much about it by way of spellcasting. Likewise, even divine magics quail in the presence of the black pollen. I suspect that natural magics, such as those plied by members of the Old Faith, might be the key in learning the riddle's secret – but without a potent druid in our midst, proving this definitively has been quite impossible.”

    “I know not the dangers involved in making prolonged contact with the pollen,” he admitted. “I know not ways in which it might be turned to your advantage. All I can say for certain is that the flora is responsible for the region's dire appellation. More than that, I cannot confirm nor deny with any kind of certainty. I fear that I can be much less than helpful in this regard. You now know the sum and total of my knowledge of the Land of Black Ice.”

    "Do you have any maps of the region which I might borrow, or hastily copy?"

    The question brought another smile. “Verenna will give you that which you need,” he replied. How he knew that she was looking for the maps, Ohrin didn't know and didn't ask about. He knew well that little transpired within the confines of the tower of which Retlishin was unaware. “Once she's expended her eldritch might blindly warding off the mice she disturbed in the process with a fusillade of magic missiles, of course. You may keep them for your use until your inevitable return to Corus.”

    "What didn't the Little One tell us?"

    A mirthless chuckle escaped the magi's lips. “I was hardly there when she spake, Ohrin,” he replied with a slight shrug. “Although, I presume that she did not mention to you that she does not expect our fellowship to return from our assault upon the Egg of Coot -- if for no other reason than to maintain your morale. Her gambit is a simple one: We will occupy that foul personage with a vulgar and direct engagement. She expects that this will force the Egg to relent his attention, for the nonce, on Corus, giving it some sort of succor from the ravages of the elements evidently at his complete command. Further, she expects that this will buy your fellowship the time necessary to complete that which is truly the important part of her plan,” he nodded, “which is to find an acceptable place to which the good folk of our home might be permanently relocated. The more vulgar the assault, the better to her mind. This will allow you to slip away unnoticed and to work with a free hand, ostensibly without interference from the Egg's forces.”

    His head took a thoughtful cant. “I have known the Little One for almost the entirety of a life,” he said. “For a practitioner of her profession, she has always impressed me with her cleverness. She is canny and wise. As a tactician, her skill would bring great shame a good many of the Knight-Protectors of my homeland, prior to their fall. But above all these things, of this I can assure you with certainty: She is a good woman. She would make of herself a sacrifice, so that Corus might live on.”

    “Of course,” he added, “she is much too humble to say so much. And it aids us all for her to keep the truth of her plan hidden. So rest assured, Ohrin – that which she speaks not of is nothing to fear.”

    Ohrin produces another copy of the list. "Can I please ask for what you know about the individuals on this list? I don't even know all of their races, let alone their capabilities and temperaments. Your input will help me to finalize my thoughts on who should accompany my team."

    The Master nodded. “Of course,” he replied. He didn't seem to be interested in accepting the copied parchment that bore the names of the volunteers. It was ever the mien of a true magi to know such things, well before they were presented to them. “Perhaps you have questions of particular individuals?”

    “Or do you simply want my conjecture upon who might make for the best companions?”
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    Tue May 03, 2016 9:46 am  
    Re: Ohrin: A Matter of Propriety

    Master Retlishin wrote:
    ...“I know not the dangers involved in making prolonged contact with the pollen,” he admitted. “I know not ways in which it might be turned to your advantage. All I can say for certain is that the flora is responsible for the region's dire appellation. More than that, I cannot confirm nor deny with any kind of certainty. I fear that I can be much less than helpful in this regard. You now know the sum and total of my knowledge of the Land of Black Ice.”


    "Thank you for sharing these books with me. I shall scour them as quickly as I can and return them to you before my team departs. Do you have any maps of the region which I might borrow, or hastily copy?"

    Master Retlishin wrote:
    The question brought another smile. “Verenna will give you that which you need,” he replied. How he knew that she was looking for the maps, Ohrin didn't know and didn't ask about. He knew well that little transpired within the confines of the tower of which Retlishin was unaware. “Once she's expended her eldritch might blindly warding off the mice she disturbed in the process with a fusillade of magic missiles, of course. You may keep them for your use until your inevitable return to Corus.”


    "Thank you, I am sure they will prove most helpful. For my next question: What didn't the Little One tell us?"

    Master Retlishin wrote:
    ...“Of course,” he added, “she is much too humble to say so much. And it aids us all for her to keep the truth of her plan hidden. So rest assured, Ohrin – that which she speaks not of is nothing to fear.”


    Ohrin nodded to show that he understood the import of what had just been shared with him.

    Ohrin produces another copy of the list. "Can I please ask for what you know about the individuals on this list? I don't even know all of their races, let alone their capabilities and temperaments. Your input will help me to finalize my thoughts on who should accompany my team."

    Master Retlishin wrote:
    The Master nodded. “Of course,” he replied. He didn't seem to be interested in accepting the copied parchment that bore the names of the volunteers. It was ever the mien of a true magi to know such things, well before they were presented to them. “Perhaps you have questions of particular individuals?”

    “Or do you simply want my conjecture upon who might make for the best companions?”


    Ohrin replied, "I was hoping for an abbreviated synopsis of everyone you are familiar with on the list. Race, gender, adventuring capabilities, demeanor, etcetera. While I am familiar with some of them, and my comrades must be familiar with a few more, I was hoping to compile a comprehensive list so that I could perform a complete risk/reward analysis on the lot and make sure our party had a wide range of skills with a narrow range of temperaments. I'm finding that hard to do when I do not even know their races and capabilities. Thus, anything you could share about any of them would be most helpful. To save time, I'll eliminate the ones I believe I have a good grasp of. The remaining list members I know very little or nothing about are:

      Asranith Lasiniir
      Sir Montgomery "Monty" Persides
      Soren Stormcloud
      Yrist Vrabeen (friend of Jonas Cerny)
      The Stonemilker brothers (I realize they are dwarves, and their occupations, but know nothing of their worth in a fight)
      Idriel von Fluss-Amberhill (I realize she is a gnome)
      Khandrag
      Ruslan Heatherplans
      Frantisek Mannenheim
      Monek Friedrich
      Sammi Vasternaan
      Karstren Esil
      Lars Loga
      Milleen (trained wolves? Is she a druid?)
      Altansarnai
      Hjailmar Frjalsmaur (friends with Slava)
      Ballatia Wishilde
      Lucion Inmarial (some sort of druid/wizard?)
      The Dark One
      Merri Flowerfield (known halfling and chef, adventuring skills unknown)
      Narend Martracin (possible assassin, but what race?)
      Lukasg Ravel
      Faeranna Nightsky (known elf, possible magic user?)
      Marcus Restantin"


    Ohrin prepared to take note of Retlishin's comments.
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    Tue May 03, 2016 6:43 pm  
    Ohrin: A Matter of Propriety

    Ohrin replied, "I was hoping for an abbreviated synopsis of everyone you are familiar with on the list. Race, gender, adventuring capabilities, demeanor, etcetera. While I am familiar with some of them, and my comrades must be familiar with a few more, I was hoping to compile a comprehensive list so that I could perform a complete risk/reward analysis on the lot and make sure our party had a wide range of skills with a narrow range of temperaments.

    The Master considered it for a moment. “Sensible,” he at last proclaimed with a nod.

    I'm finding that hard to do when I do not even know their races and capabilities. Thus, anything you could share about any of them would be most helpful. To save time, I'll eliminate the ones I believe I have a good grasp of. The remaining list members I know very little or nothing about are:

    Asranith Lasiniir
    Sir Montgomery "Monty" Persides
    Soren Stormcloud
    Yrist Vrabeen (friend of Jonas Cerny)
    The Stonemilker brothers (I realize they are dwarves, and their occupations, but know nothing of their worth in a fight)
    Idriel von Fluss-Amberhill (I realize she is a gnome)
    Khandrag
    Ruslan Heatherplans
    Frantisek Mannenheim
    Monek Friedrich
    Sammi Vasternaan
    Karstren Esil
    Lars Loga
    Milleen (trained wolves? Is she a druid?)
    Altansarnai
    Hjailmar Frjalsmaur (friends with Slava)
    Ballatia Wishilde
    Lucion Inmarial (some sort of druid/wizard?)
    The Dark One
    Merri Flowerfield (known halfling and chef, adventuring skills unknown)
    Narend Martracin (possible assassin, but what race?)
    Lukasg Ravel
    Faeranna Nightsky (known elf, possible magic user?)
    Marcus Restantin"

    Ohrin prepared to take note of Retlishin's comments.

    Retlishin listened to him list the names carven upon his list in sepia stroke, one by one. To Ohrin's mild surprise, he began to respond with little more than a moment's repose. He remembered each one as he spoke, not missing a single one. The keenness of the Master's intellect, when revealed in such a way, was startling. “Lasiniir,” he nodded. “The elven knight that rides upon a spectral steed. A thrice-haunted personage, but a deadly archer. Persides: One of the Archpaladin's holy warriors, just and true. Stormcloud: A priest of the Winged Mother, I've heard he claims that her direct intervention once spared his life, when he was once an adventurer. Of the devout upon your list, the last of these is Vrabeen: Perhaps the kindest Pholtan cleric you will ever have occasion to meet – though I'm certain he retains the martial skills so common to their ordained faithful.”

    “The Stonemilker brothers,” he continued on, “were once mercenaries, all. I do not believe them to be overly skilled, individually, but I have heard tale that the skills at arms are impressive, in concert. For a nearly pure-blooded orc, Khândraz is genial and well-reasoned. I am sure the ferocity that boils within his veins is undimmed, however, given the opportunity for violence. Contrast that to the halfling, Mr. Heatherplains, who for some reason unfathomable to me, perpetuates the silly ruse of earning the limp he plays at during the Wars. Mr. Mannenheim is well-known to me,” he said, pausing in mid-breath to offer his ever-lazy smile. “His father was once in the employ of Sorillion Ro as a member of his House Guard. He set off on his own when he was of age to join a Perrenese mercenary company and has only returned lately. He is a great enthusiast of the pole arm as a weapon and demonstrates respectable skill with its length. As for Friedrich: I am mildly surprised that he volunteered at all. While I certainly applaud his courage, he is a simple root farmer – not a warrior. Perhaps he does what he believes he must to protect his family. Vasternaan is more like Mannenheim: The son of a Bandit Prince's lieutenant that once traveled with Master Ro. He is undoubtedly small, but tough and able. You may find yourself interested in Mr. Esil, though not as a combatant: I am told he was once the quartermaster of an accomplished mercenary company – an experience he has parlayed into his career as the proprietor of Corus' general goods store. Lars Loga is likewise entrenched into our community, as a Town Guardsman, in good standing. Of those given to blade and shield that you listed, the kobold Milleen is indeed the oddest. Regrettably, her affinity for canids is quite a natural gift, not the blessing of magic. You could certainly do far worse than to take her along, however...along with perhaps the only one she truly calls a friend in Corus, Altansarnai. Indeed, the latter is of the Tiger Nomad folk and has much experience traversing the sort of terrain you will find upon your arrival at the Bleak Shores. Both, of course, are far more canny than the dull-witted Mr. Frjálsmaður – though there is always a great need in any expedition like the one on which you'll be embarking for those blessed with prodigious strength. He certainly possesses that in great abundance.”

    He paused for a moment. “You mentioned Ballatia Wishilde,” he seemed mildly interested. “There is something very odd about that one. Only little more than a girl, I know that she studied dance under the tutelage of Ms. T'shanna until very recently. Then, the girl simply disappeared. There was quite a commotion about it, just before you arrived here. First, it was thought that she had run away from home. Then, foul play was suspected. It was Crow Jane that eventually found her, in a hastily-cobbled sanctuary along the eastern shores of our isle. She returned her to the settlement, but since that incident, I'm told he has been elusive and retreating. It is surprising that she would volunteer. I was not aware that she was possessed of any real martial skill.”

    “Young Master Inmarial,” he continued, after another pause. “Of elvish heritage, like yourself. He might have studied under me; I offered him a place at the tower, once. He demurred, however. His interests in magic lie in their intersection with the natural world. In that, you may find him of great use to you.”

    Another pause. “As for the Dark One,” he offered, “that is another interesting one, to be certain. In your quest for knowledge in the corridors of my library, have you ever come upon a reference to a creature known as a Dark Creeper? Indeed, it is to this race that the Dark One belongs. Of course, little is known of these mysterious and enigmatic creatures...but you may find it extremely useful to bring that one along with you, despite its strange manner and appearance, nevertheless. It is possessed of many abilities that are not shared by the more populous races of the Flanaess – and one never knows when such qualities might serve your expedition well.”

    “With respect to the halfling, Flowerfield,” he went on, his musing on the matter apparently past him, “I can say nothing of his martial skill. What I do know is that he once tread a very dark path in his life. Some great event that I am not privy to, however, changed his mien completely. By contrast, I know much of the elf, Martracin – and you understand the whole of it properly. He was once a paid cutthroat, evidently of no small skill. He is perhaps the mirror opposite of Mr. Ravel, who acted as a hunter of men for the authorities of the City of Greyhawk.”

    “As for the last pair,” he informed Ohrin, “Ms. Nightky and Mr. Restantin are both warriors, aye. But like yourself, each also pursues a secondary acumen. The former is an aspirant of the Invisible Art, while the second is a priest, faithful to the elvish god Erevan Ilsere. I believe that one needs little introduction to one such as you,” he feted him with his gentle smile again.

    “And there you have it,” Master Retlishin said. “All secrets are known.”

    He gave his head a slight tilt. “Have you any more questions, then?”
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    Tue May 03, 2016 8:47 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Hold now, you're naming names I've never heard - or if I have, I remember them not!" Sævil stops in front of a chest and pulls from it a large quantity of cleaned and bleached seal gut, "Mannenheim? Persides?

    "I know Swiftstoat well enough and while I've no wish to bed her, she seems a good companion, but who under the grey sky is Tee Shanna?"
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    Tue May 03, 2016 9:28 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "Hold now, you're naming names I've never heard - or if I have, I remember them not!" Sævil stops in front of a chest and pulls from it a large quantity of cleaned and bleached seal gut, "Mannenheim? Persides?

    The Old Man shrugged. “If they've volunteered, methinks you'll know of it soon enough,” he reasoned. “You needn't know 'em to know of 'em, anyway, savvy? Just remember the names and what I said. That should be enough.”

    "I know Swiftstoat well enough and while I've no wish to bed her, she seems a good companion."

    He flashed him that ebon grin again. “Heh,” he replied with a hoarse chuckle. “Maybe you should, eh? I've heard things about the tiny vixens, y'know. Lots of things,” he wagged his bushy brows suggestively.

    "But who under the grey sky is Tee Shanna?"

    “You know her,” he replied flatly. “Just not by name. The westerner. The holy woman. The dancer,” he smiled, the word rolling off of his tongue like the rarest form of magic: A childlike sense of wild wonder. And the way he said it, Sævil realized that it was true. He did know her. He had seen her on several occasions, really, though their paths had never intersected to the point where it had been necessary for them to exchange greetings and names. She often danced in the very midst of the Promenade, directly in front of the Icepick. She was a striking figure in her thin robes, regardless of the weather: She had long, luxurious night-black hair and skin the color of molten bronze. She was lovely, indeed, but always somehow seemed to rise above emotion. Ever was she tranquil, at ease with the world about her. She never seemed to say anything. Sometimes she had a student with her, a willowy and awkward wisp of a girl. Almost always, she was accompanied by a half-dozen children, contorting themselves in a row next to her, whirling wildly, in some vain attempt to impress or gain her notice. They would always fall, but the westerner was kindly of mien. She would help them up and brush off their scrapes, sure to gently adjust their balance or posture just so as their regained their feet again. Rarely did they fall once again.

    Sævil considered her, silent for a moment.

    The Old Man knew of what he spoke.
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    Tue May 03, 2016 9:39 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Fireheart's / Njord

    Quote:
    She stopped the air in the room dead in its place with her utterance.

    “What would you say to me now, Wintercrown?”


    Njord stood silently for a moment, trying to breathe his heart into a calmer state. He was pressing his booted feet into the floor, hoping to ground himself, hoping to regain the solidity in his center. He recalled his time in the hut of a woman he did not want. She had made him want her. Was Fireheart doing the same?

    As placidly as he could he stated, "There may be many things we have to speak. First we shall speak of names -- my name and other names. What is Wintercrown? You call me this because my hair is like the snow? I have not been named this before. Why you do this?"
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    Tue May 03, 2016 10:24 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "...Yes I know of her after all, interesting..." Sævil falls into silence.

    After several moments of staring into space, he turns back to the Old Man, "Is there anything else you wish to say to me, I should return to our headquarters now."
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    Tue May 03, 2016 11:31 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord stood silently for a moment, trying to breathe his heart into a calmer state. He was pressing his booted feet into the floor, hoping to ground himself, hoping to regain the solidity in his center. He recalled his time in the hut of a woman he did not want. She had made him want her. Was Fireheart doing the same?

    As placidly as he could he stated, "There may be many things we have to speak. First we shall speak of names -- my name and other names. What is Wintercrown? You call me this because my hair is like the snow? I have not been named this before. Why you do this?"

    The Captain said nothing, at first. Instead, she simply gazed into his eyes with her darksome, deconstructing stare. Njord felt a shiver run the length of his spine, then back again. It was terrifying, the effect that she could invoke within him, with her merest glance.

    What did she see when she stared so? It was impossible to say. The momentary silence seemed to stretch and elongate into a lifetime of quiet. It was as if he could hear the candle’s flame flickering, such was its totality, the sound of the wax slowly trickling down its white camber.

    At last, she spoke. “Come,” she said. And turning about, began to stride away, deeper into her offices. He’d expected her voice to be something like thunder. Instead, it was gentle as the moonlight, atwinkle across the lone and level snows.

    She pushed open the door ahead of her, revealing a hallway. He had been there before. It extended in the direction of the heart of the building. He wondered if they might be walking to her personal chambers. The silence threatened to engulf him, swallow him, until she dispelled it with a word.

    “I am a woman of the olve, Njord Tholjorsonn,” she told him, continuing to lead him along the corridors of the building. Her movements were like those of a great cat on the hunt, soundless, terrifying in their predatory grace. “In particular, the blood of Í Miluipeni – ancient long before the sons of man tread the Oerth – courses my veins. Whatever I may be, I am ever the daughter of those that have gone before me. This truth is tattooed upon the skein of my fate as tangibly as the lines of my birth cross the palms of my hands. Aught comes to change it, forevermore.”

    “Since my forebearers first tread the dells and glades, the forest floors and hills, of the Oerth, we have named one another not by the matter of one’s profession or pastime – by that which their character has revealed,” she continued. They passed the small armory within the structure, a room where copies of important documents were kept. The world was still a young place when the first one called Fireheart stalked the vast verdance of the wood men call Adri. It is said that he was amongst the greatest of our folk’s poets and the most terrible of its warriors, at once. He was given to the art of magic and the tyranny of steel; it was his to know the beauty within the sum of all roses, and to scourge his enemies with their thorns. He was given to passion unlike any of our kind before. And so, those that did so called him Fireheart.

    “So you see,” she said, pushing open another door before them. As it swung open, Njord realized it was somewhere he had never been before. They were nearing the center of the place, certainly. “Names are of great consequence to those of my kind. You should know that every soul that I have ever met – will meet tomorrow and thereafter, until at last Mother Luna bids me return to her side – I have dubbed with a name. These things, I keep secret, hidden. Yours,” she said, striding into the darkness, “I chose to speak aloud. And I tell you truly that I do not quite know why, myself. It felt…right, as it fell from my lips. I regret it not.”

    Njord stood there for a moment in the darkness. The Captain had disappeared. Deeper within the room, he heard motion. The sound of metal briefly drawn across wood. “’Tis true that I have named you Wintercrown for your appearance, aye,” she said. “But as I said: Names carry much weight and consequence. They reach beyond that which the eye might seize...but take the measure of one's heart, instead.”

    Lightning exploded within the room at the fickler of flint striking steel. A moment later, the Captain was surrounded in the gentle glow of a candle’s light. It made stark shadows dance across her features. Her blue eyes, like the wide and open sky in the springtime, met his in the half-light. The candle’s wan light had made the room a secret place – somewhere where aught but the two of them existed.

    She seemed so very close to him. A trick of the light? “Do you believe me?” she asked.

    Wintercrown?
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    Wed May 04, 2016 12:08 am  
    Re: Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    "...Yes I know of her after all, interesting..." Sævil falls into silence.

    After several moments of staring into space, he turns back to the Old Man, "Is there anything else you wish to say to me, I should return to our headquarters now."

    The Old Man lifted a brow. “Eh?” he said. “I came because I thought you’d want to speak to me! I thought I’d give you the chance thank me for letting you tread the sea upon the Wayfarer at my side. For all the adventures and laughter, the moments when we were surely ready to die and those when it we knew – in spite of it all – we wouldn’t. All these things, all these things….” He startled to chuckle, but as summer gives way to autumn, his mirth slowly fled the air of the room. Eventually, it died altogether.

    He looked down. Spat once again. Sævil watched him take in a deep breath, then exhale it in the form of a sigh. When he looked back up, he gave him a wry, awkward grin. “It’s been good to know you, boy,” he told him. “Do good by these folk, eh? And make me proud.”

    The Old Man, worn and weathered by time and tedium, looked positively tiny in his chair.
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    Wed May 04, 2016 3:37 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil stares, his mouth hanging open, "My old friend, I'll have more to ask you once I know more. I haven't even had a chance to look at this list of volunteers that was left for us! And surely we'll see each other again, you make it sound like this is the last.

    "Of course I'm thankful for your friendship and the time you've taken to mentor me! We've coursed across the waves together and it's been a great adventure. Hells, I more than half expected you to want to come to our headquarters along with me. I'd be glad to have you join us for a time, and anyone who isn't willing to listen to your wisdom will get my boot in their ****!"
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    Wed May 04, 2016 5:39 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil stares, his mouth hanging open, "My old friend, I'll have more to ask you once I know more. I haven't even had a chance to look at this list of volunteers that was left for us! And surely we'll see each other again, you make it sound like this is the last.

    His smile had gained a faraway, wistful quality to it. “I have lived with the folk of Corus for many a year now, Sævil Dagsson,” he said. “I have only made your acquaintance recently, by comparison. And still, you know me better than almost any of their number. I am old,” he nodded again. “Little breath remains in my aged bones, now. Thus, I am not apt to waste it idly. This will be the last time we shall see the face of one another, boy. I know it just as truly as I know the countenance of the sea; I can feel is just as surely as the winter wind cracks the flesh.”

    "Of course I'm thankful for your friendship and the time you've taken to mentor me! We've coursed across the waves together and it's been a great adventure. Hells, I more than half expected you to want to come to our headquarters along with me. I'd be glad to have you join us for a time, and anyone who isn't willing to listen to your wisdom will get my boot in their ****!"

    “I wish that I could,” he smirked. “I would very much like another evening in which to tell my tales of the sea. Or at least to offer what I could to your journey to come. I’m afraid I cannot, though. Much still needs to be done before I ferry the Little One to her destiny. It has fallen to me to prepare the Wayfarer for your voyage, too. I have a few final duties to tend to. I would not be remembered for failing in these final hours.”

    The Old Man stood. Now, so acutely aware of his frailty, for the first time he noticed the trembling inconsistency in his knees as he straightened, the way that his back bowed, as if under some great, invisible weight. The whole of the gesture took some time. After it was completed, he watched him dip his hand into a small, leather purse at his hip. “There is something I would like you to have,” he told him.

    His hand produced a pair of copper coins. A quivering gesture placed them directly into Sævil’s palm. Cool to the touch, they were quite unlike any kind of lucre he had seen before. Once, he saw, they had borne some kind of minted pressing upon them. Both sides of the coin had been buffed clean, now. The way they shone, he could see that whoever had rid them of their original facings had only done so very recently. The images that now replaced them looked as if they had been carved into the soft metal by an incredibly fine blade. The artwork rendered upon them was lovely, painstakingly drawn.

    Upon one side, Sævil saw the image of the Wayfarer.

    On the other, his own face, frozen in profile.

    “When you set sail,” the Old Man instructed him, “wait until you are well at sea. Wait until the waves froth and churn with anger and the wind lashes with fury. Then, I want you to take these coins in your hand and cast them into the waters, as far away from the ship as you can. Let the sea take them and hide them away forever – wherever it would keep its closest secrets.”

    In the candlelight, the coins burned brightly. Sævil’s own eye seemed to wink at him, amidst a twinkling.

    The Old Man made towards his door.

    Outside, he could hear the wind pummel the stone of his home, slowly wearing its surface to so much sand. Scattered invisibly upon its raging wings.
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    Wed May 04, 2016 6:07 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Fireheart's Sanctum / Njord

    Njord strode through the building behind her. It felt, however, like he floated along the halls, carried by her voice and grace. He pressed each foot to the floor, hoping to keep his balance and regain the steadiness of the earth. The entire place, solid wood and stone, seemed made of cloud-stuff.

    When finally they landed in the midst of the structure, in near darkness, Njord again planted himself. As she continued to speak, he regained some of his foundation. He was glad for the momentary absence of light, as it allowed his vision to clear. When the Captain lit the candle, he was stricken by her azure eyes, each a firmament unto itself. Had not her eyes appeared a deep brown in the antechamber? His memories of her revealed only the brilliant blue before him. Had the rich nut-hue been a mistake of the light?

    The words she spoke were like a poem he was never meant to hear: a fruit forbidden, but delicious once tasted. I Miluipeni? Fireheart? Wintercrown? All these names. Names? Yes, the names! Now he remembered: there was a task he was to perform.

    She was close now, closer than ever before, and it was too much. He took a step back and rooted himself, folding his arms at his chest to create a barrier between them (or, perhaps, a shield for his heart?). The slight light-headedness began to wane. Had he not stepped back, he would have certainly fallen forward.

    "Captain," the formalism lurched ahead to strengthen the blockade, "I...accept your name of me...this Wintercrown. It is strong name. But please know that i care not for king or queen, not for prince or princess." He nodded in affirmation of the gift.

    "We have task to choose group of people to go with us to Black Ice. I have looked at list you brought to head-quarters. I have questions about some. Might you answer about these people?" He was relieved to have refocused his attention on the job at hand. "Or, it is that you recommend some of them?"
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    Wed May 04, 2016 7:21 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    "Captain," the formalism lurched ahead to strengthen the blockade, "I...accept your name of me...this Wintercrown."

    She never once looked from his eyes. In her azure deconstruction of his soul, she never seemed to blink. Certainly, she never stepped backwards, even if he were to stride in her direction. Even at ease, Captain Fireheart’s intensity was like that of an open flame. “This is good, then,” she said. And that was that.

    "It is strong name."

    She nodded gently. “It is,” she agreed. “It befits a man strong of spirit.”

    "But please know that i care not for king or queen, not for prince or princess." He nodded in affirmation of the gift.

    “It is, as the folk of your home would say, a kenning,” she replied. “An allusion; not a title of office. Still, we agree. I have little time for notions of nobility, as most understand it. I value names earned by strength of character as written in deeds, instead -- not by bloodlines or lineage. And one can be called king or prince by their fellows, certainly, would they earn that right.”

    There was a silence for a moment between them before Njord addressed her again.

    "We have task to choose group of people to go with us to Black Ice. I have looked at list you brought to head-quarters. I have questions about some. Might you answer about these people?" He was relieved to have refocused his attention on the job at hand. "Or, it is that you recommend some of them?"

    Captain Fireheart nodded subtly. “I will,” she said. “And I have. It was I that put forth the names of Asranith Lasiniir, Lady Osson, Viscountess Fluss-Amberhill, Loja and Ravel to the Little One. Each and any of these would make fine additions to your expedition, in my opinion.”

    The placed the candle down onto a table behind her. Njord imagined it was where it had been when they’d first entered the room. Its slight radiance still did not reveal the walls of the chamber in which they stood. Outside its reach, they yet swam in darkness.

    “Which others would you know of?”
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    Wed May 04, 2016 8:19 pm  
    Sævil: The Old Man and the Sea

    Sævil gazes at the coins in his hand long after the Old Man is gone, his face pale and slack. He listens to the sounds of the wind outside, his face pale and slack.

    At last he turns a coin to show Wayfarer again, and he smiles slowly. Color returns to his face as he steps out into the cold. He's only 50 feet on his way to Milleen's home when he begins whistling a nameless song of the sea.
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    Wed May 04, 2016 9:01 pm  

    Quote:
    Captain Fireheart nodded subtly. “I will,” she said. “And I have. It was I that put forth the names of Asranith Lasiniir, Lady Osson, Viscountess Fluss-Amberhill, Loja and Ravel to the Little One. Each and any of these would make fine additions to your expedition, in my opinion.”

    The placed the candle down onto a table behind her. Njord imagined it was where it had been when they’d first entered the room. Its slight radiance still did not reveal the walls of the chamber in which they stood. Outside its reach, they yet swam in darkness.

    “Which others would you know of?”


    Njord began recalling names on the list. He was glad that there was accord between he and Fireheart about those that she endorsed outright. But he asked, "What of Ravel? Is not this taking him from marriage to Amelia? He is willing to make such sacrifice? They are willing?"

    He then asked, "Of the many names, i have feel in gut these might be strong companions. Soren Stormcloud, Kelvan Farstrider, Slava, the Stonemilkers, Captain Ristolier, Milleen (for wolves), Altansarnai (for friendship to Milleen),..." Njord paused for a moment perceiving that the Tiger Nomad, whom he had never met, might not be the best travelling companion for himself. He continued, "Hjálmar Frjálsmaður, Nevin Stoutshield, Asila T'shanna, Faeranna Nightsky." There, Njord realized that he had completed his list of instinctual candidates.

    "But information on any of names is welcome. Perhaps Dark One and Crow Jane are best not chosen. Though, having friend who can fly maybe is handy!" At this, Njord smiled slightly. He didn't realize it, but he also uncrossed his arms and his weight settled into his legs. "Are others on list you definitely not choose?"
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    Wed May 04, 2016 10:47 pm  
    Sævil: The Howling

    The wolves began to howl long before Sævil arrived.

    The Old Man had not exaggerated. The home that Milleen had claimed for herself was at the very edge of Corus’ perimeter, built directly against the stone wall that bound it. There was no doubting who it might belong to; a simple glance revealed that she who dwelled within it was certainly among the settlement’s strangest denizens.

    Earth had been piled up against the mortared stones until it formed something of a sloping barrow-hill. Into the face of that immense mound, Sævil saw that a large hole had been cut. Large flat rocks served to line the walls and the floors as far as he could see inside. A few broad timbers framed the entrance and seemed to hold up the dugout’s ceiling – making it look almost exactly like the open mouth of a mine.

    A mine, of course, that a man would have to crouch tightly into, just to enter. The ceiling of the doorless barrow was no higher than four and a half feet, at its tallest. Despite the notion that he would be terribly cramped inside, he found that the confines made a smirk spread across his lips.

    On either side of the barrow, perhaps a half-dozen small stone shelters had been built. They all ran along Corus’ wall, too – in such a way that the northman wondered if they all might be connected. It was from inside these miniature caves that the howling emanated: Long, soulful canine cries that heralded his approach. They became louder, more frequent, the closer he approached. When he was finally within sight of Milleen’s home, he could feel many eyes falling upon him from within the dark recesses.

    At last, he came perhaps within a hundred feet of the imitation of the mine. When he did, the howling suddenly, abruptly stopped. The sound of the wind, his labored breathing against the cold and the snow, were all he could hear. It was a truly eerie sensation.

    Nearer now to the mouth of the barrow. Sævil could see the flickering of some sort of flame within.

    The wolf-mistress awaited.
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    Wed May 04, 2016 10:50 pm  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    Njord began recalling names on the list. He was glad that there was accord between he and Fireheart about those that she endorsed outright. But he asked, "What of Ravel? Is not this taking him from marriage to Amelia? He is willing to make such sacrifice? They are willing?"

    “You do not understand,” the Captain replied, shaking her head slightly. “Know this: Two years ago, Lukasz Ravel was a stalker of men in the employ of the city of Greyhawk. A bounty hunter. It fell to him to pursue those individuals that had broken some law within the Free City and somehow managed to elude justice and flee its stony walls. One such criminal was a woman named Amelia D'Riggana,” she explained, “a rather-notorious forgeress who had made tidy coin of falsifying official legal documents in the region. When she learned that her identity had been exposed by an unscrupulous blackmailer, she left Greyhawk under the cover of darkness and used her sizable fortune to learn where she might hide from the retribution she knew would surely follow her every step. Unfortunately for her, young Mr. Ravel – full of determination far beyond his years – was set upon the task of returning her to the Free City’s constabulary. He dogged her every stride, only a moment behind her path all through her flight.”

    “It might surprise you,” she continued, “but the forgeress was rather delighted by his pursuit. Their dance took long months, their paths ever-crossing across Perrenland and the Nomadic lands, and she came to rather admire his resolve. For his part, the bounty hunter respected her cleverness. By the time the two of them arrived upon the shore of Corus, the forgeress was prepared to turn herself over to Mr. Ravel’s care. Perhaps you might find some humor in the notion that, by then, he had no heart for the task. You see, the process of their lengthy dance had become something of a courtship. They were lovers that barely knew the other’s face.”

    “Mr. Ravel has volunteered for this expedition precisely because of this,” she nodded. “He realizes that this is his home now – indeed, their home. He wishes to fight for the future of that home. It is the save as fighting for his forgeress lover, to his mind. So you see, this is no sacrifice at all, to him. It is simply what must be done.”

    He then asked, "Of the many names, i have feel in gut these might be strong companions. Soren Stormcloud, Kelvan Farstrider, Slava, the Stonemilkers, Captain Ristolier, Milleen (for wolves), Altansarnai (for friendship to Milleen),..." Njord paused for a moment perceiving that the Tiger Nomad, whom he had never met, might not be the best travelling companion for himself. He continued, "Hjálmar Frjálsmaður, Nevin Stoutshield, Asila T'shanna, Faeranna Nightsky." There, Njord realized that he had completed his list of instinctual candidates.

    The Captain snorted. “Ristolier?” Her voice dripped with derision. “A poor choice. I believe not for a moment his fanciful tales of the sea. I think him a coward and a charlatan.”

    "But information on any of names is welcome."

    “I think your list a good one, for the most part,” she replied. “I am mildly surprised that you would think to support Altansarnai’s inclusion…but it demonstrates wisdom to look past bias in the pursuit of victory. Of all your choices, it may be hers that you find most useful. She has much experience in traversing the sort of terrain you will need to tread.”

    "Perhaps Dark One and Crow Jane are best not chosen. Though, having friend who can fly maybe is handy!" At this, Njord smiled slightly. He didn't realize it, but he also uncrossed his arms and his weight settled into his legs. "Are others on list you definitely not choose?"

    The Captain could not help herself. Njord’s arm-flapping gesture brought a gentle smile to her lips. The blue color of her eyes seemed to brighten; it was the sun at dawn, melting an icy thaw. “Perhaps,” she said. “And perhaps not, as well. I cannot deny the strangeness of either of the two of them, it is true. Yet I must remind you that neither Crow Jane nor the Dark One has ever failed Corus when it has had need of them. Indeed, both have demonstrated a willingness to join a society that undoubtedly seems quite alien to them. This is more than I can say for some within our community who wear much more familiar faces. They have done what they can to ease others’ discomfort about them.”

    “Aye,” she replied. “I would deny Captain Ristolier. Likewise, I would deny both Ruslan Heatherplains and Monek Friedrich. I do not trust the former, and while the latter is certainly brave, he is no warrior. He is a man of the soil and nothing more. To take him to the Land of Black Ice would be to dig for him a grave into which to clamber. I would also rebuff Mirka Daňo, as I find a woman of her sort unreliable and distasteful.”

    She paused after saying it, searching her eyes with his for reaction.

    Njord was mildly surprised it mattered to her in the slightest.
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    Wed May 04, 2016 11:29 pm  

    Quote:
    “Aye,” she replied. “I would deny Captain Ristolier. Likewise, I would deny both Ruslan Heatherplains and Monek Friedrich. I do not trust the former, and while the latter is certainly brave, he is no warrior. He is a man of the soil and nothing more. To take him to the Land of Black Ice would be to dig for him a grave into which to clamber. I would also rebuff Mirka Daňo, as I find a woman of her sort unreliable and distasteful.”

    She paused after saying it, searching her eyes with his for reaction.

    Njord was mildly surprised it mattered to her in the slightest.


    Njord looked questioningly at the Captain. "Excuse, please. I am not understanding about Mirka. A woman of her sort?"
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    Thu May 05, 2016 12:39 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    That expression of disgust fled the Captain's features. "You would do well to avoid her," she replied. "Of the matter, I should say no more. My quarrel with her is...personal. I am wrong to involve it in the matter of your mission."

    She looked as if Njord might need a prying device to loose the whole of it from her.

    And quite a powerful one, at that.
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    Thu May 05, 2016 12:56 am  

    Quote:
    That expression of disgust fled the Captain's features. "You would do well to avoid her," she replied. "Of the matter, I should say no more. My quarrel with her is...personal. I am wrong to involve it in the matter of your mission."

    She looked as if Njord might need a prying device to loose the whole of it from her.

    And quite a powerful one, at that.


    Njord had never seen the Captain in such a state. Usually, she was like an adamantine soldier, ever guarded. But she had actually let her shield drop, and her visor had been raised, if only briefly. It was relentless effort wearing those suits of armor -- even she had to breathe at times.

    "I do not mean to cross private line, but perhaps i should know something of which you speak. If Mirka is not good person, or not worthy of journey, then mayhaps it should be known? As others of my fellows may wish to include her."
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    Thu May 05, 2016 4:28 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    "I do not mean to cross private line, but perhaps i should know something of which you speak. If Mirka is not good person, or not worthy of journey, then mayhaps it should be known? As others of my fellows may wish to include her."

    It was why they called her Fireheart, he supposed. She was a woman of powerful passions, much like the forebearers she had described to him. It made Njord wonder if perhaps this was why she could be so stern and hard: Perhaps it was the only way she could keep the flames of her emotions from consuming her?

    He watched the Captain take a deep breath. It was another small miracle: He could not swear to having ever noticed her do so before. “Mirka Daňo is…uncautious with the hearts of others,” she told him, perhaps a whisper of a sigh at the edge of her voice. “She is skilled at saying what she will to gain the trust of others. She takes what she wants, then leaves amongst a titter of laughter. Of what she leaves behind, she is unconcerned.”

    Njord watched the Captain’s eyes. Just as darksome clouds gathered to herald the approach of the storm, so he watched the color of her gaze slowly begin to change. It was something incredible to behold, something that left him breathtaken and awed. Before the topic of the woman had come up, they were as blue as the sum of all oceans.

    Now, they seemed as black as a broken heart.
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    Thu May 05, 2016 7:34 am  
    Re: Ohrin: A Matter of Propriety

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    “And there you have it,” Master Retlishin said. “All secrets are known.”

    He gave his head a slight tilt. “Have you any more questions, then?”


    Ohrin looked up from his furious note-taking upon hearing Retlishin's conclusion. "Thank you, no. I have just learned a great deal about some of my neighbors!" Ohrin added with a chuckle. "With this new knowledge, I am confident that my comrades and I will be able to better discuss each candidate's merits in greater detail."

    Ohrin then gathered up the books Master Retlishin was letting him borrow. "Thank you again. May the Lord of All Magic protect you during your trials ahead." With a deep bow, Ohrin turned to leave the chamber to meet back up with Verenna.
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    Thu May 05, 2016 9:00 am  

    Quote:
    Now, they seemed as black as a broken heart.


    The change in the captain's eyes, though perplexing and enticing at once, failed to leave him utterly spellbound. It almost seemed natural for her. Had he actually caught a glimpse of this before?

    "Captain...uh...Amarita, if you wish to speak more, please do. It may be help for making decision. If not, it is understood. Perhaps too private of matters?" After he spoke that sentence, saying her personal name, he was startled -- even more surprised than at the changing of her eyes.
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    Thu May 05, 2016 9:06 pm  
    Re: Sævil: The Howling

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    Nearer now to the mouth of the barrow. Sævil could see the flickering of some sort of flame within.

    The wolf-mistress awaited.


    Sævil breathes deeply and then calls out, "Milleen, may we speak? It's Sævil Dagsson!"
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    Sat May 07, 2016 5:21 am  
    Ohrin: A Notion of Propriety

    Ohrin looked up from his furious note-taking upon hearing Retlishin's conclusion. "Thank you, no. I have just learned a great deal about some of my neighbors!" Ohrin added with a chuckle. "With this new knowledge, I am confident that my comrades and I will be able to better discuss each candidate's merits in greater detail."

    “Excellent,” he replied, nodding gently. “If I have played some small role in the success of your expedition, than I am well-pleased.”

    Ohrin then gathered up the books Master Retlishin was letting him borrow. "Thank you again. May the Lord of All Magic protect you during your trials ahead."

    “Burning Eye watch over thee and your fellows,” Master Retlishin said. His lazy, ever-serene smile spread across his features. Ohrin watched him tumble the small vial of black ice over in his fingers, eventually gazing down upon it as if to muse over its virtues. What he might have thought about it, he said nothing.

    With a deep bow, Ohrin turned to leave the chamber to meet back up with Verenna.
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    Sat May 07, 2016 5:22 am  
    Ohrin: Above All, Location

    Master Retlishin had a very special section of the library reserved for his maps.

    It wasn’t special in the way that his chambers were, mind. The room extended out from a corner of the library secreted in the lowest portion of the tower, well beneath the frozen ground of the island. There, sealed behind a heavy iron door – the master was ever-wary of the outbreak of fire – were four walls of smooth stone. Perhaps ten feet on every side, it was completely bereft of the great stacks of dusty books and treatises beyond it. Instead, dozens of rods were held suspended from the ceiling from small hooks, directly above metal loops affixed to the floor. Upon these rods, scores of rolled parchment-skins hung. These were the Master’s collection of maps: As he deigned, he could pull any of them downward, affixing them to the metal rings, stretching them out for his inspection. Truly, it was an ingenious design; he had come to expect nothing less from Retlishin.

    When Ohrin entered the room, Verenna stood upon a chair, directly in its center. She was clearly trying to seem calm and undisturbed, in spite of the recent exertion he knew she’d undertaken. He was proud of himself that he managed not to laugh.

    In her arms, she held a long tube of bleached bone. “I have them,” she smiled.

    The maps or the mice – it was unclear to which she referred.
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    Sat May 07, 2016 5:22 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    The change in the captain's eyes, though perplexing and enticing at once, failed to leave him utterly spellbound. It almost seemed natural for her. Had he actually caught a glimpse of this before?

    "Captain...uh...Amarita, if you wish to speak more, please do. It may be help for making decision. If not, it is understood. Perhaps too private of matters?" After he spoke that sentence, saying her personal name, he was startled -- even more surprised than at the changing of her eyes.

    The Captain seemed unperturbed by his invocation of her given name. “It is hardly a private matter,” she countered. “Indeed, I rather would think everyone in Corus knows the sort of personage that Mirka Daňo is quite well, by now. She is a thief of hearts and an assassin of lovers. I simply…prefer not to discuss a woman of such lowly character whenever possible. I would not wish to speak aloud my true feelings regarding her – lest you think less of me for the sort of language that might fall from my lips.”

    She paused. The barest hint of a smile crossed her incredible features. “You know that names are important amongst my people, Wintercrown,” she told him. “Perhaps you’ve wondered why everyone in the settlement refers to me as simply Captain Fireheart. Did you know that the exchange of one’s given name is a gesture reserved between lovers, alone?”

    The darkness in her eyes was beginning to give way to blue once more, the moment of anger gone.

    “It traditionally indicates a desire to be wed.”
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    Sat May 07, 2016 5:23 am  
    Sævil: The Howling

    Sævil breathes deeply and then calls out, "Milleen, may we speak? It's Sævil Dagsson!"

    Outside, now inside the small domicile, the howling continued. The baying sounded something like a thousand lost souls crying out in the heart of the snowstorm. The wind seemed to take the sound, swirl it about in a chaotic whirlwind about him. There might have been five of the wolves; there might have been five hundred.

    From within the small cave, he heard a voice, somehow, amidst it all. “Come,” it bade him.
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    Sat May 07, 2016 7:13 am  
    Re: Ohrin: Above All, Location

    Kraftwerk wrote:
    In her arms, she held a long tube of bleached bone. “I have them,” she smiled.

    The maps or the mice – it was unclear to which she referred.


    "Excellent! Thank you very much for retrieving the map, I appreciate it." Ohrin then moved to stand near the chair, ready to assist her down.

    Once Ohrin had secured the map, and they had exited the chamber, Ohrin thanked Verenna for her earlier advice on the petitioners before saying his good-byes and heading to his quarters. Once there, he quickly gathers up almost all of his possessions before departing to head back to the headquarters.

    Once at the HQ, he will deposit his gear on one of the cots. He will then unpack until his comrades have returned and have indicated that they are ready to discuss the petitioners.
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    Sat May 07, 2016 4:28 pm  
    C2: The Outsiders / Fireheart's Sanctum / Njord

    Quote:
    I simply…prefer not to discuss a woman of such lowly character whenever possible. I would not wish to speak aloud my true feelings regarding her – lest you think less of me for the sort of language that might fall from my lips.”


    Njord actually smiled a little at this. That she would care about his thoughts for her, especially in regards to using bad language, was surprising -- even amusing.

    Quote:
    The darkness in her eyes was beginning to give way to blue once more, the moment of anger gone.

    “It traditionally indicates a desire to be wed.”


    Njord's mind raced. He managed to keep a sedate visage, but his brain was a maelstrom at sea on a hot, crystalline day -- sunshine and blue sky only enhancing the chaos via constrast. His thoughts whirled, attempting to cough forth an appropriate response from the vortex. The idea that he had somehow offered her a marriage proposal was alarming. But he wasn't even sure if that's what she meant by a given name. Wasn't Amarita her common name? He was confused, but he was sturdy against the floor, and his faculties were, for now, at his command. Even more steadying was discovering that this person before him was indeed that -- a person, and not just a suit of warrior's armor. She had vulnerabilities, and even wounds. She was real and, perhaps unfortunately, that made her even more attractive.

    "Captain," Njord started, returning to the more official moniker, "please let me speak for moment." Further organizing his thoughts, he continued, "I know nothing of Mirka, only what you have said. So if you have more details, please say, even with foul language. With your name, I meant only to bring things to more personal way. I am confused about these names and meanings. I am called Njord as common name. I thought same for Amarita. I would guess you are called Captain as Mayor Highmountain is called Mayor. But i would mean only informalness if i named her Kalindre, not make marriage to her."

    Njord became even more resolute. A fire burned in his belly, from slight anger and frustration, but also from definite desire. "I am afraid you have me at...dis-advantage. I am not knowing of these customs. And i am learning only little bit of you. You seem to know great deal of me. You even said these things in front of companions. You called me Witch-wife! If you were not woman or captain i would have struck you for such thing! I may have done same that you did to poor Albus for speaking ill of your woman-love!"
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    Sun May 08, 2016 6:01 am  
    Ohrin: Above All, Location

    "Excellent! Thank you very much for retrieving the map, I appreciate it." Ohrin then moved to stand near the chair, ready to assist her down.

    Amidst several crimson blotches all over the map room's floor, she took Ohrin's hand and stepped down. She offered him the bone case, lacquered and polished. It wasn't watertight, he could tell, but the hardened tube would protect the document nicely against violence, the same. "You're most welcome," she said, punctuating the comment with a frown and a sigh. "Though I've now a bit of a mess on my hands to clean, I fear."

    Once Ohrin had secured the map, and they had exited the chamber, Ohrin thanked Verenna for her earlier advice on the petitioners before saying his good-byes and heading to his quarters. Once there, he quickly gathers up almost all of his possessions before departing to head back to the headquarters.

    Once at the HQ, he will deposit his gear on one of the cots. He will then unpack until his comrades have returned and have indicated that they are ready to discuss the petitioners.

    Ohrin passed the guards at the front door, both of which acknowledged him with a greeting and a nod. He saw that they had finished the work on their pit and now huddled around a healthy fire -- albeit one that crackled and danced wildly in the thrall of every new gust of wind.

    When he entered the headquarters, he saw that it was empty. Sævil and Njord were nowhere to be found. Even sleeping Kahss had, at some point, seemingly vanished into thin air. Evidently, it seemed that they had set off, as he had done, to set their own affairs in order.

    As he began to lay claim to one of the cots and put arrange his belongings in such a way that pleased him, he noticed that one of the tables had been filled with many woven cloth baskets. Within them, he saw all forms of meats and cheeses, breads and sweets.

    Fresh, they smelled delicious.
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    Sun May 08, 2016 6:26 am  
    Njord: Sometimes it Snows in Readying

    "Captain," Njord started, returning to the more official moniker, "please let me speak for moment." Further organizing his thoughts, he continued, "I know nothing of Mirka, only what you have said. So if you have more details, please say, even with foul language."

    The Captain nodded. Perhaps emboldened by Njord's urging, she made a little face, as if she'd eaten something very unpalatable. "She is a hukaa, as the folk of my blood would mark her," she said. "In the words of men, you would dub her slut."

    Her bright blue eyes -- wait...now, did they seem to verge upon the green? -- seemed to search his to see how he might respond to what she'd said.

    "With your name, I meant only to bring things to more personal way. I am confused about these names and meanings. I am called Njord as common name. I thought same for Amarita. I would guess you are called Captain as Mayor Highmountain is called Mayor. But I would mean only informalness if i named her Kalindre, not make marriage to her."

    The Captain's expression changed. The edges of her lips tried to curl slightly. It seemed as if, perhaps, she wanted to smile...but perhaps, she simply didn't know how. Or had perhaps forgotten long ago. "Wintercrown," she began, then decided on an appellation anew, "Njord. Forgive me. I was...joking. You were smiling and making bird-wing-flappings with your arms." To his astonishment, she did the same, folding her hands at her sides in imitation of his gesture. "It seemed an appropriate time for humor."

    She sighed slightly. "This is incredibly embarrassing," she confessed. "I meant only to stoke your mirth. This is why I do not often try to do so."

    Njord became even more resolute. A fire burned in his belly, from slight anger and frustration, but also from definite desire. "I am afraid you have me at...dis-advantage. I am not knowing of these customs. And i am learning only little bit of you. You seem to know great deal of me. You even said these things in front of companions. You called me Witch-wife! If you were not woman or captain i would have struck you for such thing! I may have done same that you did to poor Albus for speaking ill of your woman-love!"

    She nodded. "It is my responsibility to know as much as I can of those under my command," she said. "You are correct: I know much of you. When you put your name forward to join my Guardsmen, and I decided you were an acceptable candidate -- I paid Master Retlishin much good coin to learn that which he could of you. I did this solely to know whether or not the folk of Corus could trust you to perform your duties; I did it to discover if I could trust you."

    "And again, I am humiliated," she met his eyes. "I have spent too much time amongst the olve. My sense of what is appropriate to discuss and that which is not is poorly-developed. I called you what I did as a statement of fact -- not an epithet or some bit of slander. I did this unknowing of the effect it might have upon you. I did this from a position of ignorance and for that, you have my sincerest apologies. Perhaps you might not find it in your heart to forgive me, Wintercrown...but I beg of you to do so, the same. I meant no harm."

    She sighed. Paused.

    "As for my woman-love," she said. "Clearly, you know of this. Then, it is no great secret. I hear the whispers of Corus' folk about it, when they think my back is turned and out of earshot. I know I am a source of scandal, in their eyes."

    "I wonder," she asked. "How do you view me, given what you know?"
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