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  #126  
Unread 2nd of July, 2004, 22:33
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Rhotha'ah

The Dorn pushes off the smaller Erenlander, cracking his neck loudly with the verterbrae clicking into the night. Stretching, he grins at Lyr before opening his mouth in a wide yawn. "Thank you my friend, but I should be fine to walk now. The frenzy took much more out of me than I had expected it to."

He looks over the new woman through tired eyes, and when he is introduced, he is slow to react, merely nodding in her direction. He turns to Aleina, tilting his head to the side. "Are we satisfied enough to leave this place now?"
  #127  
Unread 2nd of July, 2004, 22:45
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Dun

When Lyr introduces him, Dun gives Lyr a knowing, wry smile.

Still unsure of Aashya's purpose, and perhaps because he nature is a bit more suspicious than the others, Dun reluctantly nods back to her intently.

But when Lyr introduces himself as a scholar, Dun cocks an eye, surprised that he would even admit to such a thing, knowing full well the dangers of that profession.
  #128  
Unread 6th of July, 2004, 23:05
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Aleina

The group gathers in the unfortunate flair of a human bonfire, acrid smoke delivering it's fetid message. There was death here, and if they didn't leave there would probably be more. Her stern glance appraises the members of the company; Rhotha'ah seemed subdued, Dun reserved, Lyr jumpy, Heulwen sure and Aashya anything but.

"How fast will your mount go with the healer on his back?"

She frowns. Bombur would be carrying a good bit of weight - enough to make him slower than her.

"Probably about the same speed as you would make unmounted. Slower than me, and considerably slower than the pace Rhotha'ah can set. And you say covering our trail will slow us further . . .

"If that is true, then I do not think it is wise to risk it. What speed we can make will have to serve."

And we are already weary.

She shakes her head the bows it in thought. From the corner of her eye she can see Lyr sidle by and make his introductions to Aashya. She stiffens at the girl's reply.

Attacked?

"What happened to this assailant?"
  #129  
Unread 6th of July, 2004, 23:11
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Heulwen

"He ran, rather than risk another arrow from my bow," Heulwen replies to Aleina's question. "He was on the road, headed back towards Kingscross, but could easily stop and come back. That is part of the reason I would prefer to cut across country. There will be far less chance that we shall encounter him that way."

Mounting Cytaill, Heulwen gestures to the others, "Shall we get moving?"
  #130  
Unread 9th of July, 2004, 13:14
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The nine move through the shallow valley leaving nothing but blood and a burning corpse in their wake. The flames lick greedily at both flesh and tinder and the smell of cooked flesh intensifies. Yet they might bear the horrific odor if only to stand by a fire for a few moments. The rest of the night is chill, colder than before, and they might not have any warmth until daybreak. If they survive until then.

Worried glances are cast over tired shoulders. At any moment they expect to see the Hound again, refortified and being flanked by a dozen men-at-arms, or worse, orcs. Yet nothing disturbs them as they cross the valley and crest the hill. Their make shift torches provide little light, but it serves well enough.

Desperate for speed, Aleina starts coaxing Bombur to move faster, but the mule will have none of it. His ears flatten at her words, but he won't, or can't, move faster. The Healer sits across the mule's back, hands lightly woven into Bombur's mane.

The dorn begins to shake some of the fatigue of battle from his muscles only to find a deeper fatigue waiting for him. He closes his heavy eyelids and opens them again meeting Dun's gaze. Rhotha'ah can tell the erenlander feels the same.

Heulwen and Aashya move along, their brief sleep temporarily invigorating their bodies, but it is only a matter of time before they'll need to rest again. The halfling can feel Cytaill take an easy pace, unwilling to push himself. Together they press ahead of the party, but not too far.

In contrast Lyr feels awake, alive. Perhaps it's the rush of combat, or more likely it's the tingle of Aleina's arcane energy. It feels as if his nerves are aflame and he likes it. Silently he basks in the intangible warmth and for a time he forgets his disability.

Aleina walks along side Bombur and the Healer, keeping one hand on the mule's flank. She's tired. Her muscles are sore from walking, and her body is weary from fear. Looking around she sees some of the others feel the same. They can't do this for very long.

The knolls and hillocks come and go, rising and falling beneath their boots. Yet soon the land evens out and they walk among dying sword grass, the sharp brown stalks fading in the face of autumn. Small clouds of dirt are kicked up with each step as they cut through the grasslands, careful to keep away from the sword grass.

High above the stars watch, making their way across the sky. To Aleina they've never seemed as cold or as distant as they do tonight, but perhaps it's simply the whisper of fatigue in her ear.

Time passes, an hour perhaps, and they stop briefly to feed Bombur. The break provides little rest and it's clear they will not be going much further tonight.
  #131  
Unread 9th of July, 2004, 20:57
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Aashya

As they walk along, the silence around them - between them - seems to grow. Yes there is the muffled sound of their feet scuffling the ground; some softly, others less so. And there is the occasional sound that Aleina makes as she coaxes the recalcitrant donkey. But the land seems dead around them; even the wind has died down, no longer hissing through the tall grasses.

Aashya lets the silence envelop her. She plods along in a cocoon of her own thoughts, her eyelids growing heavier with each step. No words are spoken by anyone. Heulwen and Cytaill lead the way; the rest follow. There's evidently nothing to talk about.

One of the things she hates most about walking is all the time it leaves her with nothing to do but think. Aashya has done too much of it over the last few days. It's hard to keep her mind from going in circles, trying to remember things that just won't come back to her. Even with the nignt's events as fresh fodder, her brain insists on trying to make sense of her past.

What's in Greenfield that makes it so important? Something about the place fills her with hope, even bringing a melancholy smile to her lips as she walks. She can almost remember...... something........ But it's always just out of reach.

She shakes her head, tired of pondering. The party has come to a stop for the time being, taking a little rest. Feeling her mouth parched and her throat raw from the cold, dry air, Aashya reaches for her waterskin and takes a small sip. Others are doing the same.

Her eyes meet those of the scholar, Lyr. He's an Erenlander; maybe he knows the area. She hesitates a moment, then wraps her cloak more closely around her bare arms and walks over to him.

"Cold," she says, her breath steaming slightly. "I'm not used to it." Lyr notes that she has a slight, but noticeable, southern accent.

She stows the waterskin, rearranging her pack to sit more comfortably on her shoulders. Then she continues awkwardly. "I-I've heard that it snows in this part of the world. Are you... are you from around here?"

Last edited by Kelemyn; 9th of July, 2004 at 21:19.
  #132  
Unread 9th of July, 2004, 21:56
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Heulwen

Cytaill seems unwilling to move very quickly, but as Heulwen is in no mood to push him either, that works out alright. They move easily, occasionally moving ahead of the others, who are restrained to the slow speed of the mule, and then sliding back to rejoin them.

Fortunately there is little to worry about. In deciding to cut across country, Heulwen seems to have made a correct decision. They encounter no one else and only have to battle their own fatigue.

After traveling a little over an hour the group is forced to stop to feed Bombour and it becomes clear that they cannot go much further tonight.

"Wait here. I will find us a suitible campsite. Then we can set up watches and get some proper rest. We won't get much farther if we run ourselves into the ground."

Directing Cytaill away from the group, Heulwen uses her instincts and skills, honed by months of surviving on her own, to find a copse or depression that might hide them all from prying eyes.
  #133  
Unread 10th of July, 2004, 03:06
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Aleina

The chill night devolves into the muffled, mechanical tread of feet broken by the occaisional crackling protestation of dormant underbrush. The newly revealed channeler is withdrawn, contemplating the recent past with eyes colder than the night around them. The truth weighs on her neck like a brick balanced on a reed: she is now hunted as much as the man they seek to protect. Her new found companions were guilty by association - should anything happen to them it was her fault.

Tears almost come to her eyes, but they remain frozen in the pit of her stomach. To heal others made her whole, but in healing them was she not also damning them? It was an old dilemma for her, one made only too real before. If that was all that troubled her, perhaps she would not be so grim.

The Hound. She had used the magic against him; had -for one brief fleeting moment- wished she could use her gift to hurt him as he tried to hurt her. It was wrong. It wasn't what she was about.

How am I to protect myself without harming him?

The question is irrelevant to Bombur, who seems to sense that her energy is placed elsewhere. Her half-hearted attempts at getting him to move more quickly are ignored and she doesn't bother pushing the issue. He's smart enough to get away with it, but ultimately he might regret it.

And then there was Lyr. The self proclaimed scholar had been careful to stay clear of her, his face somewhat aghast any time she chanced to meet his gaze. She didn't know what had happened, how she had tapped this man's strength for her own use but clearly he knew what she had done. It compounded her feelings, making her wonder who or what she was becoming when she wanted one man dead and was inadvertantly injuring a friend.

Almost before she realizes it, Heulwen is looking for a campsite, and she looks around at the others. They all need rest. Her legs are leaden and cramping, her back aching from the weight of her pack. Yet she had not faltered, driving herself as hard as those bigger and stronger, the strength of her mind making up for the deficiencies in her body. She pats Bombur reassuringly, though he doesn't seem particularly upset. Her gaze travels to the healer, having avoided thinking about him as much as possible. She could not avoid him forever though.

Lucien.

The Hound had named him, and somehow having a name made him seem more real, more vulnerable than he had back in his little home. She studies his posture, the look in his eyes, the slackness of his muscles and then sends her senses deeper, searching for some clue as to the source of the spell that surely surrounds him.

<OOC: Spellcraft +7 to identfy the spell in place.>

Last edited by Gralhruk; 10th of July, 2004 at 03:09.
  #134  
Unread 10th of July, 2004, 16:22
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Lyr

Wrapped in his own thoughts, Lyr wanders ahead under the autumn stars. Unlike those around him, his step feels light and full of vitality; for now, the knowledge that in some small way, he can channel wins out over the painful rejection he feels from Aleina. In a sense, he bared his soul to her; whatever she saw there repelled her. But not even this depressing thought cannot adhere to his mind at this moment, even though the young outcast was normally so willing to entertain dark thoughts. The feeling of energy surging forth form within him remains on his fingertips as more than a memory, nearly tangible. Heady. All-consuming.

After some time, he breaks out of his reverie just a little, and glancing back he sees the fatigued band of men, women and animals. A spasm of guilt or embarrassment crosses his face - and meeting Aleina’s eyes for just a moment (and ignoring the crackle her translucent gaze sends through his spine), he sees something similar... or is it fear? Or revulsion?

He slows to rejoin the others, but after just a few more minutes of traveling Bombur puts voice to everyone’s thoughts. His indignant, stubborn braying states louder than words: no further! As Heulwen scouts out their campsite, Lyr thrusts his hands into his armpits, feeling the cold that has seeped into his extremities for the first time.

"Cold. I'm not used to it... I-I've heard that it snows in this part of the world. Are you... are you from around here?"

He looks up as Aashya speaks to him, his narrow browns climbing in polite interest. Talking about the weather? It strikes him as a horribly prosaic way to start a conversation, but from the Sarcosan girl’s lips, it seems awkward and not at all artificial.

“I’m afraid it’s going to get worse. It’s only mid-autumn... still plenty of cold to come.” He frowns slightly. “I don’t think you... we... have to worry about the cold, though... it hasn’t snowed south of the Pellurian in, uhmm... seven years, or thereabouts.”

He stretches an arm out, pointing in what he thinks is a north-western direction.

“I was born... near Baden’s Bluff, about one hundred leagues in that direction. But I was raised, well,” Lyr suddenly looks pained as a wave of knotted emotions rises up like vomit inside him, but he forces it back down. The scars on his back itch horribly, and he shifts his shoulders uncomfortably under his tunic.

“I was raised... not so near the city.” He coughs, and adds, “it was a lonely sort of place. What about you? If you were born in the far south, you’re further from home than I. What brought you to Kingscross, and what out of it?” He looks down at the dark, lean young woman, meeting her gaze as best he can, and tries to inject some kindness into his tone.

Last edited by Dirigible; 10th of July, 2004 at 16:24.
  #135  
Unread 10th of July, 2004, 16:42
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Rhotha'ah

The cold doesn't effect the Dorn nearly as much as it does the Erenlanders or the Sarcosan, the blood of the Notherners keeping the chill away easier. Still, it can't keep the fatigue from his body, and that is what he feels the most.

As the company comes to a halt, Rhotha'ah sits himself atop a fallen tree next to the mule, stroking the animal's muzzle softly as Heulwen disappears, presumably looking for a camping ground for the evening. He would talk to someone, even the mule if it would listen, but the fact is it would require far too much effort than the large warrior could muster.
  #136  
Unread 11th of July, 2004, 01:34
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Aashya

She likes listening to Lyr talk. His manner is relatively easy-going, considering the circumstances, reminding her a little of her friend, Gylda.

There probably won't be snow any time soon, he says. A small part of her is childishly disappointed at that. And he's not exactly a local boy, hailing from a place that's leagues upon leagues away. He still might know something about Greenfield though. A change comes over him when he talks about where he was brought up. He becomes rigid and looks almost like he might be sick. But the tension is short-lived, and he goes on to ask about her.

She ought to have seen that coming.

A look of dismay crosses her face momentarily, and she lowers her gaze. It's not that she's ashamed exactly. But having to admit that she can only remember the last six months or so of her life makes her feel small and weak.

"Kingscross?" she asks, quickly skipping over any mention of where she was born. "I don't know where that is. I've been avoiding towns pretty much. Avoiding people too. It seemed wise, you know, since I'm a gir- er, woman traveling alone. Rathor said it would be better that way...... Um, Rathor's a gnome....... I'm, uh, from the river. I mean, I used to live with the gnomes. On the river."

She stops now that she's begun to babble, and looks around. Heulwen has gone off to look for a good place to camp. The big Northman is resting. Aleina seems to be tending to the donkey.

"I'm sorry," she says finally, taking a deep breath before continuing. "The gnomes were kind enough to take me in when I needed help. I lived with them for a while. But I had to leave... I have to find a place called Greenfield.

"I thought maybe since you people... well, you all seem to know where you're going. I thought maybe you would know something about it... what it's like....."

...what's so special about it that I can't get the name out of my head?
  #137  
Unread 11th of July, 2004, 08:12
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Lyr

Seeing her reaction - embarrassment? - Lyr wonders if he’s upset her somehow. This whole ‘talking to people’ thing is a rather new experience to him. Particularly gir-... women.

"Kingscross? I don't know where that is.”

“Oh, I didn’t realise. I’d assumed you where there, and I’d somehow missed you. Kingscross is a town that way,” he indicates the way they came, “where we, that is Dun, Aleina, Rhotha’ah and myself, met. Heulwen was keeping her distance, wisely, I thought.”

“I've been avoiding towns pretty much. Avoiding people too. It seemed wise, you know, since I'm a gir- er, woman traveling alone.”

He nods, noting that she looks as unarmed as he, but wears pretty jewelery - the silver arm band looks especially nice against her honey-coloured skin, and with those tattoos - concentrate, Lyr!. “Yes. That what I’ve been doing on my travels, mostly. Though I have found a few farmsteads willing to trust and trade, and Kingscross itself was a kind enough place.

“Rathor said it would be better that way...... Um, Rathor's a gnome....... I'm, uh, from the river. I mean, I used to live with the gnomes. On the river. I'm sorry. The gnomes were kind enough to take me in when I needed help. I lived with them for a while. But I had to leave... I have to find a place called Greenfield.”

He frowns. “Gnomes? Were you that desperate? Surely those collaborators are more likely to turn an outlaw over to her pursuers than aid her. You know deeply they’re in league with the orcs and the baalathtomei... uhh, the legates.” Light. Did I just say that? He cringes mentally, having used the shadow-priests secret, Black Tongue name for themselves. Just as, unbeknownst to him, Aashya had done a moment before, he rapidly changes the subject.

“Know where we're going?" He grins. "I don't know how you got that impression..."

"Greenfield, you say? Humm. I may have heard of it... I’ll need to consult my book.”

Last edited by Dirigible; 11th of July, 2004 at 08:16.
  #138  
Unread 11th of July, 2004, 10:44
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Aashya

"...Surely those collaborators are more likely to turn an outlaw over to her pursuers than aid her..."

"I'm not an outlaw!"

I don't think I'm an outlaw. Could I be an outlaw?

Aashya's hand - the one not holding the torch aloft - strays protectively to her abdomen, and the scar (still tender after all this time) hidden under her layers of clothing.

"The gnomes aren't like that," she goes on, defiantly, vehemently. "You don't know them at all."

And what is that gibberish he's speaking? 'Ball-uth-tummy'- whatever...

But now the conversation is getting somewhere. He may have heard about Greenfield. He's taking something out of his pack. A book! Aashya stands quietly, more than a little in awe of it. She holds the torch closer to Lyr that he may see - that she may see - its pages better by its light.
  #139  
Unread 11th of July, 2004, 11:33
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Lyr

Lyr withdraws the large, leather-bound tome from the secret cloth pocket in his pack, performing his little maintenance ritual over it; smoothing the covers reverently, brushing grit from the brass cornerguards, adjusting the latch, before finally opening it and working his way through the thick, parchment pages. Already, his mind is assimilating all the new facts and tales he has learned today, and planning to add them to the book.

To Aashya, the pages are a welter of varied sketches, everything from the layout of a particular ruin to a perfect rendering of a feather; the watercourses of the northern plains in different shades of ink for the different seasons, and a detailed drawing of a crossbow’s trigger mechanism. Writing covers every inch of parchment without a drawing, Erenlander and a few bits of Trader’s Script, lettered in an elegant, careful hand Old legends rub serifs with scraps of mathematical calculation, endless lists of dates and measurements, first and second hand reports of everything under the sun.

"I'm not an outlaw!"

Was the Sarcosan any taller or more physically imposing than she is, Lyr would have flinched at the force in her voice. As always, he hates confrontation. He looks up from the lorebook, ready to apologize, but then stops -

“But, you’re traveling.” He explains gently. “That’s against the Occupier’s law. They like us to stay where we are put.”

"The gnomes aren't like that. You don't know them at all."

“Well... no, I’ve never actually met a gnome.” Or even anyone who’s met one himself... it was always a friend of this man who met my brother-in-law... “Perhaps you’re right. I’m sorry. I was working from what I’ve read and heard...” He ducks his head apologetically.

He doesn’t say what a nasty part of his mind adds: If it comes to a choice in believing what’s in my books or the word of a confused girl... I choose my books, each and every time!

Lyr returns his attention to the book, thumbing through it for any information about Greenfield... and following that, this man they call ‘the Hound’. Perhaps tales of men or creatures that can track through mystic means, other than sniffer-demons?
  #140  
Unread 11th of July, 2004, 21:25
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Aashya

"But, you’re traveling. That’s against the Occupier’s law. They like us to stay where we are put."

This is true, and Aashya knew it even before she protested. She is not where she is supposed to be, and that would mean big trouble for her if she were caught. But she still hadn't considered herself to be an Outlaw before now.

She feels herself scowling, and realizes that her anger is making the poor scholar uncomfortable. It was the 'gnomes-are-collaborators' remark that did it. People always want to believe that the gnomes are in cahoots with the Shadow. No. That isn't true. The gnomes themselves want people to believe that they're in cahoots with the Shadow. That's how they protect themselves. It was foolish, and nearly a betrayal, for Aashya to say otherwise. She lets her anger dissipate, easily done with Lyr being so conciliatory. She says nothing further about her old rescuers.

Lyr turns back to the book. Aashya watches his eyes flick back and forth, up and down, as he scans the parchment pages. The pictures draw the young Sarcosan's attention. There's one drawing of a plant with tiny clusters of bell-shaped flowers labelled Sweet Woodruff.

The leaves may be used to make May Wine.


Aashya is astonished to realize that she is able to read the Erenlander script! She mouths the words slowly as she looks over Lyr's shoulder.

Look for the herb in meadows and ......

Too slow. Lyr is already turning the page. Aashya continues to read snippets of mostly meaningless lore, delighted with her newly discovered skill, while Lyr thumbs through the book.

Last edited by Kelemyn; 11th of July, 2004 at 22:04.
  #141  
Unread 13th of July, 2004, 14:56
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There is a very good reason the Westlands is not heavily populated: it isn't particularly hospitable. The villages that occasionally dot the landscape are small oases. Much of the great plains are dry through the year, with dust storms more common than rain. The wind is picking up now, sending shards of blade grass whipping through the air. Those with cloaks wrap themselves in the cloth and put their backs to the wind to ward themselves from both the chill and the bits of dried grass. Blade grass is not as sharp as a blade, but it can cut.

The young scholar is right, it hasn't snowed south of the sea of Pelluria in eight years, but if the weather continues to be as cool as it is tonight, snowflakes might just dot the Westlands come the Arc of Hisha.

Heulwen

Heulwen hunches her shoulders while Cytaill moves her away from the others. She keeps her body close to the wogren who seems to neither mind the cold nor the blade grass. A fine cloud of dust, proppeled by the wind, passes over them, leaving a light coating of dirt on the pair.

Squinting in the darkness, Heulwen cannot find much in the way of shelter. No copses of banock trees can be seen. Yet it's probably just as well. The banock trees host a wealth of life, and she knows that where there's life, there's predators. The last thing they need is to come across a pride of grass cats. One of the fellow, no, former slaves bore the scars from an encounter with one of the beasts. The flesh on his side had been raked open and had puckered instead of healing smoothly. When asked how he survived, the old halfling had chuckled and looked around at the slave camp.

"Guess I was just lucky."

The land is fairly flat but at last she spies a spot to get out of the wind and sight. It isn't so much a valley as a depression in the landscape, but it will have to serve. Things could get ugly if they were caught in a dust storm while sleeping in the open. Yet if a dust storm does happen it would obscure their tracks. She ponders the benefits while weaving back and forth between thatches of tall blade grass.

Lyr

Greenfield. The name seems only dimly familiar to Lyr, but after studying Pitas's maps he'd be surprised if there was a town of note in Aeryth that he hadn't have heard of, even if he knew nothing about it. Yet the name of the town fails to spark any knowledge.

Heulwen and Cytail are engulfed by the darkness within a few moments of their passing and Lyr takes this brief respite to flip through one of his books. The man has grown used to carrying them that he's almost to the point of forgetting that he would be at the very least be beaten should he be caught with them.

Like the others he puts his back to the wind, but more out of concern for protecting his book from the blade grass and dirt than for his own comfort. Pages flick under his fingers while he searches for Greenfield. Minutes pass and he almost closes the book in frustration before coming across a brief passage mentioning the village. Apparently the remnants of the crushed noble family Fairfax fled to Greenfield after Izrador's victory. Beyond that, he cannot find anything of note.

All

It isn't long before the halfling returns, having found a spot with a little shelter. She leads them back toward it, half of those following her are almost dead on their feet. Dun nearly falls into blade grass as tall as his shoulder, but Lyr's grabs the young man by his sleeve and steadies him. They need rest and they need it now. Fortunately the spot isn't too far away.

Aleina is dead to the world. Cowl pulled tightly about her her mind attacks the problem at hand: what has the Hound done to the Healer, to Lucien? The words had seemed familiar, but she hadn't recognized the spell then. She wracks her brain in hindsight, trying to recall the words, trying to put meaning to them. The Hound had done something to the Healer's mind, that much is clear, but the specifics elude her. She doesn't think it should be permanent. Perhaps the best thing for him is sleep. Casting a glance at the Healer she sees he's fallen asleep, pitched forward, his arms are wrapped loosely around Bombur's neck.

The dip in the plains gives them a little shelter from the cold and the bits of sharp grass. It doesn't appear comfortable, but to the weary nine it feels as good as any feather bed. Mechanically the healer dismounts and promptly curls up on the ground and within moments he's asleep once more.

Last edited by Cadrius; 14th of July, 2004 at 00:41.
  #142  
Unread 13th of July, 2004, 23:00
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Heulwen

Unsaddling Cytaill once everyone is in the small depression, Heulwen looks at the others, appraising their condition. With this many people and the possibility of the Hound on their trail they would need to set a watch.

Aleina, Dun, and Rhotha'ah look almost dead on their feet. None of them would be any good for either a watch or travel for many hours. Lyr and Aashya are in about the same shape as herself, which is to say, in need of sleep, but capable of staying up a bit longer. The healer, well, he was still in some kind of trance. There was little chance that he'd be taking any kind of watch anytime soon.

Looking up at the sky, Heulwen notes the position of the stars and moon. Still several hours to daybreak, but not enough that they would be able to get moving when the sun came up. As a group they were simply too tired.

"I'll take first watch," Heulwen states simply, "my eyes are the best at night and most of the rest of you need to sleep. I'll wake Aashya and Lyr in a few hours. The rest of you can take a final short watch after the sun's up. You'll be able to see as well as I can then.
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Unread 14th of July, 2004, 11:22
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The others, including Cytaill, are quickly asleep. Each laying a short distance from another companion. It isn't cold enough tonight to warrant huddling for body heat, instead they gather a sense of safety, a sense of security, amidst a rather tough land. Yet the Hound is out there, likely furious at the escape of his quarry. Even now they can almost feel him hunting them down like a dornish hunter persuing a wounded boro.

Heulwen settles herself in for a lonely four hours. It's the dead of night and nothing stirs across their patch of the Westlands but for the blowing wind. She notices it rarely actually stops, it merely blows harder or softer. The fine coat of dirt she'd collected while scouting is quickly replenished. Yet her watch passes and nothing goes amiss. No Hound flanked by an orcish warband, nothing. She isn't certain whether she should be relieved or worried.

Aashya and Lyr wake easily enough. Neither look to have slept well on the rough ground. They aren't used to travel yet it seems, especially not in the Westlands.

Grateful to rest her weary body, Heulwen curls up next to Cytaill and falls asleep. The two on watch look at each other and settle in for a chill, windy night.
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Unread 14th of July, 2004, 13:20
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Lyr

Lyr rises from the bundle of blankets he slept under, stretching his aching shoulders and trying to work out the stiffness the ground seemed to have transfered to him by osmosis. Grimacing at the nippy air, he stoops and picks up the cloak he had been using as a pillow, shakes the grit off it and wraps it tighty around himself. His dark, somber eyes are bagged and limmed in sleep and his hair is dishevelled.

For a few minutes, he pads around the camp, familiarising himself with its layout and the immediate area. Satisfied, he returns to the point picked out for the watchers. When Aashya joins him, he speaks to her in a low voice:

"I'm afraid that there is little my notes can tell you about Greenfield. I found an oblique reference to the survivors of a noble family seeking sanctuary there after the Last Battle, but other than that," he gives her an apologetic smile, "...I can't even point you in the right direction." He gives her an I-Wish-I-Could-Help look, and then falls quiet.

As the night wears on, Lyr has to fight to stay awake. He rests his chin on his knees, listening to the night around him, but in time forgets to do even this. He begins to file and sort his thoughts in the way he was always taught to, putting them into order and words that he can scribe into his lorebook when dawn comes around. He exchanges small talk with Aashya if she brings it up, but otherwise sits quietly, lost in his thoughts.
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Unread 14th of July, 2004, 20:17
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Aashya

Hunched, and wrapped in their cloaks, Aashya and Lyr look like odd bundles propped up among the sleeping forms of their companions. They occupy opposites sides of the camp to keep their watch, Aashya choosing the side that has Bombur in it. The donkey's body radiates a little heat and manages to block some of the chill wind that blows relentlessly down into the hollow. And oddly, there's something vaguely comforting about his animal smell. It reminds her of........ something good.

To keep awake, she goes over the night's events in her mind, from the boom of thunder out of the clear sky, to her conversation with Lyr before they reached camp. She remembers Heulwen's deadly aim, Aleina's graceful calm, Dun's cautious glances, and the big Northman's weapons worn in the open. Lyr said that they all met in Kingscross, and the way he said it made her think that they had met relatively recently.

How did the Healer fit into the picture? She should have asked Lyr, but after saying too much about the gnomes, Aashya had been reluctant to open her mouth again. She had barely mumbled a hasty 'thanks' to the scholar for the scanty information on Greenfield he'd gleaned from his book, before scooting away to her watch position for the rest of the night.

Aashya lifts her head, and scans the dark perimeter of the camp again. It should be dawn soon, or so Heulwen had said when she'd woken her. There's no glimmer of pale morning light yet, however.......
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Unread 19th of July, 2004, 04:02
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Aashya

The few hours before dawn always have a timeless quality to them and Aashya learns this tonight. Has she ever been awake at this hour before? She isn't sure, but she doubts it. The sky expands overhead but it seems to be getting darker. Stars are blotted out by rolling clouds coming from the west. She blanches at the sight, as if it needs to be any harder to see.

Lyr's upright form is nearby but she can tell from his slow, deep breath that he's fallen asleep with his body propped up against his belongings. Watching the scholar reminds Aashya of her literacy; she smiles at the thought. A peasant wouldn't know how to read, not a normal one anyway. But if not a peasant then what? A merchant's daughter? A noblewoman's servant? Her ability to read opens up a world of questions for the young woman.

Lost in her thoughts Aashya doesn't notice the slow creep of pre-dawn light spreading through the sky. The clouds that arrived earlier have now made it overhead and stretch like tendrils toward the east. She hopes it won't rain.

Dawn comes not with a blaze of sunlight, but with a lightening of the land. The sky is fully overcast when Aashya, weary from a very stressful night, wakes Dun and Rhotha'ah. The dorn is particularly drowsy and she has to shake the man's shoulder forcefully to rouse him. When she moves to put a hand on Aleina she sees the woman's eyes are already open.

The two notice the healer has awoken and is sitting upright, scratching his jaw.
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