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  #326  
Unread 12th of July, 2006, 22:40
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Heulwen

Gesturing towards the direction that she and Aaysha came from, Heulwen lets Aaysha lead the way back to the others for the stranger.

She, however, hangs behind ever so slightly to check the area around the tree that Aswad had climbed to make sure that there is nothing else to be worried about. Once satisfied that everything is as normal as could be expected in a haunted wood, Heulwen calls Cytaill to her side and heads back to rejoin the others.
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  #327  
Unread 13th of July, 2006, 05:59
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Aashya

Feeling curious about the Sarcosan man, Aashya forgets herself for a moment and simply stares at him. She'd like to ask him where exactly he is from, but then he might come back and ask her the same question. How would she answer?

He is like me, and yet not like me... she thinks to herself as she leads the way back to where Aleina and the others wait. She watches him out of the corner of her eye as they walk. His skin is dark like mine, but not quite as dark. His hair is very black, mine is more brown. He is almost as tall as a Dorn! It feels very strange, after all the time she had been with the gnomes and then these Erenlanders, to walk with a fellow Sarcosan.

Back in the clearing, the others stare also as Aashya returns with the stranger. "Heulwen found him," she explains using the Trader Tongue for Soradur's benefit. "His name is Aswad."

She turns to look at him again, then realizes she has neglected to introduce herself. "I am called Aashya. Aswad, these are my friends."
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  #328  
Unread 15th of July, 2006, 09:35
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"I am called Aashya..."

Aashya...Aswad struggles to retain his composure. So close...the same eyes, same delicately arched lips, the same lithe frame. The resemblance is uncanny, but...

But it couldn't be her. Images of orcs wading through bloody water wash over him, their heavy blades hewing limb and splitting torso.

"...Aswad, these are my friends."

He suddenly realizes that they are looking at him. "Cool water and shade to you all," he says as he bows.

Last edited by -J-; 15th of July, 2006 at 09:38.
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  #329  
Unread 16th of July, 2006, 10:21
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"Cool water and shade to you all."

The phrase stirs echoes from the past for Aashya. She smiles, wrapped in the comfort of that familiarity. But the others do not warm quickly to the stranger.

"He must be all right," Aashya assures them. "Heulwen said it was OK to bring him here.

"And if he gives us any trouble, Rhotha’ah and Soradur can thrash him!" Her teeth flash white as she laughs, a rare thing from this usually quiet, even melancholy girl. It seems that the Sarcosan's presence has awakened a new mood in her. She smiles at Aswad, a smile of tentative camaraderie and fellowship.
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  #330  
Unread 19th of July, 2006, 03:20
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Aleina

"And greetings to you, Aswad. I am Aleina. Heulwen and Aashya you have met. With me are Soradur, Rhotha'ah, and Dun."

The channeler remains completely still and outwardly calm, eyes never leaving the sarcosan man, though her thoughts are less serene. Aashya was correct: Heulwen would never knowingly allow an enemy to enter and the halfling was mistrustful by nature. More disturbing than Aswad himself was Aashya's reaction - almost bubbling with delight, a very out of character emotion for the girl. It crosses Aleina's mind that the man might have worked some sort of charm on the pair of them. Her voice stays friendly and conversational, though her eyes are unblinking.

"You are from Fairbrook?"
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  #331  
Unread 19th of July, 2006, 14:44
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Aswad nods politely to each in turn, his bow to Soradur only slightly longer and more respectful than the others.

"I am not from Fairbrook, although my travels have brought me here."
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  #332  
Unread 24th of July, 2006, 02:56
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Aashya

"I heard you talking to Heulwen," Aashya cuts in. "You said.. you said something about it not being too late to save someone. Do you mean the women from the farms around here?

"We were just talking about that ourselves. I think we should try to do something." Aashya touches her neck, and Aswad notices some slight bruising and blistering of the skin there. "One of those fell almost caught me last night. Aleina says there is a ruined and burned church in these woods somewhere. She thinks the women might be there."
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  #333  
Unread 25th of July, 2006, 05:30
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Heulwen

With misinterpretations of her motives abounding, Heulwen allows the conversation to go on unabated. It was far better to have the stranger here, surrounded by her companions where she could keep an eye on him than out there, doing the gods know what. For all she knew of him, he was an agent of legates. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Rule number 2 of staying alive. Only to be invoked in a failure of rule 1, but sounde advice nevertheless.
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  #334  
Unread 26th of July, 2006, 04:51
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Talking about it...well, its a start at least.

"Aleina right? Would you happen to have a better idea as to where this temple is?"
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  #335  
Unread 27th of July, 2006, 04:16
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Aleina

"Perhaps. The villagers told me what they knew but that was little enough. They do not go into these woods."

She regards him for a while longer, as if seeking with her gaze to bore into his mind and read what is written there. He could be just like them - looking for a worthy cause in a land of despair. There was no way to know just by looking at him.

"What is your stake in this?"
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  #336  
Unread 27th of July, 2006, 14:03
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"All sunshine makes a desert..." his voice trails off as he stands there quietly for a moment. "I have no stake in any of this," he says to Aleina, pausing at the end as if he were going to say more, but instead falls silent. He can feel their eyes on him, her eyes on him. His words, like his heart, drown beneath the muted patter of rain falling through the leaves around them.

"I must be going," he says at length. He then bows and turns toward the heart of the forest.

Last edited by -J-; 30th of July, 2006 at 14:03.
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  #337  
Unread 1st of August, 2006, 04:34
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Aleina

That simple, resigned leave-taking softened her heart far more than any eloquently phrased argument could have. It reminded her uncannily of Feyd - a good man walking into the arms of death. It was more than just a brave gesture, it was proof positive that spirit could not be stamped out as easily as an army.

"Wait."

The single word is quiet but clear as a silver bell.

"I have been unfair. The world is not a friendly place, and I have let caution overrule sense. Will you not stay a while so that we might talk further?"
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  #338  
Unread 1st of August, 2006, 17:24
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Well handled...as usual Aswad...

"You are wise not to trust," his eye dart across their faces from beneath his cowl. What else is there to say? Come follow me into the abyss? Please throw your lives away with me for a bunch of farmers who would sooner sell you piecemeal to the Dark One himself?

They're complicating everything. What about the plan? Go into the woods, destroy evil or die trying. Short, simple, decisive. He liked that plan. It was a good plan. Now there was the dance - the interplay of balancing need and ego, risk and reward, trust and suspicion.

It was easier to be alone.

Then why did he feel so hollow inside. The looks on their faces at Aashya's banter, those intangible ties of friendship forged in adversity. The bonds of camaraderie that bound each of them in hope and trust. His chest felt like it was caving in under the pressure of its memory.

Such things are only for the worthy.

"But talking in the rain will not end this."

He turns and continues into the forest.
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  #339  
Unread 2nd of August, 2006, 12:41
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Aashya

"You can't go," Aashya says abruptly, and hurries to stand between Aswad and his path. "I mean.. you can't go alone."

Is he brave or foolhardy? she wonders, searching his face for a sign of what was driving him. He's no beggar though he tries to look like one. Not a beggar, not a farmer. What is he then?

"Have you battled the fell before now?" she asks him, suddenly sure that he is a fighter if nothing else. "These fell are different. Their motives are different, I think." She remembers the lust she saw in the eyes of the fell that attacked her last night. Her breath catches in her throat as she recalls the powerful dead fingers that held her fast, that tried to drag her down. "And they are strong," she adds. "One alone would kill you."

Don't go. I want to hear you speak some more. Say something else like, "All sunshine makes a desert..." I can almost remember things when I listen to you talk.

"I will go too. I want to help." She looks back at the others. "Aleina.. Heulwen. We should go with him."
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  #340  
Unread 3rd of August, 2006, 23:43
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Aleina

The channeler is not used to being rebuffed. For a moment, she considers imbuing her voice with the full weight of her power. It was so foolish to go in search of death when that death would achieve nothing. But she makes the decision to remain silent, to let him go and spend his life how he would: in the end, it was the action that counted, not the result. Unless Izrador himself fell, all deaths in defiance of his rule were identical.

Aleina watches impassively as Aashya makes her plea and her offer. So eager to run into danger, not at all the scared girl from their first meeting. She recalls Aashya's protective stance from a few moments ago and her amnesia, and wonders what secrets are buried within.

"Should? 'Could' is the word I would choose. He does not desire our company, preferring to throw his life away in vain protest. We could disregard his wishes and follow him, but is that wise? He might live then, and be forced to wake another day in a world without hope. And each day he would need to find the strength to continue on the razor's path, with chasms of despair to either side, lifeblood welling with every step.

"Is it fair to deny him the release of death?"

The words had begun as a subtle mockery in hopes of goading the man into accepting their help, but she had accidentally brushed on the questions plaguing her own conscience. Yet there is more, for she has seen something of what lay beyond the vast wall dividing the living from the dead. They did not sleep peacefully. She looks directly at Aswad and continues in a much quieter voice.

"It is your decision to make, but wisdom tells me we all should set more value on life."
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  #341  
Unread 4th of August, 2006, 02:03
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Heulwen

Go with him? Why in the names of all the gods trapped in their hevean's above would we want to help some one who is headed for certian death? Such a path would surely lead only to our own.

Despite the wry cynacism of her thoughts, a nagging voice speaks in the back of Heulwen's mind, reminding her that her own path as an escaped slave was much the same. Not only was she as good as dead if ever caught, but she would be dinner for the orc or goblin troop that managed to catch her.

Better to die fighting than roasting on a spit!

Spitting on the ground as if to purge the taste of the decision she is about to make, Heulwen jumps over the issue that everyone is playing with and gets straight to the next point.

"How do we intend to find this abandoned seat of the Dark God's minions?"
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  #342  
Unread 4th of August, 2006, 18:27
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Complicated...

"We find the Fell, and we will find the temple," he says quietly to Heulwen. Feeling Aleina's eyes on him he continues, "I did not ask you to come with, that does not mean I do not want you to come with. No one could ask such a thing as this." He wanted to continue, to explain why he fought, why he was willing to risk everything for the sake of some villagers that would sell him piecemeal to the orc if they had the chance, but the words were empty and hollow.

All that remained was action, and the will to see it through.

He begins walking deeper into the forest.

Last edited by -J-; 4th of August, 2006 at 18:29.
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  #343  
Unread 8th of August, 2006, 07:57
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Aashya

Aashya has trouble with Aleina's words at first. Don't be ridiculous! Why would the man want to throw his life away?

But as Aleina continues to speak, some of what she says begins to make sense to Aashya. Life must seem truly dismal and base to many in this world, as difficult as that is for Aashya to imagine. We live in a world without hope. But to give up completely? Let go of living? It is something that she cannot readily understand.

She looks at Aswad as he answers Heulwen and Aleina. Is he seeking death as a release?

He finishes what he has to say and walks around her, continuing on his way. He seems determined to Aashya, but not necessarily reckless or careless with his own life. She tries to imagine how he must be feeling and remembers how frightened she had been to walk alone in the woods. But Aswad shows no fear whatsoever.

"You are bold!" she says suddenly, running to catch up with him. She looks back over her shoulder at the others, willing them to follow. Her progress through the dense undergrowth here is awkward and noisy, and soon she must give the trail all her attention. She holds her cloak close to her body ,trying to prevent it from snagging on every bush and bramble she passes. "Are you a woodsman? You don't look like one."
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  #344  
Unread 11th of August, 2006, 01:05
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Aleina

Aleina watches the two as they depart without delay, her face imperturbably calm. Lyr still had not returned and she would not abandon him, no matter how much she wanted to finally raise her hand to the darkness before her. For a moment, her eyes meet Aashya's as the young sarcosan looks back at her. Had she forgotten their companion already, or was the lure of rebellion so strong that it didn't matter?

There were things to be said, discussed, planned before they considered following through with Aswad's intent. Always, it seemed, there was reason to delay, to avoid confrontation. But wasn't it better to live and fight another day? To sell your life at the highest possible price? Perhaps, but she can't help feeling that it was wrong to tell someone else what their life was worth.

In the end, she has no answers and so keeps her questions and concerns locked inside. Gracefully, she sinks to a sitting position - crosslegged, chin resting on the thumbs of her steepled fingers - and waits for Lyr to arrive.
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  #345  
Unread 11th of August, 2006, 09:57
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"No, I am no woodsman," he says with a slight smile as he watches Aashya bound up to him. She sounded like her, looked like her, and even moved like her. Had he changed so much that she did not recognize him? Was this some sort of game that she was playing? Did she know about...

He shakes his head to dispell his growing doubt. None of that matters now, remember the mission. He pauses a step and shoots a glance back at the others. The men were talking amongst themselves and Aleina was sitting as if she was waiting for something, or someone. He could understand Aleina's hesitation, she seemed wiser and more prudent than the rest. Heulwen also seemed hesitant, and rightly so, he really didn't have much of a plan. He was slightly dissappointed that the Dorn had not jumped at the opportunity for combat. He had expected him or the dwarf or both to at least pipe in.

Maybe they are silent because they have actually faced the horrors in this wood... That alone gave him pause.

Only the mission matters...

"Perhaps Heulwen, Aashya and I should scout ahead. If a wogren's nose is half as sharp as the legends of my people say, we should have little difficulty finding either the women, or the fell. Once located we can regroup and mount an offensive."
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  #346  
Unread 11th of August, 2006, 12:55
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Aashya looks up at Aswad, trying to see past the disguise to the man behind it. So far she seems only to have figured out what he is not.

Not a beggar, not a farmer, and not a woodsman either...Her dark eyes run over the rags and bandages again, settling finally on the man's face. She notes the patchy beard, the wild black hair, the surprising clear green eyes. Is that why I feel drawn to him? she wonders, admitting for the first time that she is drawn to him. Something familiar in his eyes...?

She realizes suddenly that she has been staring too long, and looks quickly down at her boots.

He is a Sarcosan, a man of the South, she tells herself. That is what draws her. He's familiar because of his accent, an echo of the voices she undoubtedly heard growing up. Green eyes have nothing to do with it.

Aashya looks back at Heulwen, eager to get moving again. "We could take him to the place where we found the fell last night. It might be a good place to start. The others can wait here for Lyr."
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  #347  
Unread 12th of August, 2006, 02:02
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Heulwen

A plan.

Or at least the beginings of one. That was what was taking shape here. They were commited now to doing what they could for Fairbrook, as unappreciated or futile as it might be. But with a plan there was at least some chance for success.

"Scent doesn't track well underground, but yes, where we battled the Fell last night, where that girl was dragged under the earth, is as good a place to start as any. Rhotha'ah, you remember the place. Lead the others to it when Lyr joins you."

Switching tongues, Heulwen continues for the dwarf's benefit, "It would seem, Soradur, that we are going to face last night's Fell again. It took four of us last night to handle two. I'd like there to be four of us again today. Will you accompany Aaysha, Aswad, and I on a bit of a scouting expedition?"
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  #348  
Unread 20th of August, 2006, 16:03
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Heulwen, Aashya, Aswad, Dun, Aleina

The dwarf’s features, much like the rest of him, appear to be cut from stone. Not chiseled like an artisan’s work, but instead roughly hewn from granite. Slowly, his thick eyebrows knit together, furrowed and wrinkled. Soradur’s eyes are flinty and wary and they track past Heulwen and onto Aswad’s gaunt form. He frowns.

“Aye,” he says, thick hands hefting his axe. “I’ll come with you.”

Rhotha’ah’s fierce countenance is only enhanced by his shorn skull and he runs his hand along it now, feeling the rough stubble. “I’ll show them the way.”

And all the while, Aleina waits, pondering what Lyr is doing and when, or if, he’ll return.
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  #349  
Unread 2nd of September, 2006, 23:21
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Aashya

Her fear of the woods, although mitigated somewhat by her interest in Aswad, has not left her completely. Knowing that Soradur will accompany them as they return to the place where the Fell attacked last night is a comfort.

"Good!" Aashya says with a smile for the dwarf as he catches up with them. And now she won't be the only one clomping noisily through the underbrush!

But will the others be all right while they wait for Lyr to return? Aashya looks at the three of them, not really liking the idea of leaving anyone behind. Dun does not appear worried, and Rotha'ah looks ready for anything. Aleina is, as always, difficult to read. She seems outwardly calm, but Aashya guesses that there is much going on behind those tranquil blue eyes.

"Be safe," she tells the trio before turning to leave. "And hurry to meet us when Lyr is with you again."
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  #350  
Unread 3rd of October, 2006, 13:29
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Heulwen, Aashya, Aswad

Their trek beneath the heavy branches of oaks and maples is quiet. The rain splattering against the leaves masks the sound of all but Soradur’s passage. A pall is cast over them as they trudge through the rapidly dampening forest. The air is heavy with moisture and their spirits sag. Words are sparse.

They stay near the perimeter of the woods, working their way back to the farmstead before turning inward again. The forest is confusing. Heulwen works hard to retrace their path, but the ground is spongy and her task proves most difficult. She can find but a trace of last night’s panicked flight from the charred dead. Cytaill’s hackles seems to be permanently raised.

Aswad and Aashya share the growing feeling of discomfort. Each passing hour deepens the gloom that pervades the air. They are both out of their element here. Aswad is used to the mighty open plains of the south, and Aashya, well, she isn’t used to so many trees. She casts a glance to Soradur, but his face is writ from stone, impassive. Whether he feels the same sense of foreboding is a mystery. She wonders if dwarves even know what fear is.

Time passes. They walk.

Heulwen and Cytaill’s keen ears first hear a chittering noise coming from a small clearing fifty paces away. Without word both the halfling and the wogren come to a stop. Soradur and Aashya do the same. Meanwhile, Aswad continues for another few steps before stopping and looking at them, perplexed.

“Kwechak! Ul thrak agh durb moridas.”

They all hear it now. None can understand the words, but they all know the sound of the Black Tongue of Izrador.
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