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  #1  
Unread 6th of May, 2004, 05:23
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Chapter 2 - Shadows Under Stars

Time. They've lost precious time.

An hour has passed since the stranger and his three men had left the ruins, and the halfling, behind. The others had come thereafter; Aleina, Lyr, and Rhotha'ah arriving together. Dun coming up the hill ten minutes later, rubbing the a large lump on his forehead. The stars are out, but as the young man's head proves, it isn't safe to travel by them alone. They seem cold, tonight, especially distant. Perhaps the old gods, the ones who used to caress the land before the Sundering, are finally abandoning these lands. And if the divine has given up hope, what can mortals possibly do?

Yet none of them are plagued by that. They have a task in mind, and the will to see it through. A man, a self-professed healer, is in danger and they hope to keep him safe. The stranger and his men will undoubtedly prove to be deadly foes, but there seems to be little choice left.

But the darkness, it hinders them greatly. Heulwen and her companion Cytaill care little for the shadows, their keen eyes piercing it far better than the humans. Yet the others cannot move as quickly as they could during the day. Torches are struck to light the way, but they must move somewhat carefully. Fortunately for them, the halfing must as well. For if she is to track those that came before, she cannot move too quickly for fear of losing the trail.

Cytaill himself appears to largely ignore the humans, not allowing to be petted as a normal hound might. Indeed, he even growled at Lyr the first time he drew close to the wogren. Yet a reassuring word from Heulwen calmed him. Still, the scholarly man would not wish to make an enemy out of the beast.

The great Dorn, Rhotha'ah, feels almost at home in the chill air and rolling plains before them. He's never been home, the real homeland of his ancestors, but there's something about the Westlands that almost feels right to him. Not quite, but the evening summons memories of his youth amongst his tribe. Thoughts of his wife attempt to rise up, to rip at his heart once more, but the proud northman crushes them back down. He has business to attend to. Worry will make him weak and he must be strong if he is to keep the others safe tonight.

The throbbing in Dun's head slowly subsides and he gingerly touches the spot where his head had struck. A large, goose egg marks its spot, but he doesn't appear to be bleeding. He counts himself lucky; a fall in the dark could have ended up with a far more dire result. Thoughts of his missing father and the vauge information he was able to gather from the residents of Kingscross plague him. The night has a way of bringing out the worry and fear in men. For the first time, Dun wonders if Dura Abben might have met his end along the road, perhaps this very one.

Aleina walks beside her mule, Bombur, and wonders what will happen should they overtake the man. While she and her companion's pace is slowed, it is certain that the stranger's must be as well. With any luck the healer will see them coming and get off the road. Whether or not that will do any good, remains to be seen.

Heulwen sticks to the trail closely, her eyes marking the footprints of the men and the hoofprints of the horse. She follows it and the others follow her through the night. They move as swiftly as they can, but she has a nagging suspicion that they aren't making up ground, that they will find the healer an hour too late.

And then she finds something curious. The road they follow splits, one forking to the north east the other in a more westerly direction. She stops and looks at each branch, searching for tracks. And it's then that she sees it. The horse's hooves go off to the west, but the stranger and his men look to have taken the other road. The one heading north east. Why they would do such a thing is beyond Heulwen. She worries, perhaps she's seeing the tracks of another horse. The halfling looks back to the trail and scrutinizes it. No, the same hooves she's followed from Kingscross are the ones that go west. Only one horse has been through here recently.

They stand at the fork, and the night presses in about them. And they can feel time, like the sands of a man's life, slipping through their fingers.

Last edited by Cadrius; 6th of May, 2004 at 06:09.
  #2  
Unread 6th of May, 2004, 08:53
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Bubbling with hope at the sign of the divided trail, Heulwen studies it again and again, confirming with her nose what her eyes are telling her.

Finally satisfied that she has made no mistake, she stands and looks at the others, "It is as I hoped. The healer has turned to the west here while the Shadow's men have headed north. In their haste they missed the turn in the healer's trail."

"We have a choice now, we can either follow the healer, placing ourselves between him and his pursuers, for they will likely realize their mistake and turn around at some point, or follow the pursuers, attempting to catch them when they turn back around."

"Myself, I favor going after the healer."
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Unread 6th of May, 2004, 14:38
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Dun

Finally, a hopeful sign that they may yet have a hand on the Healer's fate, Dun offers a soft sigh in partial relief.

"I concur with you Heulwen, taking the Healer's path would be the most prudent course, but are you certain those doing the Shadow's bidding made an unintended turn?"
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Unread 6th of May, 2004, 15:06
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Rhotha'ah

The Dorn looks at the divided trail and frowns, his brow creasing under the tensed muscles. "While chasing after the Healer would be the wisest move, I can't help but think they diverged from his path for a reason."

Looking to Aleina, he continues his vocal pondering. "You saw how that man tracked with senses none of us could possess, surely he wouldn't divert from chasing down his quarry without reason to do so. Maybe the're circling around him to get in front of him, or something just as conniving. I say we chase the four."
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Unread 6th of May, 2004, 20:58
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Lyr

The Erenlander brushes away an annoying nightfly before he answers, making his dark locks sway.

"I agree with Rhotha'ah. While following the Healer would let us shield him from immediate attack - with our own bodies, I may add - but it would expose us to the ambush of the Hound and his men, letting them choose the time and place of engagement. If we follow the other path, though, we become the hunters, and can assault them when we say it arright."

Lyr stops for a moment, observing his unlikely companions in the starry gloom. Turning his solemn eyes to Aleina, he feels the strange, warm surge seep out of his bones again, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.

"Two to two. It seems you have the deciding vote." He casts a glance sideways. "Unless, that is, the dire wolf wishes to give his opinion?" The comment is directed at Heulwen, the first words Lyr has spoken to her directly. There is no mocking or sarcasm in his tone, but rather a genuine respect and query.

Last edited by Dirigible; 6th of May, 2004 at 21:03.
  #6  
Unread 6th of May, 2004, 23:07
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Aleina

The dark haired woman remains silent as they halt at this important fork, her eyes seeking each of the companions in turn as they all voice their opinion. At Lyr's dark gaze seems to stir her nerves into phrenetic flame and for a moment she struggles to keep her features composed. It was disturbing, but once again circumstances do not allow her the luxury of introspection. She closes her eyes, cutting off the others, and focuses on what is sure to be a fateful choice.

Heulwen and Dun made sense: it was certain that the Hound (as Lyr named him) would find the healer sooner or later. They simply needed to place themselves between predator and prey. Further, if they managed to overtake the healer before he was accosted they could join forces against the hunter; the scales would tip further in their favor.

Yet Rhotha'ah and Lyr were convincing as well, though she would have expected each argument from the other's mouth. Aleina knew little of warcraft, but waiting to be attacked seemed a weaker position. It is the Dorn's words, though, that echo her own fears. It was possible that the men had simply missed the trail - their eyes were not as sharp as Heulwen's, and maybe with supernatural aid they weren't paying as much attention to the physical evidence.

Possible, but the Hunter hadn't seemed like one to be careless. The power he displayed to pick up the healer's trail seemed limited, else he wouldn't have needed to question them in the first place. It was likely an ability he could only use occaisionally. In that case, he would almost certainly be tracking the same way as Heulwen - relying on his natural ability and not a spell. Her icy eyes open, finding the halfling.

"The healer was not riding: do you see his tracks on either path? Is it possible that he sent the horse off the trail -with it's burden- while he continued straight, in hopes of throwing off pursuit? When you saw the Hound and his men, were they moving quickly? And were they tracking with their eyes or did they seem to know exactly where they were going, without needing to read the signs?"
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Unread 8th of May, 2004, 07:53
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"You are correct, the healer was not riding," replies Heulwen, "as to his persuers, their leader stopped and seemed to check the trail, but the techniques he used were very strange to me. It could be that he was following something other than what I would."

Bending to check the tracks again, Heulwen looks for signs of the Healer and his horse splitting up (or staying together) and for evidence of the Hound's strange tracking style.
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Unread 12th of May, 2004, 05:37
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Heulwen casts a glance back at the way they had come and frowns. The five pairs of legs, and two pairs of paws did little to help the trail. Rhotha'ah's feet are particularly adept at obliterating tracks. The woods are farther away now, but the halfling's keen ears pick up the haunting call of an owl.

She moves back to the fork and stoops to inspect the western road, the one the horse had traversed. Her eyes flick over it and the grassland on either side of it. She doesn't see remnants of the healer. Dropping to one knee she inhales deeply. Having a nose like Heulwen's can be both a blessing and a curse, but in this case it seems to be the former.

A rush of scents pour through her and she has to concentrate to separate each one out and identify it. First and foremost is the crisp night air, one that hints at a long, cold winter to come. Next are her companions: the dorn smells of leather and oil so much that his own scent is irrevocably mixed with it. Aleina's odor reminds Heulwen of flowers, specifically a purple variety that blooms in mid to late spring. Dun smells of meat and mead, although they're beginning to give way to something else entirely. The scholar, Lyr, smells of something old. It's puzzling to the halfling, as the man clearly looks quite young himself. Yet there's a musky scent that clings to him.

Beyond those traveling with her the odors become harder to differentiate. She smells the horse, picking it apart from the humans easily enough. The dwarf as well she finds and separates. He smells much healthier this time around. Whatever he might be or whomever he might flee from, the healer clearly knows his craft. She also finds the three men who traveled with the Hound, but try as she might she can neither locate the scent of their master nor that of their prey.

She uses her eyes once more, trying to find the tracks of the healer, looking this time to the northern road and once more is disappointed. Try as she might she can't find his particular tracks, not here anyway. She might have better luck further up either road.

The others stand, watching the halfling and feeling each moment slipping away.
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Unread 12th of May, 2004, 06:43
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Pushing the oddity of the lack of scent from either the healer or the Hound, Heulwen concentrates for a moment on the visible tracks themselves, trying to seperate out the healer's. However, this serves only to further compound her confusion as she still finds no trace of the healer.

The healer is only a man, not a bird, Heulwen thinks to herself, he must leave some sort of track. And this other, who leaves no scent, what of that?

Deciding not to jump to any conclusions, Heulwen turns to the others for a moment, "There is something in the tracks that I need to investigate further. I need you to stay here so that the tracks are as undisturbed as possible. I will be back in a moment."

Turning, Heulwen then slips silently northward, following the trail, but being careful not to disturb it. After a minute or so, she stops to recheck the trail, trying to see if it is any diffrent than what she saw before.
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Unread 12th of May, 2004, 20:37
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Lyr

Fascinated by the diminutive tracker's actions, Lyr almost sets out into the darkness to follow her, but restrains himself in order not to interfere. I wonder if I could learn that...
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Unread 13th of May, 2004, 05:43
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The four remain behind, remaining quiet. There's no reason for it; surely there are no souls within at least a mile, but no words pass their lips. Silence reigns and time passes with it.

She's only gone for minutes, but it feels as if an age passes underneath the cold stars. Yet sure enough the halfling, accompanied by her wogren, reappear later. Her inspection went well and she believes she's located a fainter set of tracks, likely left by the healer. He went north, his horse went west. Both he and the hound have proven difficult to track, but the shadows hide much even to her keen eyes. The light of day might tell a different tale.

Heulwen returns to the group and finds expectant gazes, and all the while, sand slips through the hourglass.
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Unread 13th of May, 2004, 08:02
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"Your suspicion was right," Heulwen confirms for Aleina, "The healer and his horse split up, though why I cannot say. His patient must have been concious to take the horse, but splitting up only serves to expose the healer. And why would the patient take the healer's horse..."

Putting aside this puzzle for the moment, Heulwen looks to the others, "It seems we head north if we are to try and save the Healer."
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Unread 13th of May, 2004, 22:50
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Aleina

She waits for Heulwen to return, stock still in the chill air like a mute, frozen statue. Thoughts like predators prowl restlessly in her head, hunting for clues to solve the riddle. When the halfling returns, Aleina watches her intently, listening to her report without expression.

Bitter and without hope, yet still he protects his charge.

At least, that's what she hoped. The healer had been jaded enough that he might be hoping pursuit would follow the obvious trail instead of his own, but she refused to believe that the man she met had so lost sight of his profession.

"Then we go north."
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Unread 22nd of May, 2004, 13:03
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North. Many things like in that direction; Baden's Bluff, the Sea of Pelluria, the ancestral homelands of the Dorns, and finally Izrador. And yet they find it better to chase the healer than pursue his charge. They've seen no sign of pursuit of the horse and its rider, the same cannot be said for the healer. So they abandon the dwarf to whatever fate might be in store for him and set off again.

The night is passing into its darkest and quietest part. They move away from the small forest nearby and no longer hear the distant hoot of an owl. No birds sing, no insects chirp; it seems like there is no one else in the world but them.

The trail slides beneath their feet, and the long day begins to wear on them. Each is empowered by the rush of pursuit, but they will be spent by daybreak. Hopefully this will be said and done long before then. And yet it begs the question: what will they do should they catch the hound and his men? Would an important man travel with but three escorts? Would a powerful one need them at all? Will he die like any other man? Or does he have his own tricks, much like they do?

Rhotha'ah and Heulwen happen to be looking up at the sky when out of nowhere a bolt of lightning arcs downward. It's close enough so that it casts a bit of light. They cannot raise their voice to speak to the others before--

BOOM!

--their thoughts are shattered, falling apart like stained glass struck by a stone. It sounds like lightning, the deep, bassy rumble. And yet there are no clouds overhead. Indeed, it would be a strange time to have a storm like that. Still, the dorn and the halfling are both certain they saw the bolt. Judging by the distance between the bolt and thunder it cannot be too far off.

Aashya

For some reason she doesn't build a fire. It's chilly, but there's something in her that warns against it. She isn't certain why. Perhaps it's the fear of attracting bandits, or worse, orcs. The young woman instead eats some of the salted cod given to her by the gnomes.

The thought of them, her saviors and benefactors, brings a smile to her face. It helps stave off the encroaching darkness. The thought of them and her time upon their boat warms her heart even if her skin might be cold. The winter blanket they had gifted her didn't hurt either.

They had been so kind, so understanding in her need to leave the boat when they had mentioned the name of the town. They were worried, they didn't want her to go; she had read it in their eyes and on their faces, but they had done it all the same. With no children of their own, the gnomes are doted upon her as if she was their own. They cared for her as parents might, particularly when she was unwell.

Gylda had been as a sister might too, giving her some of her own bartering goods so that Aashya might be able to trade for what she needed inland. The gallon of ale would be worth quite a bit to the right person, perhaps an inkeep or even an orcish lieutenant should she run afoul of them.

Yet even the love of her gnomish foster family could neither keep away the unpredictable sadness nor the terrifying nightmares. She never understood either. One moment she would be fine, the next melancholic. The dreams were worse. She could not remember details, only fear.

And so she finds herself tonight, having just awoken from another nightmare. One that had her heart pounding and her skin sweating despite the autumnal chill. She draws a shuddering breath and takes comfort in seeing the stars and not whatever lurked in her dreams.

It's late, but she sits up and tucks her legs to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. It usually takes a while to calm down after the nightmares, for her mind to clear and for her pulse to come back down.

She doesn't like the Westlands. If she had the choice she probably would have stayed on the raft with Gylda and the rest, but hearing that word set something off. All she knew was that it was something from before and she had to pursue it. Greenfield. She idly wonders if their customs will be much different from the other towns she had seen along the Eren river. Perhaps it will be a lot like--

BOOM!

Thunder errupts from the sky, causing her to flinch and whip her head about. The sky is still clear of clouds but it sounded as if a bolt of lightning had struck not a mile away. Perhaps its a phenomenon known only to the Westlands, but the gnomes would have warned her of that, wouldn't they?

She'd camped away from the road, not wanting to be spied but turning her eyes toward it she makes out a torch moving in the darkness. She spies a figure or two within the glow, but it's too distant to get a good look.

Last edited by Cadrius; 22nd of May, 2004 at 13:05.
  #15  
Unread 22nd of May, 2004, 20:05
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Lyr

At first glance, Lyr a'Corian might seem to be the sort of manw ho would flinch and jump at such a startling manifestation of sound and light. He has the frail and almost effete look of a reader and city-dweller, one who should tremble before the fury of the unbridled weather. Certainly, he is too soft to be a wildlander or ranger like the Dorn or the Halfling, and should be cower under a rock somewhere.

Instead, he merely frowns at the stroke, his lashes meshed and dark eyes squinting against the glare. His features are casting into jagged, monotone relief by the incandesent bolt for a moment. His posture betrays no alarm, though a touch of anxiety that has been present ever since they left town remains.

In the wake of the thunder, his voice is low and very soft, almost like an echo of the stentorian roar rebounding fromt he distant concave hills.

"There are no clouds in the heavens, and no rains to forbode the lightning. Such things as unheralded thunderstrikes are not unheard of, but are rare. And tonight is not the night for coincidences."

He pauses for a moment, considering if his next words will reveal too much.

"Legates have been known to call down the elements of such dire storms with their incantations. As have sorcerors. I think our friend the Healer may be in grave, grave danger... either because the Hound calls down the lightning against him, or because he is forced to resort to it."

The small, dark Erenlander looks around the ill-assorted band of travellers, waiting for their responce even as his feet drift towards the direction of the lightning stroke, indicating his intention of travel.

OOC: How far are we talking, approximatly? Hundreds of meters, a mile? More?

Last edited by Dirigible; 22nd of May, 2004 at 20:18.
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Unread 22nd of May, 2004, 20:57
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Rhotha'ah

As he squints his eyes from the bright flash, he turns to the small Erenlander. "I know little of sorcery, and the only sorceress I know died a week ago, so it would be difficult to consult the crone on such matters."

He looks back in the direction of the lightning and clenches his teeth once more, jaw knotting in its usual stance. "What I do know, though, is that lightning doesn't occur without reason. We must hustle, and now."

And with that, the large man snatches the nearest torch from it's owners grasps and proceeds to take quicker strides to aid his already long step, not caring much for the others' decisions. "If we are to rescue the healer, we cannot not delay with idle discussion."
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Last edited by Kahluah; 24th of May, 2004 at 00:43.
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Unread 23rd of May, 2004, 08:41
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Aashya

People ..... On the road.

Aashya draws in a startled breath, mouth open in surprise. She has mostly avoided encounters with travellers since leaving the gnomes in Swiftwater, although she can't really say why she's avoided them. Something always holds her back, makes her feel reluctant to let herself be known.

She'd been that way at first with the gnomes, too. Drifiting in and out of consciousness during those first days on their raft, she'd refused to speak or acknowledge their presence, even once she'd realized that they were helping her, and tending her terrible wounds. It had taken a long while to warm up to them, to let herself become a part of their world. Perhaps she never would have come around at all, if not for Gylda. Now there was a girl who knew what it meant to persevere!

Was I crazy to leave them? Aashya wonders, not for the first time. Crazy... Gylda almost said as much when I told her I had to go.

She'd left the same day that she'd heard them mention the name of that town. Nothing had jarred her memory like that before. Hope had bloomed in her suddenly, and the anticipation of joy. She'd felt as if a part of her that was dead or frozen solid had begun to stir again. All at the sound of one word. Even now she could conjure up that feeling just by saying the name out loud. Greenfield.

Crazy or not, and by her own choice, here she is. Where exactly here is, Aashya cannot say for sure. The wilderness is incomprehensible to her - strange animals; unpredictable weather; thick, unyielding vegetation. She'd feared the road and the folk that traversed it, but found herself coming back to it again and again. How else could she keep from wandering in circles?

She keeps her eyes fixed on the glow of torchlight and the figures moving in the distance. Was this what she'd been afraid of? People on the road. She is relatively certain that they are people, not orcs (or worse things). Orcs and their kind don't need torches to see at night. But of course, just because they're not orcs doesn't mean they are friendly. Still, she'd like to know what they are doing. And maybe just listen to them talk for a while.

And then maybe even-

Hold it, she tells herself as she rolls up her blanket and stuffs it into her pack. I'll just see what they are up to, that's all.

Wrapping her dark cloak over her head and around her shoulders, she crouches low. Slowly she begins to creep nearer to the road and a better view of the people there.
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Unread 25th of May, 2004, 00:20
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Aleina

Bombur shies as the tremendous crack of thunder sounds and she is momentarily occupied with settling him down. The activity overshadows any fear or doubt she might have felt. In a sense, healing others was the medicine her own soul required, a balm to drive her own misgivings back to their darkened dens. Lyr and Rhotha'ah once again surprise her by agreeing - she would have thought the two men could not be further apart. Wordlessly, she follows the Dorn, her stride long and purposeful, her face determined.

Lyr's words trouble her, though she would never let the others see it. If the Hound was a legate . . . but no, she did not think that was so. If he'd been one of Izrador's chosen he would have done more than scold them back in town. If the bolt had been magical, odds were it was the healer's work. Yet the hound had shown some strange power of his own; perhaps he had access to some other magic not of the Dark One's doing.

Either way, they might very well be too late.
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Unread 25th of May, 2004, 09:02
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ooc: have to be a quick post here, I have very temporary access to the net here until tomorrow night when I return home.

Largely agreeing with the others' observations and sentiments, Berova quickly pulls out his short bow and unwraps it. He smoothly strings it and runs off to catchup to his companions.
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Unread 25th of May, 2004, 16:27
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Lyr

Seeing Dun prove his bow for use, Lyr tightens his grip on his sling, reminding himself it is there. A moment later, he scurries after the others.
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Unread 27th of May, 2004, 04:30
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Heulwen
Pursing her lips at the unnatural lightning strike, Heulwen listens to Lyr's 'explination' of the occurance. While he sounds confident in what he says, Heulwen isn't quite ready to jump to the magical conclusion.

The course of action, however, is decided for her before she can voice her opinion when the the other begin to trot towards the disturbance. At first, Heulwen tries to keep up with the humans on the road. Howver, she practically has to run to do so and drops back fairly quickly. Sighing, Heulwen slips into the forest beside the road and begins to parallel it. Pausing only to use the whistle about her neck to call Cytaill to her side, she concentrates on keeping herself hidden and unnoticed as she continues to move forward. If something or someone did cause that lightning strike, perhaps she could catch it by suprise.
  #22  
Unread 4th of June, 2004, 06:55
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Heulwen

Cytaill comes willingly enough, watching the halfling with large, flinty eyes. He seems to discern Heulwen's intent quickly. The wogren is clever, far more intelligent than any dog or wolf. He follows her for a few minutes before loping off across the road and onto the plains. She can see him paralleling her movement. Two sets of eyes, particularly sharp ones possessed by Heulwen and Cytaill, are better than one.

Dun, Rhotha'ah, Lyr, Aleina

The large dornish man snatches the torch from Aleina's slender grasp with little more than a thought. The act is forceful, but for all his strength Rhotha'ah doesn't harm the young woman. It's an odd mix of power and gentleness.

There's something reassuring about a weapon that makes a man bolder, more confident. Lyr and Dun are no exception. While it isn't the reassuring weight of steel, the solidness of the bow and the sling make the two feel a bit safer. Armed they might stand a chance against other men. Although the wood will likely do little against any further bolts of lightning.

The four move off, leaving Heulwen to slink through the woods.

Aashya

She edges closer to the road, using the night as cover from any prying eyes. The sarcosan woman creeps through the shadows, but the dark is a chancy ally at best. Still, what chances would they have of spotting her shadow amidst the rolling hills? A forest lays on the far side of the road. She wishes she had camped there instead; it would've provided her with excellent cover.

Aashya moves around the side of a low hill, careful not to go directly over the top and be in plain sight should any eyes be turned toward her. As she draws closer she begins to make out some of the figures moving within the torchlight. They're human, but it's only faintly relieving. Men can commit evil just like orcs.

Four figures move, one much larger than the rest. He's either a dorn or one very large erenlander. A woman follows with a mule in tow. Two men flank her, both dark of hair and slim. They all move with a quick step and from what she can tell, they're heading in the general direction of where the lightning struck.

Aashya takes another step forward in the dark, trying to get closer and see what they carry. When her foot steps upon a stray rock. The stone rolls under her foot and her leg shoots forward. Her arms pinwheel and she finds her balance, but the rock shoots down the hill making several quiet thumps as it skips off earth and grass.

It's a quiet noise and likely one that wouldn't carry more than twenty feet, but Aashya drops into a crouch, leaning against the side of the hill and watching the group in case she was heard. So determined in their walk they were oblivious to her slip.

She catches movement by the near side of the road. She narrows her eyes in the dark and tries to make it out. It travels behind the torchlight and appears to move on all fours. She thinks it might be a large dog of some sort, but why it doesn't move with the others is beyond her. It doesn't appear to have noticed her either.
  #23  
Unread 6th of June, 2004, 00:16
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Aashya

She feels unaccountably drawn to the slowly receding circle of torchlight. The four figures move on down the road, and Aashya is left crouching in the dark, following them only with her eyes, and wondering what brings the humans to this place in the middle of the night.

What business could they possibly have? Normal folk don't travel at night. How can they dare to carry a torch, calling attention to their odd behavior? Unless they are agents of the Shadow...

Aashya's heart has been hammering loudly in her ears since her near fall a moment ago. Thoughts of the Dark God and his minions start it drumming even louder and more frantically. I shouldn't be here. If I'm discovered hiding here in the dark........

She huddles closer to the hillside, willing her heartbeat to slow its pace, and trying to figure out what she ought to do.

It would be prudent to just stay where she is until morning. There is no compelling reason to follow the four other than curiosity and her own barely realized desire to find companionship again. Aashya's common sense warns her that following after the strangers would be stupid and reckless. And yet....

The torchlight has moved off into the distance now. It will soon disappear completely and then that will be the end of it.

If I stay back far enough, they won't be aware of me, she thinks, standing again slowly. Even that dog - or whatever it is - that seems to be tailing them won't hear me. Aashya remembers that dogs can hear and smell things that people can't - the raft dogs back on the river often alerted the gnomes to the presence of orc camps on the river banks well before they drew near enough to see them. Hopefully, the creature is just a dog.

I only want to find out what is happening here, what they are doing, she tells herself again. I won't get too close....

Aashya moves cautiously toward the road, careful of her footing in the dark.
  #24  
Unread 8th of June, 2004, 06:00
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Aleina

There may well be something about a weapon that makes a man bold. A woman without any weapons must learn to rise above her fear on mental strength alone. It is all she has, and she relies on it as though it is the very air she breathes. When Rhotha'ah seizes her torch, it is with surprising gentleness yet an insistence that will not be denied; the man's raw power seethes beneath the muted gesture. The symbolism of the act is not lost on her; she follows lest she be lost to darkness.
  #25  
Unread 8th of June, 2004, 13:37
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Dun

Following behind, Dun tries his best to keep up with Rhotha'ah though it is readily apparent the large Dorn's steps are no match for the Erenlander's easy stride. He can't help but feel a tenseness that comes with their charge into the unknown, their headlong rush into danger. And yet, their die has been cast.

As they get closer to where they believe is the source of the thunderous noise, Dun uses what cover there may be while he scans the area ahead.
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