A High Fantasy Adventure
The Map of the World Above Ground
Long ago before the dawn of mankind, when the dwarves were very young and when elves had founded their first kingdoms, the Centaurs and Eagles were the mighty races of the World. The Centaurs roamed the fields and forests of the World, keeping guard and flourishing as a society. High on the mountain tops, the mighty eagles of olden days dwelt in their wisdom of the World and kept the evils of the World in hiding. The Gods were happy and created more and more of the World to make it as diverse as one can make a World. But within all good, there is something that must balance it. Those Gods that opposed the views of creating a beautiful World distanced themselves from the Good Gods and began dwelling in the night and underground regions where their minions already sought control. Many Gods ruled their own dark and twisted species as Kings, devising plans of many kind in order to overthrow the Good Gods and take over the World above ground.
At some point many Evil Gods did unite,or at least their species did, and marched up from their subterranean homes. From Trolls to Goblins, vast armies poured up onto the World and found the Eagles opposing them as the very first ones. To battle the flying menace, the Evil Gods began molding Dragons and other flying menaces into the World to keep the Eagles busy while their armies marched. For two decades Evil and Good fought. Many great and legendary figures died before the Centaurs and Eagles turned to the newer races of Elves and Dwarves in an effort to use them as well to drive back the great menace. Another two decades went by and more legendary heroes were born before finally at the Battle of Denk Tule the Evil armies were defeated and dispersed. Many of the surviving Evil Races went back under ground to lick their wounds, but just as many found that they liked the World above ground more suiting for their needs and stayed there to wreak chaos and destruction on a smaller scale. The Eagles had weakened during this War and so had the Centaurs. Both once magnificent species found themselves to be in diminishing numbers and were forced to pull into their oldest and most sacred places while both Elves and Men began to find new Kingdoms to replace the old Centaur Kingdoms.
Eventually Centaurs and Eagles became rare. Elves and Men fight between each others for petty things and the dwarves keep their own Kingdoms in the caves while having a rich trade route with all Kingdoms. War has not ravaged the World for a thousand years or more. But now a threat comes from the Rhulak-Zagul region as an Orc warlord has managed to unite many tribes of many species under a single banner. The Mages speak of mysterious events in the Realms of Magic and the Warriors can smell the blood of combat in the air. Animals are nervous and old runes have been found that tell the tale of another Dark Age that will overcome the light once more.
The town of Kolirum-Masaar, a busy town spit in the crossroads of an important trade route. By the fish-filled waters of Loch Langar, it is the first stop for those coming through the Gateway from Oerk and and important stop between the Elven and Human kingdoms. Only there could one find as many adventurers at one place.
A group of children scurried through the town to a large rock just beyond the town gates. Even some of the guards were slightly away from their spots because they were drawn to the rock. And not for naught. An elven bard sat on the rock and told many tales to the children, the stories ranging from old elven lullabies, restructured to stories, all the way to news from another part of the World. The children were like mesmerized by the bard, for not many came through the town even if one could so think. Bards were few and elven ones even fewer in number. The elf had sat there for hours on end, but now something interrupted him, for a dwarf approached through the crowd in a loud fashion as dwarves are common to. Eldir watched the dwarf, interrupting his tale for a short while and waited.
"Lad, would you be interested in a little job?" the dwarf asked once he had gotten through the crowd and stared at the elf and more or less the weapon and shield hung on the elf's back.
"I will be leaving this evening, but with whom I do not yet know" Eldir noted and the dwarf nodded.
"My cart will be ready by this evening. I will be leaving through the north gate" the Dwarf grunted and left, leaving Eldir smiling at the attitude of the Dwarf. As a response of the interruption, the elf decided to quit the story from before and change it into a story of a goofy dwarf who mined for fish.
A Centaur was a rare sight everywhere nowadays, but even so not many watched after the half-horse man as he traveled through the town in search of a proper place to rest. After an hour of wandering about, he decided to enter a tavern by the marketplace. After getting inside with a rather loud grunt and a tight squeeze through the door, the owner of the establishment came bowing to him in order to suit his every need. The only thing the Centaur named Skarra wished for at the time was a cold beverage and a place to sit, or lay down in the case of a Centaur, for a while. The Centaur was led to one of the tables near the door where he lay down with the human torso upright by the table. There he would wait for his drink.
Ciannait was seated in the tavern when the Centaur entered, and her eyes widened just slightly. Though she knew what Centaurs were by description, even in just over a hundred and twenty years, she had not seen one with her own eyes until that very moment. Out of respect for the noble, intelligent being, she inclined her head downward slightly, though her eyes never once left his. Then, with all due respect shown to him, she returned to her drink and glanced around the tavern. Her mark had not yet arrived.
For that was the only reason Cia visited such places; she had little use for drinking and there were far better places to find food. No, the only think a tavern was useful for was to meet with the sort of unscrupulous folk who wanted what others had... or those who had what others wanted. Cia's purpose here was the latter. And she hoped he wouldn't be late... with a glance outside, she hoped he wouldn't be very late.
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Radek entered the tavern with a weary sigh, for he had been traveling long. His horse was put up well in the stable and now the man had decided it was time to take care of himself. And first on the list was a drink. Once the drink was in hand, he took a moment to look around... and did a double-take at the Centaur. A slow grin came to his face and he moved to sit across from Skarra.
"It's been... quite some time, Skarra," he said by way of greeting.
Travelling from Scarshold on horseback is always a bittersweet experience, especially when it is not your choice. Curudir, however, had business to attend to in Stonehaven, seeking to find those who burned his home to the ground so many years ago. Knowing he could not make it to Stonehaven in a single night, he decided to stay that inn in Kolirum-Masaar. After purchasing a room for the night, he went to the local tavern, and ordered a glass of dwarven ale. He watched as the Centaur entered the tavern. "One such as you is a rare sight these days, isn't it?" He said to him. "What brings you to Kolirum-Masaar?"
~Hmm...up until this post, I had some pretty high hopes for this RP. Let's watch the length, shall we, Alkonium? ^.^ Gracias. ~ FFWM
Vex hated towns, though disliked would be a better word. It wasn’t the amount of people, the amount of noise, or the constant stagnant smell that bothered him so, though they were factors, but it was the lack of space so to speak. No room for Raptor to run and no room to practice magic or swordsmanship. But it wasn’t something that bothered Vex so immensely that he avoided towns altogether, it was more of a factor that made him avoid towns unless absolutely necessary, the necessity now being supplies and a job. Nevertheless, Raptor was still ticked that Vex had brought both of them in and showed this by staring down any poor bystander who though to glance at her for a moment and when no one was looking at her, Vex. Not fun, considering she never blinked and was all too silent for something as large as she was, standing at seven feet in height. Luckily, for the sake of both their minds, this place was neither very crowded as one might expect from a trading town or as assaulting on the noise.
Upon entering the tavern, Vex was pleased to see not many were about and he could feel Raptor’s stare easing on the back of his head. Normally, she wouldn’t be allowed to follow. But with a Centaur, who was as large as she was sitting at the table, she took this as an exception and followed him in straight to the bar.
“Two ales please, ” Vex said to the bar tender as he sat down, Raptor only needing to curl her tail, stand upright, and bend her knees slightly to appear as through she were sitting right next to him.
Kadis had his feet up on a table in the bar casually. He was reasonably well known as a mercenary, so it usually was that all he had to do was sit down before someone came up to him, tears streaming down their face begging him to carve their husband's hands off for cheating on her or deal with a score of orcish raiders or some other pointless and low-paying job. Normally, he blew them off. But in this case, he would have gladly welcomed any of them, he was about out of coin and his company had been massacred during their last engagement.
In fact, he was the only remaining member of it, as far as he knew.
A centaur walked into the bar. He cocked an eyebrow. It wasn't a new sight for him, but they were rare enough that the beast was worth keeping an eye on. Well, when his eyes weren't preoccupied elsewhere, that is.
A buxom wench sidled up to him. "Another round, Sir Rethan?"
He restrained the laugh that welled up inside him at the title, and smiled. "Yes, my lady, very much so." Too bad I don't have the coin to properly finish the night. He shook his head as she headed to refill his tankard. If tonight kept going this badly, he'd need to actually consult the rock bottom of mercenaries, the Help Wanted boards. Kadis shuddered at that thought. Hopefully, somebody would be looking for some help here, and he had a reputation for getting it done.
It took Cain several minutes to finally wake up from his table at the far end of the tavern. Something Cain learned over the 2 years since his death was he could manipulate human form. Though flimsy and tedious he could take on the appearance of a human male magically. Though what he normally did nowadays was sleep in Taverns or get drunk and pass out.
When he awoke he was surprised. Mostly because he wasn't lying in a back alley or on his face as usual. He looked around and stood up. His old longsword was still buckled to his belt as it had been. He rarely used it, it was mostly for show.
Cain shook his head slightly and looked around. The tavern was a dead sight. Only a few patrons were sitting at tables. But the table nearest to the door was what caught his eye. Standing at the table was a centaur. Cain only saw a centaur once before and he doubted he knew what he was looking at. Cain walked up to the nearby bar counter and waited for a bartender to show up. Once he did he asked for a simple ale and drank it down in a few short gulps. He began to wonder if it would be a long day or not.
The Centaur watched first at the familiar face approaching and his crystal clear blue eyes pierced the man's face easily. A slight smile danced on the lips of Skarra and it continued still after the man had sat down.
"Radek. I heard you had become a wanderer, but you're more terrible of a sight than I feared to imagine" Skarra noted in a booming voice normal to Centaurs, the smile noting that he was only jesting with the man. Before the Centaur could continue, however, another voice interrupted him. His head turned to see the one responsible of this and the smile had vanished as soon as it had appeared. It was not a judging look, but an annoyed one nonetheless.
"The business of a Centaur is the business of a Centaur" his booming voice answered, but a smile nonetheless found it's way to his face after this. Skarra had the tendency to spook everyone who came to speak with him without introductions or at least an exchange of hellos.
"But if you must know, I am looking for a job. Hopefully one that will take me as near to Port Jasper as it can without making detours"
"Then you are in luck, my friend" another voice told from the door. The rugged dwarf that had only minutes ago interrupted a children's story was now there by the tavern door. The tavern had been his next target for adventurers and the lot here seemed like one that had hopes for jobs. For easy and well paying jobs.
"I'll be leaving this evening with my cart from the north gate. If any of you want a well paying job in escorting my cargo, come there before the sun is fully behind the horizon" the dwarf shouted, jumping on the bar and then leaving from the tavern as the bartender approached with a broom.
"Remember! North gate at sunset!" the dwarf still screamed as the bartender chased him out of the tavern.
"Remember! North gate at sunset!" Cain heard from the dwarf. He quickly paid his tab and stood up. Noticing he only had a small amount of money left. A job would be a nice change to being a local drunk. He slowly walked out of the tavern feeling exhausted. Knowing that he would revert to Lich form any minute.
He slowly walked down a road towards the main gate. Noticing his hand had reverted to Lich form. He slowly made it to the North gate. He leaned on the gate waiting for sunset. So he could just do this easy job and get paid. He leaned on it and took his sword out so he was leaning on it as well. He was still exhausted and knew that come sunset he would not be a pretty sight to behold
Cain sighed slightly still leaning on the gate. Waiting
"North gate at sunset..."
He rolled his eyes. Kadis had no real interest in escorting anyone, especially some excuse for a dwarf, anywhere, but he needed to return to Port Jasper anyway - this particular backwater held no real interest for him, and Port Jasper was the place to be for when he reformed his Company. With any luck, he might be able to pull together enough gold to get a decent start and avoid the pointless and most importantly low-paying thuggery that lone sellswords generally had to do.
He poured his drink 'down the hatch', then leaned way back in his chair, hoping to catch forty winks before the journey got started. Leaving at sunset was unusual, and suggested that there was something unusual about the dwarf's goods. He'd need to be properly rested to handle what would undoubtably waylay them. Long journeys were never quiet.
(I'll edit this to include everyone else once I know they're going with the dwarf.)
After hearing the dwarf say to meet him at the North Gate at sunset, he figured that he could use the gold, and that tracking down the zealots who burned his home to the ground could wait. It had waited for fifteen years already, and waiting a little longer wouldn't make much of a difference. After finishing his ale, he paid the bartender and left for the inn. At the inn, he told the innkeeper that he would need neither a room for the night or a stable for his horse after all. After that, he went back to the tavern to see who else would be joining the dwarf.
After ordering a mug of mead, Curudir looked around at everyone else in the tavern. He could not tell by looking at them whether or not they were going to also aid in escorting the dwarf, but he assumed that those who were equipped for such a journey (ie: carrying weapons and armour with them) were likely among those who would partake in such. However, that could very well be nearly anyone in the tavern, as the roads so dangerous to travel these days. So, he kept an eye on the time as he sipped his drink and waited to head for the north gate.
(figured I should just redo the whole thing)
((Thanks for that, Alkonium. However, I seriously do not appreciate character control))
Skarra watched as several people left the tavern after the dwarf had left, no doubt going after the job. He stood up as well and gulped down the the ale before looking at Radik, stretching his neck at the same time.
"Do you wish to join me on this job? Could be an interesting journey with all that's happening nowadays" the Centaur noted and smiled, jingling the money bag on his belt. The bag was practically empty with nothing but a few coins in there.
In the meantime, a dark-haired elf entered the tavern, going straight to the bar and asking for as non-alcoholic of a drink that they had. In return he got some elven water that had only recently arrived from Black Forest. Eldir thanked and paid the man before walking to a table and sitting down, his sharp and observing eyes glancing the place over and stopping to stare at Ciannait. Of course he had noticed the Centaur and had noted his familiarity, but he was not the one at the time to interest the elven bard.
Radek nodded. "I could stand an interesting journey," he said with a grin. "I've had enough dull wandering to last a lifetime... yes, even one of your lifetimes." He stood and gestured for Skarra to lead the way out of respect for the noble being.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It scarcely took a second or two before Cia noticed someone staring at her. As her mark was now very late, she made a quick decision and rose, taking her drink (her second drink) with her and sitting down across from the Elf, a bard by the look of him. But she spoke not a word as she sat there across from him, deciding to play this like a turn-based game. He had initiated the game with a stare; she had answered by sitting across from him.
Now, it was his turn...
Eldir stared at Cia as she moved from her table to his. As she sat down, he took a sip of his drink before placing the mug on the table and sitting upright. His green eyes never left the woman.
"Assassin or thief?" he asked finally after a silence that would be unnerving to even some of the stronger willed beings allowed inside most city walls. Actually, the bard himself got slightly nervous because of it.
The Centaur looked at Radek and nodded with a smile before turning for the door and leaving. The north gate wasn't that far and neither was sunset. The sun burned as bright orange somewhere beyond the buildings and the sky was mostly cloudless. The season meant that the moon would be glowing extremely brightly. Skarra had to admit that the dwarf was a very cleaver little merchant. Traveling when the bandits were camped in their lairs and getting ready for the next day of pillaging was quite the idea. And especially when you hire as many adventurers, tired bandits would not be up for a proper fight anyways.
Skarra looked over at Radek and then towards the north gate.
"We still have some time before the sun sets. No need to rush, I guess" the so called 'noble' creature said.
"What drove you to wandering, Radek? Last time I heard of you, you were happily defending you village's peace. A noble cause, but one that gets boring fast enough for one to leave for adventures when he should be coming back from them?"
Cia's ice-blue eyes had not wavered from the bard's green ones through the entirety of the long silence they shared. And when the bard finally asked, 'Assassin or thief?' a faint smirk traced her lips, but her eyes still would not release his.
"Thief," she answered. "Assassin only if it's truly worth it... if the mark is truly worthy of death." She allowed him a brief pause to digest that information before asking, "Why?"
His move again.
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Radek was silent for a moment. "Boring, yes," he said slowly, but it didn't sound quite as though he meant it. "Defense of my city was my life for so many years. I..." He shook his head. "The head of the Council passed away not long before I left. His successor had some... issues with me that he didn't want to deal with."
They walked in silence for a moment. "I was banished, Skarra, though the people of Palmino will never know. They were told that I had made the decision to take up a nomadic lifestyle, and I have done nothing to correct that thinking. I am not willing to bend to the level of the gutless wretch now leading the Council."
By that, he meant he was not intending to expose the leader's dislike of him, or what really happened between them. There was a touch of pride in his voice, and it was clear that he would keep to his exile until he was called back to his home... if ever.
The squeal of the tavern door jolted Kadis from his nap. The red-gold light of sunset was washing over the town, and Kadis lurched up, running his hands over his belt to make sure he was prepared. Sword, buckler, his near-empty money pouch, and his pack had been undisturbed. He grabbed the straps and hoisted it onto his shoulders. It would be good to be back on the road again, this place was beginning to wear thin for him.
Kadis headed out of the tavern and towards the north gate. He shook his head. Traveling at dusk was a bad move from his perspective - Bandits might be resting, but the lack of proper visibility, combined with the group being tired before their journey even started, was not a good move, especially given he wasn't exactly hiring high-quality mercenaries, instead, just calling out every thug and sellsword with a dagger. And then again, the Dwarf might have ulterior motives for hauling his goods after sundown, less of a chance they'd get examined under proper light. If the Dwarf is hauling contraband, this would be the way to do it.
Kadis shoved those thoughts out of his head. They might be true, but as long as he was properly paid and didn't get killed on the road, he didn't care how poorly the Dwarf made plans.
The Centaur and another human were already waiting. He stood back away from them - no sense interrupting their conversation. He took stock of both of them. Both seemed like seasoned warriors, given their armament and size. Probably Mercenaries. Maybe professional soldiers.. He settled back, keeping a surreptitious eye on them. Know your enemy was a maxim he had learned a long time ago, and in this day and age, it west best to be wary of anyone and everyone.
The bard slipped a hand to his belt, opened a pouch slightly and took out a medium-sized leaf wrapped around something. Eldir placed it on the table and slid it over towards Cia.
"I happen to have lost a pouch full of these. I was wondering if you had seen it" he said and took his glass again, taking a sip from the water. If Cia attempted to open the leaf to see what was inside, he would not stop her, but she would find nothing but a loose and airy powder within it. It was an elven type of traveling meal for those who didn't have time to prepare food and didn't have space to carry large breads or something similar. The trick was to first mix into the powder a single drop of elven water, close the leaf again and then hit it with something hard. After being hit, the mixture inside the leaf would first bloat slightly, making the leaf into an oval shape and after this suck the green off the leaf. After the leaf turned red or orange, you could eat it with or without the leaf, however you wanted to digest it. Eldir kept close eye of the thief and watched her every move.
Skarra looked at Radek and gave a light laugh.
"You either believe that the council is backed up by the people in all situations, or you fear that if you return, the new council head will start rumors of their once loyal warrior becoming a savage murderer" the Centaur said and shook his head. The Centaur found humans most amusing in their paranoid lines of thought and the results of these lines of thought.
"Rest easy, friend. There are dozens of villages and towns out there needing guardians nowadays" Skarra noted with a smile, but afterwards looked slightly up and seemed to sadden.
"Town that once were guarded by Centaur and Eagle side by side back in the day. Back in the day before we became too few to roam freely. Glorious days..." he spoke nearly to himself and stepped towards the north gate. He had not been alive when Centaurs and Eagles stood side by side, but could remember the days. It was either because of the strong Centaur lore told to all young ones or that he had lived back then, as Centaurs and Elves both share the factually unproven belief that they will be reborn after a few decade hiatus unless they are savages in their previous life. This lore also backs the belief that Centaur numbers began to grow smaller after the War against the beasts of the subterranean world because the Gods saw most front line soldiers as savages because of their combat experience that numbed most minds after a while.
((Finished my characters Tepe, check them out, see if they're okay by your standards, I'll change anything that needs it.))
"Take it!" A lilting, almost unnaturally pleasant, voice said aloud, an overly obvious tinge of urgency and haste present.
"No, I need to gain favor with the city's people, not lose it!" Came a voice almost the exact opposite of the other, very deep, and with a sort of gravely type of sound to it.
"But you can hide it, so if they catch me I won't be found with it on my person, that way they can't put the blame on me," the first voice responded.
"I don't care, you shouldn't have stolen it in the first place!" Was the not-too-pleased retort. The current speaker, the unpleasantly voiced one, flailed his arms up in exasperation at the worried, and quite antsy, figure in front of him. "How'd you even get ahold of something like that anyways? And why a ring? Why an engagement one, for that matter!?"
"Do you see this crystal!? Do you!!? I tell you it's a binding crystal, the thing's huge! And I want to free whoever's inside," the now excited red-haired male said. By all appearances he looked like an elf, though taller than the average elf, and to most, a lot better built, he still retained the same appeal and natural grace granted to elves, but he had key differences that seperated him from most elves. Such would be, his hair, both the appearance, texture, and color were unlike that of elves. His mannerisms were definately different, and his air, or appeal, as mentioned earlier, was very flamboyant, mischievous, and playful, like the air you would see when around pixies and nymphs. Which he was, actually.
Other said differences included his scent, which would remind you of the sweet fragrance of grass after it had rained, or the earthy smell of trees. But his eyes said everything, they were large, and almond shaped, full of mirth, and had the appearance of orbs made of autumn leaves.
The other figure was much easier to tell apart from other people, as he looked to be a half human, half snake, actually, he was, he was of the well known evil race of beings known as Yuan-Ti. It appeared he had no mouth, that was untrue, it was only covered by a retracting film of skin, which when pulled back showed a lipless mouth full of needle sharp teeth and two long, venomous fangs.
"I don't care what it looks like, I don't..." But he was cut short as someone shouted out. "There he is!!! Get him!!"
The anxious red-headed fellow wasn't around long enough to see what happened next as he bolted down the street. "Get back here!" Were the words that chased after him.
'Where to go? Where to hide?' He asked himself as he ran. He caught sight of a sign on a building a street over. 'The inn! No one looks in the inn!' He exclaimed to himself, turning sharply and heading towards the building. It wasn't too long before he found himself bursting inside, looking around desperately for a crowded table, or bar stool between some patrons, but all he found was a nearly empty place, there were the serving girls, the barkeep, a couple sleeping drunks, two elves having a staring contest, and a couple active bar patrons here and there, but they were too spread apart from eachother, none of them were in any conglomerated groups, which was bad.
The best place the panicky guy could find to hide, was either with the elves, or between an odd looking fellow and what appeared to be a very big, bipedal lizard....with really scary claws!....And teeth.......Hard choice.
But he didn't have time to deliberate as the sound of shouts and clanking armor and the thud of boots on the stone streets (assuming here) was heard behind him, coming towards the inn. So he scrambled for the closest place he could get to.
Seeing that people were leaving for the North Gate, Curudir decided to join them. As soon as he finished his mead, he handed the bartender a gold piece to pay for it, telling him to keep the change. He then left the tavern and got back on his horse and make his way to the gate. Upon arriving, he looked at the others who had already arrived at the gate. Among them were most of the bar's patrons, including the centaur, the dark elf, the lich, and even the half-elf.
They certainly looked well equipped for whatever job this dwarf was planning, so Curudir weighed the alternatives. The pay he would be getting would be much more divided than he originally hoped, but gold was gold, none the less. Chasing after the zealots would likely cost him more gold than it would pay, and it could certainly wait. He then approached the dwarf. "You've certainly got enough people for this escort job of yours, but mind if join you?" He asked.
The bard was getting annoyed at the thief and stood up, finishing his drink.
"Apparently not, then" he said and took the leaf he had placed on the table, slipping it back into the pouch where it came from.
"If you happen to find them, I'm leaving with a merchant from the north gates once the sun has set" Eldir noted and walked calmly off, but stopping next to the nymph who seemed extremely anxious to get away from the guards stomping around outside rather loudly. As a fellow creature of the woods, Eldir thought quickly and removed his shield from his back, shoving it to the nymph.
"Place this across your back, hunch low and act so as if you were drunk as a barbarian after a fifteen day feast" the elf said, placing his arm over the nymph afterwards as if he were trying to carry him out and into his home after a hard day of drinking. It might even work if the guards were stupid enough.
The Centaur approached the dwarf lugging crates on the back of his two mule-driven cart and helped him lug the last ones. As they lugged, one of the men standing around came over asking to be hired.
"Aye lad, it's good to have as many guards as you can on this road. You're welcome to join in" the dwarf told the man before looking over at the centaur who lugged the last crate on the cart.
"So, where are we heading?" the centaur asked, looking at all the people hanging around and coming with the conclusion that they would be going too.
"Port Jasper, my boy. But we'll be making a detour at Stonehaven. The men of that hideous fort have ordered some fresh weaponry and frankly I want to be out of that doomed place as soon as I get there" the dwarf told the centaur who nodded and looked at the crates.
"What's the cargo to Port Jasper then?" Skarra asked after a while and the dwarf grunted at his curiosity.
"Metals, clothes, exotic items. Everything that could make a profit there, my boy" the dwarf said before turning his back on the Centaur to indicate the conversation was over. Skarra smiled as a response and walked up to the mules, petting them as if to try and strengthen them by words before and arduous journey.
He couldn't guess just how arduous...
Tale was walking the road towards the town of Kolirum-Masaar. He whistled to a melody of an old drinking song. After awhile he reached the North Gate.
Tale went through the gate and said: "Kolirum-Masaar...Long time, no see."
He looked around... the North Gate was more crowded than it uses too. He saw all kinds of people around a dwarf, armed people with lots of weapons.
"What's happening here?" Tale asked a guard. The guard didn't say anything. Tale starred at the guard, shook his head and turned around. Then he asked the same question to a random person passing by his right side.
"I'm not sure, but I heard something about a job at the North Gate in the tavern." Tale smiled and went towards the people.
"Good evening, fine people!" Tale said "What are you doing this late hour and with weapons?"
Cia laughed softly as the bard departed, annoyed by her silence. But she had not remained silent without reason, for she knew exactly what had happened to his pouch of leaves. On her way into town, she had seen the pouch discarded on the ground, possibly dropped there by one who could not determine the worth of such an item. Another had come and lifted the pouch from the ground and Cia had snatched it effortlessly from that man. So it was that Cia had the bard's pouch when he had asked her if she'd seen it, but she knew that if she'd handed it over straight away, he'd likely have accused her of stealing it. After all, what else would a thief do?
So she had remained silent, her eyes never leaving his. She watched him leave with the stranger who'd just come in looking for a place to hide and shook her head thoughtfully. "It's never simple," she murmured. Rising to her feet, she left the tavern, walking slowly so as not to overtake the bard and his newfound friend.
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Radek had not responded to Skarra's comment of their being plenty of unguarded towns he could easily pick up. It was clear that, though all of them needed protection, none would truly have Radek's heart as Palmino had. That path of discussion came to an end and they went on in silence to the North Gate.
He listened in as Skarra pressed the dwarf with questions of the journey, and when the dwarf turned away, Radek leaned in closer to Skarra and murmured, "I get the sense there are a few things he's not telling..."
Before he could continue, someone approached, inquiring as to their purpose at the gate. Radek shook his head and jerked a thumb in the direction of the dwarf. "It's a job... ask him."
Tale looked at the man. "Are you always in such a good mood?". Tale smiled and headed towards the dwarf. When he came to the dwarf he asked, with a friendly voice.
"Greetings master dwarf! I heard you have some work going on. And it's your lucky day, for I am looking for one."
Tale turned around, and looked at the centaur and his face suddenly turned sad. He hadn't seen a Centaur for a long time...a very long time. Tale always liked the Centaurs, he always found them look so proud, nobel and royal compared with other species.
For a minute his thoughts went back to his best friend, a Centaur named Kimo. But Kimo was now dead, and Tale was alone. A tear came out of Tale's left eye. He dried his tear and turned back to the dwarf.
"So how about that job? I'm a good archer, and I'm in great need of money."
Icarian was surprised at the sudden approach of one of the elves, who suddenly shoved a shield into his hands.
"Place this across your back, hunch low and act so as if you were drunk as a barbarian after a fifteen day feast," the elf told him.
Icarian didn't argue, any help was welcomed help, so he did as he was bidden, grabbing a cloth from a nearby table and wrapping it around his head aswell to hide his hair, one of his most distinguishing features.
Icarian hunched down, and leaned heavily against the elven bard, a doofus grin spread across his face that would easily pass as a drunken stare.
"Show buddy, wur we goin'?" He asked the elf, with a very passable drunken voice, as they vacated the inn, guards pouring into the place the moment they left.
((Sorry for the lameness, not much can be done with my character at the moment.))
The guards rushed past the two and into the tavern while the bard hastened their step, practically throwing themselves into a nearby alleyway before looking behind the corners for any guards nearby.
"That went better than I hoped" he noted before looking over at Icarian and smiling slightly at their success.
"You should probably get out of town before sunrise. There's a merchant leaving from the north gates at sunset. I'm going with him and I suggest you hitch a ride as well, because it might be the only way you can get out of town before sunrise without drawing too much attention to yourself" Eldir said and took his shield back, strapping it onto his back once more.
"The name's Eldir, by the way. Some have given me the added name Eastwind Crow, but I don't encourage you use that"
The dwarf looked at Tale and raised an eyebrow at the tear falling from the corner of his eye. The sudden emotion was rather silly on the accord of the dwarf, but he eventually nodded.
"Sure, lad. Can't ever have too much protection, even if this much people might drain my pouches of gold rather swiftly" the dwarf told him and looked around at the people gathered by the north gate. He had invited a bard to keep him amused on the trip and would wait for a while past sunset if he would show his face around the north gate. He of course hoped it wouldn't go that far.
The Centaur looked over at Radek and smirked openly.
"You think? He's a dwarven merchant. They are always hiding something" Skarra noted and turned his smirk into a wide smile accompanied by a short burst of laughter.
Radek chuckled and nodded in agreement. "Ah, yes," he said with a grin. "And has someone learned an opinion of Dwarves from spending time with Elves?" Shaking his head, he laughed lightly. "Then again, I have no room to talk on that issue..." He glanced at the Dwarf and shook his head thoughtfully. Lowering his voice, he spoke only to Skarra. "Something doesn't feel right about this, though... the Dwarf has something he's desperately trying to conceal from those about to travel with him, though it shall be us he depends on to protect his secret..." He shook his head, frowning. "I don't like it, Skarra. I'm going... but I don't like it..."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cia trailed the Bard and his new friend from some distance away. Eventually, she would slip closer, probably when the Bard found himself in a crowded area. Then, she would be there and gone in a flash, only to return his pouch to him without his being made aware of the fact that she had it. She didn't like to explain things, especially not after she'd made herself known as a Thief... and especially not concerning something she had not stolen.
So Cia followed the Bard through the alleys and back toward the North Gate. He had told her this would be his destination, and perhaps there would be a crowd there... easy to slip through and put the pouch back where it was supposed to be without being noticed. Yes, the North Gate would do.
Though Curudir didn't trust the Dwarf, he did not say anything, as his mind was preoccupied with the thought of going to Stonehaven. He was divided about the fact that he would be able to get the directions he needed, but that would only lead to further directions, constantly leading him to nothing. On the other hand, he trusted the men there as far as he could throw them. Probably all at once. He'd heard stories of the men at that accursed fort had done to merchants simply seeking shelter from the forces of nature. They'd demand a sizeable portion of their gold and goods just for even the most meagre bedding for the night. And still, most of them did not make it out alive.
"There is something he's not telling us, but I intend to find out what it is before we get to Port Jasper." He then said to Radek. "Do you really think he trusts us that much either?"
"Perhaps the Dwarf's secrets will be discovered before we reach Stonehaven," Radek answered, turning to face the man who'd asked a question of him. "As to his trusting us, he'd be a fool to trust us fully... but that is a double-edged sword, for if he cannot trust us, then he has hired us in vain." He frowned thoughtfully and shook his head. Then, his frown vanished and he smiled faintly. "But let us speak no more of our employer's secrets."
He glanced back to the Dwarf and chuckled, saying, "Dwarves can be ill-tempered when they are being suspected of excessive secrecy..." Raising his voice, he added, "... isn't that right, Master Dwarf?" He turned fully to face the Dwarf now. "And while we're at it, I don't believe you've told us your name?"
"That went better than I hoped," the elf said with relief.
"I agree," Icarian said, his drunken accent gone.
"You should probably get out of town before sunrise. There's a merchant leaving from the north gates at sunset. I'm going with him and I suggest you hitch a ride as well, because it might be the only way you can get out of town before sunrise without drawing too much attention to yourself," the bard said taking his shield back.
"The name's Eldir, by the way. Some have given me the added name Eastwind Crow, but I don't encourage you use that," Eldir the elven bard introduced.
"I am pleased to call you what I want, and what I want I am pleased to call you; I am Icarian Uliea, a nymph by nature, I am a Dryad, a spirit of the trees, I come from the deep reaches of the Black Forest. I am eternally bound to my blade, though what that means, you will have to find out. I was once called Merdys, meaning stubborn in the common tongue, but I was given a name by the ancient races, and I inhereted my sirname from a former elven master, and keeper, may his soul rest easy," Icarian told the bard dramatically, giving a deep bow.
"I would gladdly leave the town by the North Gate, but I have a companion to worry about," he told Eldir. "But it would be a greater difficulty finding him, than him finding me, so if you would have it, I will follow you to the North Gate," Icarian told Eldir with a mirth filled smile. With that, Icarian tagged along with the elf, whether he wished for company or not; Icarian's head still wrapped in a cloth.
Now Icarian wasn't exceptionally perceptive, at least with his natural senses, basically saying, he was no elf, he had almost normal sight; better than human sight, but not like elven farsight, though he did have true sight, a vision granted only to nymphs, and other mysterious creatures of nature. It was nothing extrordinary. His hearing was, yet again, better than a human's, but not like an elf's. But Icarian had been trained as a scout, a form of a rogue, or, more or less, a thief, so he was well aware of his surroundings at all times, and while he was looking for guards, he noticed something else.
'Should I tell him?' He questioned himself, looking back over at Eldir as they went along. 'No, better get a good understanding of the situation before I go spouting my mouth off,' he concluded in thought.
"Tell me Master Crow, if I may call you that? Do you have any, relations? Maybe a wife, or child?" He asked, glancing over his shoulder once his questions were asked so he could catch another glimpse of what he had caught sight of.
Tale sat down and took some water and a piece of bread, which he had carried from his latest journey. When he ran out of water he grabbed a boy running by.
"Good evening kid, isn't this a bit late for you to be up and running?"
"No, not today, I have to help daddy preparing his store for tomorrow, we have a grand sale."
"Is that so? Anyway, are you intressed in earning some money? You see I have a waterbag here, and there is a problem. It's empty, could you go refill it for me?" Tale said and gave the boy the waterbag.
"Yes, sir!" the boy said and ran away. Tale pulled up his blade and started to sharpen it and strengthend his bow. He looked at the people around the centaur, giving the dwarf suspecious looks. He had been listening half-actively on their conversation, and he could help smiling at his fellow comrades on this job. He didn't really care whether or not the dwarf was hiding something, on the contrary he would have been suprised if he wasn't. Suddenly the boy came running again and gave Tale the waterbag and recieved a payment as agreed.
"A pleasure doing business with you, sir." the boy said.
"Murgol of Morlingaad and I don't pay overly curious people. That is all you need to know about me" the dwarf responded to the questions and looked towards the town central, hoping to see the elf on his way there soon. And he didn't have to wait for long either. Eldir led Icarian and, without knowing it, Cia as well towards the dwarf and is cart.
"None you should know about and even less of which you should ask about"
The elven bard told Icarian as he walked straight to the dwarf, observing the cart on his way and nodding a hello to the familiar Centaur.
"I'm here, master dwarf. Is this the group you have collected?" Eldir asked and jumped on the cart to sit.
"Aye, lad. He coming with you?" the dwarf responded and pointed at Icarian.
"Yes, even if I do not know for how much of the trip he will be joining us. Trouble with the locals" the bard told the Dwarf who nodded with a smile and sat on the drivers bench of the cart, grabbed a cane on the bench and whacked both of the beasts pulling the cart so they would get a move on.
"Everyone who's coming with me and expecting pay, I'd advise you to follow" the Dwarf called out before the oxes crossed to outside the town.
Cia had been noticed by Icarian, true, but he had not reacted to her and so she could follow Eldir all the way to the North Gate safely. However, her plan went sour when a ranger Centaur stepped in front of her and blocked her from walking over to Eldir to return the pouch.
"Only a thief walks with as light of a step as yours even on city streets. Are you following someone or going to join the group, for you may not pass if it is the first one" Skarra told Cia with a hand raised towards her signaling for a stop.
Kadis nodded at the dwarf's words. He was obviously none too bright - declaring that he doesn't pay the curious pretty much blatantly declared that whatever was in these carts was either questionable, illegal, or highly dangerous.
Not that it was going to dissuade him from coming with them. Anything but, it made the prospects even more attractive. All he'd need to do was figure out what the Dwarf was hiding and then alert the officials, after he'd leveraged his knowledge into a sizable block of gold. Blackmail would also be effective, but Dwarves tended to be suspicious and wary, even the idiots among them. Alternatively, he could attempt to steal the goods, but attempting to get away with a full cart of goods without a coterie of men aiding him would be a feat in and of itself. Of course, if he were hauling contraband, he'd have it buried in crates of grain or something similar. Otherwise, this Dwarf was going to need to drop a series of extremely hefty bribes.
He increased his pace, catching up to the cart.
"Before I walk halfway across the world guarding whatever you've jammed into the back of this cart, Dwarf, I want to know - what are you paying us?"
The Mercenary's Creed: Never do anything until payment has been properly and clearly arranged. Charity was for fools. The lack of any clear number placed on this job suggested the Dwarf wasn't being entirely honest, but then again, he had already as good as admitted to hauling contraband, so an apparent lack of honesty was hardly shocking.
Cia's eyes narrowed. "I do not follow to steal, but to return." She held up the pouch. "But perhaps you might do the deed and save me the trouble of explaining how it came to me. It belongs to the Elven bard. He dropped it upon entering the city. It was picked up and discarded once, and I got it from the ground. The connection to the bard was made when he observed me in the tavern and came over for a chat. She extended the pouch to him.
"If you wish to block my path, then I will not complain," she finished. "But the pouch must be returned, so if you insist on keeping me from my goal, you must complete it yourself."
Skarra looked at the thief before swinging his hand and grabbing the pouch from her.
"I will take this to him, for I do not trust you near the Dwarf's cart. I am not being payed for naught" he noted as he checked the pouch and turned to see the cart leaving with most of the assembled group. The Centaur gave another glance at Cia before giving a loud groan and rushing after the cart. While he was on his way, he still checked his belt so that he had everything he should.
"Eldir" Skarra called out as he approached and threw the pouch. The elven bard managed to only just catch the pouch and looked inside, a mile appearing afterwards on his lips. The bard looked back towards the thief.
"We could use you on our trip. If you want a safe trip to Stonehaven or Port Jasper, come with us" the bard shouted to the thief while sitting on the back of the cart, on top of the crates.
"None you should know about and even less of which you should ask about," Eldir told Icarian.
"'Well, that leaves only a few options open for who the lady is who was following us,'" Icarian muttered to himself. Icarian only smiled at the dwarf when he asked about Icarian, who slowed his pace down so the cart, and Eldir would get ahead of him.
"Only a thief walks with as light of a step as yours even on city streets. Are you following someone or going to join the group, for you may not pass if it is the first one," Icarian heard someone say behind him. Icarian was curious, it seemed the stalker was found out, by somebody else though, he wanted a closer look, actually, he wanted a look period, he didn't have eyes on the back of his head after all.
"I do not follow to steal, but to return." Came the voice of a female, somewhat elven by what Icarian could tell with his training. "But perhaps you might do the deed and save me the trouble of explaining how it came to me. It belongs to the Elven bard. He dropped it upon entering the city. It was picked up and discarded once, and I got it from the ground. The connection to the bard was made when he observed me in the tavern and came over for a chat." The voice continued.
"If you wish to block my path, then I will not complain," She finished. By this time Icarian had slowed down so much he was moving at a snail's pace, and facing backwards at that, as he observed and listened in on what was occuring behind him, though, more like in front of him now. "But the pouch must be returned, so if you insist on keeping me from my goal, you must complete it yourself."
"I will take this to him, for I do not trust you near the Dwarf's cart. I am not being payed for naught" The centaur said to the elven woman, actually, half-elven from what Icarian could note about her appearance and voice, the two things that helped him distinguish a person most when 'scouting'. But, unfortunately, Icarian was so caught up 'scouting' he didn't notice the centaur rushing towards him, luckily he went by Icarian, but the nymph was still caught offguard, and ended up landing on his duff in the dirt.
"Ow, that hurt, I need to pay more attention," Icarian said, but was unable to continue further as a rough, cold hand lifted him bodily from the ground.
"I knew I would find you at one of the gates, what were you thinking!? Nevermind, the trade agreement with this town fell through, I wasn't able to get any notable answers from them so I left," came the not-too-pleased voice of Icarian's friend, 'Seth'. "What is this, a caravan?" He asked the Dryad.
"Yeah, it seems so," Icarian told 'Seth'.
"We could use you on our trip. If you want a safe trip to Stonehaven or Port Jasper, come with us," Icarian caught from up ahead, coming from the cart calling out to the half-elf.
"From what I can tell they're paying, and we do need the money 'Seth', so how about we join? You wanted to go to Port Jasper anyway," Icarian continued to tell the reformed Yuan-Ti.
"Fine, I'll ask the dwarf, but the centaur better not try to trample me, or I'll give him a bite he'll remember!" 'Seth' told Icarian, still a bit agitated.
"'Please don't, I just made a new friend with the bard, I don't need you ruining it by biting someone,'" Icarian muttered after 'Seth'. Icarian watched as 'Seth' went towards the cart, and then he began to untie the cloth from his head, his springy red hair bouncing up immediately, as if it had been waiting to be freed. Icarian paused, looking between the half-elf and the cart which was still moving slowly away from them. Icarian walked after the cart finally, but he moved slowly so he could 'guard the rear'.
Cia was startled by the bard's offer. Who in their right mind offered a thief a place in a caravan? "Thanks," she said, finally finding her tongue, "but I think..."
"But you think you'll be joining us," Radek cut in, dropping back to glare at the half-Elf. At the sight of the warrior, Cia's face drained of color.
"Radek," she gasped. With a small grin, he nodded.
"Hello, Ciannait," he replied. "Now, come along."
Obediently, Cia fell into line with him, moving along after the cart... though how these two knew one another was a mystery, even to Skarra.
Curudir was sharpening his blades when he noticed Radek speaking to the dwarf. Though he doubted Radek could get any real information from him, he still wanted to know if he found anything out. For now he waited for the discussion to end, content to sharpen his blades with what crude tools were available.
After a while, Curudir looked up again, and saw Radek talking to an elf who appeared to have just arrived. He figured this would be a good time to talk to Radek about the dwarf, so he got up off the small boulder he was sitting on and went over to the two of them.
"Get anything from our employer?" He asked Radek, and suddenly realising he hadn't properly introduced himself, added, "I'm Curudir, by the way. Curudir Therias."
((Hello, this is a bump. Bump!))
((Do something you buggers!))
((Wow. Big bump. Suppose it's fitting that, since my lack of post is what seems to have killed it before, I'm the one to give it a writing kick.))
"Radek," the man answered. "And no, I have not. He has stated his dislike for continual questioning. I intend to leave him alone for the time being. My advice to you: be prepared for anything."
And with that, he turned away, leading Cia by the arm, and followed after the Dwarf's cart, by now just passing through the city gates. Cia shifted uncomfortably, trying to free her arm, and though it didn't look like Radek was holding her very hard, she could not pull her arm away.
"Let go of me," she hissed softly.
"Not this time, Cia," Radek answered sternly. "Last time I did that, someone ended up dead."
"But he deserved it," Cia snapped defensively. Radek glared at her.
"That is not your decision to make," he scolded.
"But you agree!" Cia countered defiantly. "You know better than I the things he did, the suffering he caused."
"But to put him through some of the same sorts of suffering is inhuman," Radek argued. Cia shot him a smug grin.
"I am not human." Radek raised his other hand, threatening a slap to the face. Cia barely flinched.
"You are governed by the same laws we all follow," he said, dropping his hand without slapping her. "You have just slipped up on a few of them."
And so they continued, with Radek firmly grasping Cia's arm, and Cia trying to free it.
The cart moved swiftly forwards, being pulled by strong beasts of burden at the front. With the speed they were going down the road, the lights of Kolirum-Masaar swiftly disappeared into the darkness of the upcoming night. The dwarf opened one of the crates the cart carried and gave a signal to Eldir to start handing out the torches inside before lighting them. He passed a torch to Skarra and lit it so he could go ahead of the group and light up the road as they went. He also handed a torch to Radek, Curudir and Icarian, lighting them and finally getting one for himself.
By what Skarra estimated, at the speed they were traveling they would arrive to Stonehaven the next evening if they didn't rest. From there it would be a three-day journey to Port Jasper. He highly doubted that they would skip rest since the group had been swiftly collected and looked like they had only just returned from their individual trips. This would extend the time of their travel to Stonehaven by a few hours, but Skarra did not mind. As long as he got paid and managed to get some direly needed supplies.
Unbeknownst to the group, their moves were being watched. From far away on the hills ahead of them, a lone figure crouched and blended into his surroundings in the darkness. The lighting of torches had taken the interest of a bandit scout who now waited to determine how strong the group was escorting the cart. By the looks of things, the cart seemed to hold something valuable, new that would come welcomed to the leader of said bandit scout. With a light chuckle the figure disappeared from the hill, rushing northwards for the bandit camp to inform them of the approaching group. The cart and it's escorts wouldn't know what hit them.
Tale went in the middle of the group, observing the other ones. Torches were lit and handed out to a few. Tale looked on the stars and feelt a small breeze in his face. It was peaceful, and quite. Tale considered it to be a beautiful night, even if it was very dark. He started to whistle a few tunes, while the cart picked up speed.
Tale stopped the whisteling, and once again, he started to think it was to quite. He didn't see, nor did he hear any animals, or any sound at all from the bushes. Not even an owl. But maybe it was always like that. Tale knew he hadn't been much in these areas, so he couldn't say much of the wildlife thereabout, especially not during the night. Tale could hear and see very well compared to many others, but nothing was there to be spotted. So Tale took his bow and placed it on his back instead of holding it.
One of the people carrying was an elf, and for some reason this elf seemed closer to the dwarf than the others. Tale went towards him started to walk beside him.
"Beautiful night, isn't it?" He said to Eldir.
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