Preparations For Battle

Factories along the northern quarter of the city for the production of goods like cloth, brewed ale, and construction materials. An old water-wheel provides power for half the city.
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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:28 pm

Uluki nodded to each of the men as they left. She hoped they would be cautious, and not take unnecessary risks. She did not remind them of that, however, since it seemed demeaning to insinuate that hardened warriors were not able to exercise sufficient caution. Of course they could. And she would do her best not to worry.

Rollick paused to give her a quick kiss goodbye on the way out. "Be careful," she said quietly, keeping her concern out of her voice.

"Not to worry, dear one. I'll see you soon." Rollick sounded quite calm about the whole thing. One last loving glance, and then he was out the door with the others.

Uluki collected Martin from Rosemary, thanking her profusely for watching him so long, and grateful for her protestations she'd been happy to do so. Uluki knew that was true... but she also didn't expect Rosemary to spend her whole day looking after someone else's child when she clearly had work of her own to do. Rosemary returned to her sewing.

Uluki knew Metellus was upstairs somewhere. He shouldn't be hard to find.

On the way up, she passed Dash and Zee sitting in the hallway with the younger refugee boy. He was teaching them some sort of complicated game that involved many piles of small pebbles. Dash seemed to be doing very well, while Zee did adequately, and all three seemed to be enjoying themselves. Uluki smiled at them and they smiled back, but she did not interrupt their game further.

Once upstairs, Uluki realized she didn't know exactly which room her patient was in. She paused in the corridor.

"Metellus?" she called. She knew she was risking waking him if he was resting, but she'd need to anyway. Better to wake him now than for him to awake with a strange Duskling standing over him.

"My name is Uluki. I'm a healer. If you're willing, I'll have a look at your injuries. I can do something about the pain, and perhaps help you heal a bit more quickly, if you are willing."

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:42 pm

"Come in!" The shout came from the room that Triarius and Darir had been using, confirming what the dwarrow had said concerning barracking in threes. As nice as private rooms were, soldiers built stronger bonds of loyalty if they were accustomed to sharing.

Only the most stupid of people refused aid while injured for the sake of prejudice, and Metellus was not a stupid person. Besides, from shouts exchanged through the doorway, he had no idea that the healer in question was a fae.

So he responded well to the offer, rather than for an unknown person to simply come in and start yanking on his leg. Seeing the Duskling for the first time, he started a little. Expecting a healer is not the same as expecting a healer with blue skin.

Nontheless, it was plausible that his lord would have found a healer for him if those injuries were beyond his own power to mend. "Whatever you can do. Thank you."

For the most part, the injuries were healing well, extremely well in fact, a sign of some form of assistance. All that the bones needed was compression, elevation and support, to hold them in place while they reknit. With luck, the fractures would not take long to fuse.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:48 am

Uluki wasn't surprised that he seemed startled to see her. He probably hadn't expected someone like her... but he didn't seem to mind her presence. He even thanked her. That boded well.

She set Martin on the ground on his blanket, where he gurgled away happily. "My son," she explained unnecessarily.

Uluki examined the injury, wincing a little. It wasn't life-threatening, but no doubt it was painful. She could heal it instantly, except that magic was illegal. If he reported her, that would be life-threatening... to her.

"I'll need to split that, or the bones will shift and you'll never fully heal. It may hurt for a few minutes, but you'll feel better afterward. I need to go get some supplies. I'll be just a moment."

Uluki ducked out to look for those supplies. She found a few discarded scraps of wood tossed in a corner... those would do, and she selected a few pieces of the proper length and thickness... and Rosemary was able to provide her with some tough material for binding the injuries. She also took two of the padded aketons they'd been using for bedding. Metellus would need those injured limbs elevated, and she and Rollick could sleep on the floor for now. He would understand.

She returned to Metellus. "I'll splint the leg first. That one may hurt a bit." The bone was already is position. That was good. Aorle's healing, whatever is entailed, had worked well and prevented further injury. She splinted the leg, working quickly and efficiently, then elevated it on the folded aketon.

She moved to the arm, and was once again impressed by how well it was mending.

"When did you say this happened?"

"Yesterday," he replied.

She was surprised by the answer. He was doing amazingly well for one with injuries so fresh. Whatever Aorle did seemed quite effective on both leg and arm.

Uluki finished splinting the arm, then elevated it as well. "When you first get out of bed, you should use a sling. It will prevent the bones from being disturbed as they heal."

She demonstrated how a sling should be used, drawing in the air with one finger from her arm to around her neck, and handed him a square of material he could use to form it.

Metellus thanked her for her help, but she dismissed it, seeming almost embarrassed. If he knew what healing she was capable of using magic, he would realize how insignificant her efforts were.

"It's nothing." It was really, really nothing. "I need to go see if Ian is back. I'll come check on you later, but I need to go now."

She picked up Martin and darted out of the room without giving Metellus a chance to respond. It was true she should wait for Ian-- and she made her way downstairs to do so-- but she'd departed so abruptly so he wouldn't see the look of guilt on her face, guilt that she hadn't done more. Guilt that he was still in pain.

In all her time as a healer, Uluki had never held back. Any energy that was in her, she had given freely to others. She healed until she was utterly spent. Never before had she left a job unfinished, an injury deliberately unhealed. It made her feel sick inside.

She hoped Ian would come back soon... his arrival would provide a distraction from her thoughts, if nothing else.

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Sun Aug 05, 2007 1:11 am

Ian was indeed back, looking even more dusty than before. Thankfully, however, he had a wrapped bundle of bread loaves in his arms.

Under normal circumstances Metellus may have chased after such a sudden departure, wondering if there was any distress. Having a broken leg removed that option... so he just lay there, really.

"We got bread missus." Ian presented the gathered collection. There were some loaves, although there was only so much arm-space that a young boy could provide. After a moment, it occured to the boy that Uluki's arms were full. "Where to missus?" he asked, eager to be helpful.

For the moment, there was only so much that could be done, and little of it by a small boy. So while Ian was happy to be helpful, it would take him awhile to accomplish anything meaningful before the others returned.

With lots of wood.

Once back, Gaelm wasted no time before splitting the logs with his hatchet, leaving only a scant few unaltered. Each split half of the log was a substitute for a plank, thick enough to matter in case of arrow fire. To dry the wood, a few of the others began making a fire, and cooking gear was used to hold the logs safely he flame.

Leaving Rollick free to see his wife.

Darir went through his tools and found spare rivets taken from the Fighter's Guild forge, which could functionally hold the half-logs in place like nails. Progress was being made.

The door, however, would be far more difficult. Aside from being outright rotten, it had no lock. This would need some inventive replacement.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:37 am

Uluki forced a grin onto her face when she saw Ian had returned. He'd done quite well-- she was surprised a boy his size could carry so much-- and he deserved praise for his efforts, not to be burdened with her troubles. Uluki had always been a poor liar, but she was used to masking sadness with a smile, and Ian hadn't known her long enough to be able to read her accurately. Her expression of happiness seemed to please him, and he smiled back shyly as she praised him.

"Well done. I'm impressed you managed to bring so much back." He rubbed one grubby bare foot against the other, but did not speak till she had answered his question. "I'd like you to take the bread in with the other food stores, please. I'll show you where."

Once he had set the bread down, he asked, "What do you want me to do next, missus?"

"I'm thankful for your help, but you've done enough for now. Why don't you sit down and have a meal? The rest of your family has already eaten."

"Aw, no, missus. I come here to work. I ain't tired. I still got more work in me. Mister Julen said we was to go to the scrap yard and bring back some stuff for you to use."

"Maybe later. For now I'd prefer you eat. Then you can see to your family. Your father...?"

"He's dead, missus. Been dead five years." No tears, but obvious sadness in his voice.

"It's your responsibility to look after your mother, brother, and grandfather, then?"

He merely nodded in reply, confirming the obvious.

"Well, that duty comes first. You need to eat-- no arguments, Ian, you must keep up your strength-- and then you can go see to them. Your mother has been very ill..."

He raised an eyebrow at the "has been," since when he left his mother had still been tightly in the grips of sickness, but he did not interrupt.

"...And I need you to check and make sure that she's alright. Bring her water if she needs it, and anything else she may require. She's counting on you, and so am I. Can you do that?"

"Yes, missus. I will, missus." He looked relieved.

"Good. Thank you." She gathered up some food for him and left him to eat.

She paused a moment outside the door, considering the boy. He ought to be in school, really. He ought to have a teacher. She wondered if he'd ever even learned how to read.

If she knew more, she could teach him herself. She could read, but she'd never had any sort of formal schooling. It was a rare Duskling child who ever did. Uluki had been apprenticed to a healer and then, when she showed magical talent, to a shaman, but she'd never been exposed to academics. She rarely had occasion to regret that... but this was one of those rare times. Uluki knew she was neither intelligent enough nor educated enough to teach others. She was determined, however, to find some way to provide these children with at least basic education, if nothing more. Surely even a little schooling would help.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the warriors' return with the needed wood. They were unharmed, and seemed to be in good spirits. "Thank you!" Uluki called, impressed with the speed and efficiency of their efforts. "You've been very successful, I see. That's excellent."

She addressed Triarius alone next. "I've splinted Metellus's broken bones. He is healing quite well. He is sure to make a full recovery. I can only imagine it is difficult for a warrior to be confined to bed, though. Perhaps it would be best for you to pay him a visit before beginning another task. It's important to keep his spirits up, as good morale leads to quicker healing."

Uluki then turned her attention to Gaelm, speaking between ax strokes so as not to interrupt his work, keeping her voice soft so only he heard her words. "You were right to be cautious about the forest. I think that was good judgment. I'm very glad to have someone around with such a talent for woodworking, as well. Thank you for all your help."

She nodded to the others in thanks for their efforts, but had nothing particular she needed to say to them, so she turned to her husband, smiling. Rollick scrutinized her face, then asked, "Uluki, can I speak to you alone for a moment?"

Uluki left Martin playing happily on his blanket under his sisters' watchful eyes, then joined her husband into an empty store room, the smile still pasted on her face.

"What in the world is wrong?" He sounded quite concerned.

Of course he'd seen through her expression. He knew her too well to be fooled by such an act. "Metellus is hurt," she said simply.

"Yes, I know. Triarius told me about the fight. It sounded as though his injuries weren't terribly severe, though? I'm sure with your help he'll recover quickly."

"He'd heal faster if I could..." But it was too dangerous even to finish the sentence.

Rollick's expression was sympathetic, but he seemed at a loss for words of comfort. He hugged her, rubbing her back gently.

Guilt stabbed through her like arrow after arrow. She was grateful for his kindness, for his warm and loving nature, but even that was a source of guilt.

If it weren't for her, he could lead a normal life. The children looked strange, but neither he nor they possessed any magic, and they would be safe. It was only Uluki herself who put them in danger. Without her nature-- a nature which currently seemed useless, since she could do nothing to erase even a simple injury-- they could live in peace. Uluki was the stone around their necks.

And Rollick... may the heavens bless him... Rollick loved that stone. She wouldn't blame him for abandoning her, for taking the children and forgetting her. Her heart would break and it would probably kill her, but she wouldn't blame him, wouldn't think he was doing wrong. Without her they could be free. They wouldn't have to hide.

But she was with them. Her presence forced them to live like hunted animals, desperate for a safe burrow. Her kind, good-hearted husband might be hacked to death by a paladin at any moment merely for the crime of existing... and it was all her fault. Rollick loved her. He loved her and would never abandon her, and his faithfulness might kill him.

Uluki pressed her face against his chest, dry sobs wracking her body, but her tears seemed trapped within her, bottled up like her guilt.

Rollick merely continued to hold her, continued to rub her back, trying to relax her. It always amazed her how gentle his strong hands were when he touched her. He touched her like something precious, something valuable. Like someone who mattered.

Uluki suspected Rollick had guessed what was wrong. He asked her no questions, offered no advice, merely said "I love you," as he stroked her back. And that, really, was all she needed. Uluki's breathing gradually returned to normal as the tight knot of panic in her stomach settled back into a dull ache of worry.

"I love you too," she said quietly when she'd caught her breath. "You mean so much to me."

Uluki decided not to say more on that subject at the moment for fear of setting off a fresh cascade of terror and guilt. Instead she said, in as even a voice as possible, "I'd like to make a stew for supper. It would be nice for people to have something hot to eat, and the ingredients will go farther that way than if we just ate them. I saw some scraps of wood lying around the building and yard. They weren't strong enough or large enough to be of any use in fortifying, but we could use them as fuel for a fire."

"Would it be helpful for your husband to build you such a fire?"

Uluki nodded. She knew he could find more impressive and almost certainly more enjoyable work to do elsewhere, but it would be nice not to have to drag all the wood out herself, and she'd need a fairly big fire. "Yes please."

Rollick set to work gathering up the scraps of wood, while Uluki collected ingredients. She couldn't find a kettle large enough to hold enough for everyone, but she managed to borrow several smaller cooking pots, and she could fill all of them.

The stew would take several hours to simmer, and Uluki stood by the outdoor fire, tending her cooking. She made sure to spread the word that anyone who needed her could find her there.

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Sun Aug 05, 2007 7:02 pm

Already the men were eating out of the palm of her hand, metaphorically speaking, since the meal being prepared was hot stew.

Triarius nodded gladly at Uluki's suggestion, immediately rushing up the staircase to check on his comrade. Seeing the improvement would hearten him greatly.

Gaelm Ordwygar beamed, "Glad to be of service, Lady." Then he took a moment's thought, "Loggers must be safe to work. If we stay together and only go in at day, we'll be fine."

Having spared a few hours, Varanghar had to leave, his duties at House Anstrun calling him back. Nevertheless, he was glad for the practice, against one of the few who could actually match him in strength. It was an interesting experience.

Now Krarug was on hand.

Crude fortifications for the doorway were accomplished by Krarug moving large packing crates so that they formed a line ten feet inside the front entrance, requiring that invaders either try a clumsy and vulnerable scramble over the breastworks, or the longer route around the edges of the long line. From here, the plan was to weigh down the crates by filling them with earth.

While it would be nice to share a single fire for both drying the wood and simmering the stew, few people enjoyed splinters in their meal. So two fires were used.

Before the wood could be used, it would need to be dried, taking more time. Gaelm took responsibility for this, ensuring that the wood was dried through and along the full length, taking care to prevent warping. This would take awhile before they were all ready. Numidar brought the split half-logs inside, where they would be shielded from the weather.

In that time, another man approached the base. This one had dark blonde hair and whiskery stubble on his face, with a medium build, and was dressed in a combination of a padded coat of thick grey wool with hardened leather pieces on the arms and legs, and rivet-heads from the leather garment over the torso hinting at a coat of plates. On his belt was an oversized knife, a scramaseax of sorts. Initially he had carried both spear and shield, but both dwarrowfolk and huntsman had insisted that he part from them before coming anywhere near Uluki.

"Lady Uluki? Aorle sent me." The young man was obviously intimidated, nervous of the suspiscion from the other fighters. "I'm Osaw, I served in the militia at Rathneil." A name unlikely to mean anything to a stranger to so much as the continent. "I have a letter for you."

"I'll take that." Rather than letting a stranger come near her, Merohl took the letter from him and handed it to Uluki himself.

Lady Uluki

Forgive me springing these new responsibilities on you unannounced. Events have gone differently than intended so I must adapt, you are the most suited to organising the recruits, which is why I am handing the task to you. When I return we can discuss this in detail, for now I need what help you are able to provide. All whom I send have been scanned for evil and have been found free of darkness in their hearts, so be assured that I would not place you or your family in danger. If you have any doubts or fears on the subject, Krarug is with you as well.

Assign them any tasks that you deem necessary, particularly with preparing the area in question. Having them work together should help build commaraderie within the group, which would be very helpful. We need space set aside for training and latrines dug for the troops away from the other facilities, as well as a clear space to reinforce the entrance for when we fortify the area. Any other facilities that you would find useful, feel free to prepare and make room for.

You have my full trust and backing.

Aorle.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:14 pm

Uluki scanned the note briefly, trying not to let her surprise show on her face. It wasn't that the note's contents were particularly surprising-- although it was encouraging to read that he trusted her-- but that he'd sent it at all.

She was used to being left with tasks like this, by various people. What she wasn't used to was having any indication that they thought about the situation when they were off doing other things, or considered her work at all important. She was grateful for the note.

Uluki smiled at Merohl. It was kind of him to be so concerned for her. She nodded, however, indicating she was willing to trust the new arrival, and approached Osaw.

"Welcome," she said. "There's no need to call me 'Lady' anything. I'm just Uluki. I'm glad to meet you." She wasn't familiar with the name he mentioned, the place he came from, but her knowledge of geography was admittedly limited. "You can go inside and lay your gear down with the other men's. No one will disturb it. After that, if you're feeling up to helping, the men are working on fortifying the building. They can tell you better than I what work remains to be done. If you're tired from your journey, have a rest instead. We'll be having supper a bit later." She smiled, welcoming.

Then, seeing Krarug rounding the corner carrying a crate, she said, "If you'll excuse me a moment, I must speak to him." She indicated the Orc. Krarug was, as far as she knew, the only one at the base she hadn't met, and she intended to remedy that as soon as possible. Uluki couldn't live among strangers.

"Krarug?" She called. She was worried he might not speak the same dialect of Orcish she did, but it seemed the safest language to try. Uluki spoke with practiced ease, her voice forming the harsh guttural sounds she'd worked so hard to master. It had taken years before she'd really felt she spoke Orcish anything like properly.

"It is good to meet you, Krarug. My name is Uluki." She spoke her name normally, and it sounded odd with the rest of her speech. "Rollick, who you may have met, is my husband, and Dash, Zee, and Martin are our children. My family comes from an island to the west of here, and an Orc tribe there were our neighbours. Their leader is Gravakh; he is my--"

She ran into her one main vocabulary problem in Orcish. All her Orc comrades swore up and down there was no Orcish word for "friend." Uluki found that almost impossible to believe and was fairly sure it was all a complicated practical joke, but regardless, she'd never learned it.

Gravakh had said the closest word was "slave." He always referred to her as "Blue Slave," and she made him laugh by calling him "Big Slave" in return. That was clearly inappropriate to say to someone she didn't know. Maybe Krarug could tell her the proper word later.

"--My comrade-at-arms." That wasn't perfect, it made the relationship sound too military, but it would do. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Krarug."

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:43 pm

Both Darir and Merohl stayed close as Osaw approached, but did not protest further. Osaw accepted the welcome, and did as suggested. With the stranger away from Uluki, the others were less inclined to be watchful. So he got inside and lay his gear down in a free room, then took over carrying the wood in for Gaelm.

Thus freeing up Numidar, who had another project in mind, involving the crude leather breastplate which had been discarded and was too small for the men, as well as some alcohol, and some saddle soap taken from the saddle-packs, which were thankfully far away from the grazing Arjen at the time.

With these he soaked the crude cuirass in alcohol, and scrubbed it down with the saddle-soap, hoping to soften the leather into something more workable, before cutting it into pieces servicable as lamellar armour.

"Iron in blood, Ul-u-ki." greeted Krarug, using an almost reverant greeting, with a tongue like the crack and boom of rolling thunder. Effort was used for the name, slightly struggling with the syllables, "New kin?" he asked, almost hopefully. Words and speechcraft were not his strong points, thankfully sincerity was.

The name Gravakh meant nothing to the Weapon of Flesh, then again, he knew of no clans aside from the Dragonsons. Krarug was never intended to be part of a family, or nation, he was intended to be a tool for laying waste, for smashing gates and walls to kill the folk inside.

Now he considered himself a Lightsword, that was his clan now.

Having been told of Uluki's position, Krarug made his next offer out of habit. "How may I help?" Aorle had taught him that help was different to serve, given freely rather than required, and how serving a lord as a warrior was different to serving a master as a slave. So he was able to speak with self-respect, yet another gift from his new family.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:50 pm

"Iron in blood, Krarug." It was late in the conversation for such a greeting, but once he'd said it, she felt it was only polite to return it. "Yes, new kin. We live here now. My husband and children and I are kin."

She said that with a pang, hoping it was true, hoping that the kinship wouldn't end in blood with the paladin's return.

"I am grateful for your help already. You have done much."

Rollick joined them, acknowledging Krarug with a nod. Uluki realized it was the Orc her husband needed to speak to, not her.

Rollick's Orcish was passable at best, and he didn't try to speak it. If the point didn't get across, he'd ask Uluki to translate. Without intending to, Rollick answered the question Krarug had asked Uluki.

"Krarug, you'll remember we spoke before about filling the crates with dirt so they cannot be tipped? We talked while you were gone, and we'll need to dig pit latrines too, so we thought it best to use the dirt from that to fill the crates. Will you be able to help us with this?"

Uluki saw the logic in that. Digging latrines was far from a thrilling job... but if they needed to fill the crates anyway, they might as well do both at the same time rather than digging random holes. "Yes, Krarug, if you would be willing, that would be very helpful."

With any luck, that project would be done by suppertime.

Zee and Dash also joined them. Both greeted Krarug politely in Orcish... and in so doing, completely exhausted their Orcish vocabulary.

Dash was holding Martin; she'd been babysitting for quite awhile, and Uluki decided it was time to relieve her of the task. She could watch the baby herself as she tended the stew. Uluki took Martin in her arms... and noticed what he was holding. It was a carving of a turtle, large enough for the baby to hold in both hands, and though simple it was perfectly smooth, safe for an infant to put in his mouth... as he was doing, joyfully.

"Where did he get this?" Uluki asked. "Did he take it from someone?" She hoped that person wouldn't be too angry their pretty carving had been slobbered on.

Dash shook her head. "Dai carved it for him. That's Ian and Sean's grandpa. He said Martin could keep it."

Uluki was quite surprised. How generous of this man, who had arrived with nothing, to use his time and energy to carve a toy for her son. "That was very kind of him. It's a lovely toy. I'll be sure to thank him."

"I'm going to help Papa and Krarug dig," Zee said proudly, and Uluki smiled, pleased that Zee was so excited at the prospect.

Dash prodded Zee. "Give her the note before you leave."

"Dai sent me a note, too?" Uluki was very puzzled indeed. Couldn't the old man just come speak to her if he had something he needed to say? She wasn't exactly difficult to locate.

"No, it's not from Dai, and the note is for Aorle. A messenger brought it to the gate and gave it to Osaw, who gave it to Merohl, who tried to pass it to Numidar, who said he was busy and that we should give it to you to keep for Aorle." Dash looked pleased at having remembered this complicated chain of transmission.

"Oh, alright. Thank you. I'll give it to Aorle when he returns." She slipped the sealed note into her pocket.

Had she opened it, she would have been quite surprised to see that it was about her and her family, and even more shocked by what was said about them.

Though the outside said the note was for Aorle, the greeting used his other name, Railtus Anstrun. It read:

I wonder if you have any idea the sort of people you've recently allowed to take residence at the base you've established? I refer specifically to a family of five who are far from the wholesome innocents they pretend to be. I assume the fighter failed to tell you that he was possessed by an evil god, and has remained this god's faithful servant? Can we also assume that the cute little Fae didn't warn you that she was a magic-wielding witch? The infant is the cursed offspring of this unholy union, and is likely a demon himself. To round out this lovely little family, both of the "daughters" were created for the express purpose of being ruthless killers. Those two are not people, they are weapons, and they are currently in the hands of a witch and a servant to an evil god. Clearly this situation must be remedied with as much force as is necessary.

Do not blame yourself for being deceived, but do not allow yourself to continue to fall prey to their lies. I ask only that you dismiss them from your protection, and I shall see to the rest. You will find I can be of great help to you. In fact-- keep the two weapons if you like, as a gesture of good faith. Aside from this unfortunate incident you seem a man of good judgment, and I hope we will be able to cooperate in future endeavors. I will contact you again when this mutual threat has been eliminated.


The note was unsigned.

Uluki, never one to spy on people or to read someone else's private mail, simply pocketed the letter to give to Aorle on his return, unaware its contents were an attempt to condemn her family.

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:52 pm

With the great strength of the warriors, digging pits for latrines did not take long. Each hand of Krarug was equal to a shovel itself, and far less likely to break when employed with such massive strength. When a spade created the first hole in the ground, the mammoth paws of the Weapon of Flesh scooped up mountains of earth and flung them aside.

Transporting the earth was actually the more complicated part, since they had no real tools or means to ease the process, and soil was otherwise difficult to carry. Before long, they had a several long rows of trenches ready, which would provide the immediate basics. Then a sod cover was made from large clumps of turf elsewhere, which Gaelm could later fit onto a large enough board. While hardly the perfect arrangement, new trenches could be dug regularly, and the old trenches could be filled with soil. Perhaps a small solid wooden fence could be constructed around the area to grant some semblance of privacy, with fire ashes heaped into the pits to reduce the smell and destroy the waste over time.

Surprisingly enough, this was done within one turn of the hourglass.

Each continued with their personal project. Numidar made his armour, Gaelm and Darir treated the wood to narrow the windows. That left Merohl, Osaw, and Triarius setting off to gather more wood, having found a definate and suitable location during the previous journey. Metellus just lay there.

With a sure location in mind, the wood-gatherers would be gone for little longer than it would take for the pits to be finished.

After several failed attempts, Numidar approached Uluki, bearing a combination of hardened leather plates, leather thongs, and assorted threads. Bowing his head, he attempted to ask his question in a suitably respectful manner without breaking his impassive demeanor. "Lady? Are you able to lace these together? I cannot." Apparently this was not among Numidar's skills.

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:34 am

Uluki examined the pieces and nodded. It would just be a matter of removing the large wood slivers that held open the holes in the leather, and then threading the laces through. Her tiny hands would have an easier time with the task than his larger ones would.

"Yes, I'd be glad to. I'll let you know when it's finished."

She would work on that while the stew cooked. She set Martin down on the blanket, and he continued gnawing happily on the carved toy. Dash, unable to help with the digging and left at loose ends, picked up some of the leather pieces and began helping her mother. Dash was nimble and dexterous, and caught on quickly. The work was relatively simple but painstaking, and they worked in companionable silence so they could concentrate on the task. With their combined efforts, the job was accomplished fairly quickly.

Uluki brought the newly laced pieces to Numidar, then returned to Dash by the fireside.

Dash looked up at Uluki. “Do you want to see my drawings?” she asked shyly. Dash had been carrying a sketchbook around for weeks, but had not chosen to show anyone, even Zee, what she was working on.

Uluki smiled encouragingly, then sat down beside her. “Yes, I’d love to see them.”

Dash said nothing, just handed over the book. Uluki turned the pages, fascinated. They were all pictures of the family: Rollick and Uluki hand in hand watching a thunderstorm, Mercedes and Uluki talking with mugs in their hands, Rollick asleep in a chair with the baby sleeping on his chest, Zee and Dash wearing matching flower crowns, Uluki teaching Zee to knit, Rollick working on a complicated cooking project with the girls, Dash perched in a tree reading a book, Rollick and Uluki talking and laughing, Martin with the carved turtle clutched in his hand…

“These are amazing,” Uluki said quietly, extremely impressed with her daughter’s work, not only her talent but the obvious emotion behind it.

Dash grinned at the praise, but just said, “Flip to the back.”

Uluki did, and she saw the five of them smiling back at her… a family portrait.

“I left some extra space,” Dash explained. “So in case there are ever more people in our family, I can add them in.”

Uluki nodded at the wisdom of this. “Good idea.” She and Rollick did indeed hope for more children one day. She didn’t know if she’d ever have another baby— her delivery had been difficult, and she wasn’t sure her body could support another pregnancy, not to mention her fertility, which was lower than a human woman’s— but she and Rollick had talked about adopting more children in the future.

“There’s one more, but it isn’t finished.” Dash flipped to the middle of the book. It was a meadow scene, with cheerful flowers and a clear, flowing brook. “It needs people,” she explained, “but I haven’t decided who.”

“Dash, these are beautiful. Really, they’re absolutely perfect.” Uluki felt a little choked up, proud of her daughter. Dash beamed. “I love you, Dashie,” Uluki said, hugging her.

“I love you too, Mama,” she replied easily. That had taken time. For quite awhile Dash had always seemed rather surprised to be told she was loved, though it clearly pleased her. Time had passed, and she’d truly begun to feel like part of a family.

“I think your work should go on the wall in our room, so the whole family can enjoy it,” Uluki suggested.

“Which picture?”

“All of them. They’re all lovely.”

“Alright!” Dash looked quite excited at the prospect of showing off her drawings, after keeping them hidden such a long time.

Uluki gave the stew an experimental stir-- it would be ready before long-- and thought, as she often did, how lucky she was.

Falcon Bertille
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Post by Falcon Bertille » Thu Aug 09, 2007 4:35 am

As the new warriors began to arrive, Rosemary was content to remain in the background. She trusted that these were good men, since Aorle had chosen them to serve his cause, but her experience with the mercenaries in Shim had made her skittish. And Julen’s absence only increased her feelings of vulnerability. So while Uluki greeted the newcomers, Rosemary fussed over Martin, singing him snippets of lullabies and pretending to steal his nose.

Then, when Martin’s mother took him back, Rosemary retreated to a quiet corner where she could continue work on the gambeson. True to his promise, Krarug had made sure her materials remained undisturbed. Lifting another strip of fabric, Rosemary concentrated on her labor of love, until the repetitive stitching once again became second nature, allowing her to observe her surroundings while she sewed.

Watching events unfold, Rosemary couldn’t help but be impressed by the way Uluki took charge, always seeming to know what needed to be accomplished next. And it was amusing to see the much larger men take orders from the diminutive fey. The respect with which they treated Uluki made Rosemary begin to feel more confident about eventually announcing her presence. However, she still wanted to wait until Julen was back. It would be better to be introduced with her husband standing at her side, in order to avoid any potential misunderstandings. Rosemary’s life had already been filled with too many misunderstandings.

Lunchtime came, and Rosemary nibbled on one of the rolls she and Julen had brought with them. She would have offered to share -- the growing knot in her stomach successfully strangled her own hunger -- but she still felt reluctant to call attention to herself. Besides, the men seemed to have plenty of food. So she picked at the bread, dropping more on the floor than she managed to eat, and told herself not to worry. Julen was a grown man, trained in combat by one of the finest teachers around. Hadn’t he successfully defended her from six mercenaries? Hadn’t he already returned safely from two nighttime trips to the shanty town? He was fine. Soon, he would walk through that door and show her the folly of these phantom fears.

When she could no longer pretend to eat, Rosemary resumed her sewing. As hour followed hour, and still there was no sign of Julen, it became increasingly hard to sit still. She wanted to tell someone, to make them go look for her husband. But everyone was so busy. She didn’t want to be in the way. She didn’t want to interrupt their important work for some fool’s quest. And what if this was her fault? What if they’d be mad at her for not stopping Julen from leaving in the first place? No, she’d keep sewing until she finished the gambeson, and surely Julen would be back by then.

And yet, when the final seam was stitched, Julen remained absent. Tossing down the garment, Rosemary leapt from the crate where she’d been sitting and hurried over to Uluki, who was deep in conversation with a girl Rosemary guessed to be one of her adopted daughters. The girl was showing her mother a sketchbook full of drawings, which Rosemary could catch glimpses of when she craned her neck. Seeing the lovingly rendered domestic scenes made Rosemary’s heart ache even more, with her own husband missing and possibly in danger. After the girl -- whose name turned out to be Dash -- ran off, Rosemary practically threw herself at Uluki.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a nuisance. But it’s been hours and hours, and Julen is still gone. When that family from the shanty town came here, there was a little girl with them, and she said something to Julen. I didn’t hear what. But then he left with her. I asked him where he was going, and he said to the shanty town. He said that he’d be back soon. Only, it hasn’t been ‘soon’ for a long time now, and he still isn’t back, and I’m so worried.” Aware that she’d started to babble, Rosemary forced herself to draw a deep breath. “I don’t know what to do. What do you think we should do?”

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Lylessa Uluki
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Post by Lylessa Uluki » Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:34 am

Uluki regarded Rosemary with concern. Didn't mean to be a nuisance? Her husband had been gone, for hours, to what was probably a dangerous part of town. Uluki had assumed he had been on a mission for Aorle, but that now seemed not to be the case. If Rosemary didn't know where Julen was, it was unlikely anyone did. Far from being a nuisance, Uluki was surprised Rosemary wasn't mad with worry.

Perhaps everything was alright, but things seemed amiss. Uluki feared the worst, that Julen was in serious trouble. If she was wrong and overreacting, they could all have a good laugh about it later, at how silly she was to worry over nothing. If she was right, though, they needed to help Julen as fast as possible. Uluki preferred to risk embarrassment than his safety.

"Don't worry. It'll be alright. We'll get him back."

Uluki knew that this was all her fault. She was in charge. She was the leader. And she'd already lost someone. Could there be a more abject failure?

She could ask around the base, see if anyone had seen him, if he'd told anyone where he was, but she suspected that would be a waste of time. If Julen were in danger, best to get to him fast.

"I'm going to look for him." Anticipating the reaction to that, she added, "I'm the one in charge, so it's my responsibility. Besides, if he's hurt, I can help him... like I helped Metellus."

No, not like she'd helped Metellus. If Julen's life was in serious jeopardy she'd use magic, and laws of Marn be damned. Julen was a good man, and she wasn't going to let him die.

"I'll draw too much attention if they see I'm Fae, so I'll see if I can borrow Martha's shawl. It'll cover most of me and they won't see my face. Maybe some of the warriors will be willing to come with me to help."

She hugged Rosemary reassuringly.

"We'll get him back. In the meantime, you need to stay here and stay safe. If you got hurt, Julen would never forgive me."

If Julen died, Uluki would never forgive herself. That possibility was too horrible to contemplate. She liked both Julen and Rosemary, and didn't want to see any harm or grief touch them.

"Julen will be alright, Rosemary. Try not to worry."

Lightswords

Post by Lightswords » Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:26 pm

"I am willing." stated Numidar, in his usual hollow voice although wasting little time with his announcement.

"And I!" declared Gaelm, stepping forward.

"And I!" cheered Darir.

"And I!" announced Merohl.

"And I!" promised Triarius.

"And I!!" boomed the voice of Krarug.

For a moment it appeared as if Rosemary would be forgotten, until all of the warriors exchanged glances, then Gaelm announced his thoughts. "Merohl, you an archer, you will be better help here in the open. Krarug, you may scare off anyone we mean to question." A truly effective leader would have told them to keep the family safe, making their role here openly important. Alas, Gaelm was not a truly effective leader.

Disgruntled, the two chose to remain behind.

Now Numidar lent his voice forward, "We need to know where to start first." At that moment his voice was that of efficiency, while no emotion stood out it was the voice of a soldier speaking professionally, rather than the empty monotone he perfected.

Triarius covered one issue frankly and plainly. "Expect some attention, Uluki. A group of soldiers is noticed." Now the warriors were competing to prove themselves and to accomplish the task before them, yet instantly saw the commaraderie of their shared goal.

Every one of the warriors was eager to join Uluki, to do their part for a band of warriors who looked after each other, and to keep the one who won their respect safe.

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Post by Falcon Bertille » Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:05 am

Desperately grateful for Uluki’s offer to go find Julen, Rosemary returned the fairy’s hug. She’d almost managed to brace herself against the possibility of Julen dying in battle. But to lose him like this, as the result of some accidental danger encountered on a random errand, with their only goodbye a quick peck on the cheek...that was more than she could stand. “This is all my fault. I should have stopped him from going. I should have told him to take one of the other warriors. But he’d already visited the shanty town twice, so I thought he’d be safe.”

Almost against her will, Rosemary’s eyes strayed over Uluki’s head, to where Julen’s bow lay on the floor beside some of his other gear. “Gods! He didn’t even take his shield. That foolish, foolish man...”

But when Uluki told her to stay behind, Rosemary broke from the hug, and shook her head vehemently. “No, I have to come with you. Julen needs me. If he’s hurt, I know how to make him feel better. If he can see me, if he can hear my voice speaking to him, he won’t be scared. If I’m there...” Rosemary bit her lip, her eyes watering as she voiced her worst fear. “If I’m there, he won’t leave me. I won’t let him leave me!”

While the other warriors volunteered to join the search party, Rosemary could feel their disapproving stares on her. And she knew what they saw. To them, she was just a hysterical woman who would only interfere with their mission. They didn’t understand. Not being bound to another in the way she was bound to Julen, they couldn’t understand. But Uluki knew what she was going through. Imploringly, Rosemary fixed her gaze on the fairy. “Please let me come. What if it was Rollick? Would you stay behind if it was Rollick?”

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