Alone and Unafraid (April, 122PW)

The farms and houses of Shim, a single inn known as the Red Chalice, and an old manor on a hill overlooking it all to the north.
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Mei Li
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Mei Li » Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:34 am

Mei Li took one last look at the room that had been her living quarters for the last three days. She idly wondered if the guardhouse would be adorned with similar western style beds, mattress disconcertingly removed from the ground, supported by a wooden frame. Her first night she had startled from a dream and in the darkness, rolled right off the bed and landed with a loud thump on the floor. Chagrined by the thought, the Qindo warrior closed the door behind her and made her way downstairs.

It had not taken long for Mei Li to gather her sparse belongings. In mere minutes, her few sets of clothing were efficiently packed, along with her weapon and armor cleaning gear and her small precious book of her faith. What took the greatest length of time was donning her armor. Meticulously, methodically, and quite reverently, Qindo Mei Li pieced together her Qindo heritage. Her deft, small fingers worked through pure muscle memory, fixing each leather strap, pulling every buckle to the perfect notch, sliding rings and thongs into place. Her mind was focused on a solemn prayer, her dark eyes half closed, her thin sexless lips moving in silence, in a near rhythm with each greave, each epaulette, each side of her breast plate that she fixed onto her body. Though she did not need to check her work, the young girl could not help but pause as she caught her reflection in the mirror. There was something comforting to her eye to see the achingly familiar style of her blue and green armor.

The Gur'yeon had two reasons for parading her colourful heritage. The first was quite practical- the leather-wood armor would feel heavier carried than bourne. Her second thought was more calculated- a warrior she must appear to her prospective employer. He had already witnessed part of her performance with the quandao, but she felt a display of her worn but well-kept armor would only boost his impression.

With her typical even, measured gaze and flat, unreadable expression, Mei Li made her way downstairs. She carried herself with a certain confidence, though her ignorance of the stares the few other patrons gave her made her appear prideful in their gawking opinions. Though her spear was tied alongside her quandao for easier portage, she bore both in one hand with the same easy grace she had earlier with the quandao alone.

The Qindo warrior found herself at the counter behind the elven doctor and waited patiently to pay her boarding fee. Internally, Mei Li was glad that the timing had worked out such that they party was ready to depart, though her stern expression belied nothing. With a polite nod to Metarie-sshi, the Gur'yeon stepped to the counter at her turn and carefully counted out her payment. She was left with a whole bishani and after a long gaze at the innkeeper, in a futile attempt to determine if he was over-charging her, she decided to simply drop the issue and turned to rejoin her group.

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Camulous Smithson
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Camulous Smithson » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:58 am

Aramyllis' strange behavior morphed yet again when her demeanor transformed from tooth-gritting tenseness to something more like self reassurance and bemusement. He wasn't sure if he liked it better than the looks she was taking on earlier, or if it made him more suspicious about her motivations. Perhaps she was the sort of person prone to mood swings and nothing more.

He wished he could know her thoughts at that moment. His inability to do so frustrated the captain, and that frustration was projected onto her. She should stop acting so flighty and unpredictable, and act more like a normal human being. People like her with nuisances.

When Metarie left them alone, he nodded to her and pushed his plate away from himself so he could fold his hands in front of himself on the table. Pressing his thumbs together to form a little steeple, the tension that seeped from his eyes was also visible in the tendons along the back of his hands. Scarred, well muscled hands well used to being the instruments of his will.

Finally, he noticed the person at the center of his concern: Alyson. The poor girl had been through so much. She deserved some peace and his tension was certainly not helping her get over things.

The lines on the backs of his hands receded until they were no longer visible. Hard as he was, he did not expect the same things of her as he did from the others. Indeed, he felt sorry for her and wanted, badly, to tell her something reassuring the way Ree had done, but the words refused to leave his lips. Not the right words, anyway.

Rather than be completely devoid of social ability, he looked over to the way the Gur'yeon was standing in her colourful armor, and commented to the two girls, "She's not going to take it well when we try to get her into Marinan armor. Maybe we can paint it with some green stripes for her."

There was no hint in his voice to reveal his dry humor for what it was. Only a brief smile, for Alyson's benefit.

When both Metarie and Mei Li were ready, he pushed himself up out of his seat and waited for everyone to start heading for the exit. Camulous made sure he was the last one out of the place, looking around carefully before joining them outside.
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Metarie
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Metarie » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:43 am

Metarie reached out to the coins Mei Li had put on the counter and looked at the proprietor.

"Isn't there a negotiated rate for guardsmen?" Metarie raised her brows and waited while the man looked from her to Mei Li then to Camulous in the distance. Although his face showed he was disgruntled, he nodded, "Yeah."

Metarie lifted her hand and waited for him to pull the new, discounted price from the bishani Mei Li had left. "Good, thank you. I'll make sure it is returned." Metarie slipped the difference from the counter into her palm and returned to the table. When she arrived, she held out the coin to Mei Li.

"You over paid a little." Metarie smiled at Mei Li and turned her attention to Camulous.

"If you are ready, I believe we are."
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Alyson Rolfe
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Alyson Rolfe » Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:14 pm

With her stomach full, and her mind finally allowing her body to relax as she recovered from the excitement and trauma that happened earlier in the day, Alyson felt weariness creeping into every inch of her body. As she followed Aramyllis out of the tavern Alyson let out a slow breath. Soon they would be alone, heading to the farm, where all Alyson hoped to find was a corner to sleep in.

Before the group parted ways, Alyson made a point to once again thank Camulous for his part in separating her from Tomas, then impulsively hugged Metarie for her part in the 'rescue'. She hoped one day they would meet again...

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Aramyllis Dae
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Aramyllis Dae » Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:41 am

The Marnian Captain's quip about the foreigner's colorful armor earned only a fleeting blank look from Aramyllis. Did he just tell a joke? She couldn't miss the quick smile he aimed at Alyson. Her lips pursed and her eyes drew down into a bewildered frown.

Napkin folded neatly on the table, she stood, pushed her chair back in, and stood behind it, thin fingers clutched over its wooden back. Her attention wandered across the room to where the foreigner had joined the doctor in line to pay. Even from that distance, the warmth emitted by the latter woman was unmistakable. There was something undeniably maternal about her. Myllis felt drawn to it, no matter how she strove to force the sensation away. Fleetingly, before she was able block the thought from consciousness, she wandered what it would have been like to have a mother like that: a mother that was always comforting, loving, soothing. She had only a few fuzzy memories of her own mother from before. They seemed more like dreams than once-reality, dreams of safe arms and soft fingers that wiped away her tears and eased her childhood bumps and scratches.

All of those memories were tainted now, forever darkened by what had come later. It made them difficult to recall without a slow simmering of bitterness deep in her gut.

Sometimes being alone is better than the alternatives.

The two other women returned and Aramyllis followed them out of the Red Chalice, trailed by Alyson, who reminded her of nothing so much as a lost puppy, and the Captain. Outside, she turned to inquire of him, "Will you be coming back to the farm with Alyson and me?"

His reply was a brusque shake of his head and curt, "No," without further explanation. Myllis could sense the turbulence of duty and morals weighing on him, though. No doubt he was fretting over how much time he had already spent away from his post, and all the things that could have possibly gone wrong while he wasn't there to enforce order.

The hybrid bid him, the doctor, and the foreigner a polite good day, along with an invitation to stop by the house next time they visited the village. It would be preferable not to have the Captain nosing around with his sullen presence, but Metarie was pleasant enough to make up for it, all in all. Perhaps her liveliness would eventually start to wear off on him.

"Hopefully before he starts to wear off on her," Gabi'rel's sardonic voice quipped.

Myllis snorted and made a hmmphing noise to herself. Likely she wouldn't be seeing much more of their pair than she had in the past, which was rarely at best.

She waited for Alyson to finish her farewell embrace with the doctor, then silently gestured for the girl to follow. It was only after gaining some distance between themselves and the others that the older girl aimed a surprisingly perky smile at the younger. Myllis threaded her hand through Alyson's elbow, gaining more bounce with each step.

"I have a feeling you're going to love it."

((Continued in... http://www.tharshaddin.com/rp/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2127))
Last edited by Aramyllis Dae on Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mei Li
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Mei Li » Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:25 pm

As the elven doctor returned her change, Mei Li bowed with respect. She knew these Westerners did not have that habit but she knew no other way to express her gratitude. "Thank you," did not suffice, but she murmured it anyway to emphasize her bow.

With nothing more to add, the Gur'yeon looked to the Captain and waited patiently for all farewells to be exchanged. She appeared more than ready to be away to start her new life.

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Camulous Smithson
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Camulous Smithson » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:15 pm

Camulous had indeed made a joke. A joke that came and went as quickly as a loosed arrow. His humor was incurably dry, his forced smile immediately replaced by the stoic face of a soldier.

With no further possibility of catching Aramyllis alone to interrogate her, and fully aware of the inappropriateness of such an action, he pushed the issue aside. There would be hell to pay if she betrayed him and let anything happen to Alyson. A hell worse than what was coming to Tomas...

Or so Camulous thought.

Back to business. No, he wasn't going with them to Aramyllis' farm. He had papers to fill out. Yes, he had helped Alyson by scaring Tomas off and her thanks was socially appropriate. The captain's response to her thanks was a rather socially inappropriate grunt.

That grunt was the last he had to say on the matter. No goodbye, no pleasant smile - not even a forced one. He was through being sociable with strangers and was clearly thinking about other things.

Once Aramyllis and Alyson were gone, the remaining trio started their journey back to Marn. It wasn't until they reached the edge of the Virdara Woods that he spoke up.

"I don't trust Aramyllis. She has a strange manner about her. Tomas will probably flee town if he has half a brain. We should check up on her tomorrow, and find Tomas if he's in town. I'll get an arrest warrant after I've filed a report and looked into things. You should come with us, Mei. Unless you have somewhere else to be." He said, casting her a sidelong glance. The assumption was there that Ree would come back with him.
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Metarie
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Metarie » Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:02 am

The return trip was uneventful so far. Camulous seemed to be thinking about something, so Metarie waited until he was ready. By the time they reached the woods, he was.

"I don't trust Aramyllis. She has a strange manner about her. Tomas will probably flee town if he has half a brain. We should check up on her tomorrow, and find Tomas if he's in town. I'll get an arrest warrant after I've filed a report and looked into things. You should come with us, Mei. Unless you have somewhere else to be."

Ree glanced to Camulous, then turned her gaze forward once more. She would mention she needed to stop into the hospital before she could take another day off. Certainly, he of all people would understand.
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Mei Li
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Mei Li » Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:43 pm

Though her armour was colourful, it somehow managed to make Mei Li look even more masculine than her simple clothes earlier. Her stern, flat visage alongside the equally somber, expressionless Captain of the Marn Guard earned group many sidelong glances on their way out of the small, sleepy town of Shim. Metarie and Camulous were silent for the beginning of the trip, leaving the Gur'yeon to her own thoughts. These largely were focused inwardly, mentally working through different forms, as was her habit when she had to travel by foot. Her armour was not necessarily heavy but to walk long distances in it would eventually become uncomfortably warm.

Her strides were long, marked by a warrior's confidence, so that even though she was shorter than both her companions, she never lagged them. She alternated carrying her spear-quandao bundle in either hand as they walked along, always aware of the entire length of her weapons, never letting either end inadvertently knock against anything.

Mei Li was somewhat deep in thought when the Captain spoke. She caught the gist of what he was saying, but almost missed his reference to her as he shortened her name. Unable to keep the slight affront from her brown eyes, she did manage to keep her tone even. "Mei Li is being my familiar name, Qindo is being my family name, Smithson-sshi." Her use of his own surname was the only indication from her words of her expectation to remain formal.

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Camulous Smithson
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Camulous Smithson » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:09 am

"Quindo, then." As the captain he never questioned what people wanted to be called. Familiar or not with the naming traditions of the East, she had the right to be called by whatever name she gave him. "Recruit Quindo for now. Guardsman Quindo if you pull through. Don't try and push that on the rest of the men unless you're prepared to back it up. They will expect you to back it up with force."

Crossing the invisible threshold that took them into the Virdara Woods had the captain's eyes attentively on the treelines to either side of them. The dirt road was wide enough to separate the woods and let the sky through where they walked, but things got darker off the path. Perhaps unusually so.

He glanced at Metarie, wondered what she felt, but left the question unasked. When he returned his eyes to the woods, a pair of brown eyes stared back at him from no more than two dozen yards away. The deer had apparently been grazing there and was interrupted by their presence. Instead of dashing off immediately, it stared back at the three of them for some time before ducking away.

"You'll need a place to stay." He continued eventually, still addressing Mei Li. "Before Ree offers you her own bed, I think you should stay in the barracks."

Camulous never beat around the bush. If she wanted in, she was going to get into the thick of it. The men were the best test of her resolution.
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Metarie
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Metarie » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:00 am

It wasn't until they passed into the Woods that Metarie realized just how tense she had been holding herself. Ever since opening herself up to Aramyllis her head had been pounding. The cemetery near the center of the town was just plain wrong. So wrong it set her teeth on edge and made her skin crawl. Metarie could not imagine being a Sensitive and living close to the place. It had to make one go mad.

The woods were a different sort of thing. Metarie actually liked the woods. They appealed to something deep inside her. If she analyzed it, she'd probably conclude that it was some inherent racial trait. In any case, as soon as they stepped within the boundaries of the woodline she felt better.

Metarie inhaled a deep breath and a little smile curved her lips. She did notice when he used her nickname, though. That made her smile more. When Camulous mentioned her giving up her bed, she chuckled. He was teasing her generosity and it was nice. Only one thing bothered her. Quindo was extremely androngynous, more so than any elf she had met. Metarie suspected Quindo was a woman only because the name May Lee seemed feminine to her. She could be wrong, but what if she was right? Metarie did not want Quindo to be raped. She didn't think Lurus and Hapnir would allow such a thing. She hoped that other guardsmen would not either, but if there was one Idonir there could be others. "Cam, are the barracks co-ed? Or, are all the guards male?"

Even though the road seemed a little darker, Metarie's sight was fine. Yet, another inherent trait. Elves had better eyesight than humans. She had been watching the deer and wondered at its fearlessness. It had obviously heard them approaching. She had seen its ears move, but it did not. When they were very close, it lifted its head and stared at Cam almost as if it were assessing him. Question forgotten for the moment, Metarie slowed to a stop.

"Extraordinary."
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Mei Li
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Mei Li » Sat May 02, 2009 5:22 am

Mei Li nodded her assent to the Captain's words. She might not have understood everything he spoke but she comprehended on the very basic level that the guardsman position was not simply handed out to just anyone. The elven doctor's interest in the deer left the Gur'yeon to puzzle out her concerned question. She did not have any previous experience with staying in close quarters with anyone else, much less male companions. The region of Tian Xia she came from, though a higher population density than the rest of the continent, was far from crowded, and there was plenty of space for the Gur'yeon people to spread out. Her own clan had a wide range and she hadn't been required to share a room with anyone since she was a baby in her parents' room.

Despite her ambiguous appearance, Mei Li was not purposefully cultivating her androgynous facade. She simply saw herself as a warrior above all else and assessed others in the same vein- gender was inconsequential and irrelevant. Her mind did not, or maybe could not, contemplate sexuality. "Is being a problem, guards in barracks male?" The Qindo warrior finally asked in response to Metarie's question. It was clear she did not expect it to be a problem, naivety clear by her dismissal of the issue.

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Camulous Smithson
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Camulous Smithson » Sat May 16, 2009 12:34 am

Camulous sensed where Ree was going with her inquiry. The shadow of the crime committed against her still loomed fresh in his mind.

"It's not a problem. There are women in the barracks. What happened with Idonir is not something that happens at there. I would personally see that any man doing that to a guardsman was executed." The germ 'guardsman', as far as Camulous was concerned, was neuter. Guardswoman was not part of his vocabulary. "He thought he could get away with it because he's a stupid oaf. They know better in the guardhouse. Most of the men wouldn't stand by and let it happen, and that says nothing for the women there. I would not want to be on the wrong end of Elyona's sword if she thought I had tried that."

And the men did know better. Penalties for misconduct were harsh under Cam's watch. Idonir was already regretting his mistake.

"Unfortunately I also must argue that if she can't handle the men, she can't handle the job. You took care of Idonir with a bit of wits."

He decided to leave out the additional note that men had to deal with rape as well. From other men. In the barracks. It had happened.

The way Ree looked about the woods around her did not go unnoticed. Something about the nature appealed to her, and shone as reverence in her eyes.

Elves. They were like that. Surely they would all run into the woods to live in the trees if not for their immersion in the human culture of Marn. Camulous said nothing against it, but secretly he worried about losing her to it. If she gave into those impulses, he would lose her.

With the bridge over the Ofriyu approaching, they passed a local man traveling in the opposite direction. A string of fish slung over his shoulder, he looked old and thin, but happy to offer the trio a gummy smile none the less.
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Metarie
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Metarie » Sat May 16, 2009 3:20 am

Cam answered her question and Qindo’s. He also made it clear that the members of his guard took care of their own. Ree slid a glance to him as he spoke about the guard. There was an undertone in his voice. Idonir would be given no slack nor would anyone else. There was also an undertone of respect when Elyona was mentioned. Ree smiled.
“Very True.”

"Unfortunately I also must argue that if she can't handle the men, she can't handle the job. You took care of Idonir with a bit of wits."
“Hm. “
The moment with the deer passed all too quickly. At the approach of the old man, the deer fled; disappearing into the woods with a flash of its white tail remaining like an after image. Ree returned the man’s smile.
“A good catch, I see. More luck for you!” She called out the usual expression to the man as she moved to catch up with Cam and Qindo; something she did with an easy paced, long-legged stride.
The bridge heralded the first open spot since they had entered the woods. In comparison to the shadowed darkness, the weathered stone seemed almost cheery. That said a lot about the gloom in the woods.
“Almost home.” The tone in Metarie’s voice would probably be one Cam agreed with. She might be elf, but she was also Marnian.
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Mei Li
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Re: Alone and Unafraid

Post by Mei Li » Sat May 23, 2009 5:38 am

The passing old fisherman, despite his different garb and etiquette, reminded Mei Li so strikingly of elders back at her Gur'yeon home, she nearly missed a step. She had thus far been able to keep her feelings of isolation from spilling over the bounds of the compartment in which she had carefully tucked them. Regaining her stoicism took a few moments as she tried to focus on the conversation.

The trio came to a bridge and the Qindo warrior could sense a difference in the air as the setting began to transition from forest to city. The road became wider, the hum of a bustling city, even from that distance, stirred something inside her. Mei Li found she was holding her breath with expectation; she hadn't realized she would feel such anticipation and slight apprehension at seeing a large city. Gur'yeo did not have any central city, the clans scattered across the mountainous region with mutual agreements made up the political structure. The largest familial holding might have been just smaller than Shim. Travelling with the caravan had introduced her to cities like Jiangwei and Daloyxiu, which was more of a squalid, cancerous growth of housing in the middle of a jungle than a proper city to be truthful, but she had merely been a guest of those cities, and it had been easy to plead ignorance of a country-bred girl. This city was to become her home.

Mei Li put on her best front, her only front, and marched right along with her guides. "I being willing to accept any conditions for living here," she offered decisively, as if to overcome any previous noted hesitation or weakness.

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