Family Ties - Prologue

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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Morveya Aris
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Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Morveya Aris » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:02 am

From within the small stable, a woman's voice wafted softly in song. No attempt at any performance. Simply the sort of singing one did to enliven one's work a bit. And, perhaps, to clear the soul? The words were in the Elvish dialect:

(Though translated here…)
"Oh Take me back
Back to what I knew then
When things were as they should
When you were there
And the moon shone blessed and high
Aglitter like silver
On the river's crystal flow"

(…which is why it doesn't rhyme ;))

In the soft lamp-light of the stable, Morveya's tresses, bound back in a simple ponytail, were like the color of the moon. If not actually silver. Her contrastingly dark eyes scrutinized her 'client.' She had finished picking out Alstris' hooves – her least favorite part of currying a steed. Nonetheless, she had very diligently removed the rocks and dirt that were wedged and packed there. With experience, she had even become good at it – knowing for example to avoid "the frog" – that V-shaped, squishy portion of the hoof that was exquisitely sensitive. By doing this first, one was much more likely to notice any lameness prior to completing the grooming. And then be able to treat accordingly.

Morveya wasn't entirely certain whether the roan's occasional whinnies and nickers were appreciation or annoyance. But, even if the latter, the steed would be far more annoyed if this wasn't done. Though she was generally a happy lass, and not given to kicking, still Morveya was cautious to avoid positioning herself as a target.

"Oh so swift that river runs
So deep and churning
Like our blood
Like our souls
Like the complications
That claim their tole"


Next came the curry comb. This always had to be done before the brushing, in order to bring out the dirt and loosen any mud. Morveya made vigorous, small circular motions over Alstris' muscles – avoiding the bony areas like the spine and legs. She worked her way from the neck, to the barrel, and all the way to the rump. Then repeated the process on the other side of the steed.

"Oh why must it be –
What was endures not long
Too soon our dance is done
And the harsh dawn-light come
Blushing like blood
On the river's crystal run"


The brush that followed the curry comb was hard-bristled - used to remove the dirt and fur brought out by the combing. Morveya used straight, flicking motions to allow the bristles to get all the way through the coat. She switched to a softer brush for the face and legs, without missing a beat. But was still very careful and gentle with it.

"Yah, sweet girl. How is that?" she inquired as she did the face, and Alstris squinted her eyes, apparently liking it. "The stallions will trip over themselves to make your acquaintance. And the other mares will all ask– who does your face, hey?"

Alstris gave a snort in response. Concurrence? Or skepticism? Always hard to say. Alstris continued to be the skeptical sort. Had been since a foal. Made her an alert and aware companion for the road, at least.

That portion finished, she dampened a sponge and gently wiped the horse's eyes and nose clean. Then another specialized comb for the tangles of both mane and tail. Before Morveya commenced the combing, she utilized her fingers to separate the hairs. Then started at the bottom of the tail, slowly and carefully combing the tangles out as she worked her way up.

"Oh but if I can't go back
Back to what I knew then
Then carry me downstream
As swift as you can
To a better now
So I may forget the then
And have my heart complete
For what the future intends…"


"Ah. There. All done! Pretty as a painting. I am an artist – you must admit it!"

The roan nickered with some spirit.

"Well. That's more acknowledgment than I usually get. I'll take it." Morveya proceeded to put away the various grooming implements. But, not in their usual place within Uncle Samwiell's stable. No – instead she packed them into the saddlebags with the other things she was taking along.

For today, the white tressed herbaler was leaving the town of her birth.

And wasn't entirely certain when she was coming back.

She had yet a few things to take care of, as well as farewells to say. And then it was the road, for both her and her trusty (and not to mention immaculately groomed) steed.

Morveya sighed – acknowledging that one could never be fully prepared for these little journey's in life.

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Kitan
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:39 am

Kitan all but leapt from the door of the man called Uncle Samwiell, who had generously extended his hospitality the night before, and went sprinting down the small dirt path. Or was it once cobblestone? It was difficult to tell, the old earth beneath was so matted and dirty. Coming to a rapid halt, while trying to decide on the exact contents of the ground he looked down at his feet and happily wriggled his toes. Once through admiring the dirt as it shifted around his squirming movements, he lifted into an upright posture and put his hands on his hips.

He was in the midst of taking a delightful, deep breath of the cool morning air when his fox ears twitched. He could hear someone singing in a strange, poetic sounding tongue. It was simple, unpracticed speech, but he liked it anyways. He had always liked song; ever since his father had told him the story of the piper, he had found personal delight in following a song to its source.

Wandering through grass and adoring the way it felt on his bandaged feet - just how did people stand shoes anyways? - Kitan ran into a grey, mossy boulder left in the earth for an untold amount of time. He bent his legs, and with a twitch of his ears he leapt the five feet to land calmly atop this obstacle. Sure, the little shifter could have walked around, but it just didn’t mesh with how springy he felt today.

The words of the song were more apparent from atop the rock, so he decided to sit down on his new perch. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the simple sensation of the breeze, set to the humble tune of the song. Trying to remember the words so that he might later sing the tune himself, he grasped at strange “shairing-la”s and “bellai-to-is” before dejectedly giving up and sliding off the rock. He snickered at how dirty his clothes had already become, reaching the stables just as the woman finished her song.

His tail wagging comfortably beneath the lower folds of his tunic, he smiled with whimsy in his eyes and leapt up to balance on the gate, standing up with ease on the narrow poles.

“That was a nice song, lady Morveya” The shifter said in a carefree, light hearted tone. He trod easily down the side of the stable, hands out to his sides for balance. He started trying to whistle to the tune of her little song, but failed about halfway through. “A tricky one though. Its funny words seem to slip away from me. Anyways,” he finished, coming around to sit lithely on the fence where it was nearest to her, resting his chin on his hands, “do you often have chats with your horse?” He yawned, but his teasing smile still showed through.

Before he heard her answer though, he heard something in the bushes. His head snapped around to follow the motion of his ears; laughing the whole while he sprung from the fence and tackled a rabbit hiding in the bushes. The startled creature fought free of the bush just before Kitan’s feral lunge reached it, sending it scurrying into the underbrush, but Kitan’s laughter only intensified. Covered in twigs, leaves, and dirt, he made his way back to the stable while brushing himself off, still smiling, peering back to see what no doubt amusing expression his antics had painted on Morveya’s face.

“I bet she’ll look just like father.” He mumbled under his breath, pulling a particularly stubborn bit of foliage from his hair.

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Morveya Aris
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Morveya Aris » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:56 pm

Between the sound of her own voice, and the poor hearing in her right ear, Morveya did not at all discern his approach. Until he was suddenly there, atop the gate. She had started, gasped a little, placed a hand over her bosom.

"Master Courier - well met! I am assuredly awake now, if I was not before," she admonished with a wry but friendly smile. She had been just about to answer his following question then, when he took off like the wind itself after the hapless hare.

Possessing just the single good ear, it was hard for her to conceive of what it would be like to have such acute hearing. For a moment, she wondered what his intent might be. But, she had met others of his kind before. And, though she had only barely met him, she suspected she had some measure of his nature. Which appeared to be a highly playful one, indeed. His merry laughter in the wake of that bit of hare harrying merely confirmed it.

She laughed a bit too.

"Well. Perhaps, if I were staying, I might get a new patient out of that? I do know how to concoct several teas that calm and soothe the nerves. I dare say that fellow could use one, now. But I'm sure he'll recover. At least you didn't eat him." She grinned.

If Kitan had anticipated any degree of shock, or outstanding reaction from Morveya, he was to be disappointed. Hers had not been so much a life of convention, or of the common place. Some, behind her back, called her a witch. As once had been said of her Elvish great-grandmother. It was stretching the definition of the term, she reckoned. But it was fair to say she marched to the beat of her own drum, and was more accustomed to the esoteric and atypical than many.

"Ah, yes. You were asking -- conversing with my steed. Indeed so; Alstris is my closest of confidants." She reached over and stroked the roan's mane. "You see the wonderful thing is, she doesn't judge. And while I cannot say she renders good advice...she doesn't give any of the bad sort, either. Though she probably would eat herself to death, if I'd allow it," she added with a wink.

"Ay, the song-? How embarrassing..." she relocated a strayed strand of winter-white hair, that had come too close to an eye. "It wasn't anything I expected anyone to overhear! I speak some Elvish, and know a few songs in the tongue. This one seemed rather...appropriate. And it is a family tradition." Even though her mother had not lived long enough to pass it down, she'd made her own efforts to carry it on. Though Morveya did not consider herself to be Elvish, the lineage was nonetheless a significant root of her family's tree.

Level dark eyes met large, innocent-seeming green. "So. It is to Marn we soon go. And how many times before have you made this journey, in your work?"

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Kitan
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:03 am

The shifter was quite surprised by Morveya’s reaction. Normally older folk scolded him for rolling around in the dirt chasing bugs, birds and the occasional delusion. Kitan couldn’t help but wonder if Morveya was a little bit unusual for the region; certaintly it wasn't what he was used to hearing in Marn. Maybe her easy sense of humor was normal behavior for Shim women? The thought caused his incessant smile to grow larger still.

His thoughts preoccupied with oddity, they soon came to the subject of magic, which he had often heard people describe as odd or unusual. It didn’t seem odd to him, but he wondered if Morveya was magic too, eyeing her for a bit while trying to decide. She looked magical, with her near-white hair and courtly appearance. He mentally pouted for a little bit about his inability to shift- he bet a fox could smell magic.

Suddenly blinking back out of his daydreams, he caught the tail end of Morveya’s slight embarrassment about being overheard. Though he was sorely tempted to ask about magic, his father’s warnings echoed through his mind. Puradynes are like snakes, son. Mean and stealthy, 'specially if yer the prey. You'll do yer best to keep away from 'em, aye? Kitan reluctantly turned his thoughts to address her song instead, though he wasn't sure how well he had hidden his hopeful expression.

“Sorry Lady Morveya,” Kitan replied with his face full of earnest guilt while his hands moved apologetically behind his back, “but when you’ve got ears like mine you can’t help but overhear some things. You’d be amazed how many people just forget I have them! They say all sorts of funny things when they think you can’t listen to them.” He gave his ears a quick twitch for emphasis.

His most prominent fox attributes may have caught much, but they seemed to lack discernment. The implications of a human having an elvish song for family tradition had clearly gone right over the fox shifter’s head as Morveya asked about his travels to and from Marn.

Kitan lifted his hand in an explanatory gesture while he said, “As a courier I’ve been between Marn and Shim about five times now.” Kitan had exaggerated the actual number, which he figured was closer to three. “I guess I’m still pretty new. But my father took me all over the place! I know the woods and stuff, because we used to live a little ways off the road between here and there.” He thought about that for a moment before tilting his head and adding, “Hey, maybe we could stop there? I like to check on father from time to time. I guess he might not be there, but it isn’t far from the path.”

He sat back on the fence, making sure to toss his tail over the railing first. His inquisitive face leaned forwards as he awaited her response. “It’s okay if you don’t want to though, your message seemed pretty urgent.”

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Alexandros
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Alexandros » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:08 am

"Who was he?" Alexandros asked the swaying trees, his voice guarded against the choking sympathy he felt welling in his throat. Their dancing boughs creaked and cracked as the wind whispered through to brush the guardsman's bare olive-skinned face. To his front an old oak stood resolute: a pillar amongst twisting willows and quaking aspen, shelter to two anxious horses. Whatever answer the trees gave, if any, he couldn't understand it. Alexandros' fist tightened around the bright yellow ribbon clutched in his left hand, protective of it as it flapped in the wind.

Lurus Beriadan, to his back, was no more forthcoming. The elf and fellow guardsman gave up only a bleak sigh and a puzzled, "No way of telling." Alexandros couldn't blame him. Whatever this man had looked like a day ago, he wasn't that now - someone had gone to the trouble of putting an arrow in his face, then peeled back his flesh like he was downed game. The Virdara Woods' residents, voles and ravens to name a few, had wasted no time in turning their hungry mouths on what was left. They'd taken his eyes and lips first, as scavengers always did. The corpse stared at the sky blindly, face locked in a lipless bloody grin.

A chorus of cackling crows had gathered around the grove, impatient as they watched Lurus and Alexandros interfere with their unexpected feast. A few had grown bold and flapped toward the dead man's body earlier - til Alexandros had chased them off again.

They'd come into the woods only a few hours ago on the word of a trader, come through from Shim. He'd heard screams and rode hard for Marn - his frothing and maddened mare nearly dropping where she'd come to the gate. The merchant had led them to the road he'd heard the screams from. It hadn't taken Lurus and Alexandros long to locate the disturbed site about the camp.

Ofcourse, the yellow ribbon he'd found dangling from a gnarled thicket of raspberries had helped.

Alexandros turned back towards the dead man and stepped beside Lurus, looking down at the disfigured pile of meat left of their victim. The clean and professional way this man had been dressed. How they'd taken only muscles and avoided cutting into organs that might spoil it - whoever had killed this man was a hunter. The cleaver and the leg of venision it was stuck into, directly infront of the torn body, seemed a vile testament to the killer's intent.

"It didn't just want meat," Lurus added bleakly from below him "It wanted something human." The elf didn't turn to look at Alex, his eyes stayed locked downward leaving only his short brown hair visible. Lurus' armor looked much the same as Alexandros' own. It shone brightly, but for the dirt and dust of the road. Both of them had left their helms behind with their steeds - tied to a tired old oak not far from the camp.

Beating wings above announced the arrival of yet another dark-feathered onlooker to their audience. The smell was horrible. The birds hadn't been as careful as the killer him or herself - they'd punctured the corpse's bowels long ago. It smelled vile, like nightsoil and something sicker still.

Alexandros nodded numbly in reply, uncaring that Lurus couldn't perceive the gesture. He stood still for a few moments longer before the smell of offal and dead flesh started to overwhelm him... And that face. That rictus grin of teeth and blood, Alexandros couldn't stand it. The way the corpse's canines looked like bloodied fangs...

The guard felt an involuntary shiver rattle down his spine. It bothered him. How it didn't bother the elf more, he didn't know. An old timer had told him once though: when it all stops making you feel sick, when it didn't bother you day in and day out seeing the worst the world had to offer... That was when you knew, it was time to get out.

"I'm gonna make another circle 'bout the camp." Alexandros took a step back and then began to make his way through the clearing. The grove was full of hoofprints and confused footprints, all frozen in time in the forest's soft dark earth. There were a few small ones headed off into the brush - gait long for their size. A child, he guessed, who had tried to outrun his father's fate. The ribbon in his hand felt heavy as stone.

He walked for a short while, following the boy's steps to where they ended in a confused muddle of snapped twigs and disheveled weeds. Something nearby caught his eye, flickering white cloth amidst the underbrush shaking like a restless spirit. Alexandros' armoured legs carried him to it across thick moss and gnarled roots, when he got closer he realized what it was: a young woman's dress. Torn, ripped, as if it'd been hastily removed. Bile rose in his throat - disgust and hate pouring through the cracks this sad grove had opened in his mind. Alexandros stuffed the ribbon he'd held onto between his steel greaves and his leg and grabbed hold of this newest bit of evidence.

The guardsman turned it over, plated metal fingers running through the soft tattered cloth. They stopped at the neckline's hem and a line of black stitching, he pushed at the cloth's back to keep it level as he tried to make it out. Clear as day, he made out the spinning form of a cursive "L". The trademark of the clothier who had sewn this dress, Alexandros guessed. There was a chance yet to give this dead man a name. Though, the guard guessed through the helpless anger building in his chest, it might mean admitting to his daughter's own grim fate.

Alexandros returned to his partner, dress in tow, his brown eyes as dark as his mood. The sorrow he'd felt before was turning swiftly to something else: determination. Determination to see justice done. To see a killer hang, though he deserved worse. "I found this," Alexandros tossed the ripped dress down beside Lurus "Might help in identifying them." The elf looked it over for a moment before nodding his own agreement. Alex was relieved to see the other guard had laid a burlap sack over the corpse's face. It made it easier to pretend this pile of meat was never a man.

"I know a hermit who don't live too far from here. Old dwarf, drunkard but honest. Might check to see if he saw anythin' strange." Alexandros added considerately. He felt distant now. His anger, and the commitment it represented, had allowed him to pull away from the tragedy enough to catch his breath.

Lurus stood finally, and turned to look at Alexandros with his bright blue elf eyes. He looked distraught, maybe even more so than Alex thought he himself must. The red around his eyes and wetness on the other guard's chin gave testament to what words could not, even if his chin was set hard. "We'll have to bury him first." Lurus allowed. It was reassuring to see he felt the same distress that Alex himself had.

Alexandros looked to the dress, crumpled up behind it's owner's father. "Better make it deep then, wouldn't want him to feel the rain."

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Morveya Aris
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Morveya Aris » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:20 am

As Morveya awaited the answer to her query, she noted the waxing of the Fox-kin's grin.

An impish and fun-loving one, right enough, she thought, further confirming her initial impression. I need perform no scrying to see that!

Briefly she wondered what sort of family he had come from. Perhaps she would get the chance to learn that, as they traveled.

"I am quite certain they do," she acknowledged, with an echoing smile, as regarded his overhearing what was not actually intended for those ears. So, in a manner, they had something in common. They were both, potentially at least, eavesdroppers. Morveya heard nothing whatever, however, when she did it her particular way. She saw. So perhaps that term wasn't quite accurate in her regard.

In any case, it was never done without great discretion. It was a gift to save lives, to avert calamities, in her reckoning. Not license to snoop or spy. It was a gift she continued to believe. Despite that talent was something of a double blade.

She nodded once informed he'd made the journey a quintet of times. It was sufficient for her purposes. She'd done so four times herself, during her life. The route there wasn't without its challenges and possible perils. She didn't want to have to educate him personally on those. But, he'd enough familiarity - as much as herself - that it wouldn't be necessary.

Ah - and he'd lived locally in his youth, as well. Well and good.

But once he requested to visit with his father, she paused for a brief moment. Apparently the distance concerned wasn't much - but of course he and his family were strangers. And she didn't know who else lived there, or might be about.

Then he broached the bit about the message:

"The message - ah. Urgent? Perhaps. I...well, you see, I don't well know the relative who sent it. In fact, I use the term relative loosely. We are in fact related by blood...on my own father's side. But, I have never met her before. Nor any of her family. There has been no contact, for several generations now. This was something of a surprise, as you might imagine." She arched a fair brow in emphasis of that. She wasn't entirely certain how much more she wanted him to know, but did add:

"It does seem the matter is somewhat urgent. To the one who sent it. But that is her feeling, not mine. Nevertheless, I have agreed to come promptly. And so I will. Now. As to the matter of visiting your father..." she bit her lip lightly, paused again, clearly in consideration.

"I barely know you. Him not at all. I hope I would be safe. I've no reason to think not - please take no offense. But it does pay to be cautious in this world, more often than not. You strike me as safe though - for whatever that's worth." She smiled at her own presumption. "And Samwiell did house you in his own residence. He usually has an ear to the ground -- as well as to the trees and the winds. If your reputation was in anyway shaded, I am rather certain you would have spent the night elsewhere. And would not be standing here with me now." She made up her mind then.

"Very well, Kitan the Courier. At your father's house we will stop. My preparations are all but done. Mainly just some goodbyes to be said. We can leave shortly after I have said them, if you are also ready."

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Kitan
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:58 am

As Kitan listened to the letter’s explanation, he felt a certain resonance with her decision to follow the lead. He was curious about his own family, since he had figured out long ago Drifel wasn’t his real father. She was lucky to have received a letter. Kitan hadn’t even met another fox shifter, much less spoken or even written with distant relatives.

Now that he thought about it, families came in trees. Where were all his dwarven father’s relatives? He had never thought to ask, and suddenly felt a little bad about it.

Snapping back to reality with a shake of his head, he spun his expression into one of joy and leapt up and down on the fence post.

“Thanks Lady Morveya!” He said, happily bouncing about the stable. “I promise I won’t take more than a few minutes there. I just want to make sure that father’s okay!”

He thought about what she said for a second, letting his feet hit the dirt. He didn’t really understand what she meant by “ear to the ground” but the little shifter figured he could guess it- with her other comments, it meant she didn’t know if she could trust his father.

Kitan tugged on his tunic a little, a conspicuous gesture while standing in plain view of Morveya. He found it a little sad that she had to think about it. The world was a good place, by his immature estimation, and she must have caught the worst of it to be so mistrustful. He made up his mind to try and help encourage a more hopeful outlook in the herbalist before him.

“Aw, don’t you worry about father. He wouldn’t ever hurt anybody! He’s the best in the world, most of the time, and he can... well, I guess I shouldn’t take any more of our time.” He put a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “And the world is wonderful! You never ever need to worry about what you’ll find next, ‘cause it always turns out okay in the end. Take it from me!” He proudly thumped a fist to his chest, as he had seen his father do on occasion.

With that, he dashed off, vaulting the stable’s fence a final time.

“I’ve got to grab my letter bag from the room!” He shouted over his shoulder. He made a note to thank Uncle Samweill if he passed the man on the way, because Morveya seemed to respect him. He wore an childish grin as he schemed. “I’ll wait just a little bit down the road. Out of earshot, so you can say your goodbyes without me listening in.” He winked, but he was pretty sure he was already too far away for her to see it. Oh well.

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Alexandros
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Alexandros » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:00 am

Music (Anodynia: 3. Grave - Break of Reality): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MyUbgCJYys

"Isn't much to say." Alexandros suggested hollowly, plated hands folded over the plain red tabard at his waist. His eyes remained fixed on the makeshift cairn a foot infront of him, face glum and unreadable. They'd set him beneath a gnarled willow and dug as deep as they could with the tools they had. Which meant a cleaver and the dead man's axe - it made for hard going, once you got past the soft topsoil and into the rocky sandy stuff below.

Alexandros and Lurus had lain the dead man down carefully, sack still covering his torn face, treating him like fragile and precious cargo. The elf crossed their charge's stiff arms over his bloodied chest, striving for some measure of an appearance of peacefulness. They'd poured dirt over him, entombing him in the earth's womb. Just a few feet of raw soil between his battered shell of a body and the breeze above. Alexandros took the time to gather up a good many drab gray stones, laying them over the stranger's grave high enough to mark his resting place and keep the wolves from disturbing his rest.

"We ought to say something, though." Lurus replied, features conflicted. Alexandros didn't know what to say though: as the breeze rose, only the leaves rustled in response, their crisp rattling rising to a dull roar as the wind began to howl. Lurus began again, this time speaking to the grave. "Find peace in the beyond, though it was robbed of you here, and know that no monstrosity can long outrun Theogios' justice." Then, the elven guardsman bowed his head and muttered something quietly in his people's own tongue. Alexandros couldn't understand it... But whatever it was, it sounded beautiful, words lilting artistically as they always did in the elven tongue.

Lurus raised his head and made for the pair's horses. Alexandros didn't follow, he clung to the cairn's side like an uncertain wraith. "I don't know about what any divinities might have to say about it..." He began, whisper of a voice low. "But I can tell you this, friend: someday I'll find the slime that did this to you. Maybe not today, nor tomorrow, but someday... And I'll make it wish, with all its black heart, for the tender mercies of a god." As he continued the vehemence in his tone grew, resentment boiling though he kept his conversation quiet and private. When he was finished Alexandros kneeled, putting his knee down in the dark overturned dirt at the grave's side. Carefully his fingers reached into the space between his steel greave and his leg, drawing out a long bright yellow ribbon.

The guard looked about the marker, searching for somewhere to tie the bit of silk on the cairn. He didn't see anywhere that seemed right. He bit his frowning lip thoughtfully. "Maybe, I'll hold onto this. Til my work's done." Alexandros said, explaining to the grave. He was careful not to offend the dead. His mother had taught him that, so long as the dead had the courtesy not to wake. "And when I make my way here again, and give it back, then you'll know: you can rest easy, because your monster's been put down." He might have imagined it, but the wind seemed to lose its bite for a moment. The air hung still, silent and content, and the willow's branches stopped their heedless shaking. Alexandros took the ribbon and tied it around his armored bicep, pulling the yellow silk tight and letting its two split tails hang freely. He yanked it again to make sure the knot was sturdy.

"But for now sleep under old father willow, let him keep the rain off your head." Alexandros suggested, standing again, one hand pushing off his knee. Above a murder of crows watched interestedly. They'd thinned, long since realizing their meal ticket was gone, but a few hung on still and paid their respects. Dark eyes and black heads turned to regard the memorial below their perch.

Alexandros made the short but long walk back to the oak where Lurus stood with their horses. Leto, his stallion, shook his head silently anxious to be gone. Horses didn't like death, didn't like the smell of it. Neither did Alex. Somehow he felt oddly at peace with his own lot in life though, committed in fullness to the promise he'd made to the dead. The guard strode over to the horse and patted his brown flank soothingly. Lurus looked his human compatriot over, eyes stopping for a moment on the yellow band on his arm before he turned instead to the trail. "Do you think we'll know anymore about what happened here, when we've spoken to your drunk?" Lurus asked.

"We can't know less," Alexandros guessed as he grabbed hold of Leto's saddle and pulled himself up and into the horse's stirrups "Probably. When you're in a place for long, you get a feel for it and how its heart beats. Something like this... Drifel, he'd notice, he'd notice somethin'." He sat straight, rolling his shoulders to readjust the quiver hanging from the back of his breastplate. With care, he reached behind him, to pull loose a shortbow that had been strapped at the back of his saddle. Alex kept it in hand, drawing an arrow with his other and nocking it casually. It was a bit of a curious looking bow: sides of horn and tips of bone, much unlike the bows of yew and ash Lurus preferred. The elf mounted up too, pulling up his grey mare's reins to guide her beside Leto.

"It's not far." Alexandros said, eyes fixed on the bare road ahead. His heels tapped Leto's sides lightly, bringing him into motion headed down the trail just slower than a canter. "I know the way."
Last edited by Alexandros on Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Morveya Aris
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Morveya Aris » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:16 am

Her dark eyes widened in some surprise again, as he leaped from the fence. Such agility...and reflexes! Shifters were of course inherently para-natural beings. She wondered if perhaps he did any spell working, as well. Once on the road, she might actually inquire. It was terribly hard to imagine him a puradyne. Of course, one never knew for sure. Best never to be incautious in bringing up such topics.

She nodded to what he'd said as regarded his sire. "I understand, Kitan. Again, I meant no offense. If he has anything like your enthusiasm, I am guessing it may well be delightful to make his acquaintance."

As for the rest of his fully unbridled optimism...well, she would chalk up it to youth, a sheltered life, or a personal and distinguishing trait. Or some combination thereof most likely. She envied him a bit. It had never been like that for her. Her own parents had gone when she was so young. She had been shown another view of this world, early on. Nonetheless, she did not count herself at all a pessimist. And still a dreamer -- just a very practical one.

And then Kitan was off, vaulting the fence in a madcap but still graceful dash.

Indeed; he was out of her range by the time he winked. Nonetheless, bad ear notwithstanding -- she could hear it in his voice! She shook her head, laughed slightly. Despite all the unknowns and concerns -- she was actually looking forward to this journey.

^*^*^*^*^

Shortly, Morveya had made her way from the stable to the homestead adjacent to it.
So many, many memories attached to this old place -- where she had grown to womanhood. In the care of "Uncle" Samwiell and his wife, Harala -- who were not truly blood relatives. He was known as "uncle" to no few in Shim. It was because of the natural way in which he cared for, and mentored others. Took an interest in them, and their futures, as if they were family. Not everyone. He was selective. Looking the right combination of...natural resources that would make his time spent worthwhile. Shim wasn't just a home, for him. It was the only alternative to what he could not abide -- residing in Marn.

The detail of that tale was only very partially known to Morveya. She did know that, like herself, he had lost his parents, though at a somewhat later age. They had been murdered -- and he had found justice impossible to obtain. To the best of her understanding, the perpetrator had somehow purchased innocence. Whatever exactly -- that, and other things, had forever after soured him on Marn. And thus, through assisting some of its key citizenry to reach their highest potentials -- he did his best to make Shim all that it could be, as a community.

He was not entirely happy with Morveya's decision to leave. She did have responsibilities here, with her herbalist's work. But, of course there was the apothecary -- who worked in tandem with the more personal business of Morveya's family. Whom had always run their practice out of their home, and by visits, as Morveya still did today. So it were not as if she were leaving Shim without an herbaler. The apothecary's apprentice, Chessin, was coming up nicely as well.

And, more than likely, she would be back soon enough. She was going to hear this 'family' member out -- but had agreed to nothing more. And she knew, and did not forget, the treatment her great-grandparents had received. That had prompted them to relocate to Shim originally. This and other things would all be held in consideration. She would be wary. Very much so. Of being used -- or perhaps worse. And if she had any inkling of it being the case -- back she would come. After resting some days, and enjoying what the city offered.

Though like her "uncle" Morveya would not think of living in Marn -- it was an interesting respite from the ruralness of home, periodically. And helped to keep her mentally acute, with all of its diversity. One could easily get locked into ruts, and sameness, being a Shimite.

Those thoughts concluded as Morveya reached the doorway of the home, and entered. The smell of a hearty stew simmering in the kettle greeted her nose. The herbs flavoring it had been picked and prepared by herself; that was her contribution. Harala did the rest. Morveya aspired to be half as good a cook, one day. If nothing else, those heavenly dinners, and not to mention the desserts would call her home, promptly enough!

And then of course there was the great love she had for her adoptive family. The only family she had more than just vague memories of.

Samwiell smiled wistfully at her, and crossed the room to hug her. Morveya was not a short woman -- on the tall side of average height, anyway. But, next to Samwiell she felt short! He was close on to half a foot over six. There were few men dwelling in Shim who were taller. One of which was his own, actual, nephew.

She embraced him back.

"Ah - my daughter in all but blood! Part of me wished to forbid this leave-taking -- but mostly out of love, and knowing how I will miss you. Even if you do return in a matter of days. There is too the thought there could be some mischief attached to this invitation. But, we have discussed that at length, already. And you are a grown woman. Who must do what she feels is right, by guidance of her heart and soul."

"Aye, it is so, beloved uncle. I am decided -- as you know. If I did not -- I would be left to wonder. And it was yourself who taught me that reaching old age with a pile of 'I wonders' was no good thing."

"I taught you that? Really-?" he feigned, with a humorously cocked brow, pulling back to look at her. "Did I neglect to mention it didn't apply if it took you away from Shim? Or that you shouldn't listen too much to eccentric, old uncles, anyway?"

"No no - you didn't mention those conditions, at the time! I am afraid that it really did sink in!" She grinned. "Like so many other precious and important lessons. Which are such a part of those aspects of myself that I consider my strengths."

"Well, now. I did warn you too - about getting cocky, didn't I-?" he teased her.

She nodded. "You did. But in that, you did a deplorable job of leading by example," she teased right back.

Samwiell let go an over-dramatic sigh. "How many times must I tell you -- do just as I say -- and not as I do? Well, it is useless, it appears. And so it comes to this parting." His manner became sober and serious. "Do be careful. Please. We all just want you to come home again. Though, in a best possible scenario -- you know we never would begrudge you any relation, or Spirits forbid, love that might actually come from your blood relatives."

She nodded. "I know. And I understand. And I thank you all for the love you have given me since I was so young. I am coming back. Home. Rest assured on that. You won't be rid of me easily," she added with a wink.

"So glad to hear it!" he hugged her again. "Well, then. Harala is in the kitchen. Crying, of course. But she cries when you or anyone she loves goes across town. Let alone to Marn."

"Yes -- and it is such a part of what we all love about her. Let me say my goodbyes with her -- and then it is time for faithful Alstris and I to take our leave. Along with our excitable and energetic young courier."

"Ah - that one!" put in Samwiell. I do not think you will grow bored, in such company. I believe he is the sort who keeps himself amused very readily. And those around him, in the bargain. And he possesses what you do not; two very sharp ears. Just in case. That, along with Alstris' speed and stamina, and your skill in riding -- is a combination that will provide the best solution to any trouble: evade it."

Those sentiments expressed, Morveya was off to the kitchen to mollify and bid farewell the sniffling, nearly sobbing, Harala. It was properly emotional, this great-hearted woman being her adoptive mother, and all. But eventually that too was done, and it was time to go.

^*^*^*^*^

Once she had Alstris out of the stable, and was astride her back, wearing her travel cloak and everything packed and ready -- Morveya found Kitan again. She inclined her ahead to him and smiled.

"There is nothing to detain us, my new friend. To your sire's we go! But -- are you sure you can keep pace with a horse the whole journey? And not tire? It is still not too late to procure a steed for you, if you wish."

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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:40 am

**This is a joint post**

Kitan shifted back a step and stuck his tongue out, but the mirth held within his eyes removed any ill will from the gesture. “As long as you don’t gallop the whole way I’ll be fine!” He said, starting down the path, his bandaged feet avoiding rocks on instinct alone. “Nolan hires a bunch of us speedy nonhumans.”

"Surely," she assured him. "We have an agreement!" Morveya started her steed forward; beginning at a trot, working toward a canter. "Galloping is best reserved for when it's needed. We'd wear the girl out, to keep that pace the whole way."

A little while later, walking through the woods, Kitan twitched his ears while he listened to the birds chirping. “Say, I was thinking... I’ve only ever known my father as family. I love him and stuff, but you seem to have not even met yours. Why’s that?”

Morveya made sure Kitan was to her left side. She told him why: "Kitan, you should know, my hearing is very poor in my right ear. From an infection during my youth. Conversation will be much easier if you keep to this side of me. I won't have to aggravate you by saying 'Wha-?, Eh-?, Huh-?' repeatedly." Her eyes briefly cast ahead, taking in what lay immediately before them. Then she answered his question:

"These are the relative on my father's side. It is because my great-grandfather fell in love with, and married, an elf. Even worse...one who used magic. The family was...still is, I am rather certain, staunchly puradyne. Synevive, as well. They put it to my great-grandfather that he needed to correct his impious decision, and bad taste. He refused; they disowned him for it. They, as well as others, made my great-grandparents' lives uncomfortable. They decided they'd endured enough, and came to Shim. There has been no contact with that branch of the family since. And I barely knew my own parents. I was very young when they passed." She smiled sadly.

"But Samwiell and Harala have loved me as their own; I have not suffered. Though of course I feel the loss sometimes. And what of yourself? How is it you have known only your father?" She had been curious about his family. It seemed she was going to hear, as well as meet the only other member of it...

Magic. The word rang through Kitan like the sound of a church bell, echoing about in his mind. He hopped twice, once off each foot, trying desperately to contain the question on his mind until after he had answered her. “Oh right! I never told you! My dad is a dwarf!” He smiled and twirled about, unable to restrain himself any longer as the unusual pair worked down the road, hidden in the shade of the trees. The sounds of society long past, even to his ears, he could contain himself no longer: “But never mind that, Lady Morveya!” His signature smile broke out once more, in all its glory, as he pointed and asked, “You’re magic, aren’t you? So am I!”

To demonstrate, he threw out both palms and closed his eyes, his nimble feet sustaining their walk even through his reverie. Between his palms, a little bird formed, of the strangest green-blue color and emanating a strange light. The faintest hum of magic was the only noise from the illusion, which vanished as the shifter turned it into a puff of smoke. He smiled up at Morveya, a simple, childlike glee in his eyes.

"Ah - a dwarf?" So, he was adopted like herself. She wasn't going to ask past that. She didn't wish to discuss the particulars of her own parents' death. And suspected it was likely the same for him. As it turned out, it wasn't to be any issue. His quick-silver mind had seized upon another topic with obvious zeal.

She had suspected he might have magic; certainly wasn't surprised. It took her half a moment to realize she was witnessing illusion work. Not any sort of a summoning. It was no less impressive for that - based on how real it had looked, he obviously had some real talent in it.

She laughed briefly: "I'd applaud your work, if my hand weren't occupied with reins! Very nice, very nice. You have fun with that, I may imagine. When no when is looking. We must be cautious, of course." She glanced briefly about them, to reinforce that. And then recollected he would almost surely hear any company, before she would spot it.

'We' she had said. Including herself amongst the magically embued. "Aye. You have it right. The talent went dormant in my family, after my great-grandmother. Until myself. My talents are different than hers...but, that is who I inherited them from, nonetheless." She smiled playfully. "Sadly, I can't do anything as lovely, as artistic, as your illusion. Mine is different. Harder to demonstrate at whim." She paused a moment, as if she might say no more on it. She didn't typically share it with those she barely knew, of course. But this was very different, with him having just demonstrated. And she knew of a certain he would ask. His expression made that plain! This was a real passion for him - she could see!

And, understand.

"The waters...have always called to me. The Ofriyu, first and foremost. But, other bodies sometimes, too. I can use it to see things...to scry. Places...people, that are some miles distant. Or sometimes the events of the past. And, as well, I am what is sometimes called a warder, or spellbreaker. That is to say I can block or dismiss the magic of others, sometimes." She smiled humorously. "I suppose some may find that a downer, when I spoil their fun. However, as you surely know, any number of folk use magic in impolite ways. So it has it's uses. Did someone tutor you in your magic-weaving? Or were you left to learn on your own?"

Kitan couldn’t stop smiling. He was ecstatic about finally having found another magic user. “You’re pretty sharp, to tell that it was an illusion. And you’re even right about me being self taught!” He scratched one of his ears nonchalantly. “It’s the strangest thing. My illusions come to me easily enough, but I can’t even shift my form!” He kicked a pebble off the road. “Father says he doesn’t know any fox shifters. And other shifters can’t seem to help me much.”

“There’s also my magic’s problem...” He mumbled. “I guess I should be more careful. After I make a thing, I see something no one else can later. And no one seems to know anything about it.”

He brightened then, happily turning his face to Morveya. “But you can look into the past! That’s neat.” Kitan took a moment to consider the implications “Maybe you could tell me where my parents are? My first ones? Father says he doesn’t know. That he just found me in his camp one day. And I can’t remember them... I guess I was too small. Oh! And my delusions! Why are those happening?” He grinned up at her, stepping closer to the mare she rode upon. “You’re smart! And magic! You’ll have the answers, right?”

Again, she laughed, in a friendly way. "I'm older than you. I have more experience, by virtue of years. But, please make no mistake; I'm no seasoned mage. I guessed, strongly, that it was illusion; some because of how it looked, some because of how it vanished. Summoned things generally don't go up in a puff of smoke. And I didn't know for certain you were self taught. Just asked if it was so. Finding a tutor is not a simple thing. I hope I won't dash your hopes...but, I'm not sure how much I can actually tell you. I've only known other shifters in passing. And none have ever told me of having such a block. I would suppose it would either be a magical reason...or else one of mind, or emotion. I don't know -what- a shifter normally does to change. It seems so natural, to most. As to your delusions..." she shook her head, "I likewise couldn't say. Sometimes...magic may 'recoil' for different reasons. Sometimes, there needs to be a balance; one thing happens, and then another does in response. Like keeping a ledger book even, almost. I am willing to bet that, with practice, you can iron that out, eventually. And also discover how to shift. I wish I could tell you more. If I think of anything, or learn something useful, I promise I will tell you."

"As to your parents, my scrying is limited to not more than five years into the past," she informed him. "If that is far enough back to be of use, I could try."

Kitan turned his head downwards. “Naw. Dad says he found me while I was still a little child, and I can remember my life from five years ago.” He sulked a little bit, falling back a few feet behind Morveya. Darn. He had been so close this time. The shifter consoled himself with a slim strand of hope: she had said he could grow stronger. Maybe she could as well.

The rest of the trip was spent on the occasional idle chatter as the two magic users compared their respective abilities. Kitan was in the midst of describing the time he had seen a four legged chicken and somehow managed to assume it was real when he turned his head quickly, an odd expression of contemplation not often seen on his eager features. His ears tilted in his confusion, the left going upwards and the right the opposite direction. Both focused their attention to the right of the road, down a small, barely visible trail off the road.

“We’re close to father’s house. And I hear horses." Kitan glanced down at the mare Morveya rode, checking its hoofbeats against those resounding in his ears. "Does father have company already?” He dashed off, following the slim side path and leaping over gnarled roots and fallen branches.
Last edited by Kitan on Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Alexandros
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Alexandros » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:33 am

"He's drunk as a goddamned skunk," Alexandros lamented "Moaning like a two-bishan whore." Idly he tapped at the prostrate dwarf's form with his foot, eliciting little more than a groan and a twitching of the leg. Drifel laid sprawled out in the rough shape of a star, limbs haphazardly spread everywhere; one arm hung around a cracked, and empty, clay jug of wine while the opposite foot sat wedged atop the seat of an overturned wooden stool. The entire hut was a mess. That, Alexandros knew, was business as usual though. The dwarf's home was little more than a hunting shack: half-finished traps here, a weather-beaten cloak there, and a crossbow lovingly perched atop the cabin's oaken table.

"This is your informant? He... smells." Lurus protested, the measuring looks he sent around the hovel growing more and more dismissive. He was right, ofcourse, the old hermit smelled like stale sweat and old wine. The elf held one gauntleted hand to his face, pinching off his nose to stem the scent's progress. "Maybe I should check on the horses..." Lurus offered hopefully, his voice taking on a hint of a nasally tone as he did so. Outside Leto and Lurus' grey mare whinied impatiently. They'd tied the pair up on a young whip of a birch tree out front for the moment and left them unguarded. Alexandros was unworried - the woods were huge, even if there was someone or something prowling them the chances were miniscule that they'd run upon eachother in the here and now.

And if they did, as much as he cared for Leto, they'd have bigger problems than looking after the horses.

For the moment it was just them and Drifel. "He is kind of ripe, isn't he?" Alexandros admitted with a low chuckle. "They'll be fine. Let's set this old buffoon to rights, ya?" The human guardsman took a knee next to the unconscious dwarf, careful to avoid a puddle of what he hoped was some sort of spirit. Gently, oh so gently, he laid his armored fingers around Drifel's shoulders like a mother lovingly rousing an infant... Then he shook the living hell out of him.

"Drifel! Wake up you old sod, it's Alex!" He shouted, using the nickname the dwarf had given him when they'd drank together. Drifel had argued that Alexandros "sounded flowery like one of those flittery faerie-folk names", and refused to call him anything other than Alex when they met in the tavern. The guard had long since decided he didn't much care what the dwarf wanted to call him, since Drifel was usually buying.

Drifel kept snoozing and muttering - eyelids firmly affixed to one another, anchored together by Drifel's drunken haze as strongly as any epoxy could've hoped to match. Alexandros leaned farther forward and shook harder, being just careful enough to avoid slamming the poor dwarf's head on the cabin's hardpacked dirt floor. The dwarf shook and shook, but seemed stuck intently in the world of dreams.

"Here, let me." Lurus offered, pulling loose his waterskin from a loop along his belt. He brought the leather pouch over Drifel, uncorked it, then began to pour. A steady stream of water dribbled out to splatter across Drifel's face - splashing onto his chest and the ground nearby. The guardsman stopped midway through though, just as their recovering witness started to sputter and cough. A cocking of the head and barely perceptible shifting of his eyebrows announced possible danger, one finger held infront of him to usher silence.

"Voices. Outside." Lurus whispered, silent as a summer breeze. Alexandros' right hand went to his belt and grabbed hold of the thick steel axehead hung there. It felt familiar and ready, the edge sharpened and ready to bite if need be. Below him Drifel's eyes began to flutter open and his moaning intensified - both good signs that the dwarf was only now coming to. Alexandros laid his left free hand over Drifel's mouth and uttered a quiet "ssshhh", then pointed outside warningly. If the lights were on inside the dwarf would hopefully realize he needed to be still and silent as the grave.

Lurus looked to Alexandros and then whispered, "The horses." Then, the elf began to stalk outside but halted at the doorway to take a careful peek outside, bow now deftly swung infront of his agile form. Alexandros rose, and with a pointed glance to Drifel, began to follow his partner quietly as he might. He set up opposite Lurus on the other side of the doorway, slowly sliding his axe free from his belt. It glided out smoothly, softly, like a lover's caress to sit in the cradle of Alexandros' fist against his steely palm.

Then, to Lurus' chagrin, Alexandros called out demandingly. "Marn Guard! Who's skulking out there?!" The elf drew back momentarily, eyes flitting between his human counterpart and the crack of Drifel's barely open door.

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Kitan
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:28 am

Kitan burst through the brush by his father’s house. An idle thought admired how little had changed since his last visit, from every nick in the wall to the old crate outside. He felt a familiar rush of perspective hit, comparing the small shack to his quarters at Marn, wondering, not for the first time, why his father continued to live like this.

He shook his head and took his first step away from the bushes. Turning his head to approve of the unknown horses outside, he winced when the shout burst from his father’s cabin.
Alexandros wrote:"Marn Guard! Who's skulking out there?!"
“Hey! Father! It’s me, Kitan!” He announced, cupping his hands around his mouth. The fox shifter was apparently blind to the chance that the guards might be here on the hunt for illegal magic users like himself. “What’s going on in there?”

*^*^*^*^*

Drifel the dwarf, after being given his impromptu shower, awoke to discover a hand over his mouth. Despite the splitting headache that inevitably, instantly worked its way over his mind, he reached up, prepared to break the arm if he had to.

Before his fingers even reached the gauntleted hand, however, a second, stronger wave of nausea laid siege to his mind. Groaning, his arm sank back down to flop helplessly on the bed.

To put the icing on the cake, the shouting began. Ringing through his tormented skull, the dwarf grimaced in agony for a few moments before his beleaguered soul had finally had enough. Reaching up with renewed strength, he grappled with the offending limb which was preventing his speech. After a few seconds of mild struggle, the dwarven bulk of his arm bested the gauntleted weight of his opponents long enough for him to start yelling.

“All of you idiots shut up!” He shouted, half-heartedly propping himself up on the elbow of his free arm, “and let my boy in already!” He grimaced and let his eyes sink to the ceiling. This was the last thing he needed this morning. “You all couldn’t let an old dwarf sleep, could you?” He mumbled, watching the walls focus and unfocused, his mind coping with the hangover as he wonder what all these people were doing in his house. Maybe Kitan was right. He shouldn’t drink so much.

Of course, he had been drinking alone in his cabin last night, so he figured at least this time the bottle had nothing to do with how exasperating his life was.

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Morveya Aris
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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Morveya Aris » Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:57 pm

As Kitan went dashing ahead, as he was so wont to do, Morveya had bitten her lip at the guard's sudden proclamation. She was immediately concerned. She knew how zealous the guardsman of Marn could be - especially out here. Outside the consolidated jurisdiction of their city.

Thus rather than rein to slow Alstris, Morveya instead urged her to a slightly swifter speed. Not a gallop; nothing that would be construed as a charge toward the cabin. That would be foolish. Just a 'let's get there quicker just in case the worse happens,' sort of speed. She reckoned an unarmed and unarmored woman would be better for parley than a shifter, whose innocent and natural intensity might be taken the wrong way.

"We -" she started to call out to the guard, but then her voice was cut off by Kitan's own. And, some other - rather loudly grousing his ire! Kitan's father, almost surely, from the general drift of what she caught. Well...that was a relief. Even more so for Kitan, no doubt. Because the very next question was what was the guard doing here? Whatever their purpose, at least it did not involve investigating any personal harm to Valyr the Senior.

Morveya dismounted from Alstris then. Walked her mount the rest of the way to the cabin. Curious even more now to meet Kitan's curmudgeonly sounding sire. For at first hear, their general natures sounded nothing at all alike. But, of course, he was Dwarvish. And apparently they had caught him napping-?

But, then, what was the guard about, if the cabin's resident had been asleep? Knowing there was just one way to learn that, Morveya continued her now leisurely approach.

"Morveya Aris - citizen of Shim - along in the company of Kitan Valyr!" she announced herself, attempting to get a look at them. One appeared quite well armed and armored - hefting an axe - and the other slim, limber - bearing a bow. Elven? It did appear so...

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Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Alexandros » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:25 am

"Just a boy and a woman," a weighty breath of relief escaped Alexandros' lips "Drifel's boy, at that." He looked behind him with a smug smile that felt all wrong, to the roused dwarf, projecting a sense of mirth at the hermit's expense. When the grin came it arrived only with difficulty. Forced. Unwilling. It wasn't a day for smiles. "Sorry for the ruckus old man, I'll explain in a hot minute." The guardsman's hand lowered easily, slipping the shaft of his axe back through his tired leather belt again. His hand stayed there too, hooking itself through by the thumb as Alexandros' other arm mirrored the motion on his opposite side. Disarmed but no less in control the soldier stepped out the door, stride confident. Each stretch of his legs brought a dull click, dampened by the leather and cloth beneath his steel.

Lurus followed after, though the elf edged himself out slower and far more cautiously. His hands were still on his bow - even if he had withdrawn his arrow. He seemed a polar opposite to the other guard's brash behavior, bright blue eyes furtive as he searched the surrounding woods for more unexpected arrivals.

"Sorry for startling you, citizens." The human apologized as he walked. "We've come to speak with Drifel, nothing else. There's been trouble in the woods, ya see, and nobody knows them half as well as your.. uh, father. He's inside. Needs to freshen up for a second though, I think." Alexandros' eyes drifted to the fox's ears. He noted them with furrowed eyebrows, realizing now that he was dealing with a demihuman, but the guard made no mention of Kitan's curious traits.

Lurus, satisfied that he had determined they were alone but for the five of them, lowered his bow and withdrew from his vigil enough to speak. The arrow he'd only partially put away was now secreted into the quiver hanging against the middle of his back. "The two of you ought not be travelling alone. Since you're here though, we'll need to ask a few questions of you too."

"It'll be quick." Alexandros promised, stopping beside Leto. "Then we'll take you down Marn way, if that's the path you're headed along. Lurus here, he's right, with things the way they are this isn't no proper place for a kid and a lady to be alone." The horse swished his black tail back and forth idly, mindful only of the greens he was contentedly nibbling at. He looked to his rider lazily, then to their company, before returning his attentions to the grass with a shake of his head. Alexandros' left hand left his side to rest on the stallion's back, scratching gently with the tips of his metallic fingers. The human half of this guardsman duo was tall with eyes of amber, dark olive skin, and yet darker hair the same tone as Leto's ebony tail. He was armed to the teeth - an axe and mace at his waist, with a shortbow hanging at the ready from the horse he stood beside. Even as he stood, idyllic and calm in the clearing outside Drifel's cabin, the hand not on his horse had edged its way atop his axe to rest on its tapered head. Ready, but not threatening.

"Now, tell me, what brings you out into the woods anyway?" Alexandros asked.

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Kitan
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Posts: 329
Joined: Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:05 pm
Name: Kitan Valyra
Race: Fox Shifter

Re: Family Ties - Prologue

Post by Kitan » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:04 am

Kitan didn’t need a fox’s nose to smell the stench of ale as he approached. It permeated the air outside the door, a dour stench that the fox shifter was all too familiar with. An innocent rage filled his youthful mind, a petulant, childish anger which made his footfalls heavy and his breath just slightly faster.

A quick, swerving dart to the right was all it took to slip past the guard. Kitan was almost certain he had said something, but that wasn’t important. Father had been drinking again, he heard it in the dwarf’s voice, smelled it in the air, and felt it in his bones.

The first wooden step creaked as Kitan’s bandaged foot hit it, a testament to the building’s hasty, unprofessional construction. The second footfall produced no sound but a soft scuffling, the dirt and rocks falling away from the dirty binding, but a new one soon overshadowed it. One didn’t need a fox’s ears to hear the dwarf’s moaning.

Kitan fluidly bolted through the house, dodging his father’s curiosities with his tail weaving behind him like the cape of a fairy tale hero. The wind of his passage lazily lifted the cloak, dwarven sized, where it draped off the side of a simple, shoddy table. His movements took only moments; he was at his father’s side as quickly as he could have been, but he wondered if he had been fast enough.

After all, he hadn’t been fast enough to stop his father, now sitting on his bed with his back to the wall, from reaching for another bottle. “Hello son,” the dwarf began, raising the bottle towards his lips.

Kitan reached out with both hands and held his father’s arm still. The dwarf grimaced, knowing the reason why but not wanting to admit it. The dwarf shifted uncomfortably on the faded, worn blue blanket.

“Dad,” The little shifter whispered, a pleading look in his eyes, “you gotta stop doing this.”

Drifel glowered and snatched his hand away. He licked his lips, but to the dwarf’s credit his arm moved to rest the bottle on the bed beside him. His fingers still holding the neck with a tense grasp, he reached up for his forehead, “Just a bottle to help with the headache, son. You’ll let your old man have this one, aye?” His fingers tightened their grip.

“Dad, please,” Kitan appealed again, “You’ve got to get someone to help you with this, you can’t keep going on like you are now!”

“Bah, and why would that be so bad!” He glowered, and raised the bottle again. He faltered momentarily, a new wave of unease falling over him. After those few moments, he continued. “There ain’t no one who needs and old dwarf like me.”

Kitan snarled, a literal, feral snarl born from his heritage. His right hand whipped up to the sky and made a wide slashing motion at the air in front of the dwarf. Drifel was slow to notice that his flask was now a vase of flowers, tilted to his waiting mouth. His eyes narrowed, squinting to focus. When the aging dwarf realized what his son had done, his head whipped to the window; The pair of guards- oh, was that Alex?- seemed preoccupied interrogating the pale haired human woman that the boy had brought back with him, for which Drifel was presently very thankful.

“Boy.” He said, turning back to face Kitan with a voice turned to iron. “I thought I told you to never. Ever. Use magic around Puradynes.”

“Did you?” Kitan asked, shoving his hands on the dwarf’s wide shoulders and meeting his eyes with unfaltering determination. “I guess someone needs you then. You’ll have to remind me more often.” There were several tense moments, their eyes locked in a contest of wills. The dwarf’s were wide with shock, wondering where his meek and silly son had gone.

Kitan collapsed across his father then, embracing him in an enormous hug. “Damn it all dad! You may have given up on yourself but that doesn’t mean I have!” His arms wrapped around the dwarf’s neck, Kitan’s face buried in the dwarf’s chest as he kneeled beside the bed. “And I never will! Never, you hear me?!”

Drifel was stunned by the raw outpour of emotion. “I... thank you son.” He returned the embrace with one hand, his other still holding the bottle beside the bed. Kitan’s grip tightened, closing his eyes and flattening his left ear to Drifel’s torso. “I truly do.” His wizened eyes misted, knowing all too well what he was about to do. What he had to do. The dwarf stood up, his feet waving unsteadily. His son’s arms fell from his frame, leaving his shifter to collapse to the floor in a small pile of misery.

“Dad, no.” Kitan squeaked pitifully from the floor. “No more of this.” His voice was barely a whisper.

The dwarf hardened his will as Kitan’s sorrow caused the illusion to fade. Stepping through the door to the sole other room in the silent cabin, Drifel mumbled to quiet for even a fox’s ears, “You can’t understand why, my little Kitan.” The dwarf paused, staring down as the remnants of magic vanished entirely, before the bottle began the inevitable ascent. “I pray, every night, that you never will.”

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