There was a whoooosh! as one of the tent-flaps near Bria buffeted outwards, followed by little magical particles. A moment passed and then Malvolen stepped out from his tent, looking well-rested and well-groomed. His robes weren't even creased and had somehow been cleaned of all the mud from last night.
Malvolen tied his hair in a ponytail then stopped, looking over at the dishevelled girl.
Bria stared back.
The wizard's sentient trunk scuttled out of the tent behind him, stretching its boney legs, then also stopped and 'looked' at Bria. Malvolen, meawhile, was lighting his pipe for a morning puff.
"Unusual group, you lot. A leper, a pirate, a dragoon, two wenches and a..." He stared over at Caid. Then he puffed his pipe again. "Unusual group. It's no wonder you need my help, really. Adventuring without a proper appreciation of the arcane forces at work..." He shook his head. "I don't know what the world's coming to."
He strolled off across the campsite, the trunk scuttling after him. "What's for breakfast?"
Another rough night Caid thought as he sat up in his tent and stretched his neck side to side then grabbed the bandage wrap that was off to the side and started wrapping it back around his abdomen. Annalilly’s magic worked wonders but he felt it best to be safe for now and keep a tight watch on his lower ribs and the area where Annalilly healed him. Caid stepped out of his tent to get better use of the morning light so he could see how to finish off the bandage. His bare arms and chest bore a plethora of scars from his previous battles and missions. They were the one of the only things he enjoyed about his past line of work. They were reminders, memories of events, dates, missions, and people that impacted his life. A physical timeline of events that only he could read. Caid’s attention was caught by the magician exiting his tent triumphantly as if he had just defeated an army and jabbering on about this group of adventurers he ended up with.
I’ve got your arcane forces RIGHT here… Caid thought to himself as he gave the wizard a dirty look while slipping on his right arm bracer. The chains of the blade sheathed inside of the bracer clanked softly, a sound Caid adored greatly every morning, as if they were wind chimes. He slipped the other on, finished dressing, then began taking down his tent and wrapping it up in the bundle it came as and set it off to the side. Caid took a minute to enjoy the fresh morning air. Although it was refreshing, this felt like it was going to be a very long day…
"GAAAARRR!!!"the golem bellowed when it rose. It had it's full strength back, and struggled with the chain again so that it could reach something close to a standing position.
The beast growled when the others turned to stare at it. Many of them drew their weapons, pitiful toys that wouldn't do anything more than leave meger scratches. Garrock's next set of growls didn't come from its throat. They came from its stomache.
The golem cluthed its abdomen as the rumbling continued. "Hungry..." the creature said. When it spoke, it turned expectantly to the dead man, Gilgear. He had fed Garrock before. A squirrel scampered past the chained monster with impunity. Garrock made to lunge at the small morsel, but again the chan held the beast at bay. Out of frustration, it roared again.
Rilikan picked up the squirrel shortly after it escaped the golem, seeming to just come out of the shadow of a nearby tent as if that was where he had slept, although it wasn't. His appearance was as clean as ever--which is to say, a little dirty--but one couldn't easily tell the new dirt from the old. He held up the struggling creature by its tail. "Come now, raw squirrel? Not much of a meal, stony." He tossed it casually backwards, where it landed on a tree trunk and quickly ran up to hide.
He moved in Malvolen's general direction. "I must ask that you refer to me as either a 'Captain' or 'former pirate' in public. I'd hate for people to get the wrong idea." Then, turning somewhat toward Bria: "By the way, do we have a particular destination now, or is the plan to find a town that doesn't think we're bandits and then pick up clues there?"
Annalilly Hawkins Why does the wizard call me a wench?
Annalilly had slipped out of her tent moments after Bria, but with a quiet silence that would not disturb the wizard as he spoke. She watched him quietly, observant of both his appearance and Bria's. Herself, she looked much like she had earlier on, before their trifling with the golem. Much like the wizard, she seemed to have slept soundly, for the look in her eyes was vibrant and alive. She had plaited her hair into twin braids and clipped aside her bangs. She had changed back into her main set of clothes, the bluegreen dress and slung her bag across her chest. It looked rather stuffed, more than usual, but other than that, she looked fresh and clean.
I wonder if anyone is taking care of breakfast...? When Bria had purchased the tents, Annalilly had quietly bought enough carry-along food for them to last for two days or so. She had considered that the others might not have the time to think of something as trivial as food and that another village might be at least a day's worth of walking away.
"Captain... Would you like to eat before we go?" Annalily took a deep breath and spoke.
This was a bit of a predicament! With the wizard asking for breakfast, the golem being hungry, and now the Captain's very serious question of where they would be headed next. Bria felt responsible for the expedition, but did not count on herself personally having to make these sort of decisions!
Bother. Maybe she shouldn't have taken charge so much yesterday!
"Oh, um, let me see..." Bria fumbled to get her pack and pull out the map again. "Well, I think that uhm, the next town might be a good idea, but then again there are ruins marked not far from here too where it might be. Yet maybe it would be more likely that Drymera would be left on one of the war battlegrounds?"
Bria rolled the map back up, considering to offer the map to Malvolen, but as a second thought handed it to Captain Ril instead. She resumed digging in her bag again to pulled out a small box. Approaching the golem, she was a bit hesitant to get close, so she stopped a few paces away.
"If you promise not to eat my entire arm, I might give you a piece of chocolate until we decide whether or not to have a meal in the village or find something on our journey. Do you promise?" Bria even opened the small box to pull out a piece and show him she meant it!
At the sight of the small brown square, Garrock's curiosity had been intrugued. The beast bent so that it was just inches from the chocolate. It slowly stuck out a stony tongue and licked the morsel.
The monster roared and smacked Bria's hand, sending the chocolate into the dirt. Although Garrock could not reach its full height, it still towered over Bria as it bellowed in her face, sending small spots of saliva onto her cheeks.
"No choc...choc," Garrock struggled to pronounce the word it had never heard before. Instead, the beast just continued with its meager attempts at speaking. "Eat...meat. Eat tree, and rock...but like meat."
Growling, the beast moved as far as its tether would take it, and Bria had to step back to make room. The others eyed the golem nervously, some once again reaching for their weapons.
Annalilly took a deep breath until her cheeks were filled with air and she looked like an angry chipmunk. She let it all out at once so it sounded very much like a frustrated huff. "I have food," she replied as a matter of factly, a little louder than last time, directing herself primarily at Bria, whose nonchalant way of not listening to her the first time and nearly getting eaten by the golem as a result made Anna very irritated. She knew she didn't talk much or talk loud much, but that didn't mean people could just ignore her, right ?
"If you would like," she added, a little less sharply, "We could eat first and then go," and now she was feeling a little guilty for her little blowup. It wasn't really a blowup, but to her it seemed like she'd blown the house down on their pretty little heads. She hadn't wanted to be rude or loud or anything like that, but it had just burst out of her when Bria had totally ignored her. Not to mention the incomprehensible golem was going around biting people in the hand without a reason. Anna didn't care if he was hungry; he wasn't going to travel with them with those manners.
Suddenly, she felt so annoyed at every little thing just because of that one moment of being ignored. She knew it wasn't really Bria's fault, the woman was so preoccupied with other things like reading a map that Anna was now certain she had not drawn herself and possibly hiding her 'Aubrielle' identity, which she had overhead yesterday. Still, Annalilly attempted to take slow breaths to calm herself from this new overwhelming emotion.
It was kind of funny, she reminded herself, a couple of days ago she would have believed she had the capacity to actually get annoyed. And now, it was as though she was doing it as if it were second-nature to her.
Getting her hand nearly taken off by a very grumpy golem didn't come as much of a surprise as Miss Annalilly! The young girl hadn't shown anything had ever bothered her, so the outburst was a bit shocking!
"Right, right! You did say so, didn't you. Forgive me!" she said quickly, trying to smooth things out. "You are right, we should eat first and then go. Um, he.." she pointed a vague finger at the golem, now that she was a few paces away at a safe distance. "seems to prefer meat. But, I'm sure you already have everything handled!" It was such an awkward feel of mixed remorse and embarrassment. This morning was off to a very bad start. At this rate she was going to have every last one of them shouting at her, and that wizard beating her with his stick too!
As everyone began waking up, Caid made his way towards the woods. Unlike some of the others, he doesn’t bring a meals’ worth of food with him during travel. He always felt that was extra weight he didn’t need to carry, a mentality he picked up during his travels during the war. As he got closer to the forest, he could hear the distant voices of the group slightly bickering about food. Garrock’s roar was slightly more audible, and annoying.
Eventually Caid was where he wanted to be, deep into the woods where most of the animals were. After a quick survey of the area, Caid picked up a few tracks, they were hoof prints of a deer. Smiling, Caid quickly climbed the nearest tree and waited. Luck was on his side for not minutes later the deer emerged from the bushes, picking at the grass and seemingly oblivious to Caid’s presence. It was a good size animal, healthy and strong. In a flash Caid leaped from the tree straight towards the deer. Its reaction to the imminent danger was nearly instantaneous, but not quick enough. Caid let fly his daggers which sunk into the sides of the animal and with a strong forceful tug, Caid pulled himself right out of the air onto the animal, tackling it to the ground then sinking a dagger into its’ heart, a quick and easy death.
“Forgive me friend” Ando spoke with his hand on the animals’ head. “And thank you for this meal”.
After being gone a good twenty minutes, Caid emerged from the forest hauling the dead deer carcass over his shoulders. Caid settled himself and the deer next to the fire pit and began slicing off sections of meat for everyone, skewering them and roasting them over the fire. With plenty of meat still on the dead animal, Caid glanced over at Garrock, and smirked. After a few minutes of checking the meat, Caid stood and began dragging the rest of the dear towards Garrock, stopping well out of the creature’s reach. Caid then turned towards the carcass, flung his blades into it’s’ flesh and then heaved the body directly at Garrock who caught it just shy of it hitting his face.
“There you go mudslide, hopefully that will shut you up for a while” Caid then walked back towards the fire pit, stopping at Annalilly and placed a hand on her shoulder then knelt down to meet eye to eye with the little mage
“Hope you like venison. And I’m sure if you have anything else to cook up or are getting anything else, it’ll go great with the meat.” Caid smiled then headed back towards the fire pit again, glancing over at Bria.
“Don’t worry about the food, Annalilly and I will handle this. You just focus on where we’re going, but don’t starve yourself either, you’ll need the energy.” Caid smiled again before kneeling down to check the meat again.
"Captain, come on over and eat." Ando glared at the wizard, "You too old man. If you want I can tenderize it more and make it more chewable for those aging soft teeth in that arrogent gullet of yours"
"Deer..." Garrock acknowledged before taking the creature, starting at the head, into its mouth. The skull gave way instantly. The sound of bone being crushed against stone silenced the whole company. They obviously hadn't expected the beast to just eat it raw.
It began ripping the sinews from the neck, crunching on stray vertebrae that got stuck to the meat. The golem noticed that Bria was grimacing at it, looking like she may lose whatever she had eaten the day before. The beast kept eating and found that it was soon ignored again.
"WAAhahahaha!" Ril laughed, halfway gesturing at the wizard. "You hear that? He called you an old man, and I'm at least a decade older! I guess you act more like a geezer, eh?" With that, he moved over to where the food was just as cheerfully as ever. Naturally, he wasn't ribbing the wizard just to do it. He wanted to know if the man had any sense of humor to him. Certainly the events of the day before hadn't gotten within even the old Captain's own fairly comprehensive sense, so he couldn't just base his assumptions on how everyone had acted then.
After all, this would be a very long and boring journey if nobody laughed.
Annalilly stared at the startled Bria with a calculating sort of look until Caid reappeared with the carcass of a deer. She didn't know what bothered her so much about being ignored, but something just did. She hoped Bria wasn't easily offended, because for some odd reason, she didn't feel like apologizing now. But just as quickly as she had decided that, Caid starting speaking to her on eye-level and made her cheeks turn bright red. She nodded quickly before glancing at Bria. Now, she felt a little guilty. Just a little. She supposed she'd have to apologize later and put the thought away for now, making her way over to the fire, slowly opening the backpack slung across her shoulders. She started to take out the things she'd bought from the store earlier, ignoring the way the golem was gorging on the deer flesh. It was a little sickening, but Annalilly did not want to think about it, either. Putting things away to think about later was something she was especially good at. She rolled her eyes and let out a small breath of frustration. Crouching down on the floor, she got to work on their breakfast.
When Captain Ril burst into laughter, Annalilly was in the middle of unfolding something that looked like a thin sheet of metal. Fully open, it was a square sheet of a frying pan that could be used on a fire like their's. She put it against the flames on top of a couple of sticks and broke six eggs on top. She liked to think that even when they were traveling, they would eat breakfast as breakfast, but she had a feeling this wouldn't be the case. Listening to the Captain's teasing of the old wizard, Annalily found herself smiling. It was true; Captain was older than the wizard, but the wizard acting like such an old, respectable know-it-all that his personality reeked of ancient things. Annalilly broke into a grin as she placed her hand against the ground, waiting for the eggs to fry with the heat from the fire. She used her magic to let a small plant grow out of the soil. She slowly tore off the large, flat leaves to use as plates and straightened them onto the ground. They were soft and feathery, but they could be used just as well as anything else. She didn't think she would expected to carry plates as it was.
Pulling a cyllinder out of her bag as well, Annalilly quickly put the cooked eggs onto a plate for each of her companions, excluding the golem, whom she supposed probably wouldn't be hungry anymore. She put two eggs on each leaf-plate. She then, deciding it wasn't food enough, reached over to the metal tray she was cooking on, used wind magic to propel it into the air and water to rinse and cool it quickly. She caught it in her hands and started to fold it into a different pattern. This time it became an open cube. She dropped it onto the heat of the fire again and poured in an amount of water; followed by what looked like some grains of rice from a cyllinder in her bag. She waited for the rice to boil, used the same technique to cool the metal sheet and used a leaf in her hand to pour rice onto the leaf-plates she'd made. Then, she glanced over at Caid to see if he was done cooking the meat and smiled.
"I'm ready with breakfast if you are." It made her happy, this little act of cooking. She had done it with precision and care for these people; it made her feel like part of the group, part of the adventure, part of the responsibility. She liked this feeling. It was a feeling she wasn't used to, but a feeling she did want to depend on. She didn't know how these feelings worked, but she realized, the more good things she did for her companions, the better she felt. She didn't actually have to like them or anything. She just had to do her part. But that doesn't sound quite right...does it ?
"Well well, the peasant has learned some words," Malvolen shot back at Caid. "I suppose you stumbled on a dictionary when you were off hunting in the woods?"
He then nudged Rilikan with his staff as the old pirate chortled. "And you, peg-leg! Be careful this old geezer doesn't lose his wits and reverse the adamantine spell!" He jabbed his other finger at the chains around Garrock. "I'm sure the Golem will take great pleasure in tossing you round like a ragdoll again!"
His tirade was cut short as Annalilly came round with the eggs. He took the leaf-plate and started eating, still glaring at the others, then glaring even harder as the girl wasted several magic spells just to clean the frying pan.
"Su' a vul'ar use of ar'ane gifs," he muttered between mouthfuls. Then he took a spoonful of rice and snatched one of the meat skewers from Caid's campfire, scowling at him again. Gobbling the meat, the Wizard lost track of what he was angry about and instead moved over to Bria, prodding her with his staff.
"And you! What were they talking about before? Where are you leading them, and what's this Dry Mirror you keep talking about, eh?"
He nudged her again with the staff, while tossing his meat-skewer to the Golem.
Bria had not managed to shake herself of that awkward feeling, but Malvolen's staff-prodding did provide her with ample distraction and a mild annoyance. She stepped a few paces away to avoid another nudge before she accepted a leaf-plate of food from Annalilly. Smiling with genuine appreciate at the shorter girl and deliberately making the impatient wizard wait, Bria swallowed a bite of eggs before speaking.
"Drymera is a sword. It's very important to m- Lady Aubrielle Cantova. So much that she offered a very large reward to who ever finds it and brings it back. If you would like to help search for it, I'm sure she would give you a reward too." Bria scooped up another bit of the eggs and rice. She wasn't sure the wizard would want to help, but money was always a good incentive. And every person searching would hopefully mean it was found faster!
Breakfast was doing wonders for her mood. Tired or not, with every bite she was feeling much more optimistic about the day. By tonight if they worked fast, they might even find it!
Cisk chuckled as he approached the campfire. He wasn't wearing his armor at the moment, nor was he wearing a shirt, since he'd gone off a bit to go clean off nearly two weeks of accumulated road grime. "Well, it's nice to see you lot of lovebirds getting along," he chuckled, ignoring the glare Malvolen shot him. Dropping himself onto a rock and grabbing a 'plate' of food, he offered his own insights.
"Vahan still had Drymera when I was injured at Tredebar," he said between bites, gesturing to one of his many scars. "And from what I've heard, he was killed at Dundalk. So it's probably safe to assume he had the sword up to that point. Ancil Basin's in that general direction, though, and there's a supply depot near the battlefield where we can probably get more provisions and any gear we find we need. So that's probably our best route of travel."
Looking down, he realised that he'd finished his food while he was talking. He nodded to Annalilly and set down his plate before standing to go throw on a shirt and don his armor. "Great cooking, Annalilly. Damn sight better than trail rations. Hmm. Speaking of trail rations." He turned to address 'Bria' from in front of his tent as he started buckling on his armor. "How many days' worth of provisions did you get, Aubrielle? It's three days to the Ancil Basin at a quick march."