Resurgence

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by J_"Kraken", Jun 13, 2015.

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  1. Gilliam Harper



    F
    og had enveloped the river valley, a thick shroud no eye could pierce through. Though common in the latter half of the year when winter began and the sun roused the damp sky, such an occurance was not natural in the height of summer. The fog had come nearly two days previous without warning, leaving many lost in the mist without direction. Fires were lit and bells were rung, though few found their way back into Broybrook.

    Gilliam Harper had been on the hunt when the fog had first come, lost in the thickets of Broybrook's outer reaches, trailing a herd of deer through one of the forest's lesser-known paths. Whatever game he had managed to bag until that point had served only to sustain himself as one day turned into two, two into three. Frustration had settled in at dawn when the fog had, once again, returned to the world and he was forced to reach into the Else to waft the fog around him away, giving himself a field of view of only three paces.

    As Gilliam continued across a well-worn and half-paved road to Broybrook, he hoped in the proper direction, he began to hear the steady tramp tramp tramp of boots upon hard-packed dirt. Not a procession of merchants, hunters, or travelers. No, the footfalls were too synchronized. Too practiced. Rather than meet the column of men head-on, Gilliam dove onto the side of the road and took cover behind a patch of shrubs. When at last the soldiers, for soldiers they were, approached, Gilliam noted that the fog did not surround them as it did everything else.

    Magi.

    The men stood a good head taller than most with broad shoulders and massive chests, each clad in mottled grey-green cloth beneath gleaming plate mail. Their helms resembled skulls and each was marked by two red stripes running down the center. Upon their backs hung massive packs loaded, the weight seemingly nothing to them. Each held in his hand an unsheathed, curving blade accompanied by a plain, unadorned round shield of polished steel. Gilliam counted twenty of the larger brutes, behind them about fifty men-at-arms, and further still two lightly-armormed men on horses, seemingly each in a trance.

    Gilliam allowed the column to pass before he began to run as swiftly and quietly as he could through the undergrowth of the forest, making for the direction the men were headed. There was hardly a chance they were headed to Broybrook, though the alternative was that the village had already been razed. Though while the men had the advantage of steady ground, they were still marching in tandem - in the woods, Gilliam was swifter. He was, no doubt, a day's journey from Broybrook - if the road was leading him there - and the soldiers were still at least two days, if not three, away from their destination.

    The race is on... Gilliam thought with a smile born of grim humor, beginning to march along the now-clear road.

    ---

    Over the next day and a half, Gilliam continued his tiring pace along the road, stopping only to eat and sleep in hour-intervals. At last, well into the afternoon of the fourth day out of Broybrook, he arrived at the village's outskirts, exhausted and famished. His tug on the Else had been fading ever since that morning and he had been forced to resort to navigating the mist without its power, and now he hardly retained the energy to enter his own tavern - the Wench and Tankard. He was met by a surprising number of villagers who had taken refuge in the bar, a few of which greeted him with a raised glass or a spoken word or two.

    "Men are approaching," Gilliam blurted once inside the inn, door shut behind him, "armed men, there are magi with them - they're a day's march at least away from Broybrook..."

    In the ensuing storm of questions, Gilliam chuckled, sat down upon the nearest chair, and promptly fell into well-needed sleep...



    Joane Hancey



    O
    ne day after Gilliam's announcement, the village's hired swords, men-at-arms, and other able-bodied individuals had been assembled into a rag-tag band of fighters. Their work had consisted of erecting scrap-built barricades, honing weapons, and treating armor long left to age. Scouts had been sent to the fringes of the village, guided by the worn and battered Gilliam's magic.

    Joane's waraxes had been replaced with those intended to chop wood and do the type of work that didn't involve hacking limbs, cleaving open chests, or cracking skulls. The steady rhythm of her axe had become clockwork since dawn - raise, aim, swing...raise, aim, swing...raise, aim, swing... Each haphazardly cut plank of wood was dedicated to the gaps in the village's meager stone wall, the village's entrance, and doorways of various houses. Everyone knew they lacked the men to defend the entire village's perimeter, and a force of even thirty trained men could overrun the cowardly lot of men and women Broybrook called defenders.

    "Any tidings from the scouts?" Joane called when Arund came into view, the broad-chested man a welcome sight, "Or are we content to play at making castle while they veer away from our piss-poor village with nothing to offer?"

    "We could no reason 'to distrust Gilliam," Arund spat out; a mailed fist to his face had knocked out a good portion of the man's teeth and had left his jaw disfigured, "But I don't enjoy hackin' at wood an'more 'en you do, Joane."

    Joane rested the axe against the stump she had been using to place the logs upon and braced her elbow against it, mismatched gaze meeting Arund's own. "Don't mean the man knows a thing 'bout war and why it's fought, don't it?"

    At this, Arund chuckled. "Neither do you, sweetling. Now get choppin' or I'll have you try your hand at nursin'."

    Joane's good eye flickered with amusement and she resumed her work as Arund sauntered off to check the status of other workers around the village. Raise, aim, swing...Raise, aim, swing...Raise, aim, swing...

     
    #1 J_"Kraken", Jun 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
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  2. The chaos of the day broke Niel's peace of mind. Ever since that man delivered his warning, the town of Broybrook had turned into a storm of frenzied preparation. He tried to recall the days of peace, working his fields in silent contemplation. Those days of slowly caring for his crops seem to slip away as the clank of metal, and the thud of wood resounded around him. Niel felt the underlying sense of unease from everyone. He knew the danger, but it felt strange. Perhaps he could not reconcile how quickly the mood of the land changed with a single proclamation. All the able men had already been mustered, but Niel thought it would likely not be enough.

    Niel had to dispense this feeling of dread. He walked away from noise of war. When the sounds of the town were just an echo in the wind, he began. He began with the basic forms. The movements of his body moved as slow as the earth. His muscles tensed with the strain of it. Time seem to still as he continued from sequence to sequence. As his mind grew with silence, his body grew in speed. The movements began to flash. The kata of his staff moved with blazing speed. His breathing was still as calm has he began. Niel's body no longer felt the dread of the coming battle. There was only fire of his body and the sense of control of his mind. The breeze felt excruciatingly wonderful as his body slowed down. There was no longer any strain in his muscles as he performed the same slow forms. He smiled and listened to the wind, to the earth, to the very spirit of the land. He felt one with it. His body tingled with the magic of it. He felt his own source, but also the source of the distant void. He felt that pull of that intangible force, but did not succumb. Niel only acknowledged it's existence. With his mind settled, he sat down and contemplated, "What will the coming days bring to Broybrook? What will I do help?" These questions lingered as he began to focus his mind on the land itself.
     
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  3. For the first time in a long time Efrihm was completely and utterly lost. When the fog first bled into the forest he should have returned to the tributary that led him there. But that would be the wise thing to do, and thus severely unlike him. Instead, the wanderer resolved to press on. The mist was light, after all; no more than a cloud of liquid obscurity that seemed to drip off the branches and pool at his feet. Surely his keen sense of direction could outwit some untimely weather. Foolishly he believed that so long as he took things slow and paid extra attention to his surroundings, his journey would only be hindered, not uprooted entirely. In time, when the fog became so thick he couldn't even see his hand held inches from his face, he set down his pack and built his tent. All the kindling he could gather was too saturated with moisture to catch a spark, so he filled his stomach with what bread and berries he had left before resting his head.

    When he awoke the atmosphere was no clearer, so he decided to spend the day with a pen and paper, copying down his memory of the terrain since departing the tiny stream. Once Efrihm was finished he was confident he knew exactly where he was and how to get back. He couldn't have been more wrong. The next day the haze had dissolved, revealing trees so tall and thick with foliage that no sunlight could pierce through them. Every direction he looked seemed as overgrown and undisturbed as the rest, causing him to wonder how he navigated himself into this small clearing to begin with. Without a sun or stars to guide him he could not determine which way was west, forcing him to do what he did best. Wander.

    Hours passed and his hunger grew rampant. Checking on a couple of sticks he pocketed when he first set up camp, he discovered they were dry, and thus ripe to be set aflame. Fire built, he cooked a fillet he had saved for such an occasion, then stomped out the flame and resumed his travels. Strangely the woods seemed to be deserted despite the thriving flora. It wasn't until much later that day that he found a pair of azulii nesting in the canopy above. Or rather, when they found him and decided it would be funny to lay waste on him. Literally.

    Wiping the scentless, white substance from his brow, Efrihm dropped his rucksack, dug inside for his folding bow and strung it. Arrow seated, he sighted in on the bright blue devils, then adjusted his aim until he had compensated for the flight arc, all the while keeping the string tense. A distinct twang echoed with the shaft's release. The cartographer watched it proudly as it soared towards the nest, then frowned when he saw it losing energy fast and yelped when it nearly fell back on him. He dove out of the way just in time. Right, he remarked internally as he dusted off the dirt from his knees. Can't forget about that little thing called gravity.

    Meanwhile, the azulii did not so much as flinch. Infuriated by their arrogance, Efrihm sighted in again, this time accounting for the magical pull of the earth. Just before he let the arrow loose, the string snapped, the recoil strong enough to leave a bloody gash in his left arm. After bandaging it up he searched for an extra bowstring, but to no avail. Defeated, he shouldered his pack and moved on, a good portion of time lost and nothing to show for it but humiliation and blood loss.

    His food reserves would not last long. Without a working bow or any waters to fish the only thing he could rely on was foraging to sustain. Sadly everything on the ground was picked clean, and what fruits he could find were hung too high for him to reach. If desperate he would risk further injury and climb, but instincts and suspicion urged him forward. By the time the shimmering emerald glow of day paled into a faint half-light, Efrihm had finally burst free from the forest's border. With a wide grin he looked upon a stretch of fields tilled by human hands, and just a quarter mile away, civilization.

    Twenty minutes later Efrihm was standing in the heart of Broybrook. In spite of the dusk enveloping the land, men and women were still toiling away at their town's fortifications. Either they were too distracted to notice the stranger or simply didn't find him the least bit threatening, the wanderer entered undisturbed. It was very obvious that they were preparing for something, and it certainly wasn't a warm fanfare to celebrate his arrival.

    "Lo," he called out to no one in particular. "Would someone care to inform me of the cause for this ruckus?"
     
    #3 Alvom, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
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  4. A two days before Gilliam Harper arrived in Broybrook --

    "Pa', where we headed after Broybrook?" the teenage girl, trotting behind the significantly older male said in a genuinely curious tone, but one that was also looking to break the dreaded silence of this damnable forest. The man a few paces ahead of her didn't answer right away. He was a taller man, not large but fit from the constant travels. His face was thick with facial hair and lines of experience that pronounced each and every feature. After a moment of hesitation, the man answered.

    "I dun' know, flower-" a pet name, for his daughter, "-these roads aren't as safe as they were a couple years ago..." he admitted this in a sorrowed voice. Trading between the capital and the smaller, out-lying towns had allowed him to not only make a living, but spend time with and teach his daughter how to. The girl behind him, only seventeen years of age, furrowed her grow, and her streak of spring green hair fell into her face. Her thin, boney shoulders hunched as well before she huffed out, not fully grasping how accurate her father's statement had been.

    "I want to go back to Leriathel!" the teenager missed the civilization of an actually city. It was understandable, but all this warranted from her father was a furrow of his own brow, which sent Marrie into panic mode. She quickened her pace, and caught up to the older man's stride and made sure she was in his line of sight. "Come on, pa'! Leriathel has the best stuff; we're running low on supplies, and these villages won't trade or buy the crap we're towing around now."

    The man's furrowed brow evolved into a frown as the young girl spoke. She had a point. They were low on supplies, and the only reason they were heading to Broybrook was because the stuff they had was, in-fact, crap and the only people nearby that might find this stuff useful was village farmers and hunters. Even they might not be interested, and then they'd have to trade or sell their own personal belongings just to have enough food to make it to the next sketchy village that wouldn't buy there goods. Finally, he answered her.

    "We can't flower. For a many reasons. We don't have the food, money nor time."

    His tone was stern, but kind and it made the girl's metaphorical tail retreat between her legs. He didn't have the heart to tell her that it'd be safest for them to stay in Broybrook and take actual jobs until they had the money to move on but... Broybrook wasn't the ideal place for such a thing.

    Merriallia, defeated, sunk back into her own pace. Understanding that the choice wasn't one of his choosing, but one of circumstance, and she felt she should be old enough to understand that. For hours, the duo walked in silence and as they did the weather began to take a turn for the worse. The formally clear sky had began to fill up with clouds, and not to long afterwards, it was fog. At first it was thick, but walking on a well-beaten path so this wasn't to big a deal, but then the fog became impregnable. They decided to call it a day when Merria lost sight of her father, and had to chase after him to not lose him. The two moved off the path set up there camp. Which basically consisted of two quilts. The girl laid herself down, while the father set himself to work on a fire. It could draw the attention of thieves or bandits but... this damn fog was so thick.He decided it wouldn't be too much of an issue. After a few failed attempts, a fire was struck and the father joined his daughter in the realm of sleep.

    It'd been only hours since night had fallen on the land and the father found himself awakening in a horrifying night. The fog from the day remained, but was no longer painted grey by the sun. Everything around them was black, as if the only thing in the world that existed was the area illuminated by the fire. Which wasn't much. He could barely make out Merria's quilt - only a vague, discoloration in the otherwise abyss of black. He learned he hadn't been awaken by the sounds of the night, however. It wasn't the howl of the low wind. Nor was it the crackling of their living, but slowly dying fire. No... something else was out there that had awakened him. The father cupped his hand and scooped a handful of dirt and prepared to throw it into the fire. He didn't, not right away, he rolled on his stomach and inspected the darkness, looking for the reflection of the fire in the eyes of some beast, and when he saw no such thing he threw the dirt and suffocated the fire before scrambling to his feet.

    It wasn't an animal out there, it must've been man. Which means they could see as good as he could - he couldn't. All he knew was his daughter was three steps behind where he was now. Maybe whoever was out there hadn't seen her. Was it possible? Maybe. The older man considered the chances as he heard more movement in the darkness. He'd heard movement and move - in front of a fire. For all they knew, he was the only one there, right? Possibly. It made sense in his head. So he began to move to his right, slowly at first, but then bolted into as mad a dash as the old man could and to his relief... the noise followed him.

    As the darkness was lite, and the onyx abyss turned into a grey infinity, Merria awoke. and found she was alone.

    The girl was left in a panic. Her father was gone, and the fog from the day before was still poisoning her vision. For minutes, that seemed like hours to her, she screamed out into the empty fog until her throat was sore and her voice gave way. As soon as she couldn't yell anymore she expressed emotion in the only way she knew how. She broke down. Her father wouldn't just leave her like this, and she couldn't search for him with all this fog. After her bout of crying she decided she needed to move. If her father had left her, the only place he could've gone was Broybrook. So that's the way she headed, the road was easy enough to find, even in this heavy fog and all she did was trudge on with her backpack, although quite heavy, feeling like nothing as she made her way through her fog of thoughts. She didn't know what to think. Her father wouldn't just abandon her. Did some animal get him in sleep? She instantly cut the thought, as it made her nearly made her break out and cry again.

    Now with an empty head, she walked the entire day without thinking a single thought, and the entire time, she unknowingly wept.

    That night was hell for her. Once the fog once again began to blacken into a smooth, inky night. She retreated into her quilt, this time away from the road, but not so much she couldn't find it tomorrow. As she laid down to rest all the thoughts she pushed back throughout the day burst into her consciousness. What if whatever took her father was still out there? What if they were bandits? What if he had just left her when he saw something? In a barrage of thoughts, Marrie laid through a sleepless, painful night.

    The next day she awoke without knowing she'd even fallen asleep. She felt as though she hadn't fallen asleep at all and found herself overwhelmed with an array of pains and aches. The previous day, she hadn't ate, drank or taken a break. Her body was riddled with with hunger pangs, her throat felt like she'd somehow cut it as a result of crying and yelling. Her legs cried. An entire day of carrying her pack had taken it's toll. She had nothing to eat, though. The food she had she needed to save for Broybrook, in case there was someone there who valued it more then she did right now.

    Once she'd pushed her thought into back of her head, she set off again. Once the thoughts were gone, she discovered that she could also ignore the various pains that were trying to stop her from proceeding and before it had become afternoon, she arrived in Broybrook.

    At first she wasn't even fully aware she was in the town, and was moving on some kind of subconscious motor-skills. Innate and conditioned to her, she found her self in one of the couple Broybrook taverns - the Wench and Tankard. At this point, the seventeen year-old was delirious. The first ting she did upon entering was sit down, at a table of her own and start repeating a phrase. "Hi, I'm Merria Kreig, of Kreig's Traveling Trades, I think I might have some wears you could find more profitable." The phrase was molded into her head. She'd heard it a thousand times, and a hundred-thousand times more from her father. She spoke to nobody, and offered no wears. She'd removed her pack and set it by her chair. Another oddity of delirium, as she offered 'goods' without actually offering anything - to anybody.
     
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  5. Broybrook was a weird enough place as it was without fog, and strange magi soldiers, and random teenagers and travelers appearing in their small town. Now that all the able-bodied citizens were busying themselves fortifying the city walls in vain, and those who could not busying themselves preparing provisions, Shanta Royse found herself at an impasse. On one hand, it was an excellent opportunity to execute her art. With so many people away from their homes and workplaces, it was like free pickings. On the other hand, if Gilliam spoke true in his delusional state of being, then the one day's time before the magi men arrived would be necessary for her escape. In one day, she very likely could make a wide berth around Broybrook and propel herself a good distance towards the nearest city. If there was one, anyway.

    Perhaps that was what troubled her the most. Having never traveled far outside the town borders, she had little idea on how to find a path, or which route to follow, to another city. If the teenaged merchant girl could arrive at Broybrook through the fog, then surely some other sort of civilization was near, but should the fog return as dense and thick as before, there was little hope that Shanta could make the voyage on her own.

    But if the magi Gilliam had spoke of truly were coming to Broybrook, they would be in deep trouble. The haphazard militia was certainly not enough to defend the ragtag population of Broybrook, and the fortifications she doubted would be strong enough to hold skilled soldiers back. She could only hope that they would pass through Broybrook and leave it unharmed. As much as she hated the place, it was still home, and it was safety from the perils of... Whatever was out beyond.

    Unable to make her decision, Shanta found herself loitering around town, avoiding her bakery and home. Many of the people here were calm, collected, though those in a panic almost always flocked first to wherever there was food. People left the small bakery with more bread than their families could eat before it spoiled. It was such a waste, Shanta thought, though as long as she was paid well, she couldn't complain. She had food on her table, and enough provisions for travel should the need arise.

    But now her stocks were empty, and she found no reason to continue baking when certain death could come knocking in a days time. She wasn't going to leave freebies for invaders. So instead she followed the crowds, trying her hand at a bit of light pickpocketing, and coming up short. Even those too distracted to notice her had nothing of interest on them.

    She was reaching towards the pocket of one man when he straightened and called out: "Would someone care to inform me of the cause for this ruckus?"

    Shanta jerked her hand back, righted herself, and came around to the mans front, offering a lopsided smile. He was dressed strangely, compared to those of Broybrook--clearly a stranger. That was good news. He could be her ticket out of here. Unfortunately, that meant leaving his pockets alone, and his were loaded. He seemed more than prepared to defend himself, to survive on his own.

    "This ruckus you see," she said, tilting her head upwards and to the side as she looked at him in the eyes, "is the town of Broybrook pretending to defend itself from big, bad, intruders. The barkeep came back from his hunt half dead, speaking of armed magi approaching from the forests. And who are you? Handsome lone merchant? Perhaps a man consumed by wanderlust, looking for an adventure? I doubt you will find one here, unless fighting strange magi in the fog flies your fancy."
     
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  6. Efrihm half expected to be ignored, so imagine his surprise when a woman suddenly spun around him, smiling and establishing eye contact. Upon noticing her the words red flag immediately surfaced in his mind. Few people ever paid the man so much attention, and never quite so easily. Usually he would have to talk for hours before he could truly capture a girl's attention. He doubted that he just happened to stumble upon the one exceptionally friendly person in the village shortly after entering. That would just be too convenient, which his life often proved to be the furthest from.

    She was pretty in an endearing, tom-boyish sort of way. Perhaps nothing most men would look twice at, but not ugly either. Her petite frame and soft features lead the cartographer to believe she was just an adolescent, though there was something about the way she carried herself that suggested otherwise. Said physique, coupled with her length of dark hair, made her exactly Efrihm's type. That was suspicious in its own right.

    Once he heard the word handsome he became especially wary. She wanted something; he was certain of it. Efrihm considered that for a moment - only half listening now - then decided he didn't really care. He wanted something too. "I fancy many things," the words rolled off his tongue smoothly. Breaking eye contact, he surveyed his surroundings once more. "Foremost, I would fancy a room to relieve myself," he paused, taking note of the unintended innuendo and then added "of this pack. My back is killing me, you see." The man cleared his throat. "Second, I would fancy a nice, cold brew. So if you happen to know of an inn with good beer on tap, and would be so kind as to provide me with directions, I would be very thankful. Maybe then, with my aches eased and my thoughts lubricated, will I be able to consider my next move, what with the impending invasion and all." He finished with a flourish of his hands.
     
    #6 Alvom, Jun 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
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  7. A
    wide blade was raised up high in the air. It was simply half a second till the butcher knife sliced the air and cut through a pile of meat. After that dramatical cut quickly came to short but efficient cuts. The meat was cut into small even chunks then pushed into a neatly laid out piece of cloth. The blood seeped into the cloth on contact. A long finger pressed against the soft meat, secreting the blood out gradually. The scent of blood and the soft buzzing sounds of flies were not foreign to the lanky woman nor did they disgust her.


    Hazel eyes glanced up once to catch a sight of fog. She furrowed her brows in complete confusion -- the sight was thought provoking. "Was there always this much fog?" She asked herself. Margo pulled away from her work and walked towards the fog. The fog lightly blanketed the ground masking the dirty and grass. She bent over and dropped her arm to allow her fingertips dance in the fog. "Magi...?"

    "...but why?" She asked. Broybrook had its magi here and there, but none of them came to flourish in their abilities, only to learn the basics. She shook her head before her thoughts lead her to darker places. She returned back to the shop and continued to dry the meat. From time to time, her eyes would return to look at the fog. Eventually, she caught her eyes on a customer slowly approaching. Her back straightened and she tucked in her bangs behind her ear. With a sweet smile and a cheery voice, she welcomed a young and naive little boy. His ruffled obsidian hair and doe eyes made it difficult for her to hold in a smile. The boy was reluctant to speak to Margo -- her smug and intimidating demeanor warded off most of the bad apples to enter her butcher shop. "Yes?" She spoke out.

    "H-here to pick up f-for Mrs. Bi-birch." He stuttered. Margo smiled and turned her heals to a cloth tied up labeled, B. She handed the boy the cloth in exchange for ten gold coins, which she taken happily. "Thank you boy." She messed his hair with her fingers. Before the boy could leave peacefully a man walked in. He stumbled to enter the shop. His hand pushed the door open falling onto the ground. With his face flushed and his breaths heavy and loud, she took it was quite important news or an important event. "M-margo!" He wheezed out. Margo stepped out of the counter and stood tall before him with her hand on her hip, and the weight of her body on one leg. One brow raised up implying to hurry. The boy pushed his body off the ground and stumbled to get on his feet. Till the boy got back on his feet and his heartbeat steadied, Margo positioned herself behind the counter drying meat once again.

    "Alright! The news!" The boy placed both hands on his hips and plastered on a big smile.

    Margo continued drying the meat unsure whether the boy was truly prepared to speak fluently. "So I was at the bar with a couple of friends and..." She rolled her eyes with the knowledge of another idiotic bar fight the boy got himself into. "...Gilliam came in..." She stopped hat she did and looked up at the boy. "Gilliam? I thought he was gone..." She muttered the last part to herself. "Yeah! Anyway, Gilliam said that men are approaching with magi!" The last word that slipped from the boys mouth caught Margo off-guard. "Wh-what? Why?" She inquired, her voice was rushed. "I-I dunno, but, anyway back to my story." The boy continued, but Margo entered into a deep thought. She wasn't able to fit the pieces and questions together well -- curiosity struck her mind, which left her wondering. Her mind quickly pointed at the capital and its corrupt laws. Power was quick to subdue them into tyrannical monstrosities. The thought lingered in her mind and reminded her the reason why she fled.

    A hand waved in front of Margo's face breaking her thoughts. "Hey!" The boy snapped.

    "Sorry Kingston, what is it?" She shook her head breaking her thoughts apart from the capital. "I asked, did you not notice how chaotic the town has become because of the men approaching Broybrook?"

    His question got her to remove herself from her shop and outside. People spoke a bit louder and others spoke in whispers. A few men prepared themselves for the worst and others called it a bluff. Margo scanned her surroundings and watched as people reacted to the news. It was surely more chaotic than usual, it was louder, people were unable to retain the tranquility as before, it caused a ruckus. With a scoff, she turned around and reentered her shop to retrieve her trusty knife, which she slipped into her small scabbard. "Watch the shop for my Kingston." She ordered. "Huh? Why?" The boy asked confused, glancing around.

    "I'm going to get myself a drink."

    The door to the butcher shop closed loudly causing people nearby to jump. Margo walked towards the direction of the tavern. People passed by her with exasperation drawn on their face and others with uncertainty. Till she reached the tavern, she pushed open the doors wide. The smell of alcohol was pungent enough to latch onto her clothes for weeks. She scanned the room to see men and women speaking about the men and magi approaching Broybrook. A few attempted to exchange pleasantries with Margo, but all failed. She only wished to speak to one man. Hazel eyes spotted a familiar head of hair and approached it. Her footsteps gradually halted as she came closer. Without hesitance, the back of her hand smacked against his head. "Wake up magi Gilliam. I got some questions."
     
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  8. Hours earlier, in the forests outside

    This mist was making it impossible to see anything in the forest. Reyner woke up from his midday nap t o saddle up, he was going to go forward in spite of everything, for he had nothing better to be doing except looking for another opportunity for work .Ever since his discharge from Vinion by his own request, the former cavalry captain had been putting himself it work learning to read, then selling false insurance notes to the people of the nearby city, but they were catching on, so he had to leave. Would he bare the humiliation of rushing back to the house of Vinion? Or perhaps sell out to Forlion, whose false sigil he also carried in his pouch, allowing him to travel with an unusual freeness in the circumstances.

    He heard a crunching noise. Then another. Then a third.

    "Andrey" he called out to his horse, tethered to a tree. He talked to his horse a lot: travelling around was lonely company. Stretching, he felt some joints pop and his big muscles tense up. He really shouldn't have skipped his run and stone lifting yesterday. Scouring his pack, he pulled out an apple and some dried beef.

    "Do you hear anything?" he asked, then the crunching stopped. Ramming the beef into his mouth, he threw the apple in the direction of the noise and drew his sword. He heard scurrying in the mists: the people there probably thought he was throwing rocks. Cutting his horse free from its tethers, as he was sure he didn't have time to undo his knot, Reyner fed it a second apple before closing the pouch and slinging it over the saddle.

    He gulped down his smoked beef, which was disgusting but a great source of energy, seeming to grow his muscles on campaign faster than his compatriots whenever he had enough of it. Suppressing a cough, he drew his sword, letting it bounce against his wooden sheath and its metal rim to make as much noise as possible, proving to any village boys who might want to take a travelers things that he was nobody to mess with.

    "Vinion or Forlion!?" he shouted in his booming voice, full of presence. He was a singer when he wasn't loudly trying to scare and insult people. That question usually intimidated people. Reyner was in no mood for conversation.

    But he heard no reply, and no scurrying. The crunches on sticks resumed, but there were many. And there were headed... in his direction.

    Clenching the three remaining fingers of his left hand and gripping his sword with his right, he lifted it up and moved near the saddle of his brown quarterhorse.

    Shadows of the enemy were visible through the mist after some moments. There were over a dozen of them! They were charging, armed, from all directions. Reyner Stalisee, the valliant, fearless cavalry captain who paid in two fingers and plenty of scars for his valor, knew what that meant:

    Run.

    Mounting his horse with the speed of a fox, he kicked Andrey into action. This was his third mare, no problem if she died! A man came at him wit ha spear, which eh ducked out of the way of by twisting on his saddle and holding the reigns as his whole body shifted left. His sword came down to parry another man carrying a sword, slashing at him from above. Sitting straight again, his horse accelerated into a gallop, his sword disarming that of another man who came at him with an axe by chopping its handle in two.

    Rey galloped at full speed in the direction he heard from the next settlement over that the town was in. What was it called? Broybay? Broybrook? It had to be brook, it was inland! He pat himself on the back for figuring that out: the adrenaline rushing through his veins prevented him from getting out of his zone and seeing how dumb that must have looked.

    ---

    it had taken a while to get to Broybrook, and the donning of the official, stolen standard of Vinion to gain entry and prove he wasn't one of the bandits.

    "What do you mean they're coming this way?" Rey asked when he heard about how that armed band that attacked him was rumored to have Magi, and was headed straight for Broybrook. Not good, he thought after the ran down excuse for a gate had shut behind him. He would need to get out of here as soon as possible.

    The captain of the local guard, a militia which Reyner could tell from the speed and coordination of the charge had no chance, hadn't answered him when he asked that rhetorical question. Instead, he asked his own.

    "What was yer rank in the army?" he asked. Rey's eyes darted around before he looked the man straight in the eye.

    "Just a cavalryman, a corpo-"

    "No corporal carries a standard like that or wears the iron star, don't think we're that dumb. Get some rest, then, report to me. We'll need ya"

    What!? Reyner's head screamed. Oh no, there was no way this county bumpkin with no battle experience could hold him down, not after the amount of men Reyner had killed and the service he had, distinguishing himself for his lord, then for his wallet in his subsequent betrayal of his lord. He was a warrior of the blade as much as the purse, and to be a warrior took lifelong practice - he much preferred to practice making money than killing without it! His hand moved to his hilt and the captain's eyes widened.
    Reyner then bent over and bowed his head.

    "I would do anything to save your town"

    ---

    Walking into one of the taverns, the Wench and Tankard, he looked around at the surroundings. It was busy, people were talking rumors about the attack. Reyner, since tethering his quarter-horse,and blindfolding him after so he would scream if someone tried to steal him, had donned his black cloak of and cross of a Vinion cavalryman. Now that he wasn't getting out of this village without fighting for them anyway, there was no use in putting on a modest facade. Saying what he did at the gate was the best possible outcome for him, he pledged himself not by choice, but by being forced. He wasn't going to ride out of this town safely anyway.
    Swaggering towards the front, Rey noticed a girl muttering things without any noise. She normally wouldn't catch any of his attention, but he saw her pack... she must have had things worth something. But why would she go unprotected?

    Approaching her, Rey dipped his head as to be less intimidating and steepled his hands like a nervous little kid.

    "Madam, would you happen to have any knives? Sharp things? I'll need some to defend the town, and help anyone still lost in the forest" he said, putting a nice spin on it. That was partially true, but he in general just needed knives always.
     
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  9. The Wench and Tankard


    “So I can wave my hands ‘n make an arrow shoot further, what entitlement does that give me to a title? Magi, Margo? Gah, dammit, am I already that old?” Gilliam chuckled and turned to the woman, an amused eyebrow raised, “I do hope you do not intend to hit me again for that one - now get on with it, what do you want to know?”

    Margo crossed her arms watching the sleepy man speak. His words caused her to roll her eyes. When he raised his head up the familiar face made her scoff softly. She sat down in front of him with both her hands on the table. “Why are you back? I thought you left for good or was that just some bull shit?” She tapped her fingertips against the wooden surface. “And why are men approaching Broybrook? Are they from the capital? Magi’s from the capital…” Her voice hushed on the last sentence.

    Gilliam paused, noticed a still-full tankard upon the table unclaimed, and took a swig of the foaming drink before answering, “I ‘pose I can’t hunt anymore? Go out, world turns itself into a damp hell and I’m caught in the middle of it, makes it hard to keep a timely schedule.” He took another drink from the tankard and slid it back across the table. “Couldn’t tell you what pit they crawled from, but I can tell you ‘bout a quarter of them weren’t born of normal flesh and blood. It’s unsettling - the magi with them are creating this thrice-damned mist, but I don’t know how they’re keeping it up. It took all my effort to clear a patch of it large enough to see six feet in front of my nose. But, way I see it, they’re comin’ and they’re armed, so what does it matter where they’re from?”

    It took a moment for Margo to collect all the information without overreacting. She adjusted her body in her chair and squirmed around. Her hazel eyes glanced right and left, observing her surrounding area before speaking. “These are skilled magi’s…” She bit her lip. “It matters. If they’re from the capital it doesn’t mean anything good. If not...then…” Her attempt to prove Gilliam wrong failed. Instead she kept silence.

    Around them, the bar continued to ring with cautious festivities. A few of Broybrook’s militia had gathered around the Wench’s largest table, a crudely-drawn map rolled out before them. None of them were drinking: each man and woman at that table knew what a pint of ale today could spell out tomorrow. A few of those unable - or unwilling - to fight sat in small groups, muttering back and forth to one another about the looming threat of bloody war. We are doomed.

    “Don’t suppose you’re willing to pack up and head out ‘fore the fighting starts? You’re as good, if not better, with the bow ‘n I am, I’m mulling the thought over.”

    Her full lips formed a smirk. “Always on the run Gilliam, always.” She raised her hand past her head signaling a tavern maiden. A cup of beer was placed in front of her. She took in drink from the cup and released a loud exhale. “Are they coming after you? Or Broybrook? Magi’s here aren’t skilled, they’re simply passing by. They aren’t here for the magi’s surely.” She stated. The few succeeding magi’s she knew were in the capital but not in the small towns.

    “Couldn’t tell you - I’ve done no harm that I can see. We don’t have much in the way of wealth in any form here, either, but we’ve been on the brink of a war for quite some time. Doubt’d it be anything other than a lord lordin’ around....Ours, or theirs.” The political landscape in both houses was a constant game of chance. Lords rose and fell in weeks, families went missing, and armies were raised in defense only to turn their attention to another target. It was chaos, but the world had hardly adopted another way of thinking.

    A few ideas ran through Margo’s mind but none was possible enough to become a reality. “More land I assume.” She shrugged.

    “That all you need answerin’ from a wise-and-wisened magi like myself?” Gilliam chuckled out, hauling his booted feet to the top of the table and relaxing into the chair.

    “Are you gonna run off again? Or are you staying? Since the men are approaching.” She inquired. A look of doubt was drawn on her face.

    “I do fancy myself a good archer.” Gilliam remarked, almost nonchalantly: it both was and wasn’t an answer. With that, he stood, downed the rest of the ale left in the tankard, and offered a curt ‘farewell’ to Margo as he made for the tavern’s doors. The militia rose as well, making to follow the man until one - a scarred and lump-headed man - ordered (more-so told) the fighters to sit back down.

    Margo released a sigh, watching Gilliam leave without another word. With that she downed another gulp of the beer. She looked around her surroundings and rose from her chair. An unsettling feeling began to brew in her stomach. Her hand pressed against her firm stomach -- it brought her to scan the room again. Her hazel eyes stared at the door. For a moment she was hesitant to walk out the door. She made the move and walked out of the tavern. Before reaching to the door a man cut in front of her. She retracted her hand and watched the man with a skeptic eye.

    “Strange…”




    Credit to @s k u l l.
     
    #9 J_"Kraken", Jun 18, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
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  10. The Wench and Tankard


    Though she was muttering silently, the sounds in her head were rushing - almost overwhelming. However, when the man approached and spoke to her it all came to a screeching halt that would've knocked her out of her chair had it been a physical force. Flustered, and for the first time since entering Broybrook, leaving her subconscious mind. Eyes widened, Merria looked up at the man with wide, scared eyes as if she'd just woke up two days ago in the woods. Her eyes were bloodshot, her skin was flushed and she was visibly trembling as she looked at the man as though he'd woken her up.

    "Wha-" she muttered, now actually using her voice - though it was hurt and scratchy. "Oh! Y-yeah..." suddenly she was active and she found that it had created some kind of peace for her. "Y-yes, I do!" The young girl sprang to life, and lifted the large bag onto the table and dived into it and started rummaging about.

    Though what she'd said in the forest with her father had been true, most of their wares were crap, they did have knives though. A couple Merria had found on a battlefield, not to long ago. They might be nice, but she wasn't certain. Without wasting another moment she pulled the three knives out of her pack. They were all designed and embossed with an array of colors and designed - none of them meant anything to her, but they were actually military insignia's for the two countries. She sprawled them out across the table, displayed for the man before her to see. Merria didn't have any particular price in mind to charge the man

    "Hows... hows... how about twenty-five gold pieces?" it was way to much for a knife; even one of military status. About five pieces too much. However, she had no idea. It was then that she witnessed how nettled the town was. Why was everyone so upset? Why was everyone so on edge? This pulled her attention and she looked about the tavern -everybody looked like they were preparing for something. That was when another lady, older than Merria, that came in with a stern look on their face. Clearly she was looking for something, but Merria pushed that to the back of her mind.

    Reyner's eyes widened and he took as seat. He was unnerved by a couple of things. First, everyone was looking at him, and that muscular woman who walked by him when he walked in and gave him a look he couldn't get off his mind. What kinds of women were like that? Quarry workers? Miners? Lumberjacks? Female soldiers? Perhaps there was a mine or a good lumber industry in this town, at which point the people might have the muscles if they were prosperous enough for a good meat diet to make good militiamen. His heart lifted a bit from its low after the earlier conclusion he made of impending doom. Good, if the people here, even the women, were strong, they may yet hold off. But what if she was just a hunter, a butcher, or an unusual person here? No, that wasn't possible, Reyner thought, the natural mists here made hunting a difficult business, and therefore would bring fewer sellers for a butcher. It never occurred to him that the weather here was a special case.

    The other and bigger thing in the soldier's mind that bothered him, however, was that this girl was so brilliantly trying to scam him! Military grade throwing knives weren't more than twenty pieces! It was just like the orphans in the city selling fake inheritance, pretending to be nervous to not seem like the cunning, cold blooded people they were. It was no surprise either: she was a great actor, and had to be for all that which she had accomplished! Reyner peeked in her bag, filled with wares, and her clothes were tidy. No doubt, to make it alone and safely all this way, the girl had to be clever.

    "B-but I'll drop the price five pieces if ya' tell me what's going about here. Why's everybody so... so, nettled?"

    The young girl had started to forget about her various aches and pains - mental and physical alike - as her stomach started to tell her something wasn't right here. As her gaze left her first solo - albeit, only potential - customer and veered around the room it came to a halt as her gaze fell upon the tavern window. Suddenly that fear and panic that had plagued her the past day was forced into the foreground of her mind and, to her customers supposed surprise, her skin drained of all color. That fog. The fog that had stolen her father - that acted as a monster in her nightmares - was now right outside.

    That gut feeling had been right, and it horrified her she might find out what had taken her 'pa.

    "W-What?" Reyner stammered.

    At that point, Reyner's jaw dropped. This girl was good! She had a complex mind for business if she had, in fact, bought fake knives and knew how to sell them to unsuspecting chivalrous cavalrymen through pretending not to know the price, then pricing them at what working knives would be. Those daggers she was selling were probably hollowed out. Reyner recovered after a second and leaned forward out of interest. He put his left hand on the table, but his glove only showed two fingers full, the other two sockets being deflated. The rider was too lost in his thought to pay that small detail any mind.

    "I know what your blades are worth, I've been in the market for years and am sharp as my blade with these things" Reyner said.

    "But, I admire your ingenuity. I'll raise the price to seventeen pieces from what these things are worth. In exchange, you're going to tell me your secret. How did you make it this far all alone, and how did you learn to be such an amazing actor?" he said, emphasizing the amazing as his eyes narrowed and his head moved from left to right. He had never seen this kind of thing before, a budding marketeer who would, no doubt, grow up to be a very rich lady!




    With credit to @Archie !
     
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  11. A Simple Request
    I fancy many things. He was a smooth talker. Whether or not his innuendos were intended, the way he spoke Shanta’s attention fast. It was unlike the casual, gruff way of speaking the others in Broybrook had, practically screaming ‘educated!’ What other talents did this mysterious man have? Perhaps he came from somewhere far away, a grand city or cultural hub, with a vast population of peoples and magi, and knowledgeable schools with well learned scholars. Such places of interest to a girl who had grown up scrounging for a living in the dirt. Suddenly her spontaneous idea seemed much more appealing, and even possible.

    She smiled a little more and stepped forward slightly as he made a strange motion with his hands, finishing his request. “Of course,” she answered. “The very same barkeep I spoke of has this wonderful little inn--perhaps not so little--that should meet your needs. The best of ales, and of serve in our humble village. Though, be forewarned, it’s been quite populated as of late. The people are very curious, of course, to question poor Gilliam. We’ve never encountered such a threat before.”

    “This way,” she said, briefly touching a hand against his arm as she began to walk in the direction of the inn. She weaved seamlessly through the crowds, glancing back every now and then to make sure he was keeping up. “You have a name, traveler?” she asked, raising her voice to be heard over the noise that grew louder as they approached. “A real one, I mean, not an alias. Not a nickname. I doubt you’re called John-something-or-other.”



    The girl moved in closer, drawing Efrihm’s gaze. She regarded him with a certain scrutiny that made him feel like she was dissecting him with her eyes, then went on to explain – in fewer words – that she knew just the place. With a touch to his arm that almost made him flinch, she started walking deeper into the town. Gracefully she maneuvered through hordes of pedestrians, her lithe figure allowing her to slip between their shoulders with ease. Though small himself, Efrihm’s pack was both wide and heavy, thus slowing him down and often forcing him to wait for space to be made before he could move any further. As a result he was lagging behind, though the girl kept looking back to ensure he didn’t get lost. Eventually the street either opened up or cleared out, giving him the opportunity to catch up. Beside her now, Efrihm recognized the familiar roar of a tavern in the distance.

    She spoke then, voice increasing in volume to compensate for the noise. “Indeed I do,” he replied loud enough for only her to hear. He thought about ending the conversation right then since she didn’t really ask for his name, only if he had one. The girl was helpful, however; a name was the least she deserved. “Efrihm. Not one for aliases and I’ve got no nicknames that I know of. What about you? I’m tired of referring to you as the girl in my head.”



    Outside the inn were a few small groups of people gossiping and a couple children scampering about. Shanta brushed past them and was moving to the doors as they opened from the inside, Gilliam appearing before walking out. Strange, she thought. Where was Gilliam wandering off to?



    Before they could enter the inn, a broad man exited and pushed through them, a waft of spiced ale and salted meat trailing behind him. Hungry and eager to drown his senses dull with alcohol, Efrihm stepped inside and scanned the room. For a place called the Wench and Tankard there weren’t very many of either present. A group of militiamen and women were huddled in the room’s center, soberly considering a poor map sketched in charcoal. Scattered haphazardly about several hardy looking individuals looked deep in thought, too few of which with a mug in their hand. Steps ahead, a rather pretty brunette stood, focused on the back of a much more professionally dressed soldier as he walked up to a girl far too young for him. Must of struck out with her and now he’s desperate.

    Leg pinned against the door to hold it open, Efrihm looked back to his escort to ask “Are you coming in? If so, first rounds on me. If not, fair winds and following seas.”



    Shanta was more than surprised that he offered her a name--not a full name, but still, a name. He seemed to speak honestly, and loudly, so that she could hear over the din. Efrihm. Like most things about him, his name was equally foreign in nature, but it had a unique quality to it, something to be desired. She said it over and over a few times in her mind, committing it to memory. Efrihm. Efrihm. Efrihm.

    She chuckled lowly on hearing the end of his response. “You can’t deny the girl is a fitting nickname for the likes of me. If I really wished to, I could blend in quite well with the younger members of the town.” She said this with another laugh, recalling a memory in which she’d done just so. It was a fond memory, but one she spoke little of. “Though it wouldn’t be very fitting of my character. Shanta suits me better--Shanta Royse, if it pleases you.”

    Taking little note of the interior of the inn, she stepped inside after him. Maybe it would have been stranger to see the inn in such a state before the sudden fog and Gilliam’s odd behavior, but now, it didn’t faze her. Instead she turned her back on it, putting her full attention on her companion. The true intent behind her actions still sat, waiting, in the back of her mind. She observed him for a long moment, lips pursed as she studied him perhaps more intently than could be comfortable. Then she nodded, her expression relaxing as she made her decision.

    “It’d be a pleasure,” she replied, before gesturing to an area of the room more sparsely occupied. This whole arrangement would be of little use if she had curious ears surrounding their seats. Noting on their way some of those curious, or perhaps even hungry, gazes, she moved her hand back up to rest against Efrihm’s back, shooting a few warning looks behind her. Only after settling down did she retract her hand, tilting her head once more as she looked back at Efrihm.

    “You don’t perchance have a particular interest in the likes of brews?” she asked idly, her index finger tracing circles on the wooden surface of the table. “I’d bet you have good taste.”



    Once Shanta identified herself she entered the inn, then laughed as if he had told a joke. Twice. Without any alcohol, either. What’s happening? Efrihm’s conscious nagged. Is she drunk already? Past experiences taught him that he was invisible to all women except those with blurred vision. It would explain her attention, at least, along with her kindness; though if that were the case, she could maintain her composure exceptionally well for someone her size.

    Shanta gestured in the direction of an isolated table, and before Efrihm could insist he get his things settled in a room first, she slipped her hand between his back and his pack and began leading him towards it. He thought about twisting away and scrambling for the bar, but his dry mouth and aching muscles convinced him otherwise. There was an dominant firmness to her press. Accompanied with the feral glances she shot across the room at those watching, it seemed like she was marking him as her territory. That didn't bode well, but Efrihm decided to forego any resistance for now. As soon as she let go he unstrapped his rucksack and set it underneath his side of the table, then climbed into his seat and used it as a footrest. “Interest? I possess something more akin to obsession. I never leave a place unless I’ve tasted every brew it has to offer at least once. More often than not I never leave without tasting each one once too many. So, where do we begin?”



    Listening with rapt attention to every word, Shanta rested her head against her hand as Efrihm spoke. Her free hand continued to trace circles for a moment more before it stopped as she glanced around the tavern, looking to see if Gilliam had returned. He hadn't. There were others that worked the bar when he wasn't around, though she detested speaking with them. One of them, a male, was quite convinced he knew of her "second job", and no matter how hard she tried she couldn't shake his suspicions. It was beyond infuriating. As much as she disliked the idea, she had little choice but to approach the man, if she wanted to have her way with her new exploit. She was sure Efrihm would need a little loosening before he would budge. A good, strong drink would be perfect.

    "Hmm," she mused quietly, returning her gaze to Efrihm. "I suppose, then, it would be best to try an ale of Broybrook's own design first. Though I warn you now, I have positively no clue what goes into the brewing of the drink. It's a trade secret, apparently worth being protected even from the hands of a humble baker. But it's a delightful brew. Definitely not lacking in flavor, nor in quality--one of my personal favorites. I'll be sad to see it go, if this place falls on the morrow..." Her words drifted off, her expression briefly wistful before clearing. "So, how about it?"

    Shanta waited mere moments before rising from her seat and flagging down the on-duty bartender. Shortly after a heated conversation between the two, a round was carried over to where the two sat, along with a few samples of other brews for the connoisseur. She noticed that the server still had his eye on her from his position across the inn--and disregarded it, totally focused on her goal. The damned server could wait. She waited until the first of the drinks had been downed to spring her question, fighting to drown out the buzz in her thoughts.

    "Yeah. I'll miss these, once this place burns. Only good thing about this hole of a town," Her eyes were downcast, following the movement of her finger around the rim of her glass. She honestly would; and not just because an inn was a damn good place for some modest thievery. "But it's not worth sticking around to defend, you know? Not with a small army of magi knocking at our door. The people here won't be able to compete, even with our own magi trades. The land just isn't good enough to bother with, even if it is home.

    "Nobody I've spoken to seems to agree, though. I understand why--you can't just leave your entire livelihood behind. Not that easily." She was beginning to ramble now, the faintest bit of sentiment stinging her heart. But she washed it away with another swallow of drink. It wasn't the time. "But I'd rather take my chances than die here."

    "What about you?" she asked. "I can't imagine a stranger to this town would find it agreeable to stick around and fight for a lost, and foreign, cause. Will you be leaving in the morrow?"



    Efrihm scoured the depths of Shanta's eyes, studying the minute changes in the diameter of her pupils as her gaze swept across the room while sifting through the azure waves of her irises for any ripples of emotion. In one instance where her focus shifted from near to far, a flicker of discomfort, or perhaps irritation, distorted her stare, her oceanlike eyes seeming to still as she receded into a more concentrated realm of thought. She dismissed it with a hushed hmm, then rambled on about the village's signature brew that she truly didn't know much about. Losing interest, Efrihm tilted his head down and began to examine his cuticles. After a brief pause Shanta stood suddenly and beckoned for service. A server came. The two argued. Efrihm kept quiet and ignored their banter for manner's sake. Somehow he had become so focused in scraping the crusts that bordered the skin of his fingers and his nails that he didn't even notice the man leaveuntil he returned with drinks. Finally, the wanderer sighed internally, then took a long sip.

    He stirred the liquid around his mouth with his tongue, savoring in the three earthy layers of hops and the six distinct spices blended inbetween. Based on the viscosity of the ale and its vibrant flavor, he decided it must have been fermented for seven or eight seasons before reaching the tap. Overall he was satisfied, though not too impressed. Once he swallowed, however, he was thrilled by an unexpected after taste that sizzled the back of his throat. Wondering how Shanta would react to it, he returned his attention to her, immediately sensing her desire to speak. She was waiting for something. What that was he could only assume to be for him to drain his glass. Obediently, he took a large gulp, hummed joyfully as it fled down his esophagus and into his stomach, then took another. Feigning to lull by drooping his head to the side, Efrihm gifted Shanta a half smile and an opportunity.

    As she babbled on about loss and doom, Efrihm finally realized what she wanted from him. Company. Not the particularly self-gratifying kind, but more of the self-assured variety. She wanted passage to safety. Made sense. Efrihm was no mercenary, but he did have a confident air about him as well as the tools necessary to survive in the wild - or, at least, most of them. "On the morrow? That depends entirely on whether or not I can replenish my supplies. I doubt that'll be easy or cheap, considering the amount of resources that are being invested into protecting this place. And if you're serious about abandoning it, that means you'll need some things yourself. A bedroll comes to mind immediately. My tents big enough for two, and you're welcome to join it, but be forewarned, I sleep utterly nude. Can't convince my mind to rest enough otherwise," he joked.



    Oh, thank the skies--he wasn't putting up a fuss about her request. Efrihm caught on quickly--bless him--even though he seemed significantly less tipsy than Shanta had hoped for. In fact, he seemed more bored and disinterested than he had before, whether it be that he naturally had a short attention span, or merely didn't find her intriguing. But, she thought, it didn't matter, since he seemed so accepting of what she wanted. Maybe that was a bad thing. Maybe he wasn't quite the person he made himself out to be. But she doubted it. What reason would there be to lie to a girl like Shanta? There was nothing to be gained from her, nothing she could truly offer in reward; at least, to the naked eye.

    "Oh, yes, I'm very serious. Playing with fire can be fun, but I'm not about to get myself roasted if I can help it." The thought sent a shiver up her spine. Burning to death sounded much less pleasant than being run through with a sword, and since she certainly wasn't going to go running into battle, it seemed like the most likely way she would go. Not fun at all.

    In a single gulp she downed the rest of her drink, and pushed the glass away. Any more, and this buzz would quickly turn into thick, distracting fog. "Don't worry about coin, or availability of supplies. Just let me know what you'll be needing to get, and I will retrieve it for you. Free of charge on your end. I can have things together before dawn breaks,"

    "And," she smirked, a glimmer of amusement in her eyes, "How you sleep is up to you. I certainly don't mind either way. I'm not shy." Then she leaned in closer, her lips level with his ear. She spoke lowly, and quickly: "Though, I'd protect my modesty at the inn. Some people can be quite desperate... Keep an eye on your belongings, before they're torn away from beneath you."

    Shanta straightened, her grin returning. "I trust you need no help locating a room? Or do you need me to stick around for a while more, Efrihm?"



    Before dawn breaks? Efrihm considered her words and the eagerness that fueled them. For someone so capable, I wonder why she even needs me at all. The more Shanta talked, the more suspicious he became of her. The wanderer was young and far from wise, but throughout his short life he learned a few important things. Trust no one. Nothing lasts forever. People thrive off the loss of others. Such was the world in which he was born, and no matter how much he wished it could be better, it wouldn't be. Not for a long time, at least. Likely never. The trick was to practice independence. To leave them before they can leave you. To look out for your welfare above all others, because in the end no one thinks like you think, feels what you feel. In the End, no one will face the infinite nothingness but you. Shanta was no different than the hundreds of other humans he'd met, or someday would meet. She would use him until she could gain nothing more. Well, Efrihm could use her too. Truth be told, the companionship would be welcome. He needed a break from the monotony of his imagination.

    "Bow strings. Spool of fishing line or two. A few pocket-sized whetstones. Enough trail rations to last a week. Fresh pair of boots; preferably wolf hide, and insulated. Definitely insulated. Leather gloves, medium," he listed, then downed the rest of his drink, as well as some samples; nothing he hadn't tasted before. "That's just what I can think of off the top of my head. I would recommend you find yourself a few sets of clothes meant for extended travel. And something to hide the accompanying smell. On the road, you can never be certain when you'll next get the chance to truly bathe. If you can find these things by dawn, then consider yourself in," Efrihm said, standing. His limbs felt lighter, yet his movements were sluggish, as if he were submerged underwater. "In the mean time, I'll do just fine finding a room by myself."

    Head swimming, Efrihm shouldered his pack on one shoulder and sauntered to the bar, money pouch in hand. "Barkeep. Drinks are on me. If you've got somewhere I can stay the night, then all the money left in this here purse," he jingled the tiny bag for effect, "Is yours. Deal?" The server grinned, nodded, then motioned for another man to lead him to a room. Moments later, Efrihm was floating in a sea of warm blankets and absolute darkness, consciousness ebbing to a pleasant state of dormancy.
     
    #11 Rainjay, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  12. The Wilds

    [​IMG]

    The woods surrounding Broybrook were tranquil. Early in the morning, five days after Gilliam's warning, the fog had lifted as suddenly as it had arrived. The sentries posted around the town had reveled in the mist's absence, only to see it replaced by a light rainfall and overcast skies. Still, the rain filled the forest with a vibrant green life and was a price willingly paid. Hours passed. Nothing passed down the road into Broybrook.

    It was not until well into the afternoon, when the rain had subsided and the sun was well overhead, that the first sounds of an army on the march resonated through the forests. Though the procession was not yet in sight, the sentries had abandoned their posts and rushed back into Broybrook, spreading word of the army's arrival. The news was met with more sober realization and acceptance than it had been with Gilliam, and within an hour, the village's defenders had massed at the hastily-constructed barricades, taken position atop roofs, or formed into loose ranks behind the gate.

    The army did not officially arrive until another hour had passed, and even then it took them a better half of one to suitably prepare themselves.

    "Get on with it!" A red-headed woman shouted to the would-be attackers. Whether or not they had heard her demand was unknown, for they did not hasten their methodical pace. When at last the armed group seemed prepared, having formed a massive arc of twenty, mammoth figures with a regiment of fifty men-at-arms behind them, two horse-mounted men approached the town. Someone, unskilled, loosed an arrow at one of the men. Without so much as moving his wrist, he sent the shaft whizzing over his head and harmlessly into the dirt road behind him and his companion.

    "Denizens of Broybrook," came the booming voice of one of the two men, "our ruler bids us dispose of your village and its people. Though it pains me to send soldiers to obliterate a village which by all rights is claimed only in name, I am not one to alter fate to change this moment. We shall not yield for your pledge in service, your change in fealty, nor for whatever resistance you may provide. We give you the evening to make preparations to die valiantly or attempt to flee and die a coward's death - we march at dawn, and nothing shall stay our march. Under her royalty of Lady Forlion, I do condemn this village to death."

    As the horsemen turned and trotted back into the safety of their own warriors, the villagers of Broybrook spat curses and taunts at the men. Some roared that they lied, other that they were cowards, but none dared venture past the relative safety of the village's meager defenses. As the army began to fade once more from sight into the woods beyond, once more it began to rain...


    Gilliam Harper


    The rain was not welcome over the fog. Once the droplets had stopped falling, and the summer sun flew overhead, the damp chill of the valley was replaced by a humidity that stuck to everything it touched. From his brief, two minute walk from the village walls to his inn, sweat had managed to cling to his stained shirt and pour off his forehead in streams. The Wench was crowded to the brim with patrons, all attempting to gleam what joy they could before the upcoming battle.

    Some men find comfort upon the eve of battle in touching words, others the bottom of a tankard... With a grin of ill-born humor, Gilliam questioned which ones felt better afterwards. As he jostled his way through a crowded table firmly set in a game of dice, the barkeep noted a small group of villagers dressed in cloaks and standing beside massive packs towards the rear of the Wench. Curiosity piqued, Gilliam began to stride in the direction of the group, apologizing as he once again disrupted the game of dice.

    "I doubt you'll make it far," he remarked upon finally arriving within earshot of the villagers.

    "I doubt they'll make it far in the Basin," retorted a blonde-haired youth, her voice sharp and clearly agitated, "now leave before you make a fuckin' show of tellin' everyone we're gettin' out of here...With your habit of spreadin' news, even the bastards'll know we're leaving!"

    "I'm not here to make a point of evacuating the whole village, that gets everyone killed. Let the fighters bang their swords on their shields, make a show, stall the army while we leave under cover of darkness. Head down to the upper edge of the basin, wait until these butchers leave, come back, pick clean the bones, and make our way back into civilization."

    "Could work," another youth, this one Gilliam recognized as Markus (his inn's stableboy), agreed.

    "It could," the blonde said calmly.

    "I'm doing it with or without you. If you head anywhere through the woods, you'll be caught dead with magi as powerful as that," Gilliam's voice was stern now, his eyes piercing each of the four villager's own. The blonde, abashed, glanced down at the floor, suddenly very interested in her mud-clad boots. "I've no interest in each and everyone dyin', but we need to make sacrifices. It's not about everyone now."

    With that, Gilliam left the group in a perturbed silence and made for the exit of the inn once more. He had walked in with no intention of getting anyone other than Margo out of the village, viewing everyone else as dead weight, but with this group of green woodsmen eager to escape, he now had a distraction that went further than the battle. With every intention to save as many capable souls as he could, and the means to do it, Gilliam began to spread the word...Door to door, person by person, step by step...


     
    #12 J_"Kraken", Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  13. It'd taken time, but collecting the supplies Shanta and Efrihm would need wasn't horribly difficult. She set out early, and found that most homes were still empty even at the late hour. Empty, with unlocked doors. A leading characteristic of small-town lemming people, it seemed. It was almost an insult. But most houses only had an item or two, if any, on her list. Not many people, it seemed, were prepared for fight or flight--and were less so after she made her rounds. And, since most of these people would likely die anyway, she was a little bit more liberal with her pickings. One of the fancier homes had a particularly nice looking knife sitting atop the mantle. She didn't hesitate to snatch it up.

    At her home, she found two packs large enough to fit her findings, and promptly loaded them up. Rations, whetstones, fishing line, bow strings, a matchbook, something to carry water in. She filled her own bag with clothing, and set aside the gloves and boots she'd scrounged up beside it. The gloves were a little large, but the boots would fit fine. She assembled a few other items into the bags, zipped them up, and settled down for a few hours sleep before dawn. She would need it.

    In the morning, just before the sun rose, she gathered the bags, slipped into her traveling gear--the boots, and gloves--and made her way to the inn. She welcomed herself in to the building, and, sitting where she and Efrihm had discussed the day before, waited.
     
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  14. Adrinna Valeheart

    When you lose the person you cared about most in the world, how do you stay alive? It was as if they took with them a part of you, and your heart becomes a black void, where all light goes and dies. You can’t imagine them gone, can’t think about what life will be like without them. Yet you have to move on, if not for yourself then for that person that never will.

    Adrinna was sick with mourning and nothing anyone did helped, not that she ever knew any of them very well to begin with. In the 12 years she had lived in this village she could count on her hand how many real conversations she had with these people. She never had felt apart of the community, her and her teacher Dious lived like hermits on the far reaches of what people considered the village. Dious never left their home, he was too old and crippled, he left all the care taking to Adrinna, and the only time villagers ever came was to speak to Dious about his skills.

    Now it seemed that with Dious gone, people came around more so than ever. They came with condolences and food, customs for helping those who had lost someone recover, but Adrinna had not wanted anything to do with them. Their condolences were hollow and empty, not one of them had really known Dious like she did. She had cared for the man every day since she could remember. her real family, the “Valehearts” were nothing but stories and a single memory Adrinna as a child riding a horse. Her entire life as she remembers it was with Dious as he trained her in the skills of a magi.

    The last three days of her life had been hell. Locked away in solitude she knew nothing of what was going on outside, nor did she care. The only times she ever left was to get wood for the hearth, which happened sparingly. She never noticed that Broybook was gearing for a battle, she was lost in her own mind. The morning of the day that the army arrived, Adrinna woke up once again. This time however she was not lost, she had a plan, a direction to follow.

    She spent the day packing everything of value she had into one rucksack. Several books that she had yet to read in the miniature library that their home was. Two changes of cloths and the rest of the food she had. A bedroll was the last thing she packed, anything else she would need she would have to buy in the village with the little money she had. When it was all done, she took one last tour of the house, with Dious gone, she had no reason to stay here. He would of wanted her to continue her studies and to continue the mission that Dious had began.

    Slipping the pack onto her shoulders, she was almost ready to leave. Pushing the door open of her house, she stepped through the threshold only to turn around and stare into her fireplace from outside the home. Dious had said many times that knowledge was power, and power in the wrong hands was dangerous, besides there was no one for miles who would have any use for the books and the secrets they kept. Yet Dious had been clear, when ever they decided to leave this place they would make sure to leave nothing behind. Adrinna reached into the else, Reaching a hand out to the fire with a sad smile on her face. The flame leapt to her command, jumping from its place on the logs to trail behind her as she took several more steps away from the wooden building. Pooling the fire in her hands, feeding it with her own strength, growing it into a more destructive force before releasing it back toward her home. The ball of flame launched its way through the open door before exploding into a fountain of flame within her home. It was only until she saw the entire building was alight with flame did she turn to leave.

    ---

    Upon her arrival to Broybrook, Adrinna could notice a chance almost immediately. Where once there were small, crumbling stone fences now stood flimsy wooden palisades nearly two meters tall. The town gates - once a small fence upon hinges - had been entirely sealed as well with slits for crossbows to fit through. Noises of working forges, loud commands, and concerned chatter pierced the woods like a spear through cloth.

    Only through the grace of a bleary-eyed (and presumably quite intoxicated) guard was the girl finally let through, albeit through a sizable hole in the perimeter she could have easily eased her way through. “Don’t just cause no trouble, girl.” His voice was snide, overtly courageous, and slurred, making it difficult to quite tell where one word began and the other ended. With this obstacle removed, her way into the town was unblocked.

    Once well inside the village, with none noting her arrival as eventful, she was waylaid upon her path by a broad-shouldered figure in a stained brown tunic and trousers, clad in mud-caked boots that went well above his ankles, and wearing a mismatching set of iron-lined bits of leather across his person. A flicker of recognition flared across his grizzled face and faded just as quickly as it had come. “You’re the magi, the trained one anyways, yeah?” he sounded bemused, startled, and agitated all at once, “seems you’d got no reason to come back here, you’re in the best place to flee.”

    Adrinna had not seen the broad man before she heard him. The moment she did however she stiffened quickly, fixing the cloak that hung off her neck. She shot the man a dark look, letting him speak his fill. She smiled smugly when the man mentioned her as a trained magi though trained would not be the best word for it. Regardless, the man didn’t need to know of her skill or lack of she had, “It’s hard to run away from something when you didn’t know was there mister. Besides, I still need food and fresh water if I was going to run anywhere. Mind telling me where I can trade for some?”

    “We’ve got a butcher ‘right ‘cross from that tavern over there,” he gestured to the two buildings, “though you’ll no doubt have quite a sore bit of luck with everyone prepared to die fightin’ or flee with what they can. If it’s running you aim to do, I might have somethin’ of interest for you, should you feel the inclination.”

    Adinnas smile soured, her smug look turning grim as the man talked about death. “Well, I have nothing here worth dying for so I guess running is my only option. What did you have in mind?”

    The man ran a hand through his beard as he pondered the thought, clearing his throat before finally speaking a moment later, “We’ve got a small group headin’ to the upper lip of the Basin, I plan to go a bit further than them, head into the cover of the woods before we head down. Word is we’ve got a map-maker ‘round here, I’ve been looking for him. He’ll be invaluable, but a trained magi always adds a level of respectability and practicality in equal measure. What lore you studied in?”

    The world must of really went to hell when Dious died she thought idly to herself. Though she barely ever spoke to the other villagers she knew the Basin and the dangers that laid there. She sighed half heartedly at the situation at a whole. She pinched the bridge of her nose, a habit she would do when stressed before speaking. “My master taught me both Fire and Air lore equally though a find Fire lore my stronger of the two. If you didn’t believe me you are happy to go see the burning pile that use to be my house. “ She gave him a small smile “I got a little out of hand.” she said trying to make a joke out of it.

    Dead is dead. Put an arrow through the best magi, he’s still a corpse. “Alright, meet back at that tavern by four hours after nightfall. Come alone, through the backdoor, no torches. I don’t want any unwanted visitors spreading word of this, got it?” Is it the army I distrust or the skill of Broybrook? If word came to the men at the gates, they would certainly be dead, but what harm were a few inept woodsmen and the like? No, indecisiveness in action kills as swiftly as a sword to the gut. This is the proper course.

    She watched him for a few moments after he was done speaking. Sizing him up, trying to figure out his intentions, his motives. In the end it didn’t really matter what he wanted, it was either agree or strike off alone and she doubted she would make it very far trying the latter. “Fine mister, but you’re buying me a drink for my silence.” With that she turned on a heel not looking back and heading straight for the Inn.

    Gilliam nodded and continued his rounds, whistling an off-beat tune as he went. Now to find that cartographer.
     
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  15. Shortly after the red headed woman's speech Margo found herself packing, preparing to leave Broybrook. When her eyes caught sight of the militia behind the woman there was a sense of fear - she was unable to muster the courage to fight alongside those who could. Margo scavenged within the butcher shop, packed dried salted meats, extra bow string, skinning knife, her trusty bow, an abundance of arrows, and a leather pouch for her water. She ventured around the butcher shop, the survival necessities were scarce within the shop. She bit her lower lip as her hand patted flat against the dusty shelves. As soon as her hand made contact with two foreign objects she wrapped her hands around them bringing them in eye-sight. She raised her brow at the sight of flint and a steel striker. Not many use these anymore; most people found themselves using a matchbook, much easier and modern. Margo shrugged her broad shoulders and shoved them into her satchel.

    There was chaos running amok outside. She stepped out to see families, store keeps, and villagers preparing to leave or die fighting. With everything in her bag, with the exception of her bow and arrows, Margo begins her way into the village for last minute runs. With people leaving their homes she reluctantly entered abandoned homes to grab small supplies. She looked inside the house to see it nearly empty. There was hesitance when she began to look through cupboards and delve into whatever personal belongings that they left behind. Her hazel orbs studied the personal items - simple knick-knacks, small clothing, and beloved memoir's they were forced to leave behind. Margo found herself infatuated with the simple items. A small smile graced her lips as her fingertips gently glided over the belongings.

    Before becoming engrossed into unadorned memoir's, she returned to scavenging. Through her short search, the only useful item she spotted was a matchbox. She scoffed softly putting the matchbox into her satchel. Prior to leaving the household, she returned back to the family memoir's unable to stop herself from taking a small knick-knack. It was a small wooden toy; it resembled as the smallest Russian doll. Margo slipped it into the pockets of her pants.With that she stepped out once more ready to flea. The townspeople began to sneak off to where they were no longer in eye-sight. There was uncertainty coursing through her intellect, she wasn't aware how to escape. The usual path to the forest has been littered with powerful magi's and the front exit had the militia waiting. She bit her lower lip.

    There was a moment in Margo's life where she was clueless. She turned around and began to begin her attempt to escape.
     
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  16. Efrihm could hardly be described as a light sleeper, but he did have the innate ability to wake up the exact moment he was required, whether or not he knew why or whom for. He fluttered his eyes to ward away his drowsiness until his vision was crystal clear. With a yawn, he rose from his covers and noticed his chest was bare... at least of cloth, for all his garments were discarded to the four corners of the room. A swath of thick, tangled hair, so dark that it was almost black in contrast to the dirty blond hair atop his head, sheathed most of his torso. It was growing unruly, most definitely time for a shave. What with Broybrook about to be obliterated, he decided it would have to wait for the next settlement he encountered and started dressing instead.

    Despite his recently weary travels, the wanderer felt absolutely rejuvenated. While many people complained that a night spent drinking led to a morning of extreme discomfort, alcohol seemed to have the opposite effect on Efrihm. He did not have much the night before, at least in the context to his personal body composition, however he was concerned for Shanta's well being. She seemed solid enough, but she was still so... tiny. Efrihm shuddered as soon ae he realized he was on the precipice of caring, and that simply could not do. He tossed away the thoughts and finished gathering his belongings before unlocking the door and walking into the adjacent hall.

    A wave of sound washed over him, the inn alive with chatter. As he neared the tavern he began to understand words and out of curiosity paused to eavesdrop. It seemed that while a majority of the town's population was insistent on defending their home, a select few were, like Shanta, planning on abandoning their kin. A part of Efrihm, buried somewhere within his callused soul, was sickened by their cowardice. It was a hypocritical feeling, and quickly dismissed. Efrihm's circumstances weren't much different, after all. He could not blame them for seeking a means to survive.

    As quietly as he could manage, he slipped into the room and spotted Shanta at the same table they conversed at earlier. She was dressed exactly as he had suggested, with a smug demeanor and a pair of bags packed tightly. Traipsing to her side, he called out to her. "Lo, fair maiden! Care for a last meal before the world ends?"
     
    #16 Alvom, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
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  17. Listening to the conversation around her was unnerving. Shanta wanted to feel disgusted by it all--the fake chivalry, the patriotism for a worthless home, the bravery and absence of fear. But she couldn't. The little town was worthless to any outsider, but it was still home to many who had set down deep roots and lived with wide branched families. Shanta, with no such connection, wasn't as affected and was simply confounded. The fact that many of these people, even women with no particular combat training whatsoever, were hellbent on saving their homes was alarming. Alarming, and concerning. That little piece of her heart that went unsheltered felt for these people and their unavoidable deaths.

    Of course, some might manage to flee to safety. But most of them would die, both in their attempts to run, and in their attempts to survive. She hadn't personally seen the intruders that knocked at their doors, but she'd heard rumors. They chilled her to the bone.

    She began to drum her fingers against the table top, trying to drown out the chatter around her with thought. Hopefully Efrihm had some sort of clue on how they would escape, and evade the intruders. Surely they wouldn't simply let the citizens of Broybrook flee. Shanta only guessed that they had some sort of perimeter around the town or other. And, after evading their enemies, she didn't know where Efrihm intended to bring her. Maybe he would ditch her at first chance. After all, she promised him all the supplies he pleased; perhaps it was his intent to take the supplies and leave her in the dust. Or maybe he was expecting her to have some idea. She hadn't exactly made it clear just how little she knew of the outside world; only her goal to reach it.

    But she was determined not to let this anxiety crawl up and surprise her. She would better it. She sat there, waiting, a brave almost cocky expression on her face, tapping her fingers, for Efrihm to arrive.

    She noticed him come down into the main floor of the inn, though ignored his presence until he approached the table. He seemed in a surprisingly good mood considering the amount of alcohol he'd consumed the day before and Broybrook's impending doom. Of course, why should it bother an outsider much? Even still, it seemed strange, and she frowned for a moment before giving a welcoming smile.

    Fair maiden. What was that all about, she mused. She certainly was no fair maiden.

    "Ah. Up bright and early. No doubt we'll get along well in travel," she said. "I do believe a final meal is a given for those about to meet their demise. Not to mention, I'm starved. It should set us off well before we leave, no?"

    She began to rise to her feet before thinking better of it, and settling back down. "You don't suppose you could perhaps go and handle that? I don't think it's quite the good idea to leave our belongings unattended." She gestured towards the packs by her feet. "I think even desperate people might be a bit more opposed to stealing from under my nose than yours."
     
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