"Think nothing of it. As your escort it is my duty to guarantee your safety." He answered her in fact. Their horse continued forward, stepping on the ashes of the monsters that now littered the pass. Continuing on in silence, Ryan would occasionally glance over his shoulder at Solina, watching her as she looked this way, and that at the various dunes, and ancient relics that littered the desert. He wondered exactly who she was, and why she was taking this venture, but as an escort, it wasn't his right to pry. Though he was still curious to a degree. "M'lady, if I may ask. Why do you wish to visit the Temple of Olhn? Not many these days have an intrigue for ancient religion."
The Sun had begun to tuck itself under the horizon, and a noticeable drop in the temperature began to be felt. Having been near the hundreds during their ride, it felt as though it was nearly fifty degrees. The desert was certainly a strange place for weather. "Ah... yes we should camp here, before the frost sets in." Dismounting their horse, he offered his hand up to her, to help her to the ground should she decide to accept his assistance. Once they were both dismounted, he would begin to pitch their tent, and stake it down, should the winds pick up.
~Solina~ View attachment 3483Solina flinched at the question. It was only a matter of time before she had to tell the man anyway, whether it was his business or not. Solina was never one to bite her tongue when it came to questions, but when her emotions entered, she would hold her tongue for days on end. Taking his bristled hand, she leaped onto the ground with a thud.
"There is something that the Temple requires of me that I must relish. The priests were actually surprised that I insisted on doing it. They thought I would go mad. I don't see why not, though. The Temple of Olhn have always helped out those in need; giving them answers and wisdom. It's only fair that I comply with it's wishes."she said, with a far off look in her red eyes, which were now dimmed. It was obvious that she was beating around the bush as she grabbed a cloth from the sack of the horse. The temperature decreased tremendously (compared to the way it was before) and she was actually glad she hadn't changed into the beautiful clothes she purchased at Thedia.
I'm not going to tell him that my life is what I have to relish. It's none of his business anyway.
"I will sleep here."she stated, plopping her body on the sand and laying the blanket under her.
"Ah... a Sister on her 'Journey' then." He answered softly. "Well then, m'lady, I won't ask more of it. Religion is a sacred thing, and not to be intervened by a non-believer such as myself." Ryan had lost his faith a long time ago, for numerous reasons. Most of which he didn't wish to discuss, as Solina didn't wish to discuss the intentions of her journey.
"I will sleep here."
Chuckling at that, Ryan squated down looking into her red eyes with his own luminescent silver eyes. "Sleep there like that, and you'll freeze to death. I can't let that happen, m'lady. I'll pitch the tent, and then we can sleep inside where it'll be warm." Standing up, he returned to their horse, and when about pitching the tent, which seemed to be a bundle of ropes, and cloth. Simply bizarre, as it didn't look like any tent used by the majority of the nomads that lived in these deserts. It was pitched, and staked in a matter of minutes though, as Ryan had camped many nights in the desert. Flipping the front flap open, he motioned to it with his hand. "Please, m'lady. Make yourself at home, as I tend to our horse, and prepare it for the night."
Taking the horse's reigns, he coaxed it to lay down on the ground, where he began pitching cloth over it. Speaking in hushed tones to the animal, it seemed to calm down a great deal, and fall asleep as if bewitched by a spell.
"You must be mistaken. I am no Sister of any religion. The priests of Gondilo have only raised me, but have not forced me to believe their ways. As a matter of fact, they can hardly believe it themselves. Besides....I can do this." she said, and held up a single finger. In a small smark, a blue flame erupted lightly on her finger tip, the flames dancing playfully in front of her face. Putting her finger down, the flame disappeared along with it.
"They never understood why I could do that," she said, making her way inside the tent. "You'd think, with red eyes, I would have red flames. Yeah, I did too." she said, her voice down in a whisper now. The tent really didn't much to the weather, but it did something, and that was enough for her. The mercenary probably couldn't hear her any longer, for he was tending to the steeds. That was not necessarily a bad thing,for she was about to spill the reason the Temple of Olhn longed for her life. Biting her lip, she sat down inside the 'safety' of the tent, waiting on the mercenary to enter.
Raising a brow in surprise, Ryan looked closely at the flame, as Solina explained a portion of her tale. "I wouldn't know why eye color has something to do with your ability, as I don't know the extent my power, only reason why I have it. I hope that when you arrive at the temple, that you find the answers that you seek." He said honestly, and patted the horse's head, as he turned to enter the tent himself. "It may not seem like much, but you would be surprised what the tents of my homelands can survive." Though it was soft, if they listened intently they would begin to hear a slight cracking sound. "Ah, the ice has began settling in for the night." Opening the font flap slightly, what had been a sea of sand, was now a field of snow.
"Certainly settled in quickly... tomorrow should be an uneventful ride then." He murmured, and then closed the flap. Setting his pack on the ground, he retrieved two more bundles, and handed on to Solina. "Trail rations, so I do apologize if they aren't what you were expecting though they will fill your stomach, and stave off hunger until we reach the temple tomorrow." With that, he began to unbuckle his sword from his belt, setting it on the ground, and slowly removed his thin cotton shirt, folding it, and rested it at the foot of his bed roll. Stretching, he gave a sigh of relief, as his bare chest, arms, and back soaked up the cool air around then though the numerous scars that littered his tan and muscled form were now visible. Yes indeed, this mercenary must have seen his share of war, and violence.
"Certainly feels better than the burning sun, that does." He then ran a hand through his hair, and reached for his water skin, taking a large drink from it... actually the first drink from it since they'd left. The warrior than handed it to Solina should she be thirsty.
"Snowing, is it? The weather is very strange around these parts. Gondilo is a safe and serene place, not to mention that dressing and preparing is not..." Her sentence trailed off as she gazed slowly at the mercenary beside her, handing her the flask of water. His chest was completely ruled with scars and cuts. She found herself staring, wondering about his history and past as she gazed at every scar etched in his body.
"...hard." she finished, grabbing the flask. Mienza. The things he's been through...
"Right. Gondilo's weather is not hard to fair. I have been through the heat more than the cold, but I am not afraid. The cold is nothing more than another enemy to encounter, and I will not retreat." she said with finality. Forcing herself to look elsewhere, her monologue stopped short. Taking a small swallow of the sweet water in the flask, she leaned back, relaxing finally.
"Not everything in life is a battle that must be fought." Ryan said as he leaned back against his bedroll, placing his arms behind his back. One would think it an odd statement for someone who made his life through battle, and conflict. Looking at her through the strands of his brown hair, Ryan shook his head lightly. "You've no need to impress me, if you're trying to. I have no opinions about another's ideas, life, or choices. Everything is matter of perception, nothing more. Take time to relax, and simply enjoy the quiet moments as they stagger buy, or the company of a stranger's talk. Life is a fleeting thing, and sooner or later, it can leave you in a matter of moments."
Trailing a finger along the scar that ran besides his nose, he closed his eyes, and then settled into his bed roll. "Find what rest you can for we'll be leaving early in the morning." The mercenary then relaxed as best he could on the ground, his hand moving to lay across the hilt of his sword, laying at his side. Always on guard, Ryan seemed to constantly be expecting some danger at any moment, though he seemed relaxed enough. Perhaps he'd developed that sense of security in the chaos.
~Solina~ View attachment 3497He was right, as usual. Resting was the best option for the two of them. She found her self wondering, behind closed eyes, if it took any stregnth out of him to do what he did to the Akyus. Was the sword heavier than it appeared? Did it drain energy from the inside of him to put forth that much power in a single swipe of the blade?
There would be answers for those questions at a later time, she presumed, leaning roughly against a small mound of sand. Either in silence or in words.
Solina tried to fall asleep, but there was something that kept her awake. Something kept her alert, though she was lying in a peaceful and relaxing matter. In a sudden tinge of emotion, her eyes squeezed a bit. Can it be? I'm afraid of dying now? The Temple of Olhn grew closer and closer in her mind. She and the mercenary would travel the high roads, reach the temple, and that would be the last she see of this world. Solina sighed involuntairly, shifting against the cold sand. Be strong, Solina.
Hours into the night as Ryan slept, he eventually woke. Sitting up silently, he rubbed his head gently, and sighed. Lately he had been getting only a few hours of sleep, and though it didn't worry him, it most definitely annoyed him. Shaking his head lightly, he looked over to see Solina appear to be sleeping. With that he got up as quietly as he could, retrieved his sword, and stepped outside into the chilling night air.
Resting his heavy blade on his shoulder, he stood there, and breathed in the cold air, letting it cool his buring skin. A breath of fresh air often did wonders for his inability to sleep, and he wanted to get at least a few more hours before they left for the temple. He didn't know how long he'd be staying before he left, as he was only hired to escort Solina there, and that had started to bother him. No pilgrims were known to stay at the temple indefinitely. Not unless... Looking over his shoulder to the tent, Ryan then shook his head again.
No one that young would be traveling there for that.
~Solina~ View attachment 3499Solina wasn't even aware that she fell asleep. When a small sliver of light poured through the tent, she snapped up, cracking her wrist slightly. Hissing in pain, she rubbed her tiny wrist vigorously.
"Ow. I am forever trying to kill myself in the..." Looking to the left, she saw that the mercenary wasn't even in the tent anymore. A sinking feeling as the sense of security completely left the vicinity. Solina reached for a dagger in her right pocket twisted it once, and made her way out of the tent. A horse whinnied next to her, startling her enough to send her falling straight on her backside. The black blanket of hair fell over her face, shrouding her pink face.
The sooner I get to this stupid Temple...she cursed.
Turning in time to see the lady fall backwards through the flap and back into the tent, Ryan peaked in after her. "Are you alright, m'lady? You should stay inside where it's warm, and try to get some more sleep. It'll be hotter this ride than yesterday, I believe." He finished, and entered the tent himself. His body, and sword coated in a thin layer of frost, which began to melt in the warmth of the tent. "Your wrist, did you twist it?" He asked, seeing her favoring her hand. "Here, let me take a look at it. I know something of healing magic." He said offering a hand out to her. It would seem that Ryan had quite a bit of knowledge about the mystical as well as combat. A truly odd combination for one who lived by the sword, to earn coin.
His other than, rummaged through his pack, to eventually remove three small blue stones, that were perfectly round, and smooth. Placing them in the outstretched palm, he waited for Solina. Though the magic he knew was mere incantations, it would more than likely dull any pain she had to the point to where she could at least sleep comfortably, though it would still be sore when she awoke. Having little need to know such spells, Ryan was more focused on combat oriented applications, and rightly so. At least from a mercenary's view point.
~Solina~ View attachment 3537Solina wrinkled her nose as her eyes gazed from the stones, to Ryan, and then back to the stones. When a long moment of silence followed his action, she tilted her head.
"You want me to take one of those?"she asked. When no answer came, she nodded, looking off. "Ah. I just asked the obvious, didn't I?" Her wrist stung slightly as she rubbed it gently with her other hand. Gondolion's believed that the best healing was another's touch, but she didn't believe a word of it. They only told her that so that they would have the opportunity to witness the color of her eyes up close.
"If I take one, does that mean that it's mine?" she asked. The stones were a beautiful shade of blue, much like her own fire. They glittered off the silver of Ryan's eyes and illuminated her own. Her heart beat picked up slightly as her hand unconsciously hovered over one of the stones. A small bead of sweat formed at her brow, despite the lack of heat.
"Yes, you did." Ryan answered with a chuckle.. "Take one, and rub it around your wrist. It should numb the pain, but it won't cure it."
"If I take one, does that mean that it's mine?"
"Unfortunately, I'll have to ask for it back once you're done. Those three stones were a great deal of trouble to acquire, and I wouldn't like to go through that ordeal again." Taking her hand in his, he placed a stone in her palm, and then tucked the rest back into his pack. Reaching for his canteen once more, he took another long drink, and rested his blade back onto the sand, before running a hand through his hair with a yawn. The length of the day was finally beginning to get to him, but he would be sure that the lady was comfortable before he relinquished his senses to a deep sleep.
~Solina~ View attachment 3617She decided that she wouldn't question his wisdom and rubbed the blue stone against her wrist. The stone was cold and it was dangerously soothing to the touch. It reminded her of water, cool and healing.
"Mienza. This thing is amazing. I can see why you went through a lot to gather these. And you have three of them? You are one lucky man, mercenary." she said, red eyes lighting up as she smiled at him. A slight breeze whipped her hair, causing her to shiver. Solina realized that she was tired, noticing that she didn't fully get her sleep out. How silly of me, trying to fend myself off from potential enemies while i'm half asleep.
"I thank you." she said, holding the stone out for him to take it. "Your kindness is appreciated. Strange, but appreciated."
"Many amazing things are waiting to be discovered. Those stones are but a small mystery that lay a path to miracles. It's what's not magical that's truly impressive." Ryan answered, taking the stone back from Solina, and tucking it into his pack. "Though it would be wise for m'lady to find herself some more rest. I believe we're both feeling the exhaustion, and perhaps tomorrow will be a longer journey still." The mercenary seemed to have no worry, or care in the world, and for one in that kind of lifestyle... it was odd, as mercenaries were killed each and everyday. Either from rival mercenaries, or from the monsters that plagued where they traveled.
"I believe I'll get myself some more fresh air before, I take to sleep myself, I should check on the horse as well." Taking a fur pelt, Ryan drew it over his broad, bare shoulders, though the pelt seemed small on him, and rose to his feet to depart the tent. Taking a deep breath of the frigid air, he strode to their horse who was tucked beneath a warm bundle, and still fast asleep. Resting his hand on top of the layers of cloth, Ryan gently stroked it's neck, and looked out over the vast nothingness of desert turned tundra by the arctic night.
~Solina~ View attachment 3715 He had a point. A very good point. The joints in her entire body were creaking in anguish. She had forgotten to mention that she had a trial getting to Thedia in the first place. There were thieves and ruffians scattered throughout the forest. How could she blame them. The needs and wants of female flesh were high these days, and Solina fit a very decent, yet perfect profile. In a way, she was beautiful, making her way to the tent. Even though he mission would end her life, further cutting off her beauty from the world. But not even thieves and ruffians knew of that fate.
Crawling in to the tint with a tinge of cold, Solina curled into a soft ball, wrapping her black hair around her hand. It reminded her of a silk pattern she used to wear for the suitors of Gondilo. Though they never paid any attention to her attire, the only thing enjoyable about the whole ordeal was the clothing and the comfort that followed.
I should tell him.
Returning to the warm tent himself, Ryan slowly laid back down on his mat, and slowly pulled the fur throw over his eyes, as a hand moved to lightly rub his shoulder, his breath coming gently, and peaceful forcing his chest to rise and fall in the movements of sleep. The exhaustion finally claiming him, the mercenary slept peacefully through the night, though as for Solina... it was uncertain. What was certain was that in the morning, the sun rose, and melted away the ice, and snow, leaving the scorching sand behind once more. Ryan was up long before Solina, tending to the horse once more, and standing just outside the tent, with his cloak's hood pulled over his head to shield his eyes from the brilliant light of the sun.
"Smells like rain... it should be a good day, no?" He said softly to himself, and to the horse as he lightly ran his hand along it's neck. The horse seemed to be in good spirits as well. A clear indication of no apparent danger as animals could always sense it long before the various races of the world. "I wonder why she's going to that temple... I've heard of nothing good happening from such a journey... though it isn't my place to question is it? A mercenary who lives for money..." He finished softly, tasting the slight disdain for the words.
~Solina~ View attachment 3766A sudden blast of hot air woke Solina up from her sleep. It was the most pleasant way to waken in the middle of a desert, but it was certainly one way. Stifling a yawn, the girl tried to knock all traces of fatigue and hunger for her mind. For a small fraction of a second, she almost forgot where she was. The sun was blaring down through the overhead of the tent, much like the sun would do when she slept in the safe canopies of trees. To her, it was just another day around the city of Gondilo. The thing that through everything off was the tent itself. Solina wasn't much of a camper, and more of an out doors woman.
"Oh, that's right."she said softly, rubbing her eye and remembering the mercenary in her journey. Thoughts of Ryan and his coyages tickled her interests once again. It was always something about the battles and trials of the world that interested Solina greatly. It was obvious that Ryan had a reputation about him. What that was, she didn't know, and probably didn't posses the time to find out.
Yawning again, Solina crawled to her feet, trying her best to mat the random strands of black hair from her face. It wasn't a matter of impressing him, but a girl had to have some vision of her self to dwell upon. After exiting the tent, the heat returned to her body, though slightly cooler than inside. She figured rain was the cause of that. The first thing her red eyes caught was the tall mercenary tending to the horse. The horse whinnied softly; it seemed to be in a fair mood that morning. Good, it's going to need as much positive attitude as possible. Though how that is, I'll never realize. Who wants to be rode on for long periods of time in this heat? Her heart went out to the animal as she smiled at its bold eyes gingerly.
"Good morning, mercenary. I assume your sleep was well? Or at least better than mine?"she asked, strolling near him.