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Sun Wukong.png
Name: FalarionRace: Demon
Location: Keimara Village, templeCurrent Form: Male human

Falarion snickered at Korro's response, having expected something along those lines. Unfortunately, with all of the stupid deities making their appearance, all he could do was hang back and let the humans fawn over them. Gross. It was bad enough having the big honcho here, the others were highly unnecessary in his opinion.

Snorting at the promise of safety, Falarion scuffed his shoe against the floor and wondered what kinds of pranks he could play on the humans that would guarantee they would not be technically harmed. He could always fall back to the classic scaring he did a lot with hiw villagers. It always gave him a great laugh and technically, there was no harm to them. He wondered if classic methods would work on most of these individuals or if he would have to get crafty about it.

Hearing about the offer of baths, Falarion cocked his head and then wondered out loud,
"When wis th’last time I even too’ a bath?"
He scrunched his nose at the thought and then glanced sideways to see Korro sniffing himself. Grinning, Falarion shuffled over and easily caught a whiff of his burning house stench. He made a face, but then had a strong suspicion that his own scent was no better. It had never really occurred to him to be a problem in the past, but he supposed he could not ignore a free bath. He suspected he was going to get to enjoy some luxuries here that he had never enjoyed in the past.

Despite Korro being the puppy here, Falarion found himself subconsciously trailing after him. He told himself it was because he had spent most of his time in solitude and he was just more desperate for social interactions than he had previously realized.

Tilting his head at the open question that Korro posed, Falarion glanced out the window as well and mulled it over. His first internal conflict came from the simple fact that he had no idea what a home should be.
Was he simply referring to a literal house like what humans live in? Or was he implying more than that? A family? As far as Falarion was aware, demons did not exactly have families. Or perhaps his understanding was simply misconstrued based on his own experiences in life.

Scratching his chin, Falarion shrugged and then replied to the question,
"Guess not. Neveh really wasted time thinking aboot it, tae be honest. Whit aboot ye?"

Shifting to look around the room, Falarion warily eyed the newcomers, but also sent a curious look to each of them. He would be surprised if everyone would just roll over and work with demons because they were told to.

SilverFlight SilverFlight + open to all
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Location: God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
Interactions: SilverFlight SilverFlight Arai Arai Kibaa Kibaa Lioness075 Lioness075 ShadyLady ShadyLady Goonfire Goonfire

It appeared the other champions had also enjoyed signficant conversations with their patrons. As the blue skinned god withdrew, the short haired woman caught his eye and mouthed her exhilaration at this encounter. Roshan nodded and smiled in agreement, still overawed. That Lady Anahita had spoken to him in person, and even touched him... him, commoner, former slave, desert ruffian... Nigh unthinkable. He almost expected some compensating misfortune to strike. Even the air around them seemed transformed. Closeness between gods and mortals was a rare phenomenon, especially now. Somehow, these three pairs had defied both chance and Heaven's mandate to forge a rare bond.

There was something nostalgic in the God Queen's hospitality. Long ago, guests in Keshkartha had been received with elaborate ritual, but many such traditions had fallen by the wayside in these troubled times. One rare night in safety and comfort, with time to become acquainted, would be the perfect start to this journey, and Roshan decided to take full advantage of it. At his goddess' suggestion, he ought to avail himself of the hot water... but first, dinner. "Many thanks for your kindness," he said to the priestess and the Queen, with a slight bow toward the latter. Having long ago lost patience, Kian flew over to the table, alighted next to the roast chicken, and dug in.

"No, wait a minute!" An exasperated Roshan followed, shooed his pet away, then cut off the slab of breast meat Kian had eaten from and moved it to his place. "Should still be edible, ahaha. Seriously, that bird..." As Kian nibbled at his own portion of meat, his master contemplated him with chin in hand. "This isn't like back home, you know. We need to get used to eating like civilized folk." When the dark skinned woman spoke, Roshan looked up at her. Though her dress was plain, her manner was refined; dignified. Was she perhaps a noble? "Khatiy, was it?" He sounded out the name. Definitely Keshkarthan, though the exact region was hard to pinpoint. Regardless, it seemed they were of the same mind. "Come, have a seat! Both of you." He patted the cushions next to him.

"It's nice to see someone from my corner of the world... and to meet people from other places, too. I'm sure we can all learn from each other." Speaking of which... He did a quick mental head count. Korro, Falarion, Khatiy, Fin. That left two names he didn't know. "By the way, I don't know your name yet," he said to the other human woman. "I'm Roshan, in case anyone didn't hear," he added for the benefit of the newcomers, then jerked a thumb toward his hawk. "And this rascal is Kian." Addressing Khatiy again, he continued, "Anyway, I know what you mean. I can see this light... It's hard to explain, but I think it's showing me the direction of the scroll. Good to know it's not just me."

All the while, he had been helping himself to the food, taking large portions of anything he didn't recognize: stewed meats, dumplings, wheat noodles, stir-fried and pickled vegetables. When he was ready to eat, however, some confusion ensued. There was no flatbread, as in Keshkartha. What passed for utensils appeared to be a pair of sticks, which he had no idea how to use. Surreptitiously, he glanced around to see how the others used them. Even so, he wound up dropping the sticks on his first attempt, and on his next few he failed to pick anything up. Stubbornness took hold. Concentrating hard, with a furrow between his brows and his tongue poking out, he managed to pinch a single noodle. Success!

A short-lived success, that is. Halfway to his mouth, it escaped and fell back into his bowl. With a sigh, he set down his chopsticks, leaned back and wondered how offended the present company would be if he ate with his hands. It was only then that he felt Korro's eyes on him. Roshan gave him a quizzical look, but the demon seemed to lose interest, turning his gaze toward the window. Now it was Roshan's turn to study him. Strange... he looked almost... wistful. What was he looking at? Or was he simply staring, while his mind wandered? Before today, he had never guessed that demons could be so complex. Apparently, some of them experienced the full range of emotions, just like humans.

Still, they couldn't be all that similar. Take their destructive impulses, for instance. They were completely different beings. Emotions couldn't change that. Yet, for all that, this one, in particular, seemed to have hidden depths. The deepest wells draw from the same source within the earth... Hmm. Unexpectedly, Korro posed a question to the room, in general. Waiting a few moments to let the others answer, Roshan glanced at his human companions, then back at Korro. When Lady Anahita advised him to trust his companions, had she meant the demons, too? It was one thing to be certain they wouldn't harm him, on account of the binding. That wasn't what he would call trust.

True trust was something he could never give to a demon. Well, whatever she had meant, it could do no harm to build some solidarity as a team. They would have to get used to one another, sooner or later. Besides, he couldn't say he wasn't curious. What other opportunity would he have to interact with a demon that wasn't trying to kill him? "Why are you all sitting so far away?" he asked the two demons and the two spirits, jerking his head toward their table. "You heard Khatiy. We should all get to know one another." Nervous as he was that the others might object, his cheerfulness only sounded slightly forced.
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Name: O'Korro - "Wolf"
Location: Keimara village, Eastern mountains
Time: Evening on the day of the Journey's beginning

Interactions: Lioness075 Lioness075 Monday Monday + open to all

Korro was grateful for the other demon's company, even if he tried not to show it.
"I thought I did, once." Korro said wsitfully, but then shook the feeling off like a bad itch.
"Nevermind," he finished, "what does it matter now?"
He looked back critically over to the humans, who were settling down at their own table. He suspected it would be something like this. Divided.
Of course he had absolutely no desire to spend time with humans. Though the act of them keeping to themselves made him feel isolated and he snorted irritably.

That was when Roshan surprised him yet again:
He called them over.
Korro glanced at Fal to read his take on the invitation, before a smile touched the corner of his mouth; whether it was a pleased smile or a mischievous one, it was difficult to tell. "Come Fal, we might as well try to become familiar with our captors, if invited."
Korro rose gracefully and padded over to the human table. He chose a haughty yet reserved air to begin with, his yellow eyes falling on each seated in turn.

He chose a place beside Khatiy and across from Roshan, and to Khatiy he spoke softly, not willing to let her previous barb go unanswered.
"It is not dog you smell, human, but wolf. Perhaps on our travels, you will find out why." The way he said it was soft and in no way impolite, but it held a subtle menace to it, like a predator toying with its prey.

After that, he settled into studying Roshan carefully, as if he could find answers to his questions simply by looking.
"You said your short lives make you wish to help humans you do not know, but in doing so, you risk making your lives even shorter, like those children who set the fire today. Explain this. I do not understand."

Korro ate as he waited, his bowl in one hand, chopsticks held expertly in the other, he seemed to be accustomed to this part of the world, or at least how one ate. He eyed Roshan's utensils, sitting idle on the table.
"Are you not hungry?"

ShadyLady ShadyLady Goonfire Goonfire Arai Arai Kibaa Kibaa

Interactions: Goonfire Goonfire Mentions: SilverFlight SilverFlight Arai Arai Lioness075 Lioness075 Kibaa Kibaa Monday Monday

A moment of respite was granted to them all now that the entrances were over. Yue took the chance to take in her new companions, placing the array of voices to lovely faces, noting the demons, humans, and what she was only left to piece together in her little jigsaw was a god of sorts beside her. One of the demons had called him, Fin, in a spitting tone less than fitting for a god. Though, he was not a deity she’d heard of, no, her flimsy memory was falling short of recalling any fanciful tales spun about a hulking figure such as him, but it seemed that demon knew him, and so Fin would know the demon. Oh, how she’d love to pick their brains about each other, but that would be rude considering she’d only known them for what, a few minutes? Time is but a fickle thing, if they were all going to be getting along knowing past dealings could help them come together. Surely.

At the sight of the three little spheres of aureate light, the spirit’s attention swiftly shifted and her mouth fell into a perfect ‘o’. Power breathed out of the pearls, each resting in the palm of the God Queen’s elegant hand. Radiant gifts for their dignitary humans, delightful, she clasped her hands together at the sight, her horsetail whisk in the crook of her arm. Equally exciting was the arrival of their gods, even if brief, she listened aptly to their voices, not so much paying attention to what she assumed would be more private words shared, but the cadence in which they spoke, how they treated their champions. Never had she seen so many deities in one place, this was too bedazzling for her. Glancing at the demons, pity sunk it’s stone within her stomach, she hoped they weren’t truly disconcerted with the goings on of the night.

With Yue’s place of refuge for the night found so easily, any final worries she held had been put at ease. The Goddess had been generous, leaving plates of inviting food, the offer of hot water and baths, and a place to sleep for all those gathered tonight. She was ready to join the others at the table when lowly spoken words addressed her. ‘What do you think of all this, spirit?’ She blinked at Fin, scarlet eyes peeking up at him with a muted, inscrutable glance. Following his gaze, she found little surprise in seeing the two it had the pleasure of landing on. Yue considered her thoughts, she had never truly had bad blood with those of their kind, that wasn’t to say she trusted them wholeheartedly simply because they were hand-picked by the Goddess. She eventually settled on, “they are here for a reason, I’m sure they’ll serve their purpose. Try not to fret.” Her lips curled to smile kindly at the deity. There was a brief moment of contemplation before she took her chances and echoed his question, “I must admit, I’m far more interested in hearing what you think of all this?”

Lesser God of the Hunt

A neutral answer from a neutral spirit... Predictable, but her neutrality on the matter was not a liability. It seemed most of those undertaking this pilgrimage were of great understanding and patience. Perhaps their acceptance of these wayward animals would eventually be shared by Fin, but in the meantime, he chose to lean closer and answer honestly in a hushed tone. "I trust in the Queen's plan wholeheartedly, but I have yet to make the mistake of trusting a demon. Don't mistake distrust for fear, though; I fear no demon, just their dark ambition. That sort of ambition is what gave them their label and their destructive abilities." Despite appearances, his odor was not unpleasant; it was that of the pristine pine forests, shrouded in the morning mists.

With others scooting closer to the humans at the behest of Khatiy and Roshan, Fin picked up his plate and cup to also join them. "Very bold of you, to bid us four approach. In ages past, it was gods and spirits who beckoned humans." He cracked a smirk, as though he appreciated and enjoyed the audacity of the Keshkarthans. "I am known as Finyagur," he finished before seating himself near what he assumed would be Koralia's seat.

Interactions: ShadyLady ShadyLady Monday Monday Kibaa Kibaa
Mentions: SilverFlight SilverFlight Arai Arai Lioness075 Lioness075

Location: God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
Interactions: SilverFlight SilverFlight Kibaa Kibaa Goonfire Goonfire + open to all

Though Roshan had half expected a refusal, Korro accepted his invitation, taking a place at their table, as did the large, muscular one. "I suppose you're right," he replied to the latter, flashing a smile at his banter. "Gods and spirits, you say? In that case, you're not one to speak of boldness... Fin-ya-gur." The name felt foreign on his tongue. A northern name, no doubt. He had spoken in jest, hoping the other would play along. "It's an honor to have you with us."

Soon enough, he had reason to second guess his decision. Korro hadn't been overtly rude, but Roshan sensed the demon was prodding Khatiy- testing her, to see how far he could push. Of course he would. To be honest, Roshan understood. Forced into a position of servitude at odds with his nature, of course he would seize every opportunity to assert himself. How many blows had his own inability to bridle his tongue earned him, in his days as a slave? Korro, of course, was far more clever about it, if he had read the situation aright.

In any case, there was no going back now. They would have to refuse to rise to the bait. His eyes darted quickly toward Khatiy, in an attempt to convey his thoughts, before returning to Korro, who was now looking intently at him. What does he want? Roshan returned his stare as the silence dragged on long enough to become uncomfortable, trying not to fidget, and failing. Finally, Korro voiced his questions. Baffled, he laughed softly, then cocked his head, as though to regard the wolf demon from a new angle. "Still thinking about that, huh?"

When he'd explained his ethics the first time, he hadn't known he was speaking to a demon. Why was Korro hung up on this? Why did he want to understand? He wouldn't expect a demon to even be capable of understanding these things to begin with. It was opposed to their very nature to value other lives, wasn't it? But then, why was he interested? Roshan sighed. Where to even begin? They had so little common ground... "Well... generally, we try to do for others what we'd like them to do for us, if we were in the same situation. It's about more than just saving lives. That's what makes societies work. Or, it should, anyway. Not all humans think like this, but it would be better if they did."

Talking philosophy with a demon. Hah. This had to be about the weirdest situation he'd gotten himself into, yet. Except for that one time, when he'd spent the night conversing with a mysterious figure haunting an ancient ruin, who had seemed amused at his lack of superstition. In the end, his conversation partner had still tried to eat him. Rude. "Yes, I could have died in that fire. But if we'd done nothing, four people would definitely have died. I consider that a worthwhile risk. If you only look out for yourself, you can't expect kindness from others. It's one thing to ignore others' problems when you're doing fine, but when it's you, it looks different. Does that make sense?"

Maybe it was too much to expect a lone wolf to understand that. After a short pause, spent frowning at the table, he continued, "There are some things that are more important even than life. It's natural to value your life, but if you don't have something like that... A conviction? A greater cause? Whatever you'd call it... If you don't have that, the fear will consume you." Now his gaze fixed on the painted pillars and the shadows of the vaulted ceiling, appearing to see beyond them. "There are many types of tyranny in this world. Fear is one of them. I refuse to let the fear of death control my life. That's a narrow, miserable, lonely way to live."

Looking back at Korro, he added, "I don't suppose you've ever fought for anything or anyone besides yourself." Throughout his explanation, the demon had proved himself very adept with these strange utensils. So, when he wondered why Roshan wasn't eating, Roshan hesitated. As it was, Korro already looked down on him for his illiteracy. If he admitted ignorance in this matter, also... It wasn't as though he cared about the demon's opinion of him, per se, but mutual respect was certainly useful. There wasn't really a way around this, however, short of excusing himself, and he was very hungry.

Ugh... this is too complicated for me. In the end, his honesty won out. "Well... the thing is..." Unconsciously, his hand went to the back of his head in his usual gesture of embarrassment, while his face sported a lopsided grin. "Uh, I don't know how to use those things." Let the jibes come, as they must. If Korro took pity on him a second time, he could eat without making even more of a fool of himself.
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Sun Wukong.png
Name: FalarionRace: Demon
Location: Keimara Village, templeCurrent Form: Male human

Watching Korro curiously when he alluded to having some kind of home in the past, Falarion lost his chance to reply when the humans began speaking. He closed his open mouth with a quiet clack before he filed the information away for another time.

Hearing the rich guy invite them to the table, Falarion put a hand over his heart and pretended to fawn over the invitation before looking back to Korro.
"Aye, Pup. We get tae eat wit' th'humans!"
Smirking, Falarion sauntered over and promptly flopped into the seat beside Korro. With one leg resting over the arm of his chair and his tail flicking back and forth on the other side, he picked up the chopsticks in front of himself and began playing with them, acting as if he was trying to catch a fly in the air or something.

When Korro defended his own smell, Falarion snickered and muttered, "Yeah, wolf Pup."

Finally paying attention to his own meal and slurping it noisily, Falarion glanced up when he heard Korro's inquiry. He immediately thought that it likely just came down to humans having very questionable survival instincts, but then rich boy responded. Except it only served to further affirm his own beliefs.
"So...none o' ye hev survival instincts? Sounds aboot right tae me."

He scratched at his chin before idly spinning a chopstick in one hand like it were some kind of fidget toy. When rich boy admitted he did not know how to use chopsticks, of all things, Falarion guffawed and exclaimed, "Does tha' mek me mair human than ye if I ken how tae use 'em?"

SilverFlight SilverFlight Monday Monday + open to anyone else

Name: O'Korro - "Wolf"
Location: Keimara village, Eastern mountains
Time: Evening on the day of the Journey's beginning

Interactions: Lioness075 Lioness075 Monday Monday Goonfire Goonfire + open to all

Korro narrowed his eyes at Fin as the god sat down as well, but for now, the demon would not disturb the peace anymore than he had. Any effort made now would likely only strengthen the god's resolve. Instead he focused intently on what Roshan was telling him, his head tilting slightly as if he were actually trying to understand. He seemed disappointed at first.

"So it is a trade."
He listened still more, but it was clear by his expression that he did not quite understand yet.
"I fear nothing." He said flatly.
"Demons live often by a simple rule: If you are strong, you rule those weaker than you...but, I do understand what a trade is."

He glanced over at Falarion, who had chimed in again. Korro wore a placid, yet slightly sinister smile:
"Pretty hypocritical, Falarion. You say humans lack survival instincts, but you keep calling me "pup"." His smile began to show teeth.

Korro's bright eyes fixed back on Roshan when he asked about fighting for himself. He snorted.
"Would it surprise you to know that I only ever fought for others?" His smile vanished, as if he was recalling something truly unpleasant. It was all he was willing to say unless prompted again.

Korro got up and circled the table to where Roshan sat. He knelt beside the man, took up the chopsticks and reached for Roshan's hand.
Despite his gruff and malevolent demeanor, Korro was surprisingly gentle as he fit the sticks properly between Roshan's fingers and closed his own over them. He moved the hand to the bowl and picked up a wad of sticky rice, so Roshan could feel how it was done, and the pressure needed.
"Pick up your bowl when you eat. Bring your food to you, you need not bow to your meals."

He sat back and watched then, with a relaxed, appraising gaze. "Consider this a trade. I teach you to eat here, and you will answer more of my questions."
Korro kept Rosha in his vision while he thought of one.
"Why were you a slave?" He asked, not judgement in his voice but genuine curiosity.

Kibaa Kibaa ShadyLady ShadyLady Arai Arai

Location: God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
Interactions: SilverFlight SilverFlight Lioness075 Lioness075

As well as he listened, it didn't seem that Korro was much closer to understanding his meaning. "Something... like that..." Roshan trailed off, fresh out of ideas. Having exhausted his rhetorical powers for the time being, he was content to move on. So, Korro was immune to fear, eh? Of course he would say that, whether it was true or not. But then, what did a powerful demon have to fear? Defeat? Humiliation? Demons who were stronger still? ...Gods? At the mention of the demons' guiding principle, his eyes narrowed. Oh, well he knew it. Thanks to the apparent practical success of the that simple creed, it was now the overarching law of Keshkartha itself. Too many humans who lacked conviction had come to accept it, be they the rulers or the ruled. What a dismal, colorless world, it was, where only brute strength was valued and those labelled "weak" had nothing to offer.

Falarion's comment spoke of deliberate obtuseness, more than anything. Roshan smirked at Korro's rejoinder, then shrugged. "Call it what you will. I've known plenty who only looked out for themselves, and they still died by the sword, as often as not. Even if they didn't, they wound up alone." Korro's next words did, indeed, surprise him. "It... would..." he murmured. Demons sometimes formed alliances out of mutual interest, but he wouldn't call that fighting for others. His expression spoke of a personal bitterness, unexplained by ties of mere convenience. Roshan frowned. Among criminals there was a code that passed for "honor" or "loyalty". That, in itself, did not make them honorable, or good, or right. Even the most blackhearted tyrants could have loved ones. Supposing he had fought for those he considered friends... or family... that wouldn't change anything, right?

A not unwelcome distraction arrived courtesy of Falarion's teasing. He wondered if it was meant to be mean-spirited, then decided it didn't matter. "Better traveled and cultured, at least," he laughed. "Don't expect too much from me. This is the furthest I've ever been from home." Rather than join the teasing, as expected, Korro came around the table to kneel down beside him. When the demon grabbed his hand, he stiffened in surprise, but relaxed, when he realized his intentions. The whole experience was very surreal. Any time he was this close to a demon, one of them was going in for the kill. It was a bit like touching a cobra that was supposedly tame. Your mind knew it was safe, but your gut sounded the warning, nonetheless. His hand was warm and felt human enough. If he didn't already know he was a demon, he wouldn't have been able to tell.

Along with the smell of the wolf pelt, which was probably what Khatiy had been referring to, there was a hint of leather and a crisp but complex scent that was wholly unfamiliar. Khatiy herself wasn't one to talk, though- she also carried a slight bestial scent. Perhaps the lion god had something to do with it. Korro arranged his fingers around the chopsticks and helped him to pick up a bite of rice before letting go. Nodding at his instruction, he examined the position of his hand, committing it to memory, and put the rice in his mouth. Then he picked up his bowl, clicked the tips of the chopsticks together a few times for practice, delighted by the sound they made, and pinched another mouthful of rice. "Hey, look at that! I'm getting the hang of it. Thanks!" The word slipped out naturally before he remembered to whom he spoke, or thought to question his motive.

As he started to devour his meal, gradually becoming more confident with his utensils, Korro revealed just that. A trade, huh? So he understood transactional relationships, if only those. It was a bit cold, but at least it was logical. Roshan could work with that. "Sounds fair," he replied. Korro asked about his time as a slave. "Oh, that?" he said between mouthfuls. Come to think of it, he had mentioned it, after... that incident. He didn't mind sharing his story, and he, too, was curious- curious as to the source of his questioner's curiosity. At least it wasn't more philosophy. "It's not too complicated. My parents died in an epidemic when I was a kid. Since they had debts to pay, and we were dirt poor- lowest caste, and all- I was sold to work in His Beneficent Majesty's silver mines. They made use of everyone there. 'For the glory of Dinah and our Lord Protector, may he ever reign'- all that nonsense. Had to hand it to them, they were very... efficient. Didn't waste any resources, including people."

Stabbing at his food a little too vigorously, as his eyes clouded, he remembered the thick darkness, the heavy air, the cramped tunnels, the stench of unwashed bodies, the jar of pickaxe against stone, the backbreaking loads, the sore muscles, the hunger, the sting of the lash. "They wouldn't kill you... if they thought they could break you." More times than he cared to recall, he'd won the singular honor of being the example for any who thought to disobey: stripped nearly naked, publicly whipped, and tied up all day in the burning sun with no food or water, unable to even brush away the biting flies. Then it was back to work, wounds and all. Even now, the scars were faintly visible on his back. Life was miserable either way, but the idea was that people would obey, if only disobedience was marginally more hellish than obedience. He'd done his work, but the overseer seemed to think he had an attitude. Maybe it would have been easier if he'd been born a slave... but Heavens forbid that he should have taken such treatment for granted.

"Anyway, that's all in the past." He shook his head and slurped up several mouthfuls of noodles, as though to chase down the bad memories. Not one to make much of his problems, he forged ahead with his tale. "It didn't last long. They hardly gave us anything to eat, but a couple buddies of mine knew how to pick pockets, and they taught me all the tricks. We got pretty good at it, but eventually we got caught. I said I'd forced them to help me, and they got off with a lighter sentence. At least, that's what I was told." To this day, he couldn't help wondering about them. It could have been a ploy to extract a confession. Still, he'd made the best decision he could with the information he had. If he'd known how everything was going to turn out, he would have taken his friends with him; but how could he have known? If they hadn't been executed, they would've been punished and sent back to the mines. Had they kept their heads down, after that? Were they still alive today? Slaves didn't usually last long.

"The magistrate offered me exile, and I took it. Maybe he had a soft spot for kids, but it wasn't exactly mercy. Dinans were taught to fear exile more than death. That's why they let the exiles out by the South gate- where the tombs are. Exiles were as good as dead to us. It was forbidden to even speak their names. They couldn't linger near the walls, either, because if they dropped dead there they would contaminate the burial grounds for the 'good' citizens." Within the first several miles of his journey, he'd seen many bleached skeletons lying as they'd fallen in the sand, their numbers thinning as he walked. "Still, I thought a day or two of freedom before I croaked was better than being spitted and left to rot on the walls. I walked for almost three days. Somehow I got lucky and ran into a merchant caravan. By then I was out of my head with thirst and fever. You know, there are a lot of times I should have died, but somehow I'm still here. It makes you believe there's such a thing as fate."

After a moment's reflection, he continued, "An old mercenary took me as his apprentice, and taught me everything he knew. I traveled with him for a while, and one thing led to another. Now I lead my own band, and we do pretty well for ourselves." An amusing thought struck him. "So, I was born a peasant, made a slave, and depending on where you are, I'm an outlaw; but in Dinah, I'm dead. Now, I might not be able to read, and I couldn't use these stick things until now, but I think I'm doing pretty well for a dead man. What do you say?" He grinned and slurped more of his noodles.
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Interactions: Lioness075 Lioness075 Mentions: Goonfire Goonfire SilverFlight SilverFlight Monday Monday Kibaa Kibaa Arai Arai

Faith in the God Queen, an equally predictable answer from the deity. His words lacked the juiciness she was craving, but they were adequate enough. She found a tethered understanding in them and in that understanding, trust. Demons and their desires. They were the unpredictable factor in this equation. From her experience, she found them to be reactionary and cataclysmic, though like she’d said to the god, the spirit had never held real hostility and antipathy to them. It was too early to jump to a rash judgment on the two gathered here, but whatever their goals were, Yue highly doubted they lay in tandem with the Queens. The golden torc and chain told her all she needed to know about that.

When the dark haired woman, Khatiy, requested they all join together at the table, Yue was more than happy to comply. She browsed the bountiful selection of food, wrinkling her nose at the heaps of meat and loading her plate with most things besides it instead. With her cup and plate full, she took a seat nearby the demon who had an interesting, almost funny, way of speaking. She’d never heard anything like it before, but before she could inquire, an introduction was required. She offered a doting smile to all the faces around the table. “It is lovely to meet all of you, truly. My name is Ying Yue.”

Ready for her meal, Yue raised her chopsticks with ease and began eating, only pausing to stifle a quiet laugh at Roshan’s attempt at using them, and once again in surprise at Korro offering his help for the payment of a story. She listened in as she ate, only turning away distracted at the sight of the blond demon spinning his chopstick with surprising finesse. “How are you doing that?” She asked, her inflection one of curiosity.

God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
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Careful hands of bronzen skin worked to unequip the large scroll and the two-handed khopesh that were strapped at Khatiy's back, gently setting the objects down on the floor next to her seat in neat parallel lines. Next was her old rucksack, which she also placed on the floor as she hungrily moved to sit herself down at the dinner table, eyes sparkling at the feast in front of her. Two of her fingers rose to finally pull back the warm hood that had until now adorned her features, revealing to all a full head of beautiful Keshkarthan braids, every last fiber of hair woven into tightly and neatly. A unique hairstyle, to be certain, as far as style goes in Keimara, at least. One that certainly denoted her southern origin.

With a chicken leg in hand, the far traveller glanced to her side, at her fellow Keshkarthan, her warm smile present as ever. "It is so nice to meet you as well, Roshan. I too am glad to learn that another from Keshkartha will keep me company. I admit, I did not expect it at all, having travelled so far. We must be the first Keshkarthans to have ever come this far!" In saying so, a Khatiy may have given a bit of a geographical clue about her place of origin. Certainly, it is likely that someone from the more northern parts of Keshkartha has done their fair bit of travelling around the realm of humans. But, Khatiy came from the most southern parts of the region, where it is likely that its inhabitants have never left that place. To Khatiy, travelling outside of Keshkartha was almost unheard of! In any case, Roshan's instinct was right on the nose-- Khatiy's mannerisms and her way of speech, they were a little peculiar. That she was socially awkward or inexperienced was obvious at first glance, but, more than that, the way she spoke sounded more educated than any average person. She sounded posh, loquacious, like the way royals and nobles speak. Nevertheless, she seemed like a positive person to have around. In kind, she admired the way Roshan seemed to be able to bring people together, her smile widening as she observed the rest of the party come to sit, eat and converse at their request. As Khatiy's hands moved to enjoy more of the food, she experienced similar struggles to those of Roshan, never having seen or used these 'chopsticks' before. Though, she'd not make much show of it, quickly resorting to eating some of the more acceptable hand-eaten foods, such as those succulent chicken legs.

Everything froze for the southerner as a certain indivdual would choose, for some unknown godly reason, to sit right next to Khatiy, of all people. Her movements became stiff, pausing, a subtle pink hue filling her bronze facial features as her usually quick eyes remained frozen, gaze fixed on the table. Why?! Why did the cute one choose to sit right next to her, of all the available seats? She'd snap out of her hesitation, glancing to the demon as it spoke. She found his eyes somewhat captivating, in a foreign way. She had never seen eyes of golden color, and what he said sent a wave of uncertainty down her spine. "A wolf, you say? Oh..! I have heard of such an animal. They live in the North, yes? I have never seen one." Admittedly, Khatiy's perception of wolves is something closer to a bear than a dog, from the tales she has heard. She felt a little fearful, envisioning Korro as some sort of werebear for a moment.

Khatiy was glad that the conversation quickly moved away from herself and towards Roshan instead, she honestly had no idea what to say to Korro. It was a little hard to stay tuned to everything that was being said, because she had great interest in what Ying Yue and Finyagur had to share, but she was also keen on listening to Roshan. As the party spoke and conversed, Khatiy remained relatively quiet, subtly tending to her food and silently having picked up on the chopstick tutorials that were offered. Khatiy had not realized Roshan was a slave, she listened to what he had to say with great interest. She had meant to ask what part of Keshkartha he was from, and yet the answer came to her from merely listening. "Oh, you are from the Old Kingdom, Roshan?" Khatiy had never been to Dinah, but it was certainly one of the most well known states in the region. One of the last, if not the very last human strongholds of Keshkartha. An ancient shard of the empire that once was. The Old Kingdom, her people call it. Its walls and towers can be seen from even the furthest desert dunes.

Khatiy's eyes turned to Korro. "The way I see it, Wolf.. Perhaps, humans and demons are not so different after all. You have said that demons are strong to rule the weak, but, in truth, many humans are the same way. Dinah-- the Old Kingdom-- is one such example. In the end, humans, and demons, we all make up the elements of nature. The strong prey on the weak, it has always been so." Though Khatiy seemed to lack an understanding of the realms that separate humans, demons, and spirits, her understanding the nature of the world seemed advanced.

Sipping gently on the broth of a bowl of soup she'd dragged to her side of the table, Khatiy glanced to Ying Yue and Finyagur. "It is so nice to meet you, Ying Yue. And you as well, Fin - ya - goor." Her eyes bounced to Falarion, unable to hold back a smile at his cool chopstick trick. "What is your name?" The smell that came from these fellow travellers was intriguing. Khatiy found herself allured to the feline aspect that Ying Yue seemed to be giving off, she couldn't but think she smelled somewhat like a house cat. Finyagur smelled like pine cones, like he'd been in the woods for so long. In contrast, the scent that Khatiy gave off was perhaps also vaguely feline like... but in a more beastial sense. Like that of a predator. A lion, perhaps?

An impressed hum transitioned to a sound like a stifled, amused chuckle. "What is adventure without a dash of boldness?" Finyagur retorted to Roshan, who proved wise beyond his years as he discussed philosophy. The deity also raised a pair of chopsticks in an attempt to honor the Eastern custom. Truth be told... he never quite mastered this technique, either.

With Korro actively engaged in such talks and trying to justify and sugarcoat his atrocities, it was only natural for Fin to be tempted to scoff at him. How comical of that demon to say he always fought for others. "Other demons," Fin snarked under his breath. He nearly spat out his food when the wolf so directly asked about the outlaw's time as a slave.

The recounting of Roshan's past caused Fin to exhale heavily, almost in a melancholy way. His eyes were fixed in a distant stare while the words flowed. Something about them hit so close to home, but he withheld any commentary on the likely painful memories until the man finished.

Khatiy was... an interesting person. She carried a certain naivety, the luxury of which few humans or even gods could afford. "Khatiy... You have never seen a wolf before?" he echoed. "Perhaps you are more familiar with jackals. Wolves are not too different, just another breed of wild dog." The hunter then stroked the white pelt he wore. "This pelt belonged to a wolf, albeit a demon wolf—larger than a lion, more akin to a bear in size. I doubt we will face one so large."

Just then, a realization struck Fin. "Korro... Since you made it so clear you are a wolf, you could show Khatiy what one looks like." He stared at his old foe expectantly. Could he even transform anymore?

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Name: O'Korro - "Wolf"
Location: Keimara village, Eastern mountains
Time: Evening on the day of the Journey's beginning

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Korro watched Roshan eat with something of a pleased expression. Then, he listened to the man speak without interruption.

Unbeknownst to him, his expressions as the story was told betrayed all of his emotions; They were subtle to be sure, but when Roshan spoke of his ruthless masters, the lines on Korro's face became hard. When he spoke of friends, there was the hint of a smile, and when he spoke of self sacrifice, Korro's emotion shifted again...to one of understanding.
When Roshan had finished, Korro was quiet for a long while.
"I say the place where you were born sounds much like a home of demons." He said softly. "But if you were a demon, your strength would have served you better."

There was something in Korro's tone. It had less of an edge than it had before, and he sat with more ease and less tension. Korro was enjoying himself.

The winter demon turned when Khatiy spoke, and he could not hide the look of surprise at her words. "Many are the same." He agreed, happy there was one human willing to voice his own thought. "What about you?" Korro asked with genuine curiosity, the sharpness to his voice had gone, and without the edge it was quiet and gentle. "Where are you from? Why are you here?"

And then there was Fin. Boorish and simple. Korro endured his barbs for the sake of the story he had asked for, but his patience was fast running out with the hulking buffoon.
"Still your tongue Godling!" And just like that, all his venom, all his anger and the dangerous temper had returned. Korro's words were fanged and furious: "You laud yourself for clean hands even while you flaunt your violence. You prattle on now only because I am chained and weak, but a hundred years you cowered from your king while I grew stronger and your people suffered."

Korro practically growled, becoming wolf in all but form. "I am speaking with the human now, chattering squirrels should stay in their trees. Or better yet, take yourself out of this house, as your presence offends every sense I have left."

Whatever Fin decided to do, Korro turned from him, back to Khatiy and her answers, because he believed it was improper to ask something and not stand to receive it. "You may continue, human. You have my ears."

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Koralia Stormcaller
Goddess Temple
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As the Goddess seemed to depart and leave them to their own devices with her patron, Koralia became uneasy at the loss of what she saw as their only certain protection from the demons in the room. She was unable to dwell on it long however as the dark skinned woman entered her vision.

"Will you join me at the dinner table? I do not know how to explain it, but.. I think.. I think I know where we must go. In any case, we would do well to appreciate the shelter and resources our God Queen has offered us tonight, and prepare for the journey ahead. I think we should all sit down, and discuss, yes? Perhaps, it would be nice to get to know one another?"

Koralia nodded as the 3 humans begin to gravtiate to seats near each other. "It's not a pull, it's more like a subtle attraction, a want to go there," She admitted herself, kneeling at her spot at the table. It was certainly more subtle, but Koralia spotted a Keshkarthan accent when she heard one. The Stormcallers had travelled to the desert on more than one occasion. She was dressed in similar finery to Roshan, though seemed to carry it slightly more humbly than he. Her blade looked large and valuble, and she carried more items than Koralia did. She also carried herself with a decorum and nobility that made Koralia feel like a grubby urchin. Following her lead, Koralia removed her knife belt and coat, showing several pouches hastily sewn into it's interior, another odd against her companions. Khatiy also seemed mistrustful of the demons, which was nice, and she seemed to keep making cursory glances as their supposed allies took their own seats. The tables were quickly filled with chatter and food, as several other spirits and demons took seats at the tables.

The food available was nice enough, and Koralia filled her plate with rice and rich meats, far from the fish and berries she was used to. It was tough to remember the last time she ate this well, and she did her best to savour every bite as her companions talked over her head. Occasionaly she watched with some delight as the eagle, Kian it seemed, swooped and dived after food in Roshan's hand. She'd also quietly given up on the steadyness of the chopsticks in favor of spearing the food with 1 chopstick and picking it apart with the other.

"I'm Roshan, in case anyone didn't hear,"

"I'm Koralia," the woman declared in response, mostly for the benefit of those she hadn't already overheard the names of.

"It is so nice to meet you as well, Roshan. I too am glad to learn that another from Keshkartha will keep me company. I admit, I did not expect it at all, having travelled so far. We must be the first Keshkarthans to have ever come this far!"

"Certainly the first I've seen this far out," Koralia added helpfully. "I've only been into the dunes as child, and never too deep from the Western edges," she admitted.

As Roshan struggled, it filled her with some minor delight to see someone else who couldn't use the tools. She vaguley heard Korro's inquiry about a home, and decided to stay quiet for now, electing to allow another to answer first. To her relief, Roshan took the bait. Less to her relief, it was to invite the demons to come sit with them. She felt her body tense up involuntarily, as the other human tried to convince the killers to break bread with their forced valuble cargo. The thought twisted her stomach like a knife. Was that all they were for these demons? Cargo to be protected until a job was done?

Korro was the first to sit down, and it was the first time Koralia understood what he meant by wolf. The man didn't smell of wolf to her per say, but there was the unmistakeable odor of the outdoors, mountains springs and grass and snow and all the things the wild spaces off the path gift to those who trespass there. His voice still dripped with malice, like he was playing with food, and it didn't help her tense shoulders. She unclenched a fist she didn't know she was holding. She noted the approach of the other latecomers, a tall beastly man whose arms were as big as Koralia's head, and a a slender pale woman, whose beatuy disguised some unatural and soft motions.

“It is lovely to meet all of you, truly. My name is Ying Yue.”

She was even stranger up close, moving with unprecidented grace that made Koralia want to sit up and act like a proper lady, like she had seen in the bigger cities. Between the two other women, Koralia felt uncivilised, savage even. She felt her cheeks flush, and directed her attention back to the other man.

The man introduced himself as Finyagur, dropping himself down next to her, and she couldn't help but look him up and down. He carried an air of arrogance, but more outlandish than Korro's, less threatening and more admiring. He was...a specimen, to be sure, and didn't seem to be a demon, but still carried an unaturality to him. Despite her body telling her he was a threat, his smell reminded her of home as well. She wondered what she smelt like. "Finyagur," She started. "A northman then?" She asked. "I've known a few northman, from the Shrieking Mountains? Are you..." she trailed off as Korro seemed to make another jibe at Roshan and herself, again inquiring about their actions at the tower. Roshan offerred him another answer, which basically bottled down to the mathematical logic of helping and being kind to others. She had only done it because she was trying to prove herself useful.

The conversation flitted back and forth between Roshan, Korro and Falarion's occasioanl jibe, but it frustrated her still how their compatriot was acting. Korro was eyeing Roshan's weaknesses, poking and prodding and preying for an opening to exploit, and she silently begged him not to rise to his hunger comment, knowning that his answer applied to herself as well. She quickly moved them into 1 hand and fiddled with her bowl, a chunk of some root vegetable escaping her two pronged grasp.

"Uh, I don't know how to use those things."

"Pick up your bowl when you eat. Bring your food to you, you need not bow to your meals."

When Korro reached over, the tenseness returned, and Koralia phsyically moved back, trying to play it off as giving Korro more space to assist. She watched carefully as he adjusted the chopsticks in the human's hand, before moving away once Roshan had the hang of it. She dropped her second chopstick and went back to stabbing with it instead. How was he so comfrtoable with all of this? Falrion and Korro were practically beasts, a little bite here and there, seeing what they could get away with? And she pitied Roshan for not seeing it, or seeing it and not caring.

She grew solemn as Roshan spoke of the mines. "I'd heard the mine conditions were bad," She offerred, spearing a particularly tricky piece of brocolli. "But never that they were using slaves to run it," she admitted, popping the piece in her mouth.

"They wouldn't kill you... if they thought they could break you." A shiver ran down her spine. But he only seemed to dwell on it for a second, before explaining the rest of his stories. For one so young, Roshan had done plenty. He ended his story with a noodle slurp, sending soup splashing in all directions. Korro seemed...satisfied...with the answer, but still added a remark that being a demon would've been better. Well obviously yes, but Roshan was a human.

"A wolf, you say? Oh..! I have heard of such an animal. They live in the North, yes? I have never seen one."

"Perhaps you are more familiar with jackals. Wolves are not too different, just another breed of wild dog."

Koralia nodded in agreement. "They're more fluffy than jackals, and usually grey with patches of white," but paused as the Northman continued, then fired back a comment at Korro. Koralia was secretly thrilled that someone was challenging the challenger. And from Korro's outburst, he seemed to strike a chord, though Koralia was surprised when Korro referred to Fin as a Godling. A demigod perhaps?

"I am speaking with the human now, chattering squirrels should stay in their trees. Or better yet, take yourself out of this house, as your presence offends every sense I have left."

"This isn't even your..." she started, but Korro had already moved on and turned his conversation elsewhere. Koralia trembled with fear, or anger, she wasn't sure which. It was when Korro gave Khatiy permission to continue speaking, as if he lorded any power over her without speaking her name, that Koralia stood up surprising herself more than anyone. "She has a name!" She said, a little more sternly than she'd meant to as she stared into Korro's eyes. They were the same colour as the gold in the temple. "Khatiy has a name, and she's already said it, and you...I need some air," she finished, confidence abandoning her as rage faded into embarrasment. She made her way toward the door, stepping out into the moonlight, and took a few deep breaths. The air was cool, and she welcomed the absence of her coat.

It was no secret, especially not to Koralia, that Fin was a Northern entity. He cocked an eyebrow, interested in what she had to say. He would have to follow up with her later, to speak one-on-one and address all her questions. He nodded in agreement with her further description of wolves.

Initially, Fin seemed calm when his own jabs were met with venom. However, one well-placed blow broke the god's composure: "... but a hundred years you cowered from your king while I grew stronger and your people suffered."

Every muscle visibly tensed, veins bulging, teeth gritting, eyes wild. He shot up from his seat as though he was spring-loaded. "COWERED!?" the hunter thundered in response before Korro could even finish his sentence. "YOU CAUSED THEIR SUFFERING!" And then, the most disgusting dismissal reached his ears. The chopsticks snapped between his fingers. In chorus with Koralia, he sputtered out, "T-This isn’t even your...!" Too late. He was cut off, but the Stormcaller's continued protests to his high-and-mighty attitude brought him some comfort. Fetching a bottle of rice wine, he turned his attention from the demon so he could enjoy a stiff drink... directly from the bottle.

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Poison in the form of bitter, spiteful words disrupted whatever peace the group had found in the night, shattering it into pieces in which everyone’s reactions fragment differently, leaving a splintered mess of emotions at the table. Her easy smile dropped, her prim face adopted a sternness unbefitting of her delicate features, and her ruby jeweled pits of eyes bored holes into the offender's heads. “I know not of the history the two of you have, but please, show some restraint and respect, if not for each other, then at least for the rest of us.” Yue scolded, not raising her voice to a shout, but certainly casting away its softness to become something more firm.

Their impertinence was amusing in concept, but in action, it was unsettling the humans and was beginning to make her curiosity in their intertwined story wane as more words were spat out between the demon and god. Less excusable than their argument was the way Korro addressed the humans, not by the names of which she was certain he knew, but purely by what they were as if they were no more than any other animal to him. Gratitude had bloomed within her chest when Koralia spoke up to rebuke the wolf demon for his belittling word choice, but as soon as her outburst came, the woman left, leaving the spirit to wonder whether in time she should chase a storm.

Whatever interest she’d held in the silly demon’s chopstick antics had vanished in the stilted air, forgotten in the breadth of her shifting attention. Her half eaten food was left on the table as she pushed her chair out to stand, moving to grace the side of Finyagur. The spirit wore no expression, her face a negative space. Looking up at Fin and his ridiculous tree-like frame as he drank, Yue had half the mind to pull the bottle out of his hands, but instead opted to whisper in admonishment, “for a god, I expected better self-discipline. If you think antagonizing each other is going to achieve anything you’re both fools.”

Fin was met with Yue’s hard stare for a few seconds until the intensity in her almost unsettling gaze cracked, easing into one of sympathy and the beginnings of a new, gentle smile dawned on her face. “Do not think me singling you out is me excusing whatever he has said now and done in the past. I am not dismissing your grievances. No, I simply expect you to be the one to see reason.” She gave Fin’s tense arm a light squeeze, the best form of comfort she could offer to him, her eyes flickering once more to his drink before she sighed, pouring herself a small glass of the rice wine and sipping it.


Location: God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
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Overall, Roshan was pleased that his companions seemed to be getting along. With everyone sitting at the same table, eating and conversing together, it was beginning to feel a bit like home. Finyagur responded to his raillery in kind, earning a smile and a "Quite right." The spirit introduced herself as Yue, and took an interest in Falarion's chopstick trick, which Roshan supposed was his way of showing off for the benefit of those less proficient with their utensils. Even the native was impressed. Koralia interjected now and then, hinting at a seasoned traveler's knowledge, while Khatiy's comments suggested that she was from the deep south of Keshkartha, especially her remark on wolves. Wolves were a menace to the shepherds of the plains. Traders often ventured north, but how far north, he couldn't claim to know. Certainly not this far. Perhaps they were, as she said, the first southern sojourners to grace these mountains. "You might be right," he replied.

"I don't know about other places, but slavery is commonplace in Keshkartha," he said to Koralia, after recounting his childhood. If anything, it had been a pleasant surprise to see so little of it during his journey north. Khatiy recognized his birthplace by name and reputation. Roshan was no historian, but he knew the broad strokes, plus particular trivia gleaned from his adventurers. "The Old Kingdom? That's what they say, anyway." How much of Dinah's proud history was merely propaganda was anyone's guess. Meanwhile, Korro was absorbed in his tale with what seemed like genuine empathy, frowning or smiling at all the right places. He even seemed less cagey and tense than before. Roshan wasn't sure whether to feel disconcerted or pleased. What he supposed was meant to be a sort of compliment from the demon confused him still more. Was Korro suggesting that, as a demon, he could have seized power and respect for himself? True enough, strength of spirit was not wanted in a slave. But he felt he had made the best use of his strength in surviving and protecting those he loved. "Is that so...?"

Then Khatiy spoke up, voicing thoughts he found somewhat disturbing, coming from a human champion. Having finished his food, he set down his bowl and opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it, and shook his head. Now, when everyone was getting along, was not the time to raise contention. Besides, he had already made his own beliefs clear. Unexpected as her views were, she was very matter-of-fact, and did not seem the least bit cruel or power-hungry. Yet, if she had ever once felt powerless, if she had suffered as he had, would she have been able to say those things? Would she have accepted her lot as a matter of course? For his part, his experiences had both taught him that it was possible to change his fate and inspired him with compassion for the oppressed and downtrodden. Nature, in all her caprice, had still proved a kinder mistress than the world of men and demons and their devices.

That Korro seemed to think they were in agreement was no comfort. Come to think of it, Khatiy hadn't displayed any apprehensions about working with demons. Hmm. A seemingly innocuous discussion unfolded as Koralia and Finyagur tried to describe wolves to Khatiy, but took a nasty turn when the god asked his rival to transform for her benefit- a clear provocation. Roshan had been pouring himself a cup of what he'd seen Finyagur drinking, assuming it was some kind of alcohol. Now he set the bottle down slowly and turned to face Korro, dread knotting the pit of his stomach. As expected, the demon gave vent to his fury, his voice dangerously low and guttural. Instinctively, Roshan leaned away. Finyagur roared his retort before cutting off, as Koralia got partway through an objection to what she perceived as Korro's disrespect toward Khatiy, then, overwhelmed, left the temple.

Disturbed by the tension, Kian flew away from the table, finding a perch at the top of one of the pillars. Yue unexpectedly broke the silence, rebuking the belligerents in a manner that was somehow stern while losing none of its demure dignity. It was a relief to have another peacemaker among them. Since this would surely not be the last such incident, he hoped to rely on her in the future. As the leader of a diverse group of social misfits, this situation was not unfamiliar to him. "I agree," he added softly. "None of us have anything to gain by arguing. We all have our reasons, but we share the same goal. Humans, gods, demons... we each have our own perspectives and our own pride. Understanding might be too much to ask for, but if we can't at least respect each other, this trip is going to be miserable." So saying, he lapsed into silence, surveying the damage.

Finyagur had withdrawn, while Yue exchanged private words with him; Koralia had stormed off, and an awkward silence had fallen over the rest. He sighed. Was this his fault, for trying to bring them all together? Well, even if it was, it would have happened sooner or later. It was just a shame that things had begun on a sour note. He felt he should say something, but what was there to say? Now that things had become irreparably awkward, it was probably better to try again in the morning, when tempers had cooled. Seeing the northern god drink straight from the bottle, he lost interest in his own cup, pushing it aside to rest his head in his arms on the tabletop. Drinking was meant to be enjoyed with friends in high spirits. If he drank now, he would only feel lonely.

Turbulent thoughts swirled around in his mind, pricking and stinging like grains in a sandstorm. A demon's pride, and a god's righteous anger. He understood both. Truth be told, Finyagur's outburst had reminded him of a fact he'd come far too close to forgetting- that Korro was responsible for countless atrocities. As benign as he might seem at times, a demon was a demon. And yet, after their conversation, Roshan could not dismiss him as a mere beast. For better or worse, he had always been open and interested in people of all kinds, even and especially those who disagreed with him. On those occasions when a demon had deigned to exchange words with him as well as blows, he'd been happy to engage, even though it was usually the trick of a predator toying with prey. He wanted to understand. He killed because he had to. Hatred did not come easily, even toward those who deserved it. If anything, he pitied those unknowingly enslaved to a lesser way of life.

Thanks to his infernal curiosity, a haunting suspicion was gnawing at him, one which he hardly dared name. However, only a coward would shrink from the facts. Humans and demons could act the same. That was simple enough to acknowledge. When a human acted like a demon, he was abasing his nature; a demon acting the same way would fulfill it. But what if it was more a matter of belief than nature? Korro seemed to think that if Finyagur couldn't defend his people, he had a right to trample them. As appalling as that was, it was consistent. Korro's actions were based on principle. If demons, like humans, acted according to their beliefs, and beliefs could change... Was it possible that demons acted the way they did not because they weren't capable of anything else, but because they hadn't been taught any better?

It was a radical supposition. Equally radical were the implications. Still, even assuming something like change was possible, it wouldn't erase the past. Some sins could never be forgiven. What about all of his friends who had lost someone to the demons, or been killed themselves? If, somehow, he himself came to feel less strongly toward those who had wronged them, wouldn't that be a betrayal? It wasn't a betrayal of their interests, exactly; but it was a betrayal of their feelings. Agh! This is too much. Feeling a headache coming on, Roshan scrunched his eyes shut, sat up, and rubbed his temples. When he opened his eyes again, they fell on Korro. Of course. If he was going to face the facts head on, he needed to hear both sides of the story. Nothing needed to be decided right this minute. Later, he would ask Finyagur about Korro's past, when he could do it in private without inflaming tensions further.

For now, he supposed he could begin by modeling the respect he'd advocated. Struggling to find the right words, he began hesitantly. "Korro... Look. I don't doubt that you've done many things that I would consider evil. I can't ever condone that, or ignore what you are. Still, I can recognize that you live according to your beliefs, and that they're as sincere as mine. That, I can respect. There's a certain honor in it." To his mind, this was akin to the courtesy he'd offer a worthy opponent. "On top of that, you're really trying to understand me, even though you have no obligation to do so. It would be easy to dismiss me as a human. So... I'm going to try to understand you, too, even if I can't agree. I think I owe you that much, at least."

Having said his piece, and finished his meal, there was not much left for him to do. Sometime he would think of questions to ask Korro, but he'd done more than enough thinking for one day. After waiting a few moments in case Korro or anyone else wanted to address him, he stretched, leaned back on his hands, and said, to no one in particular, "I think I'll have my bath now."

Name: O'Korro - "Wolf"
Location: Keimara village, Eastern mountains
Time: Evening on the day of the Journey's beginning

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Korro had to admit, he was pleased when Fin lost his temper. It felt as if he had won something, though he wasn't quite sure what, but when he turned to look at the others he saw something that he did not intend:
The mood had turned sour. He had bared his fangs at one, but the others had been touched by it too. The spirit called Yue stood and Korro watched her, trying to sort his feelings out before she spoke.
The admonishment, though he could see it coming still surprised him. Korro looked away, he seemed almost...cowed. His cool arrogance had evaporated, and instead his face held an irritable contemplation, perhaps even a hint of regret.

Roshan's voice snapped him out of his thoughts and he listened without interruption. Once Roshan fell silent, Korro thought for a long time.
When he spoke it was calm, but the authority of a general was still laced through his words. "I have never denied what I am. I do not require your forgiveness, as for my beliefs...ha,"
Korro seemed ruefully amused at the thought.
"Perhaps that is better left for another time. You have reason, and...if you are willing to make the gesture, then I would be less if I did not match it...Roshan."

It was the first time he had used the name. It felt odd, calling a human by their name, but the feeling of the cold metal on his neck reminded him, that there were worse things about this journey.
"I...did not intend to upset." Korro said at length, and that was about as close to an apology as he was willing to go.

In the corner of his eye Korro could see the acolytes of the temple begin to clear away the empty trays and dishes, and bring in bedding for them to sleep.
He supposed, since the god queen had said they would be safe, he could afford to leave them alone for a moment.

Roshan voiced his thought, a bath. Korro had not had once since, well, he preferred not to think about it.
"I wish to bathe." Korro said too. "I will wait, if you are adverse to sharing the space with a demon."

Saying that, Korro went to step outside.
He had not forgotten the human that had stormed out, and before he would go seek a bath, he sought her.
He found her easily enough, and approached quietly, though not so quiet that she would not hear him.
"Koralia." He said gently. "That is your name. I will try to use it, as I will use the others as well." Korro did not take kindly to her quick and prejudiced judgement, however it wasn't exactly unfounded, and Roshan had been right: it would be easier for them all to stay alive if they had some vague form of alliance.
"You do not have to enjoy my company, or accept what I am, but, know that when I say I will protect you on this journey, there is no other truth."

With that, he padded away, barely making a sound on the cold stone.


The small bathhouse was on the temple grounds, and impressed Korro with its innovative wonder: The building was made of stone and clay, two large rooms set apart by a central cavity that contained a layered fire place. Bamboo, dried and halved served to capture water from a mountain stream at the back, running it through little tunnels in the clay walls of the fire place, warming it before it was poured on each side into the baths. There was a secondary route for unheated water, and the spots were controlled by wooden valve taps at the bath's edge. The floor was made of slatted wood, and the sharp but pleasant smell of cedar permeated the entire place. On the shelves there were bars of fresh soap, and scented oils. Fresh sky-blue robes had been set out on either side, those made for women on one, men on the other.

Korro let out a small sigh. Luxury like this had been sorely missed. He could survive well-enough in the forests, but nothing replaced the pure pleasure of hot water and soap.

Washed and clean Korro felt as though the anger had been scrubbed away as well. He wrapped himself in one of the plush robes, his hair down in dark ribbons behind his shoulders. His clothes, he washed himself, and set them to dry against the clay walls of the fireplace.

Once he had returned, the bedding had already been set out. Goose down futons with cloud-like comforters, covered in sheep skins to protect against the chill mountain air. The scent of lanolin hung heavy on them, and the scent of feathers and clean cotton drifted in between. All the comforts he had been yearning for. Perhaps this was a little taste of the god queen's famed mercy, because he counted the beds and there were enough for the demons too.

Even Fin could not ruin this.

When he chose a bed he nearly vanished into it. The fabric so fine, the cotton felt like silk under his fingers. Korro could not resist: after three months of crawling through the wilds this was the first decent bed he'd seen since being bound. Korro rolled around several times in sheer, innocent joy, wrapping himself up as tightly as he could in the comforter before giving a long, delighted sigh and laying back with his arms behind his head. Even the band around his neck seemed less of a burden. For the first time since arriving, Korro's smile was genuine.

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As the situation faded into uncomfortable silence, Fin realized there was no catharsis to be had in seeing his adversary chained and drained. His poignant snark had kicked off a chain reaction... although, did he even have to open his mouth to infuriate the demon? Their actions over 100 years ago had spoken louder than any words.

Yue had reprimanded the two warring parties, her tone surprisingly firm. The deity had to make a conscious effort to not raise his head and reveal the wide-eyed expression obscured by the shadows of his giant wolf hood. He recovered and stared past the others. His pride had definitely suffered a painful blow, though the wise Eastern spirit surely knew he would recover from it. The simple, gentle squeeze told him she cared. Fin finally turned to her, staring into her eyes with a hint of remorse. He did not apologize, but the heavy sigh following both Yue's and Roshan's rhetoric would have to do.

Fin finished off his mijiu, the light, hollow thud of the bottle meeting the table punctuating the act. Korro had already dismissed himself and was gone for a few minutes. Fin wished to check on a pilgrim who had strayed from the group. "I need a moment," he grumbled aloud before rising. The hunter moved to track Koralia. Not forgetting his spear, he reached towards it. A black coloration washed over the weapon as its shaft shortened. Black, feathery wings burst from it, the body reshaping until its form resembled a large raven, or perhaps a crow. It flew to him and perched on his wrist, which he flicked. The bird tumbled off towards his fingers, rapidly reshaping back into the spear he loved. Following that small display, he took his short leave.

Much like Korro, Fin's footfalls were nigh inaudible. The only indications someone approached were the shadow and the vibrations across the floor. "Are you alright?" he asked the Stormcaller when he finally found her. "It will be a process to settle my differences with that demon. I was... surprised to see him here. Never pleasant when the face of one's old enemy is the first familiar face one sees here after a hundred years." Clearing his throat to bridge a change of topic, he continued their previous conversation. "You had a question back at the table, yes?"

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God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening

Khatiy had found the comparison to a jackal quite comedic. For all of the boasting that was taking place, she had hardly imagined Korro to be anything like a jackal, for Khatiy thought them to be a weaker sort of animal. Were wolves really that unintimidating?

From one moment to the next, Khatiy fell dreadfully silent, like a child who had been scolded. She quickly found that perhaps a jackal was not an accurate comparison, finding herself silenced in intimidation by Korro's outburst, glancing quietly down at her food. She remained silent for the entirety of the commotion, not wishing to draw any more attention to herself.

When all of the food had been finished, Khatiy also made her way into the bathhouse, where she washed herself after such a long journey. On returning, she chose a bed, and was glad to see that these fixings seemed similar to the ones back home. They smelled pleasant, and felt incredibly comfortable. She placed all of her belongings right next to her chosen bed, almost paranoically close, leveling her large sword right across the edge of her bed. As she made herself comfortable, she'd pull from her rucksack what looked to be a papyrus scroll, much smaller than the large summoning scroll she'd walked in. The Usaaman unfurled it, holding a candle closely to illuminate as she read quietly. Any who were close enough could see that the scroll was a beastiary-- the equivalent of a dictionary, but for animals and wildlife. It seemed incomplete, as Khatiy held her candle over the 'W', section, perhaps looking for information on wolves. This being a souther beastiary, there didn't seem to be much information at all. No illustration, vague details. "Hmmmrh.. I wonder if wolves are anything like the savannah hounds back home?" The Usaaman thought to herself.
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Name: FalarionRace: Demon
Location: Keimara Village, templeCurrent Form: Male human

As the conversation flowed and everyone gathered finally, Falarion felt content to just eat and swivel his head back and forth to try and keep up with who was speaking. Arguments were had, someone complimented his ability to spin chopsticks on his hand, and the topic of slaves was revisited. He was struggling so much to keep up with the overall conversation that Falarion failed to remember he should respond when spoken to, leaving Ying Yue hanging unintentionally.
It was clear to Falarion that Korro and Fin were not good friends and were perhaps even enemies to some degree. He munched on some more food while he contemplated how best he could stoke those coals between the pair without getting himself burnt along the way. He could always fall back on some good 'ole pranks to instigate things. Let everyone make assumptions of their own and go from there.

Just as Falarion was considering how he could kidnap a wild bird and let it loose in the baths while Korro and Fin were both present, the group began to disperse. He sighed and stood up as well, stretching and letting out a low yawn that sounded suspiciously like a lion yawning, not a human.
Scratching the back of his neck, Falarion took a quick whiff of his own armpit and made a face when he realized he smelled like he normally did. Which was not good. Sure, he was used to it and had cared little before, but now he was traveling with others and the last thing he needed was to be forced to bathe against his own will. No, he would just begrudgingly do it himself.

Sticking to himself in the baths, Falarion undressed and tossed his dirty clothes into a pile on the floor. He gingerly stepped into the warm waters of the bath and while his tail flicked about in annoyance, he did find himself simultaneously relaxing. If baths were always warm like this, then maybe the were not as bad he believed them to be. His muscles finally felt loose and he let out an audible sigh while partially submerged, resulting in a few bubbles popping up around his face. He nearly fell asleep in the warm waters before he remembered where he was and hastily took to actually cleaning himself.

Once out of the warm waters, Falarion was almost immediately shivering and hurried to dry off before finding his own robes to wear. He sighed when he saw his tail moving the end of the robe this way and that, though. He had a feeling a blatant disregard for his own indecency may not end well with his current companions. So, he took off the robe and tore a small hole in the back of it for his tail. When he put the robe back on and stuck his tail through its little hole, he sighed contently and finally moseyed his way on out and to where they could rest.

He arrived just in time to witness Korro getting comfortable in his own bed and snickered at the sight. He felt an urge to tease him, but upon hearing his happy sigh, he decided to let the wolf demon be for the night.
Selecting a bed near Korro, Falarion cautiously circled it before pulling back the covers and sliding himself underneath. As he copied Korro's burrito behavior, Falarion found himself almost immediately purring softly, as he snuggled further underneath the covers until only his tail was visibly flicking about from the end of his bed.

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Koralia Stormcaller
Goddess Temple
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As far as views went, the one from the top of the temple wasn't bad. Koralia could see the now blackened remains of the tower in the square below, the narrow streets stretching and bridging across the valley, leading back to that narrow mountain path that she had walked. She sighed, her breathe visible in the moonlight. It may as well have been years ago. "What the hell have you got yourself into Koralia," she muttered, before hearing the tell tale sound of footsteps, someone trying their best to not disturb her. She turned to see who was meeting her out here, than quickly changed her expression when Korro walked up behind her, turning away to look back at the view.

"Koralia," he started, and she bristled as he spoke. Her name sounded wrong in his mouth, like it had been tainted. "That is your name. I will try to use it, as I will use the others as well.". She turned to face him, somewhat surprised at his words and reactions. She opened her mouth to speak, but found no words came to mind, and he spoke again.

"You do not have to enjoy my company, or accept what I am, but, know that when I say I will protect you on this journey, there is no other truth."

He turned to walk away, and Koralia moved to stop him. She had so much to say, so much so many didn't have the chance to say to him, so much he deserved to hear. In the end, she decided against berating him, there was a long journey ahead, one that didn't need making more difficult by squabbling. "If you act like a monster, I'll treat you like a monster," she announced, glaring at him. "If you act like an ally, we'll see," she called with a nod. Satisified, he went back inside, leaving her alone with her thoughts once more.

Her peace wasn't long lasting though, as a second figure approached, the steps slightly heavier than the previous visitors, and Koralia turned, silently hoping it was one of the other humans, but no such luck. Still, Finyagur was the closest non-mortal being that she felt she knew something about, so was happy enough to speak to him.

"Are you alright?"

"I feel a little stupid, but I'm fine," She admitted. "It was a childish outburst, and I'm sorry if it affected the mood in there,"

"It will be a process to settle my differences with that demon. I was... surprised to see him here. Never pleasant when the face of one's old enemy is the first familiar face one sees here after a hundred years."

Koralia raised an eyebrow. So Finyagur and Korro did have a history, and a long lasting one at that. And if Fin was over a hundred years old, then it was a feud that had clearly gone on for some time. As he tried to strike up a conversation to continue from dinner, she cut him off. "Sorry Finyagur, but I'm a little tired, maybe we can pick this up on the road tommorow?" She tried, shrugging with a smile. Truth be told she just wanted to sit alone for a little longer and enjoy the quiet.

Some time after Fin would leave, and she grew bored with the view, Koralia made her way back inside towards the bathhouse. As someone more used to lakes and streams and, in a pinch, a fresh field of flowers, the baths were incredibly lavish. She waited until after msot of her companions were asleep, lying in the warm waters for some time. The marble carving and the golden trim even continued in here, and Koralia was quietly irritated at the amount of material value in the building when compared to some places she had seen on her travels. Body and Soul feeling cleaner than they had in a while, the Stormchaser made her way into a bedroom, sat back against the sheets, and allowed sleep to take her.

"I see it not as childish or stupid," Fin replied when Koralia made the self-deprecating remark. He slid back the hood, revealing his own white mane. Now that it wasn't shrouded in shadow, his face seemed gentler, the look in his eyes still remorseful. "The mood had soured well before that. You simply stepped away from the conflict—a wise choice, to not contribute to infighting." He was glad she and the other humans weren't so confrontational and hot-headed, lest this pilgrimage truly be an ill-fated fool's errand.

With a slow, accepting nod, Fin backed up towards the balcony door. "We can. No doubt, your march here was exhausting. Rest well, good pilgri—er, Koralia." He had quickly corrected himself because she seemed to prefer first names. His tone was almost fatherly, yet a faint stuffy quality showed in the way he addressed his new acquaintance. Perhaps the latter would go away over time.

Instead of receding back into the temple, Fin vaulted over the railing and climbed onto the roof. A bath could wait until later; he instead chose to gaze at the stars, something he had done many nights in the human realm. "Mighty God Queen, what will happen once these humans fulfill their duties?" he muttered, knowing there wouldn't be an answer. The only company he had now was... "Roul," he called gently. He held his hand out, and a patch of fog appeared before him. A canine creature's ghostly form stepped out of it, approaching. It soon stretched out at his side, looking up at him, and he placed a hand upon its quasireal head. "The great hunt resumes, my friend."

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Location: God Queen's Temple, Keimara Village
Time: Evening
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Ambivalent as it was, Roshan found Korro's reply to be satisfactory, for the moment. It was probably the best he could expect. At the sound of his own name, he visibly brightened, his serious mood evaporating. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard to get along, after all. "Hey, I'll take it." His acknowledgement of the effect of his harsh words was also a good sign. "Uh... sure," he replied when Korro offered to let him use the bath first, remembering that bathing in large groups was not necessarily the norm everywhere. That's where Koralia went, he thought as he watched him leave. For a moment, he was tempted to eavesdrop, but not only would that be rude, it would also be awkward if he was caught. He could ask Koralia about it later.

Summoning Kian to his shoulder with a whistle, he grabbed his spear from where he'd left it leaning against the wall, not wanting to relax his habit of keeping it in sight, even if it was perfectly safe here; and headed to the bath house. That little building was a wonder unto itself. Roshan could safely say he'd never seen anything like it before. He spent a few minutes exploring, taking note of details for the folks back home before getting into the bath. Even then, he spent enough time just playing around with the water and soap that when he remembered what he was supposed to be doing, he had to rush through it. All the while, he sang a very silly song about a hero who defeated a series of increasingly bizarre river monsters that liked to prey on bathing beauties, and earned himself a harem in the process.

Among the Brotherhood, there were songs for almost every activity, including baths. Usually the men would stand guard while the women bathed, and vice versa, while the two groups would call and respond with the verses. Roshan's song was interrupted when, in his haste, he let soap run into his eyes, then fumbled for the tap with his eyes scrunched shut and accidentally splashed his face with hot water instead of cold. Somehow, he survived. "Don't look at me like that," he said, blinking water out of his eyes, to Kian, who was preening on the edge of the tub with a superior attitude. "This is a lot harder than it looks. You don't even need soap!" After his bath, he donned one of the blue robes, wrapped a towel around his wet hair, washed his clothes, and left them to dry by the fireplace.

Back in the main building, he let Kian fly toward the ceiling to find somewhere to roost, leaned his spear against the wall, and lined up his dagger and other personal effects next to one of the beds. Then he stood back, arms akimbo, wondering how best to savor this rare, luxurious experience. After a moment's deliberation, he spread his arms wide and fell face-first into the futon, the comforter smothering his boyish laugh. He breathed deeply of the sheepskin smell that reminded him of home. Turning over onto his back, he folded his arms behind his head and watched the acolytes bustle about their tasks while his companions went to or from the bath house, at intervals. At home, he would be making the rounds about this time, making sure everyone was settled, encouraging the watchmen, and seeing to it that the young ones were actually going to sleep.

I hope they're doing well. Hakim surely had things well in hand, and he had Suraya and the others to help. They'd be alright for a few months. He only wondered if they missed him as much as he missed them. But now was not the time to be homesick, when the quest had hardly begun. It was for their sakes that he was doing this, after all. By the time Korro came back from his bath, Roshan was able to smirk at his antics, not dissimilar to his own several minutes before, from a position of relative dignity, lounging on his side with all the languid grace of a sultan on a divan, resting his head in his hand. "Nice, huh?" He even looked the part, still wearing his jewelry with the bath robe, towel wrapped around his head like a turban. Almost immediately, the image was shattered as the towel came unwound on its own and he tossed it aside in annoyance, shaking out his hair before flopping onto his back again.

"I could definitely get used to this..." he said, raising his hand to peer at the arches overhead through his fingers, "But there is something to be said for sleeping under the stars, too. In the Keshkarthan desert, you can see so many stars at night... so, so many... And it feels like you can almost reach out and touch them." Sometimes he would pretend to bridge the spaces between the stars with the span of his hand. Seeing everyone else make themselves comfortable, he wriggled under his covers with a contented sigh. Falling asleep all alone was the one thing he could never get used to, and had been the hardest part of his journey north. At least he'd had Kian. This is nice. The walls and ceiling overhead, the golden light, the warmth, the coziness, the companionship... all of these things stirred a feeling he couldn't quite name.

He didn't think so much as watch as images drifted aimlessly before his minds' eye. Another roof, crooked and untidily thatched. Cracked mud brick walls. An oil lamp flickering on the windowsill, its light gleaming on the tarnished vases and teacups and embroidery from his mother's wedding chest. A few bars of some half-remembered tune came to mind, and he began to hum quietly, piecing together the melody as he went. What was this again? Oh, it was that lullaby his mother used to sing... It wasn't from Dinah, but from the place his great-great-grandfather had come from, in the age of gods. Funny to think he'd already gone farther than his ancestor could ever have dreamed. Slowly, his tune grew faint, as his eyelids drooped. The plan had been to stay awake to talk a while longer and bask in the tranquil atmosphere, but within minutes, he was snoring softly.

It had, after all, been a long day.
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Name: O'Korro - "Wolf"
Location: Keimara village, Eastern mountains
Time: Evening on the day of the Journey's beginning

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Korro listened quietly to the sounds of the others readying for sleep. Falarion's routine earned him a smirk.
Roshan spoke for the benefit of the others and to his own surprise, Korro felt himself wanting to answer:
"You will have no need to get used to this." He told the man with resignation. "I am sure there will be more than everyone's fill of sleeping on hard dirt also."

Roshan spoke of the stars and Korro felt himself imagining what the desert looked like.
"It must be many, without the silhouettes of trees or mountains..." Korro was silent for a little while before speaking again.
"In my home, there are lights that dance among the stars. They shimmer in great ribbons of blue and green...I have not yet met the spirit who causes them, but they are beautiful."

Korro finally felt his eyelids grow heavy, and before he knew it, the soft warmth of the luxurious bed had done its work, and he was sound asleep.


When the warm light of the morning sun began to peek in through the windows, Korro did not stir. His hair had dried and lay in a black and silver mess about his placid face. Like this, it was hard to tell he even was a demon, not a trace of the hard lines his face more while he was awake.

The clothes that had been washed the night before had been folded and placed neatly at the foots of beds by the quiet acolytes, completely dry.

It was the smell of cooking fires that roused the winter demon; the promise of food. He yawned and stretched and for the first few seconds after waking, he believed he was back in his home, in his own bed at Sunset Keep. His brother was alive, his soldiers would be waiting for him to begin their morning meal...That moment of bliss evaporated as his memory returned, and the gold ring of metal felt like ice around his neck.

His sigh contained a mountain of sadness as he took hold of his clothes and slipped them on within in the warmth of the comforter.

The breakfast brought did improve his mood a little: freshly steamed dumplings and rice, puddings made with egg, mountain berries and a light soup with green herbs and a sweet-smelling broth.

Korro sat as the food was put before him and he was about to take up the utensils and start when something happened:

The sharp, alarming sound of a hammer on a rounded sheet of metal, hung from one of the guard towers at the edge of the town, followed by a shrill human voice:
"Demons! Demons are attacking!"

If Falarion was awake, Korro would shoot him a tired and knowing look. "And so it begins."

He rose calmly and took hold of his bow, stringing it with deft ease. Then, he made his way out of the temple, onto the stone landing where he could see the spread of the town, and in the distance, the smoke of torches, two score imps and...one impressive monster:

He came on four great hooves the size of dinner plates, a muscled equine body supporting the chest of a man that made Fin look small. His hair was black and tied with gold and gems, his armour also glinted with the same, ornate and fantastic, covering his shoulders, torso and ending in a curve against the flanks of his equine half.
He carried a double-sided Ji, a great halbred with new moon blades.
His minions were sharp-eared and pig-nosed, their angry red skin and fangs proof of their demon nature too. Some held weapons, other simply sharpened sticks, whatever they could find to make themselves look more menacing.

To those who were not familiar with demons, this one looked like a king among them.
He stopped his forces at the gates of the village, and his booming voice carried even to their ears at the temple:

"I have heard on the wind that a great gift has been bestowed on those unworthy! Send the god-touched humans out, and we will spare your pathetic settlement!"

In the silence that followed, one amused snort could be heard. It was Korro.
"The more beastly a demon appears, the weaker he is. This is a fool, but still; I would like to know how he found out about you." He spoke idly to any humans who had gathered to watch.
"The sheer, bumbling audacity..." Korro bared his teeth, but he was smiling. For a long time he had bridled his anger with nothing to release it upon...now here was an opponent he was actually permitted to attack.

"Likely he will destroy the town to get to you." Korro said idly, as if it didn't matter either way. The townsfolk were already getting ready to defend, it seems there was a little courage here after all. "I see your god queen is nowhere to be found."
Korro wanted to be asked, or told to intervene. Any admission by his wards that his help was needed.

"'You'll treat me as a monster if that is how I behave'?" He parroted Koralia's words from the night before. "But perhaps there will be times when it is a monster you need..."

The town is being threatened by a demon and his army of imps!
The imps are small, about half the height of a man, and look menacing, but Korro has shown he is not worried about them, meaning they are likely very easy to defeat.
The imps are free to attack and defeat as you like, but the demon lord will be controlled by me, no autohitting please.
For now it does not seem like he knows Korro and Falarion are there.

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