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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
By contrast, Moire is a little more circumspect than her clerical colleague. Eyeing the elf, several details stood out. The wolftooth necklace, the slow cadence of disuse in her words, her mentioning her 'pack'. Calling people 'two-legs'? And yet, the woman reasoned like a woman might. Her word choices were different but the sentiment of strength in numbers is quite familiar to the Paladin.

"We're fairly new to this land ourselves and we've not forgotten how disorienting it is. Syvis? We'd be honored to have your company. As my friend mentioned, we've already had problems with wolves...and I fear I must warn you, wolves are poorly received in Vallaki, where we are going." A sympathetic look crosses her face and she gently touches the other woman's shoulder as a show of comfort. "They recently slaughtered a great many of them, though given our own experiences I suspect the wolves here are far more predatory than usual. Or perhaps some dark power has bent them all to his will."

"Whichever is the case, Syvis, the safest thing for you is to avoid drawing their attention with remarks about wolves. At least, that's what I would do if I were you."
 

jfish

Junior Member
How curious that when one traveler leaves another arrives, muses Ina, watching the other elf - is she a real elf? Is she even... she watches curiously, nodding to the stranger only when her name is mentioned. Her thoughts are spinning but she's already working on compartmentalising the ones focused on Tegan. She's lost friends before, outlived them. Humans; fleeti-

Ina slowly releases the breath she didn't realise she'd been holding, taking a second to ground herself back in reality, such as it was. Fingers still searching for her ring. She remembers with elation the tools Kasimir had returned to her, the cool, familiar metal offering comparable solace. I've been quiet for too long again. Luckily she catches Moire's last sentence - few sentences, a name? She takes in the other elf's appearance, her head tilting slightly.

"Wolves, yes. Or no, rather. Where are you from?" She offers a small apologetic smile, "Sorry, yes, talk and walk. Will you join us?"
 
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Abrahms

One Thousand Club
At Hircus' question Syvis shook her head, a movement that led into her shoulders too, "No -- not pets. Like ... a family. I lived among them, help take care of them. I watched the cycles of their lives, from pups to adults, alphas, and elders, only to go into the ground and join the rest of the cycle while the pack continued." She frowned, "If we run into some, perhaps I can speak with them. They may be suffering in their own way," her eyes went to Hircus' gut again, "perhaps an ailment of the mind as you say."

Her gaze shifted to Moire as she looked somewhat confused, "Ah ... I will try, though conversation is a ... rusty skill for me. Spending so much time as a wolf as well ... things get 'stuck', one might say." Syvis bowed her head again at Ina's question, "I will join if you will have me. I am from a forest that seems far away now ... I do not know what it was called on the maps of men, but it was my home for awhile ... until I was forced to leave. Then I became from everywhere, anywhere my travels took me, and creatures guided me. Nature became both guide and mentor."

The wood elf blinked for a moment, "... apologies. With so long since I've had to use words ... I may have forgotten how to have conversation. If I may ask, of you three? Before this strange place? Did you have pa-- families?"
 

Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
For someone who hasn't spoken in a long time, this woodland elf seems to have the knack of it. Moire smiles as she listens, enjoying the pleasant morning, all too aware that a nice stroll with friendly conversation may be a luxury in these lands. Might as well savor it while she can.

Being asked a question, though, forces Moire to think of a reply. "We did. I did. I'm from a city called Luskan. I don't know if you've heard of it. I have parents there, and siblings. I haven't seen any of them in many y-" And just like that, her tongue freezes in her mouth.

The Mayoral mansion, so much older than it'd been. Aurica Markovia, once a vibrant woman, now dead for a century or longer and only a distant memory. Every bit of evidence suggests she and her friends perished long, long ago, only to be brought back now. Brought back centuries out of time. Everyone she'd ever known was surely dead now. Estranged from her family as she'd been, condemning of their piratical ways she'd abandoned, Moire still loved them. Still hoped to see them. And now she never would.

Tears sting her eyes. Blinking furiously, she dashes them away with the back of a sleeve, coughs, clears her throat and finally says "Sorry. So sorry about that. I think they're all gone. Just me now."

Oh, Ilmater, just me.
 

jfish

Junior Member
The animalistic nature of the new woman unsettles Ina a little; she's much more attuned to people. In theory animals were simpler to understand: no odd nuances of different societies, politeness, backstabbing. But that, to her, made them more unpredictable.

She visibly relaxes as Syvis' speech begins to flow more easily, enough that she lets her attention trail over to Moire. After a slight hesitation, Ina places what she hopes is a comforting hand on the paladin's shoulder - again cursing the lack of memories. She knew Moire followed a god of suffering, but Ina had never tied herself to another being. Not for the first time, she considered whether she aught to, but wasn't the fact she was considering it make it less legitimate? Weren't you suposed to just know these things? Going where the wind took her hadn't led her too far astray do far. Although, she was in Barovia. With no memory of how or why... maybe a little astray, then. Still, she didn't regret her decisions.

"They weren't good people," Ina chuckles a little, "They're not missing me." Absently, she notes how freeing it is to talk about them now. Definitely the right decision.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige

Town of Vallaki
The Sunset Gate
blazing-sun small.jpgMaking your introductions as you walk, you soon reach the road, and then the open gate in the palisade. Along the way, tree swallows skim low over the grassland, while a few ravens soar high above. Handbills on the paliside, already familiar to Ina, Hircus and Moire, announce a "Festival of the Blazing Sun". Two guards watch the gate, one of whom is the woman who was overseeing the burning of wolf corpses at the fire pit yesterday. The two laborers from the fire pit are also here, removing wolf heads from stakes planted outside the wall and piling them in a cart. On some of the stakes, the lupine visages have already been replaced with wicker orbs.

Past the open gate, the road continues into the town. Many more people are up and about since Moire, Ina and Hircus left almost two hours ago. Down the tighter side streets and alleys, amid the human occupants, Syvis catches glimpses and sounds of goats, sheep, dogs, pigs, chickens and other domesticated animals.

Not far inside the surrounding wall, a man with blistered lips has laid out on a table several hand-sized tarts decorated with slices of hard-boiled egg. "Enjoy a Morninglord pie?" he mutters to the passersby. A boy of ten or eleven stands in front of the table, waving a large wooden fork around and yelling, "Blazing pies for the Morninglord!" with much greater alacrity than his elder. Locals who venture nearby shake their heads and decline both hawkers' approaches.





raven.jpg
 
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ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"A wolf family?" Hircus gives the newcomer an arched eyebrow as the others continue the conversation.

Did I know that Moire was Illuskan like my parents? Hircus nods at Moire's revelation, but before he share his family history he notices the shadow cross her face and leaves that for another day. He is quiet for the rest of the walk back to Vallaki.

As they walk through the gates Hircus notices the pie vendor and the boy. He approaches with a smile, "Those pies do look delicious, and if I weren't battling a ferocious stomach ailment I might partake in one. However, I would like to know a bit more about this festival that is to take place today. How does the city celebrate such a thing? Parades? Feasts? What should I expect as a visitor to the city?"
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Still overwhelmed by the sudden realization that she could be the last Cassiel left alive, Moire is entirely content to let Hircus do the talking. Instead, she's trying not to break down crying, in the middle of a busy street mid-morning. The Paladin, to her credit, is doing a rather masterful job but the edges of grief are palpable at the corners of her eyes and the tightness of her lips.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
The man doesn't quite meet Hircus' gaze as he answers listlessly, "The usual festival fare, I expect: Each offers up as they can, free of charge; games for the children; special services at church; the grand parade at sundown. And then whatever special surprises the Baron has for us. All will be well."

"All will be well! All will be well!" proclaims the boy repeatedly, brandishing his wooden fork like a rapier and knocking the heads off of some tall yellow flowers that grow nearby.

About a quarter mile from the gates, discordant bells in the church steeple ring out the hour.
 

jfish

Junior Member
"All will be well," Ina states in reply. She places her hand on Moire's elbow and watches Syvis - and any reactions to her - cautiously. "Should we head to the Blue Water? Perhaps we can get something to ease your discomfort," she suggests to Hircus. "I wouldn't mind a bite of something either, and it seems a good place to start looking for this man." Ina lets out a drawn-out breath, closing her eyes and listening to the sounds of civilisation, trying to take some comfort in it.

Realising that the newest member of the group was very likely now out of their comfort zone, even considering their arrival in a strange new place, she turns and smiles encouragingly at Syvis, speaking to her in a low voice. "I'm going to use that message trick I told you about earlier, okay?" She waits a beat and then deliberately brings the now fraying thread to her lips so Syvis can see what she's doing. "It's safe enough in town, some of them are people from other places, like us. But to be safe, don't mention anything about what we said on the walk, okay?"
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire simply nods her head to Ina, then reaches over and squeezes her arm in return, clearly grateful that her elven friend reached out. "Yes, I'm sure some breakfast will help all of us. Especially if a certain gentleman might be there. It's a place to start, at least." Assuming the group is amenable, Moire sets off for the Blue Water.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Syvis nodded, "Yes -- I lived with them for ..." her words fell away as she saw the sheer amount of dead wolves on display. The wood elf placed a hand over her mouth to hide how much she was biting the inside of her cheek. She had promised she wouldn't speak out, she was going to try her best to keep that promise. Following the group she started to withdraw into herself at the sheer amount of people that suddenly wandered around her, looking almost somewhat longingly towards the sounds of animals she heard in their passing.

Still keeping her hand over her mouth, Syvis jumped slightly at hearing what sounded like Ina whispering directly into her ear and gave a small nod. "I don't wish to speak with such ... slaughterers if I can help it."
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"Ah, well then. All will be well." Hircus smiles at the man and gives a little awkward chuckle as he turns to rejoin his group.

"Should we be wary to show our... liberated gear in the inn? We explained ourselves to Rictavio, but do we really know a man's intentions?" Hircus pulls his robes back over his armor and tucks his hammer into the heavy brown material. "If you think it a wise choice, then I will go along, but I am suspicious of nearly everyone in this town. There is a weight that hangs over each of them, and, well, a branch under a heavy load snaps easily."

Hircus watches their new companion, Syvis and wonders how she is taking this all in. I hope she holds her tongue. We can't afford to draw any extra attention to us. I just hope we didn't replace one unpredictable person for another. Hircus instantly regrets his mistrust of Tegan and shakes the thoughts from his head.

"Alright, then let's get us some breakfast," Hircus announces as he strides toward the Blue Water with his full stomach sloshing as he goes.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
"Until the Morninglord returns," the pie man mutters abstractedly as you step away from his table. When you've moved on a few paces, Ina notices him slyly sweep a couple of the pastries off the table and into his apron.

The three blocks from the gate to the church grow progressively more congested. Your pace is cut in half as you jostle among the Vallakians milling about. For the most part, no one here pays you much mind. Those who do notice you quickly avert their eyes and move away. Only a scant handful of individuals actually pause to scrutinize your unfamiliar faces.

The citizens of Vallaki appear not much surer than Hircus as to what this Festival of the Blazing sun entails, or, if they do have their notions, there are several different schools of thought. Some people wear costumes representing the sun, or royalty, or animals (some apparently leftover outfits from the Wolf's Head Jamboree) while others have simple headbands with yellow circles at the front, or no special attire at all. A few isolated groups play musical instruments, stopping frequently to revise their choice of tune. Two mule-drawn wagons converted into floats seem to be especially responsible for the stalled traffic in the road. A contingent bearing effigies of assorted monstrosities on long poles enters from a side street. The whole affair lacks the organization one would expect at an established holiday like Luskan's Midwinter Festival, where devotees of Auril the Frostmaiden perform ice dances and are doused in freezing water before running races in their underclothes.

It takes about ten or fifteen minutes just to reach the church, passing more tables and carts where people halfheartedly tout snacks and trinkets. The festival handbills are posted everywhere. Vallakians throng around the house of worship, crowding at its front doors. From the road it's impossible to see inside through all the huddled bodies. On the green next to the church is a large wooden orb, easily six feet in diameter, made up of bent wooden slats. Two guards watch over it. Ina, Hircus and Moire recognize it as the sphere that was outside the coffin-maker Henrik's shop earlier this morning.

festival.jpg
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
"This rabble might as well be celebrating the deeds of Cyric, The Mad God for all they know." Hircus says to Moire. A disapproving pinched expression is obvious on Hircus's face. "What do you think they intend to do with the coffin maker's handiwork? I pray something less morbid than the rest of the man's wares." This mindless ranting brings a thought to the cleric's mind. "I wonder why they have that ball under the watch of two guards?" Hircus scans the sphere for any kind of opening or hatch. As he does this he walks toward the two guards and the large sphere. Hircus grabs his chin with one hand as he taps his lip in contemplation. Strolling toward the guards, he does not make eye contact with them but stares intently at the wooden globe. He continues to walk toward the globe until the guards stop him or speak to him.
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
wooden orb.jpgPushing to the edge of the crowd for a better look at the wooden orb, Hircus can plainly see that the wooden slats which comprise it are widely spaced enough to give a clear view into its hollow interior. The celebrants in the street are giving the sphere and the guards a berth of about ten feet. When Hircus emerges onto the green and has crossed half that distance, the guard on the right, a thin man in an outsized chain shirt, shows obvious concern and takes a step back as he grasps his spear with both hands. The other guard, a woman with a broad nose and dark circles under her eyes, smiles without kindness and says, "Careful there, stranger. Don't let the sun burn you." She taps the great orb with her spear. "Games come after the morning service if that's what you're here for."



white.jpg
 

ZombWie

Hircus Hornbrow
With a huge grin on his face Hircus acknowledges the guards. "Games! Of course! I was trying to puzzle out what kind of purpose this ball might serve other than a symbol. I see you two capable guards are stationed here, so that must be for good reason. I just can't figure that part out. I played quite a lot of ball games as a postulant to the order. The monks were very into being physically fit, you know, 'If we were to serve Torm we must reflect his image as clearly as we can', That's what the monks would tell us. Ah, but this can't be a kicking ball or a throwing ball or even a hitting ball, so how might we be using this ball to honor The Morninglord, good friend to Torm, of course you know. I wonder, do you think the gods play games? That's it! This is a ball of the gods! Ha!" Hircus steps toward the thin male guard, "I am Hircus Hornbrow follower of Torm, cleric on the road and a newcomer to this land. Tell me about these games."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
As Hircus takes another step towards the already skittish guard, the man startles and brings his spear around to threaten the cleric of Torm's face. He shifts his left foot in search of a better stance. The guard is green, that much is clear. "Hey! Hey!" says the other guard as she steps up to Hircus and reaches out with her free hand. "I need you to calm down. Looks like you had some last little bit of wine you were saving up for today, is that it?" Her broad nostrils flare as she sniffs Hircus' breath.

Seeming to find the smell test inconclusive, the guard nonetheless grasps Hircus by the shoulder and steers him back over to the main street. "Just hold your patience for another half hour and then you can play. Have some fish; the salt will dry you out." She nods to a stall where dried whole fish hang on strings. Releasing Hircus, and shaking her head in exasperation, the guard backs up to her post and confers in whispers with her colleague, still keeping an eye on the cleric at the edge of the crowd.
 
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Epiphany

Behind Your Chair
Moire slips her arm around her fellow priest and offers a firm support, while shooting the more experienced guard an appreciative nod. "I'll take it from here, sir. Please accept my apologies for any trouble."

Helping Hircus to 'walk it off', the Paladin grins and says in a low voice, "That was well done, my friend. Though I fear we're left with more questions than answers. Do they put someone in the ball before putting it in play as part of whatever strange village games they play here? What manner of worship do they render the Morninglord, anyway?" Moire furtively rubs at the tattoo of the God on her neck, a God she's not pledged to...knowingly. "It seems much will be revealed in time if we're patient. I say we mingle through the crowd and see if we can turn up our man. Perhaps by the time we've found him, we'll know more of what Vallaki has in mind."

Rejoining Ina and Syvis, the human Paladin nods to her two elven companions. "Shall we find who we're here for? And, if at all possible, stay out of trouble?"
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Watching the pair of guards, Syvis had tensed at their reactions, still with a hand over her mouth in an attempt to prevent any uncontrollable outburst. However in watching them she couldn't help but note the sudden reaction of the guard seemed less ... protective and more truly startled by Hircus' appearance as if he'd been suddenly revealed.

She raised an eyebrow slightly as the group seemed to move away, she muttered to the others, somewhat hard to understand behind her hand, "How strange the guards for something apparently so important ... would be so blind and so passive." Syvis bowed her head towards Moire, "In my years ... trouble seems to seek those it desires, regardless, I will follow where you lead."
 

jfish

Junior Member
Ina's too busy watching passers-by to really notice Hircus' actions until Moire has lead him back to the group. She gives the two a quizzical look, sneaking a look to the guards by the orb before shaking her head and running her fingers through her hair. "Yes, that sounds...sound."
 

Baba Luga

Vestige
Pressing on once more against the flow of traffic on the main street, you pass more of the roadside stands. Potato and beet salad, sausages, a dark malty beverage, tiny star-shaped ornaments, colorful live songbirds and more are all being offered.

n.jpgIt takes five minutes to get another couple of blocks from the church. While Ina is keeping a sharp eye out for anyone in the surrounding crowd who might be deliberately following you, the young woman doing just that is making no effort to conceal her intent. "Hey! Hey!" she calls out as she bobs up and down among the surrounding bodies. She finally finds a break and squeezes through, pulling with her a middle-aged man who is bald except for a fine fringe of hair around his temples.

Having caught up with you, the woman gets back her breath, and says to Hircus, "I saw that back there. Pretty shabby treatment they give a visitor around here. It's all talk about sunshine and smiles until it actually counts. How were you to know what any of this was all about? I've lived here my whole life, and I don't know what's going on half the time." She lowers her voice further and looks around conspiratorially. "I don't think any of them know."

"So where are you going? Plugging away on the Old Svalich Road here gets nowhere fast today. And if you're looking to get out of Vallaki, I don't blame you, but the closest gate's back that way." She points the direction you just came from. "Looking for something else, we can show the way!" She makes a gesture including herself and her companion, whose dull expression is more in keeping with the typical "Vallaki look" than this bright-eyed woman's.
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Following the group through the herd of people crowding the streets, Syvis' eyes caught on the songbirds -- the brightest thing she'd seen so far in this large village, and yet the most silent as well. While the group stopped to listen to the woman, Syvis focused on the birds, approaching the stand and studying them along with their keeper -- his eyes nearly clouded over. Under her hand she frowned before chirping to the songbirds in Sylvan, "Hello little birds -- why are you silent today?"
 
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Baba Luga

Vestige
First one bird, then another, then two more cock their heads and stare at Syvis. Then, all at once, and still without vocalizing, they all start fluttering around in their cages, moving in the confined spaces in elaborate choreography that, together with the rhythmic beating of their wings, forms its own language. <"How are they speaking? Did you understand that too? Look, this one converses!"> the birds chatter back and forth to each other with their wings and dances. Having confirmed their observations with one another, they begin addressing Syvis directly. It taxes the druid's mind to process all the unvocalized communiques at once. <"Look at me over here! This cage is mine, don't even think of coming in here! Let me out, you can do it! Food! Yes, you can get it for me; let's be friends with food!"> There is indeed a small bag of seed in the bird tender's lap.

"Well," says the man seated among the fluttering birds as he leans forward to squint at Syvis. "You seem like a natural with these little creatures. Will you take one home with you this festival day?"
 

Abrahms

One Thousand Club
Tilting her head, Syvis watched the dance with curiosity, along with a mild headache at watching birds mimic the complicated dances and patterns normally only for bees and ants. Continuing in Sylvan, "I wish to be friends with all of you -- but I worry for you in this place."

She turned to their keeper, speaking in common, "...yes, one could say that. I must confess I would wish to have them all ... but I do not know if it would be possible? I worry they are sick, should song birds not sing songs?"
 

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