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Unread 22nd of November, 2011, 03:40
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Prologue

15th of Descending Fire, Realm Year 768 - Midday

Silver Wind, Flicker, and Indigo emerge from yet another clearing of trees into an open field. It's been a recurring theme in their travels, but this particular one is different. The greenery is brilliant. The wind carries a sweet scent in the air. Silver Wind knows instantly that she is home.

Further down the road, the center of town comes into view. One of the field hands is kneeled over, working the crops along with several others. Sakura turns and stands, lifting her brimmed hat. "Lady Villirith, welcome home. We've missed you."
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Unread 22nd of November, 2011, 13:36
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Sylvia takes a deep breath, satisfied to be back in the familiar surroundings of her home. She smiled down at the other woman as she welcomed her back. She knew that it was probably one of the more enthusiastic reactions she would get today. As a rule Marukans weren't terribly emotional, preferring to work instead of partake in displays of revelry. Sylvia had been considered an odd foal because of her own emotional outburst when she had been younger, a trait that age hadn't diminished.

"Thank ya Sakura, it sure does feel good to be back." She brought Kheervis to a stop and looked out on her town and the workers out in the fields. A smile blossoms on her face to see it all again. "Seems y'all have been able to keep things going pretty well here. Fields ain't fallow at least."

Finishing looking over her town from a distance she turns back to Sakura. "So, anything I should know about?"
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Unread 22nd of November, 2011, 14:04
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"Well, we got three new hands soon after you left. Two young men from a region near Thorns, and a seamstress a from nearby town. And yesterday actually, we got a fourth it seems…" She motions toward the young girl who squats further into the field some feet away, a sack over her shoulder and two dirty hands.

Sakura leans in and lowers her voice so Ellana cannot hear. "A runaway I would guess. She's not talking about where she's from, but she's a hard worker so far, and I can use every hand I can get out here."
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Unread 22nd of November, 2011, 15:22
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Sylvia's smile turned into a frown at that and glanced over at the girl. She didn't really have a problem with runaways but sometimes the people they were running from had a nasty tendency to show up. She'd get the story on that later though. New people meant she had to make some new oaths, and that was something best done sooner rather than later.

"Hmm, well I'll see if I can ask her to reveal some more. But later. For now I really only have one question." Her face became serious as she leaned forward towards Sakura. "Can you tell me where my husband is," she whispered conspiratorially as a smirk appeared.
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Unread 23rd of November, 2011, 15:40
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Sakura returned the smirk. "You should find him somewhere in town, near the stables."

Pella's voice suddenly rings out again in Ellana's head. "That woman with the white hair… She seems familiar." There's a pause as the three of them continue on toward town, then she continues. "Be sure to say hello to her soon. I think she might be able to help us."

---

The three continue onward, passing through the outer gates and into the center of town where the stables and grazing field can be found. More than a dozen people can be seen about, grooming, feeding, and otherwise tending to the horses and the stables themselves.

Silver Wind looks around for a moment. Suddenly, a firm grip on her right boot pulls her straight out of the saddle, and she lands with a surprised yell in the arms of a very large, bearded man. "You've been gone a long time, snowflake." he says, beaming down at her. He looks up, also noticing the strange companions she has brought back with her.
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Unread 24th of November, 2011, 02:03
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Ellana pauses from her work as the trio rides up to Sakura. Even without Pella's advice it's obvious that there's something special about the three of them, especially the silver haired woman. She can't hear what the woman and Sakura are talking about, but she notices Sakura quickly glance her direction. Unsure of what to do Ellana opts to return to her work until the trio has moved on.

After the woman is a good distance away Ellana tenatively approaches Sakura. Massaging her aching hands trying to look casual, motions for the field head's attention, "Um, Sakura? Who were those people? The silver haired woman seems really important. I'm not in trouble am I?"
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Unread 24th of November, 2011, 07:51
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Sakura smiles. "No honey, you're fine. That woman is lady Villirith. She runs the place."

With these words, a wave of... something, washes over Ellana. It almost feels like anger, or maybe anticipation, but as fast as it comes, it disappears.

The woman turns back to her work. "She's been gone for a long time. It's important for her to keep up with who comes in and out of this place."
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Unread 24th of November, 2011, 16:24
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"Oh, I see..." Ellana rubbed the back of her neck, trying to place the emotion she just felt. Something very odd was going on here, that was for sure, "Um...could I meet her? When she's not busy, I mean. I should meet her...shouldn't I?" Ellana looked to Sakura for reassurance.
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Unread 25th of November, 2011, 05:54
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Lady Villirith makes it a point to meet with everyone new. I'm sure you'll get the chance now that she's back."

Sakura turns to face the young girl. "Tell you what. Since you seem so eager, I'll introduce you tonight if she's not busy."
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Unread 25th of November, 2011, 14:40
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Ellana looks toward Sakura and nods, "That would be wonderful, thank you. I um...guess I better get back to work," with that Ellana returns to the fields. When she's sure no one is within earshot she looks down at the pendant on her chest, "Pella? Are you there? What should I be asking Lady Villirith when I meet her?"
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Unread 25th of November, 2011, 21:31
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"No need to ask her anything too specific." Pella muses. "Just befriend her for now. In order to undo the binding spell, it requires some very powerful magic. She is an exalted. You can tell."

Ellana fills her basket with vegetables and begins to walk the short distance to the cart. "Just promise me you won't tell her about me just yet. I'd rather keep it a secret. We need to be sure she's not in kahoots with the old hag first."
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Unread 28th of November, 2011, 19:05
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Being pulled off of Kheervis was probably one of the most terrifying things Sylvia had ever experienced. For that brief instant fears of hidden soldiers and Dynasts in Jade armor springing forth to kill her filled her mind. Feeling herself slam into someone's body with arms wrapping around her was proof that her worst fears had come true and a cry of terror briefly escaped her.

And then he spoke and the fear was washed away by relief. She wrapped her arms around Irenicus and held on tight, burying her face in his chest. "Gods I've missed you so much Irenicus." She didn't even need to look up at him to know the smile on face, a smile mirrored on her own. She held him like that for a few moments and then looked up to see him looking at her companions.

"Oh," she said, reluctantly pulling herself away from her husband and turning to face the two exalts. "Right, sorry. Irenicus, this is Indigo and Flicker. Indigo, Flicker, this is my husband, Irenicus."
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Unread 29th of November, 2011, 08:37
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Ellana nods at Pella's words. The silver haired woman was an exalt? What element was she chosen by? Silver hair wasn't one of the common signs. Still, if she could help Pella, maybe the woman could help her find her way home, or at least send a message to Selen...The thought of her friend felt heavy in her chest and she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before continuing her duties.
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Unread 29th of November, 2011, 11:26
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Flicker rode in behind Silver Wind and huffed as he looked around at the ranch... See she TOTALLY wasn't some spoiled rich person, this was a rough and tumble farm place with like hard work and horses and other smelly animals on it. The Marukani had really wierd ideas of what made a Lady, as far as Flicker was concerned a lady was some useless twat who didn't get anything done on a daily basis. Ah well.

Then Silver Wind, Sylvia, was pulled from her horse and into the arms of some guy. HUSBAND? Awww, she was married? He crossed his arms and rolled his eyes, nodding at the guy his hello.

"Hi. Nice ta meet cha. So this place isn't horrible, Sylvia."

High praise.
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Unread 29th of November, 2011, 14:15
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"It's perfect." Says Indigo plainly. She beams down at Silver Wind, playfully cradled in her husband's arms. "I can see now why you brought me here. This place has so much potential… I can't wait to get started." She bows respectfully to Irenicus. "My name is Indigo. It's a pleasure to meet you."

15th of Descending Fire, Realm Year 768 - Dusk

In the distance, the sun drops slowly, shooting long reeds of purple and orange through the sky. Riders and field hands are funneling back in through the main gate, a last commotion as their days work is done. Silver Wind gathers all four newcomers, plus Flicker, and Indigo, to sit with her in the very center of town where the horses graze. Sitting in an even circle on soft, trodden grass, the seven are enjoying a respite from the midday heat.
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Unread 29th of November, 2011, 15:07
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Silver Wind sits cross legged among the grass, her weapons back at home and dressed in the more comfortable garb of her work clothes. She had spent the past few hours settling back in to her home, letting her people know she had returned, and catching up on some of what had transpired during her absence. It felt good to get back to something resembling her normal routine and she was eager for the morrow so she could get back to it.

But that was tomorrow, and today there were still some things that needed to attended to. Starting with these four new hires. First were the two men from Thorns, who looked enough alike that Silver Wind assumed them to be brothers. Black hair, strong physiques, and tanned skin spoke of how they were used to hard labor and they were still young, probably no older than 25 Calibrations. But both of their eyes had a haunted look, and their skin was a little too gaunt. If even half of the rumors she had heard from Thorns in the past few years were true then she marveled that these two men had made it all the way to her ranch, and she hoped they would stay so they could help them to recover from whatever ordeals they had suffered.

Next was the seamstress. Blonde hair and ice blue eyes spoke of a Northern heritage, but the rest of her was absolute Marukan. Silver Wind guessed her to be around her age, if not a little older, and her calloused hands showed she was no stranger to her craft. A valuable worker indeed, though the way she fidgeted in the grass and glanced back to the buildings told her that she didn't like working out in the fields.

And last was the runaway. Really not much more than a girl, the way she struggled with her legs told Silver Wind that she had just gotten to that awkward stage in life where her body was lengthening and filling out from a girl to a woman. Definitely pretty with her Lookshyan features and beautiful brown eyes, but her skin was pale and she didn't seem to have the body structure of someone used to hard labor. She hoped she wasn't the pampered daughter of some Legion general, though the fact that she had actually been out working in the field spoke volumes.

Four new hires, each valuable in their own way. Four people she would hopefully be able to bring into the fold of her community. People who could add even more life into her town, help it grow as it helped them grow in turn. People who could add their own roots.

People who she would have to make swear a terrible secret to her. A secret she couldn't keep forever, but could cause all of their deaths if it got out. But first things first. Silver Wind closed her eyes and took a deep breath, holding it for a second before blowing it through her lips.

"Alright," she said, tipping her hat up a bit so the others could see her face a little better. "Y'all are here 'cause there's something important that has to be done fore the day is out. However that can wait fer a bit so I'd like to answer any questions y'all have."

"First," she said placing a hand on her chest, "my name is Sylvia Vilirith, and I am the owner and proprietor of Golden Plains. All the horses and livestock here belong to me, as does the land. Now that doesn't mean I'm gonna be busting down your doors if y'all fail to pay rent or nothin', and you'll be paid a fair wage as I'm sure you've already noticed. What it does mean is that if there's a problem I'm gonna get involved and if you keep making major problems I'll drag you behind my horse and kick yer trouble making butt out myself."

After that little tirade is done, Sylvia lets her expression soften a little. "Now, what questions do ya'll have?"
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Unread 29th of November, 2011, 18:01
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As twilight fell Ellana began to relax. This was always her favorite time of day. Memories of her and Selen relaxing after a days work (or study), watching the stars creep out, brought a smile to her face. Now if she could only get comfortable on the Marukan ground. Ahead of her the Lady Vilirith addressed the group, her presence just as imposing in person as it was from afar. Could this woman really help her? The rest of the field hands seemed taken in by her, and the two travelers she rode in with, the young boy, perhaps no older than Ellana, and the older woman simply sat back, almost impatiently...almost.

"First," the woman said placing a hand on her chest, "my name is Sylvia Vilirith, and I am the owner and proprietor of Golden Plains. All the horses and livestock here belong to me, as does the land. Now that doesn't mean I'm gonna be busting down your doors if y'all fail to pay rent or nothin', and you'll be paid a fair wage as I'm sure you've already noticed. What it does mean is that if there's a problem I'm gonna get involved and if you keep making major problems I'll drag you behind my horse and kick yer trouble making butt out myself."

After that little tirade is done, Sylvia let her expression soften a little. "Now, what questions do ya'll have?"

As Sylvia spoke, Ellana began to have her doubts. Did she really belong here? Lady Virilth seemed kind enough, and she did promise to help Pella, but she couldn't stay here. The other workers, the men from Thorns and the seamstress could settle at The Golden Plains, but she needed to get home, back to Selen. Ellana stood up, trying to ask if she should be part of the "important task" that needed doing, especially if she would only be here for a short while...while she got her bearings.

As she stood up, an orange, black and white shape darted between the figures around the circle they'd formed. With inhuman grace it leaped and landed on Ellana, hitting her squarely in the chest and knocked her back a few steps. "Meow."

"Mira!" Ellana gasped, "What are you doing here? You were supposed to stay with Hwen until I got back." The cat looked up at her owner and made a prrpt sounds before tilting her head to side. "Yes well, I know I'm late, but we're in the middle of something important." The girl shifted the cat into a cradled position on her arm, scratching her friend's head with her free arm. "I'll make it up to you tomorrow, I promise." Mira shook her head from side to side, and flicked her ears. "Fine you can stay here, but any trouble from you and you're going back to Hwen's house." Ellana said. The cat nodded and purred before leaping from the girl's arms to settle on her shoulder.

Ellana suddenly looked up, acutely aware that the rest of the circle was staring at her. Her cheeks flushed red, and she sat back down. Um...I'm sorry. She gets lonely if I'm away too long." she squeaked. "It is...it is okay if she stays right?"
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 08:46
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Sylvia frowned as a cat perched itself on Ellana's shoulder. Never mind that she had never really liked cats, what concerned her was that Ellana had been standing up just before it arrived.

"It is fine for her to stay here during this meeting," she said, directing a questioning gaze at the girl. "But please, tell me why you were standing as if to leave just now? You are free to do so of course but I really must know the reason why."

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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 09:43
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Mira stares pointedly at Lady Vilirith before meowing nuzzling her owner. Ellana scratches her pets head, finding comfort in the warm, fuzziness. "Oh, it's um...It's just you sounded like you were about to welcome us into the community. But I'm not sure I belong here." She looks up at the older woman and shakes her head, "Not that I couldn't. The Golden Plains is lovely, I could stay here forever. But..." memories of Selen and Lookshy flooded in, she'd sworn an oath when she joined the military, "I can't stay here...I have to..." Ellana trails off, unable to find the proper words.
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 09:54
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Sylvia waits patiently for the girl to finish her statement but when she trails off and several moments pass by her eyes harden slightly. "You have to what," she asks gently though there is no masking the concern in her voice. "Run from some angry relative? Get back to your home? Meet up with someone?"
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 10:10
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Ellana looks into up at Lady Vilirith, for the first time in weeks she begins to think to think about the events that lead her here, and what happened the night she left the Redoubt. Tears begin to well in her eyes. Stumbling back she pulls Mira from her shoulder and hugs the cat close. "I'm sorry, I...I can't. I shouldn't be here. I have to go...I'm sorry." Even before the words finish tumbling from her mouth Ellana has begin running...again.
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 11:06
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The cool night air strikes Ellana's face cold as she makes a break for the still open town gate. Mira mews concernedly from within her embrace.

"What are you doing! We need her help! Why are you running away?" Pella exclaims frantically.
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 12:00
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Sylvia sighed as Ellana ran away but decided against following her. She'd meant what she said, and if the girl wanted to leave she wasn't going to stop her. She'd see if the girl was still here and try to talk to her later, but for now the light of her patron was fading and she really did want to get this out of the way.

"Alright," she said as she looked at the others. "Do you three have any questions?"
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Unread 2nd of December, 2011, 18:39
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Just outside the city gates Ellana stumbles and falls to the ground. Even in her distressed state the earth around The Golden Plains is soft and comforting. As she holds back her tears Mira mews softly and nuzzles her check, trying to comfort her owner. "I'm sorry Pella, I just. I don't know. I need some time to think. That's all..."
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Unread 3rd of December, 2011, 10:09
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One of the men from Thorns shakes his head. "We have no questions. We'd just like to say that finding this place has been a blessing." The other man nods and speaks. "We're ready to do what we must to stay here. Your people have been very kind to us." The seamstress smiles and nods in agreement.

Ellana is finally too exhausted to keep running and slows to a walk. What few lights were lit in the town are now turning to distant shimmers. The rolling expanse of the plains stretch out into the distance. This place has had a strange feeling to it ever since she arrived. Something very powerful. Now that she's surrounded in darkness, it seems easier for her to put her finger on it. It draws her in a direction, towards a long stretch of flat ground in the near distance.
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