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Unread 8th of May, 2005, 11:57
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Interlude 2: Shelter in the Night

Once, many years ago, a man had an idea. This idea was a good idea, and if properly developed would do much to make the world a better place. Being a devout soul, this man brought went to his temple and explained it. The idea was simple; a consortium of temples, local rulers, and wealthy merchants would construct a series of travel houses along trails throughout the land so that travellers would have a safe dry place to stay the night.

The idea spread like wildfire, and soon a large number of temples, regional rulers, and the occasional rich merchant were gathered together to realise an idea that surly came from the gods themselves. However, as is wont to happen with such organisations, theological differences, political ambitions, and sheer mortal follies quickly caused dissent and the consortium disbanded and abandoned the project.

Many travel houses were never finished being constructed, even more were never began, with only a scant few being finished. It had seemed the idea had been still-born when a most remarkable thing occurred. Travellers who stayed in those completed travel houses began to care for them. They would make sure they were stocked with wood, hunt out vermin which inhabited the house; some even went as far as perform small repairs. All without an organised declaration of intent, all on nothing more then spontaneous gratitude for the house's shelter.

It is said that the gods move in mysterious ways, and many theological scholars hold up the travel houses as evidence of this. For despite being abandoned by the temples, the idea lived on through the ordinary people.

It was one such travel-house that Rina and Yaven approached as the sun moved to kiss the horizon. Smoke issuing from the rudely constructed chimney revealed the presence of someone already inside.
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Unread 10th of May, 2005, 00:15
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Rina has been uncharacteristically quiet since their dangerous escape. Two weeks had passed since the Feast of Karthes and still the shadow of that event hung over the entertainers, like the shadow of mortality that suddenly the acrobat seemed unable to shake. Was this why Yavan was always so dour?

She pauses, noting the smoke from the worn travel house up ahead. Maybe the company of others was what they needed to shake the spectre of death. Since leaving the Baron, the had seemed to abide by an unspoken agreement to avoid contact with any humanoids. For a time it had seemed right, but over the past two days Rina had begun to feel more like her old self, and questions had begun bubbling up to the surface of her mind.

"There may be an audience for us tonight."
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Unread 10th of May, 2005, 20:41
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Calliste looks around the sparsely furnished room, more or less resigned to the inconvenience of spending the night here. She's stacked her two travel chests in one bare corner, laid out her bedroll and extra blanket nearby, and set out a few things on the rustic pine table that occupies another dusty corner. And she's gotten a good fire going in the large stone fireplace. At least the fire takes some of the chill from the big empty room.

The table holds a stoppered jar of wine, an ornate drinking goblet, an oil lamp, and a bronze figurine of a beardless youth riding on the back of a panther. Calliste opens the wine and pours enough into the goblet to fill it halfway. She bows slightly to the statue, pours a few drops of the burgandy liquid onto the wooden plank floor in front of it, and then takes a small sip of the wine herself.

"Well, Iakchos," she says mildly, "I can't imagine why you have brought me to this gods-forsaken place!"

Last edited by Kelemyn; 12th of May, 2005 at 11:48.
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Unread 11th of May, 2005, 22:12
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Yavan watches the plume of smoke drift lazily into the sky. Travel houses are supposed to be sacrosanct. Yet perhaps the old ways are fading. It is considered to be an offense to the gods to invite a man into your home, feed him, and then try to kill them. Perhaps the Baron cared little for divine favor; he had turned his back on them a long time ago.

I died...not by your...hand but years...ago by--

"--an audience for us tonight."

He looks to Rina and takes a moment to piece together her words. She's been quiet these past two weeks. Yavan cannot blame her for that. Sanguis and his ordeal had been very trying for all of them, and it had instilled an even greater caution in the elf.

"Then let us meet them," he says, easing an inch of the rapier's blade out of its sheath. "But be mindful. Evil will not respect the old ways."
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Unread 11th of May, 2005, 22:21
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Her eyes go to the bright band of metal as Yavan loosens his blade. The elf had fought quite a battle. In fact, he had proven far more competent with a blade than Rina had given him credit for - something that ought to impress her. It did and it didn't. It felt to her like a child who had lost his innocence. Before he always had his music foremost in his mind and now he was ready to greet his audience with naked steel.

Evil.

Without a doubt, that described the Baron. What did it say of her, whose interest in his offer of eternal life/damnation had only been half feigned?

"The whole world is not the evil of Karthes."

Is it?
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 22:20
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"No? Then you have not lived long enough." A bitter smile touches his lips, but his amber eyes remain cool. "I have seen a people hunted almost to the last man. I have been attacked by living shadow. I have had one friend slit another's throat for no reason. I have been attacked by vampires. I have lost far more than I have gained, Rina. And that is just from this year. Would you care to hear about the other hundred?"

He stares down at the rapier, wondering why it feels so comfortable in his grasp.

"We have reason to be wary. I am hunted because of the path I chose. You are not. Perhaps it would be better if we parted ways."
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 22:30
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Within her, passion flares - raw, seething, filled with the knowledge of what she was and what she would never be.

"I will never live so long."

The words are proud, with perhaps the smallest tinge of bitterness. She draws herself up and faces him with folded arms, head held high.

"Do you think my life has been without pain or hardship? Without loss or the breath of evil behind me? This is what life is, whether you live one year or one hundred or one thousand."
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 22:49
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Yavan gives her the same smile one might give a small child: patient, but not without some condescension.

"Time makes all the difference, Rina. It grieves me that you will never know this. It is very easy, when you burn short but bright, to make such statements. But with each passing season, I see more of this world. I see more of the sadness, more of the pain, more of the evil that pervades it. I pray I do not live a thousand years. My soul could not bear it.

"Yes, there is still some good left and there are things worth living for, but they are few against many. It is far better to be on our guard against the darkness than hope for the light. Perhaps you will see this before the end."
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 23:00
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"Do not grieve for me. Years you might have on me, but still you see only what you wish to see. You plumb only the depths, for they are forced upon you, but never look to climb the heights."

Her words start off angry, now filled with the bitterness that flavored her earlier words. To have the years that he would have, to be eternally young, eternally beautiful. It was the gift Sanguis had offered her but without the horrible taint. Yavan would be whole and in the moment of his youth for years upon years.
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 23:10
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"Rina," he says, his voice growing soft. "If you spend too long searching the heavens, you won't see the fissure at your feet. Too much of his world is ridden with ravines to do more than glance at the stars. It is not because I do not want them. It is because I know they cannot be had. Not for long. All things fade. It's best to know this beforehand."

He sighs and falls silent, his gaze returning to the smoke drifting into the sky. It spirals upward, but a breeze scatters it.

All things fade.
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 23:21
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"Yes, all things fade. Good and bad, all things fade. If you always look to the ground you will never see the beauty of the stars above you."

She shakes her head, her voice under control now but sad.

"What do you think about in your reverie? Your thoughts are your own, and you choose where they dwell. If you think always of evil, of loss, of pain then that is how you will view the world."

She shakes her head again, her eyes falling to Yavan's sword, then lifting to appraise the lute slung across his back.

"All around are wondrous moments, made no less wondrous for all they are brief. These are the things to cling to, not worries and fears."
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Unread 12th of May, 2005, 23:59
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"What do I think of," he asks, his voice rising slightly. "I think of my childhood, and how I was born into a community devastated by a Pyrrhic victory. I think of how they relied on me to help rebuild our shattered land. I think of my lover's death and my mother's slow spiral into madness. I think of my failure to enter the conservatory. Each night I relive every mistake I've ever made. I do so not out of some perversion, but because they are all lessons."

And they are, of a sort. Yavan is somber both by nature and by habit. His troubled memories serve as a constant warning to what could happen in the future.

"These are the things that ground me. The good in life is akin to a rainbow. They are pleasant, and I wish they arrived more often, but they do not aid in my journey. To dwell on them is to ignore the dangers of the world. I will not do that."
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 00:10
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"The good things do not aid you because you do not let them."

She turns her head toward the shelter, unhappy with this ending to the conversation but unwilling to pursue it further. Maybe she didn't want to know his reasons. Maybe she didn't want to examine her own.

"Do you really wish to part ways?"
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 00:51
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He ignores Rina's parting argument. Neither can, or will, budge the other from their position. It's to be expected, really. After all, how can two fundamentally different beings reconcile their differing points of view? It would be akin to asking an oak tree and a house cat to come to an agreement on the merits of rain.

"It would be safer for you. Sanguis may or may not have allies, but the shadows are far reaching. That I have not been attacked since is a blessing. I fear, however, that my luck dwindles in the coming twilight."

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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 00:56
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She allows herself a small smile, her voice turning almost playful as she starts for the shelter.

"And when have I ever been concerned about safety, Anpu?"
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 01:04
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Yavan frowns. "This is no joking matter, Rina. You were lucky to escape with your life last time. You may not be so lucky again. Think carefully before continuing."

The elf follows her to the door, his hand still resting on the hilt of his sword.
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 01:09
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Rina doesn't look back at him, afraid of what he might see in her eyes. Did he really think their encounter with the Baron had left no impression on her at all? Did he think she had no fear? Maybe he wanted her to leave, but she didn't want to think about that either. Without even a pause, she opens the door wide.
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 01:39
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She has been alone all too often recently.

Ever since Syranos, when Leonitis had became ill and the company had disolved, she'd been alone, even in a city full of people. Everyone she knew had gotten out and gone home then, except of course for Leonitis, because he was dying. She had stayed with him, even when rumors were flying that the Archon's nephew was planning a coup. By the time Leonitis died, Syranos was besieged and it was impossible to leave. Calliste had never felt more alone then.

Until now maybe. Here in the middle of nowhere, she realizes, she is truly alone.

The crackle of the fire is the only sound. Calliste wonders about this strange land with it's lonely roads and travel houses. In Gelas, any place worth visiting had a well-travelled road leading to it. There were no travel houses; there were villages and towns instead, all within a day's journey of each other, and all with inns or public houses to stay in. And always there were people to spend the evening with.

There hardly seems to be any reason to stay awake longer, Calliste muses. She stops just as she is about to toss another few dry branches on the fire, deciding to let it burn low instead. She begins to take down her hair, getting ready to retire for the night.

When suddenly the door opens wide...
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 03:07
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The sun had been setting without, but even so Rina paused on the threshold for a moment while her eyes adjusted to the even dimmer interior. Before her was a tallish woman, long dark hair framing the classic beauty of her features. Her still simmering resentment over the argument with Yavan prompts her to be even less cautious than usual. Smiling, she introduces herself, keeping her voice full of mirth for Yavan's benefit.

"Hello, traveller. I am Rina, formerly of the Red Sails. With me is Yavan the musician. You are not going to slay us if we enter, are you?"
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 04:03
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A pair of travellers stand silhouetted in the doorway. Before Calliste can think how to greet them, the smaller of the two speaks up and introduces herself and her companion. Rina's tone is friendly, and Calliste relaxes almost at once. She has picked up the language used in this part of the world fairly easily, therefore she doesn't have any trouble understanding what the young woman has to say, although she's puzzled by the last part.

She's making a joke, of course, Calliste concludes after a moment's hesitation.

"Welcome," she says with a smile. "Please come in. I'd be a fool to slay you before you have a chance to tell me who or what the Red Sails are!" She speaks easily and with only a slight accent, and the timbre of her voice is rich and seems intentionally resonant.

"I am called Calliste, from Gelas across the water."
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 04:40
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Rina obliges and enters the room, with only the smallest flash of triumph in her eyes as they flick at Yavan. Her own voice carries a slight accent, similar but different from Calliste's.

"Then we are both far from home. I hail from far off Khitae, where I travelled with the contortionists and acrobats of the Red Sails troupe. They are famous, though people in this area of the world are not so much interested in those entertainments."
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Unread 13th of May, 2005, 06:12
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Calliste arches an expressive eyebrow at mention of Khitae. "Ah!" she says. Yes, the woman has that look about her. Calliste had seen such a troupe before, not in Gelas, but in one of her neighboring cities. Such limber bodies! There had been one dark-eyed acrobat, a young man with a dazzling smile that shone even brighter than his yellow silk vest and trousers. She had shown him the sights of the city, and had spent more than one energetic night in his tent before the troupe moved on.

The memory brightens her smile.

Rina steps into the room, moving purposefully and with casual grace. The tall one - Yavan - hangs back still, hidden in the shadows that are gathering as night falls outside.

Calliste sweeps her loose hair back up off her shoulders, replacing the pins she'd undone a moment ago.

"I was thinking of retiring early, out of boredom. But now it seems I won't have to. The place is rough, but we can make ourselves comfortable." She glances back at the doorway and the figure on the doorstep. "Yavan, you are a musician? I am also! What do you play?"
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Unread 17th of May, 2005, 05:03
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Before the elf has a chance to speak, Rina smiles sweetly and answers, seeming to take pleasure in cutting him off. Her voice is full of good humor, and her sideways glance to Yavan is playful. Provoking him was probably not wise, but she just couldn't help it.

"Yavan is a master on the lute, though with his voice he hardly needs the accompaniment. I fancied myself a good singer but next to him I feel hardly suitable for backing vocals. Isn't that so, Anpu?"
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Unread 17th of May, 2005, 23:57
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Yavan casts a sidelong glance at Rina, disliking her attempts at disarming his caution. Yet he removes his hand from its resting place on the jeweled hilt. The elf gives the barest of nods at the woman's remarks.

"The lute and lap harp are prized among my people. As is the voice. I find my talents are merely adequate. Suitable for upscale taverns and minor nobility, nothing more."

He lays the lute in the corner, still wrapped in its protective canvas, before placing his other belongings on the ground. He leaves the rapier buckled, however, and is not willing to let his guard down yet. The woman may not be a threat, but there are many things in the world that are.

"You say you are from Gelas? I'm afraid I have never traveled there. Is it near the Summer Kingdoms? I played once at a festival hosted by Lord Seaward at Stonehill and I believe there was a musician who hailed from Gelas." He pauses a moment, trying to think of the man's name. "Aegan? Perhaps you've heard of him? He was only moderately skilled, but the crowd liked his work well enough."
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Unread 18th of May, 2005, 04:53
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Rina shoots Yavan a look at the words merely adequate but remains silent. She had already pushed him far enough. If he wanted to pretend he couldn't have a permanent place in a court somewhere, then let him.
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