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Unread 26th of November, 2006, 16:31
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Chapter 10 - Enter Enderin

Nicos walked down a path in a small wooden lane as the morning sun washed over him, and smiled. It was two weeks since he, Juni, Blarth and Shade had fled Tradeholm and the thieve's guild there that was hunting for the two women. In that time the small group had made it's way Enderin, found semi-permanent lodging and more or less settled down into a peaceful enough life. After the adventures of the last few weeks, the bard was more then happy to spend some time plying his trade in the city, at least until the boredom and monotony began to eat at him.

In the morning light the one-armed man slowly made his way back towards the city walls, he had spent the night entertaining a client at a private estate in the surrounding woodland, and the revenue he now carried back with him would be more then enough to pay the rent of the set of rooms he now occupied.

Nicos' bliss was marred but not broken when a man stepped out from behind a tree to block the path before him.

"Are you Nicos?" the stranger said without making any sign or sound of greeting.

"The one and only," the bard replied with a cocky grin. "What can I do for you on this happy morning?"

"I thought so."

Nicos looked at the man before him. Hair style, clothing, lack of weapons, even the way he moved pointed towards him being a monk from one of the various monasteries that crop up across the land. Renowned for their prowess at fighting while unarmed, monks have a reputation for being quick, and efficient. This man didn't put lie to the stereotype.

Moving before Nicos had a change to make an opening quip, the monk kicked at his opponent’s left hip. Twisting with the blow to rob it off power, Nicos slapped the offending leg down to the ground. Stepping back the unnamed monk grunted a quick comment.

"You have training."

Having been raised in a monastery, Nicos had mastered the basic forms of the unique unarmed combat that they taught. This alone had been enough to give him an edge over most people who engaged him in a fist fight or brawl. However, against someone who had studied the higher forms, the odds quickly shifted in the other direction. Add in the crippling injury which had cost Nicos the use of his left arm and it quickly became a fool's fight. Nicos was many things, not all of them positive, but a fool he was not.

As the unnamed monk closed again, the bard grasped the hilt of his sword and in one smooth move - a move that had taken took hours of practice to perfect - drew his blade and slashed out. It was only reflexes that boarded on the preternatural that allowed the monk to save his leg, as it was a bloody gash now decorated the limb.

"I have a sword."

Mocking the man's tones Nicos grinned and brought his weapon up to guard, the odds had just became more to his liking. The following minutes consisted furious game of feints, slashes and parries, the monk trying to get close enough to counter the swords reach while Nicos did all that he could to react faster then his foe.

It ended suddenly when Nicos fell for a feint and the unnamed monk grabbed his wrist in a grip of steal. With a simple yet painful twist the monk forced the bard to release the sword and then a swift head butt knocked him backwards to the ground.

Laying upon the ground Nicos clutched for the dagger in his belt as his eyes struggled to refocus on his foe. His hand found the empty scabbard at the same time as his eyes found the monk standing over him. In the unnamed monk's left hand was the recently captured sword and in his right, the dagger that had but moments ago rested at the bard's waist.

"You also seem to have a dagger."

The man's tone was absently curious as he looked the blade. Then with a studied indifference he tossed both weapons out of reach, stepped forward and viciously kicked Nicos as the bard attempted to rise.

His breath knocked out of him, Nicos felt a quick succession of blows land on his face and chest. As the first landed his hand floated down to his knee. When the second hit it was at his boot, grasping at the second dagger secreted there. By the third blow the blade was free and before the fourth had a chance the bard thrust it deep into the monk's stomach.

"Two ... daggers ... actually."

Nicos spoke through heaving gasps and slit, bloody lips to the monk, who for his part gazed in shock at the knife handle protruding from his belly. Then with a sudden yank the bard pulled the knife to the side, setting the contents free and finishing the fight.
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Unread 29th of November, 2006, 06:20
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Nicos stood over the body of his fallen opponent, trying to get is breath and to clear his mind.
Why would a monk be out to get him? His past life was over with, and if misdeeds were there they were not the kind to leave anyone hot for his blood, nor had the aggressor anything about him that suggested he might have turned highwayman...

Nicos shrugged the thoughts away for now, he was kneeling to inspect the corpse when a movement glimpsed out of the corner of his eye made him turn towards the hearth of the wood.

Two figures were trodding the path towards Endering, two women, from their way of walking. Their faces were shaded by large, round straw hats and they wore nondescript clothing in shades of gray.
They moved purposefully, with the controlled energy of an hunting cat, only a blind man could have mistaken them for peasants or town-folk coming back from a stroll.

" You came with friends, huh? We'll see". Nicos addressed the dead monk, gathering his weapons in a hurry, he then scrambled to hide behind a large oak.

The two women were near enough to hear some snatches of conversation...if only Nicos had known the tongue they were speaking.
The words were long, liquid and full of vowels, slurred at times, and the high pitch of the women's voices made him think of sparrows chittering.

" Might sound nice put to music" came an idle thought, just before the voice of the shorter woman (a young girl, he had thought at first, but the voice was of a woman grown) froze him on the spot.

" Botahara sama wa sensei desu..."

How could this be? She had left these lands to go back with her sisters...

He stepped on the path, just a few steps in front of the shorter woman, she stood, with no outward signs of surprise, as if she had known he would be here.
She raised her head to look at him, Nicos saw her eyes widen when she took in his disheveled appearance and the corpse a little off.

" Good day, Maeko" was all he said, somewhat pleased of the matter-of-factness of his tone.

"Nicos...?" The surprise she didn't show in her stance was in her tone, " friend, you hurt?"
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Unread 29th of November, 2006, 10:01
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This particular morning found Blarth waking well rested, an unusual circumstance for him since the group had fled from Tradeholm. Normally he slept in whatever temple lodging he could find, and most of the temples weren't all that accepting of orcs for more than a few nights, even the half variety. Last night, however, Nicos had been engaged to entertain all night and so Blarth had availed himself of Nicos's otherwise vacant rooms.

Splashing himself with some cold water from the basin, Blarth carefully cleans up after himself and leaves the rooms pretty much as he found them. On his way out, he stopped to return the spare key to the landlady, a woman who had taken a liking to the half-orc and saw no reason for paid rooms to go to waste, especially when they were occupied by a friend. Indeed, were Blarth to let her, she'd have probably seen to it that he had a room of his own and a job that allowed him to pay for it, even if it would have been far more humble than the ones Nicos was renting.

Blarth, however, wasn't interested in such an arrangement. He'd been forced to leave Tradeholm in such a hurry, that there had been no chance to go back to the academy and retrieve his brother's armor. It was and insult to Blarth's already injured sense of family honor. His brother's death, and now the armor gone, Blarth spent most of his days (and nights) in one temple or another hoping to find solace from the gods. Only when a temple turned him out and there was no space at any of the others, would Blarth find his way to accepting the charity of some one willing to see past or blind to his orcish looks.

Walking through the morning mist, Blarth wrikles his nose at the smells of the tanner's quarter. Normally he wouldn't be anywhere close to a place that smelled this bad, but he had met a man last night who had told him of a secret temple of Gruumsh under one of the shops here. Most humans were adverse to worshiping orc gods, believeing them to be crude and savage. However, if what he'd been told was correct, a retired trapper who lived in the tanner's quarter was a quiet devotee of Gruumsh, having grown up in rougher country where one's neighbors were far more likely to be orc than human. Maybe the god of his fathers could provide the solace that the human gods seemed unable, or unwilling to provide the half-orc.
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Unread 30th of November, 2006, 13:17
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Shade squatted amongst the haphazard humps and ridges of the Inn's roof, one arm resting lightly on a raised dormer. She had a relatively unobstructed view of the western horizon where the sun was now sinking. In fact, she had chosen this unlikely place for exactly that reason. Even now, as the sun began to set, the world began to come alive for her. Colors deepened and shone, shadows glistened with slick beauty - somehow, everything seemed more vibrant than she could ever recall. For minutes, she watches, entranced, mind focused on nothing more than the scene before her. And then the spectacle fades, and she is left with only the icy, howling wind for company as the city slowly comes to life behind her.

The Copper Maiden was a well to do Inn in the merchant quarter, close to the western walls of Enderin. It wasn't the sort of place she would normally consider, frequented as it was by a higher class of people than she was used to. She hadn't been sure they'd let her stay, actually, but at the end of the day they were merchants and a little extra cash up front had convinced them. Well, that and the fact that she had a well to do looking young girl with her - she had asked Arjuna to accompany her, half because her part in their escape from Tradeholm interested Shade greatly and half because she feared Juni would end up staying with Nicos.

Shade kept to herself mostly, sleeping much of the day and going out near sundown. Every evening, actually, she slipped out the window and scaled her way to the roof to watch the coming of night. The haze that had surrounded her when the shadow attacked had dissipated, although not entirely. During the day and even at night, her vision seemed bleached - not impaired in any way but colors all seemed washed out, shadows too dark yet not dark enough. Except for those moments at sunset, when everything seemed incredibly vivid.

And then there was the amulet - Cadrius' amulet, engraved with the symbol of Hieroneous. It had saved her life, of that she was certain, blasting the shadow Salwisse into only the gods knew where. Yet since then she had not been able to physically touch it without searing pain. Right now it was secreted in her belt pouch - there was not pain, but she fancied she could feel a malevolent aura seeping from it. She shakes her head, unwilling to let herself consider the implications.

Like a ghost, she slips down the side of the building and into the alley behind the kitchen. Inside, there is the smell of food and the boisterous sounds of the common room. She ignores both and heads out to the steets, where she would likely wander restlessly for hours. She would need to talk with Arjuna soon - she could sense the girl getting frustrated with this lack of communication - but the idea of real conversation still bothered her.

Tomorrow. Maybe they would talk tomorrow.
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Unread 2nd of December, 2006, 06:35
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"Miss Arjuna?"

The serving girl's sudden appearance startles Juni out of a silly daydream. She'd been imagining herself as a gifted performer, like Nicos. Only she pictured herself as a stunningly beautiful crooner in a red silk dress singing steamy elvish love songs in a sultry voice.

Is this what I've come to? Juni thinks without looking up from her table. Wild fancies about what I could be doing with my life? Meanwhile, here I sit, wasting time in the common room instead of actually doing anything. She'd become obsessed lately with figuring out how she might make a living for herself, and so far had not come up with anything remotely practical.

"Miss Arjuna?" the girl says again, this time sounding a trifle impatient. The common room is crowded tonight, and she really has better things to do than wait around for this rich girl to snap out of it.

Juni sighs, but looks up with a polite smile. "Yes?"

"You said to let you know when the other one, when Miss Shade, goes out. She just has, Miss. Gone out, that is. Out the window, like you said she would. I set a boy to watch, and he just now come and told me."

"Oh, I'd nearly forgotten. Thank you. Did the boy see where she went?" Juni asks as she gets up from the table in a hurry.

"Yes, Miss. He says she climbed right up onto the roof."

"The roof?"

"Yes, Miss. The roof."

Now what am I going to do? Juni wonders. It had been her plan to make Shade think she had gone to watch Nicos perform, and then wait and follow the other woman wherever it was that she had been going every night.

"Is there a way up onto the roof from inside the building?" she asks the girl.

"Oh, you don't want to go up there, Miss," the girl answers, looking alarmed. "There's a trapdoor that the handyman uses, but it just wouldn't be safe, nor proper!"

Before Juni can protest, a small boy dashes in to the common room from the kitchen, and tugs at the serving girl's apron.

"Hey, Prissy, guess what? I just saw that crazy lady go sneakin' by the kitchen door. You know, the lady that was up on the roof? Yeah! I saw her go by, lookin' just like a shadow, but she was real. And you said she'd break her neck up there!"

"Thank you!" Juni calls back over her shoulder. She had bolted for the door as soon as she realized who the boy meant by the 'crazy lady'.

Prissy will think we're both crazy! I just hope she doesn't tell the landlord.

Outside it is fully dark. It takes a moment for Juni's eyes to adjust, but she remembers what Alek had told her once, and avoids looking at streetlights or the lanterns shining in windows. She peers around the corner of the inn, and sure enough, a dark figure is slipping away down the alley. Juni follows as quietly as she is able, moving quickly and stopping to hide behind stacks of crates and heaps of refuse whenever she thinks that she may have made too much noise. She manages to keep the shadowy figure in sight, though Shade moves with the swift, noiseless feet of a prowling cat, and takes a zig-zag course though numerous backstreets and alleyways.

The moonless night is brisk. Juni can see her breath misting before her as she hurries along. The wind picks up, and her dark cloak whips and billows around her. She struggles to fasten it closed with fingers numb from the cold, and wonders where in the world she is by now, and where in the world Shade is going.

What was that?

A sound behind her, like a step taken on loose stones. She looks back but sees nothing amiss. Looking ahead again she discovers that she has finally lost sight of Shade. Nothing moves in the darkness before or behind her.
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Unread 2nd of December, 2006, 21:53
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Looking at Maeko, Nicos suddenly felt his injuries as the adrenalin from the fight wore off. Whoever the strange monk had been, he had tried to beat Nicos to death and came closer then the bard would have liked.

"I'm fine," the man glibly lied as he slid down to the ground and rested his back against a tree. "I just had a rather pointed discussion with someone and need to sit down for a moment to recover. What brings you to my part of the world?"
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Unread 3rd of December, 2006, 02:42
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The look Maeko gave him made it plain the nun was far from convinced, but she choose to let the matter lay.
" That is long story", she answered, a faint shadow in her eyes, " we" and she nodded towards the other woman, " are all exiles now, our monastery has been destroyed..." She shrugged resignedly.
" Are the others here too?" she asked after a moment " Shades, Cadrius...?"
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Unread 6th of December, 2006, 14:31
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"I'm sorry to hear about your monastery," Nicos said with a nod to Maeko's silent partner. "I came to Enderin with Shade, she's in there somewhere. I don't know about Cadrius, we split up a few weeks back, last I heard he was heading here but I havn't been able to track him down since.

"And if you'll excuse me for a second," Nicos groaned as he heaved himself to his heat. "I should take a look at the man before anyone else comes along."

Moving over to hastily examine the assassin, Nicos was only barely able to hold his stomach at the sight and smell of the gutted corpse. Finding only a black tattoo of a sun on the man's neck and a small purse with a few silver pieces, the one-armed man pocketed the money and turned back to the nuns, still struggling to keep from throwing up..

"Are you two heading into the city?" He asked, gesturing at his blood soaked clothes. "I'm about to head back there, but I need to try and get the blood out of my clothes first."
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Unread 8th of December, 2006, 13:06
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At first it had been only habit that had Shade take a winding course through the alleys. After all, nobody even knew her in this town. Yet after a few turns she caught a glimpse of a figure behind her that she'd seen earlier. A few more random changes in direction along with surreptious monitoring of her surroundings convinced her that she was indeed being followed. Thoughts of Skathros brought a sudden, tight fear into her stomach. Her rationality quickly dispersed that idea - if he was tailing her she wouldn't know it until he stabbed her between the shoulder blades. And he was probably dead anyway.

Not one of his goons either, as they'd be slicker than this person. Too small to be a thug; probably an amateur cutpurse. She leads the way into darker environs and waits for a chance to slip into hiding. Her pursuer turns their head abruptly and she ducks into deep shadow and waits, confident of her skill. The figure eventually moves forward, looking around uncertainly. There was something familiar in the walk . . . Shade is afforded a better view of the cloak as they approach, and by the time she catches a glimpse of blond hair she already knows it is Arjuna. She waits until the woman passes by before stepping out behind her. The first thought in her mind was to give her a good scare but she decides against it, having seen first hand what the woman was capable of when pressed.

"You're out late. Looking for someone?"
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Unread 8th of December, 2006, 23:20
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Originally Posted by itches "Are you two heading into the city?" He asked, gesturing at his blood soaked clothes. "I'm about to head back there, but I need to try and get the blood out of my clothes first."
"Up there is a steam, if I recall", answered Maeko, with a nod towards a deer trail branching off the main path. "We have something that may serve, if you do not mind wearing clothes given in charity".

Nicos shrugged. He doubted the clothes he was wearing would be good for anything more than oiling rags, after today, and he didn't relish the idea of walking back to town in dripping clothes anyway.
" Thank you, I'll appreciate that".

With a nod to Maeko, the silent nun opened the cloth bag she was carrying, fishing out a trousers and tunic that, although evidently used, were also clean and reasonably well kept, she offered the items to the bard.

" Thank you", he answered with a slight bow.

" It is nothing" said she, in a pleasant contralto voice, less accented than he had thought it would be.

"Now if you ladies would be so kind as to wait for me here, maybe we can go back to town together..." not waiting for an answer, he headed towards the sound of water.
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Unread 11th of December, 2006, 12:26
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"You don't look like you're from around here," the grizzled old man says after opening up the door.

Put off guard by being addressed in his native tongue, it takes Blarth a second or two to gather himself and think of a response, "Yeah. How did you know I was part orc? You just barely opened the door."

"Magic, my young man. The One Eye has lent me the use of his eye when I ask for it."

"How does a human gain the blessing of the One Eye?" Blarth stammers.

"Boy, I've probably lived with orcs for more years than you've been alive. But where are my manners? Someone like yourself can only be here for one reason."

Stepping back, the man slams the door in Blarth's face, and his voice drifts back through, "Only the worthy can seek the presence of the One Eye!"

Taken aback, Blarth just stares blankly at the door for a bit before finally recognizing the traditional hospitality of Gruumsh.

"I've been living with humans too long," Blarth mutters as he steps back to examine the door. It was of basic wooden construction, enough force and...

*crash*

The sound of splintering wood fills the alley as Blarth shoulders the door off its hinges. Of course, such a noise is highly unusual for the morning in the middle of the tanners district, and immediately attracts attention. People glancing down the street, see Blarth standing amongst the rubble of the door.

"For the worthy an audience is granted," the old man says as Blarth steps through the door, "Now, help me set this door to right before the city guard gets here. If it's back in place I can pass off what those who undoubtly have gone to get them saw as an illusion. They'll be far more accepting of that explination than the real one."

Reaching down to pick up some of the largest splinters, the old man directs Blarth to pick up the largest, most intact piece and place it back in the opening. Once it's there, the old man folds the hinges back into place, places the large splinters in place, and then casts a spell. At once, the door becomes whole again, with no sign of its recent shattering.

"There, now I'll be able to shrug off the guard inquiry. What do you say we have something to drink while we wait for the guards to show up?"
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Last edited by Black Plauge; 17th of December, 2006 at 10:29.
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Unread 15th of December, 2006, 07:11
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She 'feels' a familiar presence behind her a split second before she hears the voice, so Juni doesn't startle at the sound. She turns around slowly, almost giving the appearance that she had been expecting Shade to turn up just so.

She has no idea what to say to her however. In fact, she feels more than a little bit foolish getting caught so easily. Why had it seemed like a good idea to follow Shade through the steets like this rather than just wait for her back at the inn?

Because I wanted to see where she's been going every night, and why she is so secretive, Juni reminds herself.

The silence grows heavy, relieved only by the whistling of the wind. Juni struggles with her wayward cloak, trying to keep it from flapping all around her, and still can't find the words to tell Shade what's on her mind. Shade's eyes narrow slightly, the only sign of her impatience.

"I was looking for you," Juni finally blurts out. She frowns, wishing that things didn't have to be so awkward. "I want to know why you've been avoiding me."
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Unread 17th of December, 2006, 23:25
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Post

Because it's what I do.

Shade shakes her head slowly, either at the thought or at Juni - impossible to tell which. Arjuna wasn't going to let it go, of that she was sure. Truth be told, Shade knew she owed her an explanation and - more importantly - she wanted to talk to her. Shade carefully averts her eyes, staring up at the night sky. After a while, she speaks, still looking away.

"There are things you don't know. They are good people; Nicos, Blarth -"

Cadrius

She shakes her head again.

"Not me. I'm . . ."

Thieving

Unworthy

Murderous

Deceptive

Tainted

"It doesn't matter."

Her cold grey eyes find Arjuna.

"You ought to go. Pack your stuff and get out of that room. It's a big city. You're safe here and you can find something to do. You don't need me."
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Unread 18th of December, 2006, 04:48
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"But I don't want to do that," Juni protests. "I like where we're staying. I like sharing a place with you. Or I would if you were ever around."

There are things I don't know?

Juni doesn't doubt that this is true. One look at Shade and you just know she has secrets.

"I don't care about your past. You helped me when I needed it - that's what I know," Juni says slowly. She looks at Shade, thinking about the fight with the shadow back in Tradeholm and the rogue's strange reluctance to act against it. "Anything else - " she starts to say, then shivers suddenly, the cold bite of the wind finally getting to her.

"Can we just go somewhere and talk?"
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Unread 21st of December, 2006, 11:32
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Nodding his thanks for the offer of clothing, Nicos disappeared into the trees, returning several minutes later changed and clean of blood.

"Okay ladies," he said with a shivering smile from the icy cold water he had bathed in. "Shall we make Enderin?"
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Unread 21st of December, 2006, 12:38
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Shade stares at Arjuna, unblinking, while the wind knifes through her. Juni shivers and she realizes that the cold should be biting instead of merely annoying. She grimaces at this reminder of how estranged she has become from herself, then nods curtly at the other woman. Without a word she spins around and heads back toward the merchant's quarter, but away from their lodging. The place she chooses is called The Silver Serpent, a nondescript tavern that served as a secondary place of business for many of the traders. Here the lights were dim and small groups of people talked in low voices, doubtless working out agreements and deals.

When they have seated themselves and been served, Shade finally looks at Arjuna. Her hands are beneath her cloak, making no move towards the glass of wine she had ordered.

"So here we are."
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Unread 1st of January, 2007, 01:12
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Juni could almost laugh. Why is she going to such trouble? Even now, when Shade says she's willing to talk, Juni can feel the wall that she's put up around herself. Why not just do as Shade suggested a moment ago? Pack up and move on.

She warms her fingers on the mug of mulled wine she ordered, and sighs.

"Yes, here we are."

How to go about breaking down that wall?

"You know, I never dreamed I'd leave Tradeholm someday," she begins, conversationally. "I was born and grew up in the slums there. Then, when my father became successful, he took me to live with him in the High End.

"It was a grand estate; he had the best of everything. But I'd left my friends and the family that loved me behind. Father kept talking about the opportunity I would have there, to meet the right people. I found out later that he was planning to marry me into an influencial family, to further his own career."

Juni stares into the depths of her wine cup. She has yet to take a drink.

"My father. He was a hard man, exacting. I hardly ever saw him - he seldom came around. But when he did, he expected to see results. All that money and effort he was pouring into my education had to be good for something. He had ways... of making sure I felt his displeasure when I didn't measure up."

She looks up at Shade.

"I killed a man," she says softly. "My teacher. I killed him, just as my father would've done. I waited until he thought I was asleep, then I used all my power to attack his mind. And when that wasn't enough to finish him off, I drove his own sword into his belly.

"So you see," she says after a moment's pause, "there may be things you don't know about me as well. I say, they don't matter, these things in our pasts. Unless... there's something you want to tell me."
  #18  
Unread 2nd of January, 2007, 02:17
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Shade sits back, eyes lazily studying the girl before her. So different, the two of them, yet at heart their stories were not so different. Had this been what Shade had sensed back in Enderin, the reason for her curiousity in Arjuna?

She looks away, down at the drink in front of her, puts her hands at its base. They reflect oddly in the silver surface, painted in shades of grey. Everything was like that now, familiar but subtly wrong.

"Fathers."

She spits the word out like an accusation.

"We're only property to them, something to be sold to the highest bidder. My father was only a potter, and a poor one at that, but he had me promised to an old baker for a few coins."

She final takes a drink, a long swallow, eyes still avoiding Arjuna. She had known the girl had killed someone and had assumed self defense. The fact that it had been pre-meditated was unexpected - and again, far too similar to Shade's own past. She refuses to comment, entirely unsure of her own thoughts in that regard and still unwillling to explore right and wrong when it came to death.

"It isn't all in the past. Not for me."

Now she looks at Arjuna, her eyes deep and wounded, cold stone scored by time and hardship.

"Something . . . happened to me in Enderin. I fought with one of those shadows, before the one you saw. I don't know why, but it was destroyed - magic from a pendant of Hieroneous that Cadrius gave me. But since then . . . I don't know what happened. I'm not right."

She looks at her dark reflection in the wine.

"The shadow. I think it might be part of me now."
  #19  
Unread 4th of January, 2007, 07:28
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Juni trembles, the conversation adding to the chill of the evening. She finally sips at her wine, cupping the mug in her hands and letting the steam warm her face. Recalling Vywodor's murder had left her feeling shaky, for all that she had made it sound so matter-of-fact.

And now, what is this that Shade is saying about a shadow?

"I don't think that's possible," Juni says without much conviction. Of course, she really has no idea what is possible or impossible, not when it comes to the creatures of nightmare, like the one they fought back in Tradeholm. "I mean, how could it... do that?"

But wait. That might explain Shade's recent strange behavior, including her apparent reluctance to harm the second shadow that attacked her. Had she felt some sort of kinship with it?

"But what would that mean?" Juni asks, suddenly more than half believing that it might be true. Her voice falls to a barely audible whisper. "That creature was not a living thing, Shade." After a moment's pause: "Maybe you should see a priest."
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Unread 11th of January, 2007, 13:24
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Shade's eyes go hollow at the thought of inviting a priest to investigate her soul. She remembers all too vividly the trial in Karkas and the rampant corruption of the so called holy men. They weren't all like that, of course, but what might a truly godly man think of her? They'd call her cursed, no doubt, and stone her if their moribund minds couldn't think of some more inventive way to kill her.

"No. No priests."

She shifts uncomfortably, rubbing one hand across the back of her neck. When she looks up, Juni is staring at her silently - a trifle scared perhaps, but honest and caring. The sincerity of that gaze is somehow reassuring, despite the uncertainty written there. For the first time in a long time, Shade relaxes a little. Her grey eyes look tired.

"I don't know what it means," she says quietly, almost to herself. "But I won't let them take away what I have left."
  #21  
Unread 18th of January, 2007, 04:45
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Juni says nothing for a moment. She looks at Shade, her pale blue eyes seeming to lose focus slightly which gives her expression a dreamy, preoccupied cast.

"It will be all right," she says then, taking a final drink of the warm posset in her mug. "Let's go home."
  #22  
Unread 31st of January, 2007, 09:13
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The borrowed dry clothing was quite helpful on the chill morning, but the blessing was almost outweighed by the itches it set aflame in Nicos' skin. In the years since he had left the life of a monk behind, the bard had taken care to only wear clothing as a certain quality, and had apparently forgotten just how uncomfortable cheaper clothing could be.

After the group made it through the gate with nothing more then a momentary queer look from the guards, Nicos pulled up.

"Normally it could take a few days to find Shade if she has decided she doesn't want to be found, but I'm having lunch with her roommate at a tavern. I think you'd like her, and if you come along she may know where we can find our shadowy friend."
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  #23  
Unread 6th of February, 2007, 06:55
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Maeko nodded thoughtfully, then exchanged a few sentences with her companion in what Nicos believed to be their mother tongue, before turning her attention to the bard again:

" Yes. We must go back to monastery now, but I will come to the tavern later.
Where is this place, Nicos?"

She sounded somehow constrained, was it the other nun's presence?
The Maeko Nicos remembered was somehow more comfortable with the world around her that she seemed to be now. Monastic discipline could have that effect, but Nicos somehow didn't think this to be the case, Maeko was nun to her fingernails but she definitely was not bitter or disillusioned about secular life.

He forced himself to stop this train of thought. The woman had just had the only home she had ever knew burned to the ground, that would have been more than enough to unsettle anybody, besides he didn't like where that train of thought menaced to take him.

" Ah, yes".
He gave her the tavern's whereabouts and, after agreeing on an hour, they went their separated ways, Nicos couldn't help, though, but stop and stare at Maeko's retreating back, musing.
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Unread 8th of February, 2007, 21:48
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Nicos entered his apartment and immediately shrugged off his weapons belt and the borrowed tunic. Opening a chest at the foot of the double bed dominating the main room, the bard pulled out a green tunic then froze, a sense of alarm spreading through his body and his senses straining to the edge of their ability.

At the monastery everyone made up their cot the same way, day after day the repetition was taught to him until it became a second nature. Since leaving that life behind, how to make up his bed was one of the few habits that didn't leave him, and his bed was not made correctly.

Dropping the fresh tunic, Nicos silently made his way from room to room, not stopping until he was sure they were empty and nothing had been taken. Pulling on the tunic and adjusting to bed to how it should be, the bard tried to puzzle it out. Giving up on finding an answer on his own, the man made his way down to his landlady's flat and started knocking.

"Morning Saphrina," he said once she answered. "Did Blarth stay in my rooms last night?"

"Tha' he did," she replied giving him a strange look. "Was tha' a problem?"

"No, it's just he usually lets me know before hand I wonder - oh!" Stopping mid-sentence Nicos slapped his forehead. "That's right, I told him I was going to be out, totally slipped my mind. Did he say where he was headed?"

"No, but he didn' come back last nigh'."

"Maybe he finally found a better offer, if you see Blarth will you tell him I'm looking for him?"

"Tha' I can," the landlady replied. "And do I wanna to know why you've been out for two nigh's?"

"Ah Saphrina," Nicos said flashing his most roughish smile. "You shouldn't ask questions when you don't want to hear the answer."
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  #25  
Unread 10th of February, 2007, 06:25
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Juni slept a little better than usual that night although, as always, her dreams were full of confusing premonitions and forebodings. Vywodor had told her that, as a clairvoyant, the 'night visions' were something she would have to learn to cope with, even though it was likely that she'd never learn to make any sense out of them. Sometimes the dreams are enough to leave her feeling drained and sick to her stomach when she wakes in the morning. But today she is able to shake off the malaise, and jump out of bed feeling enthusiastic about the day.

She feels better for having talked to Shade last night, although she isn't sure what exactly was accomplished. Is it likely that Shade's behavior will change and she'll stop wandering the streets at night? Juni doesn't know, but at least the cause of her companion's unrest is now out in the open. What she needs is to get out and see her friends more, Juni can't help thinking. Unfortunately, Shade has declined every invitation that Juni has made her.

Juni spends the better part of the morning getting ready to meet Nicos for a lunch date. When she finally emerges from her side of the partioned room freshly bathed and smelling of lavender soap, she finds Shade sitting on the floor, cleaning and honing her blades.

"Where are you going all dressed up?" Shade asks, hardly looking up from what she is doing.

Juni checks her reflection in the tall wall-mirror. "I'm going to meet Nicos for lunch."

"Why?"

"No real reason, I just like watching him perform."

A pause. "You have to watch out for that one."

"Who, Nicos? He's sweet." Juni adjusts her skirt and the collar of her blouse, aware that Shade has stopped working and is looking at her now. "He's always been very nice to me."

Shade looks away, then runs the whetstone slowly down the edge of one gleaming blade. She stops again and looks at Juni.

"He can be a charmer - when he wants to be," she holds the blade up, examining its edge, then slides the fine steel into its battered leather scabbard. "I'm done here and I wouldn't mind stretching my legs . . ."

Shade hadn't looked close to done a few moments ago. Juni turns away to get her coin pouch and tuck it into her belt, hiding her smile.

"Well all right, if you really want to come along. But hurry. I don't want to be late!"

by Kel and Gral
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