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  #51  
Unread 14th of February, 2006, 07:06
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Ben stared at the fire, mulling over the bard's tales but not giving them too much thought. What happened to one person might not happen to you, and what worked for one man quite probably wouldn't work for another one. More often than not, you had to find your own path through the world, and couldn't follow someone else's trail.

Sometimes even that wasn't true though. The only truth about life is that your life was probably different from the guy sitting next to you. Everything else was just a fact for a certain individual's life. Nothing more.

"I'm not tired yet so I'll take first watch," Ben said as he finally looked away from the fire at the others.
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Unread 16th of February, 2006, 01:18
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It's all just gibberish. Everything.

From the time you were born until the time you died, none of it really mattered. Beggar and Hero alike would be forgotten eventually, their names and deeds buried beneath the endless turning of the indifferent wheel. The sun rose and set, people were born and died. A day or a lifetime, it was all the same.

Better to live in the present than dwell on philosophical offal. She turns to Ben before settling in.

"Wake me at moonrise."
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Unread 16th of February, 2006, 01:44
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"Me too," Blarth adds, not wanting to be left out of the watch cycle, and wanting to say goodbye to Shade if she choose this night to leave.
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  #54  
Unread 22nd of February, 2006, 00:39
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Shade sleeps, her body entirely still, her mind exactly the opposite. Quick, sporadic dreams - more often than not disturbing - rattle through her slumber like slashes from a blade. Things that have happened, things she fears, things she wishes for - all there, all but slightly twisted - estranged from truth and fact by only the barest of margins, yet made somehow horrific thereby.

She is cold almost to the point of numbness when Ben wakes her. His watch was quiet, uneventful. She glares. He shrugs and reminds her to wake Blarth, then goes to take his own rest. Her eyes tear from being exposed to the icy wind so soon after sleep, she rubs at them absently. Breathing out a long cloud of frost, she approaches Blarth.

The half orc is sleeping peacefully, his face looking more bestial now that his eyes are closed. She had approached with her customary silence, somewhere in her sleep confused thoughts already aware that she has no intention of waking him. Yet before she can withdraw, his nose twitches and then his eyes open abruptly, see her, and he rises. No sign of sleepiness about him; for some reason that irritates her.

Shade stretches and sniffs once.

"Watch time. You take that side."
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Unread 22nd of February, 2006, 08:01
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Nodding, Blarth stretches out his back and heads to the position that Shade indicated. Once there, however, he orients himself so that he's watching not the night soaked forest around the camp but the camp itself. In particular Shade. Her decision to leave is certianly her right, and Blarth won't stop her, but he will say good bye.

Tonight, however, is not the night and it's soon time to wake the one-armed bard for his turn at the watch.
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  #56  
Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 00:33
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Nicos woke slowly from his slumber, bleary eyes opening as he was shaken awake.

"It's your watch," an unidentified voice said from beyond the haze that shrouded his vision. "Time to wake up."

Forcing his eyes to focus, the bard started fully awake as he noticed the inhuman figure looming over him. With a sudden movement Nicos knocked himself free of the hand that had grasped his arm and rolled out of his makeshift bed. The bard was already on his feet and prepared to defend himself from attack by the time he belatedly recognised the figure as Blarth.

"Damnit," Nicos said through his rapid breath. "You almost gave me a heart attack!"

It took several more moments as the adrenalin dropped from his bloodstream for him to notice Shade in the background and the freezing night time temperature. Hastily getting dressed and throwing a heavy cloak over his shoulders, the man quietly asked his two companions.

"Anything happen during your watch?"
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Last edited by itches; 23rd of February, 2006 at 01:09.
  #57  
Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 01:30
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Shade regards the bard for a moment, her eyes flat, before answering hollowly.

"Quiet as death."

Ill luck to use that expression, or at least that's what they used to say back in the guild. This disavowance of superstition gave her some small comfort, helped ease the tension she was starting to feel about returning to a den full of thieves. She was no longer the naive, awestruck youth she had once been.
  #58  
Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 01:44
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Nicos felt a chill pass through him at Shade's comment, and he hastily finished dressing.

"In my experience death tends to be anything but quiet."

Standing again and stretching out the kinks that had developed in his sleep, the bard gazed up at the stars and attempted to gauge the time by their position.

"You guys better get back to sleep and catch a couple of hours sleep; I'll be good to keep watch by myself."
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  #59  
Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 02:40
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Blarth and Shade each settle in once again, trying to get some sleep before the dawn. Not long after, and well before Shade has fallen asleep, she hears the scuff of leather on leather. Looking up she sees Nicos, who scrapes one boot against the other again, obviously with the intent to wake her. The look in his eyes is one she has seen before - hard, mistrustful. The way he looked when he met them outside the Citadel after he had disappeared.

Her own eyes turn steely as she rises; graceful, this time - almost cocky, with no sign of lethargy in her slim frame. Her hands rest on her belt, near the hilts of her blades - sinuous, ready. Her voice is low and carefully controlled.

"What's on your mind?"
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Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 21:38
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After the others return to sleep Nicos found a secluded spot to keep watch. He listened to the sounds of the night around him, unseen insects chirping, trees waving in the slight breeze, the near by stream rushing past. All of it wove into a rhythm that sung to the bard, a rhythm that he carefully began to mentally construct a melody that went along with it.

It was a clever trick to help when keeping watch, the melody kept the watcher alert during the long boring hours and provided and easy way to track the minutes as they past. But tonight he found that he couldn't focus on it. After many minutes the bard gave up in disgust and turned his focus on what was bothering him.

Getting up and renetering the camp, Nicos' eyes setteled upon Shade's prone form. Walking towards her and deliberatly skuffing his boots, he was pleased to see the noise wake her but none of the others. Better to ask these questions when no one else was listening.

"What's on your mind?"

"All the normal things," he replied hesitating at the last moment. "The mysteries of the gods, the stars. Gierto's 5th Symphony. Shade, how did you get the boat?"
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Last edited by itches; 23rd of February, 2006 at 23:19.
  #61  
Unread 23rd of February, 2006, 23:17
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She eyes the bard, outwardly cold, irritated. Inside she feels a quick jolt of adrenalaine, wills herself to stay still. This was it. Nicos was no fool and Shade wasn't surprised he was the one to get curious. However, he also wasn't easy to deceive. She needed a careful mix of truth and falsehood, delivered in a fashion that let him draw conclusions based on what they all thought was her nature. She shrugs.

"I followed the river until I found a little village, if you could call it that, and picked one that suited us."

Last edited by Gralhruk; 24th of February, 2006 at 00:20.
  #62  
Unread 24th of February, 2006, 00:12
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Inwardly the bard sighed. He had hoped that Shade would say something to belay his fears so he wouldn't have to mention it, but for once he wasn't lucky.

"Yeah, I figured that you had to steal one. I was thinking about our journey over the last couple of days, and how we've managed to avoid running into any nasty surprises. I figure that's because of your trail breaking, and I for one am glad that we didn't have to risk our necks at any point."

As he talked Nicos carefully kept his eyes on Shade, measuring the distance between them and trying to get a reading on her face. The fact that she was still wearing her blades was not lost on him.

"And yet despite that, I couldn't notice that you were cleaning blood from your swords before." Despite his attempts to keep his voice even, a note of pleading somehow found it's way in. "Shade, tell me the blood has nothing to do with you getting the boat."
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  #63  
Unread 24th of February, 2006, 00:28
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Shade resists the urge to run her hand over her thigh, where the self inflicted wound still burned. Instead, she lets her eyes get colder, assumes an even easier, more ready stance. Her voice is now colder than ice.

"The blood has nothing to do with me getting the boat."

She pauses.

"And even if it did, it doesn't matter. We needed a boat. If someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time . . ."

She shrugs, her voice angry now, louder.

"Like I said, the blood has nothing to do with me getting the boat. Do we understand one another?"
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Unread 24th of February, 2006, 00:37
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Nicos feels his face tighten into a grimace at the woman's word. Thieving was one thing, but murder...

"No, I don't think we do understand each," he said, his vow low and eyes unblinking. "I can be a bit slow sometimes, care to explain?"
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  #65  
Unread 24th of February, 2006, 00:47
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For the first time her gaze wavers, but then she spits out an obscenity and turns blazing eyes back toward him. Her voice is a snarl.

"No, I don't care to explain. Since when are you so virtuous?"
  #66  
Unread 24th of February, 2006, 04:40
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For some reason sleep does not come easily to the large and simple half-orc after his watch. Though he lies down and closes his eyes, sleep simply will not come. Still, Blarth lies still, trying to force his body and mind to shut down and get some rest.

His efforts, however, are defeated by the start of a conversation, or more accurately an argument at his back. Doing his best to block it out and get to sleep despite it, Blarth can't help but hear what is going on behind him. Finally giving up on the attempt, Blarth sits up and turns to face Nicos and Shade.

"Do you mind? Some of us would like to get some sleep."
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  #67  
Unread 27th of February, 2006, 19:35
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Nicos bit back most of his irritation at Blarth's interruption. It wasn't the half-orc the bard was irritated at, so forced his voice to become something that resembled a reasonable tone.

"You have my apologies Blarth. I was just trying to determine if Shade killed anyone to get our boat."
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  #68  
Unread 28th of February, 2006, 01:26
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Her gaze wavers between Blarth and the bard, her eyes only flicking once to where Cadrius is also beginning to stir. She didn't want to know what he'd think of her after this. Shade turns a murderous look on Nicos.

"Good thing you don't need two hands to play judge and jury. I'd be careful before you try the executioner bit, though."

Last edited by Gralhruk; 28th of February, 2006 at 01:45.
  #69  
Unread 28th of February, 2006, 01:55
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An unseen twitch went through Nicos' face at Shade's comment. Were it any but a companion, he would have already thrown a punch. As it was the days of travel and instances of fighting side by side restrained him - barely. instead the words were uttered between clenched teeth and a body tensed with fury.

"Advice Shade? Well you are the expert at killing people I suppose. Tell me, is that what you think when you slit someone's throat? An execution? Murder is such a dirty word after all. Almost as dirty as murderer."
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Last edited by itches; 28th of February, 2006 at 13:17.
  #70  
Unread 28th of February, 2006, 09:16
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Looking back and forth between Shade and Nicos, Blarth opens his mouth as if to say something but never actually does. He's fairly certian a line has been crossed somewhere, but he's not sure who crossed it or in what direction.
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Unread 28th of February, 2006, 18:18
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Somewhere amid the first few caustic exchanges, Cadrius awakens. He lays on one side with his back to Shade and Nicos. Listening, Cadrius grits his teeth. Their petulant barbs summon a swift irritation in the fallen paladin. He focuses on the cold, hard ground separated from his shoulder and hip by only the thin bedroll spread out beneath him. His efforts are dashed against the rocks, however, as the confrontation escalates. As it threatens to boil over, he casts back the woolen blanket and pushes himself to his feet.

“Enough!” His pale blue eyes are shot with crimson. The ancient blade he’s borne for the better part of a decade lies near the rumpled blanket. “We are two weeks still from our journey’s end. You two squabble like…” he shakes his head and snatches up the sword off the ground. A baleful expression writ upon his face, Cadrius stalks toward the river.
  #72  
Unread 1st of March, 2006, 01:13
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She watches Cadrius go, bile rising in her throat as Nicos' words ring in her ears. The dwarf had bled profusely; she had so casually slit his throat while he was helpless, yet the act itself continued to haunt her even now. What had started out as an act was all too real now. Shade knew it, could tell from the wild light in the bard's eyes that he knew it too.

Deep down, buried so deep she wouldn't even admit it to herself, Shade had hoped Cadrius would show her the compassion he seemed to find when she was at her worst, would offer some words of acceptance despite her guilt. That frail, hidden hope guttered and died, replaced by the always eager fire of her anger. She had never wanted their companionship, never wanted to be one of them. Nobody had ever looked out for her anyway, and any time she trusted anyone they ended up using her.

"So I am."

She spits the words out, snatching up her pack and slinging it over one shoulder. Her flinty gaze sweeps around the camp, where Blarth and Ben watch without expression. She moves close to Nicos, meets his gaze without blinking.

"I thought you knew how the world worked. Enjoy your innocence. While it lasts, that is."
  #73  
Unread 1st of March, 2006, 01:59
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A quiet voice within Nicos struggled to be heard, to calm down, to consider his words, consider Shade's words and the guilt that shone from her face. To stop the whole situation before it got any further. A small voice. A voice drowned out by an anger that dominated the normally controlled man.

"Enjoy?" Nicos said matching everything Shade threw at him. "What I'll enjoy is being able to sleep without worrying about waking up dead."
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  #74  
Unread 1st of March, 2006, 03:20
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Shade retreats several steps from the bard before turning her back and walking out of the campsite, towards the river. Her path takes her near to Cadrius. She can see the anger and pain on his face as he slashes and parries at empty air. She wonders briefly who it was he saw in his mind while he attacked with such savagery. She'd never know, didn't want to know.

"It was fun while it lasted, but I'm done with all of you. I'm tired of hiding what I am. You are an outlaw now, too. Accept that fact or you'll die."

He doesn't even pause in his practice or look in her direction. It was better that way. She disappears back into the dark wood, jogs until she reaches the river. She sprints onto a spit that juts out into the water, then leaps the remaining distance, splashing into shallow water on the other side. The moonlight limns her gently as she crests the far bank, then she fades into the dark without looking back.
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Unread 1st of March, 2006, 07:52
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A line had deffinately been crossed.

"Some one want to tell me what just happened?" Blarth asks to the tension filled air that fills the campsite.
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