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  #51  
Unread 5th of August, 2008, 16:39
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Nicos stopped when Juni called out to him, trying to catch his breath without taking too deep a breath. His ribs weren't that bad, the bard just needed a few quiet minutes to sit down and attend to them, neither of which were available during the prolonged march.

"But I do wish I knew where Shade is leading us. Has she said anything to you about where we're going?"

"I tried to ask her a while ago, but all she did was kind of ... glare at me. After that," he said flashing her a grin. "I decided to keep an eye on things back here with you. How are you holding up so far?"
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Unread 6th of August, 2008, 04:49
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"Me? Oh, I'm doing great... just great!" Juni sounds a bit too enthusiastic. "It's great being on the road. I love all this walking and fresh air, especially the walking! It's great for the, um.. legs." She swings her arms a bit more as she walks to show just how energetic she feels. She can't keep it up though.

"Oh, who am I kidding? I'm dead tired. I can't wait for the end of the day so I can sit down!

"And my nerves are frazzled. I keep thinking we'll run into more of those giant ants or something even worse, so I try to 'sense' the future and the road ahead. It's making me dizzy!" She smiles at Nicos. "But at least my ribs aren't cracked. Are you feeling all right? You know, if you think we should stop early tonight to rest, I'll back you up."
  #53  
Unread 6th of August, 2008, 22:29
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"My ribs aren't cracked," Nicos replied in indignation. "They're just ... bent a little. No I'll be fine until tonight - that is if our guide doesn't want us to keep marching half the night too. I've been trying to figure out what those ... things were, but I'm not doing too well. Have you ever heard any stories about insect-men? Stories you'd tell to children, old wives tales, myths, anything at all?"
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Unread 7th of August, 2008, 10:57
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"Giant insects? No. I've never heard stories like that."

Juni walks on, happy for the conversation even if she does have to step a bit livelier to keep up with Nicos' long strides.

"All the stories I heard when I was a child had to do with city-dwelling monsters. You know, the Thing that lives in the sewer and comes out at night to eat children who back-talk. That kind of thing. Oh, and the other children used to tell about the Giant Brain that would make your eyes pop out and your heart explode just by looking at you. Of course, that monster turned out to be my father..."

She walks on in silence for a moment, thinking about her childhood fears and how they stack up against the reality that she has come to know.

"The giant ants really weren't so terrible. I mean, it could have been very bad for us, but we won in the end. Their minds were strange though. They were connected somehow, and yet I sensed that they were missing something, a directing consciousness of some sort. The creatures that we encountered were quite lost without that direction, I think.

"But I worry much more about the Sisters of the Jade Eye. I wish that I knew more." She laughs. "Or maybe what I wish is that I didn't know anything about them at all."
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Unread 9th of August, 2008, 02:43
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"The ants may have seemed easy for you," Nicos wryly commented. "Not all of us were talented enough to avoid injury. I don't know much about the Sisters of the Jade Eye, but I was thinking about insect-men and the closest I came up with were stories of the Blackweb Women.

"They're supposedly half-spider half-women who live in the ancient catacombs of some of the older cities. They were once women who found their true loves but out of fear never acted on it, instead all they could do was watch from the shadows as their true love moved on with their lives. As they story goes, over the years their envy and bitterness turned them into monsters and they were forced to hide in the darkness, coming out at night to extract vengeance on young lovers.

"I'd never given any thought to the possibility that they might be real," the bard said with a sidewards glance. "The way most of the tales are told, the moral gets laid on pretty thick, especially when you have a ... lone audience. I always just presumed they were invented by some crafty ancient storyteller, but there are ant-men, why not spider-women?"
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Unread 14th of August, 2008, 10:54
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Juni shudders. She has never liked spiders. Loathsome, venomous, bloated things skulking in webby corners. Ugh!

"Nicos, what a horrible thought! Half woman, half spider..." Which half is the spider half? she wonders, then has to drive the resulting bizarre yet vivid imaginings from her mind.

"What is the moral of such a story supposed to be anyway?"
  #57  
Unread 15th of August, 2008, 02:48
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"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today," Blarth chimes in, having stopped to reposition the cloth wound about his calf and thus making it so that Nicos and Juni had caught up with him.

Standing back up, Blarth continues walking with the pair, "My lerares used to recite that story to me and the other children every time we made excuses for not doing something. Their vengance, however, was not usually confined to young lovers and instead manifested itself on all those who would delay doing something important."
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  #58  
Unread 15th of August, 2008, 08:31
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"They exact moral of the story tends to vary with who is doing the tell," Nicos commented. "Mine for instance lent on the theme of 'Sleep with the bard before you get eaten by, or turn into a monster.'

"Still," he added turning to Blarth. "I didn't realise that the story ran in both both Orc and Human cultures. When we get a chance to sit down I'd be interested in hearing some of the Orc folktales."
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Unread 16th of August, 2008, 02:59
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Suddenly Shade is there, having stopped walking a few moments ago, her face like stone. She stares at them, her gaze cold but distant above the veil. The fingers of her right hand toy idly with a brushed metal sword hilt; the other is hidden beneath her cloak.

"Save your breath for walking."

She looks pointedly at Nicos.

"You look like you could use it. And nobody needs to hear us out here," she adds distractedly.
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Unread 16th of August, 2008, 03:07
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Looking around at the forest, deserted except for the others traveling with him, Blarth replies to Shade, "Nobody is here to hear us."
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  #61  
Unread 16th of August, 2008, 03:14
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"How do you know? Isac found us. Skathros' men are still looking for Arjuna. Goblin witches are after me. Then there is Thunn and his men."

She pauses her irritated tirade for a moment, wondering about Maeko. The monk was better off without them, but it still grated on Shade to leave like that.

"And who knows what other creatures are lurking out here."
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Unread 16th of August, 2008, 03:31
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"Isac found us in a town. Skathros' men, even if they tracked us to Enderin and found out we had left would have no way of knowing which way we were going. The goblin witches don't need to find you, their curse already has. Thunn is dead and his men would have the same problem as Skathros' men if they were looking for us.

As for other creatures, Fear of the unknown leads to paralysis. Act as if you have no fear and you will always be moving. Sometimes even going forward."
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  #63  
Unread 16th of August, 2008, 06:08
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Nicos glanced at Juni and rolled his eyes.

"We can afford to take a short break," the bard interjected. "We've been walking for a while, and a few minutes now won't make a difference."
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Unread 16th of August, 2008, 06:16
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Shade glares at them for a moment, seemingly at a loss for words. Finally she shakes her head.

"Take your break then. Let me know when you're ready."

She stalks off a short distance without looking back and huddles into her cloak, her back against a tree.
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Unread 20th of August, 2008, 10:39
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Isac pries the strap of his satchel out of his shoulder and drops it to the ground. Swaying slightly he fights the urge to sit fearing he lacked the strength to stand again. Shade’s lithe form stalks past him, and he stares blankly after her. She is at once beautiful and deadly, like a Harappan ghir’at cat clothed in fair skin.

He lets her brood for a while, pretending to rummage through his sack for a bit of food. At length he tiredly comes to stand next to her, and without speaking offers her a bit of spiced bread.
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Unread 22nd of August, 2008, 03:46
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She looks up at him, eyes fierce in her otherwise slack face, ignoring the proffered bread. Hunger was the last thing on her mind. She could feel her time slipping by, the sickness feasting on her innards with every passing moment, consuming her even while she yet lived . . .

Shade's wiry form shudders and then stops with a snap as she forces herself away from the edge of the abyss. She shakes her head at Isac.

"It's moving fast, isn't it?"
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Unread 22nd of August, 2008, 09:48
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Unable to find the words, he simply nods.
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Unread 23rd of August, 2008, 22:11
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"I guess she's right," Juni says, watching Shade stalk away. "We should have been more careful. I'd almost forgotten about everyone who might be trying to find us." Thinking of Skathros and the Guild for the first time in quite a while makes her feel cold inside.

Juni watches as Isac walks over to join Shade. She remembers when she first met him how she thought that he would be good for Shade, sort of a light in the darkness for her. And it had turned out to be true, hadn't it? After all it was Isac who helped Shade figure out what caused the darkness, and it is Isac alone who keeps the curse at bay with his prayers.

"Well, as long as we're taking a break," Juni says, straightening up and walking toward the pair, "I'm going to find out where we are going."
  #69  
Unread 29th of August, 2008, 21:44
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Seeing his face confirms her fears but instead of hopelessness the knowledge only hardens her resolve. They'd find a cure or they wouldn't. If she slipped too far beneath the fetid waters of the curse then she would end it herself.

These grim thoughts set fires in her eyes just as Arjuna approaches. Shade can see the questions on her pretty face and feels a sudden pang of jealousy at her obvious youthful health.

"What is it?" she asks more sharply than she intends.
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Unread 3rd of September, 2008, 10:18
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Juni knows Shade well enough by now that she doesn't let the harsh tone bother her... much. She folds her arms across her chest - perhaps as a defense against any further sharp words - and looks back and forth between Shade and Isac for a moment before speaking.

"It might be easier on the rest of us if we knew where we were going. Is there some kind of plan? Or are we just running away blindly? I wish you'd confide in me for once, Shade, instead of making me chase you down and drag the information out of you syllable by syllable. We're supposed to be... " She realizes suddenly that she is being rather harsh herself.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. Just..." Juni sighs. "Can you at least tell me where we're going?"
  #71  
Unread 4th of September, 2008, 00:34
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Shade weathers the tirade, her face losing all expression save for her burning gaze.

"I'm so sorry to make things difficult for the rest of you."

She lets the acid words sink in for a moment before evenly naming their destination.

"Tradeholm. We're going back to Tradeholm."
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Unread 5th of September, 2008, 10:00
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An awkward silence hangs in the air.

"We're hoping to find clues reguarding the location of a scroll. Once we find it we need to take it to Phror Khiliades and exchange it for a reliquary that we can use to release Shade from her curse."
  #73  
Unread 8th of September, 2008, 21:45
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"The odds are against my finding anything, and you know how unsafe Tradeholm is for you. Maybe it's better if you just let us go in alone."

Us.

She included Isac because she had to. It was hard to admit and terribly frightening - without him she was as good as dead. If he decided he didn't want a part in this - and she couldn't blame him if he didn't - then he might just as well brain her with that mace of his before he went.
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Unread 20th of September, 2008, 04:21
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Retying the strip of cloth that bound his calf wound, Blarth stands up and announces, "I'm ready to continue."
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  #75  
Unread 28th of September, 2008, 22:52
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Before Juni knows it, they're back on the road. Heading for Tradeholm.

She can't help feeling a bit foolish for not even realizing in which direction they'd been traveling. It had not even occurred to her they were anywhere near Tradeholm. It just goes to show how ignorant she is.

She'd been stung by Shade's coldness in spite of the fact that she knew she probably deserved it. (It had been rather small of her to complain to Shade about minor hardships in the face of the dreadful consequences of the goblin witches' curse.) And then had felt somehow cut out of things when Shade suggested that she stay behind and let them go into Tradeholm without her; them being Shade and Isac, of course.

Juni had wanted to tell Shade that she could be useful in Tradeholm, possibly even invaluable; but when it came right down to it, she couldn't think how. So instead she had said nothing at all.

And now daylight is fading and darkness is beginning to creep across the sky from the East. Will they make camp again? Or are they close enough to Tradeholm that Shade will want to keep going till they reach the city? Juni had no idea.
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