Crowned in Clouds

Juul Shaepah
Citizen of the World
Joined: 9:42 PM - Mar 27, 2014

2:08 PM - May 22, 2017 #1

Spring was well in step. Trees, destitute of leaves, had begun to bud their garments once more. The first wave of spring flowers had sprouted, covering the highlands in a sea of blue and yellow, and the ground had become soft enough to till. Crowds of labourers and oxen were seen busy at work, chasing away the winter pigs and turning over the fallow soil. Though lean winter fare still graced the tables of the people, they bore the taste of better meals to come. On some days the sun blazed strong, with nary a cloud to impede, on others the hue of the sky was heavily overcast.

The snow had retreated from the peaks of the Do’Suul, though one could not see such detail through the gloom and light mist – the mountains were shapeless, looming giants standing sentinel over treacherous switchback trails that snaked around their flanks and through thin pine forests. Birds of prey gave whistling cries that mingled with the hollow chopping of hooves against stone, the horses giving an odd whicker when urged to unsure footing.

Juul sat astride her horse, armed as for war, with her gorget affixed around her shoulders and her cabasset atop her head. In her right hand was her spear, slung over a shoulder, and in her left were the worn leather reins that yoked the skewbald mare beneath her. Her shield was hanging from her saddle, from which a pack mule was also tethered. She sniffed, enjoying the clean mountain air, and spat. Her hind quarters ached abominably; this was the third week of their ride.

The message had arrived in Fairin some five weeks ago; the words simple. The Emperor had decreed that a War Summons be delivered to the scattered knights and clans deep in the Do’Suul. The town had been set to a flurry – de Hollemark had shown clear martial vigour, but the Morrimians had yet to whet their blades in open warfare. Perhaps this meant that the shanty-town of huts and bivouacs that sat on the city’s borders would soon be dispersed to a higher purpose. Klaus van Kriel, the most prominent knight of the city, had tasked Juul with the journey seeing as she had no immediate connection with the town – all the other watch captains had their families, and no self-respecting nobleman would undertake such an arduous journey to parlay with pauper knights and bearded barbarians. She had decided to bring Etherone along, partly due to his familiarity with the Northern dialect, and partly because he was a destructive liability in an urban context.

The party had set off from Fairin one month ago, boarding a barge that took them up the Andakalisa, and disembarked at the grand bend before setting off for the Easternmost part of the Do’Suul. They had delivered the sealed parchments to five clans thus far, and three knights. The route was a huge dog’s leg that skirted the Black Tower, northeast to southwest, and they were about half done. Here, in the most remote part of the mountains, settlements were few and far between, and gone were the single crofter’s huts. Supplies were running low, supplemented only by hunt and forage, and instead of clan longhouses or knightly towers, the past two nights they had slept in caves.

The party wound around yet another peak, heading for a pass that would eventually slope downward to their destination – the Longbear Clan of Bear-Loch. She had heard some tell of the place, most of it old wives tales – that eight generations ago, their leader had been a giant that had hewn mountains to reclaim land from the rivers, that he wielded no weapon save a living tree. In more believable news, the Hierophant in the West had been dispatching missionaries into the mountains, and that Bear-Loch was one destination for them. She knew not.

She rode on, sending loose stones skittering down the trails to plummet down the steep slopes or smash against the dotted pines. The ache in her backside was growing fiercer, slowly ebbing the sense of feeling out of her buttocks. In an effort to alleviate the pain, and the boredom, she spoke out to the following party.

”’Ere, any of ye got any clue about th’Longbears? They got them tales around ‘em, but why? They a fiercer sort than th’other clans?” she called back, leaning back in the saddle but keeping her eyes on the thin trail in front of her ”Is’t likely we’ll be challenged t’wrestling as soon as we cross their territory?”
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Lilieth
Citizen of the World
Joined: 10:33 PM - Mar 31, 2017

9:38 PM - May 23, 2017 #2

Lilieth was enjoying the scenery. For some reason, she had be picked, her and many other Sotoan, as some sort of "exchange program". The general idea was : To reinforce diplomatic relationship, people from both side should mingle a bit.

For once, as far as Lilieth was concerned, the idea wasn't as lame as it sound. Harder to bare your teeth at the one you shared a tent with.

Moreover, she volountered, she needed to amass cultural experience to understand this new world better. Moreover, she was getting tired of just lazing around the streets of Reine in the hope of some meaningfull action.

So far, it was pretty quiet, after all, this kind of diplomatic event wasn't exactly one where they would be thrown as canon fodder, the point was to have them actually come back alive.

She, as far as she was concerned, it was merely some country sighting as the actual Morrim army was doing the boring job. She had learn the basis of the Morrimian langage, and have taught herself along the way what she was missing.

Since she didn't own an horse, and was visibily blind, she had been assigned to the cart for the travel, wich fit her just as much, since it let her time to read a few book she picked along the way, especially one holy book about their clergy.

As for the blind part, one soldier that found funny to flind his dick around in front of her face was now sitting veeeeery carefully on his saddle, as his swollen ball were still aching him, dispelling any doubt she could perfectly see under her blindfold.

The fact she was the only Sotoan in a small group of Morrim soldier, that she was kind of aloof with her blindfold and her proper by the book manner of speach, and that she was overall giving a strange air of both attractiveness, danger, and nobility sort of stranded her from the group as the other soldier were still trying to figure what to make of her.

She caught quite a few gaze from time to time, to see if she would be rebuked by their basic and most simple travel condition, but neither sleeping on the ground in the cold of night, neither walking through the deepest mud seemed to have disturbed her, shutting down their smugness before it could arise.

There was also the one that were clearly lurking on her body, but as a diplomatic envoy, she had a sort of immunity on this subject.

What surprised her the most was the huge cultural difference between the Sotoan army, and the Morrimian one. Soto citizen had a kind of cultivated air about themself, Morrimian had an harsher air, more down to the ground and brutish, not that she minded, even their pretty down to earth attitude were unable to faze her considering she grew the old time, in a warrior clan.

The capitain, some woman called Juul, asked around about the Longbear tribe.

To what, she answere jokingly


" Dunno what reality is about them, but your books sure depict them as bloodthirsty beast descending from demons themselves ... Do I have to prepare myself to the whole horned flying beast breathing fire ? "


This might have been on of the first time she actually spoke, since the start of this journey, as she had spent most of her time familiarizing herself with the langage before.

" What do you excpect ahead? If we're on their territory, I'm sure we can except trouble "
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Etherone
Citizen of the World
Joined: 5:44 PM - Apr 26, 2014

7:50 PM - May 25, 2017 #3

Poor Wigmund wasn't sitting too well on their saddle.

Heck, from where he observed it neared the side of painful, a sad sight all in all, their figure bent forth, legs straight, as in to ease the weight upon their swollen set of manhood. He and Callum had been bursting into snickers and comraderly mockery at them ever since the incident that so had sored them, cackling and shouting to the clear mountain air from the edge of the riding troupe like the grown men they were.

What made it all funnier was the fact that him alone was to blame for their demise, though he liked to think of Callum as an accomplice, if only to ease his own shameful burden.

Wasn't like he had MADE them do it. Was more like... an inquisitive half-thought-half-suggestion with a sprinkle of dare, delivered through the haze of mild intoxication last night at the latest campsite.

Fuckin' Wigmund... Those were a good couple skins of moonshine he would never get back.

" Still can't believe he did it. " Callum's scarred face turned at him once again, eyes glittering in amusement, though the familiar broodiness still ruled most of their being.

It was near strange, being with them in such friendly quarters, interracting like naught had ever separated and disbanded the Shaepah & Friends, now forced to reform. Halfly he felt like it was the Revolt all over again -- him lollygaging in duty with his best mate, knee-in-the-gut Callum, whilst the Shaepah woman held the helm and suppressed most disruptions, the iron grip around the scattered and colourful company.

" Rahahaha! Me neither. He looks like it was worth it though. " He flashed a grin, waving cheerily at Wigmund as their gaze sought him out again, for they had surely heard the exchange involving their person. They flipped the bird in response, widening his glee. Was their luck really that they hadn't mistaken in the dark to do such afront Shaepah, for that shewolf would've probably fabricated a more brutal approach than a mere punch on the nuts.

Ah, the ignorance of a newcomer. A rare treat.

From the spearheading section of the line, a questioning reached. Speak of the devil. He inhaled in preparation to an answer, yet was beaten to it by the foreign girl.. He hurried Oska forth a bit, taking place beside the cart that had captured the middle of the travelling mass, just to get a tad closer position for conversing with the Captain. On his way, he glanced ponderantly at this... Lilieth-person, the maimer of manparts and reader of careful literary arts, blindfolded for a reason that kept him busy wondering.

If anything, the very sight of them creeped him out. Of course, the Shaepah had such a quality to them too, but this sensation had a more ethereal edge to it. Whatever chills he got of Juul, stemmed from him knowing what they could do to him, but as of the Sotoan it was the opposite. He had a feeling they were capable of many things, yet wasn't entirely sure he wanted to explore nor witness any of it.
It was fear without respect, a defiant leer.

" Haha, the girl described dragons... " He slapped his forehead. " Nay, Jötnar aren't like them flyin' ödlorna*, though late Hraesvelgr could turn into an eagle big enough to swallow a man whole. " A snicker on top.

" Shaepah speaks of Fornjótr, the giant king of all Do'Suul, and whilst the tales are true none has sighted such a thing for centuries. Mouths speak that the current Longbear leader Froste, son of Kare, would be some grandson to that jötunn though. And a ploughin' witch. "

Or sorcerer, or wizard, what was the difference. All magic was evil.

And for all he had heard, Froste was darn good at it.

" Ya mentioned none of those missionaries returned from these parts. That give ya any idea whether it be trouble? Of course, could be that the Longbears were such nice people them god-fearin' folks got comfortable and forgot their job, magickally. "


* lizards
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Mairead
Citizen of the World
Joined: 1:30 PM - Feb 10, 2017

1:59 PM - May 26, 2017 #4

She loved animals, and had a particular fondness for horses. A week into the journey, though, and sore buttocks confirmed she had no stamina for extended horse rides and she had shifted her seat to a cart. A scream had been heard sometime through the ride. She had spun back to see a man grasping his junk and a lady calmly looking at him. Or so, she had guessed, for she could not be sure where the woman was looking at from the blindfold the she had over her eyes. How queer!

She had moved past being awestruck by the panoramic view of the mountains by now, and her attention strayed to the lore of the land. She gazed at the markers on the roadside and wrote down the letters. Weather-worn stone statues crafted by ones who have long left the world of the living remembered what even the old wives have forgotten. Her newfound seat freed her hands to work on her sketchbook. Occasionally, she would raise her head to gaze at the the farmers and their simple ways; they touched her heart.

Wigmund and Callum amused her greatly, and she enjoyed their company. A tall mountain man rode up ahead with Juul Shaepah. She had not interacted with him much, though she liked his Nordic accent immediately, delighting in hearing it. She had admired his friend, Juul Shaepah, also leader of the group, for being the strong woman she was. Lilieth, well, was an enigma.

For the present, Juul had asked for clues of the Longbears. She had not surmised the truth of the mysterious people, of course, and being from another dimension, she had often been amazed by even common things the people here took for granted. The stone statues, of course.

Of course.

Etherone had spoken of the sorcerer, Froste, current leader of the Longbear clan. She had met more necromancers and dead things in this odd new land than all the other worlds she had visited put together. Could it be? In following the tradition of things, this Froste could be yet another meddler of the things that should have stayed Dead.

She could be wrong, of course. She hesitated, looking doubtfully at her new friends, fearing rebuke, then looking down at her sketch pages, at the Nine figures of remarkably lifelike statues she had seen and drawn on a whim.

"The stones may remember what spoken lore forget," Mairead begun, speaking earlier thoughts in her light voice. "I have seen statues on the road that tell of the Nine Champions of the Longbear Clan. Each wielded a different arm and was a master of it. The axe, boomerang, lance, longsword, mace, shield, trident, twin swords, and zweihander. I am thinking of a crazy sorcerer with powers to resurrect the legends and immortalize the pride of his clan in the minds of the common folk. There are, what, six of us? Versus nine of them? The odds are good if we are to fight them."

Of course, she might be wrong. Gripping her cloak and shaking slightly after her assessment, she braced herself for rebuke. Afterall, what would a mere foreigner know? She could not yet tell them she had hated the idea of a wild man pawing his dirty hands over her precious Mirror Cloak, if he had it. She could not reveal yet, that she had known a necromancer well and understood how one such sorcerer would think, feel and do. Immortality was rarely far from their minds, for most of them, anyway.
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Juul Shaepah
Citizen of the World
Joined: 9:42 PM - Mar 27, 2014

8:36 AM - Jun 02, 2017 #5

The party were seven in all – herself, Etherone, Mairead the forger and Lilieth the envoy. Wigmund, the young buck, had been pressed in Fairin to keep his antics away from the city, and the driver Geirhardt had volunteered his cart for the horse-shy Sotoan. Callum had been kicking his heels for half a year in the shanty-town of brigands awaiting pardon since the Plains Revolt, and had leaped at the chance to get away from the port-city.

The Sotoan envoy spoke, in reply to the soldier’s question. She didn’t know what to think of the blindfolded woman. On the one hand, she was a foreigner – though that golden-haired councillor had ridden to their aid during the Plains Revolt, Juul remained suspicious of the Sotoans. She had admired the blow that had driven Wigmund to his knees, though.

”Eth’s right. Us lowlanders are wary o’th’mountain folk. They’re mad as hatters an’ they drink too much,” she replied to the envoy, flashing a grin at the mountain man ”Priests wi’ naught better to do save read their scriptures paint ‘em as devils an’ demons, though really they’re more like ogres. Take a look at Eth there an’ tell me ye don’t see the resemblance.”

A moment later, Mairead spoke. The soldier liked the forger, queer though she was. Her accent was unlike anything Juul had ever heard, and she had marched all over Soare. Maybe she was Angkarian – it would explain the strange weapons and the dark hair. She had a lovely pair of… eyes on her, the soldier had decided. She gave a laugh, and glanced back at her.

”Only nine? If we get there for sunset they’ll all be half-cut. We’ll send Eth in first wi’ his trademark brew, an’ they’ll all be on th’floor by the time we arrive. It’s a right bastard t’chuck a boomerang when yer seein’ three of them.”

The trail began winding up along the flank of the mountain, opening up to a pass between peaks. After a half mile, the party began a slow and treacherous descent, their horses going at a haphazard walk. The pressure never eased from the brakes of the cart – a runaway or a tip was all too easy on the rough trail. Frustration bloomed in the soldier, her jaw locked tight, at the glacial progress. A sore arse and slow going did not a happy soldier make – but there was nothing to be done.

The land seemed to fall away before them, the pine trees thinning, affording the party a view at a vast lake, nestled in between the looming giants. Shining and clear blue, it stretched for leagues – but how? The party were still relatively high, and such a body should surely flow to the lowlands, rather than gather at the mid-point between pinnacles. There were no islands, though the tops of pine trees jutted through the water’s surface – the spring meltwaters must have been pouring into it for a good month and a half now.

The steepness of the trail lessened, and what had been primarily switchbacks cut into sheer walls and flanked by deathly plummets straightened into a long line, drawn between the rocky flank of the mountain, a forested slope and the shore. The cries of the hawks and the soft lapping of the water did something to ease the tension, and as the trail widened and the going became easier. The soldier clicked her teeth, tugging sharply at her pack mule while urging her mount into a light trot.

The next mile passed with relative ease, the slope continuing until it was level with the shore. The lake seemed to narrow, as the peaks closed in again, yet the path mysteriously continued along a downward slope. It was not long before the party was given the reason why. Through a break in the trees, they witnessed nine sharp white points protruding from the northernmost end of the lake, nestled in a short defile between mountains.

Down, down the path continued, past the white monoliths, narrow between the white rock and the wall of the mountain. There was barely half a foot of space between the cart and the walls, and a sense of claustrophobia began in Juul’s breast. Her horse skidded on loose rocks, and she cursed as she righted herself, but then the party suddenly spilled out onto an open plain, a large flat stretch that rolled gently into hills, before ascending upwards to a ring of peaks. Juul looked back, to see how the party had fared, and was struck abruptly by a sight.

A base of packed earth, some fifteen feet high, was the home of the nine monoliths, which towered up a further twenty. Each one was meticulously carved, the points being snouts and open, roaring mouths. The bodies were rippled fur, seeming to cascade down the face of the white rock, and nestled underneath it were broad limbs and sharp claws, each clasping prescisely the weapons that Mairead had described. They were each a masterwork of stonemasonry, and it left the soldier astounded. She gave a short canter forward, before wheeling her mount to see them all in an unabashed glory.


”I think we’ve found yer nine champions, forger. An’ right fierce they are!” she called out, her single eye wide with wonder ”These menhirs must hold back th’waters o’th’lake, otherwise this whole plain would be naught but a river an' forest.”

A low whistle escaped through her teeth, before she continued.

”Must have been a big bastard that cut an’ moved these things, f’sure. And a host of skilled bastards to carve 'em so. I think this might be th’work o’ Fornjótr. Mayhap this Froste is a relative o’ his. The clan village can’t be far.”
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Lilieth
Citizen of the World
Joined: 10:33 PM - Mar 31, 2017

9:38 PM - Jun 05, 2017 #6

The rough langage of the troop made it harder for Lilieth to grasp everything they were saying. She was newly able to manage the Morrimian, but what she learned was a proper by the book version of it. This ... Let's say she was still struggling a bit, also explaining her uncharacteristic silence.

One other reason was that, appart from reading, she was silently gauging the troup. She didn't knew the people here, nor their personnality, nor their worth, so far the expeidition had been boringly peacefull, but a careful hunter knew to prepare for the bear even when chasing the rabbit.

The reached a large viewpoint, offering them a view on the eerie moutain lake. There was something mystical about it, but also something ... feral. As if the rock, water and tree themselves were made of a different breed. This was ... feeling ancient, but not as old or decaying, not ... primal. Something born closer from the day of the original chaos that managed to retain it's primal beauty, and danger, to this day.

Lilieth extend her field of vision to screen everything that was within her sight. Finally, she managed to see, way below their position, what she was seeking for : Discreet, but actual proof of living presence : Footprints, mark, in the woods, traces. So far nothing surprising, appart ...


" What the fuck with the size of them footprints ... "
she asked between her lips. Maybe only Juul and Mairead next to her might have heard her.

She then procced to ask, louder :

" Why are we going so deep into uncharted and probably hostile territory exactly? The more I hear about this Longbear tribe, the more I picture not so likable fellow, so I'm starting to struggle to see the gain you hope versus the obvious loses we risk, especially considering that a bulky two meter man might be the norm by what I see "

She proceeded on a relaxed tone :

" Not that I question the order as a whole, but it's starting to feel like a dangerous endeavour for little hope to gain from it, appart if there is some information we aren't privy of "
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Etherone
Citizen of the World
Joined: 5:44 PM - Apr 26, 2014

8:38 PM - Jun 09, 2017 #7

He heard Callum laugh an exaggerated 'ha-ha' behind the cart upon Juul's remark, which he retaliated by flipping his silken hair like an insulted noblewoman and flashing his most self-assured grin at them over his shoulder. Whether it all had been meant in positive or the opposite, he wouldn't know, yet refused to accept it as anything but the former.

Anyone who didn't think of him as even a little bit handsome didn't know what they were missing. Or were living in the worst denial. Or swung the other way. Or didn't like beards.

Was it his beard then? He stroked his chin in thought, action unregistered to self, suddenly in minor devastation.

The mention of the Nine Champions struck him with remembrance. Ah, yeah, those. He had heard the stories, yet the stones the Forger mentioned had to him gone unnoticed, perhaps due the general distractions of cheerful chatter and intoxicating freedom. The latter had been painfully scarce lately, thus this little expedition to him had displayed as the greatest of breaks to an open-ended captivity within Fairin. Anything was more desirable than a stretch of weeks inside town walls -- even the evident trouble the entirety of them were currently strolling at.

The Shaepah woman seemed terribly optimistic about it all though, over-estimating the collectives capabilities to some extent in his view. Only nine! Hah, what an excuse of a resistance indeed, taking the numerous talents of the lot. He had no doubts about the ladyfolk, naturally, one probably more furious and competent than the other in battle and skill, but according to his calculation that would make it three against nine.

For Wigmund was a green dimwit, Callum had that busted arm of theirs, to add to their shite aim, and Geirhardt was yet to mention any type of expertise in other than cards and horsehandling. Oh yeah, and he was a confirmed filthy mountaineer drunk.

How about those odds. Darn, he was getting exceedingly excited by the minute.

As he spotted the sudden narrowing ahead, after what on any other day would've been considered as a lovely stroll alongside a mountainside lake, he pulled on Oska's reins and took his previous post behind the cart. He snook a glance at the Forger, summoning a light grin.

Always with the sketchbook. At the last camp he had tried in his curiousity to ask about it, maybe see what secrets and pictures they might've scribed within, but had been met with the politest of rejections upon the request for a peek. Though, in all honesty, it wasn't all he would've wished to lay his hues upon.

At the plain, Juul sprouted their amazement, drawing his attention to the described. His smile widened.

" Lets hope them huge stone folk stay that way. Drownin' would really ruin the adventure för mig*. "

Now released from the pressure of the descent and towering walls, round eyes witnessing the velvety green afront, Oska skittered. Both horse and rider distanced from the cart a bit, enjoying the space, making little circles on the soft soil. He let his gaze wander, squinting all the way at the hazy edges of the opening, searching. So far, none other had made themselves evident, thought the destination evidently drew nigh.

He felt both relieved and agitated for it.

A forceful breeze whipped the grass, muting the conversation behind him, grasping at his wisps and tunic. The wave brought with itself the fresh scent of clear air, with earthly undertones of pine, moist soil and hay. He inhaled, deep.

At a latency, an undescribable flavour crep to his observance, dancing in near invisibility at the back of his tongue, unsettling.

He forced Oska to a halt. Far away enough, he chose to elevate his voice a tad.

" Anyone else smell that? "


* for me

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Mairead
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Joined: 1:30 PM - Feb 10, 2017

3:07 PM - Jun 15, 2017 #8

”Priests wi’ naught better to do save read their scriptures paint ‘em as devils an’ demons, though really they’re more like ogres. Take a look at Eth there an’ tell me ye don’t see the resemblance.”

No, unfortunately, she did not see the resemblance. Mild irritation at Juul rose in her chest, pinching like red hot ants. Thus, she reminded herself: they were speaking the ‘best buds’ language; he was jesting. Surely…? What was happening to her?

”Only nine? If we get there for sunset they’ll all be half-cut. We’ll send Eth in first wi’ his trademark brew, an’ they’ll all be on th’floor by the time we arrive. It’s a right bastard t’chuck a boomerang when yer seein’ three of them.”

Yes, but that is one boomerang dude down, which still leaves the eight other Champions. She fingered the Blades ever present at her hips, twin Brass batons with blades retracted. The leader had a point. If the stones were indeed sized on a scale of 1:1, she could very well find herself flattened by a weapon bigger than herself before she could say “tomato pancake”. Those fluttering wings on her shoulders could be of help to her ... vertically-challenged self. Reverie wandered into combat tactics, a mountain man’s flyaway hair, tactics, hulking muscles, tactics, and no sooner had she finished her last thought when nine monoliths, each 15 feet tall, soared into the sky before the party. The magic was strong, monstrously so, enough to hold back water that would have taken a stalwartly constructed dam. She sucked in her breath, a brow raised in part disbelief, part intrigue. Surely, these are exaggerations!

The envoy had been quiet this whole trip, relatively. Somehow, the woman bore a familiar haughtiness she too had, though her diva self was, of late, submerged by the moral beauty of the inhabitants she had encountered so far, or perhaps she had perceived Need within them that had drawn her caring instincts. The forger had no answer, knowing only that they had delighted her heart many a time. To be sure, she still placed herself beneath anyone. Under the right circumstances, she supposed she could be drawn to Lilieth? For now, the aura Lilieth curiously emanated made her melancholy rise.

" Not that I question the order as a whole, but it's starting to feel like a dangerous endeavour for little hope to gain from it, appart if there is some information we aren't privy of "

At this, she pondered for a moment. For adventure? For fun? For what reason had she to be chasing this “quest”? Of course, her precious Cloak was still unfound. Her Mission. Why had she allowed herself to be torn from her loved ones in Elshadel to come to this … well. She spoke the rest of her thoughts aloud, her light voice growing stronger as she went on.

“The mountains aren’t too bad. They’re the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Think of this as an adventure, and forests are vastly preferable to the prison of a town’s walls without a speck of green as far as the eye can see.”

Truthfully, this ranked ahead of a frozen tundra. How many nights she had spent there where she had kept her hands firmly in her warm pockets, dreading to do any constructive tasks with her frozen fingers. Or the poor toes that felt like they were falling off? The only bright spot on the frozen wastelands were the nights, where the sky and the stars on the horizon sucked the soul into the heavens. And the aurora danced across the night sky like the shimmer of a divine harp played by skilled hands.

The mountain man seemed completely at home in the snow, though. How those eyes sparkled at the sight of the snow caps, perhaps lamenting the season had come for them to recede. She felt his spirit lived in the present, as her own did, and it moved her cheerily along. He had inquired about her sketchbook, which she had politely declined to show. One could find, perhaps, the doodle of a tall blond man riding majestically atop a horse. Blushing at his request, she had promised to show him another day, though not before ripping out that page and hiding it in the deep recesses of her satchel first. Wigmund and Callum had shared this conspiring look, she recalled, and a chill ran down her spine. Their banters have, of late, wandered to coaxing her to show them what she had drawn, or written.

“Anyone else smell that? "

Oh yes. Roast beef. Or perhaps reindeer. The crackling of flames either hinted at a forest fire caught an animal – she looked at the wet undergrowth dubiously. Or someone had fancied grilled bacon over a fire pit. In any case, Gerihardt had stopped the cart. Mairead leapt off the cart, landing lightly on the path, before making her way to Etherone’s position. How she longed for a stroll with him, she thought absently.
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Juul Shaepah
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Joined: 9:42 PM - Mar 27, 2014

2:28 PM - Jun 21, 2017 #9

Juul continued looking at the carved monoliths - the longer she looked, the more details seemed to emerge, hidden in folds of physique or cascading fur. The expressions in the faces of the bears also had nuance, beyond their ostensible ferocity. Some had bewildered madness carved into their brows, others a sense of sadness. The soldier let the chatter of the party burble around her, only paying half-attention, until the words of the Sotoan hit her. She sharply inhaled through her nose, and trotted her horse imperiously towards the wagon.

"We've delivered summons t'five tribes an' three knights so far. That's a couple hundred longbows for the Crown." she stated flatly, her tone a little hot "Here in Morrim, there's an honour in service. We work an' till th'land, not laze around in th'woods waiting for deer an' pickin our dinner from low hangin' branches. It were your choice t'come along, envoy, an' mine t'grant it. Th'path yonder will take ye back to th'Plains if you've a need t'return."

The forger had dismounted from the cart, and begun an awkward walk towards Eth. The pair had had their share of stolen glances towards each other - perhaps this was the start of a little tryst? A pang of childish jealousy bloomed in Juul's breast - she could get lost in the forger's eyes quite easily - but she suppressed it violently. It had been a while since she had taken a lover - and none as serious as Nevneni - and she was well aware how easily the loins could rule the head, and this was possibly hostile territory. Just then, the mountain man spoke.

"Anyone else smell that?"

"Aye, 'tis a bonny or the like. Early in th'season for slash-and-burn, though? The winter crops should have only just been picked." she replied keeping her eye on Eth while turning her horse to face the plateau "Well, at least it means someone's at home. Come on, let's press on."

The plateau widened from the defile of the dam, a long stretch of grassland that climbed slowly into rolling hills, then soared to towering peaks that ringed it. The grasses were tall and rough, and the plain was curiously dotted here and there with bushes tall as a man. Huge, broad leaves curled around the stems, obscuring them from view. Juul didn't much care - there were all sorts for odd flora to be found in the mountains. As the party progressed, horses half a leg deep in the rough grass, a tall plume of smoke became evident.

"Well, there's yer smell people. An' there's th'village yonder. We've a couple hours before sundown, so let's get to't. I could kill fer a bale o' hay to kip on."

A large bonfire sat out on the plain, burning fiercely. The flames licked up to twice the height of a tall man, and a bilious black smoke snaked into the sky. The smell it emitted was odd - half sweet and sickly, half thick and fatty. Beyond it lay a short palisade, encircling a group of twenty buildings, carved from pinewood with thatched roofs. At their centre was a building raised on stilts, with a thatched roof that climbed sharply to a peak. That must be the clanhall.

They pressed on, the fire and the stockade loomning closer and closer. The flames seemed to lick more hungrily at the air, and the party could see the cross-section of thick logs built around a thick, central pole. The spaces between were stuffed with smaller tinder, and all was designed to keep the airflow constant. And yet, through the whipping flames, another fuel became visible, bound to the central pole.

A blackened skull, charred flesh still clinging to it, leered lifelessly at them.
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Lilieth
Citizen of the World
Joined: 10:33 PM - Mar 31, 2017

3:58 PM - Jun 25, 2017 #10

Oh my, she might hate hit a nerve here. Were it blind loyalty or actual hidden agenda, she couldn't know for now.

"Calm down, I'm not questioning the aim of the mission as a whole, just the part where we have to make contact with big, "not so fond of yours people" bulkies guys. That would have seelm to be a big no go for the one to giver the order in my mind "


Lileith couldn't help but have a little thought of contempt. She had seen her clan, a whole nation, and a whole race going extinct out of sheer devotion. A sacrifice she didn't asked, nor deserved, but one they willingly offered cause both their honor and their hopes in the future wouldn't afford them to do otherwise.

" ... and if you think you're the only one that understand loyalty and hardship, try again " She added, to lowly for the human ear, with a clear bitter and heartbroken tone to her voice.

" Either way, I'm not asking for a change of course, merely for some pointer toward what we might encounter, you know ... to keep my eyes opened "

She grabbed an apple, and mused with it a few second before skillfully throwing it into the high grass, right in front of a Etherone.

The characteristic sound of the mechanism of a wolf trap sprung, with both it's metalic jaws rang like thunder.

" You know, for things like that. "

She cast a playfull smile at Etherone and joked teasefully:

" You're welcome by the way handsome. I accepted any kind of payement, be it gems, gold, or eternal dominion over your soul "


Surprisingly, and even it she had already filled her complain about it, the potential incoming danger had woke up Lilieth from her passive slumbering state of the last weeks. Also, there was a little something about this land that intrigued her deeply.
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