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    • RP
    The Fragmented Accord: How Far We'll Go
    • Context: Whilst the party travel supposedly to Nest Cal’ad, Beluc is watching over Li’s house and seeing over the construction of his tea shop. Warden Kirikray Sealfrall visits Li’s household and asks a few questions.

      Distant marching could be heard. Beluc was still taking care of the house cleaning and performing some prayers, however he always had one ear open to his surroundings and that marching was getting louder. He took a convenient detour around around the couch to have a quick look through the window to spot 12 armed guards and the warden himself heading this direction, with a letter in hand and an almost unreadable face, however Beluc could tell it was one of determination.

      He frowned at the implications of the twelve guards, especially considering what he’d just recently learned from his sources. Preparing himself for a confrontation, the old dwarf moved from the window to an area of the house where he could answer the inevitable knock on the door. Sending a quick prayer to Helm, he said off to Orynthar who had also heard the marching, “The Warden’s on his way with a squad of soldiers. Could ge’ dicey. Stay outta sight, an’ watch mah back.”

      “Aye sir.” And so Beluc waited.

      So the knock came, ‘Thud. Thud. Thud.’ Simple but effective in attracting attention and raising the tension building from the dwarves side. After the knocking a voice soon followed, “Lady Li are you awake? It is sir Kirikray. I wish for a moment of your time.”

      With a deep sigh Beluc opened the door, dressed not in armour but his casual clothing, not too simple or spiffing, however his devoted and trusty holy symbol hung around his neck. He stayed at the doorway and looked over the Warden and his guards, with nary a word.

      Slowly the wardens eyebrow raised, “Ahh master dwarf? I did not get your name yesterday. Is the lady around?” He seemed to have a bit of a look inside the household whilst asking.

      “Beluc.” He said simply, in way of introduction, stepping forward and closing the door slightly behind him, cutting off the Warden’s line of sight.

      “Sorry ta tell ya, Warden, bu’ the Lady Li had some personal business ta attend to. Per’aps I can be of assistance?” Beluc doubted that there would be a fight out in a public place, and he’d had to have been born yesterday to turn his back on such a regiment of fighters. Spellswords, in fact.

      His observations went from the inside of Li’s house to the dwarf in front of him, almost like he had been shook out of a vision, then a smile was plastered on his face, “Well master Beluc that is a shame. Adventurers are always alike I suppose, always going off and saving the day and being unreliably late for meetings. I suppose I’ll have to teach her that at some point a lord or lady must settle down.” He seemed to laugh at his own form of joke.

      “You may be of assistance actually, may I come in? Perhaps a conversation over an ale or tea?” He added.

      Beluc smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes as he listened to the self important noble in front of him. “Ah, I’d love to, sir, bu’ unfortunately ‘tis not my ‘ouse, for I am simply a guest. ‘Tis no’ my place to invite anyone inta the lady’s house. My apologies.” His eyes gave off no real feeling of apology. In fact, they were simply blank of emotion.

      The dwarf wasn’t born yesterday. He’d be unable to keep an eye on the man and his guards all by himself inside the house. “Per’aps we can continue ta talk out here?”

      There was a pause. Almost a contest of will.

      Kirikray caved.

      “Well I wouldn’t mind talking of some matters but my legs tire and it is ungodly cold for my liking, perhaps I can leave you with a letter?” At this he raises his hand with the sealed letter, “You are a holy man yes, to helm. I suppose that means I can trust you get this information to lady Li unread?”

      He tilted his head, that smile still on his face. “A’course.” He held out his hand, waiting for him to put the letter in the offered palm.

      Kirikray raised the letter up to Beluc’s hand as he offer it on the step, but just before he placed it into his possession he pulled away slightly, “I’m afraid this is a rather important letter, I would need you to swear on your faith that it will only be opened by Lady Li herself.” He smirked at this.

      Bastard thought he was being clever. Beluc rolled his eyes slightly. “I swear upon ‘elm’s gauntlet tha’ this letter will be given, completely sealed, to the Lady ‘erself.”

      “Oh good, then all is fine!” Suddenly he seemed not at all afraid to place the letter in Beluc’s hand.

      “It must be awfully inconvenient to be a holy man, always expected to be true to what you say and atone for all your misdeeds. Regardless it means you are trustworthy I suppose.” He turned to one of his guards who gave a simple, ‘Yes m’lord’ and then the Warden’s attention turned returned to Helm’s champion, “Are you alone in the establishment master Beluc?”

      Beluc maintained his composure as he listened to the Warden go on about being true to his word. “Warden Kirikray, it can at times be difficult ta maintain those aspects, but the gods ask for no less.”

      Upon being questioned on being alone, he made a quick decision. “I can only assume tha’ you are looking fer my wellbein’, an’ I offer my sinceres’ gratitude. Bu’ I’ll be perfec’ly fine, sir. Thank ya fer yer hospitality.”

      His smirk dropped, not to a frown but more of a passive stare, but then back to a small smile plastered on his face as he looked to the ground, “Ahh well I see you caught me red handed! Many few honest men in these parts I intend to keep an eye on, to keep safe of course,” He turned to his guards lined up behind him in rows of 2, “I’m sure four of you lot wouldn't mind keeping an eye on lady Li’s household while our friend here looks over it. Some of the peasants can be unpredictable when greed strikes them.” He marched out to the centre of his guard.

      “Swap out your patrols and ensure our friend has an eye looking out for him at all times. No need to thank me master Beluc, consider us friends. Any friend of Lady Li’s is a friend of mine.”

      Beluc’s smile didn’t waver, even as his mind began to turn ideas out. “A’course, m’lord. Bu’ I couldn’ possibly take so many a’ yer elite guard! With the peasan’ry bein’ so unpredictable, ya obviously need ta protec’ yerself. I’d be perfec’ly fine with one, mebbe two of these fine guardsmen.” His smile twitched slightly.

      “I’m no’ a ‘elpless old man, af’er all. And ye need ta give yerself adequate protection. Obviously ye agree, bringin’ twelve men fer jus’ a trip ‘cross town!”

      A simple nod followed his words, however the smile was now completely gone, “A humble man and a smooth talker. You really do have it all don’t you? Honour, charm and wits. I have no need for extra protection to be honest master Beluc. I have seventy two of my own guard joining me, along with twenty-five Tereani guard protecting my steading. I can spare four of them for you. No more shall be said about it my friend! Men, anything the man asks for you get him, understood? Always keep an eye on him!”

      He turned tail and began to walk down his aisle of guardsmen, who began to follow in synch besides four of them closest Beluc.

      “I will be sure to speak with you again master dwarf. Stay safe now, understand?” His voice grew more distant.

      “A’course, Warden Kirikray.” Taking a step backward, he waited until he was well within the threshold of the building before shutting it completely.

      “Sly bastard…” Beluc moved back into the living room, letter in hand and deep in thought. “Orynthar, yer gonna need ta stay in the ‘ouse if ya can ‘elp it, an’ be sneaky if ya need ta leave. The Warden’s got four men watchin’ me an’ the ‘ouse…”

      Orynthar came out from the dining room whilst cracking his knuckles, “Four of his own guard? He must be fucking paranoid. Sure you don’t want me to get a bit of sneaky killing done? I think you and me could behead that cowardly prick before he even knew how to run away.” He fell back on the couch like what he just said was normal, and looked with a raised eyebrow at Beluc.

      “If I though’ ya could ge’ away with i’ withou’ causing suspicion, I’d say go fer it. Bu’ the guy is already suspicious a’ me. Wouldn’ be surprised if ‘e was goin’ and tryin’ to fin’ somethin’ ou’ abou’ me. Plus, ‘twould cause a lot of suspicion ta be placed on the townsfolk ‘ere.”

      The old blood hunter gave a shrug, “Fine, have it your way boss, but you probably wanna start getting as many allies in the town as you can, that’s my advice. Should I keep going about my operation?”

      “Aye. We’re gonna need ta speed things up on tha’ end. Yer talkin’ to a lo’ of the original guards?”

      His nod was slow and confident, “Aye. They seem mighty suspicious also, but what can you do? For them their lord died and a new one took their place. Spoke to a few barkeeps who spread the word of distrust and the guards come talking to me when I offer help. I’ve gained a number of new drinking buddies who can wield swords recently.” He chuckled at this, “Give them a good enough reason they would most likely fight and die for the truth...foolish if you ask me.”

      “E’ryone needs a cause, Orynthar. Par’ of my job is givin’ people that cause…” The old dwarf settled down on the couch to collect his thoughts, before turning the letter in his hands and causing the letter to glow with divine light.

      “No magic… No poison… Hm.” Reaching into his pocket, Beluc pulled out a small sheathed knife, before very gently cutting open the edge of the letter and gently pulling it out. He respected Li immensely, but his lifeblood was information, and this could give it to him to act on.

      Upon reading it, he very gently folded it back up in the same way it had come out of the envelope and slid it back in before pausing and thinking, followed by a mending spell to revert it to its original seal, just in case.

      “Troublin’.” He looked over at Orynthar. “We’ll ‘ave ta see where this road leads. Bu’ I ge’ the feelin’ tha’ there’s more ta this Warden than meets the eye. Keep up yer efforts.”

      “Always do old man...always do.” Orynthar kicked his feet up on Li’s armchair.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by KyroThePurple ().

    • Context: The party is almost at the elven village which may very well be Arwyn's home village. It's late at night and Arwyn is having mixed feelings about potentially meeting her birth family for the first time in 30 years.

      Mood music.
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Poking at the fire with a stick, watching it burn and crackle, Rinn's golden eyes darted around the forest waiting and watching for anything or anyone to jump out at them. Standing silently guard nearby was Li's Slugger on a stick; the technismith had explained it would shoot any hostile creatures which approached; honestly the wood elf wasn't quite sure how it worked but nodded all the same as it was explained to her. She didn't need to know the details - she trusted Li's inventions to do what they were supposed to do.

      If she was being honest, Rinn never expected to see her birth parents again. They had made it perfectly clear when they left her in the forest to die just how little they cared about her. Her leaving Lisheen in search of them was more of an excuse if she was being honest now; she had been growing bored and disillusioned with her life, fearing for her life from an overbearing shadow which shaped the people, forcing them to live in squalor and dirt. The first distraction to do literally anything else she took.

      That was until her ancestry collided into her life with ugly consequences. Losing her pinky finger for a family she didn't know. Being told she was somehow connected to the fall of the Serianlor, that her past had been destroyed ... there was no way she could ignore it. To do so would let the Lotaskian win. Something she would absolutely not let happen.

      Looking around the woods, she didn't recognize any of her surroundings - the Freeland Forest looked generally the same to her - but somehow the swaying leaves and noises of the night life felt familiar. Her heart clenched, and it seemed like her rib cage was trying to squeeze it tight to stop it. Her hand drifted to her necklace, briefly touching the silver leaf before she recoiled away, almost like it burned her.

      What do I say ...? she thought, pressing her lips together before another terrifying thought crossed her mind.

      What if I'm the only one left?

      This scenario never crossed her mind before, but now that her goal was literally within reach, the fact it could be snatched away caused the air to be punched from her lungs. After all, everyone seemed unwilling to talk about it. Could this be the reason why? That the truth was just too cruel.

      No, she thought hotly, wiping away the tears which were beginning to poke at her eyes. No, Lisheen got hit by the plague too. It survived.

      Ah, whispered a small little voice in the back of her head. A voice which wasn't Arwyn's, but the crueler part of herself, the one which pointed out the inconvenient truths neither wished to see or look at. But Lisheen was a city. Do elf villages have the same population, the same resources? Your own survival was only due to luck - or maybe some God's protection. After all, remember, you are needed for some grander plan.

      "I'm not alone," Rinn hissed under her breath, her fingers digging into her pants. The voice didn't answer. "I'm not."

      Yet her words sounded hollow, even to her.

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • Context: After years of searching, Arwyn finally meets her father, Rolen in her home village of [i]Nest Cal’ad. She learns a great many deal of things - mostly that she wasn't abandoned - and has decided to stay in the village for the time being to catch up. When she expresses interest in his craft, jewelry making, Rolen excitedly offers to teach her.[/i]


      @KyroThePurple plays a magnificent Rolen!
      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Dusty and isolated was the workshop of Rolen Nailo. Stacks of cleaned or unrefined gems lay dormant in one section of his jewelers. A shelf of books collect the most dust over to the right above his workbench, which seem older than most other sections of the room, considering their broken spines and the amount of dust upon shows that they probably weren't in use even before his family went missing. Tools of different complexities and sizes lay on the floor against walls, like they had been thrown numerous times after being used. A half completed project of a ring lay on the bench with a similar decoration of dust on it.

      “I’m terribly sorry for the mess. I-I didn’t really use this place a lot in the recent years…” Rinn’s father piped up as he lit the candle in his lantern near the door, introducing his daughter into the establishment.

      Rinn looked around, still amazed at what she saw. Of course, she had seen workshops before - namely Li’s - but it was interesting to her the difference of it, though she could see the similarities. Walking in, she inspected the half-completed ring never before seeing jewerely before it was finished.

      “It’s OK,” she said. “The elder said you’ve gotten sick over the years. I’m just glad you didn’t die from your lack of health.” She paused and glanced at him, furrowing her brow a bit. “... I’ll have to make sure you’ll eat right when I’m here.”

      She wondered if all creative types had the tendency to throw away their health when grieving.

      He looked nervous at this. He tilted his head away from his daughter as to not show his ashamed expression, “Yes I suppose I have worried him over the years. Good man Baseel is a good man. When I became afflicted with my heartbreak he wa the one who fed me and gave me advice. I swear to look after myself and you, without being a liability.” He continued around the room lighting the lanterns since it began to grow late.

      “I’m glad you managed to find me. To think you have been alive all this time unaware.”

      “I’m glad too,” she smiled softly, her hand once going to the necklace she had since she was a child. “It was difficult, I’ll admit that. But this has helped me find you. Though I don’t know how far I would have gotten without my friends. They really are wonderful, and when everything has calmed down back at Tereana, I think it would be nice if you could meet them all more properly. They’re really amazing people.”

      He smiled at the acceptance from his daughter, and nodded enthusiastically, “I would like that. Your wife seems lovely. It’s clear she cares a great amount. Brings me back to my days of youthful love. Your friends all seem unique additionally.” Whilst talking he began picking up tools and placing them back on the bench, organising his belongings like muscle memory.

      “You have no idea,” Rinn laughed. “And Valara is great. She has the patience of a saint, that woman.” Picking up some tools as well, in an attempt to help her father, she looked around to see where to put them. “Also how did you and mom meet?”

      He took the tools from you once you picked them up and placed them in his own chaotic order on the bench. At the mention of her mother he clearly had a mix of emotions of happiness and loss.

      “Well we both were born in the village. We trained in the academy together across the lake, however at this time I barely knew her name. Little did I know she was quite interested in me from the age of 14 onwards. We both took interest in the artisans trade. She put other boys in the dust when it came to smithing from a young age, and nobody was competition for me as a jeweler. Nobody found it useful.”

      He chuckled to himself at this thought.

      “She saw beauty in it though. First time she met was her writing a fake letter of request from the elder for a tearstone necklace...lined in silver.” He scratched the back of his neck, “I told her if she would have told me it was for her I would have just made it for her. She thought this was me trying to flirt, I was being genuine.” The Tinking of his tools against the unrefined gems at this workshop snapped himself back into place.

      The wood elf thief couldn’t help but laugh a bit. It was odd to her in a way to think of this old-looking man as someone her age. She also felt a bubble of pride rise at the fact her parents were the best in their respective field. She felt a bit guilty she had no expertise in any crafts of the nobler sort, and couldn’t help but wonder for a moment how her father might feel if he learned his daughter was best at stealing from others.

      “Sounds like love at first sight then,” she grinned before tilting her head. “Also what do you mean academy? What do they teach there?”

      Rinn, of course, had an “education.” Simple, necessary things to survive in Lisheen. How to speak Common. How to fight. How to steal. How to hide. Of course she picked up her own electives in music from Igan, but she was aware when people talk about an education … that was not it.

      Picking up one of the small vices he used to keep his tools in place, blowing off the dust that lay as a blanket to the instrument, Rolen replied, “At first I had absolutely no idea she was interested in me. I was horribly oblivious! Took me a year to realise she had a proper interest in me, since she was a very social person with a lot of the guards or traders.”

      Once Rinn brought up the academy his expression once again is that of almost cringing, “Of course you were never able to learn at the academy! Gods forgive me. Our academy is across the lake, or rather was. After the plague subsided we lost most of our teachers and quite a few of the children...they were the most easily infected due to weaker systems apparently. They taught us about our strengths as a race, our history in this village and our branches into the future. “ He reminisced for a few moments before realising he was probably being careless, “What about you? Did you end up being able to get an education my dear?”

      “More or less,” she said, wondering if she could sit in a couple of classes since it sounded interesting. It would be interesting to learn from the mouths of her people rather than reading it in books or from Lyre, who while an elf was a Drow. There was some racial differences there. “I had to be taught Common first. I’m still not that good at writing it, but I can read it just fine.”

      She glanced at her father, tilting her head slightly.

      “Not a lot of people here speak Common, do they?”

      He shook his head, “We are proud of our heritage, to use common would be unnecessary, since we hold true to our fey touched values. We use elven as a way to express greetings and open opinion, whilst we use sylvan to speak from our soul...from our roots…” He seemed like he was reciting this all out into the aether.

      “Doesn’t that make it hard to communicate with other races though?” she asked, tilting her head. When he spoke about using Sylvan to speak from their soul and roots, she couldn’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable with the notion. Once again, she remembered the Lotaskian desire to return everyone and everything back to the fae.

      But dad’s not bothered with Valara, even though she’s a half-elf, so there’s nothing to worry about, she tried to assure herself, picking up a random tool and inspected it before handing it to her father.

      “Also I don’t remember how to speak Sylvan. Is that a problem?”

      He scratched at his chin for a moment wondering, before beginning to chisel pieces of refined gems off of its base shard, “It shouldn’t be a problem, gives me something I can teach you. As for communing with other races, that isn’t exactly common, excuse the pun. Could you hand be the tongs?” He signalled with his hand to the pair of tongs at the side of the bench.

      She handed the tools to him and she gave him a slight grin.

      “What? Are you going to teach me Sylvan the same time you teach me this?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. She wouldn’t be opposed to it, though she could only wonder how that could work.

      He chuckled a little before shaking his head, “One at a time child, however if you would like lessons I could possibly ask Kao or one of the more honed folks in the village to teach you in a rush? I only mean in time I could teach you, after I teach you about jewelry.” He used the tongs to place the small shards of gems into the ring, finding the sections in which they fit into place.

      “I’m not in a particular rush, though it would be nice to talk to the Faerie Dragon I made friends with since I can't’ speak draconic,” she said, her voice tapering off quietly as she pouted slightly. She fell into a silence before looking at her father. “Is … our connection to the fae really that important?”

      He seemed confused by the question, but seemingly still in shock from her first words, “You befriended a faerie dragon? Honestly there is so much to catch up on in your life. As for the importance of sylvan... I like to think its as important as we deem our home to be. We all act and behave how we are raised and from the environment we are born in. We use sylvan as passionately as we do because it connects us as a people, something of our own that others don’t have. Much like dwarves like to drink and share camaraderie, and humans adore being curious. We as elves are slave to our emotions and sylvan helps us remember our connection to the fey.” He cupped his daughter's face in his hand and then planted a light kiss on her forehead.

      Rinn flushed slightly, not used yet to the affection of a father. The closest she had prior was Bandir, and that was stretching it by a long mile and honestly he was more like a drunken uncle than a father.

      “That makes sense …” she said softly, understanding that logic at least. She could understand heritage, even if she tended to run in trouble with that. She smiled a bit though at his surprise of the faerie dragon. She wondered how he would react if she told him she befriended a vampire as well.

      “I’ve befriended a lot of interesting people besides the party I travel with. I even know an old lady who was around when Serianlor was destroyed. She didn’t know why it was, but apparently the nobles have been keeping a tight lip on things.” She looked at her father. “Dad … I know this village comes from here, but is there anything you can tell me what lead to it’s destruction or about the history of our people I should know? I’ve been reading a lot of books, but there is only so much information there … and it all seems kind of generic.”

      His face was a puzzled expression, pondering his thoughts, “I’m surprised an elf has lived as long as that. We only go off of stories. Our great grandparents were travellers from the ancient city apparently. We were raised here in the belief that an otherworldly powerful source disintegrated the entire capital in a display of power. Another theory appeared that it was an attack from a prospering empire across the sea trained in magic. As a village we have decided that is best not to follow such paths into the past, lest it become our burden or our own destruction.” His words seemed well thought on for, remembering many conversations about the historic citadel of his kind.

      “But don’t you think by ignoring the past we’re ignoring a threat which could once again threaten us?” she asked, pressing her lips together, not quite sure how she felt about the village’s take in sticking their heads in the sand. Her hand - the one with the missing finger - curled up ever so slightly as she continued her thoughts. “Is there anything about our family I should know about?”

      He seemed once again confused and piped up, “Rinn you seem to be worried about something? We are no great king, queen or even noble. It is not our place to be worrying about the past catastrophes of our people or getting to the bottom of it, is it? As for our family...I can only remember both your grandparents, but not your great grandparents. Taken from us by plague. Your grandfather Farallion Nailo was an excellent scout when you used to do supply runs for the village, whilst Zuriell Nailo was one of the finest Auroch tamers the village has ever known, considering its young life.”

      Rinn was quiet for a moment and rubbed her wrist. She didn’t want her father to worry, but it seemed he was oblivious to the perils as well as the cogs turning outside of the village. She wondered if she should tell him.

      “I’ve … learned a lot of things since I’ve been outside of the village,” she said quietly at last, trying to find the words to say. Her hand remained curled - it seemed her father hadn’t noticed her missing pinky at the moment though she wondered how long that would last - and she continued on, here words slow and measured. “I’ve learned there is a lot of things to worry about, even we don’t come from a royal bloodline. Just because we don’t come from a high status doesn’t mean we shouldn’t not worry about things, especially when they can affect us. I’ve been told on several occasions my heritage is my past and future. I … don’t know anything about my heritage, so I don’t want to be caught off guard. I don’t want to be unprepared again.”

      “You have only grown to confuse me further Rinn dear, I apologise…” He gave an apologetic shrug, “If others were to harm you, simply alert the authorities, or maybe I could push money aside for paid protection? You are safe while you are home in Nest’Calad, nobody can touch you whilst you are under our protection.”

      Rinn sighed, feeling slightly frustrated. She got that her father was oblivious to the outside world and the realities of it, but not to this extent. She couldn’t help but feel like the wiser of the two, even though she was younger.

      Well … I have more experience outside of this tranquil place and grew up in Lisheen, which taught me there was only the justice you made for yourself, she thought before shaking her head, deciding to change the subject.

      “What are Auroch?”

      He gave Rinn a slightly reassuring shake on the shoulder, pulling her closer. He realised she was upset from his lack of understanding, however he did not want to sour the mood, not today.

      “Aurochs are the cattle you may have seen in the farmlands, As strong as an ox but fluffy as a sheep! Their fur keeps us warm in winter and they are effective at climbing the mountain when the traders travel to the monastery up the cliffside.” After soldering and smoothing out the gems edges he began to trace designs into the side of the silver ring.

      Watching her father curiously, pulling up a chair to watch him work, she hummed thoughtfully.

      “Winter is coming up soon. I probably should get some winter clothes as well as some for my friends if they don’t have any,” she mused. The weather was already starting to get nippy, and while it was still warm enough to wear her short sleeves and keep warm with that and her cloak, she knew she would need to switch to something warmer soon. Of course she would need to make sure she could fit her tools in … more if possible.

      Nothing like being too prepared.

      “There is a tailor here I take it?” she asked before having another moment of curiosity. “Also is there magic items for sale here? It seems you can make them.” She touched her earring to gesture what she meant.

      He nodded confidently, “While most items are trivial there are a number of magic items at the runesmiths, and yes the tailor is ran by Ystan. Fine craftsman, considering we all decide to take up one from a young age to benefit the village. You looking to buy some clothing from him?” He raised an eyebrow.

      “Well, yeah,” she asked not quite sure why that was weird. “I don’t have my winter clothes on me, and the pair I had was looking pretty ragged. It would make more sense to get some new clothes from the fur of an animal that has warm properties, wouldn’t it?”

      She plucked at her cloak and gestured down at her short sleeved shirt.

      “This isn’t exactly meant for winter. Especially when snow starts blanketing the ground.” She groaned slightly. “That’s going to be a pain to move through. I mean it has it’s advantages, but still. Why, is it weird I want to get some new clothes?”

      He raised his hands in a defensive wave, “Oh no I don’t mean it’s weird, I just always thought that craftwork from huge cities would be a million times better than anything here. I just always have flashes of memory that you have experienced life much different to I or anybody else here. I will happily take you to get some winter clothing tomorrow, I’m paying, please.” He smiles at her and blows away the shavings of silver from the ring, then taking out his eyepiece to observe the ring.

      “That’s sweet of you to offer, but I’m pretty sure I have more money than you,” she grinned slightly. “Especially if you haven’t been selling jewellery. “Don’t want you to dip into your precious funds when I can pay for it myself. Also, what kind of magical items does this place sell?”

      He gave a very matter of factly look at his daughter when it came to gold, “I have ACTUALLY managed to save up 10 gold pieces for the past for years so I’m actually doing well off I’ll have you know, as for magical items they usually brew potions, however quite a few cloaks and trivial carvings are known to be enchanted or transmuted for an easier life in the village.”

      At the mention of only having 10 gold pieces, Rinn couldn’t help but facepalm. She wondered if money just wasn’t necessary here.

      “Dad, I have more than 3,000 gold pieces. If anything, I should be getting you something,” she said firmly, making a mental note to see what was for sale. She wasn’t sure if it would help her, but it was always good to look around and see what could be done.

      He dropped the ring almost instantly.

      “Y-You h-h-have that much gold on you? Honestly? How did you come into so much gold? YOU COULD BUY THIS ENTIRE VILLAGE!” His eyes were wide with bafflement and also a tinge of jealousy.

      Rinn laughed a bit awkwardly, scratching the back of her head.

      “Uhm … being an adventurer is very lucrative, let’s just say that,” she said. “Not a lot of people can do it. I mean I took a hit from that tree, yeah? So I’m pretty strong, and with my friends we can deal with … larger problems other people can’t. And that pays well.”

      Of course “pays” was subjective when all they did was rob the lich’s castle, but details.

      He nodded very shocked, “It seems I still keep trying to cling on you being my baby girl...seems you have truly grown up.” His smile was wide, “I’m so proud of you Rinn...I’ve missed you so much.” Once again the emotional contained elf pulled her into a hug once again.

      “I’m still your baby girl,” she said softly, hugging her father as well, before having a cheeky little smile. “I’m just stronger than you now. Or everyone in this village.”

      He chuckled, “And apparently the sassiest elf in the village also. You used to be so shy and quiet, now look at how you have grown.” He pulls away from her and looks her in the golden eyes of a sun elf, “Now that I finished that dingy old ring, how about I teach you how to craft the base of a ring?”

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • Context: Valara has been staying in the village with Arwyn and her now-father-in-law. She's been quite surprised at the lack of racism she's faced here, and has actually grown to like it. This RP takes place at the end of the day before the two of them go to bed, and of course it's really gay lol.


      As always, @Ruki is Arwyn!


      _________

      It had been quite a day.

      Valara didn’t know what she had expected. She wasn’t sure they would find anything here, despite the fact that she hoped her wife would finally get the answers she had been searching for.

      She had not expected to end up with a father-in-law by the end of the day, however.

      She had lacked a parental figure in her life since her adoptive father, Sigurd, had died several years back. Not only that, but despite him being an elf, he didn’t seem to care that she was a half-elf. Quite the opposite, he seemed thrilled that Arwyn had come back and brought him another daughter, and he readily accepted her and included her.

      Hell, none of the elves in this village seemed to care that she was a half-elf, in stark contrast to most of her other experiences with non-Arwyn elves. All of them were friendly to her, and if any seemed wary it was because she was an outsider more than that she was a half-elf. Valara had entered the village with some trepidation; her experiences with elves prior to this had led her to believe that racist assholes like the Lotaskian were the norm, with Arwyn being an exception. And honestly, one could chalk up Arwyn’s lack of prejudice towards half-elves to the fact that she was raised among mostly non-elven races in Lisheen. Obviously she was going to the village with her wife no matter what, but the fact that all these elves were so welcoming and kind towards her… while a pleasant surprise, was also rather confusing. A weird feeling, to be sure.

      Valara had spent much of the day exploring the village, since she figured her wife would want some alone time with her father; it had been about three decades since they last saw each other, after all. She came back to her father-in-law’s house and went to the room that she shared with her wife, the room that Arwyn had once shared with her brother. While the beds were a bit small, as someone who was used to sleeping in the wilderness, quite frankly to Valara a bed was a bed.

      She entered the room to find her lovely wife getting ready for bed. Valara smiled as she walked into the room, and moved forward to give Arwyn a hug and a soft kiss on the forehead before looking at her.

      “...It’s been quite a day for you, eh?”, she said with a smile on her face.

      Arwyn looked up from a small box she was holding before putting it back on the nightstand between the two beds. The room itself still looked messy, but wooden swords and toys were no longer spread around like one of Li’s traps, waiting to be stepped or tripped on. Still, it was clear that this at one point was a room for children - twins.

      “Yeah … that’s for sure,” the wood elf breathed before rubbing the back of her neck. “Sorry for getting testy at you the other night. I … didn’t expect … you ended up being right after all.” She glanced at her wife. “It goes without saying not to tell my dad what I thought happened or what I do for a living, yeah?”

      Valara chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t breathe a word to him. And no apologies necessary; I… well, I don’t know what I expected, but… I wasn’t expecting this. I’m… glad that things turned out as they did today, though. It… feels weird to be calling someone my father again. Suffice it to say, I was not expecting I would be doing so this morning.” she grinned at her wife warmly.

      “He seems like a good bloke, as well. Reminds me somewhat of my father. The fact that he accepted me so readily, and treated me so well… I wasn’t expecting that.”

      “Yeah,” Arwyn smiled gently. Her father, while a bit awkward, was clearly an earnest and loving man who she got the impression not only spoiled his wife but his kids as well. The fact he got this sick over the thirty years she was gone, they were gone, just proved how much he loved his family. “He’s a good guy, although a bit oblivious on the outside world.” She looked over at Valara. “He offered to buy me my winter clothes. I pointed out I was richer than him and he protested he saved up 10 gold pieces. Had to break it to him I had over 3,000.” She chuckled slightly. “Apparently that’s enough to buy the entire village. I would say it might be nice to get some land here, but I think for the time being I’d prefer to live at home - even if the beds are too small for how big I am now.”

      Valara chuckled at this. “Hey, when you’ve been living in the woods as long as I have, you come to appreciate any beds you can get! And hey, maybe when and if our adventuring days end… maybe we could settle down here. I… like it here.”

      Valara then looked thoughtful for a moment. “Though, speaking of home… you know how we planned to have a wedding ceremony in Lisheen with your family? Well… I’m sure you’ve thought of this already, but I want your father there too. I mean, I can’t imagine you wouldn’t either, but… I definitely think he should be included,” she smiled.

      “...Except let’s not do it in Lisheen, and have the venue elsewhere,” she said glancing away. “I don’t want dad to see Lisheen. I mean he’s oblivious but … I don’t think he will get that life just isn’t fair and authority isn’t always going to protect you. I’m sure I can convince Zolis and Lyre to go along with it … lying is probably their second nature after all.”

      Valara nodded. “That’s fair. To be honest, from what you’ve told me of Lisheen… it’s not somewhere that someone used to this idyllic village would like, to put it mildly. I… kind of wanted it to be somewhere in the woodlands, myself. And in nice, tranquil woodlands like these… surrounded by our friends and family… I can’t think of a better venue.”, she said, grinning.

      Arwyn nodded in agreement, though had a mental image of Lyre with the most annoyed expression on her face. She could only imagine how the poor Drow would react. Or piss off anyone who didn’t understand behind her constant stream of insults was a caring woman. In her own way.

      Valara was quiet for a moment, before she moved forward and hugged her wife again. “...I’m so happy for you, Rinn. I know how much you’ve wanted answers, but seeing you so happy to finally meet your father, and that he loved you… well, it was one of the nicest things I have ever seen. I’m… so happy, because… you deserve this.”

      “All I need to do is find my mom and twin brother,” she said softly before letting out a small bark of a laugh. “A twin … man, I always thought I was an only child. Who knew.”

      Valara smiled. “Who knew, indeed.... Well, we’ll find them too. We found your father, after all. I’m sure that we can track them down too. And I’ll be sure to help you do it every step of the way.”

      “Yeah…” Arwyn sighed, laying down on the much too small bed, wondering which one it had belonged to - Vall or herself. There was nothing indicating one way or the other. It seemed like both children shared the same toys and things, although she had managed to figure out which clothes were who's in the drawers; Vall’s was bigger. His also seemed to have burn marks while hers were grass stained.

      Valara laid down on the opposite bed; it was even smaller for her than it was for her wife, but hey, a bed was a bed. “I… like this village. It’s nice, tranquil, and the people here are very friendly, if a bit wary of outsiders. I… was surprised that nobody seemed to care I was a half-elf. Maybe assholes like the Lotaskian… are just that, assholes? Most elves I’ve met aside from you were racist towards me, but… here, nobody seemed to care. I have to wonder how these sort of prejudices come about, since while you have assholes like the Lotaskian who are very loud… I think being here has shown me that it’s not something that’s widespread among everyone. If I’m making any sense here.”

      Arwyn was quiet for a moment, before speaking up again.

      “You know, most Drows are murderers who will slaughter the innocent without a second thought, or at least that’s what Lyre tells me.” She looked over at Valara. “Yet a Drow saved your life. A Drow raised me. Helfyre is made of so many Drow, and while they can be assholes, they’re kind as well. Nobles I’ve been taught all my life were cruel and merciless, yet we have people like Li and Hoff …” she paused and gathered her thoughts. “We all have biases, but I think it’s important to recognize them. I can’t chew you out about the whole elf thing since of my own issues with nobility, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was glad that you’re warming up to elves as a race. It was hard … being the exception.”

      Valara nodded. “Yes… yes, you’re right. They say that those who fight monsters… must take care to not to become one themselves. While I’ve had bad experiences with elves aside from you… I shouldn’t let that turn me into something just as bad as the Lotaskian. I can’t say that I’m going to get over my bad experiences with asshole racists overnight, if only it were that easy, but… I’m glad that you aren’t the exception I thought you were. In a good way!” she winked at Arwyn.

      “I don’t think you could be just as bad as the Lotaskian until you started doing what they did. There is a fine line in the sand,” Arwyn chuckled dryly.

      Valara chuckled as well. “True, true. I haven’t abducted and tortured anyone, and hopefully that won’t change!” she said with a laugh.

      She then yawned. It was getting quite late, and it had been a long day. “...I think I should probably get some shut-eye. It’s been quite an eventful day for both of us, though obviously far more for you.”

      “Yeah …good night,” Arwyn sighed, pulling her legs up to fit on the small bed, her eyes flickering over to the box. Leaning over, she opened it and cranked the handle and once again the soft nostalgic melody began to play.

      Valara, by now rather drowsy, still looked in amazement at the music box. “That… that’s beautiful! Did your father make that?”

      “Dunno,” the thief murmured. “It was in here when I found it. It was among our toys.”

      “Well, maybe I’ll ask him in the morning… It’s lovely…

      She yawned, as the melody of the music box helped send her off to sleep.

      “Good night, Rinn… I love you…”
    • Context: Arwyn is taking in the events of the day, and has a heart to heart talk with Li. @Malia is the lovely Li <3
      ---------------------------------------------------------------

      Arwyn ran her finger over her bedframe, smiling down at the small beds sadly. It was like stepping back in time, as if nothing had changed from that day. That any moment the children who lived here would return to continue their play and fights. Her fingers raising up to her necklace, her throat clenched up.

      This was my life.

      Her golden eyes traveled to one of the toy swords, one of them charred and she could briefly see a little boy with the same black hair as her - though not as black as night like her’s and dad’s was - unruly like a bird’s nest, chasing after her swinging the flaming blade over his head yelling something she couldn’t hear over her own heartbeat and the pounding feet. He always towered over her, now that she was trying to recall him, and remembered unlike her he had hazel eyes, like dad.

      I had a brother … a twin brother, she thought amazed, knowing just how rare twins were from the books. Elves in general reproduced at a slower rate than humans - which explained why the village hadn’t rebounded from the plague in population even after 30 years - so twins were considered an especially rare blessing.

      Bending down and picking up the sword, she swung it around a few times before noticing a small box on the table between the two beds. Carefully placing the sword back down where nobody would trip on it, she approached the small box.

      It was wooden and decorated with leaves and other elven designs. Unhooking the small bronze hatch, she opened it only for a soft melody to start playing. It sounded like some sort of keys hitting against something, yet the melody was nostalgic.

      She sat down on the bed, holding it her throat constricting, remembering the tune in the back of her mind in a dark room carrying her off to sleep. It was impossible to believe the gentleness of this childhood versus the harshness of the one she was forced to endure. The difference was so painfully glaring, and while she was glad for Zolis and Lyre and the kindness and warmth of Black Cat, all she could think of was why.

      Who would attack a mother and her two children on the road? she thought, watching the odd bronze metal cylinder turn and little knobs hit against metal keys. What exactly happened that day that I would repress my memories of this. Of my family.

      Fingertips lightly tapped on the bedroom’s door.

      “Arwyn?” Li called softly as she stood in the doorway. This had to be a lot to take in for Arwyn, Li thought, so she was of the mind to check on her friend - but saw that perhaps she had intruded upon a personal moment. “Oh - I can… come back later, if you want to be alone?”

      The wood elf looked up, a bit startled, though upon seeing Li, she softly closed the music box and shifted over to the side, allowing Li to sit next to her if she wished.

      “No … it’s OK. Come in.” She placed the box back on the table. “Looks like I was a spoiled rotten kid … never would have guessed.”

      A sad smile touched the Techsmith’s face as she entered the room and settled herself down beside her friend, “I mean, were you my kid I would’ve spoiled you silly myself.”

      Tilting her head, Li waited a moment before asking, “What’s on your mind?”

      The wood elf looked over at Li for a moment, taking a moment to process what she was asking, before bending down and picking up one of the wooden swords littering the room. She kept on touching the toys, as if they would disappear under her fingers, like sand in a dream. She could see nicks and scuff marks, clearly the wooden weapon having been slammed against something numerous times.

      “I … was just thinking on why,” she said after a moment, running her finger down the length of the wood. “What happened for me to repress my memories of a loving home, to believe I had been abandoned … who would attack a mother and her two children. I can’t help but be bitter about this all. I went from a protected and happy life here to a street rat in Lisheen.”

      Li sat in quiet thought as Arwyn spoke. For a few moments, she remained silent as she pondered on her words. Eventually, she said, “As someone who understands what it’s like to have everything and to then lose it, and having your life changed literally overnight… I can say it’s pretty fucking difficult to process. At the very least, for me, I’ve had a few years to deal with it, and I at least remember in full a life I had, so this isn’t exactly the same as your predicament. Hell, I don’t even have an answer for dealing with my own past losses--” She chuckled somewhat bitterly, “--but, to some degree, I can relate to you. If only a little bit.”

      Reaching out, she placed her hand over Arwyn’s and laced her fingers through hers, “And I can listen. I think we both know I am the worst with emotions and expressing them, but I can hear you, and listen, and keep you close and safe as I do.”

      Arwyn smiled softly, intertwining her fingers with Li and resting her head on the princess’ shoulder.

      “I know. Thank you.” She paused and breathed out through her nose, as if the melancholy was trying to escape the thief's much smaller body. “Honestly, I’m still trying to process all of this. I … keep having flashbacks, ever since we came here. I remember places which were here and which weren’t. I remember brief images of my brother - still can’t get over that - but it seems at the same time as if I’m remembering someone else’s life, you know? This is - was - my home, yet it feels like I’m an outsider now.”

      Li nodded as she rested her head atop that of Arwyn’s.

      “You found answers and, in turn, found more questions, or questions you had previously have been reinforced. That can be incredibly frustrating. And then there’s looking back on what was and what currently is; the comparison or potential outcomes can be maddening to think on.”

      “I’m not going to try and tell you things like, you know, “who you are now is what matters so appreciate everything you have had” or “this is just retreading a previous chapter of your life you’ve merely forgotten!” or some pep talk bullshit. Truth is what you’re going through is huge and my guess is overwhelming in trying to make sense of it. I feel you’ve every right to be sad or angry for anything you feel you may’ve been denied, and you should express that as you feel comfortable because--” she turned and softly kissed the top of Arwyn’s head, “--I have a friend who is always telling me it’s unhealthy to bottle up feelings and forces me to talk about them. Best I can do is offer her the same comfort.”

      Arwyn flushed slightly at the affection - Li usually wasn’t affectionate like this unless she was drunk. The poor wood elf was caught a bit off guard at the purity of the human’s feelings, and a small, shy smile crossed her lips.

      “Man, looks like I rubbed off on you after all, huh?” she murmured before letting out a soft sigh and reaching over to the box again, bringing it over. Opening it, the final notes of the song playing, she cranked it until the soft melody once again started to play.

      At the mention of her open affection, Li simply smiled - there was something about seeing a parent and child reunited that moved her beyond words. Perhaps part of her wished for such a reunion for herself and her own father, and maybe this made her miss her son, Dwayne, who was back home in Tereana, but she did know this was one of the few things that touched her heart deeply.

      Her eyes kept its warmth as Arwyn carried on speaking.

      “I tried asking my dad about my heritage, but poor man simply didn’t get it … couldn’t bear to tell him the importance of why I had to know. Especially since he clearly didn’t know himself beyond basic things. And I keep getting reminded that the average person rather avoid scary things in hopes they can avoid the power’s wrath. Part of me is frustrated and mad - why do they put their heads in the sand? Why won’t they just tell me the information I need? But then … I remember, I used to be that way too.”

      She was quiet for a moment, listening to the music box before speaking again.

      “There is just … so much injustice in this world. And the more I look around, the more I realize it’s not just Lisheen. It’s not just the lich … it seems to be interwoven into the very fabric of this world. And I know it’s probably something lofty, but I don’t want anyone else to suffer what you and I did. Part of me wants to yell and smash things, find whoever did this to me and kill them. I want them to suffer. It’s … a very dark and ugly emotion, and I don’t really like it.”

      Li thought on those words; if she had the chance to face off against Prince Sabarra, or even the Grand Vizier of Sabarra, whom she was told had a hand in the execution of her Mother - would she try to kill them? Would she want them to suffer as she had?

      Still, these were musings for another time. Right now, this was about Arwyn since she was dealing with finding something for which she had searched a long time, and discovering there was so much more beyond that which needed to find out.

      “I can’t judge,” Li said quietly, “I mean, not too long ago I was ready to storm the Warden of Tereana’s office to seek out vengeance for Hoff. I had to be talked out of it. I had a very selfish moment where I was prepared to charge on ahead - anything and everyone else be damned - all in the name of vengeance. So, I can barely tell you to feel otherwise or to take a “higher road” or whatever the fuck that means.”

      “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to feel rage or those darker feelings. Yeah, it’s ugly, but it’s also normal, I think? I guess in the end it depends how you choose to deal with it. Clearly, I wasn’t the smartest in wanting to gun down the Warden with no plan beyond kick the doors down and fire off the Ruiner.” She shook her head, sighing at her own hot-tempered nature. “But you’ve got time, yeah? We can try piece things together and figure out your next move.”

      “I will say, though, that I absolutely understand when you say you wish for this to never happen to anyone else. I agree. I agree with all my heart. You and I--” She smiled grimly at the wood elf, “--we’ll work actively toward preventing such things, if we can.”

      “Yeah,” the wood elf smiled. She didn’t feel like she was a warrior for justice - not like Hammer was - so much as she strived against injustice, and the systematic oppression and cruelness which came with it. She gave a soft sigh, pausing for a moment before speaking once again.

      “... Also, I know I said this already, but call me when you need me. I think Lisheen is a day’s journey from here, so if you’re willing to wait for a few days, I can also stop by that home as well to bother Lyre. I know that Beluc said he had connections in Lisheen-” the wood elf paused for a moment, grumbling irritably at this being dropped on her, “-but I think it would be better if I went there, you know? It’s … different..”

      Li nodded, “I appreciate that, though don’t you worry about Terana right now. You focus on your family. I mean, I left Tereana to see you safely here because I knew how important this would be for you, so I get your attention should be here. I will remember that, though, and may seriously take you up on that offer.”

      Dropping back, Li lay on the small bed, her feet still planted on the floor. Her hands rested on her stomach, fingers interlinked, “... I am glad, though, Arwyn, that you’ve found your father. More than I can say. It brings me much happiness in knowing you’ve got him and he’s got you.”

      The wood elf was quiet for a moment before she said softly-

      “And we’ll find yours too. After we deal with Lord CuntyMcCunt face, we’re heading south, yeah? Since I’m not the only one who deserves to know.” She looked up at the ceiling, lying down as well next to Li, moving the music box next to her. “I’ll help you in your quest for answers just as much as you helped me. Since no matter what … we’re in this together.”

      Li placed her hand over Arwyn’s once more, saying nothing and allowing the physical contact to express the gratitude and loyalty she felt. The two just sat that way for awhile, listening to the music box play its tune.

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • It was the third day and his third attempt. He knew from the silent look Li had gave him that she was irritated with his progress. It was hard for him. Conall hadn’t had to work metals in a forge in a very long time. While he remembered the feel of a hammer in his hand, the heat of the furnace, the motions he had to work through in order to bend the metal back and over, molding it into the image in his mind, was harder than he had expected.

      And if he was being honest, a none too small part of the problem was he was working with Justice. A sword which had a storied past going back centuries, held by a dozen heroes each chosen by Tyr. This was an artefact and one of deep regard in his order; ‘finding’ it as he had … he did not consider it a coincidence that Tyr had told him to leave Celldara to slay the lich and that immediately after being rescued it was found not forty feet from where he had been bound and gagged. He was imbuing the sword with part of himself, literally leaving a mark on it in a way that he wasn’t sure anyone else had.

      He slammed the hammer down hard into the heated iron, exhaling the breath he had held, forcing the pent up energies he held inside his body down through the hammer into the iron. Again he struck, again he exhaled, again he forced more of the power into metal. Never before had he considered using the power invested in him in such a way. The Princess truly was a marvel.

      It had taken him days of contemplation before finally deciding on they would empower the sword. He had had to remember the night he was born. Not as a babe, but as Stormblessed. As the Hammer of Tyr.

      He could no longer remember the pain; he knew it was immense. He remembered crying until he was hoarse and then crying more. He had never cried when he had been beaten before that, but then he had never been beaten to an inch of his life. The guards had beaten him blue before tying him to the cross they erected in the field. Conall remembered the smell of moisture in the air, the heavy scent that clung to everything just before and after rains. Forced to watch the thunderhead roll toward him every part of his body hurt as he was left there, alone, in the field to die.

      It had begun slowly. The rain slowly fell upon him tiny droplets that did not announce the true magnitude of the storm which was to follow. Even the spittle of tiny soft rain hurt. But soon it became a downpour. The winds buffeted him, slamming his back and arms into the cross bearing him naked to the sky. As the storm roared around him, the thunderclaps grew louder. The flashes of lightning which burned his vision grew brighter. While the boy had known he was going to meet death there upon that field, either from exposure, from the storm properly, or from hanging from that cross, nothing prepared him for the moment he was supposed to meet it.

      The moment that he was kissed by the storm itself.

      The moment he was struck by lightning.

      He could recall some details of it with such vividness that it was almost as though he was on that cross presently. His vision went white as he saw nothing but pure light. The smell of the ropes binding him evaporating from the sheer force of burning power scorching through them. The brief moment of weightlessness as his body was suspended in the air by absolutely nothing.

      And before he could fall, he felt hands. Warm hands holding him under his arms. And he no longer felt pain. He no longer felt the weariness which felt so deep a part of him that it should be in his bones. His limbs no longer felt the damp cold of the rain, the chill of the wind. All he felt was a gentle warmth. And then darkness as he was consumed by sleep.

      Conall slammed the hammer down, exhaling, forcing the power he held within him into the metal. The storm was apart of him. It had made him as much as Tyr did in blessing him to survive it. As much as speaking to Tyr in the soft pink dawnlight the morning after. Unnatural sparks flew as the hammer slammed down onto the metal. It crackled with power. His power. Tyr’s power.

      He needed to remember that storming night as much as the peaceful morning after.


      “Gandalf put his hand on Pippin's head. "There never was much hope," he answered. "Just a fool's hope, as I have been told.”
      ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Avalanchemike ().

    • Context: While Arwyn is having some alone time catching up with her long-lost dad, Valara walks around the village to try and do some digging on Arwyn's behalf, so that her wife can properly enjoy her time with her father. She goes up to the village elder, Baseel, and asks him various questions about things. He's very friendly and provides quite a bit of info! @KyroThePurple is Elder Baseel!


      _________


      Valara wandered around the elven village of Nest’Calad. She had excused herself from her new father-in-law’s house in order to give her wife some well-deserved alone time with her long-lost father, and figured it would be nice just to walk around the beautiful elven village. Valara was normally right at home in nature, and this village was, as far as civilisation went, probably the closest thing to her ideal; it was in harmony with nature and the land, rather than being at odds with it as it was in most other settlements.

      She… could get used to it here. Especially since the elves here didn’t seem to care that she was a half-elf.

      While Arwyn was spending time with her father, Valara thought it may be a good idea to spend some time doing some digging herself. While they had definitely found answers about Arwyn’s past in this village, to say nothing about the fact that they had found her father, many questions still remained. What happened to Arwyn’s mum and brother? Were they still alive? What exactly happened that day thirty years ago? Why were the Lotaskian interested in Arwyn’s family to the point that they abducted and tortured her for information she did not have? These were but a few of the questions that remained, and while Arwyn deserved a respite from the constant searching in order to spend time with her newly-found father, Valara had no qualms about showing some initiative and continuing the search for answers on her wife’s behalf.

      As she wandered across the village, taking in its beauty as she did so, she came across the great lake to the north of the village, with giant lily pads that seemed large enough to carry many fully-grown people. Not only that, but she noticed the elder of the village, who had greeted them after they had entered the village via taking a wallop from a homicidal tree, and told them where to find Arwyn’s father, Rolen Nailo.

      Elves lived a long time, so an elven elder was likely very old indeed. If anyone had answers about the past, he would probably be a good place to start.

      Valara approached the elder, slightly nervously. She was rather shy at the best of times, after all. She spoke to him, in slightly rusty Elvish.

      “Hello… Elder? I’m sorry to disturb you, but… could I speak with you?”

      His ears perked almost cartoonishly at the unfamiliar tone of voice, then turned with a slight smile which grew into a rather friendly grin, “Oh greetings to you fey born! Always lovely to meet another of our kin doing well, once again welcome to our home. If you need anything I am more than happy to provide if I can.” He brought his hands from a simple bow to staying at his sides, then watched Valara curiously

      Valara returned the bow, and the smile. “Thank you very much for the hospitality you have shown me and my companions. I am Valara Sigurdsdotter Nailo. My wife, Rinn, is currently spending time with her father, since, you know, it’s been three decades since they’ve seen each other. I figured they could use some alone time to catch up without me intruding. But I figured I could see what I can learn while I am here.”

      “Oh, but where are my manners! I’ve given you my name, but what is yours? Or would you prefer for me to just call you Elder? I’m sorry, I don’t know the customs of these elven villages.”, she laughed nervously.

      He shook is head rather nonchalantly, “You may decide between Baseel or Elder, it is quite frankly your choice. If you speak Sylvan then Yllarandor is common. I am glad you have taken interest in our little hamlet, especially with such warm company. When Rolen lost Vall, Caelynn and baby Rinn he truly turned to ruin. To think she returned with another elven individual at her side, it is reassuring to say the least.”

      Valara nodded. “Thank you, Baseel. I’m glad that we were able to find him; the sight of his reunion with Rinn was truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. And I never expected I’d be able to call anyone Father again after my father died years ago, but he’s truly treated me as a member of his own family.”

      She was quiet for a moment, before continuing. “But… there’s still questions I have. Such as what exactly happened that day when Rinn, Vall, and Caelynn disappeared. Is it possible someone could show me to the site of… where they disappeared? I did not want to ask Rolen as I did not want to mar such a joyous reunion with potentially triggering questions, but… I think, for Rinn’s sake, this is something I should do.”

      He turned to face the water, where a few of the lily pads bumped against each other in the water, he picked up a flower and seemed to whisper into its stem, then brings it back into his hand, “I would be able to show you the side of this happening, however I do find it hard to believe you will find next to anything...this was thirty years ago mind you. Most wildlife has grown over, and the bones surely turned to dust.” He dropped the flower, however instead of falling to the ground it began to float, and hovered over to Valara’s side, “When you are prepared you simply ask her where to go, and he shall take you.”

      Valara bowed respectfully. “Thank you very much, Elder. I’m not expecting to find all the answers there, but I feel I must at least give it a look myself, for Rinn’s sake. Before I go, though, I have some other questions. Do you… know of a group called the Lotaskian?”

      He was still, quite still indeed. He prodded the ground a little bit with his wooden quarterstaff, then spoke up, “They came here once...around 12 years back. Offering a place to belong to our people. We saw through their ways and knew we were safe here. They appreciated the old way similar to us...but there was hatred, oh a lot of hatred about old times…” His face went rather grim, “10 left with them, after the plague we did not blame them, it scared them and they offered change. They come from the north apparently.” He scratched his head a little and then turned back to Valara, “Thats as much as I can remember child, when you’ve lived as long as I have you recycle old information for the new mostly!” His chuckle was rather adorable for such an old man.

      Valara’s eyes widened as he told her this. This was something huge, the fact that they had come here twelve years ago, and apparently had offered a home for “their” people. She made careful note of this; she would have to tell Rinn later.

      “I see,” she said after a moment. “I ask you this because… the Lotaskian appear to have taken an interest in Rinn and myself. When we were in Sigdt some moons ago, Rinn was abducted and tortured by them, with them interrogating her about both her family, which she had no knowledge of, and her relationship with me. You’re quite right that they’re full of hatred… they despise me because I am a half-elf, and believe I am ‘tainted’ by my human blood. They had intended to take either Rinn or myself away with them, but thankfully last-minute intervention meant that both of us were able to escape.”

      She took a deep breath. “I… thank you for this information, on behalf of both Rinn and myself,” she said as she bowed respectfully again.

      A slight grumble came from him, then he took a few plod closer to Valara, “Knowledge costs nothing. It seems my hunch was correct about them. Do you ever doubt your non-fey side of your birth child?” He brought his hand to under the sorcerer’s chin and lifted it up very gently, but reassuringly.

      Valara smiled at him. “No… I don’t doubt either side of my birth. I’m… not as much in touch with my fey side as I could be, though. I don’t know who my birth parents were; my adoptive father, a human, found me abandoned in the woods and adopted me as his own. I’ve spent most of my life in the woods with him, and he taught me how to hunt and fend for myself in the wilds. The fact that I know Elvish comes from when he had me instructed by one of his friends for a time, a high elf who taught me about my magical powers. But… even then, it’s part of who I am. I’m both elven, and not. But in the end, I’m me.”

      She took a breath. “Though… while I’m here… It would be nice to learn more about the other side of my heritage. I may not be a full elf, but… it’s part of my heritage, whether the Lotaskian likes it or not,” she grinned.

      Once again his face of concern dropped to one of a mixture between amusement and joy, “Then learn you shall child. If you like the next sunrise we plan to commune via meditation, if you would like to partake? You may become part of any of the culture here, you are one of us after all.”

      Valara smiled and bowed respectfully again. “It would be my honour. I thank you so much for your generosity.”

      “It is my honour fey touched, my honour.”
    • context: Ayira, Hofflehass’ lost daughter has returned to her home of Tereana after hearing of her father’s death. She has came to avenge his death by murdering Warden Kirikray Sealfrall. She has a conversation with Li to shed some light on this scenario.

      Ayira had finished observing the planning and conversation between these strangers. She has seen her home after all these time and she couldn't walk back into her father’s office to see him, or even his dead body.

      There was somebody with the answer she needed. The girl with the fancy looking mechanisms who seems to own the house, lets start there.

      She simply walked over, her hand on the pommel of her steel blade, confidently walking over to her in the dining room, she’s seemingly preparing food. Her stomach rumbles silently but she ignore it as she calls out in a controlled yell, “Hey lady, you the one who wrote the letter then?”

      For a moment, Li looked over her shoulder, seeing Ayira as the one who had called out to her. She simply nodded, and then turned back to her task.

      She seemed to wait a few moments, deciding if she should back out or not, however she just simply walks over to the table and sits on it, still facing the techsmith, “You were the one helping dad then? When did this Warden prick get involved?” She routinely tied back her hair into a ponytail in and back out freely. A habit she continues when she’s nervous.

      Li placed her utensils down and turned toward her, “I helped out your father, yeah, though I had left about two or three months ago to pursue a mission of sorts. Sometime during my absence, apparently the Warden began to take an interest in Tereana. I don’t have an exact date - only a general timespan.”

      [Insight: 21 crit aaayyy]

      Tilting her head, Li couldn’t help but notice the anxiety about Ayira - and it was an anxiety that she recognised since she, too, had loved Hoff as a father, and perhaps even deeper, longed to ask questions and find answers about her real father.

      Seeing her properly and closer, Li realised she was actually quite young - perhaps Hammer’s age or something close to it? So young for one who had chosen the life of a mercenary.

      With an inclination of her head, she motioned for Ayira to follow her as she exited the kitchen, rounded the corner and then entered her workshop. Once there, she opened the drawer to her desk and pulled out a neatly folded letter. Without a word, she offered the slip of parchment to Ayira.

      She once again paused for a moment, taking a glimpse around the room before accepting the letter. She gave a quick glance to Li before skimming over the letter, clearly struggling on certain words, however after around 4-5 minutes she lowers the letter in her hands. Surprisingly a face like steel, “H-his handwriting always looked really snobbish…” It was clear she was hiding her real feelings, like most kids would around strangers, “He seemed to think the world of you, and you must have cared a lot about him to go through with all that battle planning shit in your living room. Real fucking brave on your part.” She offered back the letter in her non gauntleted hand.

      Taking the letter back, Li folded it gently and placed it back in the desk, though her fingertips brushed along the parchment gingerly, her eyes sadly fixated on it, before she pushed the drawer shut.

      “Our relationship was unexpected; I appeared to help rebuild Tereana and he willingly accepted my assistance. The townsfolk weren’t as receptive as he was, with this outsider coming in and wanting to offer aid, but it was his faith and kindness that allowed me a place here, and eventually a home.” There was a distant tone to her voice as she spoke mixed with a touch of warmth and sadness.

      Straightening her posture, some of her regular iron returned to her spine as she said, “He’s worth this fight, as well as Tereana as a whole. I intend to fight for him and the people here, yeah.”

      “And what of you? The letter speaks briefly of your relationship with your father - would you say the description was apt?” There was no judgemental tone. Frank, yes, but nothing harsh. If anything, Li figured Ayira would probably be the kind of person who appreciated getting to the point rather than dancing around a subject.

      She gave a halfhearted shrug, “ I didn’t try to understand him, but he spent too much time trying to understand me. Only person I know who could read me like a book. I wanted a free life from this shith-- well, when it was a shithole, I wanted away from it. I felt useless here, I didn’t care for it at all. I would never wish anything of this sort on dad, so yeah I’m here to avenge him, but to make sure his life’s work is left the fuck alone, especially by some foreign fucking ruler.” She spat the word out like sour ale, then looked up with hidden obvious embarrassment, “Sorry, long day…”

      “Fuck, shit, cunt, twat - and apparently I’m a Princess,” Li replied with a lopsided grin, “No worries on venting frustration. We’re here and working under some harsh conditions, all things considered.”

      Sitting down on a crate, she gestured for the girl to take a seat. “I’m not exactly the most conventional when it comes to being nobility. I mean, this room you’re sitting in--” She glanced around at all the tools and creates of metal, scattered cogs, some giant suit of unfinished armor she apparently made in her sleep, “--is what I basically do for a living. While I understand the logistics and etiquette of being a noblewoman, this is where my heart is and this is where I feel most alive; when I’m building and creating and inventing. I was even once told by a Prince that this was not ideal work for a Princess.” Li looked heavenward at the memory of Prince Sabarra schooling her on how to be a proper noble.

      She folded her legs and glanced curiously at the young mercenary, “...I have to ask, though; the life of a mercenary is really what you want? You’d not want to do what your father did? Whenever we destroy that Warden asshole, Tereana is going to need leadership. There’s no part of you that would, even for a moment, consider that?”

      Li did not ask this to pressure her - she wanted to hear it from the girl’s mouth herself, her wishes. If it truly was to leave after the deed was done, then Li would have to start thinking of a different way to help Tereana after the Warden’s fall.

      She nodded through Li showing her the workshop, looking around and giving a little smirk at your remarks, however she went silent at your questioning, “As much as I hate it these are my people. They would probably put a lot of faith in me if they knew I was alive. I do not know how to rule at all, I never learnt nor did I care enough to try to. I am good at kicking the ass of any dick who threatens my friends or employer, or thinks they can take advantage of a pretty face-- my pretty face if it wasn’t obvious. I can barely understand how taxes work which is why I choose to live on the road. Its scary to think about and I don’t want that life, sorry to disappoint you...and Tereana.” She tried to hide her guilty afterthoughts.

      Li was hardly in a position to judge. She had, after all, left her fiance at the altar and this consequently lead to her exile from her own kingdom. A moment of weakness had cost her almost everything, so she’d not cast judgement on this girl who did not feel her place was here.

      Nodding, Li said, “That’s fine. Regardless, you’ve every right to be here and see through what happens to the Warden, and to see your father’s work preserved. What happens afterward, I’ll deal with it then. Though…” Li tapped her chin, “...from memory, can you think of anyone in this town or associated with this town, who might be ideal to lead here in your father’s place?”

      Long and hard she thought, however she hasn’t been around for years now and most thought her dead, she shook her head in defeat, “Nope. Sorry, but I think you could consider maybe having one of those multiple people governments? Whatever they are called? Like experts in different things...or something, I have no clue to be honest” She laughed, she felt very useless at the moment.

      Li raised her eyebrows, “That… is a brilliant idea, Ayira! An idea I want to take very seriously. I’m familiar with similar set-ups in another continent, and it could work on a smaller scale here in Tereana. I mean, Tereana has moved forward with its technology and such, so maybe it can do the same with how it’s governed.” She smiled brightly at the girl, very obviously impressed and pleased by her quick thinking.
      “Y-you made sense of that? Well fuck me maybe I am a genius…” Hoffs daughter gave a sarcastic smile, then started walking towards the door, “Everybody loved him, glad you could join that group of people he truly cared for. I treated him like shit and he gave me whatever life I wished for...now he’s dead. This will hopefully be the way I pay him back, whether he likes it or not.” She stayed in the doorway having a moment to think, possibly reminisce.

      Li stood and made her way outside of the workshop, stopping before the girl and saying, “Well, he loved you enough to keep your identity a secret and to let you forgo whatever responsibility there was with being a noble. If anything, living the life you’ve chosen to the fullest is, in my eyes, the greatest way to honour him now as the path before you was helped carved by his hand.”

      She placed a hand on Ayira’s shoulder, “We’ve something of a small war ahead of us in the name of your father and Terena; I’m glad you’re here for it, Ayira.” She gave her shoulder a light squeeze, and then carried on to the kitchen to resume cooking for everyone once more.
    • Context: After her chat with Elder Baseel a few posts above, Valara goes to the site of Arwyn's disappearance thirty years ago to investigate. She... actually makes some discoveries, something neither her nor I expected. Thanks to @KyroThePurple for giving me the info and being patient with me! :D


      ___________

      After her fruitful chat with the kind elder of Nest’Calad, Elder Baseel, Valara returned towards the village centre, taking with her a magical flower that Baseel had given to her. He said that it would lead her to the site of where Rinn, and her mother and brother, had vanished suddenly thirty years ago. She was not sure what, if anything, she would find at this location… but she felt like she had to go there, for her wife’s sake. Ordinarily she would have asked Rinn to come with her, but considering Rinn had just been reunited with her long-lost father, Valara did not want to disrupt her happiness with this. So, she took matters into her own hands.

      As she returned to the village centre, as soon as she resolved to go to the disappearance site, something rather extraordinary happened. The flower Baseel had given her burst in a cloud of petals, that then coalesced to a form a petal butterfly. The butterfly hovered over Valara’s hand for a moment, before gliding along to a path out of the village. Valara blinked, then rushed after it, making sure to keep close to it.

      As Valara followed the butterfly, around 30 feet outside the village outskirts it felt like she… went through a liquid barrier, almost? It was as though she was back in the forest in little but a moment. Getting her bearings, she made note of where she was and made sure to keep track of the path she took as she continued to follow the petal butterfly, which meandered quite a bit and it took about four hours before the butterfly finally stopped.

      Valara assumed it had taken her to the right place. However, the place it had brought her was… rather uninteresting, to be quite honest. Aside from a small clearing with no trees a bit farther down the road path, it was honestly similar to any other section of the forest.

      She tried to strain her eyes and look around the scene, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. It really did look like a bog-standard forest clearing.

      Valara closed her eyes, and tried to sense if there were any magic in the area. To her surprise, she was actually able to detect some residual magical energy in the area. It was faint, as one would expect after decades had passed, but it was definitely there. With her natural affinity for fire, Valara was easily able to sense where fire had licked the earth many years ago.

      It was not that there was a lot of magic here, but what magic was here was definitely fierce and powerful, such that its residual energy could be felt by Valara decades later in the present.

      Valara walked over to one of the places where the fire had kissed the earth, and got down on one knee to examine it.

      As she took it in, she came to a realisation. These flames were not natural fire; they were clearly conjured magically. But these were not flames as conjured from the spellbook of a wizard; this fire, while obviously still magical, were more… raw, perhaps? Innate, maybe? The most likely source of this flame was either a magical item of some kind… or a sorcerer, like herself. Perhaps that is why Valara was able to tell the source of this magical fire even decades after the fact; it was an art she knew well.

      Finally, Valara could see from the haphazard way the residuum was scattered around the clearing made it clear that this fire was conjured in a panic.They did not seem to hit any particular target, at least not intentionally. It just… kind of went all over the place. It was lucky a wildfire didn’t start.

      All of a sudden, Valara’s eyes widened as this information all melded together in her head to come to a realisation. Could it be…?

      She got up, and dusted herself off. While she did not find all the answers she had sought here (not that she had expected to solve a decades-old mystery on her own in a day), the information she did find… maybe, that could be illuminating on this mystery, even if just a little.

      She gave one last look around the clearing, but did not find anything else of interest. She then proceeded to follow the petal butterfly back along the route it had brought her, back to the village.
    • Context: Lyre, one of Arwyn's moms, comes through Li's window after Arwyn was like "yo I need help offing a dude." And now they're having bonding time.


      @KyroThePurple does an amazing Lyre.
      ----------------------------------------------------

      The young wood elf was jumping around the elder Drow like an excited puppy, knowing enough to allow her to sort out whatever she did, but she could barely contain her excitement to see one of her mothers again. She had so much to tell her - to show her - and while she was a bit put out it was during these circumstances, the fact she came to help when Arwyn asked made her heart swell.

      She had told her father that the people who adopted her were loving and caring people. She didn’t lie when she said that. Lyre could be gruff sometimes, but underneath it all she was someone who cared very much for her family of misfits. Arwyn wondered how dad would react upon meeting Rolen, though that can be something to think about at a later date.

      Lyre had just finished organising her vials of poison in a neat fashion on Li’s table. Everybody had either left to organise their allies in the coming battle or took each other aside for a conversation, however Lyre for once stayed comfortable at the side of her chosen daughter, “You have really gotten yourself into some shit with this situation havn’t you pup?” Her accept was strong and reassuring.

      Settling down next to the Drow, the wood elf practically sparkled as she grinned. She was so happy to be talking to Lyre again, and there was no chance in hell she wasn’t going to take a moment - or several - to brag how good she had become.

      “It’s not too bad I think, and let’s be honest, probably not the worst trouble I’ve ever found myself in. This asshole just came in, murderized the warden here and acted like he had the Conceeran Empire behind his back, but was fucking lying through his teeth. We’re not totally sure why he decided to do it, but at the same time it’s not like we care. Besides-” she grinned and placed her chin on her hand, looking very smug now. “I’m able to slip in and out unseen, so their security isn’t that great.”

      She gave a rather graceful lift of her chin to signify her appreciation, “I suppose a year away must have gave you some assistance or improvement, however this business with the target, is that any of your business? Or rather why do you care for the business of nobles?” She turned cross legged on the floor, a tilt of her head seeming like curiosity was taking over her.

      “Well … I care because this man killed my friend’s foster father.” She tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I mean father-like figure? He considerer Li like his child because they helped rebuild Tereana after it got sacked to the ground due to bandits. Not sure if it’s an actual adoption thing or so going on there …”

      Realizing she was getting slightly off track, Arwyn shook her head and continued.

      “Anyway, this man is subjugating the people of Tereana and killed an honorable man for his own ambitions. And Li is part of my family too, and aren’t you always saying we should be there to help out our family? This man hurt Li, so he hurt me too. So I’m going to fuck him up. Not only that, but I can’t stand this whole concept of a powerful overhead force subjugating people and causing them pain for their own whims.” She raised her eyes and looked right into Lyre’s crimson ones. “If I have the power to stop it, to free people from such injustice, I want to do it. And one day, I think, I’ll have the power and experience to destroy the Fortress, so Lisheen isn’t suffering anymore.”

      Listening through all of Arwyn’s reasoning Lyre frowned at the end, beforehand not expressing much besides her focus on applying poisons, “You are indeed growing up like me, pup. Not sure if I like to be honest. I agree if we have the power to stop something like this we should, but there was a day where we tried to do just that...and while we technically succeeded, we might as well have failed with everything that happened in the aftermath. We lost everything that day and our family suffered massively. You must be calm, collected and completely understand the consequences of tomorrow actions. The world does not give a Trolls ass about your intentions or passions, it will kick you to the ground and shit on you. That’s what this world does.” She seemed to give up on poisons, realising it's a process you must be calm in doing so, so she took her quiver from her side and began feathering her arrows.

      “I know,” Arwyn said softly, looking down slightly. She wondered what exactly her mother was referring to the night they lost everything, and her stomach squirmed a bit. There was a lot she didn’t know about Black Cat nor Lyre. And the stuff she did know usually came from sources like Igan. “And I know to fight against the nobility of Lisheen is … going to be difficult. I don’t think how I am now, I could win. But against these fools, before they gather more power, I think I - we - can do it. The people we are fighting against are mercenaries. They’re unorganized. A coordinated attack from everyone, plus cutting off the head … the question after that would be who would fill the power vacuum. It’s going to have to be either Li or Ayira, and if I’m going to be honest, I rather it be Ayira. But she doesn’t seem interested and Li’s too loyal and kind to leave these people without someone to look after them just to go adventuring. So … I don’t know what the aftermath is going to be in that regard.”

      She was quiet for a moment and looked up at Lyre again.

      “... What happened the day you tried to stop injustice?”

      Lyre knew she would ask this one day. The girl always had been the inquisitive type.

      She dropped her arrows and brought her hand over gently to Arwyn sitting next to her, then brought her head onto her chest, “Pup...you are a curious one.” She began to bring her fingers through Arwyn’s hair, straightening it out as she talked, “The day we tried to fight back...started off well enough, we were much fewer in number, however we had a plan much like this...we thought if we could succeed then our lives would be fixed forever, however we got cocky I suppose? Possibly underprepared...but we paid for it. I will not go into detail today pup, I am not prepared to tell such a story, I just wish you to be safe and careful above all else. I do not know your friends however they seem to be giving a lot into this task, but you will not lose your life over this, understand?” She held her still.

      “We are thieves, we are a guild, we are a family. To place nobles of importance upon their thrones is not our task...we provide for those who can’t and our own. These friends are your own I suppose, but do not lose your life over it, swear to me…” Her composure seemed calm, mainly as she did not want to worry the young elf, she planted a small kiss against her forehead and then moved away from the embrace.

      “I don’t plan on dying anytime soon,” Arwyn assured her before giving a tired laugh. “Though I’m the second oldest, so I’ve been helping in looking after them to make sure they don’t do stupid shit. I mean not that I’m any reason to judge considering how much crazy stuff I did at their age … but man, I worry sometimes. Especially since we have a couple who are too damn selfless at times. I mean it’s not a bad virtue to have, but still … ya know.”

      She didn’t want to come right out and say that Li was suicidal, and it took a lot of the party to convince her not to throw her life away when she got emotional. Hammer and herself seemed to be the ones most successful at it, and Arwyn thought it was a bit funny to have both the rogue and paladin both having to have mini heart attacks in trying to keep someone they loved in line. Even though one would think they were at polar opposites of the spectrum, the more time the wood elf spent with the fae human, it more obvious it was to her it wasn’t completely the case.

      “It’s a dangerous lot you have chosen to stay with you pup, however the same could be said for our family…” She looked back to the far corner where she could see a few of her daughters allies planning their strategies and main offences, “I’m glad I came to help you in this matter. Zolis has been asking about you, she told me to pinch you for not writing to her, I thought a pinch was an understatement. We miss you back at home pup. You kept a few of the sad looking lot a mile happier.”

      Arwyn ducked her head apologetically. She had meant to write but … things kept getting away from her.

      “I’ll apologize when I come back to visit Lisheen. I meant too … but you know me. I wouldn’t say I found myself in trouble exactly,” even as she said this, she doubted Lyre believed it because even if she wasn’t looking for trouble, trouble found her. “-as interesting things kept happening to me. Like, for example, I have wood elf magic now!”

      To show her what she meant, she held out her hands and grew them out into fingers. It was a bit harder because she wasn’t as angry as she normally was when she cast it, and it lasted only for a moment before disappearing. She frowned ever so slightly, a bit disappointed.

      “... I’m better with the other two. This relies on me being actually angry. Dad tried to teach me, but he doesn’t have this aspect of wood elf magic apparently.” Her eyes light up and she leaned forward. “Oh! I found my dad! Apparently my home village was hit pretty hard by the plague and everything, but there were still people around! And apparently I have a twin!” She leaned back and sighed. “... Though I’m still not used to that. It’s kinda weird thinking about it.” She blinked and looked back at Lyre smiling brightly. “Oh, but don’t worry! I still think of you and Zolis as my mom, Black Cat as my family and Lisheen as my home. That hasn’t changed!”

      For the first time in Arwyn’s life, she saw the similar expression Lyre would make if she got hit by a brick, except that brick was a large amount of information at once, “Okay child...okay...please calm down. YOU WHAT? You found your parents? Please tell me everything. These are not details you should keep from your mother.” She seemed conflicted, but Arwyn could gather it is maybe from the sudden burst of information.

      Arwyn blinked, not really expecting the sudden interest, but she supposed it made sense. Lyre was her adoptive mother, and she did just tell her she found her birth father. It was bound to be shocking to know after all these years the person who shared blood with your child was still alive. Honestly, Arwyn probably should have broken the news a bit more gently. She made a mental note to be more considerate when doing so to Zolis. Lyre, at least, would take things in stride a lot easier.

      “Not my parents … just my dad, Rolen. We found where the village was, and after getting attacked by a tree - which apparently has some sort of weird ass prophecy attached to it, and not going to lie, I’m thinking about killing it someday to see where it goes - we got approached by the village elder. After telling him who I was, he was all like, ‘I knew you would return’ and shit. Which I was like, ‘what the actual fuck.’ He takes us in and gives us food and pretty much tells us my dad has been pretty much sick over the last 30 years or so, and asked if Vall or my mother was safe. To which I was like who the fuck was Vall. He said Rolen ought to tell me, so we fucked over to my dad’s place.

      “Once there, I knocked on the door and when dad answered - holy shit was his hair white, and I know I can eat unhealthy sometimes, but man did he look like fucking shit. He recognized me though right away by my eyes though - apparently I have my mum’s eyes? Sun elf heritage apparently. Anyway, he is all shocked to see me and gives me a hug, and shit, and asks about Vall and mum again, and once again I’m like who the fuck is Vall? And then it’s like Vall is your twin brother, and it’s like what the actual fuck again, since you know, elves don’t reproduce often so children are rare, and twins even rarer. I mean fuck, in Nest’Calad - that’s the name of the village by the way- there is only two people younger than me. Two. Anyway, I asked him what the fuck happened, and he told me that the village got hit hard by the plague and people were dying left and right. Vall and I got sick, and mum took us out to get help when she left to go trading or something? When we never returned, search parties were sent out and they found a spot which had scorch marks and dead humans in armor. Like some sort of fight happened. I think the scorch marks were from Vall … apparently he had magic when we were kids. Hadn’t had the chance to go there yet, to the site I mean.

      “Anyway, I spend the last couple weeks there. Dad’s a jeweler, so he taught me that. I’m not as good as him, but I think I’m decent enough now … Uhm … what else, oh! Dad made these earrings so we can talk whenever.” She paused in her rambling and pointed to the blue earrings she was wearing. “It seems to work like sending but without using the energy to cast spells.”

      Arwyn’s drow mother listened intently, as difficult as it was to listen to her daughter ramble, but she needed to know. More and more she was surprised with tales she had experienced in such little time, and more and more she continued.

      “Arwyn dear...I am happy for you. You no longer need to be an orphaned Lisheen rat like the rest of our family, as pampered as we are by each other. I know you would never turn back on our family child, do not worry, you are stuck with us now.” She once again ruffled her hair then used her head as leverage to lift herself up, “Glad you found some answer pup. You now know of the separation between your birth parent and little pup brother. Remember to enjoy what you have now whilst looking to the future, or whatever the fuck a good mother is meant to say.” She blew some of her loose hair out the way of her eyes. She forgot the amount of stress she went through to rush here for her daughter, much to her dismay.

      The wood elf looked up at the elder elf, her golden eyes staring at her with an almost innocent look. After a moment, she stood up as well, latching on to the Drow, hugging her arm close and smiling.

      “I love you. You’re a great mum, even when you’re grumpy,” she hummed before laughing. “Just don’t tell embarrassing stories about me to my friends. That’s not cool.”

      “If your friends survive the coming fight I’ll consider not spoiling them with some of your most majestic failures. Also you have 5 more seconds of gripping my arm before I fling you off like a mosquito.” Lyre rested against her daughter, with her free arm picking up a bundle of bolts and darts she poisoned and stored them in her enchanted poison preservation quiver.

      “Ohh five more seconds eh? You really must have missed me,” Arwyn replied with the world's largest shit eating grin. “Also don't worry about them surviving. We're pretty hard to kill.”

      She neglected to mention that after fighting a lich, she doubted that fighting a human who can't even lie correctly would be much trouble.

      She frowned a little before placing her belongings in her bag of holding, “Anybody is easy to kill pup, under the correct circumstances, which is why we must assess our situation. Come with me, we shall scout out the town and familiarise ourselves with its weaknesses.” She tied her hair back as to not get in her way, and with a whisper of command words her armour began to shift into fabric as black as shadow with climbing gear strapped to the belt.

      “OK,” the wood elf hummed, detaching herself for now. “I memorized the guard schedule earlier in the month. Obviously there has been more people since then. Most are mercenaries.”

      She gave a little grumble, “Thats annoying...usually paid help is more unpredictable, or less honourable..” She tapped her a foot a little before leaving her trace of thought, “Alright, follow me. Keep your head low and keep observant.”

      “Oh man, not be the center of attention? How will I manage?” Arwyn asked with a dramatic sigh, put followed after like a puppy, or perhaps better said, a kitten.

      “Not this time honey, sadly for you…”

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • Context: During the downtime, Beluc goes in to check on Li during one of the nights that she is up late tinkering. Li questions him on his mental breakdown, and this is the result.

      @Malia is Li
      __________________________

      Beluc watched the door to Li’s workshop open and allow Hammer out of it, and he shared a nod with the paladin. The old dwarf briefly waited for Li to follow, flicking through one of the books that the group had ransacked from… somewhere. He really needed to talk to them about things at some point.

      Finally realizing that Li was planning on spending another late night inside of her workshop, the Watcher levered himself to his feet, intent on making her as comfortable as he could. After those sleepless nights of him watching over her, he’d made it his mission that she was never to be left alone with those thoughts for too long, As such, he popped into the workshop every now and then, usually bringing tea or some other form of gift with him, as well as laying a hand on her shoulder and casting a bit of magic to make sure that her hands worked true. So, he went of to the kitchen to brew one of his special blends that he’d fond she’d liked, a mixture of honey and cinnamon.

      After about fifteen minutes, Beluc moved in front of the workshop door balancing a tray and two cups, before knocking on the door and gently pushing it open.

      “Figured ya migh’ need this.” He said, settling it onto the corner of the table, away from the tools and gadgets but still in reach of Li. He poured two cups, one for himself and one for the Techsmith, before he grabbed his and took a sip, savoring the taste.

      Li was tired, her body slightly aching as she had spent most of the day hunched over her work desk - so the arrival of Beluc’s homebrewed tea was more than welcomed. Perking up, she gratefully took the teacup and then took a long sip before placing it down on her workspace.

      “Oh, fuck me, that was exactly what I needed. Thank you so much, Beluc!” She smiled genuinely in his direction as she leaned back in her chair, stretching out slightly.

      After a few moments of comfortable silence (she found she didn’t always have to talk with Beluc - silence was not unwelcomed, nor was it awkward!) she found herself frowning slightly. Earlier in the day, Dwayne had stopped by her workshop and had told her about an incident that had occurred while in the Lich’s castle between himself and Beluc. Li had listened intently, though she did not think her son understood the severity of the situation had was describing…

      “...Beluc,” Li started as she sat upright again.

      The dwarf in question looked up from his tea before placing a glowing hand on Li’s shoulder for a moment, letting healing energy flow from his and into her body to cure some of her aches and pains.

      “Wha’ can I do fer ya lass?”

      She sighed in relief as she felt her physical being suddenly strengthen. She then took a few moments to enjoy the feeling of a refreshed physique before continuing.

      “I… uh… hm…”

      She’d have to be tactful about this, probably. If she was right about what Dwayne had described to her, chances are it meant that Beluc suffered some awful, terrible nightmares - just as she did. Surely she could phrase this in a manner that wasn’t too asshole-ish, right?

      “...So my son told me when in the lich’s castle, you had some sort of mental breakdown. What was that about.”

      … That was tactful right? Right?

      Beluc raised an eyebrow, inwardly cursing himself. It wasn’t exactly something he had control over, and for someone with the mind that he had, being out of control of his own mind was… disconcerting to say the least.

      “Jus’ some bad memories is all.”

      [insight - DC 13. Rolled 15 aayyy]

      Ever prudent Li raised an eyebrow, “And you’re sad now about it, I can see that. Talk to me. What’s up?”

      “Lass, I’ve lived a long life… Some of the things I’ve seen haunt me to this day.” He didn’t enjoy hiding things from Li, but this was something that he never talked about. His normally gentle, caring eyes had become ever so slightly panicked as he remembered back to those grueling days… the scents… the sights… the sounds…

      He got lost in the memories for a moment, finding himself back in… that place. The squish underneath his feet, the cries of his comrades and friends… most that he would never see again.

      Very suddenly he shook his head, as if trying to force the thoughts out of it.

      Li blinked. The sudden change in demeanour for him was stark. Tilting her head, she bit her lip as she considered how to best approach this.

      Arwyn would know what to say. How the fuck do I even ask about this shit? I can barely talk about my own past trauma, but… I really want to help him? How, though?

      Clearing her throat, she said, “...I, uh… have nightmares sometimes.” Her cheeks flared red as she dropped her gaze to her teacup. “Bad stuff from my past, you know, shit where people I kinda sorta love die or whatever. That kinda stuff. It haunts me still. It’s, uh… shit I don’t like to talk about or deal with. In fact, had I a choice, I prob would never speak of it. There are annoying as fucking hell people in our traveling group though who insist I speak about feelings and bad shit that I usually try to ignore. So… maybe… you should try it too?”

      She took another sip of her tea, avoiding his eyes.

      Beluc brought a shaking hand to his teacup, attempting to steady himself by taking a sip. It was a valiant effort, but some of the tea spilled over the side as he brought it to his lips and took a sip. Using the strong flavor to ground himself, he held it on his tongue for a moment before swallowing.

      He’d held it inside for a very, very long time, and in Li he saw another soul plagued by nightmares of the past. Perhaps… perhaps...

      “This conversation is gonna need some liquor.” He said simply, seating himself and trying to not fall into the same state he’d been in at the castle.

      She looked up, surprised that he was actually taking her offer. Maybe… she wasn’t that bad with tact? Maybe Arwyn’s words were getting through her stubbornly thick skull?

      ...Probably not, she thought wryly as she stood, walked over to her liquor cabinet, pulled out some wine and returned to where Beluc was seated. She then took a quick trip to the kitchen to fetch some wine glasses, before she returned, filled them and offered one to the dwarf. She then sat back down and waited patiently for him to speak.

      He very gently grabbed the wine glass, his hands having steadied somewhat, and drank down a mouthful. When he spoke, he did not look at the young lady across from him, and instead at the swirling wine in the glass he held.

      “I wasn’ much older than you lot. A’ the time, I though’ tha’ I was invincible. Tha’ nothing could take me if I had Helm on mah side.”

      Fear

      “I’d been tasked with closin’ portals ta hell. No exaggeration. I was leadin’ men an’ women inta battle with demons the likes a’ which I’ve no’ seen before or since. I los’ people. Good people tha’ I’d come ta rely on ta ‘elp me do mah job. An’ they fell listenin’ ta my orders. Trustin’ me tha’ I’d made the righ’ decisions. Bu’ we couldn’ plan fer everythin’ tha’ would be thrown at us.”

      Sadness.

      The dwarf took another draught from the glass in his hand, enjoying the feel of alcohol running down his throat, giving him something physical to focus on rather than the scenes in his head.

      “The weapons they ‘ad, ‘twasnt anythin’ tha’ I’d seen before. It brough’ ou’ our worse fear an’ made them real. Made us trapped in our own bodies, no’ able to escape as the flesh was… melted wherever i’ landed. Tha’s wha’ made me panic. That arcane residium in the castle. ‘Twas… a terrible weapon.”

      Pain

      The dwarf’s hand went to his eye and traced the scar there, remembering the searing agony that had cost him half his sight.

      “We were winnin’, bu’ at a high, high cost. Eventually, we tracked down the source of the problem. Where I met Ta’al, actually.” A small smile crossed his face as he thought of his late friend.

      Hatred. Greed. Suffering.

      That smile vanished as he went back into his head, and into the scenes he relived every night.

      “We teleported inta a plane tha’ made the Shadowfell look like a child’s playground. The walls, the floor…” He drew a shaky breath.

      “Everything… was made of flesh. Wherever we walked, slept, ate… that squish… and the smells…” He downed the rest of his glass and set it on the table.

      “We found a demon there, called itself ‘The Maw’. Imagine a gian’ mouth on six legs, the size of yer ‘ouse… We wen’ in with almos’ fifty of us, cleric’s an’ paladins… eleven made i’ ou’ alive… I almos’ didn’.”

      Beluc buried his head in his hands, feeling the tears that had been falling from his eyes this whole time but not caring, and began quietly sobbing. The Watcher, the kind, observant man that he was, had disappeared for a moment. In his place sat a broken, sad man, that had literally gone through hell, but hadn’t left without scars.

      Li had not touched her wine through Beluc’s tale. She knew she was not the best at handling her liquor, and so wanted to be clear of mind when he spoke. She was glad she did so.

      Getting out of her seat, she said nothing as she knelt beside him and wrapped her arms around him. Pulling him close, she let him know without her voice and with just her touch, that she cared. Truthfully, she had not the words to speak at that moment anyway, but it didn’t stop her from holding the old dwarf close.

      Again, the feeling of someone touching him brought Beluc out of his head. Sniffling slightly, he began. “Lass, don’ be like me. Don’ ‘old it in, an’ keep it hidden, fer years on end. Be glad ya ‘ave friends ta share it with.”

      He took several deep breaths, and reached into the top of his shirt to pull out a small pouch, and grasped it in his hand.

      “You’ve a friend to share it with now,” Li said softly as she leaned back, her arms still around him.

      Curiously, she eyed what he had pulled from his shirt. “What is that?”

      “Indeed I do, lass… It’s… a small bag tha’ I never take off. ‘Olds some mementos from places an’ people I care abou’. It ‘elps me remember who I am, an’ why I do what I do.” Reaching into the bag, he pulled out a small, smooth black pebble that DJ had given him after their first meeting.

      “I carry them with me, next to my heart.”

      She recognised the pebble immediately as Dwayne’s prized pebble that he had bragged to her about on several occasions. With raised eyebrows and more than a little surprise in her voice, she said, “My son gave that to you?”

      “When we firs’ met. Said ‘twas a way of sayin’ thanks fer saving ‘is family.” He shook his head, with a wry smile on his face. “Tried ta turn it down, bu’ the boy is as stubborn as ‘is mother.”

      She laughed - her joy making her gaze as warm as her laughter. “I didn’t think he’d ever give that pebble up. You definitely made an impression with him!”

      Looking into his face, she smiled gently, “...Anything else you wanna share with me tonight? I mean, if not, I’m content to sit here and drink tea for a while. But if so, I’m always here to listen if you need it.”

      Beluc smiled right back, the remnants of the fear still in his eyes, but replaced more with relief than anything else.

      “Lass, I don’ think this old ‘eart could deal with me sharin’ any more a’ my secrets.” He warmed the tea in the kettle up with a bit of magic, and poured another cup for himself and Li.

      Raising his cup, Beluc switched to Celestial. “To new friends.”

      She sat back in her chair, took her cup and raised it.

      “To new friends,” she replied in the same tongue, a slight smile on her lips.
    • Li and Orynthar got drunk af lmao and now Hammer is walking her home. Or trying to. Poor paladin lmao.

      @Avalanchemike is Hammer

      ---

      Li stumbled into Hammer’s side as she draped her arm around his neck, and pressed her cheek up against his. If she ever had any reservation for personal space, one would not think it with how physically close she was to the paladin, almost as though she were trying to squish herself into him.

      “Conall!” She slurred albeit joyfully, “I really like you - did you know that? Super-like you. Super-super like you!” She turned her face and pressed her nose against his cheek, “You super-super like me too, right?”

      ‘Hammer’s face flushed slightly as the Princess pressed her nose into his cheek, but he tried to remain focused on supporting her and moving forward. They were nearing her home now and it was just a matter of minutes before he would have her safely through the doors. Step. Step. Step.

      “Y-yes, Princess, I like you.”

      “I knew it! Ah!” Li cried out - probably much louder than she should’ve considering the hour was extremely late. She threw her arms up and wonkily skipped ahead of him a few feet, “I knew you liked me! I knew--” Alcohol did not agree with her coordination. One foot stumbled into the other and she was falling.

      [Hammer rolled a DC 10 Dex save; if he succeeds, he catches her. If he fails, he falls too. He rolled a 9 lmao.]

      And it wasn’t only Li who took the stumble. With a small cry, ‘Hammer’ went right down with her. He shook his spinning head, trying to reorient himself. It felt as though he had landed on something rather soft rather than the cobblestones of the road … and as though his limbs were tangled amongst themselves. And slowly he was realising that he had and they were because he had landed on the Princess and their limbs were snarled.

      Li didn’t think her head could spin more, but it could! When she hit the ground, her vision span even faster and her head felt like it was going in several different directions at once. And for some reason, that was hilarious.She laughed and laughed, and probably would’ve been rolling around on the ground had she not been pinned by the paladin.

      Eventually, when her laughter subsided, she noticed the position they were in and then looked up at Hammer with an eyebrow cocked, “Conall, sweetheart, at least take me out on a date first. God.”

      “I …” ‘Hammer’s face flushed red and he quickly began trying to separate himself from the Princess, sitting on the street beside her while he tried to calm himself down.

      “I-I wouldn’t d-do that, Princess, it w-would be highly inappro-inappro … wrong.”

      He swallowed hard and tried to focus on his breathing in an exercised fashion.

      Li slowly pushed herself up into a sitting position. “Wrong? What do you mean? I thought at the tavern, when we were talking with Orynthar, you were all like “those things aren’t forbidden!” You know, drinking and having sex.” She scratched her head, thinking, before she added on, “Or do you mean you’d just not have sex with me?”

      ‘Hammer’s throat clenched so hard he could barely muster a sad puff of noise. His face burned so hot that he felt as though he should be producing light. His heart pounded against his ribcage. The boy did his best to look off into the distance and just focus on breathing but there were some inescapable thoughts plaguing him.

      After a few moments of trying to reacquaint himself with control over simple bodily functions, breathing, blinking, the things that just happen without thought, and failing, he reached up to the heavy silver pendant of Tyr around his neck. This wasn’t exactly a place for prayer, but the metal was solid and cool against his skin. It was like an anchor, something he could attach himself to to remain buoyed on the spot. It helped a little.

      “P-princess,” the boy began to say shakily, mustering everything he had to continue the thought “you a-are a very b-beautiful p-p-person, b-but there is a v-very great … d-distance between our r-r-ranks.”

      Li frowned, “...You know I’m hardly a Princess, right? But is that really how you see me? As royalty that can’t be touched? Well, shit, Conall!”

      Slowly, awkwardly, she managed to get to her feet, though she swayed a little when she was finally standing.

      Hilariously, the drunken, unstable Techsmith offered her hand to the paladin as though she had the mental clarity to properly perform the task. “Here. I will carry you home. Take my hand, Conall.” As she said this, she almost toppled over again.

      The boy looked to the ground for a moment.

      “It’s not about what I see,” he said in a near whisper.

      ‘Hammer’ looked up again as a hand broke his line of sight, Li swaying in the night and hand proffered to him. He wasn’t about to accept it. Not because she was a princess or because of pride or anything like that. He was just sure he would die if she fell on top of him.

      Helping himself up, he took the hand she’d offered him and began to walk again with her quietly toward her home.

      Li rambled on and on about gadgets she wanted to make for people, about how pretty the night sky was, about how she was so happy Orynthar was alive again (she may’ve cried a little during this). Sometime during the walk, her hand in his moved to his elbow as she rested her head on his shoulder and chattered aimlessly, never sticking to one topic.

      Eventually, when they entered her house, she dropped her voice to an obnoxiously loud whisper when she said, “Oh! Everyone is sleeping! Ssh Conall! Ssh! You’ll wake everyone! Ssh!

      ‘Hammer’ stared dumbfounded at the Princess for a brief moment before continuing to help her to her room. As she wobbled unsteadily, he was grateful her room was on the ground floor. He wasn’t sure he’d had been able to get her up a set of stairs, even if he carried her. They managed to get the door to her room open without serious issue, though maneuvering them both inside took a bit of work, and finally closed the door behind them. He resisted the urge to give a relieved sigh - she still had to make it to the bed, and with the rate that they were going he wouldn’t be surprised if she fell again.

      It took careful steps to guide her to the edge of the bed and moving through the dark room, ‘Hammer’ was thankful that the Princess kept the floor of her room clean. If they’d had to do any serious footwork in the dark, he was sure they’d both topple again. The 30 or 40 seconds that it took to cross the room felt a lot longer than it truly was but finally they were beside the bed.

      “Oh, look! It’s my bed, Conall! How did I get here!?” She said in amazement, as though only realising where he had taken her. Without thought, she then pulled off her tunic and kicked off her boots, leaving her in her bra and pants. Her hat came off as her hair tumbled down her back. She then fell onto the bed and wriggled about until her head was on the pillow.

      Reaching out in the darkness, she felt around until her fingertips touched his leg. Then she patted her way up to his hip and eventually found his hand. Her fingers wrapped themselves around his.

      “Goodnight Princess,” ‘Hammer’ said before beginning to move only to find the Princess was not letting go of his hand. The boy frowned in the dark and tried to wriggle his hand free, but Li seemed to have caught it in a vice. While he was sure he could have probably forced her to let go just through brute force, he did not want to hurt her. So he stood there, holding her hand, in the darkness waiting for her to say or do something.

      She tugged him toward her as she said softly, “Hold me for a while, Conall?”

      ‘Hammer’s felt his face flush red again, even in the darkness. He knew that the Princess suffered from nightmares. He stayed close enough to her to have heard her in the night whisper or cry out or when he was on watch he had seen her toss and turn. While she had told him in the past she dreamt of her mother and her death, she never went into much detail about what happened. Whatever had, the Princess took responsibility for it and it was something which plagued her nights. He wanted to do what he could to help her be comforted before she slept. He didn’t know if it would help, but he wanted to do anything he could.

      “Alright Princess,” he whispered into the darkness, “but you’ll need to let go of my hand.”

      With a sleepy sigh, she released him.

      Conall flexed his hand, returning circulation to it, as he placed his other on the edge of her bed and used it to guide him as he carefully walked around it. When he reached the other side of it, he crawled on top of it and then felt slowly into the darkness, letting his hand slowly find her back. The boy slowly moved closer to her and then wrapped an arm around her.

      It’s just a hug … from behind. It’s just a hug. Try not to think too much about it.

      Instinctively, she shuffled back into his embrace, sighing deeply as she did. For several moments, she said nothing, and even though the alcohol made her mind murky, and the darkness made her feel more vulnerable, she found herself smiling softly; Conall’s embrace made her feel safe. Protected. Warm.

      “Why does it matter if I’m a Princess, Conall?” She found herself whispering to him. “Does that really mean you need to treat me in a certain manner?”

      Conall shifted uncomfortably.

      “Princess, there are rules … even if I do not wish to follow them or you do not wish to, they exist. And choosing to follow them … or to not, it reflects on us. On you. I don’t care what people think about me, but I will do my utmost to protect you, even in this.”

      Upon hearing that, she paused to think on his words before she turned in his arms to face him.

      “Even this? You do your damndest to protect me from physical harm, and you’d even extend that to propriety? Conall…” The tip of her nose touched his when she pressed her forehead against his own, “...I’m a Princess who builds and wields explosive, destructive weapons and walks around all day covered in gadgets of my creation. I’ve been told by other nobility that my craftsmanship and tinkering hobbies are hardly ladylike. Does this part of me bother you?”

      “No,” he said breathlessly, finding it harder to breathe now that he was holding and quite literally face to face.

      “Good...” she murmured as her face moved closer to his, closing the gap, and then gently, her lips brushed against his own as she whispered, “...Don’t leave me tonight.”

      When her lips touched his there as a brief moment of complete confusion and shock. Very brief. Biology, at a certain point, takes over. Any thoughts he might have had that would advise against it were quickly thrown out as he leaned his head into the kiss.

      Her gasp was muffled as her arms found their way around his neck. She returned his kisses as fervently as he gave them, and eventually, she pulled back slightly, head dizzy - though it was unclear if it was from intoxication or Conall himself.

      Tucking her head under his chin, she was asleep and lightly snoring within seconds.

      Chances were she would not remember any of this in the morning, and if she did, she would assume it had been a dream.

      Conall lay there holding her, his hand stroking her hair gently. Tonight he wouldn’t think about whether or not he should or should not have kissed her back. He just lay there holding her. Briefly before sleep took him, he thought of what she had said to him.

      I will not leave, Princess.


      The post was edited 1 time, last by Malia ().

    • Context: It's the morning before the rest of everyone goes back to Tereana while Valara and Arwyn stay home. Hammer and Arwyn have an early morning chat over tea. @Avalanchemike is Hammer!
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------

      Arwyn didn’t consider herself a neat freak by any sort of measure, but there were limits to how much even she could handle when it came to the disarray of the home.

      While she was able to overlook it when talking to her father the previous day, she had decided to get up earlier to pick up the place a bit before her friends went on their way back to Tereana. She had made a point to wash the dishes first, though it took some time remembering where exactly they went. She wasn’t exactly sure she put them back in the right spots, but didn’t dwell on it too long - whether or not it was their proper place in the past didn’t matter, this was their home now.

      The wood elf hadn’t bothered to put on her regular clothes - the only thing on her of her normal outfit was her goggles, and even those weren’t in their regular spot nesting on her head but hanging lazily around her neck. Instead her black hair - which had grown longer and was normally kept out of her eyes by said goggles - had been pulled back into a small ponytail and her dexterous frame was covered by a large white cotton shirt which did well to hide her physique. Startling, her brown pants didn’t have any pockets despite the wood elf’s very well known tendency to horde just about everything as if she were the one with dragon blood instead of Valara and no shoes adorned her feet.

      Looking at her now, if you didn’t notice the rough callouses on her hands and feet, nor the missing finger, it was hard to believe she could be a well seasoned warrior.

      Hearing some creaking from behind her, Arwyn turned to see Hammer appearing. Besides her, he was always one of the earlier risers it seemed.

      “Morning,” she chirped. “I’ll make breakfast as soon as the others start getting their lazy asses up, but I’ll put a kettle on the stove.”

      “Thank you Arwyn,” ‘Hammer’ said, still a little groggy. He wiped some of the sleep from his eyes as he settled into one of the chairs. Arwyn had clearly been cleaning; the difference between last night and this morning was obvious. She seemed to have settled into the cottage quite easily. He was unsure if that was merely her manner or because she was beginning to recognise and remember how things were when she lived her previously. In any event, he’d be grateful for the tea.

      Drawing some water and putting it over the hearth, she looked at the paladin once more, tilting her head ever so slightly. When she first met him, there was a sense of familiarity about him but she had later assumed it was because she had somehow recognized a man of legend she had never actually met before. Yet yesterday shed some interesting light on the situation - he was fae, just like her and Valara.

      He didn’t look like a half-elf to me, she mused, though that didn’t say much considering she didn’t know Valara was a half-elf either when she first met her. Her track record for that was not exactly the best.

      The kettle started to whistle, and she took the hot water off and poured it into a cup before taking putting the tea inside and putting it next to Hammer, as well as a bowl of sugar and a pitcher of milk she had made sure wasn’t trying to turn itself into cream.

      “Here you go. It’s not as good as Beluc’s but … well, that’s a bit of a high bar,” she said, sitting down at the table next to him and pouring herself a glass of tea and proceeding to dump at least three spoon fulls of sugar inside it. “You know, I never asked you, but where did you learn Elvish from? I figured Tyr like taught you Celestial and all or just made you understand it.”

      “That’s … not how it works, Arwyn. I learned Celestial from Brother Forthill. Most members of the Order know it and it is commonly used in prayer or hymns. He also taught me to read and write at the same time.”

      The paladin took the cup of tea and poured some milk and a tiny amount of sugar into it and began stirring. His hand slowed briefly as he continued speaking.

      “I learned how to speak Elvish from my mother. Forthill helped me with some of the pronunciations, but I mostly had it down.”

      He tapped his spoon against the cup, making sure there was no tea left on it, before setting it to the table and bringing the mug to his lips to sip at the tea.

      To say Arwyn wasn’t the tiniest bit disappointed that he didn’t magically learn Celestial would be a lie. It didn’t mean she would stop pretending that’s how he learned it because it sounded so much cooler that way in her head, but the bit about his mother interested her. She had known he was a slave, and he didn’t talk much about his parents.

      Then again he didn’t exactly talk about himself much.

      “What was she like?” she asked pouring a bit too much milk in her own cup of tea. “Your mum I mean. Was she pretty like you? I mean I’d assume so.”

      The boy looked past Arwyn at the wall. It was not often that he thought of his parents. He had been estranged from them for a very long time and they lived a very different life than he did. It felt like a very hard bridge to gap. To their merit, they did not expect him to … settle down with them or tried to treat him like a child. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and tried to focus on his memories. They were mostly vague, particularly relating to his mother, but he focused on the images.

      “She is very beautiful. She has long red hair and dark green eyes. She would sing to me when I was very small … I don’t know much of her, honestly. She was sold from the estate I lived on early in my life. The family that owned us did that if children were born. It made slaves easier to break. I’ve seen her and my father since the Rebellion ended but they wanted a quiet life.”

      “I’m sorry that you were separated,” the wood elf said softly and sincerely. She didn’t mean to bring up hard memories, though living as a slave, Hammer probably had more of those than happy ones. “It must have been hard to be separated when you were so young. I’m glad you’ve reconnected though. Family … family is very important, at least I think so.”

      She paused and took another sip of tea, nursing the cup as the water was still very hot. At least for her. Lowering it slightly, she blew on the liquid in a fruitless attempt to cool it down before thinking about what she wanted to say next. If he learned Elvish from his mother, that must have meant she was probably the one with Elvish blood; although that being said, humans seemed to know foreign languages they came in contact with more. Igan was that way, though he learned Elvish purely because he liked their songs.

      “You ever think about starting one sometime in the future? A family I mean,” she clarified. “I mean you’re still really young for a human.”

      ‘Hammer’ glared at Arwyn over his mug of tea. He wasn’t sure she was being serious … but it was Arwyn, so it probably was the case.

      “No,” he said flatly.

      “Why not?” she asked tilting her head. “You would make a good dad. Or is it something you can't do as a paladin? One of your vow things.”

      She didn't quite understand why he got so testy about the question. She thought it was an innocent question. Or maybe he was just like Li and gets all embarrassed about feelings.

      Yeah, that's probably it.

      “Well, you're young I guess,” she grinned, leaning back, nodding to herself, deciding that had to be it. She saw the way he looked at Li. “If you find someone you like-” the shit eating grin of the party's trollish rogue only grew as she knew damn well he had, “you should tell them sooner than later. Better to have no regrets than wondering what if.”

      “Yes, members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre can marry or have children.”

      There seemed to be an irritating number of people in this group that had read too many novels and not enough who’d read history books. That sort of thing only happened in stories. Sensible people understood that biology would just mess things up otherwise. And that more children meant more people worshiping.

      Part of him was irritated by the question posed. He’d spent years fighting a war which by rights should have been crushed, living every day unknowing if he’d live to see the next day. After that spending years in the capital and learning laws and history and etiquette and a hundred other things while being prepared for his place in the Order. And throughout all of the later being frustratingly maneuvered by politics in the Order and capital. And before all that slavery. There really was no way anyone could reasonably have thought about things like marriage or settling down.

      ‘Hammer’ silently sipped more of his tea, hoping Arwyn would take the hint.

      The wood elf hummed, nursing her tea, tilting her chair back and forth, as if it were a rocking chair even though it wasn’t built for such things. The poor boy was serious about so many things, and didn’t seem to understand how to have fun, but Li was that way at first too.

      She wasn’t quite sure what to say though. Part of her wanted to ask if his mother was an elf, but at the same time he didn’t have much memories of her. That and she doubted he would have any answers for her in her own pursuit about elves. She didn’t quite want to make him more irritated and not get much information out of it for her trouble anyway. Still, she could feel the silence start to get to her, and so she felt the need to say something, anything.

      “If you could do anything in the world, that none of this angsty bullshit stuff was happening or happened to any of us, what would you do?” she blurted after a moment finally.

      The paladin stared at her blankly for a moment. He really hadn’t given any thought to it. He really was the sort of purposed to this “bullshit stuff” … he’d sort of made an agreement with a god about cleaning it up. And realistically, this “stuff” was never going to end, at least not for ‘Hammer’, so there really wasn’t any point in idle contemplation. The world wouldn’t just become a better place and stay that way. It took work to get there and it would take work to keep it there. It wasn’t something people could accomplish and then abandon.

      “It’s not something I’ve given any thought to Arwyn,” ‘Hammer’ said. That was really all he could say about it.

      She supposed she should have expected that, but still she gave a slight huff the thought experiment seemed to peter out. It’s not like she didn’t understand - it was hard to dream in a world where lives were uncomplicated and painful. Of course that never stopped her.

      “I would want to tour the world playing music,” she admitted, though she wasn’t asked. “I always looked up to bards. Thought they were so cool … and how they managed to make magic with the power of their soul … I’ve always wanted to be able to do that. A touring band, touching people’s lives and hearts, telling stories, being free … it was something I always wanted. But no matter how good I get with instruments, it always seems like I’m struggling with the whole soul aspect.”

      Her voice trailed off, and once more she didn’t know what to say, so she decided to just drink her entire cup of tea in one go before putting her cup back on the table.

      “Ah … by the way, thanks for making the tea yesterday. I really appreciated it.”

      ‘Hammer’ nodded his head to the elven woman.

      “I … know what it is like to reacquaint yourself with someone you thought was lost to you.” He thought briefly of his meeting with his parents after the Rebellion.

      “Someone made me tea then. And … well, it was really all I could do to help at the time. You both needed to be together. The little other things, that could be done by everyone else while you had your own time.”

      She nodded her head, and she stood up, picking up her glass.

      “I’m still adjusting to … well everything I guess,” she admitted. “And I have a feeling more of my memories will start coming back slowly.” She paused and then became thoughtful. “... I don’t suppose you ever met with an elf with black hair and hazel eyes who could do magic who looks like me at any point.”

      “Arwyn, I lived in the largest city in the world for two years,” ‘Hammer’ said softly, not trying to be rude. He was just trying to state the facts. “Not all of us keep an annotated journal about the elves we meet.”

      “It’s not annotated,” she huffed. “It’s color-coded.”

      Sighing slightly she went over to where she had washed the dishes earlier and placed the glass in the lukewarm water from earlier. She expected as much; it would be much too easy if she could find her twin brother so easily. Never mind what happened to her mother. She felt perhaps if she visited the sight of where they disappeared, she might learn more. However, right now, if she was being honest, she was afraid. She was still reeling from not being a child abandoned by her family and having a twin brother. She needed more time to process everything before she could feel like she could have the emotional stability to fuck herself up again.

      “And I know … doesn’t ever hurt to ask, I learned. Sometimes you get surprised.”

      ‘Hammer’ nodded at her. It didn’t hurt. But he doubted anyone who was witness to the scene last night would have remained quiet after hearing them speak of Vall so openly. Not without significant reason, anyways.

      He took a pull from his mug, the final bit of his tea, and set it down on the table. Part of him debated getting more before dismissing it. She had been right. It wasn’t Beluc’s. Instead he stretched and began to stand up from the table. He took the mug over to where she watch washing up the other dishes and let it sink into the water.

      She grinned at him ever so slightly.

      “If you want to do whatever you do in the morning, you can. I’ll fetch you when the rest wake up and breakfast is ready?” she said, remembering that he had to do the same thing Limwit did and meditate. She still didn’t quite understand fully about preparing spells, feeling like that must be a pain in the ass, but it also meant he wasn’t as limited as to what he could do.

      “I would appreciate that Arwyn,” ‘Hammer’ said, flashing her a smile. He turned and walked away. He had seen a little place outside the cottage the night before which would be a nice place to pray to Tyr and to prepare himself to meet the day. There was a fig tree near the river he’d like to sit under in the dawn sun. He left the cottage quietly, making sure not to disturb his host or peers.

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • Context: Valara and Arwyn were on their way back to Tereana, after being summoned there by Li for an uprising against [that noble asshole whose name I can’t remember]. They said their goodbyes to Rolen, promising that they’d see him again soon, before they left Nest’Calad and set off on the days-long trek to Tereana.



      @Ruki is Arwyn!

      ----------------------------------------------------

      Valara had not yet told Arwyn of the information she had gathered while in Nest’Calad. She saw how happy her wife was with her father and did not want to intrude nor mar such happiness with potentially-upsetting information. But, now that they were out of the village, she had no real reason to keep it from her any longer, and she didn’t doubt that Arwyn would want to know what she had found out.

      She just hoped that she would not be upset with what she had to tell her.

      As they were walking through the verdant forest, Valara moved closer to her wife. While she led the way for the most part on account of being more experienced with travelling through the woods, plus being better at navigating, she made sure to remain close. “Hey, Rinn… I have something to tell you.

      “Hm?”

      The wood elf glanced over, arching her eyebrow. During their time in the village, she had forgone her normal clothes in favor of something which would allow her to slip back in. However, now that they were traveling again, the brown cloak once again adorned her shoulders and the weapons sat at her side.

      Truth to be told, the weight of the bow on her back and the rapier at her side was reassuring, and she had felt naked in Nest’Calad without them. While she still carried her balisong, hidden away, even when in the village, she found it hard to relax despite the tranquility which seemed to surround them.

      Valara took a deep breath. She was honestly… rather hesitant about telling her wife this information. While she was sure that Arwyn would rather Valara just tell her, and not keep it from her, the fact was her wife had been through a lot in short amount of time. It wasn’t often that one was reunited with their long-lost father; not only that, to find out that she wasn’t abandoned, and that her parents actually loved her… that must have been quite a shock to her. Valara imagined she’d probably feel similarly, in the unlikely event her birth parents actually loved her like Arwyn’s did her.

      It… would certainly be a lot to process. And she was unsure if this would cause some kind of information overload for her wife. But, she believed that it would be wrong to keep secrets from her wife, especially since a lot of this information pertained directly to her. So, may as well just spill the beans here and now, rather than sit on it.

      “So… while we were in Nest’Calad… I saw how happy you were to be reunited with your father, and how happy in turn he was, and that he loved you… On the first few days especially, I didn’t want to intrude on you making up for lost time with your father. So, while you had some quality time with him, which I’m sure you enjoyed… I actually did some… investigating on my own in the village.”

      “Oh?” Arwyn asked, blinking in surprise.

      If she was being honest, the fact Valara had decided to dig around caught her by surprise. It wasn’t like the thought crossed her own mind - she had tried to learn about her family’s heritage from dad only to come across a dead end as he didn’t seem to understand exactly what he was looking for. Oh sure, she learned about some of her ancestors but nothing which answered her questions.

      Valara nodded. “Yeah… I actually gathered quite a bit of information, I think. Not only about what happened that day thirty years ago… but also about the Lotaskian. Which would you like to hear about first?”

      Valara wasn’t sure which she’d prefer to know right away, which is why she gave her the option. But she was rather worried that, combined with the recent events her wife had gone through, it could be little overloading and too much to process. But as she decided earlier, she was going to be upfront with Arwyn about it. If she decided that it was too much at once, she could always tell her the rest another time when she had had more time to process it all.

      The thief’s heart lurched a bit, and she slowed down her pace ever so slightly. Musing it over, she wondered which would be an easier pill to swallow. Fingering her rapier, her thoughts floated back to how very few people spoke Common in the village and how they spoke Sylvan to express their souls. It had made her uncomfortable and now that Valara brought up the Lotaskian …

      “Tell me about the terrorists,” she said quietly.

      Valara nodded. She noticed the thief’s slower pace and quieter tone; she hoped that this would not upset her too much. Lord knows she didn’t want to bring her mood down after such a happy experience.

      “...very well. I asked Elder Baseel about them when I went to speak with him while you were spending time with your father. I figured that since he’s a wise old man, and elves live for a long time… he would be the best person to ask about them. He… actually knew of them, because they had come to the village roughly 12 years ago.”

      Valara took a deep breath.

      “He… did not seem to remember them fondly. He said that they had come down to offer a place for “their people”. He noted that while they appreciated the old ways, similar to them… they were full of… hatred. Which, as we know from experience, is pretty bang on. The elder, and most of the villagers, saw through them and realised that they were hateful assholes, but apparently ten villagers left with them. He did not blame them, as it was shortly after the plague, they were scared, and the Lotaskian offered change. Apparently they came from the North, so quite a ways away.”

      She took another breath. “When I told him of how they had taken an interest in us, and how they hated me for my human blood, and how they abducted and tortured you… he said that his hunch about them was correct, and seemed genuinely sad that they would stoop so low. I… am glad that he did not sympathise with them. While he noted that they both appreciated the old ways, he seemed to believe that they took it way too far. Which, well, they do.”

      “That’s all he knew. But I think that even this information is quite… illuminating. And it gladdens me that they seem to be rightfully viewed as extremists and hateful racists, even by other elves.”

      Valara stopped talking, and looked at her wife nervously. She hoped that this information would not be upsetting to her. Or at least, she hoped that the fact that the elves of Nest’Calad did not seem to approve of the Lotaskian would help assuage her concerns.

      Arwyn’s stomach twisted and turned and her hand raised to cup disfigured hand with the missing digit, rubbing the stump where her pinky finger used to be. Not saying anything at first, she mused on Valara’s words.

      She wasn’t surprised they had come to her village, but at the same time she couldn’t help think about their demands and questions about a family she never knew. Yet, if they had come here, didn’t it mean they knew who she was and about her family? What did they know, were they searching for, that they thought she could possibly help with?

      The questions weighed heavily on her soul, and no answer came.

      “Ter'alen Mul'nure is up north,” she said finally.

      Valara nodded. “Aye, that it is. I… think you were right. They’re up there, most likely. And… I think we should go. Both to find answers for you… and to crush those bastards,” she said, giving Arwyn a half-smile.

      The thief nodded. It honestly wasn’t as high on her to do list at the moment currently - finding Vall and mom was, so after a moment, licking her lips and trying to find her voice, she finally uttered, “And the place where my family disappeared?”

      Valara nodded. “I… visited the site myself, after meeting with Elder Baseel. At… first glance, it honestly was a bog standard stretch of forest. But… I noticed that there was definitely some magic in the area. It was faint, as one would expect after so long, but it was definitely there. I was… able to sense some residuum from some very powerful fire magic. But it wasn’t from a wizard or anything like that… it was more… raw? Innate? It probably came from some kind of magic item… or a sorcerer, like me.

      She took a breath.

      “...not only that, but the haphazard way the flames licked the earth… made it clear that these flames were summoned in a clear panic, not really hitting any particular target or aiming for anything in particular. It… just kind of went everywhere.”

      “...I know this is a lot to process, but if you’re not overloaded.... What are you thinking? I’m… sorry if I’m dumping too much on you.”

      Vall.

      It was the first person who came to mind as Valara described it. Once again she could see a blurry flash of her twin brother, the way his hair stuck up at odd angles and refused to stay down. Closing her eyes, she tried to see if she could remember anything about that day, but while there was an uncomfortable pressure on her head, no memories followed it.

      After a moment, her eyes fluttered open once more.

      “...Vall had magic,” she said finally. “Something happened … obviously. I got separated and saved. It must have been horrifying or terrifying, whatever it was.”

      Arwyn felt a bit like she was stating the obvious, but sometimes bringing those thoughts to light helped. This time though she didn’t feel like she was thinking of anything new, and each time she tried to recall, her heart would clench and a pang of fear would overcome her.

      It was frustrating. The irony she was the key to her own mystery wasn’t lost on her.

      Valara nodded. “Yes… your father mentioned how your brother was a sorcerer. Perhaps… something happened, that caused him to panic. Maybe he lost control of his magic. I don’t know. But… whatever happened, it was clear that it resulted in some very powerful, raw magic.”

      She took Arwyn’s hand in her own. “...How are you feeling? I realise that this is a lot for you to take in, and I’m sorry if I put too much on you. But… I felt it was something I needed to tell you.”

      “I’m OK,” the wood elf said almost on reflex. “Thanks for letting me know.”

      In truth, she wasn’t sure if ‘OK’ was the best word to use, but it wasn’t like she was distraught either. In truth, she didn’t feel much in terms of what she learned; part of her understood the gravity of it but at the same time part of her felt it was as expected. And part of her felt like her emotions were being pulled into the void. She had a general idea of what was happening but she needed more time to sort through everything before she could pull them back.

      Valara pulled the wood elf into a hug. “Rinn… we’ll find the answers. We’ll find your mum and brother, no matter where they may be. I’ll be beside you every step of the the way. I know it seems daunting, if not impossible, but… I vow to you that you and I will live to see that day. Mark my words.” She then kissed her on the forehead gently.

      Valara wasn’t quite sure if her words were helping, or if she had just made her wife upset with all the information she had just unloaded.

      The wood elf frowned ever so slightly. She knew Valara was trying to make her feel better, but she didn’t really recall expressing being overwhelmed or worrying if she wouldn’t find her mother or twin. She didn’t say anything though and simply nodded, deciding not to comment on it.

      Valara noticed her wife’s relative non-expressiveness, and looked at her with a look of concern. Concern for her wife, obviously, as well as concern that she had just done something wrong without realising it.

      “Rinn… have I upset you?”

      She looked apologetically. Valara’s social skills were wanting at the best of times, but even with her wife she lacked the skill and people skills to handle these… delicate matters, and she was worried she had inadvertently mishandled things. The curse of being brought up in the woods.

      “No,” the wood elf said honestly. She wasn’t upset - not really - and it wasn’t worth explaining why she had become put out. Valara didn’t exactly have the highest self confidence, and it was possible she would take it the wrong way. In Arwyn’s opinion, it wasn’t something to make a fuss over. “Don’t worry about it. I’m just thinking.”

      Valara nodded tentatively. She wasn’t quite sure she believed that she hadn’t upset her wife, but wasn’t quite sure how to proceed. Should she leave it be, or should she try and pry this open, so to speak?

      “Well… in the event I have or I do so in the future… please, tell me. I… don’t want anything to fester or build up. I trust you, and I think you are being honest. But… you know me, I’m terrible at these kind of… things.” She shuffled nervously.

      A small smile touched Arwyn’s face and she reached out and tucked some of Valara’s brown locks behind her ear.

      “I know,” she murmured. “But you’re getting better. And since when have I ever been the type of person who doesn’t talk about their feelings?”

      Valara blushed at this, and she clasped Arwyn’s hand in her own. “T-thanks… and… I suppose you’re right,” she said while smiling weakly at her wife.
    • Context: This takes place before the above post. Valara has done her investimagating detailed in the posts above, and comes back to the Nailo house in the evening to find her wife trancing. While she's doing so, she sits down and has tea and a chat with her father-in-law, and they get to know each other a little better.


      @KyroThePurple plays Rolen!


      _________

      It had been a rather eventful day for Valara. While she had spent most of the day out and about in order to give her wife some quality time alone with her long-lost father, it had been a very productive day. Valara had actually managed, on her own initiative, to obtain quite a bit of information about both what exactly transpired on that day thirty years ago… but also on those hated enemies, the Lotaskian. She had yet to tell Rinn of her findings, but she figured that could wait until their return journey to Tereana; for now, she just wanted her wife to enjoy herself with some well-deserved time with her father.

      After eight hours of trekking in the woods, Valara was a bit knackered. It was past dusk when she finally returned to Nest’Calad. Yawning, she headed towards the Nailo home and entered. As she entered the room she shared with her wife, she found Arwyn trancing, as the elves did instead of sleeping, with Nolen watching her.

      He must have come up to check on her or something, Valara thought to herself.

      She knocked on the door quietly before entering the room, greeting her father-in-law as she entered.

      “Hello, father… It feels weird to be calling someone my father again,” she laughed. “I trust you’ve had a lovely day of quality time with Rinn?”

      He quickly turned to the doorway, hearing the voice of his birth daughters wife. He straightened himself up and smiled warmly, “Ahh. Hello Valara. I have had a splendid evening. These recent days seeing my moonblossom again has made everything worthwhile, however I have not learnt much of you throughout this, which I do of course apologise for.”

      He bowed deeply in apology then perked up, ”Perhaps you would like to join me for some berry tea? Learn a bit more about each other?”

      Valara smiled. “No need to apologise; I did not want to intrude upon your quality time with your daughter. And some berry tea would be lovely! I’d love to chat with you over some!”, she beamed.

      He nodded slowly, moving out the room with the half elf and closing the door, “Excellent, excellent. Follow me then.” He began to walk to the small living room, which is connected to the larder and kitchen, with a small fire pit in the centre of the living room with a kettle on it. This single storey home was definitely homely, if very crowded. He pottered off to the kitchen and began searching the cupboards, “I bought more supplies from Klluwen’s shop the other day, just for us three. Could you do me a favour and start up the kettle?” He pointed over to the fire pit.

      Valara grinned. “No problem at all, father.” She walked over to the fire pit and, using a spark from her fingers, started kindling the wood in the fire pit beneath the kettle. Once she was satisfied that it was sustainable, she went over to Rolen. “There we go. Is there anything else I can help you with? I don’t want you to have to do all the work when I reckon you’ve had quite the day,” she laughed.

      He came a bit closer and resting his arm on her shoulder, “I’m glad little Rinn has found such a lovely caring woman. I will handle things from here dear, you just take a seat, trust me.”

      Valara nodded, and went to take a seat at the small table. “So, what did you and Rinn get up to today while I was out and about? I reckon you must have had quite a bit to talk about.”

      He began collecting the necessary requirements for the tea, actively trying to figure out where Arwyn had placed everything now that she has reorganised it all. He wasn’t going to complain though, it was much more organised.

      “Oh we started talking about some of her experiences. How she has has gained a lot of wealth whilst exploring. Makes me worry about the danger she must put herself in…” He looked down at the platter, pondering, before smiling and coming over to the seats in the living room with everything on it.

      Valara laughed mildly at this. She decided that it would perhaps be unwise to let Rolen know that they had come here shortly after fighting a lich and escaping from an archdevil in the Shadowfell; she did not want to worry the poor man any more than he needed to, since they would be returning to that kind of life in due time.

      “Well… being an adventurer is certainly not without its risks. But… I enjoy it. Maybe it’s because I’m used to living in the wilderness, but I wouldn’t want to give up adventuring anytime soon. There’s so much in the world that I want to see with Rinn… I remember the first time I went on a ship. It was… amazing. I want more experiences like that,” she smiled at the elf.

      He raised an eyebrow, “Oh? You have travelled across waters? I have always wanted to see a ship. Troubles with being born and raised in this village I suppose. I understand her life is a difficult one, which is why I worry about her. I seem to have another little one to be worrying about no don’t I?” He offered up the teacup once he finished brewing and poured it out, “You said you grew up in the wilderness? How did that come about child”

      Valara took the tea, thanking him as she did so, and took a sip of it. It was actually rather nice. A bit different from Beluc’s tea, but not in a bad way. Was more fruity than she was used to, but hey, tea was tea, and she could appreciate it. After she had taken a sip of the tea, she spoke,

      “I’ve travelled across the ocean, yes! It was such an incredible experience, seeing water as far as the eye could see. If… you ever wanted to travel outside the village, I’d be happy for you to travel with us. I’m sure Rinn would be, too.”

      She took another sip of the tea.
      “As for why I grew up in the wilderness… well…”

      She wasn’t quite sure how to phrase this.

      “...my father, who passed away several years ago, is actually my adopted father. I have no idea who my birth parents are; he found me as a baby in the woods, all alone. Presumably, I was abandoned and left for dead. My father took pity on me, and adopted me and raised me as his own. He was always an outdoorsman, a hunter, who preferred to live in the wilds to living in a town or city. I guess that rubbed off on me,” she smiled as she took another sip of tea.

      His eyes sparkled in wonder, “Well, if I’m ever ready to leave home i’d happily take you up on the travels invitation, however I’m stuck in my ways for now.” He sipped a bit of tea, licking the slight remnant from the top of his lip, “Ahh...I am sorry to hear about your abandonment child. It not a very comfortable subject I would assume. You have definitely grown strong all things considered. You have had a great figure to look up to, and have a wife now. Not to mention the lovely seeming friends.” His smile could not help but be warming, as his mug swapped from one hand to the other.

      Valara nodded. “Aye. My upbringing was… not what I’d call easy. While I did have a loving father, it was still not all sunshine and roses, growing up in the rugged wilderness. But… it made me who I am today. For better or worse. But… I’m happy with the way my life is going at the moment. I have the most amazing wife one could ever ask for, I have some great friends, and I hopefully still have some years ahead of me that will be full of great experiences. As you do as well, I’m sure! Elves live a very long time, after all!”, she laughed.

      He nodded, “Yes we are blessed with hundreds of years of life, however be wary. Our elder can’t remember anything before he was 200 years of age. We live lifetimes and forget others apparently…I couldn’t ever process forgetting little Rinn when she was small, or moments like these. I wish I could remember it all.” He shook his head of the thought, “Sorry I went a little saddening then. Was your adoptive father a good man?”

      Valara smiled. “No worries, I honestly never realised that about elves. I suppose it makes sense, it’d be very difficult to have centuries’ worth of memories. But… I like to think that the REALLY important things, such as your time with Runn both past and present, would be a constant that you’d remember. But I’m only 27, so what do I know?” she laughed.

      “My adoptive father… was the greatest man I knew. He could have easily left me to die that day, and he told me outright that when he found me, he didn’t know the first thing about children or parenting… but he still adopted me and raised me best he could, as he would a daughter of his own blood. He never cared that I was a half-elf. And in doing so, he gave me a chance at life that my birth parents, whoever they were, denied me.” She took another sip of tea, as she continued to sing the praises of her father.

      “He… taught me everything I know about surviving in the woods and hunting. While he was not magical like I am… he saw my potential after I nearly started a forest fire when I was 7,” she chuckled a bit at this, “and so he took me to the top of the mountain to meet his only friend, an old elf who insisted on being called the GREAT Maladieter. I have no idea if that was actually his name, as the man was totally off his rocker. But he schooled me in basic magic, and how to at least control my sorcerous powers so that I didn’t advertently start a forest fire again,” she laughed, taking another sip of tea. “He also is the one who taught me to speak Elvish, as my father was a human who, while he knew some basic Elvish for trading hunting spoils with elves, wasn’t fluent and we always just spoke to each other in Common.”

      Rolen’s eyes widened, “Maladieter?! Is this true child? Why he used to be the old town elder, before Baseel! Apparently he hasn’t been seen for at least a hundred or so years.” He leaned a bit forward, intent on listening more.

      Valara’s eyes widened at this revelation. It turns out her wife wasn’t the only one with a connection to this village after all, even if hers was more indirect.

      “That’s… wow, I never expected that. Maladieter, or The GREAT Maladieter as he preferred to be called, was definitely his name. I know not if it was the same as your former elder, but he was, or is, quite old even by elf standards, so it’s certainly a possibility. He would often regale me with grandiose tales and recounts of his various exploits, or what he claimed were his exploits. Some were very fascinating, others… not as much. But as I said, he was totally off his rocker. I’m not entirely sure how he became friends with my father; maybe it’s because they were both reclusive individuals who preferred nature. He never mentioned this village, at least not that I can remember.” She sipped some more tea.

      “He… is a brilliant mage, as well. He was more of the arcane, wizardy type of magic than the innate sorcery that I have, but he was still able to school me in the basics and how to control my powers. I have no idea what he’s doing now, assuming he’s still alive, but knowing him he’s probably still practising magic atop the mountain or something, in harmony with nature. Maybe that’s why he got along with my father; they both had a great appreciation for nature and the wilds. What was he like when he was the elder here?”

      Rolen shrugged a little, “I honestly have no idea. I know that Baseel was not on great terms with him. Something about him not taking his job seriously, focusing on his practise more than his people. One day in the night he was just...gone. Makes sense he just moved away to practise his passion...poor guy.” He finished the last few droplets of his tea, “Well as long as he is alive and seemingly well for his age. Some things are surprising are they not? That you were in some way tied to this village before you even knew it? Small world.” He smiled as he reached for the kettle, “Some tea, dear?”

      Valara nodded. “Yeah… it’s fascinating… My father always says that fate works in all kinds of mysterious ways… Who knew that I’d have a connection to village beyond that of my wife? Small world, indeed.” She handed her teacup to him. “Some tea would be lovely, thank you! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you around the house while I’m here. I don’t want to be a burden!”

      “You never will be dear, you’re family now.”
    • Context: It’s the night before Lyre and the rest of the Black Cat arrive in Tereana, and the plan to bring down the warden takes place. A lot of things have happened for Arwyn this past month and for the first time, she’s at a loss of what to do or feel.
      -----------------------------------------

      It was late at night, and the rest of the members of the house were asleep - or at least the wood elf assumed so. The sun had long dipped below the horizon, and the sounds of activity in the house had all but quieted. There wasn’t even any banging coming from Li’s workshop. While normally the thief would assume the technismith would be up whenever she heard the commotion, the fact she could apparently work while she was sleeping was both amazing and frightening at the same time. Rinn didn’t think it could be good for her health, hunched over the workbench like that, her fingers moving in her sleep, but Li did a lot of things which the wood elf thought was downright unhealthy.

      All the same, it seemed like she was left alone to her thoughts.

      Turning the crank back on the music box dad had let her take, she chewed on her bottom lip as the melody once again wafted through the empty dining room, removed enough from any bedrooms so she wouldn’t cause any trouble. The hypnotic rhythm seemed to be reaching out across to her the epochs of time and already she could play it on the panflute, and was slowly getting the hang of it on her lute. It felt there should be words to go along with it, but what they were, she had long since forgotten.

      Taking a deep breath, she leaned her back against the chair and looked at the ceiling. She always had been on Li’s case to confront her feelings, to not keep them bottled up, yet when the wood elf tried to pull hers out, it felt like she was fighting against a dark void.

      Slipping on the mask of the cheerful thief who never stopped smiling seemed to be both easier and harder, in a paradoxical way. It was easy to get lost into Arwyn, the friend of the people, yet now she could feel the eyes of people staring past her into the eyes of Rinn. They knew she was there, though not always when she was awake.

      Which honestly, was all the time now.

      Maybe that’s why I feel so exhausted, she thought, her eyes fluttering back down to the music box. It was easier before … when they didn’t see me. And then … I could actually feel things.

      When dad described her mother that first night, her gut twisted and squirmed, and she felt like crying. Arwyn always had been a mask created to make sure she wouldn’t be left behind, because who would want a quiet, sullen child in a city full of despair? The fact she had emulated her mother felt like she had been drowned in a bath of cold water. That even though her memories had been forced under a lock and key of her own making, the fact she still emulated the woman who gave birth to her wasn’t lost on her.

      She had hoped her time in the village would give her answers on what she sought, as well as allowing her time to sort her feelings on not being a child alone. Yet none came, and it was like she had been suspended in mid fall, simply waiting to hit the bottom. When she looked into the mirror, the gold eyes of her mother stared back at her.

      And as she hung in this suspension, another thought slowly wormed its way into her head.

      Who am I?

      Rinn was the child of Nest’Calad, a spoiled twin loved by her parents and the village. She was not that girl. Neither was she Arwyn though, the echo of a mother she couldn’t remember, always smiling, the prayer for friendship in the depressing Lisheen.

      As the last notes eked out their song, Rinn gently closed the box, running her hands across the wood before singing a verse to a song she had heard so long ago-

      Will tomorrow ever come? Will I make it through the night? Will there ever be a place for the broken in the light?

      :heart: Rinn “Arwyn” Nailo drawn by Liah :heart:
      Rakshael: if I know one thing about Ruki, it's that she'll prove you wrong just for the sake of saying she did it
      Characters | The Time Lost | The Rumors We Believe | Ruki's Reviews
    • Context: Valara isn't sure if her mother-in-law likes her so she decides to introduce herself properly to Lyre. Thanks to @KyroThePurple for Lyre's responses!


      _________

      Valara was rather nervous. A lot more nervous than she had been when speaking with her father-in-law, Rolen. She was planning to properly introduce herself to Arwyn’s adoptive mother, and thus Valara’s mother-in-law now, Lyre Philorel. She had briefly been introduced to her when Lyre had shown up at Li’s house, but to be frank it was not much of an introduction. Arwyn had briefly introduced Valara as her wife, to which Lyre had reacted with… bewilderment. She had thought that Valara had been just some random fling or something that Arwyn had gotten married after a week or so. She had brought up how apparently Arwyn had been infatuated with Igan when she was younger, and would loudly proclaim her “love” for him.

      It… kind of perturbed Valara. Did this mean that her mother-in-law did not like her, or did not think of her as being worthy of her daughter? Valara could hardly blame her if that was the case; after all, she didn’t think that she was worthy of Arwyn, and quite frankly was unsure of what the wood elf saw in her.

      Perhaps introducing herself to Lyre properly would help assuage Valara’s concerns that she was less than pleased with her daughter’s choice of wife. Plus, Valara felt it would be the polite thing to do. Unfortunately, having heard so much about her from Arwyn, Valara was, needless to say, rather intimidated about approaching her.

      What if she doesn’t like me?

      Lyre and Arwyn later returned from scouting around Tereana in preparation for the uprising against Lord Kirikray. Valara greeted her wife and hugged her, before noticing Lyre hanging around the stairs at Li’s house. Excusing herself, she tepidly walked over to the drow, looking rather obviously nervous. As she got close to the drow, she stumbled over her words before being able to sound coherent.

      “H-h-hi, Lyre… Can I… call you Lyre? I’m sorry if I’m… being rude.”

      Lyre had her head leaned back against the wall as she sat on Li’s stairs. It was her moment of quiet and self preparation in this loud and busy household, however once the half elf approached Lyre Her eyes darted to her. She listened to her introduction, then sighed with a simple, “Lyre is fine.”

      Valara smiled weakly, bowing slightly out of respect. “T-thanks… I know we met briefly earlier, but… I don’t feel it was much of an introduction. My name is Valara, and… I’m Arwyn’s wife. So I guess that makes you my mother-in-law. It… it is an honour to meet you, whom I’ve heard so much about from her.”

      She looked back down and pinched her wrist, she gives no flinch or reaction, however it leaves a mark on her skin, “I’m being an asshole. I apologise for being blunt, but Happy to meet you little one. I apologise if any of little Arwyn’s clumsy mistakes have put you in peril, also I apologise if she stalked you or clung to you like a lost pup.” Lyre stood up on the stairs and scratched the side of her head a little awkwardly.

      Valara smiled, a bit wider this time. “It’s no problem; I should be the one apologising, as people skills aren’t really my… thing. Please, be as blunt as you like! And you don’t need to apologise for Arwyn; whatever mistakes she may have made… I’ve made worse. I love her more than life itself, and I couldn’t ask for a better wife. If anything…” She looked down a bit sadly. “... I’m the one who clings to her like a lost pup. I always worry she may realise she can… do so much better than me. That… scares me.”

      Valara then shook her head. “Bah, I shouldn’t be dumping my fears on you when we’ve only just met! I apologise. Please, tell me about you! I’ve heard a lot about you from Arwyn, and good things, too! I’d… be lying if I said I wasn’t both nervous and excited to finally meet you myself.”

      She shook her head as you speak, “Do not think for one moment she would toss you aside. I’m aware of you now and she’s married so if she ever dared she would be getting a smack from her own mother. Not much I can tell at the moment. I run the guild this pup comes from and I protect them, simple as that. I’m glad the little kitten can make you happy Valara.” She had a deep and obvious read into Valara’s expressions. She seems content with an obvious nod but taps the stair with her foot as a signal to sit down as she does so.

      Valara nodded, and sat down on the stairs next to Lyre. “T-thanks… that does mean a lot. And you’re right, she makes me… the happiest I’ve ever been,” Valara said with a dreamy look on her face, before shaking her head. “I’ve heard much of your guild, Black Cat. Arwyn speaks of them as her family… in fact, she wants us to have a second ceremony, this time with all her family present. I… do as well. To be frank, the venue for the first ceremony left a lot to be desired,” she chuckled.

      “I… hope to get to know you better, as I guess we are family now too. And... I hope you think of me as worthy as your daughter’s hand.”

      Valara wasn’t quite sure how to proceed.

      Lyre placed a hand on Valara’s knee, “I am a cruel bitch, most of the time. I am intimidating and my reputation tells the truth, however my little one seems to think you are more than worthwhile, so will I. As long as you keep her safe and never...ever break her heart. I won’t kill you, but other than that welcome to the family I suppose. Our happy great dis-fucking-functional family.” She digged her nails into Valara’s knees playfully as she spoke, then released with a light pat.

      Valara smiled at this. “T-thanks. I promise you that I shall protect her, and do my best to make her happy.”

      “I’ve… heard some tales of the Black Cat family. Arwyn’s told me about them. Dysfunctional, maybe, but… family’s family. I had no family from when my father, my only family, died, to when I met my now-wife. It… feels nice to have family again.” She smiled warmly at the Drow.

      “It never feels nice to lose family. I’m glad she makes you feel so special I suppose. Can you fight?” She seemed to try and sympathise, however being a source of comfort was never her strong suit.

      Valara nodded. “Yes… I’m a sorcerer. I like to think that I’m pretty good at setting things on fire,” she chuckled, “and I like to think that I’m at least somewhat helpful in battle. I’ve even used my magic to help Arwyn with thievery at times. In physical combat I’m not much use, but I can at least help with burning things and helping the heavy-hitters.”

      For the first proper time throughout this she smirked, “Oh? Magic user hey? Glad to know you can have a sneaky side about you then. When all this is over with I might take you and the kitten out on a little trial run, to see how she's progressed and how good you are. Will be a good stretch for myself also.” She nodded to almost agree with herself, “That's decided then.”

      Valara grinned. “That would be amazing! I hope that I shan’t disappoint when we do!”

      She sincerely thought this, as the last thing she would want would be to embarrass herself in front of her new mother-in-law. Especially since Valara had quickly come to appreciate Lyre’s blunt honesty; as someone who knew bugger all about how to interact with people, it was very much helpful for Valara.

      “Great. Welp you should make sure you are prepared to die tomorrow, and make sure little Arwyn isn’t exhausting herself. I’m going to have a little explore.” Lyre focused again and her armour changed from her casual wear back to her black studded leather.

      Valara grinned again. “You got it… mother.”