Kallian - A Murder of Crows

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Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:20 pm

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The door swung open, offering a never more comforting sight of a bed, a bowl of fresh well-water, and curtains pulled low over a single window. Kallian stepped in, well aware of the man behind her in the corridor.

He had seemed polite enough, even if she could not find the best word to describe how he looked. He could not have been ugly: there was proof of it on that very same face. Yet there was enough there to cause a man to turn away in disgust. They had exchanged a brief greeting before the inevitable question of her heritage was brought up - this she would have smoothly deflected with characteristic charm were it not that she was desperately trying to hold nausea in. Of course, it had nothing to do with the man in the corridor but what the group discovered in the caverns along the shore. Nonetheless, she did not stay to see his expression after her abrupt change of subject.

There was no table upon which she could put her things, but a small chest of rudimentary make in a corner - a courtesy provided by the lodge-owner's for their guests in which to leave their belongings during their stay. Instead, she took the long wrapped object from under her arm and laid it on the bed. This followed by a horn from some creature - she assumed, carved with a design of vines and flowers. She stood regarding them for some moments, absently peeling off her gloves, faintly aware of other doors being opened and shut throughout the house as guests came and went.

She already knew what was in the cloth-wrapped bundle - a slender, curved sword that had somehow found its way past the length of the Golden Way to these shores. Not a common sight in the markets of the city, and therefore must belong to perhaps some skilled warrior who had come this way. A quick examination of the hilt provided no clues except that beneath the rusted metal the handle was ensconced in a silken material of a once-vivid shade before its wielder met his end.

"Let's call it a bet, shall we? I have the gem you want, and you can show me if the tales of elven passion I've been hearing are true."

"What a poor merchant you must make, Thespar, if these are your terms. I suppose this is why you're here...in this little shit-hole; after this long, and still having nothing to your name but the empty desires of an overambitious prick."

"Look who's talking! The mouse who thinks she's a lion! You think you're better than everyone else just because you can climb higher and faster than the rest of us? See how fast you can move now, quim!"

With that, the cat yowled in protest as it was dragged forcibly from under the table. Thespar drove his dagger into its side with sickening precision before I could react.


Kallian was careful to keep the curved blade wrapped after that, securely knotted at its ends that no part of it might touch her palm again.

The horn was a different thing altogether. Her bare fingers traced the curving lines of it, skimming over the grooves made by its engravings. The scent of earth after a hard rain, a fleeting smile of a friend with flowers in her hair. A lengthy prayer had been said over the heavy black ox before it had been taken off the fields. It would provide meals which would last a family at least a month. At the end, its horns were cleaned and taken to a local artisan, who would then turn it into an object of beauty.

Such was the way of the world, she mused, and she stroked the carved horn yet again, turning it over and over in her hands as her battered emotions slowly calmed. I have been too long in the city, she decided, that she could feel her edge slipping.

It was a long time before a poor excuse for reverie came to claim her.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:21 pm

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~ 1354 DR

The temple stood in the square of the West Quarter. By day, it was an oasis amidst the sea of a million coloured tents, shielding the thronging crowds at the height of noon. The scent of chrysanthemum wreaths would fill the air here, mingled with the heady fragrance of expensive peony, offerings from citizens and travellers alike who would climb the terraced steps to have a moment with the goddess of the wide-eyed smile and a blessing for every one who traded honest goods. These offerings they laid around the twin bronze figures flanking the steps of the gate - Handmaidens to the Merchant's Friend. At precisely noon, the sun would strike at the brass facade of Waukeen's dome, throwing off a brilliance that would chase back the shadows caused by the unbending horizon of shophouses surrounding the square.

It was a sight to behold - made even more glorious from up here. She knew the best spot for it, and it was here in the shade of an ancient smoke chimney, the highest point of all the buildings in the vicinity.

At night, the square resembled a ghost town compared to how it appeared by day. There were few merchants who didn't make sure to pack their things away lest they be pilfered during the night, and many went to the trouble of dismantling their tents, leaving nothing to chance. Waukeen's domed roof was now bathed in the icy glow of Selune's gaze, and in place of celebratory wreaths were a flock of ravens that perched on a Handmaiden's outstretched arm, picking off what was left behind in the streets. It seemed as though they would be the only sign of life at such an hour, for the sensible had retired to their homes as though by clockwork as early as the eighth hour past noon.

The shortest and most direct route to reach the temple was from the east, traversing a set of open rooftops and towards the central dome itself. The final leap across involved a gap of nearly ten feet, then circling around the quarter-mile rim of the uppermost Rose Dome - named for the first of the eight other domes to be erected in Waukeen's Promenade. This was the gateway to other parts of the City, with a great hall housed in its middling walls that served as the gathering area for the congregation of worshippers that flowed like the traders' traffic which moved through great arched pass below. The hall was polished each day, so that it gleamed as smoothly as Waukeen's gold coin. It was generally regarded as a sign of the goddess' favour that the place shimmered with a thousand tiny dancing candleflames, suspended in some invisible fashion, reminiscent of the myriad of stars over Athkatla's night sky. In the central apse stood Waukeen herself; a glamourous beauty draped in swathes of chiselled cloth, her pale alabaster countenace favouring every visitor with a confident, bright-eyed smile, a scepter held forwards aloft in acknowledgement of her faithful. Many would leave these halls dazzled, supplanted by their offerings to the goddess and assured that Her divine fortune would translate into all aspects of their mundane lives. There were few who knew about the hidden cache on Waukeen's pedestal; only those with the gift of the Weave would be able to get past the unseen wards that surrounded the statue.

There had been little question about who was best suited for the task. Plenty of debate, however, and even drawn knives. In the end, no one could refuse the word of Headmaster Arrik - life was a precious commodity here. He had called her to his side, kissed the intricate tattoos on her lean belly, and gestured for her to go. And everyone knew well that this was the moment when the Headmaster had spoken, even though he had done so without words. Arrik's decision was final. The betting was over. She had won - again.

The first few guards stationed on the upper veranda of the Rose Dome were easy pickings for an elf. Others followed the same fate, but she picked her victims selectively. She left no trail of blood in her wake, but a firm twist of the arm and a precise tap on the jugular made the whole process into the inner sanctum that much easier. These men would awaken sometime later, after she had long gone, as silently as she entered.

The call to prayer for the 'breaking of coin' - a morning ritual that required Waukeenar clergy to walk the three levels of the inner temple, chanting choruses to stir the Lady from Her slumber - was due to occur before sunrise. This was crucial today, for the counter-spell maintained by the Thayvan mage Jangovar meant that barriers around the statue would not last past the hour. Instead of leaving with the prize and a few scratches to the skin, Waukeen's invisible barrier at full strength would sear flesh and leave nothing but charred remains for the clergy to dispose of upon the end of the Walk.


Image


The sight of Waukeen's pale, brilliant countenance stopped her in her tracks as she found her way at last to the base of the statue. So tall was the Goddess that the elf's head reached only halfway below its marbled knee. For a moment, it took her breath away, so much so that she did not notice the shadow that moved between the great pillars to come up behind her.

"The temple is closed," came the soft suggestion.

The elf spun round, a gloved hand already on the hilt of her shortblade. Only the sight of the taller, willowy woman before her stalled the instinct to attack. Dressed in customary robes and sandals, the white colour of her sash denoted her station. She was oddly attractive - not overly so; an awkward product of a plainer-looking human and moonkin.

The sight of the elven face under its shadowed hood was enough to make the young Waukeenar step back in surprise. The figure began to move, stepping a practised circle around her, the leather boots causing hardly a sound on the tiles.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" The priestess whispered.

"No one," the elf replied smoothly. "My name does not belong here, and soon you'll forget you ever saw me."

The priestess tensed, seeming to recognize belatedly who it was she addressed. "I am Dhalyanat'ar, the Bearer of Accounts for this temple. I know the face of each one who comes before the Golden Lady. Yours is one that will be on every street corner, if you do not tell me now."

She laughed softly. Past the priestess' shoulder, the ward barriers around Waukeen's statue pulsed. There was still a little time. She could take this slow.

"How is cloistered life, Dhalyanat'ar?" She let sarcasm enter her tone. "Or perhaps should I say - Neida?"

The priestess' expression darkened.

The elf continued. "Life must be so busy for you since your departure, that you have forgotten how your lies have cost Omath his own tongue, all those years ago. Such a pity, really. Yours would have fetched more value, the way it is gilded with silver poison."

The priestess reddened with anger. "Omath was an idiot who couldn't tell one end of the street to the other. I shut him up in time. What is he to you?"

"Nothing particularly," the elf drawled. "But at least I know where my loyalties lie."

"I am done with that carnival of freaks Arrik has under his thumb," came the angry retort.

"Only a fool would look into a mirror and not call herself one," the elf remarked generously.

"I know who you are. Arrik was always overly fond of you, but I, unlike you, have no need to stoop such lowly wiles to gain a place in society." Dhalyanat'ar glared at the elf. "And now I have earned my place in the House of the Golden Lady, where I belong. Unlike you...where you continue to share a bed with those dogs and live off ill-gotten favours!"

The circle grew imperceptibly tighter as the elf continued her pacing, like a cat watching its prey. Behind them, the magical barrier throbbed unsteadily as minutes ticked closer to the hour.

"We can make this awfully quick, Neida, and it will save you much pain. You can turn around and never speak of this again, and I will let you continue to live your life of luxury. Or you can carry on as you will, and let me watch you try to live out what remaining days you'll have from here." The elf remarked with aggravating patience, shrugging off the insult as though having heard it many times before.

Dhalyanat'ar stared at the elf, her thin arms clenched down in fists as she struggled to maintain a foothold over the situation. "I know what you're here for, and you'll steal from this place over my dead body."

"Always one for dramatics, were you not, Neida?"

The priestess drew a sharp intake of breath, incensed.

"Always so quick to pull the knife," the elf drawled in a lazy half-whisper, stepping closer. "You like having the last say, in everything - don't you? I see nothing has changed about you, Neida. Not one bit. You call me a seducer of men, but you walk these halls with your quill and paper, manipulating the livelihoods of these very same." The seductive tone in her voice took a menacing edge.

Metal flashed as Dhalyanat'ar produced a ceremonial dagger from the folds of her robes, raised to strike. But the elf caught her wrist quickly, and closed the gap between them with a strong grasp around the priestess' throat, squeezing. Her blue-grey eyes gleamed with a cold hardness as she watched the priestess struggle for breath - then she released the woman abruptly, causing Dhalyanat'ar to lose her balance and fall painfully to the marbled floor. In a flash the elf was darting around the wide pedestal that encircled Waukeen's statue, bracing herself for the dive through the barrier. The pain was immediate; criss-crossing lines of blood upon her exposed skin and nicking fiercely into the hard leather vest. Then she was scrambling up its left side like a cat, towards the scepter the Goddess held aloft in one hand. Beyond these wards, the instrument revealed its true colours - at the peak of its gilded length, where a globe of inscribed brass rested in perfect balace; whose contents would sway the influence of the city's trade empire. With a decisive twist, the orb was freed from its receptacle.

She was about to slip it into the pack slung across her shoulders, but a tug around her ankle sent the elf keeling backwards, towards a sure plunge for the ground some eight feet below. She caught the arm of the statue just in time, dangling in mid-air as Dhalyanat'ar prowled at its base, finding the best vantage point to strike at the elf again. The painful cross through the barrier did not seem to deter the priestess one moment. If anything, it stripped inhibitions away, revealing her true personality within.

At a precise moment, Dhalyanat'ar hurled the dagger upwards. The elf released her grip on the statue, tumbling to the ground. The blade cracked against Waukeen's hand, nicking the marble. The impact sent the dagger spinning uselessly across the chamber, clattering into a far corner. Somewhat stunned from the fall, the elf clambered to her feet, only to have Dhalyanat'ar come up behind her in a choke-hold.

The barrier shimmered with a powerful throb as the ward prepared to recover its full strength against the counter-spell.

A struggle ensued; elf and half-elf grappled for power over the other. Dhalyanat'ar gasped as a booted heel came down heavily upon her sandalled foot, ensuring that the priestess would not walk properly for days after. Dhalyanat'ar reached for the elf, panting, but was only rewarded with a hard shove back against the base of the statue. Enough was enough, the elf decided, as she turned to brace herself for passage through the barrier and to freedom.

Dhalyanat'ar snarled and pushed off the statue, ignoring the pain in her leg. She lunged for the elf, just as the latter emerged from the invisible wall, the orb secured tight under an arm.

The ward gave one last pulse, and the lines of magical energy glowed with a visible brilliance for one split second, breaking away the chains of its counter-spell.

The priestess screamed.


-----

Disclaimer: Many liberties have been taken with canon FR lore in the writing of this piece and some of the locations mentioned appear differently to the sourcebooks.

Image credits: ElmUnderleaf at DeviantArt
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:21 pm

The journey back to Vlasta was a blur, a haze of aches and pains that seemed intent to linger in her body. Over and over the accident replayed itself in her mind's eye: a hulking alien form swinging out towards her with an arm. Then she was flat on her back, the wind knocked from her lungs, and the world had turned white.

Outwardly, Kallian looked as she normally did if only a little pale - a careful check of her own reflection in a still basin of water confirmed mostly this. Leaning over the water with a pounding headache, she made some vague mental note to thank the sun priestess for her care, and the others....what were their names again? She swallowed down a wave of nausea.

Steadying her weight on the basin's rim with one elbow, she stared at the trembling in her left arm. Clenching that fist would not stop the shaking, but she refused to cast off the hard leather vest that pressed into her sides - the cold mountain air made it wrap uncomfortably tighter around her body than its usual snug fit. She closed her eyes and searched inwardly for the thought process that was once taught to her to derive pleasure from pain - but there was no relief to be had this day. Shifting her weight onto the other foot awakened new agony in the damaged muscle in her side; the torturous cycle only to repeat itself should her body come under intensive strain once more.

Uttering a low frustrated growl, she summoned the last of her energy and dragged the bench across the privy door, her breathing coming now small and ragged. No one would come barging in now that the thing was there. She stood alone in the dimly lit space, swaying slightly on her feet, trembling hands reaching to unbuckle the leathers. It took longer than it usually would, but at last, the vest dropped to the floor with a soft thump, and the elf slumped onto the bench, allowing the pain to whisk her away into a fitful state of reverie.

Just an old wound, darlin'... .
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:22 pm

1362 DR, Outentown

The towering Northerner lunges for her throat, to the gasp of onlookers in the street. She darts to the side, only just barely missing by an inch. She snarls suddenly at him, unable to repress her anger then.

"Dhdec lullull*..!"

Upstairs alone with him, she feels the skin on the back of her neck prickling with annoyance and anger. The man fills the open doorway and empties his rage-filled stare upon her back, watching as she reaches for the pole-arm she had taken care to wrap in a layer of old cloth. Perhaps if she used enough force, she could incapacitate him with a backwards strike of the weapon into his chest, but it was risky. She had bested him before when he touched her waist the day previously right in the street, as though she was some commodity. The Northerner had seemed impressed by her strength then, but still it was a close call.

He seizes the weapon as she attempts to get past him, uneasy at being cornered in her own room. The walls feel as though they would close in upon her. But then in a heartbeat, she is struggling, fingers biting into his arm as he tries to drive her bodily against the wall. He grits his teeth, for the elf is strong despite being half his size.

"I can take you right now woman, I can make you mine. Do not forget who you deal with, girl."

It is the third round of warm mead she's drunk tonight. She recalls the Ilmatari girl's words, but the concept of forgiving such an adversary is one that will take time to settle.

"....Why not have mercy on the poor fool? He may be loud and tough, but it may be just a damaged ego talking."


----------

* Alzhedo - Fuck off
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:23 pm

The figure sits on the steps of a wide-roofed pavilion, near a pond. The sun had been high when it watched her arrive alone, and now it was preparing to meet the horizon for its slumber. Still, the elf does not move from her spot.

She removes a glove and looks at her hand, turning it over. The dull red inks that have been expertly painted on her arm zig-zag their way towards the soft, tender ligament that rises and lowers beneath her tanned copper skin as she tests her wrist's movement. Four of these lines converge at the base of her palm, and there they become as fine as the grooves in her skin, snaking their way around the padding of flesh before meeting in a spiral, in the center of her upturned hand. This is edged with a series of irregularly-shaped dots, suggesting a picture of a tight barbed coil, or perhaps, the elongated vertebrae of some imaginary creature.

There is a band of gold on that index finger. Heavy and smooth from years of wear, though it bears a thin ridge in its middle, dividing the ring into two parts, yet they remain fused solidly as one. She twists it over and over absently, staring at it without really looking. It sits comfortably there; any other finger would have been too small for it.

The sky is now awash with bold slashes of deep orange and clouds of purple sunset, like an artist's easel that has surrendered to the whims of its master painter. She picks up the leather glove that had been earlier discarded on the grass by her feet, and shakes it off before pulling it back on securely over her left hand. A few grains of loose dirt and the limp body of a dandelion fall into her lap, but she pays them no mind as she rises soundlessly to her feet.

I'll have you and Old Beard lay the flowers on my grave, hm? Chrysanthemums are my favourite. The yellow ones smell the best.

She leaves as quietly as she came. The meadow is still and empty once more.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:23 pm

She sits again by her spot near the pond, wishing for an instrument to put to song what is in her mind. But she cannot play the lute, nor the pipes, nor anything of that sort that comes so naturally to others.

Instead, she opens her mouth to sing, a song of hope and mourning; the words uttered in the low, gentle undulating style of the Merchant's Tongue*:

And some day, I pray,
You'll see the end of my sorrows
For misfortune is not ours to take, but to give

See us,
How we live in these old golden days,
The days of yore,
And remember that my heart
Will hold empty for thee
Once more


*Secondary term for Alzhedo and its associated dialects depending on region.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:24 pm

~ 1352 DR, Midsummer, Athkatla

Cobblestone glimmered wetly, an abstract of black obsidian, Selune's pale green, and the brilliant oranges of street-lamps lining the wide alley. Scattered all over in hues of scarlet and pink and yellow, the remains of the afternoon's celebrations that brought together giddy laughter amidst breathless expectations of returned affections. There was dancing, and there was song; the jaunty clowns of Milil's tribe in their harlequinned costumes with painted faces were greeted by exuberant cheers and freshly-cut flowers thrown in their path as they descended upon the City, leading a procession through the streets like a piper and his ragtag army. The festivities would last long after midnight, and the light drizzle from a rapidly-clearing night sky did nothing to dampen the heightened mood of all and sundry.

The door swings open with a loud thud, and in comes the large half-blood with greying whiskers on his jaw and what serves as a mullet cut executed by an unsteady hand. He is carrying three bottles in his right hand and a bundle of fragrant, wrapped food in the other. He stops short upon seeing the figure stretched out carelessly on the windowsill, stares, then grins.


Last place I thought to see you, he says, setting down the bottles with a thump on the table between them.

The elf shrugs with her usual playful smile. Tired, is her non-committal reply. She knows how much of a white lie it is, and so does he - for elves rarely tire as others do, and he has been in her company long enough to realize this as fact. But he is accustomed her fallacies, for he could be guilty of it often himself.

Brought your favourite. He holds out one of the bundles to her. It is n'urrt - a dumpling made of strands of finely-rolled millet flour encasing a slab of juicy roasted meat. Once a delicacy but now common street fare. Ask a hawker and he would be willing to tell it to you while he prepared your order: Its recipe was said to be highly guarded by its king that it was never written down in any book, but was stolen by no less than a lowly street thief.

What's this? She asks, holding up a bottle.

Berdusk black, the half-orc says around a mouthful of n'urrt, grinning. He knows how to make an evening a blast.

She wastes no time in drinking half of it in one swallow. The dark liquid burns a path down her throat; the heady, sweet fumes flaring up in her nostrils. She keeps her eyes wide open against the reflex to shut out the effects, and laughs triumphantly, raising her bottle to the half-orc in a toast. This is how they liked to drink around here, and this wasn't the worst. She unwraps her
n'urrt, and bites into it with relish - the pastry crumbles instantly between her teeth, and a burst of smoky spices accompany the chunk of venison she tears off with abandon.

You'd better be downstairs soon, the half-orc says casually, searching in a pocket for the stubby remains of a bitterweed cigarette. Y'know the boss don't like it when they can talk.

Then she is on her feet in an instant, leaving behind the last morsel of the delicacy. The half-orc does not try to stop her, but leans aside so she may step past unhindered.

She passes through the streets like a fleeting shadow in the corner of one's eye, until she locates what she is here to find. The room is one of many in the lower levels of the City, damp with an ever-present black mould and whorls of fungi growing in its abandoned corners; a product of poor architectural planning in the City's younger days. The debris around them only make it more cramped than it already is, but in a heartbeat she is there.

The man slumps in his corner, his cravat and coat reek of fear uncontrolled. He is sobbing and gasping, clutching limply with one hand over the other. She recognises the all-too-familiar metallic scent of blood, keenly aware of the sorry mess that drips from his missing left finger.

The tall man beside him has taken his fancy jewelled dagger, and is running a thumb over its decorated grooves like the caress of a lover. It is too dark in here for anything, but the elf needs little light to understand the stains on the dagger's blade.


This was not what was agreed upon, she turns to the tall man, her voice is even.

He barks a short, cruel laugh in her face. It's Midsummer, you little strumpet. Where's your sense of fun, or have you lost it along with your maidenhood all those years ago?

She feels her hand press itself into a fist; a swift reaction to the quick emotions of men. But she is an elf, and so she presents him with a cool regard instead, one that has earned her the reputation of a temper wrought from the blue flames of red-hot fire and crisp, cool ice. Be done with it, Thespar, so we can all go home.

He is smug. Still waiting on that invitation to supper, you know? He taps his foot and glances to the man, who is a whimpering ball of denial. If this doesn't take all night, by Cyric's blood.

He moves to kick the man; a savage gesture that has the latter bring up gouts of blood from his already dribbling lips. He brings the hilt-end of the dagger down upon the man's head, knocking him thoroughly forwards onto the ground in front of him.

Why do you toy with him? She feels the anger seethe beneath her calm. The elf is gone; she must feel as humans do, their swift ways, and think like they do, for time waits for no man. Keeping up with them was one thing, but being a step ahead another. He has told you what you needed to know.

He sighs, bored. Should have gone with that crazy bitch Marha. But you know why I didn't. He leans close to her, intimately, to whisper in her ear. So, what'll it be? Supper first, or dessert?

She stares at him in the near-darkness. His countenance in this light is a collection of angles of blue and stone and careless ambition. She can smell the slick, wet dampness of rain on his skin and the musky spice of his oiled perfume. She thinks that his vanity will someday be his downfall, and it is a thought that comes to her mind often.

Then he leans down near her ear as if to kiss it, but he knows better than to touch her when she is unwilling. So he passes the blade into her hand, and she can feel the rough crannies of its ornate, jewelled handle. A thing of crafted beauty, to deliver such pain. Then he steps back from her, smugly, to watch.

The man is shaking terribly, his whimpers reduced to no more than pitiful gurgles shallow in his throat. He is oblivious to everything but his pain, for his mind has yet to catch up upon the fact that he is now maimed. He does not notice the soft footfall of an elf next to his head, and gentle caress of a gloved hand in his matted hair.

She does not look back at the man behind her, who watches on with a grin. She refuses to give him the satisfaction of seeing her doubt.


Tymora be kind with your misfortunes, are the words on the edge of her lips, but they are left unspoken as she presses the cold metal against the flesh of the merchant's neck. She draws the knife once, a quick sweeping motion from left to right, and it is done.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:28 pm

She lies alone on the cot, slipping in and out of consciousness. Her breathing is shallow, and her body is damp from its ongoing battle with an enemy's toxin. The bucket next to the bed has its bottom filled with a greenish-black bile, and the bedsheets lie crumpled on the old wooden floor. She is crying - the silent, helpless tears of one accustomed to pain, to the disappointments of life, yet unused to expressing her sorrows freely.

The deep burning sensation in her left side causes her to spasm once more. She wonders if this time, this breath will be her last. A physician's words she recalls: Perhaps another century, were you to be lucky. No more.

Her vision blurs anew wetly, but she shuts her eyes then, and allows the words of an old sage's poem to take her to a fitful rest once more.


Alurh'a, szemoeera aztd'eun t'a*
The pale hours of afternoon bring us together
We walk side by side
How do you do, my friend
This lonely road that makes us one in the end

Tell me of your story, kor'ahtzen**
Let us share the finest glass of wine
And sup on the fruit of Chauntea's loins
Our sins of past meanwhile turned to Fortune's golden

Alurh'a, szemoeera aztd'eun t'a
An hour in a moment
We bask now under an orange moon
A star in your eye, a devil's whisper in the other
This road that joins us is divided again far too soon.


-------

*Alzhedo regional dialect: This phrase roughly translates as "Dearest, at this crossroads again".

**Alzhedo regional dialect: "Heart's fire"
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Kilaana
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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:28 pm

"You are the trees and the water and the wind. I am but a shadow, that fades with the light."

She closes her eyes and steadies her breathing. When she opens them once more, she is standing in her favourite spot, the wind in her hair and the world laid bare at her feet, bathed in the glow of evening's late sun. She glances down, to catch the glint of a brass-coloured coin wedged into a crack in the stonework beneath her feet. She adds a number to the one in her head, the years that this secret treasure has remained in its place.

To the west, a carrack lies in port. Like diamonds, the ocean glitters like a carpet fit for kings. The last of the cargo is placed on the ship, and she knows it will carry a particular wine of a particular region to the east. There is a sharp sensation in her chest, a bittersweet memory of a pure, unadulterated joy.

Then she is falling - into an alien blackness, unseen ground rushing up faster than she can stop herself in her descent. She reaches out an arm, twisting in her freefall the way a cat would do just before landing, but there is nothing to hold on to, nothing she can perceive that would catch her on the way down.

When she finally lands, there is no pain, but she will never get up again.
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht

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Re: Kallian - A Murder of Crows

Postby Kilaana » Tue Dec 08, 2015 11:30 pm

The Wildling: Elis Cairnestone

The driving rain had ceased at last, leaving behind the telltale scent of wet earth and grass. The fire had reduced itself to a sullen glow; a few prods with a thin branch releases a pale curl of smoke that rises like Death's finger in the air, beckoning to all. So near the end of life's breath was the manner in which they had climbed out of the depths, but as long as the Lucky Coin was poised in the balance, so too did she believe that Tymora would cast Her smile in their direction.

Nearby, a figure lies shrouded in a cloak, slumped against a log - deep in reverie. The faint outlines of an arm, bent at an angle close to the chest, can be discerned - she remembers the younger Celith wishing to seek a healer, but as it is the way with companions who begin as strangers only to band together for a higher purpose, there had been little time or any real inclination to extend the sort of concern one would otherwise show to a family relation or lover, for example. Unieng had left soon after, presumably to extend the hunt on the surface now that there was still daylight, but she had yet to return.

The helm, with its fearsome stag horns, sits next to her under the makeshift shelter. Gingerly, she touches the yellowed ivory with gloved fingers. The leather cap that the horns are attached to, is cracked and faded, with spots of old blood on its ill-cared surface. She has given up trying to make sense of why it had been abandoned here in this overgrown place. But the foursome had emerged from the mountain at last; she had herself lost count of the hours or days they had spent searching for signs of the wildling's survival.

"Kallian."

She glances up at the figure that has returned from the trees beyond the crumbling walls. Clad in colours of winter, Anzair's approach was silent as always, rivalling that of hers when in the wilds. Even from where she sat his face was turned so as to show only the form of his lips and chin; he may as well have been a statue if not for the steady gentleness in his tone in the moments he chose to speak.

She rises to her feet immediately, and when she replies it comes with a touch of urgent concern in her voice than she would have cared to let on. It surprised even herself.

"Have you seen her then?"
“How long is forever, Rabbit? ...Why, Alice, sometimes just one second.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Kallian | Delorwyn Lle'quellas | Wilhemina Alencar | Zalika Maszim Zartusht


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