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The Time Before Interlude: Travels
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:42 am    Post subject: The Time Before Interlude: Travels  

New to the Story? The adventure starts here :D


Travels, written by Shady Stoat

The woman trudged through the heavy downpour, grey hair plastered to her face in lank strands. She wished it would stop raining, if only for an hour.

The girl beside her stopped again, knees folding as she sank toward the muddy grasslands. With a weary curse, the woman caught her before she fell, and lowered her gently onto the ground.

Cassa was getting worse. There was little trace of her daughter left in this hollow shell of a child. The eyes stared blankly ahead, lost in a vision that only she could see. The fingers twitched, unconsciously and repetitively tracing the patterns of the pleasure runes. Her cheeks were hollow and the weight was dropping off her. There had never been that much to begin with.

She could stumble on blindly, if shoved in the right direction. Until yesterday, she had even spoken occasionally, although the words had made less and less sense. Now, though, the shoves were having to become almost constant, the stumbles were happening more often and the words had ceased to come.

Ehl felt tears stinging her eyelids as she played the dreaded word around her head.

Emflikar.

Since the final dregs of magical exhaustion had kicked in, Ehl had been asking herself the same questions, over and over. Was Cassa sinking into the grip of the pleasure-magics? How far could she go down that path until she became an un-revivable zombie? Would she progress from simply being uninterested in food to being unwilling to swallow what was put in her mouth? Would she waste away, unseeing and uncaring, while Ehl stood by, helpless?

They should never have tried to come North.

It had seemed so logical. When her Mentor had told her there was little more he could teach her in the traditional way, the choices had been few. Either try to find another Mage to tutor her, live with the limitations imposed on her from without, or go North, in search of the legendary Mage School.

Cassa, typically headstrong, wanted to try the Northern school first. She had seen the danger of going through the Dead Ring, and promptly dismissed it. Or, at least, offset it against the advantage of learning from a great collective of Mages, with almost infinite resources to teach her what she hungered for.

Nevertheless, Ehl and her mate had seen the perils, even if she had not. For months, they had tried to find another Mentor for her. Local Mages, City Mages, travelling Mages, they had followed every trail they could think of. Everywhere they looked, the story was the same. Cassa was a Plainswoman, and while Plainswomen could be trained in the arts up to a certain point, the customs forbade that she learn anything beyond that. There could be no exceptions, even for one as gifted as Ehl’s daughter.

The second option was no option at all. Both parents had known that their daughter would never be satisfied to dabble in magic. There was an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in her, and a stubbornness that would not accept the easy answers.

If they tried to confine her, they knew that there would come a morning when they woke up and she was not there. She would attempt the bitter journey on her own, rather than accept her fate in the South.

There had been little choice in the end. Not knowing if they would make it through, not knowing if she would ever see her mate again, she still could not leave Cassa to the merciless journey through the Dead Zone. Mother and daughter had gathered their belongings and their valuables and had set off on the journey.

It had taken them six days to get to the mountains. They had thought they were in the Dead Ring then. The winds had been bitter, freezing their extremities to numbness as they had trudged through knee-deep snows.

It took four more days to actually hit the Ring. The change was sudden, gusts turning into gales, snow to blizzards, paths to spikes of compacted ice and glaciers big enough to fool the eyes and confound the imagination.

The need for Cassa’s skills was constant. A shield of air, heated around them to keep their blood from freezing in its sluggish flow. The ‘ranging’, when visibility was so bad that they lost all sense of direction. The melting of the water so that they could drink it.

Ehl’s magic was weak. Strong enough to hold the shield around them while Cassa stole an hour or two’s sleep, but barely. There was little she could do to help her daughter, in this savage environment. She could only watch as the girl struggled, day after day, to keep the two of them alive.

Their provisions soon ran out. If there was a spell to make food out of ice, it was not one that either of them knew. As their hunger grew, their energy began to fail. Ehl had been ready, on the first word of complaint, to start driving a wedge into her daughter’s determination to continue. As soon as Cassa showed the faintest sign of being willing to listen to reason, her mother was going to insist on turning back and giving up this suicidal mission.

The word had never come. Despite her daughter’s obvious exhaustion, she had remained set on her course. After days of no food, little sleep and even less magical recharge, they had finally emerged into the Baklaran Ice Fields. The sprawling frozen tundra of ice and snow was hospitality itself, compared to the blinding ice-storms that they had come from. Exhausted, at the end of their resources, they had wept at the site of the Baklaran Scout as they set eyes upon him.

He had led them back to the scout village at the foot of the Northern slopes. Even then, Cassa had been blank-eyed and unresponsive. Ehl had seen the signs, thinking them a fever brought on by over-exertion and harsh conditions.

After two days at the camp, it was obvious that Cassa needed the attention of a trained healer. She was sinking deeper within herself, dreaming and twitching, even in her waking hours. Nothing held her attention; not food, not the people of the camp, not talk of the future. She was listless and mumbling.

It had been three days since they had left the camp. The grassy plains were opening out before them, reminiscent of their homelands. Cassa saw nothing, felt nothing but the ecstasy of her magics.

Ehl grieved, alone with her daughter in the rain. They had made it to the North, and the price had been too high. Cassa would never learn at her precious School of Mages. Even if, somehow, her mother could find a cure, it would be expensive. As much, or more, than they could afford, even with all their savings and valuables. The school would demand a fee, and Cass would be unable to pay it.

All this way for nothing. She gave in to a moment of despair, then pulled it back, savagely.

Very well. If that was the way things were, that was the way things were. The old goals were gone and the new ones were very different.

A remedy was all she could hope for, now. A cure for her girl. Cassa had got them this far. It was Ehl’s turn to see to their survival. Step by step, crawling on hands and knees if she had to, she would get her girl to someone who could heal her.

Bone-weary, she rose.

“Rest awhile,” she said gently, to the vacant girl. “I’ll be back soon.”

An hour later, branches and backpacks had been combined to make a stretcher. Cassa lay, flit-eyed and unresponsive, tied to the litter. A weary, grey-haired woman rose from the mud and began to haul her daughter through the long grass of the plains.

Step by slow step, they worked their way North.

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pics: ice tundra, Cassa
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:47 am    Post subject:  

Ok - something kindly rustled up by a Stoat to keep you going during this irritatingly busy time.

This won't be joining the main storyline for a while yet so feel free to add any comments or discussion regarding Ehl's dilemma in here.

Happy Playing :D
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:53 am    Post subject:  

Brilliant! I'm anxious to see her on the road to recovery already, and how this will tie in with the main storyline.

Ehl needs to find help for her daughter. Surely there are areas in the larger towns where the Emflikar gather to indulge in their pleasure magics, away from the general populace. And often there are those kind souled who tend to the homeless and woe begotten. Someone is bound to have suggestions or information that Ehl can use.
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 11:09 am    Post subject:  

Wow, really atmospheric! Wonderful characterisation. :D

A couple of minor points:

Quote: In reality, they had not hit the Ring for another four days

To me, this doesn't sound right. It may just be me; it could easily be correct, but it doesn't sound like it. I think 'In reality, they did not hit the ring for another four days' is better.

Quote: and Cass would be unable to pay it

I think this should be Cassa, unless its a nickname that's been snuck in... ;)

Ehl, despite wanting to care for her daughter, is in no condition to get very far. She needs to find proper shelter for the both of them, otherwise she is going to collapse before help can be gotten for the ailing Cassa. Does she know of any towns/villages that are within walking distance? Or can she backtrack to the scout village place and enlist aid? Maybe use the little money they have. It's better than death.

But, this is just mean. It's whetting my apetite for another Norral or Trengin chapter!! *poketh*

But great stuff Stoat! :biggrin:

*holds breath* :shock:
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5270
Location: Hell

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:56 pm    Post subject:  

Yes, good chapter Stoat. I agree that waiting at least for a while will improve her chances in the long run. But that doesn't give you an excuse not to keep writing Smee.
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Ravenwing



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject:  

Just had to keep your forum alive, eh Smee?

Very nice interlude, Shady. I definitely felt for the character and her dilemma.
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8809
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:59 pm    Post subject:  

Indeed. An interesting concept as well, a guest chapter. *ponders*

Well, it was an interesting chapter indeed. The girl is obviously a candidate for the Sempa, who could take her in and train her in their ways. They need recruits now the good mages have started to fight back a bit.

I look forward to seeing how this intergrates into the main thread.
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Ravenwing



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:40 am    Post subject:  

Like China said, the guest chapter certainly opens up a new segment for Time Before. I wonder when this little side plot will be added into the main plot. :D
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 12:25 pm    Post subject:  

Mwahahahahahahaha :-D
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Ravenwing



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:51 pm    Post subject:  

Smee knows something we don't. *pouts*
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 8:26 am    Post subject:  

Village

Chapter One

Ehl swept sweat-dampened hair out of her eyes. Her shoulders and arms ached with the constant drag of the stretcher. Her senses took in all the details around her, even as she processed it through a haze of exhaustion.

She could feel the thin strands of grass, surprisingly sharp even through the thickness of her trousers. The sun, shining down from a cloudless sky, leaving the air cool yet humid. She could hear the drag of the branches on the ground behind her, ploughing up the earth as she pulled her daughter along, step by step. The faint mumbling that Cassa made as she breathed in and out, unaware of her surroundings. She could hear the predators that followed her, at a distance; made wary by their prey’s ability to defend its space, yet not deterred from the hunt. They were prepared to play the waiting game, knowing that eventually, Ehl would be caught out by exhaustion, unable to launch the shock-stuns that had repelled them so far.

If she didn’t find a habitation soon, the predators would be proved right. Ehl knew she was reaching the end of her endurance – and her supplies. The food from the scout camp was still plentiful, but Cassa seemed unwilling to eat hard biscuity rations, only being able to accept and swallow spoon-fed mush.

In less than a day, the soft food would be gone, and Ehl would be reduced to chewing her daughter’s food for her if she wasn’t to waste away with starvation.

Again, she asked herself the questions that tormented her. What hope was there? Was Cassa gone already? Was she merely dragging a corpse across the open land, unwilling to let go of that part of her life? Would there come a point where she simply had to give up and face the future, shattered and alone in a strange land?

Again, she shook the panicked thoughts out of her head, only to have them circle like the predators; kept at bay, but not seen off for long. So lost in this cycle of self-doubt was she, that she failed to notice the thin plume of smoke, rising in the sky ahead.

It was her nose that finally alerted her to the signs of civilisation. The smell of old hay, burning, was familiar enough to bring tears to her eyes. She looked up to see the fields, and the scattering of cottages beyond it.

A village! Food and warmth and comfort and real company.

She would trade all of that for just one good healer!

Bending her back into it, she managed, somehow, to pick up her speed. By the time she got past the field and into the centre of the village, her muscles were quivering with the effort and she was wet with perspiration. As she made her way through the main path, villagers watched her with curious eyes. One took a cautious step backward as she approached.

“Please?” she gasped, breathlessly. “A healer?”

The stranger gabbled something incomprehensible, shrugging to gesture ignorance. Somehow, this last hurdle was too much. Ehl found her reserves were gone and she sank to the floor, letting tears course down her cheeks. After a moment, strong hands helped her up, tugging her firmly in the direction they wanted her to go. She had no strength left to refuse. Details blurred into a confusing sea of motions and emotions. A seat, offered; a mug of something hot yet bitter. Then a cloth, dabbing at her face, as if she were a five-year-old in a parent’s care.

She looked around for Cassa, seeing a couple of young women carrying her into the cottage. It was important to speak – to tell them that Cassa was lost in her magical haze, that she needed immediate treatment – but somehow her mouth was too numb to form the words, her eyes were too heavy to remain open. She recognised the effects of sedative herbs even as she began to fall sideways.

----------

When she awoke, she was in a bed. Soft sheet covered her, with a coarser blanket laid over for warmth. An old woman sat in a rocking chair in the corner of the room, sewing with practiced, efficient stitches. As Ehl tried to sit up, the woman laid aside the stitching and hurried over.

Again she gabbled incomprehensibly.

“Where’s Cassa?” demanded Ehl.

Surprisingly enough, when the old woman spoke next, it was comprehensible, if laboured.

“Your… speech… is… strange. Slow… please.”

Ehl felt new hope.

“Cassa,” she said, slowing the words deliberately. “My daughter. Is she safe?”

“The girl? Resting,” replied the woman. “What’s wrong with her? If she were male, I’d say she was emflikar.”

Ehl’s chest tightened. Hearing the word confirmed from another’s lips made the conclusion inescapable. Her daughter was emflikar. On her own, she would never recover. So much for hope.

Abruptly, she was angry.

“My daughter is a Mage. She’s sick. Why did you drug me?” she demanded.

The old woman’s look held pity.

“The herbs were mild relaxants, only meant to calm you. Obviously, your body decided that it needed more than simple relaxation. You have slept for six hours. Neither you nor your daughter will come to any great harm if you decide to rest longer.”

“I would like to see my daughter now,” said Ehl. Then, realising how abrasive that had sounded, she added, “You have my thanks for taking us in. What should I call you?”

“My name is Jianna,” said the woman, carefully. “My daughter is Karhiad. She is seeing to your daughter’s needs at the moment. When you are recovered, perhaps you can tell us of your journeys? Traditionally, travellers pay for their lodgings by telling of their adventures through distant lands and I suspect your stories will be well worth hearing.”

Ehl nodded, grateful that none of their savings would have to be dipped into just yet. She dressed, feeling the stiffness in her muscles as she moved around the room. When she was ready, the old woman led her across the landing to another, smaller room where the younger woman was raising Cassa’s head so that she could drink from a mug.

Even at first glance, it was easy to see that her daughter had made no improvement in the last few hours. The word emflikar circled like a vulture in Ehl’s mind, filling it with a dull panic.

Over the next few days, the panic ebbed and flowed. Cassa would mumble a recognisable word and Ehl would let herself hope again. She would sit by her daughter and talk, hoping to stir some response, and the hope would die as no reaction was forthcoming. Only the twitching of fingers and the movement of lips and eyes betrayed any signs of life. A life that was more in tune with the pleasure-realms than with what went on in the real world.

Neither was there any help from healers. For minor ailments, the villagers relied on herbal medicines, concocted themselves. For more severe injuries and illnesses, it seemed that travel was required.

Once she was rested – and as her supply of travellers’ tales began to run out, Ehl broached the matter with Jianna.

“Where am I to travel, to get Cassa well again?”

“Emflikar do not get well,” Jianna said, staring into the fire. “They simply are. Poor things.”

At Ehl’s protracted silence, though, she eventually spoke again.

“If you’re asking me where the nearest healer is, then there’s a town to the North-East, two day’s journey from here.”

“Will he be able to help?” asked Ehl, leaning forward.

Jianna shrugged. “We’ve had few Mages here. Fewer emflikar. I don’t know if Alden can help, but he may know more about the condition and where to seek answers, even if he doesn’t have them himself.”

“Is there anywhere else I could try?” asked Ehl. “Anyone else who could help?”

There was a long silence as Jianna considered.

“They say that rare herbs grow in the Great Forest,” she said, eventually. “The rangers who maintain the forest are said to know a lot about the native flora and how to use it to best effect. Perhaps you can travel North and seek out those who specialise in herb-lore?”

“How far would that be?” asked Ehl.

“Perhaps two weeks travel,” replied the old woman, flatly, “if you were walking, dragging your daughter with you. If you have anything to trade, you may be able to persuade one of the farmers to sell you a horse and cart. That would quicken your pace considerably.”

Again she paused. “There is another option.”

Ehl waited.

“If you wish to travel by horseback, then there is a place of high learning in the mountains to the East. The Sollone Library, I think it is called. A traveller passed through this village, near a year ago, telling of his studies there. He called it the greatest centre of knowledge in the civilised world. Perhaps you could seek answers on behalf of your daughter there, although it would take two weeks of travel by horse and cart.”

She smiled sadly at Ehl.

“For myself, I think you dream a fool’s dream, when you hope for Cassa’s cure. I understand your need to find out for yourself, though. If, however, you choose to stay here, you will be welcome to make a life for yourself. Cassa will be cared for, as we care for any sick and invalid member of the community.”

A brief glance at the determined look on Ehl’s face, and she sighed.

“I think you will leave, though. The only thing I don’t know is which path you’ll take.”

Ehl stayed silent. She didn’t know either…

What to do?

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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 9:02 am    Post subject:  

Seek out the rangers in the forest, and learn about the herb lore. This has the most immediate promise of effect, and you could decide from that point whether to travel to the library or seek help from the healer. You've been taking care of your daughter since she was first born...learn what you can from the rangers and take care of her the best that you can, until she at least seems stabilized and maybe able to assist a little in her own recovery.
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject:  

Woo, more Shady-interludyness! Great stuff. :D

I think that though going to the library or Ranger's seems like an option that would give better results, I think she should travel to the healer first. He could advise her on what to do next. If he says that he can't think of any known cure, then she should try the library. If he can tell her something that can help, drugs that can help releive the symptoms or if it can be helped with magic, the she should try the library or the Rangers, whatever is more applicable. And because the healer is nearer, it means that which ever course she takes is horrendously far away, which it would be if she travels to the forest and then has to go to the library, or vice versa. When she has gotten some immediate help and advice, then she can best plan what to do next. :biggrin:

*holds breath* :shock:
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 11:57 am    Post subject:  

Quote: Woo, more Shady-interludyness! Great stuff :D

Yep, Ehl and Cassa are now a third thread in this weave, and that means you get your say.

Decision points are now included with each new chapter. What happens to Ehl and Cassa is entirely dependant on the ideas, comments and votes that you give.

Happy Playing :D
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5270
Location: Hell

Posted: Fri May 12, 2006 12:17 pm    Post subject:  

F5 Soily for now, but I may get back to you with more later.
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Ravenwing



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 8:07 pm    Post subject:  

I think of Ehl wants some immediate answers she should talk to the rangers first.

Going to the library seems too far a journey especially since her body is probably still tired from the journey she just made to find this village.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:26 am    Post subject:  

This first ever poll for Ehl is up for 4 days guys - get your votes in quick. :D

Where will she try to take Cassa? Should she continue dragging her daughter? Or spend some of her limited savings?


Happy Playing :D
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:27 am    Post subject:  

Smee - the poll's gone wrong :?

The first option is up twice *sigh*
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5270
Location: Hell

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:31 am    Post subject:  

And now there's nothing at all.
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:31 am    Post subject:  

Damn thing :x

There we go :D
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5270
Location: Hell

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:36 am    Post subject:  

Voted for the library, and winning.
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 4:40 am    Post subject:  

Voted for the healer in the next village. :D

*holds breath* :shock:
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Ravenwing



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 3750
Location: Virginia

Posted: Wed May 24, 2006 8:19 am    Post subject:  

Going to the library. :D
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 11:13 am    Post subject:  

On the Road

Chapter Two

“I’ll go to the Library,” said Ehl, at last. “If it holds such vast knowledge as you say, then it must be the best place to search out a cure. Emflikar may not get better – but Cassa will. I believe it!”

Jianna’s silence spoke eloquently enough of her doubts.

“Do you have anything to trade for a horse?” she asked, eventually.

“I have some trinkets, some small amount of coin,” faltered Ehl. Caution prevented her from mentioning that most of her life’s savings were in her pack, in one form or another. These people seemed gentle and kind, but there was no telling how they would react to her, if they thought she was anything other than a poor wanderer.

“Perhaps they will be enough,” replied Jianna with a warm smile. “I’ll help you to find a farmer willing to sell one of his animals, tomorrow. For now, you should get some rest. It’s getting late.”

Ehl nodded and rose. She was still tired, despite having been given every hospitality for the last two or three days. Anxiety about her daughter was never far from her mind, sapping her of both sleep and energy. She would probably begin to feel better only when they were moving forward again, however long and arduous the journey may be.

“My thanks again,” she said to the old woman. “I don’t know how to repay you for the kindness you have shown Cassa and I.”

The woman snorted. “I have a daughter of my own,” she said, shortly.

Ehl nodded her head in understanding. That was explanation enough.

--------

It turned out to be easier than expected to procure a horse. Ehl merely stood there, trying to track the gabbled conversation as Jianna bullied the good-natured farmer down to a fair price. It was a wrench to part with even a fraction of Cassa’s tuition money but, given the circumstances, dreams were much less important than getting her daughter well again. She gritted her teeth and paid.

The following day, she secured her vacant-eyed daughter into the cart. Jianna had been kind to the last, providing them with fresh provisions of oatcakes, enough to feed her daughter for days. She would need to find other towns and buy more stocks as the journey went on; but if this village was anything to go by, she could depend on warmth and generosity in her travels.

With the advice and good wishes of those who gathered to see her depart, it was almost noon before she managed to clear the limits of the village. The horse was a patient, plodding creature and the landscape rolled by at a slow pace. Ehl comforted herself by thinking that, over a journey of this distance, slow and steady was probably going to get them there quicker than a hasty push. Besides, she was no great horsewoman. A placid beast was a boon, to herself and the unresponsive Cassa.

As the days went by, she began to settle into a routine. Ride, stop to feed and tend Cassa, ride again, set up camp for the night. The flat land began to give way to gentle hills of purple and green and the road twisted through the valleys between. Settlements were small and frequent; peaceful scatterings of houses where supplies were easy enough to buy. The welcome was hospitable, if wary.

Cassa grew neither better nor worse. As the horse plodded at its tranquil pace, Ehl found herself looking towards the mountains more and more often, marking the distance between herself and her destination. They never seemed to get any closer, no matter how many miles they covered.

It was almost with a shock, therefore, that she finally hit the woods at the bottom of the first mountain path. From the information that the locals had given her, she now knew that the library was two day’s travel, at the most.

Shadowy coolness stole over them as the horse led them into the woods. Evening was drawing in and the light was beginning to fade, a fact compounded by the density of the forest ceiling. Soon she would have to stop for the night.

For the first time, Ehl found herself wondering what she would find at the Sollone Library. Would there be scholars, all willing to help her? Would people be hostile to a stranger from the southlands, and unwilling to let her into the library at all? Would she get there to find that the library was closed, or even ruined?

It was the silence of her surroundings that brought her back to reality. With a start, she looked around, almost sure that she was being watched. Peering into the shadows, she could see no movement, no hint of anything that shouldn’t be there.

She continued nervously on, glancing around at each stray sound and shadow. She told herself that it was ridiculous, that nothing was there… and then she saw movement in a tree branch to her left.

Eyes wide, she whirled around, jerking the reins hard enough to make the horse snort in protest. When she saw what had made the shadows leap, she uttered a shaky laugh.

It was a crow. Nothing but a black-feathered bird, wings a-ruffle, staring at her through beady eyes. There was nothing sinister about it, just her mind playing tricks on her. She had been alone with her worries for too long, that was all.

Nonetheless, when it opened its beak with a raucous cry, she jumped, muscles clenching violently. She stared back to find it still following her with its dark eyes.

Barely a third of a mile later, she saw it again. Either the same bird or one very like it. It flew down to settle on another branch in the path ahead. At the same time, she heard the snap of a twig to her right.

“Halt!” barked a rough voice called from off the path.

Ehl peered into the trees. Nobody had come forth, despite the hail. A faint shadow of something that may be a man’s form perhaps… but it was too dark now, she couldn’t tell. Was this a friendly greeting, or the prelude to something more sinister?

Her hands froze on the reins as she considered what to do…

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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
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Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:32 am    Post subject:  

Well, so far people seem to have been pretty friendly up until now, though this is a completely different situation. It could just be a cautious woodsman, but then again, just as likely to be something else. She isn't going to leave Cassa, so I think she should hold her hands up (or whatever counts as a peace gesture around here) and stammer something about being slightly lost, that her daughter is ill, and if theres a town nearby. Perfectly normal things to say, and she won't have to reveal that she's emflikar or that they are heading to the library unless she absolutely has to, or it appears this person could help.

Good chapter Stoat, I'm really getting into this arc of the story now. :biggrin:

*holds breath* :shock:
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 6:41 am    Post subject:  

She needs to be cautious. Although the people that she's encountered thus far have not been hostile, she's had an uneasy feeling that she needs to pay heed to. She and her daughter are vulnerable, and it seems that someone is tracking them. Until she knows more, she needs to be on the defensive.

Apologize, explain you have no nefarious intent, and offer to leave. It'll be difficult to flee, but be prepared to give your daughter a bumpy ride if necessary.
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solus.serpen



Joined: 21 Jul 2006
Posts: 608
Location: UK

Posted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:44 am    Post subject:  

wow :shock: , when did I miss this?
nvm, caught up now.
I agree she should be on the offensive. Do as the person says - unless he starts getting rough etc. then leave. Its my idea that he is a spy/gaurd from the library come to see who is approaching. Most libraries like to be fairly secluded, and anyone travelling in their direction with nothing inbetween, is either meaning to stop by, or just lost.
Try and find out who he is first, then she can judge whether to trust him or not.
Tricky situation, especially if she has to run...
Anyway, great new part to the story. ;)

solus.
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:20 pm    Post subject:  

Well, if whoever it was said "halt", instead of directly attacking her, then the chances are he/she is not violent; after all, a solitary woman and her child aren't much to deal with.

Halt, then see what happens.
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