SPRING

Angkar: Dry season. Often sunny, but precipitation is rare. Humidity is low, some bodies of water may have dried up, and bushfires can occur. The rainforest sees evenly distributed rainfall throughout the season.

Ashoka: Desert: Cooler temperatures, although still relatively hot. Violent, heavy downpours following long dryspells. Jungle: Hot and humid with frequent, violent rainstorms.

Morrim: Calm and generally cool. Thunderstorms and heavy showers are not uncommon, and there is also a chance of snow until late in the season.

Soto: Trees begin to bud and the snow begins to melt, which may cause minor flooding. Although temperatures increase, snowfall early in the season is not uncommon. Low-lying plants grow while the tree cover isn't too dense.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

March 30th, 2018 As you might have noticed, Elenlond has changed hands and is now under new management! If you have any questions, please ask [b]DaringRaven]! As for the rest of the announcements including a season change, you can find them over here at this link!

January 16, 2018 As you might have noticed, Elenlond has a new skin, all thanks to Mel! Don't forget to check out the new OTMs as well!

December 2, 2017 Winter has settled on Elenlond, bringing sleep for some and new life for others.

September 26, 2017 With the belated arrival of autumn come some interesting developments: new OTMs, a Town Crier and the release of the Elly Awards winners!

July 14, 2017 After a bit of forum clean-up, Elly Awards season has arrived! Head on over to make your nominations!

May 31, 2017 Summer has arrived and so has activity check! That's not all though – we also have some new OTMs for you and some staff changes!


WHAT IS ELENLOND?

Elenlond is an original free-form medieval fantasy RPG set on the continent of Soare and the Scattered Isles, which are located to the south in the Sea of Diverging Waters. The four chief nations of the western side of the world—Ashoka in northern Soare, Soto in western Soare, Morrim in eastern Soare, and Angkar, the largest of the Scattered Isles—continue to experience growth and prosperity since the fall of the Mianorite gods, although power struggles within the countries—or outside of them—continue to ensue.


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    The Sun is Going Down; Alexandros!!
    Topic Started: Jul 30 2015, 01:01 PM (381 Views)
    Nevneni
    Member Avatar
    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    When Derthos fell into the shifting trance of death, Alleis knew it would soon be time for her to leave. She had seen the last moments of so, so many, so she could tell that the body that had carried him for so long – that body she’d loved and attended to – was finally failing.

    They lived alone in this house for the first time since Nevneni had been born. Once this house had been loud with the voices of children, then with the songs of young women. Then Liosi had left to live with her love, then in that same summer, Nevneni too. Then, just months ago, Temia had stormed out in a rage and had not come back. The house was now silent but for her husband’s restless groans.

    Soon, too soon.

    She had of course known that this moment would come. She had prepared for it, she had even waited for it for forty-four years, but now that his death was on the doorstep, she wished it away. She sat without purpose by their bed, her eyes set on his wrinkled, wasted face without truly seeing it. How it was that she could have ever wished he would die? The thought had haunted her mind when he’d begun to lose his mental faculties: It would be gentler on him, on me, if it was over already. She could have ended it, but she could not bring herself to harm him, not after so many years. How often she’d squatted low to the ground, stroking the broad leaves of foxglove, unable to bring herself to pick them.

    He is not even himself, she would think, Sometimes he just cries, and I don’t know why. I don’t think he knows either. He cannot care for himself, there is no dignity to this…

    But sometimes he would smile and weakly hold her hand, and say her name with that ancient tenderness: “Alleis.“ These moments of lucidity cast all thoughts of foxglove away. Instead she would feel the weight of their many years on her shoulders, much like the weight of some glorious embroidered robe. Weak with love, she would kiss his face and hold his frail body close. She’d remember how, before they’d been married, those brown eyes had caused her to melt.

    Holding his cold, dry hand in hers, waiting for death, her mind drifted back to their wedding night. It had been spring-time, so she’d spread rose petals on their bed. She’d been no virgin, and neither had he, but she’d loved him so fully that she had submitted all to the whimsies of girlish romance.

    Now it was spring-time once again. This death could not be more poetic. Those same roses were in bloom again, sprawling out along the side of the house. When he sank into deep silence, Alleis went out to gather fragrant flowers. She picked them apart by his bedside and placed the petals on the bedspread one by one, watching how his chest rose and sank, rose and sank. When she had no more roses, he was still, and it was done.

    It was time to go.




    Two years ago, Alleis had asked, “But why, Nevneni? Why did you leave?”

    They sat at the table that Derthos had built himself and placed in the centre of their house. The summer night wore on with the sawings of insects. A candle burned low between them. Derthos laid upon the curtained bed, rumbling in his sleep.

    Nevneni, after so much avoidance, was finally ready to tell the truth. She closed her eyes, opened them and looked at her mother. The words came to her mouth, but she could not speak them to Alleis’ face.

    “Aravin,” she said, “On that night, when I took him home…” She lifted the fringe of her hair over her brow and showed Alleis the thin white scar that ran up from her eyebrow. “He hit me, I fell–“ She choked on the thought, the tears starting in her eyes. Her hands fluttered down under the table; from the movement of Nevneni’s sloping shoulders Alleis could see that she wrung them hopelessly in her lap. “I fought, or I tried, I– I– Oh! I had to leave. I could not–“

    Tumbling, tumbling; Alleis felt that she was falling. She felt that all the blood drained away from her and left her cold. “He raped you?” No, no, not her Nevneni. Poor nervous Nevneni, whittling away at little wooden animals with single-minded obsession, Nevneni who was happiest when the peach trees were hung with heavy fruit and she could have as many as she wanted.

    “Y-yes.”

    She could hardly even speak of it, oh Nevneni, sweet Nevneni who brought her every new flower to learn its name, who prodded pale mushrooms with curiosity and loved even the slugs and the caterpillars that ate their garden. Alleis imagined vividly, too vividly, that tear-stained face screaming and wrought with pain. Oh, how her heart broke. She knew that terror well, too well.

    When that had happened to Alleis, she’d used foxglove, and still, even almost a century later, Alleis wished she’d used a knife.

    “You must make him pay. Pay for what he did to you.”




    Alleis left in the dead of night, just as Nevneni and Temia had. She saw, just as they had, the village empty of life: closed doors and shutters and a stillness so heavy it suffocated. They would miss her, perhaps, or maybe they would only miss her work. She had never truly felt as one of them, because she was an elf and did not age as they did, and because she belonged to some other city, which was now naught but ashes.

    There are so many people to miss in this life, she thought. She felt as heavy and bloated with tears as a cloud is with rain, but she had no will to cry. The village passed her by. She made it over the bridge, around the bend of the road and it was out of sight. That home, like several others before it, was gone.

    Her heart – so old, but grown used to such a quiet life – broke a little. In the woods, she finally cried.




    Alleis could not know this for sure, but she walked the same road Nevneni had both times she left. Each time she had left her home, Nevneni later could not be certain how she did it. The first time, she walked on shaky legs, still feeling him all through her body. Just before dawn she came upon the next town over and, plagued by terrors, she’d walked around it, crashing through the underbrush and shedding fresh tears.

    She did not remember the second time; she had eaten belladonna but had not died. Instead she believed she was pursued monsters and that she was likely to die at any minute. Several times she vomited, feeling that she was being wrung out by a pair of enormous hands. Other times, she stumbled down into a squatting position and urinated in the middle of the road, staring fearfully out into the dark woods. When she came to the town again, having been guided that far by instinct and much-confused memory, she hallucinated great monsters and great men stirring between the buildings, so she went around.

    Alleis could not know, but she almost felt it. She saw the woods, went around the town, thinking to herself “So this is how it must have been for her,” again and again. A deep regret gnawed at her soul.




    After that, she skipped no more towns but stopped at every one to ask after Nevneni. She went expecting nothing and mostly finding nothing. There were some who said yes, such a woman did sound familiar, they thought they’d met someone with that name. In some places she even founds a few whose eyes sparked with recognition. Yes, there had been a Nevneni! She had nursed so-and-so through a fever, or else she had tried all she could to help their ailing grandmother, and though she had failed to keep her in life, she had made her passing easier. Nevneni had left small traces here and there. Alleis even met a child who had been delivered by her daughter eight years ago.

    No one knew where she had gone, and there was no chronological sense to these stories. Alleis could only deduce that she had wandered aimlessly for years. But, as spring blossomed into summer, and as Alleis’ grief become more of a dull ache than a keening pain, she felt her hope grow. Nevneni was out there somewhere, and Alleis had a long life in which to find her.

    As she made her way onto the Kaadian Way, Alleis’ campaign to find her daughter began to take on a life of its own. Often she arrived at some town or tavern and people said, “Oh, so you’re the one looking for her daughter?”

    So it was when Alleis came to the Seldona Tavern, sweating from a long summer’s day spent walking. She wound her way between tables, mostly unoccupied as it was an hour or two from sunset, and found the alewife sweeping the floor. The squat alewife paused in her work and looked up at her smilingly, asking, “Ah, hello there. What’ll it be? A room? Something to drink before you get back on the road?”

    “No,” said Alleis, unable to help smiling back, “I’m actually looking for someone. My daughter, Nevneni. She’s–“

    “Oh, that’s you, is it? Moran came and told me all about it. You talked to him in Tueson and he said he’d spread the word. I have seen her, but it’s been a few years. She was travelling with some shifty bloke for a while. He stayed in the basement during the day. Bet he was a vampire. But since he was with her and all, we trusted him. But, that’s old enough news. There’s someone here who says he knows something. Told him he should wait if he wanted to talk to you about it. He’s sitting over there.” The alewife pointed to a table in the corner.

    Alleis thanked her and walked over to the table, her heart pounding. This man knew something, and from the sound of it, something more significant than the run-of-the-mill stuff. And what was this about a vampire? She had never heard that before either, especially not from Nevneni.

    Alleis stopped by the table and stared anxiously down at the man the alewife had pointed her to. “Hello, sir. I’m Alleis. She–“ Alleis gestured at the alewife “-said that you know something about my daughter, Nevneni?”
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    Alexandros
    Member Avatar
    One-Liner Wonder

    "Yes."

    The single word fell from his lips, leaden with tiredness. It didn't occur to him to say no, because really what was the point? If he'd been in a real hurry to get away he could have just scrawled her a note and left. There wasn't much, he thought, that he could honestly tell this woman about her daughter, if she really was her mother. He'd not seen her in more than a year, and knew her only in passing.

    Still, he leaned back in his seat, neatly placed in the corner where the sunlight could not reach questing golden fingers, and turned the fluted stem of the wineglass between his skinny brittle fingers. It had been uncomfortable in the last couple of days, but then a lot had changed since that stupid outing in Kinaldi. Come on out, they said, you'll enjoy, they said. And he hadn't been out in a while...really he wished he'd never listened, had told Bartholomew that he was too busy, made some excuse, retreated to his room to sprawl and fall asleep drunk with a book on his face, pressing like a tombstone, crushing his nose.

    Unsurprisingly he couldn't remember most of it...he could remember the first tavern, drinking a glass that was seemingly never empty. He could remember swapping some filthy jokes, though mostly he just listened and threw questions, soaking up the court gossip like a rough dry sponge dropped into a dish of water. He could remember those eyes, eyes that chased him into a troubled sleep much later when he returned home, pale as the dawn.
    He could remember finally losing his temper and punching a bard taller than he was, and hairy to boot. Hadn't been able to get that damned rhyme about the woman and her eel out of his head for hours...and singing, tottering into the street shouting dwarf songs, which was easy since it was only about one thing, and if it wasn't tits then it was gold.

    He couldn't remember when they'd been joined by the other group, couldn't remember ever really talking to Lady Fortesque, though he'd seen her often enough at court. Couldn't remember when her hand started fluttering to rest invitingly on his arm, or when his fingers had found her thigh under the table, cool and smooth as marble. Couldn't remember much after that, not stumbling up the steps with the others when she offered them a lift in her carriage. Not the carefully picked route as they departed, staggering to their own homes, leaving them watching one another blearily in the dark with eyes as pale as dawn. Nor chill hands on his collar, cold breath against his mouth, or the pleasant kisses on his neck, the sharp pain.

    He'd found her teethmarks in his neck in the morning of course, bruised beyond belief. So high collars it was, but he found all the same, that he was looking forward to seeing her, those eyes, again. Funny how he couldn't quite remember the colour of her hair, or what she was wearing, but he could remember that. And her name.

    Eyes as light and grey as the summer pre-dawn morn flicked up, ringed with shadows, and assessed the woman. She looked flighty as a bird, nervous just to exist. Just like Nevneni. For some reason that brought a sardonic smile to his lips. He could see the resemblance, one hand crowned in a simple flush of lace waving at the opposite seat.
    "Please."
    The wineglass turned, turned. He was reluctant to keep drinking any more though, already teetering on the edge of sobriety. He thought a ride would help, the fresh air would make him better, get those damned eyes out of his head. It didn't. Gradually he'd felt worse as the day wore on, had stopped, and guiltily caught the conversation. Had lingered. He should probably be abed. No matter how he drank, the thirst was growing steadily, a bottomless empty hole that couldn't be filled.
    It was with the summoning of some great effort he made himself stop slouching and sit up straight, adjust his features like the shuffling of a filing cabinet til he found one of careful interest. It seemed right, even if he did not. It seemed to fit in place, just as it should.
    "My name is Alexandros. I understand you're looking for Nevneni? Last name Lesten?" He let go of the wineglass, fingers knitting together before him, for lack of something better to do. "I'm afraid I know little enough, but I'll help however I can, despite the...conditions of the countryside at the present. May I purchase you a drink?"
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    Nevneni
    Member Avatar
    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    "Yes."

    Alleis sank down into the seat opposite him; her weary legs felt weak. She fixed him with a blue-eyed stare, her blonde eyebrows raised in expectation. "Yes, Nevneni Lesten," she breathed in response to what he said. Then she found herself adding redundantly, "I'm her mother. Alleis."

    He offered her a drink. She looked him over, at his nice clothes and his severely pale skin, and she determined that he could afford it better than her. "Yes, since you offered. Just ale, please."

    Alleis looked at him a little more closely with that out of the way. He didn't just look pale, he looked tired, more tired than her even though she'd been the one walking all day. Pushing her curls behind a pointed ear, Alleis observed the strain in his straight-backed posture, the wineglass with which he fiddled uncertainly. He was, in some way, not well; that was easy to see. Her first instinct was to check for heat on his brow and press a thumb to his wrist to feel his pulse. But that would hardly be polite.

    Finally she tore her eyes off him and set about dropping her pack to the ground. "Well," she said, a vague smile appearing on her long face, "Who are you, exactly?"

    And what did my daughter have to do with a noble such as yourself? And, judging by your accent, a Morrimian noble too? Were you sick then as well, and did she try to heal you?
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    Alexandros
    Member Avatar
    One-Liner Wonder

    Alex nodded along as she spoke, redundant or not. It helped to make people feel at ease, comforted if you at least looked vaguely sympathetic, or that you were listening to them. He'd learned that quickly enough with the company he was often thrust into. Now however, he didn't find it difficult to concentrate on her, holding her clear gaze with his own.

    One hand lifted, two fingers upraised, flicking down to beckon as he caught the innkeeper's attention. A moment later he heard the rattle of low wooden heels as a girl was sent their way, bright and smiling with all the sunniness that the day was lacking.
    "An ale for the lady."
    He caught her wrist as she turned to go, wished he hadn't, half believed that he could feel her pulse thrumming beneath the delicate skin beneath his fingers.
    "Anything else she requires, add to my bill."
    The waitress murmured, glided away smoothly even as his eyes drifted back to Alleis.
    "A woman should not be traveling the roads alone right now...not with open rebellion in the countryside. It's not safe."

    His gaze grew troubled again. It was miraculous really that she'd made it this far on her own without being set about by brigands or worse. It only led him to think of the sad young woman he'd helped onto his horse just outside Fairin, distractedly twiddling the wine glass once more, wondering what had become of her.
    "A friend. I hope she might think of me as a friend too, at least."
    He laughed softly, wryly.
    "The first time I met your daughter was purely by chance, madam. Some louts, catcalling and making lewd suggestions..." he wrinkled his nose, lip curling with disgust at the memory. "I couldn't stand by and let them besmirch her honor like that...not all parts of the cities are as safe and bright as the squares and parks, nor the streets as wide and forgiving. We ended up having tea...she was quite nervous, but I put it down to the fact that those men...and well, I dropped something potentially explosive in the street."
    Alex cleared his throat, looked a touch embarrassed. Given the circumstances he probably wouldn't do it again, people thought he was quite mad enough already. Not like he would have dropped something actually harmful, mind.

    "After that I saw her on the road just outside Fairin...she was picking plants. Valerian I think..." He should have known it by now, they were familiar enough. "I gave her a ride back to the city and we stopped by a tea shop, she seemed to know the owner...blood and ashes, what was it called?"
    The engineer hunched over the table, fingers tapping his lips idly in thought, brow furrowed as he searched through the hazy recollections of his mind.
    "Foreign...something. Foreign Flavors! The shop that is, not the woman who owns it. I can't for the life of me recall...we weren't there for very long. I invited her to attend the winter ball in Kinaldi since she expressed an interest to go, and that was the last time I saw her. At the ball I mean."
    Edited by Alexandros, Sep 30 2015, 04:02 PM.
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    Nevneni
    Member Avatar
    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    Alleis opened her mouth to protest his generosity, but then she considered again his fancy clothing and thought better of it. Obviously he was some sort noble, and she was an ex-village healer with all her savings in a little purse in the bodice of her dress; it was best to let him take care of her.

    She did, however, had to open her mouth to protest his insistence that she shouldn't be traveling alone. "I am quite capable of taking care of myself. You would be surprised." She had, after all, been an elf-child, taught dances of the blade from the moment she had two legs she could walk on. She had been a mother in wartime too, a mother afraid for her first ever daughter, practicing to protect her and her tainted blood from the day when the siege would break and the enemy would pour in to kill them all. So of course she had been ready to fight off highwaymen who did not see her for what she was, not that any had yet made the mistake. Alleis had unearthed her ancient blade from the trunk where she kept her wedding dress and all the well-worn baby clothes, all those sentimental memories of that life with Aravin that she'd had to leave behind...

    But Alexandros was ready to begin talking of Nevneni. Alleis frowned with momentary irritation; he had not answered who he was, and for some reason she wanted to know his position in life, which family he came from. But he was instead answering who he was to Nevneni: a friend, a friend of sorts.

    Alleis' heart ached to hear news of her Nevneni; it ached with those unfamiliar stories, those things she'd not known about her daughter's life. Once she knew everything about Nevneni, when she'd been young enough to keep secrets from her mother; they were as good as one in those years. She had been harassed by men and her mother hadn't been there to save her, just as she hadn't been there when–

    And then she had been in Fairin, and she and Alexandros had gone to this store, Foreign Flavors. And if Nevneni knew the owner, than maybe she'd been in Fairin for a while, maybe she was still living there. Alleis had to go there and asked questions...Foreign Flavors in Fairin. Her heart pulsed with a new strength: she had a direction to head in.

    But this last piece of information! Alleis was agape. "She went to the ball? The ball, the one held the Empress of Morrim? In the royal Palace?" Alleis had heard distant news of that event, the stories that were passed through a thousand mouths and eventually wound up in their forgotten town in the woods. By the time it had gotten to Alleis' ears, the tales were that that famous Ophite had swept Isra off her feet and proposed marriage, that there had been thousands of ice fairies trapped in lanterns to provide a frosty light, that there had been no less than twenty roasted pigs, and that the Lord Perumbos (whoever he was) got so drunk that he fell off a balcony and died. There was no way of picking the truth out of any of these fantasies, except that the ball had happened, and now that her daughter had been there.

    "Oh, did she look lovely?" Alleis couldn't help gushing, "I never imagined that my daughter, my daughter, would wind up in such a place!" Her hand clutched at her flesh, just above the sore spot of her heart, and smiled moistly. The waitress returned with her ale and plunked it down in front of her; Alleis smiled at her and thanked her with too much gratitude. As the perplexed waitress left, Alleis drank of the ale and came up with a serious look on her thin face once more.

    The ball had taken place almost two years ago, in the winter. So, more like a year and half...which meant that Nevneni must have been in Fairin something like two years ago, and Alleis had last seen her just months before, during that fateful summer...But Alexandros would know better than her, and so she asked, "When did all of this happen? Had she been living her Fairin?" Then more came out, a flood of questions that she couldn't, because of her mother's love, and her own deep guilt, dam up. "Did she have any friends that you know of? Is she still in Fairin? Did she tell you anything about herself?"
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    Alexandros
    Member Avatar
    One-Liner Wonder

    "I'm sure."
    He murmured the platitude, though he was of course, completely the opposite. It wasn't that he had no faith in women, that being the fairer sex meant they couldn't defend themselves. That would be ridiculous. It wasn't that long ago a woman crouched in the treetops had nearly nailed him to a tree with an arrow after he'd lost his horse. He supposed with a bitter twinge that it was just the way he'd been taught to think. Especially since he spent valuable time in attendance with the more droll activities of the nobility.

    They probably wouldn't be so droll if he could just focus on playing their little games, but there was always something vastly more important.

    That, and it was well known that it was usually the men that ran off and formed groups of thugs and thieves, who set about travelers and besmirched women. He'd never heard of an all-female band of vagabonds and villains.

    "The very same. Sammeln showed up with a procession bearing so much glitter you could have used it to warn ships away from the shore." He snarked wryly, then regretted letting it slip through his cool facade. It was no secret to the Ophite that his newest employee disliked him, but the reasons mostly boiled down to his overbearing presence and need to throw opulent displays at every opportunity, coupled with the fact that he was quite irrationally afraid of reptiles. And what was an Ophite but a giant walking, talking lizard?

    "Quite...she wore yellow silk."
    He'd have liked to spout off some poetic analogy about her being as fresh and pale as a daffodil in the frost of spring or some such bollocks but it had never suited him to drawl such things. Besides, he wasn't any good at poetry, loathed the stuff. Flowery words for waifish and effete persons who had little better to do with their time than try to capture things in much embellished and inaccurate forms.

    Oh but a little pain twists even the hardiest of men and makes them bitter as a persimmon...

    "Whyever not? You know, she has the sweetest smile, rare as it is. It's not just the smile, it seems to really reach down inside you..."
    He trailed off absently, frowning to himself. She always looked vaguely sad, like a deer startled in grazing, just ready to take off within a second's notice. Like one should tread so carefully around her, lest she flee in terror. Yet she was out there somewhere, making her own way. It must take some bravery...if that were the case. Really, he thought he could honestly say he didn't know her at all.

    Alex was glad that she'd changed the subject, taking the opportunity as she spoke to drain his glass. It didn't do much, the slightest buzz, the bite of the alcohol and a suffusion of flavor. One of these days he'd stop drinking, but then he'd been telling himself that for years.
    "Almost two years ago."
    Had it really been that long? It left him feeling cold. He had no idea where she was now, or what she was doing. it made him realize that if they were friends of any sort, he was probably the worst...and it rankled with him somewhat, left him feeling ashamed, the seeds of worry nestling comfortably now.

    "I imagine she must have been living there, or at least nearby. She said she was selling herbs to the tea shop with a friend, which is why we went there. They didn't really want us in there, we were a little...weatherbeaten."
    He rubbed one hand across his face as if that might help clear his memory, and sighed.
    "I'm sorry...you must think me the worst friend one could have. I know I do right now. I should have made the trip out to Fairin to look for her, more than once. Life's been...busy, and I don't get out much."

    Worse was to look at her face and see that desperate yearning, the need to know what had happened to her child. The guilt grew, a black hole opening up inside him that wouldn't be filled with drink or apologies, or excuses. He chewed his lip and looked away, down at the tabletop, pale fingers writhing together with anxiety.

    "Euphorbia, I think. The friend's name."
    It had been unusual enough to stick, at least.
    "We didn't talk about much of anything with meaning, horse riding, horses walking up walls and...and tea. She said she didn't really drink it because it had always been medicine, or she didn't like it when she was younger. I never knew that she even had a family...she was quite self sufficient. Neither of us really spoke much about families..."

    His gaze lifted, clear and sharp as steel as he laid his hands flat on the table, half intending to rise to his feet.
    "Is she in trouble of some sort? I can alter my plans, send a messenger on ahead...we could be inside Fairin within a week if we changed horses at every inn and waystation, and rode hard. I can move people with my name, if need be." Anger threaded through him hot and bright as a hot wire, knuckles paling as he clutched the edge of the table. Subtly the tension of the air altered, a pressure weighing down hard on his shoulders, the shadows that little bit darker as if they shied back from the light pouring in the windows. "Has someone hurt her? I'll turn them inside out."
    Edited by Alexandros, Mar 4 2016, 05:01 AM.
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    Nevneni
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    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    To Fairin she would go then.

    Alleis had a feeling she would be too late. When she had last been home, during that fateful summer, Nevneni had told her how she wandered, needled by some need to keep moving. Even if Alleis missed her, however, she would be gaining on her track: by knowing where Nevneni was two years ago, she might come to know where she was a year ago, and then months ago, and, finally, where she was now.

    While Alleis thought this, Alexandros had sunk into self-deprecation, demeaning himself as a friend. "You are no worse a friend than I am a mother." Alleis said this with a smile and a candlelight glint in her eye. "I am the same sort of mother as the dandelion, who scatters her daughters to the wind."

    With what tone did she say this? What was the reason for the odd curve of her odd smile? Perhaps Alex would understand it, perhaps not. Perhaps he would think that she laughed inside and did not care at all, that she told him some sort of lie. Perhaps he would interpret her as a woman who keeps her remorses private and hidden in her self. Perhaps he would look at the elfin ears of this elfin mother, and see her as one who has witnessed so much history that tragedy and trouble – so small and so short – simply would glide off her, just as naked skin sheds water and is not wet for long.

    "Has someone hurt her?" Alexandros said, clenching down in anger, "I'll turn them inside out."

    Alleis' placid eyebrows raised, her strange smile remained. "I don't know if she has been hurt, at least recently. The person who did her the most harm has paid – I made sure of that. No, I simply lost track of her. She ran away from home again, and as I no longer have anything to tie me to that place, I seek her. So there is no reason for haste – if she is in Fairin then I think she will be there for a while more, as it would have to be some remarkable circumstance to keep her there for so long. But if she is gone, she is long gone, and there is no reason to rush. I have a long life, and a lot of time to find her.

    "Though perhaps we still could rush, for the fun of it. After all, why not? I have a way for us to go even faster." Alleis had lifted her pack into her lap as she spoke, and quickly procured a glass flacon which was full of a lucid pinkish liquid. "I have flanuviel. It's an old thing, and most don't remember how to make it any more, or they don't even know what it is. It'll keep you going all day and all night. Imagine how fast we could go!" Alleis had that glint in her eye, the reflection of an immense treasury of history housed in her head. There was one thing she did not mention: that flanuviel was addictive, and if one became too used to it, they would feel so tired and listless and foggy without it that it could be unbearable to ever stop.
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    Alexandros
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    He wanted to say something along the lines of parenthood being like so many birds, letting the young flee the nest, often never to return, but he couldn't really speak on the subject. Here was a woman far more experienced than he in that field, and really he should not think to try to say anything otherwise. Being a friend though...how much of a friend were you if you never saw one another?

    Sometimes though, he supposed, it was good to know that even if you were chasing the wind, there was someone with roots that you could return to if you needed it. Dandelions indeed...

    Besides, you couldn't tie everyone else down just because you didn't want them to go. That was unfair...and even if an experience was a bad one, you learned something from it, in a sense. He should have learned to stop reaching out and trying to shield the few friends he had, because honestly, if something did happen, who was he to stand in its way? Fate had a way of making things happen whether you fought it or not.

    He wasn't really sure he liked that, but now the thought was there, it wouldn't leave, stubborn and angry as a flaring sun.

    Alex sipped from his glass, had to remind himself to restrain himself, though it felt bland and tasteless, rough as vinegar on his tongue. So something had happened, yet for her meekness she still continued on alone...and had run from those who might cushion her emotionally. She had always struck him as rather...switched off...though she'd seemed better the last time they'd ridden to Fairin. And before that, shy and excited as they chose a dress for her to attend the ball, cheeks flushing with colour, much the way his younger sisters did.

    Vespasian...I hope she made them pay tenfold.

    "Oh?"
    His interest piqued as she brought out the flagon, brow crinkling in bemusement at the word, but the description was well enough. An old thing indeed.
    "That is something that has not been seen in a long, long time. The singers and storytellers of Morrim call it Ghostmeal, I believe."
    The man hesitated, a wry smile twitching his lips.
    "You made this? What on earth could I possibly offer you in trade for such a knowledge?"

    Part of him screeched that indebting himself in such a fashion to someone, and to one so long lived, as fair as her face was, was a terrible thing to do. But think what could be done with such a thing, especially in times of need. What if it were given to soldiers on the field? Would it work on horses? But he was getting ahead of himself. They had a woman to find.
    "Incredible...how much are you supposed to drink for the effect to last that long?"
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    Nevneni
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    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    Alleis sat back, folding her arms over her pack and idly rubbing her thumb over the bottle of flanuviel as she regarded Alexandros with a raised brow. His interest in the ancient brew raised a mistrust in her, though she knew it was only too natural for a human to be interested in such a thing. The effects were legendary among humans, who so hated their own propensity for weakness and exhaustion. She looked over his face and tried to judge, according to his expression and the ancient elvish rubric of analysing facial features, what his intentions were, aware all the while that a silence was stretching between them.

    Alleis first noticed his nose which, thin and protuberant (like hers), indicated an enterprising spirit, but the look in his eyes (ineffable, though she had always been good at reading eyes) seemed to indicate that this enterprise was outwardly manifested, that he always spread about what he created. His game, she guessed from the bend on the outward edges of his eyebrows, was progress – though she should have assumed that from the simple fact that he was human. His beard, however, and the styling of his hair, spoke of a desire for self-benefit and pleasure, perhaps to obnoxious excess.

    In short, she did not think she should trust him.

    (Though she could not help reflect, for the barest moment, that Derthos had been different from the first moment she looked at him, but she had at first worried his face with skepticism. But, as time showed, not all humans are the same, and they do not all carry the failures of the race as a whole. Alexandros cared, he truly did – was this enough? Time would tell.)

    At last, she said, "Do you know the elvish story of when humans were given flanuviel?" She assumed not, so she went on. "Lannah, the creator of the potion, gave it only to the elves for a reason: she knew they could be trusted with it. But when tales of its effects reached the other races, they clamored for a taste. Lannah was firm in her decision, and persisted in only teaching the recipe to a select order of priestesses in whom she placed her trust.

    "But even a goddess' trust can be misplaced. One of her priestesses, Olaio, had taken a human lover, and she taught him how to brew flanuviel. He, of course, spilled the secret to humankind. They became enamoured with it, drinking it every day and even giving it to their children. Olaio was punished by Lannah for her foolishness – with pins through her eyes and heart – but the damage was done.

    "You see, humans were once much different – a quieter people, content with their lives, but with the single weakness of a love for objects and all the supposed benefits they bring. Humanity's one blessing in its youth was a certain lethargy and lack of imagination, but flanuviel changed that. Under its influence they craved more than ever the metals from the earth, they desired comfort and palaces and shows of possession and prestige. Thus they learned to hate others, and to hate one another as well, to hate even the earth they walked on.

    "I could tell you the longer story of how it happened, but I won't waste your time – but in the end, the god of the forge, Gurroös, was offended by certain actions of humans and eradicated them with a pillar of fire, leaving but a few clinging to life on this earth while sparing the elves. They lost the knowledge of flanuviel and Lannah's priestesses once more had sole possession of that knowledge. Still, those remnants of humanity were of the sort that had been changed by flanuviel.

    "It is said that this all happened a very long time ago, long before humans began to write down their own history. Perhaps it is just a tale, but do you see? I would rather keep it to myself, unless you somehow prove yourself worthy. After all, humans have destroyed all the old traditions. Sometimes I wonder if it is mere pedantry to keep them up.

    "But if you wanted to come with me, I wouldn't have any problems giving you some. Just a drop or two suffices to keep one alert for eight, even twelve hours." Again she held the bottle up between two fingers, smiling coyly.
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    Alexandros
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    Alexandros waited patiently as she studied him. He couldn't say he was bothered by the extra time to rest, though it wasn't really making him feel any less tired. The intensity of her scrutiny was leaving him nothing short of perturbed after several minutes, but still he said nothing. There wasn't really anything to say in all honesty. He couldn't expect her to trust him as far as she could throw him, though it hadn't occurred to him particularly before now that the reason people on the road seemed hesitant might be his obvious noble standing.

    He was just sort of...used to it. Having a familiar nature with people just seemed to make it worse. Common folk expected you to behave a certain way, and when you didn't they either got offended or thought you were trying to con them.

    Not so outside of Morrim of course, the other countries didn't have the same sort of hierarchy, or the reverence that the common folk did for those of a higher standing. And out here on the Kaadian Way...well honestly, who gave a damn? It was money, ultimately, that probably motivated people.

    And that explains why Sammeln is so popular.

    He indicated he did not know her story with a brief shake of his head, and sipped from his glass, though it did precious little to abate the thirst. The tale was a curious one, and while he thoroughly enjoyed older stories and myths, some part of him still scoffed at the thoughts of Gods being real entities. Perhaps powerful beings who might have called themselves such, but he'd long since grown past the belief, despite how devout his country was.The Black Order were spreading like the plague as it was, spilling their religious prattle.

    Oh he went along with it, nodding and making the signs where applicable, but they were empty platitudes. If you resisted the tide, you got swept away, and he didn't need any more people frowning on him. He had plenty enough already.

    Not to mention the part of him that bristled to think that humans were simple and uncreative. They may not live as long, or be as graceful or beautiful as the elves, but he felt some sort of..not quite patriotism, for his race, but not far off. It was kind of surprising really, considering how much they scorned one another. She wasn't wrong in that much at least. A sardonic smile tipped over his lips and he drained his glass.
    "A pretty story. We are a terrible race, I'll give you that, but many of us are just as steeped in tradition as yours. And they, sadly, are the ones that choose not to move forward." He paused, realizing how it sounded, and cursed himself twice over. "I'm sorry. I don't mean that people should throw away tradition and cultural ties. That was crass of me. Only that they should move forward, and bring those ties with them. However far we progress, we should never forget who we are, or where we came from."

    "Perhaps it is better you keep it to yourself. While I might keep a secret, or perhaps give to those in need, I'll not fault you for the keen insight on our greed. There are more than enough who, should they discover such a thing were in their reach, probably have me killed and take the information in the process."
    He said it cheerfully enough, but his grin was less than happy, knowing the truth of it. It was the same of anyone who had something valuable that others wanted. If they wouldn't cooperate, there were always less amiable methods to get what one wanted. It was part of the reason he'd not spoken freely of his magical amplification. He of course, was just one of many who couldn't utilize magic as far as anyone else knew, and it was probably better it stayed that way. The last thing anyone needed was a second Andromalius turning up and discovering that here was a tool to help them with their dark deeds. Thaleia had found out, but she'd been holding onto him at the time. It wasn't as though she was about to use that knowledge nefariously. And he'd likely never see her again either. It left him feeling...hollow. Well, it was a small world wasn't it? There was always hope, however small.

    Alex wasn't sure that tiredness was the whole of his problem, but a chance to try the legendary flanuviel was not just going to slip through his fingers.
    "Madame, I would be an idiot to say no."
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    Nevneni
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    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    (Moving forward but bringing your traditional ties with you is a summary of the Aeneid hehehe.)

    Alleis raised an eyebrow, spinning the bottle between her fingers. "Ah yes, progress – such a lovely thing. Progress is the problem that humanity has – it must be sustained, but how long can a forward motion be maintained? And – look at history – at what cost?"

    She had been trod under humanity's steps forward like a plant in a walkway. She had run through the night while the city burned, she had come across fellow citizens in the horrific light and scanned their faces in search of her husband and daughter. Still, she persisted like a weed, she had been cut down but had after that lived many lives, far from her own.

    Sunset forced the last of its golden rays through the murky windows of the Seldona Tavern. At Alexandros' acceptance, Alleis twisted around to judge the sun's progression by this light. A few figures were silhouetted against this dying light – a man raised a tankard to his lips and looked out at what sights the warped windows presented him, the alewife bent over a table and cleaned it with a rag. All was caught in the lazy nostalgia of the end of day and the paradoxical anxiety of coming night.

    Turning back to look at Alexandros, Alleis said, "The sun is going down. Not the most opportune moment to start a journey." Though, looking at Alexandros' thin face, she added at the urging of some impulse, "Unless that's when you like to start a journey. Either way, with flanuviel, it hardly matters, though I think some food is in order."
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    Alexandros
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    A wry smile twisted his lips as she spoke of progress, and he shook his head ever so slightly.
    "We could spend all day talking of the follies of man, of all the great historical misdeeds and still barely scratch the surface. I suppose the problem is that ultimately, we live short, fast lives, and don't really stick around long enough to feel the weight of our mistakes."

    It was a troubling thought. Some people liked to live slow and careful, never hurting anyone or doing anything that might be construed as harmful, being harmonious with all they touched, and then there were those who blazed through their lives like a falling star, burning everything they touched. He couldn't say either were really better or worse than the other, though he knew which one he was, and didn't really like the answer much. Maybe it was like the flash fire in a forest, and it did some good, allowing better things to come in their wake, but when the comparison was fiery death it was hard to feel wonderful about it. After all, he made things that purposefully killed people, most of the time. And then he sold them on the black markets too, as well as taking particular commissions for the nobility, the army, and his own personal project.

    He frowned as he thought about that. A flying ship wasn't meant to hurt anyone, but take them - literally - to new heights. It would help trade and travel, but eventually someone would find a way to turn it into just another killing machine. Technically, he already had. It sort of left a sour taste in his mouth, to be honest, that had nothing to do with the wine. Gods forbid he should become a philosopher as his uncle was. Considering the impact and the cost of history was depressing enough to drive a man to dri- ...well never mind.

    Alex lifted his cloudy eyes, sharpening from their far away jaunt to steel once more as he gauged the light. Funny, he felt a little better knowing that soon the light would spill away and leave them in darkness. Not particularly good for the horses if they wanted to set a fast pace, but it was hardly a bad thing. There were less people..less chance of being robbed, should anyone try. The roads were getting more dangerous, but it didn't seem to hinder this cunning woman.
    "Do you have a room? If you wish to stay the night here first, and set out at dawn rather than soon, it bothers me not. I'll need a few moments to arrange the horses." He paused, mind ticking relentlessly, though his tongue felt heavy enough, and he wasn't sure he was up to scratch when it came to operating...
    "I admit I feel less than myself. I did not even introduce myself, and that is...terribly rude."
    He stood with the intention of asking at the bar about food, lightly taking up her hand and bowing over it before releasing her again, warm skin against his own cooling flesh. "Lady Lesten, my name is Alexandros Phloropoulos, and I am at your service. If you will excuse me for but a moment, I shall see to acquiring a meal."

    He left her there for a few moments, making low, idle chatter with the bar maid while the innkeep bustled about fetching their meal; warm crusty bread with a slathering of butter, early freshly roasted butter squash and sliced venison, with a wedge of white cheese and a couple of apples. Alex kept his eyes off the food, finding that it did little to appetize, and he knew that was wrong, for he was hungry also, but his mind kept straying back to pale eyes and a sharp smile.
    "-my lord?"
    "Sorry?"
    "Wine?"
    "Oh...yes."

    He blinked, tearing his eyes away from her wrist, the coffee skin blooming with life, a vein just showing as she reached for the tray-
    And sat down a little too cheerfully in his seat, pulse racing as he swallowed a mouthful of saliva. It was the food, the smell had obviously gotten to him. Like rosewater...
    He swallowed again, lifted his glass and removed it from harms way as the meal was set before them, though over the course of it, did little more than pick at the little he took, distracted by seemingly everything, for all that he focused on it with great intensity.
    "Did you decide whether to stay the night, Mrs Lesten?"
    Edited by Alexandros, Aug 8 2017, 11:35 AM.
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    Nevneni
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    Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

    Alleis noted that he wasn't much interested in his food. At some point she asked him about it, lightly – "Not much of an appetite, Mr. Phloropoulos? I know of herbs and ways to stimulate a desire to eat," – but he simply laughed it off, excused himself.

    Finally, at the end of it, he asked her whether she planned on staying the night. She had been debating with herself the entire time they ate. On the one hand – the waiting, the agonising waiting! If she could have the whole thing solved right away, she would; the gnawing of regret and a need to have things righted were sometimes so strong it made her bones ache. So she had become accustomed to moving – it had been she-didn't-know-how-long since she had stopped to sleep. But flanuviel needed to be treated carefully; one needed to give it a break once in a while to remember how to sleep. So:

    "We should set out in the morning. I ought to sleep tonight."

    In saying so, she caught his eye. A slight tilt of the head, so that her chin nestled in a mountain of golden hair, a slight shuttering of the eyelids, for just a moment, and then she was neutral, showing nothing.

    Alexandros went and spoke to the mistress of the house about getting two rooms. Alleis protested that it would be cheaper to get one room with two beds, or just one – she could sleep on the floor – but he apparently had money to waste and so wound up getting them two. The exhausted proprietress told them the way to their rooms, being unwilling to show them herself. The two rooms were across the hall from each other, as luck would have it, which kept things simple.

    So they went up the stairs and down the hall. "Oh, fancy," said Alleis in a soft voice, noting the magical lanterns lining the hall, suffusing it with a warm glow that was dim and easy on the eyes. "In the last place I stayed they gave you a stub of a candle and told you not to use it all at once."

    Their matching rooms were four doors down the hall. "Well," said Alleis, turning to Alexandros with a soft swirl of skirts, "I believe these are the ones." She paused, letting her bag slide off her shoulder, down her arm, and into her hand. They were on the verge of saying goodnight to each other; she could do just that and sleep alone, but she was empty, she was haunted, she had left behind so much and deserved, she thought, something more.

    Her bag drooped to the floor. She let it go. In a swift motion, she lunged, pressing Alexandros up against the wall with her lithe but powerful body. She did not kiss him, but put her face close to his so that he could feel her breath – sweet with the fennel seeds she had chewed after dinner – on his lips. For a moment she regarded him, hands pressed to his chest. Then she leaned towards his ear and murmured, "See, I told you to rent only one room."
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