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 Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert

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DungeonMaster

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PostSubject: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:28 am

The trip to the market was far less exciting than their first trip but nonetheless productive. Zane was able to procure two 2-man tents made of thick canvas in a tan coloring to better provide camouflage. Lopiena and Ashwyn were able to fill their packs with various dried meats and fruits as well as elven breads designed for long journey's. And Sigurd was able to collect several small water skins as well as a couple of casks of water.

At the taylors they each got a set of warm weather gear and a set of light clothing for the heat as well as shoes (for those that wanted them). Once everything was securely stored in the bag of holding and everyone was ready for departure, they went back to their room and cleaned out their personal belongings. As they were leaving, they were met by the council.

The Chancellor approached them with a smile. "It has been a great pleasure to have you here. And we invite you to return whenever you desire." He approached each one and shook their hand with both of his. "If there is anything we can do to assist you, please let us know."

Councilor Verrona approached them and bowed her head in respect to them. "We owe you a great debt, not only for your mission here, but for returning our lost children to us. We can never repay your generosity. You are always welcome here." She approached each of them and kissed both of their cheeks in turn.

Councilor Gaelin looked down his nose at each of them for a moment. Finally he stepped forward. "My daughter tells me of all of your bravery. And I thank you for your assistance." He said, though his voice was stiff. He bowed his head in respect and then stepped back.

The four heroes said their goodbyes to the council and then began leaving the city. At the exit of the city, Ishal and a small number of her men stood. She approached them and bowed. "Thank you again for all your services. My team and I will escort you to the borders of the city."

The escort out of the city was a far different experience than the escort into the city. There was jovial conversation and laughter as they walked together through the city. At the border there were more goodbyes and then the heroes were off into the depths of the Fey Forest once again.

[Time of day: 8pm - The sun has set. Weather is calm and cool, but not cold]
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:30 am

It's been an hour since they said goodbye to Ishal and her team. They've made progress through the forest but it's becoming quite dark now, which means Lo will have trouble seeing.

Ashwyn was kneeling ahead of the others, looking down at the ground and assessing their direction carefully. Pip was sniffing the ground at her side.

Zane was leaning against a tree, readjusting his pack.

"This forest moves differently than any other forest I've been in." Ashwyn said. "It's like it moves on it's own. Like it's breathing..." She shook her head. "It's going to be very easy to get turned around. I'll have to stop often to make sure we're heading the right direction."
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Lopiena

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:28 am

Lopiena is relatively quiet during the shopping excursion with Ashwyn, and very watchful of their coin with the crowds on all sides. She opens up a little at the tailor's; getting new clothing is a rare treat, and she seems to enjoy trying on all the different styles of cloaks, robes, and boots. For warm weather gear, she finds a stout wool cloak in a mottled brown with a pale grey lining that can be flipped to blend in to the forest or the desert; for travel through the Wasteland, a loose-fitting linen robe that covers the skin and can be tied off easily to allow for rapid movement, as well as a light hat to keep the sun off her face. Sturdy boots complete the ensemble, and once the new supplies are stowed in the bag of holding and personal belongings are packed Lo is more than eager to be off.

The warm farewell from the Counsel is gratifying; whether their late night excursion had been intentional or not, the results were very real and Lopiena is more than happy that the children are finally free. The escort with Ishal and her team is certainly a change, as well! Whether or not Ishal herself actually smiles is lost in the joviality of the rest of her team, who seem to be making up for lost time. Lopiena enjoys listening to the tales of adventure, blustering, and good-natured humor that accompanies any group that has worked with each other for so long.

Once back in the forest proper and away from the city, Lo breathes an audible sigh of relief. Friendly or not, such a concentration of people put her just a little on edge and it's good to be away from all those eyes. Not to believe that they're completely unwatched, though...listening to the sounds of night creatures going about their business, Lo nervously watches the trees for any sign of hidden observers. Not that she could identify them if they were there, of course. As the twilight deepens into full dark and the moonlight is blocked by the thick canopy above, Lo quietly lowers the end of her staff closer to her feet to check for rocks and pitfalls as the team continues through the forest. Her lack of night vision has already been discussed far more than she would prefer, and although she knows her weaknesses will become problematic she refuses to hold everyone else back.

At Ashwyn's words about the forest moving, Lo puts her hands on a nearby tree and tries to feel the forest. Nothing...and this sort of thing should be as natural as breathing. Failure, again. Trying to keep her focus outward...sensing is all about what's going on around you, not what you're feeling inside...Lo can only listen to the night sounds and feel the life and vitality of growing. If there is a malicious intent, it's not within her grasp.

(even tried to roll perception, got a 4)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:23 pm

After a couple more hours of walking through the forest, even those with darkvision would have trouble seeing where they were going. The trees were becoming closer together and and it was very difficult to walk in any line except for the small trail they were on. Eventually they came across a Y in the trail. The path moved in two different directions. One to the left and one to the right.

Ashwyn stood directly between both trails and looked at them carefully. She knelt to the ground and placed her hand, palm down against the cold damp dirt and closed her eyes. She could feel the way the forest moved; the way it breathed. But this forest was magical and it was difficult to tell directions. In the High Forest it was like the trees spoke to her. She always knew where she was. She'd never been lost in the forest before. But this place....it was so different. the feel of it was...unnerving.

"I... I can't tell which way to go." She looked at the others. "I can tell that one way will lead us to the edge of the forest that meets the desert, and the other will lead further into the forest. But I have no idea which is which. The trees are... confused." She sighed. "Maybe we should just make camp here and decide in the morning."

Zane frowned and nodded. "It might be a good idea. It's quite dark anyway. And none of us have slept for quite some time."
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Lopiena

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:07 am

Closing her eyes...not much difference in what she can see at this point, but after following their vague silhouettes for so many hours her eyes are feeling strained all the same...Lo leans face forward against a tree and presses her forehead to the rough bark. Straining to sense something, she can feel its life and joy in growing and the feel of rich earth beneath her feet...but nothing else. If the trees are confused it's not because of anything she can sense.

At Ashwyn's suggestion to make camp, she nods to herself but still is unwilling to admit defeat. "If everyone else is ok with stopping here, I'm good with that. Just until we can figure out which way to go, anyway. Ashwyn, I...I'm glad you're leading." Awkwardly turning away, she leaves what she was actually going to say unsaid. Ashwyn, I can't sense anything and I'm glad you can.

Kneeling down, she presses her hands into the moist earth and tries with everything she has to sense. Maybe if the trees are confused the earth itself has some answers?

(Perception roll 19 this time)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:59 am

Lopiena can sense the trees and the way they move and sway. She can sense their good health and their long lives. But when she tries to find a path between them she will find it... obscured. As though her senses hit a wall.

Ashwyn finally sat down. "It's no use. It's like this forest is purposely confusing me." She frowned, obviously frustrated.

Zane sat down also. "Well, it's better if we get some sleep anyway. I'm sure things will look brighter in the morning.... forgive the pun." He smiled sheepishly.

Ashwyn sighed and nodded. "Yeah I guess." She shook her head. "I'll take first watch. You guys get some sleep."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:30 pm

Lopiena almost giggles...Zane made a pun!...but she completely commiserates with Ashwyn's audible frustration. Nothing worse than knowing you can do something and not being able to do it. Not wanting to trip over anyone in the dark, she can't very well put a reassuring hand on her shoulder but a few words might suffice. "Ashwyn...I don't think it's you. Remember what the Archdruid said about the Shimmer confusing travelers, and the group of dwarves who circled the area without even realizing it? If the forest is out to confound us, it will do so. You...you're doing great, and no matter what happens I trust your guidance." Lo smiles in the dark; maybe Ashwyn can see it. "For now, though...I agree with Zane, things will be brighter in the morning. And puns are always intentional." Grinning in Zane's general direction, Lo sets her pack down and after only a little bit of fumbling in the dark manages to get it open and pull out her blanket. One thing about using the same worn-out gear all the time, a girl gets familiar with her equipment and doesn't necessarily need to see it to use it.

Staying right where she is in the middle of the path, Lo curls around her pack like a pillow and wraps her blanket around her shoulders. "Thanks for taking first watch, Ashwyn. Good night, I guess." Not really able to sleep, Lo stares up at the thick tree canopy above, wondering where the moon might be. Three days...now two days to full, it should be directly above them with enough light to illuminate the world even to her blind eyes. The canopy must be incredibly thick to block all that light, which means the trees towering above them must be huge! Reaching a hand out from her blanket, she touches a nearby tree, hoping to gain some insight to the forest around them.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:31 pm

Ashwyn leaned back against a tree, tilting her head back to lean against it. She let out a sigh of frustration as the others bedded down.

Zane smirked at Lopiena's remark about his pun. "Well.... maybe a little." He chuckled as he lay back against the trees.

As things quieted down as people slept, Ashwyn tried to calm her thoughts. She heard a rustle of Lo's hand and turned to see the young druid touching the trees. She smirked at her.

"If you find something out... you let me know, eh?" She whispered, not wanting to wake the others.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:53 pm

Slightly embarrassed, Lo pulls her hand back.  Having learned how sensitive Ashwyn's hearing is, she speaks in a low whisper.  "Nothing...it's like there's a wall between the trees and the earth.  I mean I can feel the life, the growing, all that...but nothing useful.  It's like I don't know anything at all."

Turning slightly, she tries to find Ashwyn's shape against the tree, but all she can see is dark.  Sighing, Lo sits up with the blanket around her shoulders, giving up the idea of getting sleep any time soon.  "Ashwyn...I've been meaning to ask you.  How...did you learn...everything you wanted to learn, and so quickly?  I mean from your story, you experienced horrible tragedy and went out seeking revenge...I get that...but..." she hesitates, not sure how to explain what she's trying to get at.  "I've known what I was going to do, what I was supposed to be my entire life, but all along the way I've always been told not to do that, can't learn this yet, too young, don't do that...every step has been a struggle.  You learned what you needed to learn in just a few short years.  How did you get away from those who told you that you can't do what you want to do?  I mean..."  she stops, embarrassed again.  "Sorry.  I know it's a very personal thing, we each have our own journeys...I'm just struggling to find where I fit in.  Especially now..."  the despair that had been lurking in the back of her mind all day suddenly comes to the forefront and she puts her head in her hands.  "It should have been my brother sitting here.  Older, more experienced, stronger. I never should have been born...my mother went through hell just to have me, and I never even knew..."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:41 pm

Ashwyn nodded at Lo's description of the wall. "Yeah... same here." She sighed. It was difficult to hide her frustration. She knew the others could see it too, but it irritated her.

When Lo spoke up again, she turned to watch her sit and huddle under her blanket. She smiled softly at her questioning and then let out a slow breath.

"How did I get away from those who would slow me down?" She repeated and then sighed. "I didn't have any of those people. It was always just me and my parents. My mother was from down south. She was a sun elf. From a very rich city. Her family was very important. She was some kind of noble herself, from what I understand, though she never really talked about it. She met and fell in love with my father, a human. He was a hunter, and a damn good one. He taught her everything he knew and she shared her knowledge of elven magic with him. They made a good team." She smiled fondly, though she knew Lo wouldn't be able to see it.

"When they decided to get married, her father forbid it. He refused to taint the bloodline with human blood. Course, my mother was never like that. She and my father left. They came north and got married in a tiny little hamlet and had me shortly after. We traveled around a lot. They took work wherever the could. But I wanted for nothing. My father taught me to track and hunt and my mother taught me elven magics and how to fight. Even when we finally settled in Ebonshire we didn't really live in town. We had a small hut in the forest, about halfway between Ebonshire and Thunderknoll.

"When they died... it was just me. My father had books of all kinds about various creatures and there were even more at the temple in town. That's where I found all the information I needed to get my revenge." She chuckled darkly. "I don't recommend revenge, by the way. It's not exactly.... healthy." She sighed.

"After that... I was sort of aimless. Didn't really know what to do so.... I took up my fathers job. Hunting for those that didn't know how. I came across Thunderknoll...well kind of by accident. I met with the Alpha and realized that he had a need that I could help with. So we agreed to work together."

When Lo began to break down a bit, Ashwyn frowned. She stood and walked over to Lopiena to lay a hand on her shoulder. "No, don't talk like that." She rubbed her back comfortingly. "We don't always like the things that happen to us. But they make us stronger. What happened to your family is... terrible. I can't even fathom how anyone could do that to their own kin." She glanced at Sigurd's sleeping form. "I know it really bothers Sigurd too. Family is very important to him." She turned back to Lo. "Listen. You don't have to go back to that life. In fact I hope you won't. I've never met your grandmother but.... well frankly she sounds horrid." She hesitated for a moment, but then made a decision.

"I'll be returning to Thunderknoll with Sigurd after all of this is over... whenever that happens to be. If you wanted to.... You could come with us." She smiled. "I think you'd like Thunderknoll. It's a very warm place. And I think you'll find the High Forest is far easier to read than this one." She chuckled.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:42 pm

Listening to Ashwyn's story, Lo smiles a bit. "Your parents...they must have really loved each other. To leave everything, everyone they knew just to be with each other is incredible to me. And it sounds like they really encouraged you, were an important part of your life...and you really loved them too. What happened to them is...horrible. I can't even fathom your loss."

At Ashwyn's mention of revenge being unhealthy, Lo grins in return. It's not something she'd really considered; had no cause to, but... "I guess anything can be unhealthy. But it gave you purpose, at least for a while. I'm glad you found Thunderknoll, it sounds like working there gave you some purpose in a healthy manner."

At Ashwyn's kind words, Lo nods silently. "I've been thinking about it all day. How my mother went through so much just to have me. I can honestly say...I'm not worth it, she should have been able to keep her first child, none of this should have happened...but you're right, what's done is done and the least I can do is be worthy of the life I've been given. It's just...I struggle so much with stuff that should be basic. I should be stronger. I should be better. I know it'll come in time, but we don't have time...I have to be everything now." She looks back up at the invisible moon. "Three days to full moon. In that time...hopefully, unless we're confused by the Shimmer...we'll be in the Wasteland. Fighting creatures that a full regiment of Elves couldn't handle..." turning her head to Ashwyn's shadowed figure, a look of determined resolve settles over the young Druid's features. "I promise you, I will not slow you down. Whatever it takes, I will find a way."

When Ashwyn talks about what to do after this mission, Lo considers her words. No one at her village really expected her to survive this trip; no one would really miss her if she never returned...except her own grandmother, who had finally acquiesced when Lo had made it clear that she was going whether the old woman liked it or not. Thinking back on that eventful night, Lo sighs. "Gramma is...definitely a lot to handle. She has to have things her way, she never listens to anything I say unless it's exactly what she wants...and what she did to my mother is unforgivable, and we're definitely going to have words next time I see her...but she's still family, and the only one I have. I'm definitely staying away as long as I can, but there's no way she can survive the winter alone. I can't live with letting her starve to death. We don't agree on everything...actually, we don't agree on much at all...but I can't just let her die."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:23 pm

Ashwyn smiled at Lo. "You need to stop worrying about slowing us down. You have a skill that none of us can understand. And that's very valuable. Don't count yourself short."

When she spoke of her grandmother and not being able to survive the winter. "Well... Winter is a long way off yet." She smiles. "The invitation to Thunderknoll still stands." She smiled.

"If it makes you feel any better... I'm not really sure what to expect when we get there either. I mean... I've worked with them for decades but..." She turned to where Sigurd slept. "Things are different now." She smiled at him and then looked away. "And... Well, let's just say my last relationship didn't exactly end well... And it wasn't really a secret in Thunderknoll either. I'm...not sure what kind of reception I'll recieve."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:51 pm

Not quite sure what Ashwyn means by 'a skill that none of us can understand' ...surely everything she's done so far has just been hiding in the back?...Lo hesitates, but nods. "I...I'll try. I'm learning more every day, too. That will help."

At Ashwyn's repeated invitation, Lo genuinely smiles. "I would like that. It sounds like such an amazing place, and I'd love to see this moonflower tree with my own eyes. Besides, I have no intention of being anywhere near my village until the leaves start turning color." Thinking back to the last Solstice, Lo involuntarily shudders. She wasn't kidding when she'd said Gramma never listened to anything she had to say, and she'd had to resort to some pretty extreme measures to get out of the fertility ceremony last year. This year she simply wasn't going to be in the area, that was that.

Lo can't really see Ashwyn's body motions, but she can grasp what she means by 'things are different now.' Indeed they are...Lo idly wonders how the blossoming relationship between Sigurd and Ashwyn is going to work with the rest of the group in such tight quarters. She'd suggested two-person tents for more than just camouflage, after all...but with everything happening so fast there just hasn't been time for the two of them to really be alone together. Well they knew what they were getting into, and Zane can sleep through anything so that's not a concern. But at Ashwyn's mention of a previous relationship, Lo looks at her shadowy form again. "May I ask...what happened? Or is that too personal of a question?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:43 pm

Ashwyn chuckled softly at Lo's question. "You know.... If you'd asked me that at the start of this journey I would have said yes. Well, actually I wouldn't have said anything at all. Probably just walked away..." she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"It was a long time ago. Just shy of 50 years. You see, when I began working with Thunderknoll, the Alpha assigned a young warrior to be my... Well... Bodyguard I suppose. Someone to help me when escorting people through the forest. I was little more than a child when I started after all. Lucas was a kind man. Young, like me, but talented. We became very close over the years. Went through a lot together. Eventually... Lucas asked me to be his mate. He introduced me to his parents and they.... Well... They didn't like me. I'm not sure if it was because I was a half breed... Or maybe just because I wasn't a spellwolf. I'm not exactly sure. But they forbid it. So we... Broke it off. He didn't want to go against hos parents and I respected that. I was 18 when all that went out the window. We had grown even closer, even though we'd promised not to. It wasn't until I discovered I was carrying his child that he decided he didn't care what his parents said. So... We carried on our relationship in secret.... For a while. It wasn't more than a month or two later that.... "

She shook her head, trying not to get emotional over the memory. "He got sick. He attacked me. Spell wolves, even weaker ones, are extremely strong. I couldn't subdue him alone. So I ran to town. Before I got there he... Well... I was wounded. Very badly. He would have killed me if not for Sigurd and his men. They heard the fight and came running. In fact... Sigurd was the one who carried me to the clinic. I was there for several months to heal." she sighed.

"I... Havn't been with anyone since then. Well... Until now."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:04 pm

Listening intently, Lo can only imagine what it would be like to be that close to anyone. It would be like...well, the way Sigurd and Ashwyn seemed to hit it off so well, and then had to deny their growing love because of...his parent's wishes? Wow...Lo had thought that only her family would forbid that kind of love. Apparently that's not the case, there are many issues at stake when joining two lives. She looks up sharply when Ashwyn mentioned carrying his child...and then being attacked by the love of her life, just like they had been that morning with Sigurd's dream...so that's why Ashwyn had looked so sad, so worried. She'd already been through that once, and to think it could happen again...!

Wide-eyed, Lo looks at Ashwyn with horrified sympathy. Swallowing her own emotions about what that must have been like, she can barely whisper. "You lost the child? Oh Ashwyn...I am so sorry...I can't even imagine." That explains so much; why she'd seemed so upset by Lopiena's description of her mother having to give up her child, why she was so hesitant to reveal her new relationship with Sigurd. Trying to find his sleeping form in the dark, she shivers. "You said he got sick...is that sort of thing common?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:16 pm

Ashwyn swallowed the lump in her throat at Lopiena's words. Hearing the sadness in her voice threatened to bring her own emotions to a boiling point. "It was a long time ago." she said softly in response.

At her next question, Ashwyn sighed. "It's... More common than it should be." she admitted. She turned to the druid and frowned, trying to decide what to tell her. "Sigurd's people... There's a problem with their mana well. They don't know what it is, exactly. But it's getting worse each year. Lucas was one of the first to become infected but... More and more of them are facing it. It... Changes them. Turns them feral. Out of their minds. They have no cure so... Most end up being killed to protect the rest." She tur ed to watch Sigurd sleep. "Part of his mission is to find answers that might help his people. That waa part of why we went to see the Lythari. To see if they could help." she shook her head.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:35 pm

Stunned, Lo doesn't even know what to say. She'd recognized that there was something he didn't want to talk about, but this! "By all the gods in all of their heavens...no cure?" Horrified, she looks over to where Sigurd must be. "He...he didn't want to talk about it so the rest of us wouldn't worry...worry about him. Oh...oh dear gods..." Looking back at Ashwyn's shadowed form, she reaches out a hand, hoping to grasp hers. "I won't breathe a word of this. Not until he's ready to talk about it. And...maybe with all of us thinking, searching for a cure, we can find something. Together."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:50 pm

Ashwyn smiled sadly. "I'm sure we can find something. I just know it. I just wish I knew where to start." she sighed.

She shook her head. "But none of that can happen until we stop this war." she turned back to Lopiena. "So... Have you ever had a relationship? Not that horrid fertility ceremony but... You know. Anyone you were interested in?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:55 pm

Thinking hard about everything she'd learned about Thunderknoll and Spellwolves up to this point, Lopiena's mind travels from the mana well to the moonflower tree to...a relationship?  Her?  Startled, Lo looks at Ashwyn in surprise.  "What?  No...not even a thought.  Well that's not true, every girl has daydreams...but the boys in the village are just...ugh.  No."  

Leaning back, she considers explaining herself a little.  "We've always lived a little apart from the village, and kids pick on differences.  That's just the nature of kids, I guess.  At first it was all of the village kids, but as we grew older I guess the girls lost interest in childish squabbles and found better things to do.  The boys never left me alone, though.  I was...a game to them. 'Make the witch bleed.' ...I am not a witch...but that's besides the point.  Eventually they graduated from hurling rocks and insults to actually starting fights, and I gave it back to them as good as they gave it...but when their mothers took them to Gramma for healing, I caught hell for it." Lo pauses and sighs.  "I'm really making Gramma out to be a horrible person.  I don't mean to do that, she's not like that all the time...but she definitely has a lot of rules, and I don't always agree with them and neither did Mother.  My grandmother always said that a Druid should never raise a hand in anger, and to strike another person is contrary to everything we stand for.  Mother said that was a load of horseshit...her words, not mine.  She's the one who taught me how to hold my staff like a weapon, how to defend myself when need arose.  But teaching me these things went against Gramma's express wishes, and when I actually used it she was furious.  I'm betting it was more because if I started going around punching other people's kids...whether they deserved it or not...she would be obligated to heal them free of charge, otherwise it would look like a crime racket or something.  She's always all about appearances...anyway, point being she felt the need to punish me for disobedience.  Right in front of those bullies.  She made sure I understood that she wasn't punishing me for defending myself, it was only for disobedience...but the boys saw it as her express permission to do whatever they wanted to me.  They were right, too. I wasn't about to just let them beat me up, but when I defended myself I got punished for it...and they would line up outside our house to watch.  Like I said, I was a game to them.  So I just started running every time they came near.  I got really good at running..."

Blinking, Lo suddenly realizes how much she'd been talking.  Blushing furiously, she pulls her blanket tighter around her shoulders just for something to do with her hands.  "Sorry.  That was a really long answer to a short question.  I don't know why I'm talking so much...but no.  I've never had any interest in anyone from my village, and this is the first I've traveled outside to meet anyone else."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:21 am

Ashwyn smirked when Lo spoke of fighting back against the bullies. Good for her.

"Yes. I can see why none of them would be of any interest to you." she chuckled.

"I'd imagine the idea of attraction is a fairly new thing for you as well. I mean... I sounds like you've been rased to believe that you'd be alone your whole life. Preparing for that... Ceremony... But your away from there now." she looked the young druid over carefully,taking advantage of the fact that Lo couldn't see her careful gaze.

"Sigurd seems to peak your interest." She said at last. Watching Lo for a reaction. "Elf ears, remember? I can hear your pulse increase every time he hugs you. And I've seen you stare at him." She quickly reached out to touch Lo's hand.

"Don't worry though. I'm not angry." She smiled. "Sigurd is... Quite the specimen after all." she chuckled.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:14 am

Nodding to herself...she'd never really considered the possibility of finding love, at least not beyond silly childhood fantasies...she jerks and nearly chokes at Ashwyn's mention of watching Sigurd. Blushing even more...she'd known Ashwyn's hearing was good, but not that good...Lo looks down, not sure how to respond. At her kind words and mention of Sigurd as...well...she almost looks back up, but not really. "That he is..." still blushing, she tries to see Ashwyn in the dark. "And you're not angry? I'm...I don't want to intrude on your...I mean...oh." Covering her face with her hands, she groans faintly with embarrassment. "He doesn't know, does he? ...of course he does, his hearing is as good as yours...oh ye gods..." Lo is pretty sure she's lighting the dark forest with the flame on her face, but she just doesn't know what else to say.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:07 pm

Ashwyn chuckled at Lo's embarrassment, though she tried to hide it. She didn't want to make the young girl feel worse.

"How could I be angry? It's not as though you've done anything you have any real control over." She smiled. "I don't know what Sigurd knows exactly. But even if he has noticed... well, don't let it bother you. It's perfectly innocent." She smiled and turned to watch Sigurd sleeping.

"Besides, I can't blame you." She smiled fondly at him and then turned back to Lo. "You know, I remember the first time I saw him. I was 15. I had only recently avenged my family and discovered Thunderknoll. I was meeting with the Alpha, Sigurd's father. Sigurd is a little older than me. He was in the advanced training course back then. I remember seeing him when his father was giving me a tour of the village." Her eyes glazed over as she dipped back into her memory.

"He stood out to me right away. Of course I didn't know who he was at the time. I'm not even sure if I can explain what I first noticed about him. Why he was different...But he stood out to me. I'm pretty sure his father knew I was staring at him but... I just couldn't help it." She blushed a bit, not sure why since she coudln't be seen in the dark.

"I remember when his father assigned Lucas as my protector. He introduced him to me and told me that he'd be there to help me if I needed it. I remember being disapointed.... Lucas was always kind to me, of course, but..." She laughed embarassedly. "I don't know why I thought that he'd assign his son to be a mere protector... It was a stupid assumption anyway."  Then something sparked in her memory. "I do remember though... I was still in the house when Sigurd arrived. He went straight in to speak to his father. I didn't hear everything they talked about. But I'm pretty sure it was about me. When I heard my name I couldn't help but listen in. Sigurd was upset at something. Kept asking why he wasn't chosen. It didn't make much since to me at the time. But then he sort of... stormed out of his father's room and said..." She hesitated, remembering clearly now what she'd heard him say. "He said... 'fine, whatever, she's a stupid half-stock anyway'." She smiled sadly remembering.

"That's when I knew that my crush was for nothing. I knew he'd never look at me as anything more than a half-breed." She bowed her head. "I had forgotten that until just now..." She whispered.

Then she chuckled. "I Guess that's why I let myself grow closer to Lucas. I never stopped thinking about him though. And every time I was in town I watched him. Hopped to catch a glimps..." She shook her head. "Here's some advice from an old fool. Never lie to yourself about your feelings. If you tell yourself the same lie long enough, your brain starts to believe it. But your heart never does. It'll just tear you up inside." She nodded.

"I never realized how much until... well, the hot springs." She blushed, not really sure why she was being so open all of the sudden. But she just felt like she needed to express these things. "It happened while you and Zane were at the market. Sigurd and I went to visit the Lythari and we talked with them a while and ate. Then we came back to the room to relax a bit. It's rare to find such a wonderful hot springs like that so we decide d to take advantage of it while we could. And well... we started talking." She wrapped her arms around herself, but not because she was cold. Her body was shivering just remembering.

"I've never felt anything like what I feel when I'm with him, you know? It was never that way with Lucas. With Lucas it was like... I don't know... like I was doing what I thought I was supposed to. Just... going through the motions I suppose. I cared for him but... I never really understood what it could be like. But with Sigurd.... it's like .... it's like my skin burns when he touches me. I can't control my breathing. And it feels like.... I don't know.... like I'm going crazy and dying of pleasure all at the same time."

She shivered, remembering what it was like to feel Sigurd's body against hers. "I'd heard stories growing up... of great loves and people who would die for their love and all of that. I always assumed that was just in stories. That finding something like that was so rare as to be impossible." Her eyes widened in realization. She hadn't really put it to words until just now. This is what real love was supposed to be. And she hadn't even told him yet. Well, that would be remedied as soon as he woke up.

She turned to Lo again, snapping out of her daze. "Sorry... I guess I distracted myself..." She blushed a bit. "Let's just say.... I understand why you'd be interested."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:58 pm

Listening to Ashwyn tell her story with such passion, Lo can't help but wonder what that must feel like. To experience anything with such intensity sounds incredible...and as alien as eating starlight. She'd been told her whole life that her emotions only got in the way, that she'd be so much stronger if she could just get her emotions under control...but hearing, feeling such passion, such love...it's beyond comprehension, and strange as it is... it's clear that her passion gives Ashwyn the strength to continue, to move on and grow in spite of the tragedy in her life.

When Ashwyn ends her story, Lo is uncertain what to say. Struggling to find the words, she tries to seek out her hand in the dark. "I...I had no idea. I mean...it looked like you and Sigurd had a good talk, and learning that you'd known each other from before was...well, it explained a lot...but I didn't realize that it went that far, or that deep." Looking at her shadowy figure again, she smiles. "I'm glad you got together. Really, really glad. I...I can't even imagine what that must be like, and now...just being near each other..." hesitating, she lowers her voice even further. "It doesn't bother you to be so close, and not...you know..." Blushing, she looks away again. "I wouldn't know what it's like, but I'd imagine you'd want to hold him as much as possible."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:17 pm

Ashwyn blushed and smiled at Lo's innocent, and yet not so innocent, comment.

"You have noooo idea." She chuckled. She felt another shiver run through her as she remembered just how deep things went.

"It's strange. Part of me wants to be wrapped in his arms and never leave them. But the other... more logical side... knows that we wouldn't get much done like that." She chuckled.

She looked over to Lo and saw the awe in her eyes, even in such dim lighting. "It's a strange argument my mind is having with my heart. But.... even when we're not near... I know that he's still mine. And he knows that I'm his. I can't really explain it. And I'm not even 100 percent sure that I trust it...not yet. I'm still terrified that I'll wake up and find that I've dreamed the whole thing." She chuckled.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert   Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:40 pm

Chuckling lightly, Lopiena grins. "You're right, not much would get done if...well never mind. Still though. I hope at some point you'll get some alone time. Seriously, if you want me to distract Zane or something...there are plenty of scrolls to go through, and we know how unobservant he can be sometimes."

Placing a hand on Ashwyn's hand (she hopes), Lo nods slowly. "Sometimes the best things in life are so overwhelming that it can seem like a dream. But this is real, Ashwyn. Love him, hold on to everything you can, for as long as you can. You may be more long-lived than me, but we're all mortal and..." blinking away sudden tears, she turns away. "Sorry...I don't know where that came from. Probably just scared of what we'll be facing soon enough. I...yeah." Wiping her eyes quickly, she tries to pretend that never happened.

"Can't sleep now, who knows what kind of dreams will sneak up. Besides, I enjoy talking to you. I don't know why, but I trust you. Even with the stuff I never thought I'd tell anyone."
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Chapter Three: Trials Toward the Desert
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