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 Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert

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Lopiena

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:28 am

Looking up in surprise that Ashwyn seems completely unconcerned about everything that happened, Lopiena smiles shyly when Ashwyn mentions the fact that Sigurd would be the perfect introduction to these things. Yes he was, and for more than the fact that he was so gentle...but Lo blinks in suprise when Ashwyn describes being excited watching him with someone else. With all the emotions running so high, it's really not that strange though...and that would also explain why she hadn't seemed too upset at Jacquelyn. As preoccupied as Lopiena herself had been at the time, she had wondered vaguely why Ashwyn wasn't ripping the older druid off her wolf. Well if she's ok with it, maybe it really is ok. "Then...in that case, I...thank you. I...really enjoyed it...I mean...uhm. Thank you. For...sharing. And..." eyes flickering around the room, she hesitates again. They'd shared so much more than physical intimacy, but how does one bring up sharing someone's memories? "...also. I'm glad we shared a part of ourselves with each other. I mean...I feel like we know each other a little better, and I hope that continues." There. Most awkward speech ever, but it needed to be said. Taking a deep breath to recenter herself...and nearly choking on burning camel smoke, that is not a pleasant smell...Lo smiles at Ashwyn's recommendation to talk to Jacquelyn. "Thank you, I think I will. Uhm...please let Sigurd know I'll start my watch shortly, I haven’t forgotten." Watching Ashwyn exit the cave to give Sigurd some food, Lo smiles to herself. As long as Sigurd doesn’t think she's shirking on duty, it would be good for them to have a private moment together.

Walking up to Jacquelyn, Lo watches her burn the camel carcass while blowing the smoke out of the natural opening in the cave. Personally, it might have been better to take it out first...but it's probably too heavy to move, and Lo isn't about to start questioning the older Druid's means and methods. But maybe she can help...while her little flame spell won't do much for the large fire, maybe she can expand on her own knowledge a bit. Focusing on the flames, she tries manipulating the fire itself, trying to make it hotter. "Flame."

(Different cantrip this time, Control Flames...the description says it can make flames brighter, not sure if hotter is possible...going with the story that it's a change from the norm and therefore an experiment.)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:46 am

Jacquelyn turned as Lopeina approached and she smiled down at the girl. "Not bad, kid. You're mother mentioned you were quite adept at flames." She smiled at her as she increased the flame.

She worked in silence for a while. Her wind was able to remove the bulk of the smell from the area but it would still start to smell like charred meat as the animal burned into ash. Normally she would have tried to salvage the meat, but with the poison of the scorpions she thought it would be better to just dispose of it. But the bones would be handy as tools or weapons. She could probably get a good price for them at the village she headed towards.

After a while, she looked down at the younger druid again. "I'm sure you must have questions. Shoot, kid. I'm an open book."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:03 am

Smiling at Jacquelyn's compliment, Lo flushes a bit and focuses on the fire. Looking up at the older Druid from time to time, she suddenly remembers Pip with the same questioning expression while walking yesterday. Flushing even more...she is not a lost puppy, stop acting like one...she waits patiently for Jacquelyn to finish her task before bombarding her with questions. At least until Jacquelyn herself offered. Well since she mentioned it first...
"So...how do you write to my mother? How do letters even get there if no one knows where she is? How did you find out about the spell? Have you tried breaking it, what worked and what didn't work? What was Mother like when you were growing up together?" ...that's probably enough for now, though it barely scratches the surface of all the questions bubbling in her mind. Of all the revelations and experiences of this trip, meeting this person is the most unexpected and the most important in her own life.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:46 am

Jacquelyn laughed as Lo slowed enough to breathe. "Well, I knew you'd had questions but take a minute to breathe girl!" She chuckled. "Alright, alright. One at a time, okay?" She let out a breath herself. "So, your mom... well, she's resourceful. I guess that's an understatement, really. We've never been all that trusting of messengers. You can never tell where the message is actually going, ya know? But animals well... they're pure. Hard to sway when you make a connection with em. And animals are, in a sense, beyond the spell your grandmother worked. So they can find her. We send messages by bird usually. Your mother will send the most exotic birds my way. I'll read the letter then write a response. The bird will usually hang out and rest until the next day then take my letter back. Sometimes I'll have something prepared ahead of time if something specific has happened and I don't want to forget it. I usually get a letter once a month. Sometimes more often if something exciting has happened."

She watched carefully as the camel began to crumble in ash and bone began to reveal. "Actually it's the animals that told me about the spell also. Your mother can't talk about it so I could never find out any real details, of course. But they let me know something had happened and I was able to do my own research to find out as much as I know now. Which sadly still isn't much." She grumbled, her flame getting brighter and hotter as her own frustrated mounted. She finally calmed herself again and the flames dropped completely. The camel's bones lay on the ground, the wind taking the ash up and out of the cave.

She placed a hand to her chest and bowed her head, muttering a prayer for the camels soul in ancient druidic before turning back to Lo. "I've tried every spell and enchantment I know of to break the spell. First I tried finding your mother. I searched the mountains for 2 years looking for her. Turns out I was just circling around her. She was watching me the whole time, but the spell prevented me from finding her. That was when I got my first bird delivered letter from her. She told me to stop looking for her. Told me she was fine and to worry about you and the boys." She sighed and looked up to the hole where she could see the sky.



"I thought saying goodbye to your mother the first time was the hardest day of my life. But nothing compared to that day. Knowing I may never see her again... not ever..." She sighed. "That's when I tried to go after you." She said looking back at Lo. "Didn't take long to find out I couldn't enter the village of course. I spent another year using everything I could think of to try and get in. But, once again, it was your mother that told me to go home." She smirked at Lo. "She said you were strong. You'd be able to handle your grandmother until you were old enough to leave on your own. And besides, the boys needed me. So... I finally left. I went back to my desert home and raised our boys."

She moved forward and began picking up the bones. "Now... the subject of your mother as a child.... that might take a while." She chuckled.
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Alan_Dietrich

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:28 pm

In the short time between Lopiena leaving and Ashwyn approaching, Sigurd had pulled one of his axes out and was running a dry stone over it. The gentle scraping sound was soothing for him and it kept his mind free to watch and listen to their surroundings. His nose picked up the scent of dried meat before hearing Ashwyn's voice. He smiled and took the offering from her. He thankfully ripped a piece off and tossed it into his mouth chewing it slowly.

"So" he said simply "We're out in the wasteland, heading three days the wrong way in a land where we're essentially flying blind... what are your thoughts?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:15 pm

Listening to Jacquelyn speak, Lopiena's mind keeps flashing to memories of her mother and starts filling in gaps as new information arises. Speaking to birds had been her mother's favorite mode of communication, and even though Lopiena hadn't learned the spell to communicate back trying to interpret the chattering birds had made her laugh as a child. Exotic birds...that's something new, normally the birds flitting back and forth from the mountains to the valley were common species that Lopiena had a chance to understand. Maybe wherever Mother is has exotic bird species? Maybe they can figure out her location based on the species of birds she was sending!  But as Jacquelyn described circling the mountains, then trying to get into the village, Lopiena's initial excitement deflated. Even if they knew exactly where she was, they wouldn't be able to find her as long as the spell was in place. Plus the fact that Jacquelyn had been trying to get in for a total of three years...the first few years after her mother had left were the hardest, and Lopiena had wandered the forests, the foothills of the mountains, even the riverbanks heading out of town just to get some peace from her grandmother. If Jacquelyn had been seeking a way in during that time, they should have been able to find each other unless the depths of the spell extended further than the simple boundaries of the village. They had to find a way to break the spell! Thinking harder about spells and their construction and deconstruction harder than she ever had in her life, Lopiena looks up and smiles at the mention of needing a long time to tell about what her mother was like in her younger years. "Just one or two stories would be fine, it would take a lifetime to tell a lifetime of experiences. But...uhm...can you tell me about some of the times you and Gramma interacted? Since the spell includes you, maybe something she knows about you is in the spell."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:54 pm

Ashwyn smiled as he took the meat. She followed suit and started to chew on one as well as she watched the sun set on the horizon. When he spoke she sighed.

"Well...If I'm being honest I'm not thrilled at the detour. However...." She looked around them at the nothingness. "I knew the desert would be different.... but this is beyond what I could have imagined. We're completely out of our element here. And sure, the sun helps us with directions but...." She shook her head. "I have no idea what to do out here. Having someone along, at least for a while, will be a very big help."

---

Jacquelyn chuckled. "Alright then. Let's see...." she tried thinking of a good story to tell about her childhood with Lorelei when Lo asked her next question.

Jacquelyn frowned a bit and sighed. "Ahh... I had a feeling that would come up eventually..." She set the bones down on her cart and turned back to Lo.

"Well... let me start off by saying your grandmother is the reason I met the single most important person in my life: your mother. And I will forever be greatful to her for that. However...." She let out a slow breath. "I have no idea what happened to make your grandmother so cold.  I really don't. And I'll be honest, I never cared enough to find out. But for as long as your mother and I have been around she's been  cold as ice." She moved over near the fire and sat down.

"You're mother and I met when we were very young. Maybe about... oh... 5 or 6. My mother died shortly after I was born so I was a ward of the village. Nothing expected of me except to keep the animals and work the fields. You're mother, however, being the daughter of the town druid, had a promising future ahead of her. But your mother... she's always been a kind soul. Always wanted to help folks. We were fast friends. We used to meet behind the barn in the evenings and play. We'd kept our friendship a secret at first. But one day your grandmother spotted us playing. She hated me from the moment she saw me. I never really understood why. Never thought I was good enough to be near them." She shook her head.

"Course once your mother decided something well... there was no changing her mind." She chuckled. "We were caught together a lot. When we were little we werne't good at hiding. But as we got older we started to learn the places we could meet and not be seen so it got easier be play and talk and practice our art.But each time we did get caught was worse than the last. We'd be confined to our homes for x amount of days. Sent to bed without supper. That sort of thing. It wasn't until after the first fertility ritual that things got worse."

"I was never able to prove it... but I'm pretty sure your grandmother would slip the girls herbs during that ceremony to make them more fertile. Because it seemed like every girl involved got pregnant ever single year. I missed the first ceremony because I was in the middle of a punishment from being caught with your mother. But your grandmother... well... she didn't want your mother missing out. " Jacquelyn's fingers curled into a fist.

"I had to listen from the place they'd chained me up.... listen while your mother cried." She shook her head harshly. "Sorry.... bad memories." She chuckled, wiping a tear off her cheek.

"Anyway, your mother was pregnant of course. Gave birth a month early... to a boy. Your grandmother ripped that baby away from her faster than I'd ever seen. I wasn't supposed to be there, of course. But I insisted. First time I'd ever actually stood up to your grandmother. I'm still not sure why she let me stay. Maybe ebcause she was afraid her daughter would miscarry without me. Who knows. I held your mother all night long as she cried for the loss of that child. Over the years I tried to figure out who she gave the baby to. Hell for all I know she killed the poor thing. Anyway... after that your grandmother never wanted me near them at all. Of course we never listened but... this time when we got caught it was bad...."

She shivered, remembering. "I was locked in the stocks once. Sent to the jail without food for 4 days. And when those didn't work... I was beaten. Each time for a little bit longer." She smiled darkly. "Used your break your mothers heart. She begged me to stay away... said it would get me killed one day. But I could never stay away from her for long. Maybe I had a death wish." She chuckled.

She looked up at Lo. "You look so much like her, you know? Same eyes....same nose.... it's like looking into a mirror of the past." She smiled. "I love your mother more than I can even express. I miss her everyday and wish she could be here with me. But... if I can't have her... I'm very glad to have finally met you. Well... properly anyway." She chuckled. "Last time I saw you, you were small, red, and crying." She smirked.
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Lopiena

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:44 pm

Listening silently to Jacquelyn's story, Lopiena nods her understanding occasionally, bowing her head slightly when Jacquelyn mentions that she had no parents; wards of the village are still orphaned children, though some families occasionally took them in. Looking grim at the mention of the fertility ceremony... Jacquelyn's suspicions are right, the girls are slipped a fertility herb; Lo can name it, where it grows, and how it is administered...her eyes open in shock at mention of her mother crying. The girls at the fertility ceremonies she'd had the misfortune to witness didn't have the wherewithal to weep for themselves; she'd wept for them on more than one occasion. Perhaps 20-some odd years ago they weren't given the sedative that made them so compliant now? Lopiena isn't sure what would be worse, feeling the pain or not even having basic awareness of it until the next day when the sedative wore off.  Part of the ceremony involved feeling the pain, but Lopiena did not believe, understand, or accept that and had secretly healed several of the girls when her grandmother wasn't looking. And once when her grandmother was looking...but it sounds like the punishment she got was very different from what Jacquelyn experienced. Must be because Jacquelyn was a village ward...when Lopiena had first learned the healing spell, she practiced mostly on the village wards. Those kids always looked beaten both in body and spirit, and she'd always felt terrible seeing the conditions they were in.  That was one of the reasons she'd been so concerned about the lost kids in Eventide...but Jacquelyn is still talking, focus on her words, not the past. Blushing when she's described as a mirror of her mother, Lopiena looks closely at Jacquelyn. All these years...separated, missing her, loving her. And she never even knew...perhaps her mother didn't want Lopiena to know because of Gramma. Lo never could keep a secret, and her incessant questions would have made a mess of things if she'd started asking the wrong questions. Even so... "Did you ever come visit? I used to pretend that Mother went into the mountains to spend time with her love, but I knew I was just pretending. Gramma used to say some pretty nasty things about Mother when she went to the mountains, and I didn't want to believe it and just made up my own fantasies to fill in the gap, but...20 years...well, more like 15 before the spell prevented it...that's a long time."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:55 pm

When Lo asked if Jacquelyn had ever come to visit she chuckled. "Oh yes. I used to. It's a long difficult journey to make all the time. But a few times a year I'd come down. We'd meet in the mountains. We wanted to avoid your grandmother just in case. Gods knew what she'd do if she saw me. Honestly I'm still amazed she let you and your mother return. Anyway... at first it was just me. The boys were so little that I didn't want to put them through that journey. But they did come with me as they got older. We wanted you to meet them but... we thought it would be painful for you. Knowing they were there but not being allowed near them. And we worried about what your grandmother would do if she found out about them. So they only came once a year to visit. It was far too dangerous to risk more. Actually...."

She met Lo's eyes. "Do you remember the day your mother took you into the mountains? The day she took you higher than she'd ever taken you before? The day you got hurt?"

She sighed. "I was there that day. You're mother had finally decided to let you meet me. I was waiting at the top for the two of you. I was there helping her heal you, but I left before you became conscious long enough to recognize anything. I was going to stay but..... your mother took it as a sign. A sign that we shouldn't meet yet. She asked me to leave before you woke up."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:44 pm

Staring at Jacquelyn with mouth partly open, Lopiena looks almost overwhelmed again. She had so many more questions, but knowing that they'd been so close...had actually helped with healing her, was with her and her mother in their time of need...it was too much. "Gods...all this time...you were so close, and I never knew..." Looking up and trying vainly to wipe her tears, Lo gives Jacquelyn a watery smile. "You know so much about me, and I didn't even know you existed. I can understand Mother's caution, though. Uhm. I've been asking all the questions, is there...anything I can tell you? Not much changed in the village, I don't think, but...I don't know, maybe something."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:51 pm

Jacquelyn smiled sadly. "I'm sorry, dear. I knew the day would come when I had to tell you all of this and... well, I knew it would be hard to explain why you were left alone for so many years. I'm deeply sorry for that."

When she asked if she had any questions for her, she chuckled. "I know it's not fair, but I know the general details of your life already. You're mother talks about you all the time in her letters. She's watched you from afar as often as she can. At least until you got a bit older. As for the village... that place hasn't been my home for a very very long time. I've never missed one thing about it except you and your mother. And now that neither of you is there... well... there's nothing to miss at all."

"One thing I do find curious though.... your companions." She glanced at Zane and Cirro who sat chatting near the bedrolls and then out by the entrance to the cave where Ashwyn and Sigurd sat unseen. "A very interesting bunch. And not exactly the standard group of folks. I understand you've each been chosen by your homes to represent your villages. So that makes sense. But... what exactly did they send you all for? I mean... what did your villages hope to accomplish?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:31 pm

Smiling vaguely again, Lo considers. She hadn't been truly alone, but dealing with Gramma hadn't exactly been easy. Especially when...well whatever. "Past is past, as Mother would say. I'm glad to know you now, and...maybe we can come up with a way to break the spell together."

Not at all surprised that Jacquelyn doesn't care a bit to hear about the village, Lopiena perks up when asked about their odd group. "Well at first we weren't even sure ourselves, or at least I didn't. Honestly I thought it was going to be a much larger group...Gramma would have never let me go if she'd known I'd be the only healer, and trust me I'm glad you and Cirro are here now...but uhm. It started as just an information gathering mission to find out what's causing the attacks and whether or not war is on the horizon. But...uhm..." looking over her shoulder at Cirro, she chews on her lip nervously. "We found out what...or rather, who...is causing the attacks, and if we can take him out it should stop the attacks. At least I hope so. There's a lot we still don't know, but if we can get to Azzarat Peak...or whatever it's called...we should be able to do something positive and heal the land." Lo isn't foolish enough to think it's going to be easy, but having a solution and at least half of a formulated plan is better than wandering around blind.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:21 pm

Sigurd got to his feet and shook the sand off his cloak. "We'll get through this, It'll be the hardest challenge I've ever had to face if my many years thought... I've dealt with thieves, bandits, assassins, drunken brutes and on this journey a whole mess of different god forsaken things... But this Azer creature... I don't know if we'll stand a chance. I've read books about them and they're tough though usually slaves, I can't fathom what a free one can do.. well.." he gestured around them "If he's responsible for this what chance could we possibly have?"

For the first time in recent memory Sigurd was feeling unsure of himself and his ability over 90 years old and ever the skilled warrior and the idea of facing down some sort of elemental completely intimidated him, not just for his own sake but the sake of his companions... his mate.. Lopiena hell even the gnome and fairy. He walked out into the sand and let his feet slip into the grains before drawing his sword. As if to keep not just is mind, but his body busy as well he started practicing his different stances and swings trying to get a feel for the terrain and how to adjust his technique. Burying his frustrations he knew the best way to fix the problem was to work with it... even if it took all night..
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:04 am

"You're going after that crazy bastard?" Jacquelyn asked, incredulous. "You guys have got to know that's suicide. No one goes NEAR Azrrhat Peak and expects to live. He'll see you coming no matter which direction you approach from. There's not exactly cover out here, in case you hadn't noticed. "

---

Hearing Sigurd talk this way... so unsure and almost... defeated? It was only amplifying what Ashwyn was feeling. She was already out of her element and the thought of what they face is even more uncertain.

She didn't respond for a bit, just watching him practice in the sand. He had the right idea. They had to get used to the terrain. Without saying a word, she stood and followed him. She didn't have any fancy art forms she could practice, but she thought that now is as good a time as any to learn. She pulled her falcatta from her back and began to mimic Sigurd. It was always difficult learning something new under the best of circumstances, but the sand beneath her feet didn't help. She was unsteady and off balance, so she wobbled.

But the more they worked, the easier it became. She was able to anticipate the way the sand moved and compensate. It was a slow process, but she hoped that by the end of it she could maneuver at least decently well.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:22 am

As Sigurd moved he could hear his fathers voice in his head "you'll find in your travels son, that not every situation will be in your favor. Be it weather, terrain, number of opponents or even physical ability. Our people have survived centuries on our ability to adapt, grow, make due with what we had available. Our natural abilities make us unique, but out resolve makes us strong. Don't ever forget that" Nodding to himself he started to feel the sand under his feet and adapt to the shifting motion. Feeling himself fall forward, Sigurd swung in a heavy arch downward landing the blade in the sand then using the sword itself to carry him froward into a flying kick, only to draw it from the sand again and give a horizontal sweep that scattered the sand in a pleasant wave.

Feeling as though he was getting the hang of it enough to feel some of his confidence return he shifted and started practicing with the added bulk of his hybrid frame. He was thankful for his years and years of training, it made adapting to new challenges not as daunting as it would for most people.

He watched as Ashwyn did the same and smiled luckily for her, most of her fighting was done with a bow, so she could plant herself and fire to her hearts content, provided she wasn't encroached upon but he was happy to see her practicing with her blade, even trying to mimic his stances. "relax your shoulders, your falcatta is lighter but you should still let it's weight work for you not against you." He stuck his sword in the sand and walked over to her, putting his large hands on her shoulders and giving them a gentle squeeze and shake to try and loosen her up.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:58 am

Ashwyn nodded to Sigurd's words and let out a steadying breath to relax herself. She smiled when she felt his hands on her shoulders. She chuckled at the gentle shake and looked up at him with a smirk. She followed his instructions and relaxed her shoulders, securing her weapon in her hand.

It wasn't as though she was completely inexperienced with her falcatta, but she'd never had the formal weapons training Sigurd had received. It was nice having her mate walk her through the forms. She'd always watched the young SpellWolves train. They're moves were always like watching a foreign dance. She'd always wanted to learn but it was never for outsiders like her. Well... like she was.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:23 am

Blinking at Jacquelyn, Lo cocks her head slightly. "So you know the guy? Have you ever seen him, or the area near the peak?" shaking her head slowly, she stops to think a little bit. "I...guess it does sound pretty crazy, but we got some information about abandoned mines in the mountain itself. If we can get inside the mountain, maybe we can get to the peak without being seen...or at least have a chance to get close enough to do something." Nervously pulling at her hair, Lo tries to think of something that sounds a little less crazy than...well, Sigurd might have a plan, but she honestly hadn't thought much past just getting there. Especially knowing that there were dragons in that mountain...looking back up and Jacquelyn, Lo can't help but wonder how much she knows. "So...have you ever seen dragons coming out of the mountain? we have reason to believe that at least one large adult red dragon is in the mountain itself, with smaller young dragons possibly roaming the area outside. There's also a bunch of dwarves in the mountain that care for the young dragons, though in what capacity I have no idea. How much do you know of the area? Has anyone you know ever heard of those mines, how to get to them, where they lead? Any information you have..." Suddenly blushing, Lo turns and looks at the mouth of the cave. "Honestly any information you have would be better heard by everyone else, I'm not exactly smart about this sort of thing..."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:30 am

Jacquelyn watched Lopiena excitedly began asking questions. She finally smirked. "Calm down kid." She pat Lopiena's shoulder.

"Everyone out here knows about him. And everyone knows to keep their distance." She sighed. "Listen, we have plenty of time to discuss the details of your master plan." She smirked.

"And you never know, maybe someone in the village we're headed to could help. Or even back in my village.You never can tell." She pat Lopeina's head this time.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:48 am

Nodding slowly...local knowledge is always the best, and they'll have days to work out the details walking from one village to the other...Lopiena flinches slightly out from Jacquelyn patting her head. She hated it when people did that!!! ...which is weird, Sigurd ruffling her hair always made her feel better. Different actions, different reactions perhaps. Or maybe just different people...well anyway. "You're probably right, we'll get there when we get there I guess. I should probably go back outside, I'm supposed to be keeping watch." Picking up her alder sticks again, Lo starts heading back out but suddenly stops.
"Oh! Hey! I just remembered!" Jumping up and over to her pack, Lo dug around until she found her mother's journal again. Pulling it out, she starts flipping through pages while walking slowly back over to Jacquelyn. "Mother's journal...I've been reading it for the spells, but there's a lot of personal stuff in here as well. I haven't had the chance to read the whole thing...we keep getting distracted, and there's quite a bit of water damage in the back parts...but...here it is!" Opening the book to a certain page, Lo shows the older Druid a beautiful drawing of a baby girl. The artist had captured everything from the wide curious eyes to the curly down hair, and even included the strong hands of the mother holding the child. "Mother used to always joke that the only thing she could draw was an invisible man...she exaggerated of course, she could draw plants well enough to identify them, but when I saw this I knew someone else had done it. Are you the artist?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:26 am

Jacquelyn chuckled when Lo flinched from her pat. "Sorry... habit I guess. You're mother hated it when I did that too." She smirked.

When she spoke of going out to watch, Jacquelyn nodded. "Yup. Better get to it, kiddo." She said as she began laying back and preparing to get some rest.

When Lo ran back with the journal, Jacquelyn felt her eyes well up. She hadn't seen that book in years. "Well all be...." She ran her hands over the book and smiled. "You're mother used to write in this all the time...." When she turned to the page of the picture she smiled. "Yes. That was me." She smiled up at her. "I drew that a few days after you were born. You're mother was sleeping with you in her arms....I just couldn't help myself." She smiled but it turned to a sad smile. "I knew she'd be leaving soon and taking you with her..." She reached behind her into her pouch and pulled out another book that looked very much the same. She flipped through it and found a similar picture. "So I made two." She said, showing Lo the second drawing. "It was sort of a thing I did..." She smiled. She flipped backwards through the book and on two different pages, were two other drawings of small babies with dark curly hair. "These are your brothers." She said. She pointed to the first one. "This is Lamont." She pointed to the first one. "And this,.." she flipped to the earliest drawing. "Is Leif." She smiled at them and looked up at Lo.

"Leif works with the animals of the village. He's always had a nack for it. He heals them and calms them and trains them. He's a real asset there. Lamont is better with his hands and his strength. He uses his gifts to build structures and furniture. He blesses the land for what he takes and he helps it grow back to keep the balance."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:57 am

Looking from one book to the other, Lopiena's eyes mist over when she sees the drawings of her brothers. She'd always wondered who her brothers were; she knew that she had at least one in the village, though Jacquelyn's dark suspicions that her mother's first boys born in the village might have been killed as infants wouldn't surprise her in the least...but actually seeing pictures of her brothers, hearing about who they are, what they do...it's incredible. Trying not to cry on the book...there's enough water damage as is...Lo tries to get herself under control again. At a complete loss for words, she can only focus on what's probably the least important part of this tender moment. "Wow...I just...wow. Uhm...you're...quite the artist." Flinching, she tries to come up with something useful to say. "It's...really great to have a family again. I mean...I guess you've always been there, but...yeah." Wiping her eyes again, she looks at Jacquelyn with a watery smile. "Do you...want to hold onto this for a little while? I've been wanting to read it since I found it in the bottom of my bag...don't even know how it got there, but that's a different story...but uhm. I tend t be...pretty oblivious to everything when I'm reading, so if I'm going to keep watch tonight I can't spend the time reading, and...well..." closing the book, she gently places it under Jacquelyn's book. "Sorry about the water damage, I kinda...fell into a pond wearing my pack and didn't know it was in there at the time." Grinning crookedly, she finally gathers her sticks and goes out of the cave. Too many emotions running rampant at the moment, she can't take much more and needs time to process. Carving sticks while watching the sun set is just the kind of activity she needs.

Exiting the cave, she's surprised to see Sigurd and Ashwyn both practicing weapons and movements in the sand. That looks like a really good idea, but Lo doesn't even know how to stand with a blade and her staff has been helping her move in the sand up to this point. Not wanting to interrupt their practice, she takes a seat on a rock and watches them for a little while.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:02 pm

Sigurd smiled, she was getting it. He watched as Lopiena made her way out of the cave and he nodded to her "Pay attention sprouts, you could glean something from this as well" He shifted back to his human form and took a position beside Ashwyn "Do as I do." he stepped sideways and spread his feet just beyond shoulder width apart, lifting his sword almost above his head, the blade was pointed at an invisible opponents face or throat. The tilt of the blade is neither vertical nor horizontal but slightly on the diagonal with the bottom of the cross guard pointing in towards his temple. "This is the Damh, or Ox position and can be easily attained by making a cutting upward motion." he brought his sword back down to rest so he could demonstrate, with a simple sweeping motion upwards he settled back into the position he was demonstrating before "Even though you're using a shorter blade, you still have good enough protection as well as the ability to thrust, turn to cut diagonally downward, or pull back and cut from underneath.

He took a step forward while lowered his sword to his waist and pointed the tip upward towards the invisible opponents 'chest'. Normally they would have striking dummies but in the absence of equipment their imagination would have to do. The hilt was held off the side of the hip as not to hold it directly in front of his groin. "This is called the Crann, or Plow position. It's a more well rounded position to be in, not fancy by any means but very effective for quick slices and upward thrusts."

Sigurd lowered the tip of the sword to the sand "This is called the Amadan, or Fool position, it's deceptively open but allows for quick counter strikes. I sometimes like to call it the shield position, given the width of my blade," He pushes the hilt forward and kneels behind it "I can protect most of my body from arrows, fire traps, most projectiles really." He reset to the fool position before continuing on.

Bringing the sword over his shoulder he looked like he was ready to bring it down at a moments notice. "This is called the Mullach or Roof. When holding your weapon like this, strikes are quicker and more deceptive but have somewhat less range and strength. This is mainly used for intimidation, Generally we'll use this in hybrid form and show our teeth, growl, snarl. Whatever gets the point across. It'll transition easily into any other stance, or the Ox."

Bringing the blade down to rest beside him, the tip pointing behind him "This is called the Fhada, or Tail position, It allows for a strong rising cut with the blade ending in the Ox position or used in combination with Roof position strike. It's my go to starting stance because it can be menacing and deceptive depending on who I'm fighting or how."

Sigurd began transitioning between each position slowly and repeating the motions for the other two to watch and Ashwyn to follow "In my training sessions I have to be firm with the new recruits but feel free to modify and improvise with what feels more natural to you and your weapon there are obviously vast differences in the size, shape and weight of our weapons" he winked.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:18 pm

Ashwyn smiled at Lopiena as she exited the cave. She winked at her in a friendly way before focusing on her mate.

Ashwyn watched Sigurd's movements very carefully each time he demonstrated a form. Then she would repeat it, moving slowly and precisely, adjusting as necessary. She tried to memorize the names - the way her muscles felt when she moved - the weight of her blade.

As he began to transition from one to the next she did her best to move with him. When he spoke of the size difference between their weapons she smirked. "Really dear? I didn't notice." she said sarcastically.

She looked down at her blade. "I've always preferred smaller blades. Easier to transport and lighter weight. Speed and stealth have always been my way and a large weapon makes that more difficult." she swung the blade before her, practicing the forms.

"I'll be honest... I feel much morr comfortable with my bow. Or even a dagger. These..." she said, pulling her second facatta out and looking at both. "Are still fairly new to me. I've only had them for a few years." she looked up at her mate. "I wouldn't turn down any training tips you might have." she smiled.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:37 am

Watching Sigurd then Ashwyn going through forms, Lopiena watches intently. Having never tried a weapon other than her staff, every movement seems completely foreign to her...she's used to keeping her weight evenly distributed, holding her staff at the one third mark on both sides except for a few very specific strikes. Trying to watch the sword motions only confuses her; there's just too much going on. Hands are together or separate; elbows out or tucked; stance...stance is constantly changing. After watching for several minutes, Lo finally gets up and just starts moving her feet. Shoulder width apart, weight evenly distributed; shift to one foot behind, the other in front, weight on the back foot; lean forward to shift weight to the front foot; both feet on the same plane but weight distribution is leaning to the left...then the right...back to even distribution, repeat. After going through her own foot positions for a while just to get used to moving in the sand, Lopiena starts trying to imitate Sigurd's foot position. Completely different! If she tried to stand like that with a staff she'd hit herself in the leg or the head, depending on which side of the staff was in motion. Trying to follow his feet with a scowl of frustration on her face, Lo stumbles several times until she finally stops and just watches him again. He seems to be counterbalancing the weight distribution of his feet with the position of his sword! Maybe holding something to help guide her hands and arms will help. The alder sticks aren't the right size, shape, or weight but she doesn't trust herself with a real blade...the sticks will just have to do. Picking one up, she slowly starts putting herself in the Plow...Crann position one body part at a time, checking arms and elbows against Sigurd whenever his flowing motions return to that form. He did say it was simple and well rounded, and fancy is definitely not something Lopiena is willing to try just yet!
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:40 pm

Watching Lopiena try and mimic his movements he felt very aware that these were not his students back home and he'd have to slow it down slightly. The sand didn't help either. He walked over to the druid and put a hand on her shoulder before taking position beside her and carefully went over the stances again, making sure to adjust her as they moved. "next settlement we get to, we'll see if they have training weapons, you'll need the weight to test against" he said with a smile.

As Ashwyn pulled out her other sword Sigurd smirked and stuck his into the sand and drew his hand axes out, flipping them both in his hands. They were about the same length so it would work. "You'll need to get comfortable with every kind of reach" he smiled. His specialty was in the greatsword, so the proper stance names for two weapon fighting escaped him at the moment, it would be something he'd have to look up when they got back home.

"My old trainer would always say that the best defense is a good offense, and that's where two weapon fighting comes in, With either hand you can block and attack. Not as heavy as a shield but damn near as good." He did a flourish of sweeping motions altering which hand was swinging. "The quick and dirty of it is that your weapons are an extension of your hands, and as long as you can keep them moving your opponent shouldn't be able to guess your next attack." As if to punctuate his statement he spun quickly, slashing at the air with his axes before letting one fly from his hand and sink deep into an innocent cactus.
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Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert
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