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 Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert

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AniRedFox
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:23 pm

Brynoff smiled at the girl and bowed his head to her praise. "Oh, thank you, my dear. It wasn't just me though. These folks had to want to change before anything would happen. We built it with hard work and by working together." He said as he followed her outside.

When she asked him to show her around. He smiled. "I'd be honored." He said, offering his arm to her.

When she mentioned he knew her mother, his eyes softened and his smile warmed. "Oh yes. I knew Lorelei. Please, this way." He said and led Lopiena away from the home of the wounded and along the village streets.

They were mostly abandoned now as people retired to their homes for evening activities so it was really just Brynoff and Lopiena on the road.

"I had to admit... it is because you are Lorelei's daughter that I made such haste in rescuing you." He admitted. "Not that I wouldn' twant to help any of Jacquelyn's friends, mind you. But knowing it was you down in that ruin well...." He cleared his throat. "I would do anything for Lorelei. And that goes for her kin." He said with a wink down to the girl on his arm.

He grew somewhat sad then. "Jacquelyn informed me of what happened in your village... with your grandmothers spell. It would explain why I haven't heard from her in so long." He nodded. "I'm very sorry that you had to go through that as well."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:25 pm

Nervously trading his arm, Lo follows quietly while keeping an eye on where they're going. Wouldn't do to get lost in a strange place at night...but as they walk along, Lo slowly starts to relax. He seems genuine and kind, and hearing him speak of her mother with such fondness warms her spirit. Perhaps a little too warm...blushing when he mentions hurrying to their rescue because of her family connections, Lo watches his face. Genuine fondness indeed...idly wondering what sort of relationship he'd had with her mother, Lo looks down when he brought up the spell that had separated them. "I...honestly didn't know about the spell until Jacquelyn told me. To me, she just left...for years I thought it was something I did, that I'd shamed her somehow. Of course the fact that Gramma fed me all those lies for so long had a lot to do with that..." Looking away so he can't see the pain written on her face, she pretends to admire the architecture of the buildings for a moment before speaking again. "Is it ok if I ask you what you remember about her? She was always a bit of a mystery to me, and I never really thought about asking about her youth until she was gone." Saying it that way only makes the pain worse...after so many years of desperately holding onto the vain hope that she's still alive, all of the talk about her only rips open the walls she'd put around her heart. "Jacquelyn says she's still alive, and maybe knowing something about her past will help find a way to break the spell." ...probably not actually, but it's the only thing Lo can come up with on the spur of the moment. After all of the tension today, reawakening old wounds isn't helping her general disposition and she refuses to cry in front of this stranger.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:59 pm

Brynoff sighed and nodded. "Yes... I know about your grandmother. I can't say it surprises me to hear that she spoke so harshly of your mother. I wish it did." he frowned. "But I can assure you, your mother did not have an unkind bone in her body. There is no way she would leave you unless it was against her will. I know that." he said, his eyes blazed with certainty.

When she asked about what he remembered, he chuckled. "Oh dear.... How much time do you have?" he smirked. "You're mother..... Was unlike anyone I had ever met. The largest and warmest heart of anyone I'd ever seen. My village was half the size it is now when I met her, but it grew because of her. She sought out werewolves and brought them here. Her blessing with Selune gifted her with that skill. Her and Jacquelyn both."

He shook his head." But she was more than that. She was... Beautiful and sensitive. She wanted nothing for herself if it meant others had to go without. There were times I had to insist shr eat even. She felt her food should go to those less fortunate." he smiled fondly, remembering." She used to make me so angry sometimes. "he chuckled.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:33 pm

Nodding to Brynoff's story, Lo smiles. "That she was. I remember several times when she went hungry so I could eat, but she didn't even want to guilt me with knowing...she'd say she'd eaten before, or would find something later. I remember one year when the entire village went through a harsh winter, she hunted for meat and helped me rescue villagers from freezing in the woods. Together we brought them firewood and warm soup...she even gave her own cloak to those in need. I learned everything from her...the important stuff anyway, how to help and be kind and the power of a smile even when nothing else is going right. She encouraged me when I needed it, helped me through hard times and long days...I miss her so much...." Struggling to keep control of her emotions, Lo shakes her head. "I always thought she did that sort of thing because she wanted me to learn it, not because that's how she was. I don't know why I didn't realize until it was too late...I tried to follow in her footsteps but talking to people is so hard for me..." present company excluded, apparently. Chiding herself for talking too much, Lo smiles up at Brynoff. "Sorry, I got carried away. Can you tell me something about yourself? Or anything else you'd like to talk about?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:26 am

Brynoff smiled at LOpiena. "That sounds like Lorelei." He nodded fondly. WHen the girl said she missed her, Brynoff sighed sadly. "Yes... I do too." He pat Lo's hand that was being held in his arm.

He shook his head. "Never be sorry for talking about your mother. It's not often I get to talk about her. I quite enjoy it." He smiled down at her. "You know...." he hesitated, pondering. Then he looked down at Lo. "I'd like to show you something. A place your mother went often. Would you like to come with me? It's not far."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:32 am

Sigurd sighed "I like how this went from a reconnaissance mission to now having to actually storm a mountain fortress." He shook his head and got up off the bed taking his armor off and setting it to the side of the room. Stretching, he crawled back onto the bed and wrapped his arms around Ashwyn again.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:33 am

Smiling up at Brynoff, Lopiena nods. "It is good to talk about her, I'd love to hear any stories you're selling to share. I haven't talked about her for years, either...not really, anyway. The villagers have their own...perceptions...about her, and between them and living with Gramma the only chance I'd get to talk about her was flavored with negativity, and I just don't want to remember her that way. Meeting Jacquelyn, learning about her life out here, learning about the spell...it's almost too much, I feel like a stream during spring thaw. Silent and cold for so long, and now rushing with a river of words...I feel bad for my companions." Laughing ruefully at herself, Lo looks up at Brynoff's suggestion to see a place she used to go to. "I'd like that very much! Oh...and off topic, I was wondering if you have a bath house or a laundry? I know water is precious out here, but so is cleanliness." Grinning again, Lo tries to remember the last time she'd bathed...can't have been as far back as Eventide, can it? ...yes. Yes it can. Ick.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:19 pm

When Sigurd got up, Ash sat up too. SHe noddedto his words. "Yeah.... That wasn't exactly how i thought things would go for sure." She sighed. SHe bent down and removed her boots and set them over with the rest of her armor.

When he lay back down she snuggled close in his arms. A feeling against her foot made her look down. Pip was nuzzling at her toe as he tried to climb up into the bed. SHe smirked and pulled him up to her. She turned to her side and pressed her backside against SIgurd's front with Pip curled in the crook created by her body. The small fox walked in several circles before settling in a small ball ofwhite fluff against her stomach.

SHe smiled down at him and wrapped her arms around SIgurd's, resting them against Pip's soft fur, stroking him lazily.

"The thing that concerns me is.... we have several army's supposedly waiting for our call should the need arise but.... if the need DOES arise... will we survive long enough to warn them?" She sighed.

---

Brynoff smiled when she agreed to follow him. "WOnderful. COme, this way." He said, leading her through the village but heading more towards the outskirts. "We do havea public bath, but as you said, water is precious out here. Most families get by with simple sponge bathes. Public bathing happens once a week at a set time where we all share in the bath. That's in two days. If you're still here then you're welcome to join us."

He led her up to a small archway made of old stones, but not sand stone. It was strong white stone that had been sand smoothed over the years. The arch led into a small setting of rocks that blocked the view from the rest of the village. THe passage was harder rock, less sandy, and the rock walls on either side were very tall. "YOu're mother used to love coming down here. SHe loved it so much that we dedicated it to Selune. It's become a shrine that we pray at. It's also usually where most of our ceremonies take place." He explained as they walked.

COming around a corner in the rockface, streteched a large pond. But... itwasn't a pond. It was made entirely of glass. It shined in the sunlight and glimmered like crystal. Right in the center they placed a large statue of Selune in a peaceful stance with her palms together. Around the clearing was more white stone arches with intricet carvings through out.

"If you've ever wondered what dragon fire does to sand... this is it." He said with a smile. "You're mother was always facinated by this place... she decorated it herself."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:29 pm

Open eyed and open mouthed in wonder, Lopiena steps almost reverently through one arch, then stops to take her boots off. It just seems more appropriate somehow. Continuing into the area with the warm sand under her bare feet, looking around from the decorated arches to the glimmering glass pond, Lo can almost feel the spirit of this place. Closing her eyes and touching an arch gives her a remarkable sense of peace, and all of the tension from the past few days melts away. Zane is going to be fine, and whether he can continue the journey or not at least he's whole and healthy. And what she chooses to do with her body is no one's business but her own. The love she'd felt is what really matters, and she would gladly give her life for those she loves...and she knows that they would do the same.

Carefully stepping onto the glass pond in her bare feet, Lopiena quietly offers a prayer to Selune. Her mother had taught her well, and there had always been a bit more feeling in the ceremonies dedicated to Selune than the dry, boring rituals that her grandmother had forced upon them. It's almost like her mother really revered and thanked Selune for her gifts, and Lo had always followed behind her mother...even now, years later in a place they might have known together if things had worked out differently.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 23, 2018 7:31 am

Brynoff smiled as Lopiena stared in awe at their surroundings. He just stayed silent while she explored the area. For a moment it was like her mother standing in that clearing. His smile grew sad and he had to look away. He cleared his throat and straightened himself up.

"I'm glad you like it. This is a very special place for me." He smiled as he looked around at the pillars. "When... when I miss your mother... I come here. It just.... feels like her." He sighed softly.

He turned back to her and seemed to hesitate a moment. "How much do you know about why she left the desert?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:39 am

Slowly walking from pillar to pillar, admiring the decorations and the sheen of glass under her feet, Lopiena looks up at Brynoff's question. "Very little. Jacquelyn said she left because of me...or rather, that I'm a girl and the only child my grandmother would accept. Gramma has some...odd views about what is and is not acceptable...I barely qualify, gender regardless. But to continue the family line she had to have a girl, and I'll be the same...I have to have a daughter to continue the family line. As things are now, I should say. I have no intention of allowing those horrible things to continue...tradition or not, Elder or not, something has to change..." Suddenly aware that she's clenching her hands, Lo stops talking and takes a deep breath. "Sorry...I've learned some things on this journey that really show how bad things are, and I don't understand how it happened. Mother saw it, and she tried to change things but Gramma wouldn't let her. I'm not as strong as Mother and I don't know if I can do anything but I have to try. .but back to your question. When I was a girl, Mother told me stories about the desert and her travels, and I asked her why she came back. She said that the village needs light and life, that darkness will only grow if no one is there to stop it. I didn't understand it at the time, but I think she recognized how bad things were and wanted to start change by leading through kindness. The villagers didn't see it that way, though...all of her good intentions were misread as...something else..." slowly pacing around the pillars, Lo silently remembers just how misread she'd been. Gifts had been taken as bribes, or payment for sexual favors, or...folding her legs under herself, Lo quietly sits on the glass pond. Thinking of her mother always brought up hard memories, and being in a place like this only makes the memories even more present. The feeling of peace was helping her keep her emotions in check, but it wasn't easy to talk about.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 23, 2018 10:54 am

Brynoff nodded along as Lopina spoke. He noted several times when Lo would get overly emotional. Not that he could blame her. Hearing the stories from Lorelei about her village made Brynoff upset about it as well.

But hearing about how Lorelei was... misconstrued... his mind went to a horrible place and he felt his fist clench. "Those bastards..." he muttered, thinking of the villagers could possibly think Lorelei would ever be that way. He took a calming breath and finally relaxed.

"I... lost contact... with your mother once she left the desert. It was for the best, really but..." He shook his head. "You're mother was... perhaps the most special... no... she WAS the most special person I have ever met. I've never known anyone with a heart as large as hers." He smiled over to Lopiena.

"There's... something here. Something that has been waiting for your return. I think you're mother always hoped that you'd find your way here. Maybe she even planned to bring you here one day. Do you want to see it?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Mon Jul 23, 2018 1:05 pm

Lopiena smiled a small sad smile that didn't reach her eyes. "I'm sorry she had to leave. I'm sure she meant to come back, she loved the desert and those who live here...I could tell that just from the stories she told. I used to dream of visiting the Wasteland with her, never thought I'd be here without her...after she left I thought maybe she came here, even hoped...well."
At mention of something she'd left behind, Lo looks up curiously. "For me? You really think so? I'd love to see it. Please?" Standing again, Lo tries not to look too eager but knowing that her mother used to live here, loved the people here, and maybe even thought of her return before she was born was almost like being with her again. Watching Brynoff is fascinating as well. He clearly thought the world of her mother, and a very large part of her wants to know just how closer they'd been.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:10 pm

"Think so?" Brynoff laughed his booming laugh again. "I KNOW so!" He beckoned her forward off of the glass surface. "It was back when your mother was carrying you." He said as he walked her over to the rock wall. "She always hoped you'd find your way back here, one way or another. And she wanted to make sure to leave something special for you here. Something that she never wanted to fall into anyone elses hands." He ran his hand along the rockface, looking for something.

"Now, blood magic is the best kind of key, right? That way only someone with that blood can get into it, right? Well, your mother, while a kind soul, also tends to be a paranoid soul." He laughed. "She didn't want to risk someone with her blood finding the artifact. Like, perhaps, your grandmother." His hand paused on a small indention in the rock., sliding his hand inside.

"So, she had me help her with the magic. Most people here can't use magic, except for transforming, of course. She and I were the anomalies there. So, she combined my blood with hers to create the lock. Ah ha!" He cried and twisted his wrist inside the hole. A click sound could be heard and a large rock slid to the side.

It revealed a smooth white stone, rounded on top and sunken into the sand. The exposed part was carved like the pillars but with druidic runes. Lopiena would recognize them as dealing with blood magic, locks, and one symbol in the middle that stood for family.

Brynoff turned and smiled at her. "So, all we need to do it..."

A loud explosion cut him off and made him turn. Instinctively he grabbed Lo's arm and pulled her behind him as he turned to face the sound. Before either of them would be allowed to react further, a wave of force shot forward and threw both of them backwards into the wall. Even with Brynoff's strength and fortitude, it wasn't enough to keep from loosing consciousness.

Upon waking, it was clear that the moon had fully risen and night settled in. Brynoff was tied by very thick and heavy chains , obviously in anticipation of his very impressive strength as a spellwolf. Lopiena was tied with a rope that glowed, but only held her hands in front of her. The rest of her body was unbound.

Standing in the clearing near the glass pool, stood a figure all in black. The figure's back was to Lo and Brynoff, but when sounds of them waking started, he turned to face them.

"Ahh, good evening." It was a human man. He had a scar that stretched from his right ear, across his face and right eye, and down his neck.

Brynoff growled. "Kakerot ." He glared. "Do you really think these binds can hold me for long?" He snarled, his eyes flashing animalistic.

The man laughed. "Oh no. I don't. But it will last long enough for me to get the artifact."

Brynoff struggled a moment, not actually trying to break free yet, just to express his frustration. "That artifact means nothing to you. What could you possibly want with it?"

"Oh nothing." He grinned. "Just the simple fact that you won't have it is enough for me."  He took a step towards Lo. "Nice to meet you, dear. I'm Kakerot . And we're about to become great friends." He said, with a very sarcastic smile.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:31 pm

Following Brynoff off the glass pond, Lo wonders about what her mother had thought at the time. To know that she was leaving and wanted to leave something for her child to find, with or without her...did she know she might not ever return? Or was she planning to be here, walking with Brynoff, showing her this special place? It's interesting to consider, and the longer Lo thinks about it the more it almost feels like her mother's spirit is here, walking with them. Listening to Brynoff explain about her mother's paranoia...not an aspect she'd experienced much of, though it does make sense all things considered...Lo watches Brynoff manipulate the secrets of the rock with curiosity. When the rock moves back, revealing the runes within...Lo at first is startled, then intrigued. Leaning closer to see them better, Lo is caught completely off guard by the explosion. Feeling Brynoff pull her back to protect her, Lo shouts in surprise...then thrown backwards...and black...

Waking up as a captive almost makes Lo panic as visions of Kobolds and their not so glamorous leader dance in her head, but opening her eyes to moonlight makes her feel better. At least they're outside; there's always a chance to escape as long as they're in the open. But everything hurts...anything with enough force to knock out someone like Brynoff certainly isn't good for the general health! So running is out, at least until she can assess the situation. Looking around, Lo at first is worried about the chains binding Brynoff...but he seems to be ok, other than being unable to move. So the chains aren't silver, that's good at least. Trying to manipulate the bonds around her hands, Lo wonders about the glowing...probably something to prevent her from using spells. Well there aren't very many spells she can use without her hands anyway...going to have think her way out of this one!

Looking up at the words of this...Kokerot...Lo watches the exchange between him and Brynoff while thinking quickly. They clearly know each other, and the stranger knows about whatever they're here to retrieve, which means he must have known about it from times before...when her mother was still here. Watching him with interest mixed with fear, Lo turns frightened eyes to him when he addresses her directly. This might be a good time to pull the 'damsel in distress' card...large men tend to underestimate small unassuming women, and if she can get him to drop his guard it might become easier to escape. Besides, it isn't much of an act to appear as a frightened little girl...because frankly she's terrified!
"Wh...what do you want from me?" her voice quavered.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:25 am

Kakerot threw his head back and laughed. His voice crackled and rose and fell making him seem quite insane. He laughed for a good long while before finally calming down and looking down at Lopiena again.

"I apologize. But your fear is quite amusing to me." He smiled but his eyes blazed with something that was anything but joy. "Don't worry dear, I don't want anything really. Just your blood." He reached down with a shocking speed and grabbed the ropes that held her hands. He was much taller than her and so lifted her in the air easily by the ropes.

"Oh, and don't even think about trying to cast one of your silly druid spells. Those ropes will bind your magic for at least 4 hours. More than long enough for my needs." He said as he carried her over to the druid stone.

"Kakerot! You unhand that woman!" Brynoff shouted angrily. His skin bristled and instantly changed into thick brown fur with gray tips and gray patches throughout. His body strained against the chains as it grew with his transformation. He pushed against themwith all his might and they began to buckle.

Kakerot simply laughed. "My, getting so worked up over a stranger. It isn't like you, Brynoff." He smirked. "But then... she's not a stranger. Is she?"

Brynoff growled. "What are you on about?" He shouted, pushing against the chains and working to stand.

"Oh you know exactly what I speak of." He turned to the girl. "I'll be taking that blood now, dear." He pulled a dagger from his belt.

"You won't be needing that!" Brynoff shouted. "That seal is blood locked. It needs two blood types to get in!"

Kakerot laughed again. "Oh, if I'm right... I have all I need right here." He smirked down at Lopiena.

He tossed her on the ground, pulled one hand out and slashed at her palm with the dagger. Blood flowed from the wound. "It's a shame really..." He said as he watched the deep red liquid pool in her hand. "You're mother really didn't deserve what happened. If only she'd listened... and not gotten involved." He sighed dramatically, but it was clear he was not at all concerned for her mother, or her for that matter.

Then he took her palm and slapped it against the druid stone, right in the middle over the family druidic symbol. Her blood flowed from her body and she'd see it fill in the carved symbols. As the magic took over the blood would flow through all of the carvings and begin to glow faintly.

"Damn it, Kakerot !" Brynoff shouted. The chains continuing to buckle around him.

Kakerot was ignoring him now, eyeing the magic as it flowed across the stone. "Yes.... I knew it." He whispered, watching the magic react.

As it flowed, Lopiena would recognize that the lock was beginning to open... with only her blood....


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Sat Jul 28, 2018 10:24 am

Nearly panicking as the man laughs...either he's truly insane or very good at appearing to be...Lo tries to wrestle the bonds off ner hands. No good...whether magic induced or knots (ha ha) they might as well be steel!  Being lifted by the bonds does nothing for her courage, especially when he starts going on and on about blood...for a moment she almost thinks he means the Maiden's Blood, which has already been given to the earth, but when he pulls out a dagger it becomes quite clear what he really means. Eyes widening, Lo struggles against the bonds again but it's pointless.

Ok Lo, you need to think your way out of this one. So quit panicking and THINK! Listening to what they're saying does no good; two types of blood, fake concern about her mother...what in the nine hells are they talking about?!...feeling the dagger slash her palm and watching the blood pool, Lo finally sees an opening when the runes start to glow. He's paying more attention to the lock opening than to her, and Brynoff is almost free...time to act! Striking out with her leg, Lo kicks at the joint of his knee with as much strength as she has...which sadly isn't much, but she doesn’t need to kill him, she just needs to cripple him long enough to get away!...and then pushes at him with the hope that he'll be unbalanced enough that she can get her hands free of his grasp.

(Strength check 11+2...twice, what are the odds of rolling 11 two times in a row!)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:56 pm

[Ooo good shot! Sadly....]

Lo's foot made solid contact with Kakerots leg causing him to step back. But he was much stronger than her so all it served to do was make him angry.

"Little brat." He glared, grabbing her by the rope that held her hand, lifting her into the air, and throwing her backwards. "It doesn't matter. You're job is done now." He turned back to the runes.

The blood had traveled through all the runes and the rock cracked down the middle. Opening up to the sides, it revealed a small box inside it. He reached down and lifted it into his hands.

"Kakerot, so help me, if you don't release that box..." Brynoff growled.

Kakerot laughed and turned to face him. "Oh I know. You'll kill me. I've heard it before." He smirked.

"Death is far too good for you." He growled. He strained again, pushing out his muscles and the chains snapped loudly, falling limp around him.

"Well, that's my cue to leave." Kakerot chuckled. He waved his hand in front of himself, muttered a few ancient words, and his body shimmered out of sight just as Brynoff reached the location, swinging his large claws at the place he once was.

Brynoff growled loudly in frustration and punched the wall, leaving a large hole in the rock. He calmed his breathing for a moment before turning back to Lopiena. He rushed to her side and pulled at the ropes, snapping them easily. "Are you alright?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:14 pm

Being flung through the air with her hands bound wasn't the result she'd hoped for, and Lo was unable to catch her fall. Landing heavily on her arm, Lo felt something snap and there was a moment of numbness before overwhelming pain overtook her every thought. Biting her tongue hard enough to taste blood, she was able to keep from screaming but nothing could stop the tears from steaming down her face. Trying desperately to distract herself from the pain, Lo tries to focus on what was happening around her...gotta focus or the next attack will be her death...Lo is cognizant enough to see the enemy take the artifact and leave but nothing beyond that. Feeling Brynoff's kind hands on her, Lo looks up just as he pulls at the ropes, taking her arms with him for a brief moment before the ropes snap. She nearly screams at the sudden motion, but her hands are free! Grabbing her arm, Lo automatically checks for compound breaks. It's a clean break at least, simple binding and some time is all she needs. Looking up at his kind question, Lo tries to smile but it comes out as a grimace of pain. "I'm...ok...but my arm..." taking a deep breath, Lo tries to stand but the jostling of her arm almost makes her cry out again. "Brynoff...please...my robes are tied with bindings, I need them to wrap my arm. Can you untie...the one on my leg should be long enough...please...and maybe a straight stick if you can find one?" Although she knows the house of healers isn't that far away, it would be better to wrap if right away. Besides, she isn't entirely sure she can trust her legs at the moment with how fast everything happened. Some of the things that had been said are finally starting to filter through her thoughts, and she wants to talk to Brynoff privately for a little longer. Swallowing against the pain, Lo tries to calm her voice enough to talk normally.

"Who was that guy? What did he want with...whatever that was? And..." looking at Brynoff, Lo swallows again, almost grateful for the physical pain in her arm to distract her from whatever was starting to roll around in her thoughts. "What did you mean about two types of blood? Didn't you say that I couldn't open it on my own?" Maybe he was mistaken. Maybe something else had happened that she'd missed; she wad pretty panicked at the time, and maybe what she thought had happened had really been something else. Had to have been something else...
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:25 pm

Brynoff looked over her arm and growled in his throat. When she mentioned the ties on her robes he scoffed. "Nonsense." He reached into a back pounch and pulled out some leather straps. He also pulled  a dagger with a long wooden handle from his belt. He wrapped the blade with the leather then pushed it against her arm. He wrapped it to her arm with another strap.

"Don't worry. We'll get you fixed up." He smirked at her as he wrapped.

He sighed when she asked about Kakerot. "That.... is a long story." He bent over and lifted her up into his arms, craddling her. "Kakerot is.... a bit of a zellot. He hates werewolves and everything they stand for. And he hates me for joining them together here." He frowned as he walked her over to the cracked open stone. "And that box..." he sat her down. "Was nothing." He smirked. He reached into the rock and dug his hand down deep. When it came back out, he was holding a small black box. "Remember when I said your mother was paranoid?" He chuckled. "She put a hidden compartment into the bottom of the rock in case Kakerot managed to get a hold of our blood and got into the lock."

But then Lo asked about her blood. He sighed. "Oh right... that..." He carefully sat her down till she was in a comfortable position and then sat next to her. "The lock was a blood lock. It was sealed with my blood and your mothers blood. Only that combination could open it." He looked up at her. "And.... it was that combination that it got."

He reached down and pat the back of her hand softly. "I... I'm your father." He said, softly.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:03 pm

Watching him wrap the dagger and then her arm, Lo winces at any movement but finally relaxes when the dagger is settled against her arm. Gratefully wrapping her hand around the hilt...having something to grip will help keep her wrist steady, as well as a small piece of her sanity intact...she mentally thanked Sigurd for getting her used to being picked up and carried all the time. Seems she's not going to get much choice about it for a little while. Listening to Brynoff explain about Kokerot, Lo looks concerned...anyone who hates werewolves like that is a danger to the entire community! "Does he attack often? This village is so peaceful, and since so many come here to escape persecution I can't imagine what someone like that would do."

When he reveals the box behind the box, Lo starts to laugh. After all that, after threatening and capturing and destroying and....it had been a decoy all along! "Mother knew what she was doing, didn't she? I guess if the same guy had been after the same thing for so long he gets predictable." Turning serious again, she looks at it curiously. "But what is it? What's so valuable that it's worth killing for?"

His next words stopped her cold. Stunned, she felt suddenly grateful that he'd set her down so gently because there was no way her legs would support her after a reveal like that. "Father? But...but...how? ...no don't answer that, I know how children are formed...but...but I..." Stunned was to mild a word. She was floored, flabbergasted, flummoxed. She knew his words were true, the runes had proven that...but a large part of her just didn't know what to do with this knowledge. All her life she'd dreamed of meeting her father, wondered what he was like; as a very young child she'd had entire imaginary conversations with her mysterious stranger (he loved the rain in the forest, and blackberry jam on his bread just like she did) but when she'd gotten old enough to learn about the fertility ceremony she'd realized that even if the man who fathered her knew she existed he certainly wouldn't care. She'd still wondered what he looked like, what his mannerisms might be...purely as a scientific study of genetics, or so she told herself to avoid any potential emotional attachment to the man she'd probably never meet, and wouldn't recognize if she did...and now he was here, cradling her, taking care of her, showing her pieces of her heritage she didn't even know she had and she had no idea what to say. Somewhere in the static of her brain it occurred to her that her arm was getting wet; tears had been falling for some time apparently...but after everything that had happened and now this she just can't seem to remember how to turn off the faucet. She just sat there and stared at him, hoping he'd know what to say because she certainly didn't. Well...perhaps one thing. "Did...did you know? Before just now, I mean?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:42 am

When Lo expressed her concern for the village, Brynoff waved it off. "Kakerot isn't nearly strong enough to take on a whole village of werewolves. And besides, he regards them as little more than wild animals. His hatred is for the one who herds them, as he puts it. It's me. He's been a thorne in my side for quite some time." He admitted.

At her next question, he sighed again. He finally sat on the cool sand. He removed his cloak and wrapped it around her, the night was getting cold. "Yes. I knew." He said softly.

He looked down at his hands for a while. "I... always thought your mother would be here when we told you. I'm sorry that she can't be." He looked up at met her eyes. "Jacquelyn told you that your mother left with you shortly after you were born, right? Well.... not even Jacquleyn knows exactly why." He met her eyes. "I'll start at the beginniing, shall I?" He nodded to himself.

He reached up with a palm facing the sky and muttered some words. A silvery blue energy flowed slowly from his hand and draped around them, creating silence sheild around them so they wouldn't be overheard. "I met your mother shortly after she and Jacquleyn came into the desert. I belive they'd only been here a few months when they happened upon my village. It was much smaller then, only two or three homes. You're mother was facinated by werewolves and wanted to learn more. So I offered to become her protector while she was here. Spellwolves have great control over their transformations, but werewolves struggle with it. I didn't want any harm to come to either of them. They stayed for about a week before the first citizen lost control and attacked them. Jacquleyn broke her arm and your mother was nearly killed before I could get to them."

He shook his head at the memory. "It was decided it was too dangerous for them to remain long term. So I helped them find a new home. I took them to the spires wher I knew of a small vilage. They liked it, so remained there. But your mother still made frequent visits. At first just once or twice every few months. But as her magic grew and she became more familiar with the desert the trips increased. I was facinated by her. The way she cared for others so completely. The way she accepted us as people, and not monsters." He smiled, remembering. "It wasn't long before I fell head over heels for her." He chuckled. "Ironic, isn't it? A man of my age?" He shook his head.

"But I knew Kakerot was still out there. He was already a problem back then, but I didn't know how much of one. I had asked your mother to go for a walk with me. I brought her here, for the first time. It was here that I confessed my feelings for her. By then she was very firmly ensconced in her family with Jacquleyn, Yavin, and little Liam. Now, please, don't misunderstand." He said looking back at Lo. "I am an honorable man. I never wanted to pull your mother from her family. That was never my intention." He said firmly. "But... I had never loved someone like I loved her. I felt she had the right to know. Even if she turned me down. I knew I'd always love her." He smiled. "To my great surprise... she confessed the same. She wanted me to meet her family, to join them. If I could have her by my side I was willing to do anything. But.... Kakerot was listening. He decided then that the best way to hurt me was to hurt those I cared for." He shook his head.

"He began attacking your mother when she'd come to visit. She made the treks on her own, you know. So she was vulnerable. Now, Kakerot didn't anticipate her magic and she was able to best him several times. But it was becoming dangerous. She began to grow afraid for her family. While Jacquelyn could hold her own, Yavin and Liam wouldn't stand a chance against him. We decided, for the sake of them, to stay apart. We never confessed our feelings to anyone and remained... distant. Kakerot seemed to believe it because the attacks stopped. But.... it didn't last. It was late one night, your mother was preparing to leave from another visit. She'd finished construction of this shrine and was finally returning to her family. We didn't have a guest house back then, so she was staying in a guest room in my home. And well..." He trailed off then cleared his throat. "Well anyway... you don't need those details." He said shaking his head.

"In any case, she left the next morning. I didn't see her again for another couple of months, and when she came back for a visit I learned... she was pregnant. We stole away to a secret room in my home that has been spelled with silence. There she told me that the child was mine, but she was afraid for your safety, so we agreed to let everyone think that Seya was the father. But as her belly grew we knew the ruse wouldn't last once she gave birth." He looked back at Lo.

"You see... when a Spellwolf concieves, that child is gifted with the blessing of the ManaWell. It doesn't matter if the mother had been turned or not. The moment it was revealed who you were, Kakerot would know and your life would have been in great danger." He sighed. "We didn't know what to do. So.... we came here. We prayed to Selune for guidance and salvation. And.... she granted it. Selune agreed to block the blessings of the Mana Well from you, in exchange for your mothers lifetime commitment. Selune demanded that your mother give her everything to her. She was ordered to travel the world and spread Selune's blessing. She was... forbidden love, for it would be a distraction to her work. You were the exception, of course, as you were a gift of Selune."

He smiled softly. "That's why your mother had to leave. Selune was quite clear. Your mother had until you were born to say goodbye to her family. She never told them the truth of why she had to leave. She was afraid that Kakerot would find out and harm them in her absence. We always assumed that he'd be taken care of by now and we could confess to everyone the truth. But..." he shook his head. "He is.... illusive." He grumbled.

He looked over to Lo again. "I... I never knew if she told you the truth or not. She could never write to me, for fear of the letters being intercepted. So... the only real contact I got from her was through Jacquleyn. Who didn't know the truth so..." He shook his head. "I'm sorry that you had to find out like this." He carefully took hold of her hand where it was cut and passed his palm over it. He muttered some words and her hand would feel hot for a moment. When he pulled it away the simple cut was healed.

"I am so glad to have finally met you. Even though the circumstances are not ideal." He smiled up at her. "You are so much like your mother... I could not have hoped for more."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:08 pm

Listening to Brynoff speak in stunned silence, Lopiena wonders about the courage of her mother.  She’d escaped to the desert when she was a bit younger than Lo was now, if her math was correct; and to come to a village of werewolves and care for them as people, even after getting attacked…returning to care for them in spite of the danger, in spite of everything…yeah, sounds like Mother.  Learning about how their love had blossomed is beautiful, but to be attacked because of that love…whoever this Kokerot person is, he needs to be stopped!  Lo wondered idly about where he’d come from and what his motives were while Brynoff continued speaking.

At first confused by Brynoff’s explanation about ‘the blessings of the Mana Well,’ Lo sits up in shocked realization. She was supposed to have been born a werewolf!  No not just a werewolf, a Spellwolf like Sigurd! For a moment, Lo absently wondered if that’s why she felt so attracted to him…but no, Sigurd is attractive in his own right and she’d never heard of Spellwolves before meeting him. In fact, everything she knew about them was from Sigurd himself during their question/response session back in Eventide. Refocusing back to Brynoff, Lo listens with wide eyes. A gift from Selune…in exchange for everything. To lose love, her family, everything…all for her protection.  She really did leave because of me.  Trying hard not to blame herself, Lo keeps listening in silence but the tears are flowing again.  It certainly explains why her mother had returned to the village, though…a safe haven (of sorts) that didn’t know anything about werewolves, didn’t have any connections to this Kokerot person.  And not being able to tell anyone, not even Jacquelyn...she’d known her mother was a private person who didn’t talk about her personal life, but Lo had no idea that she held such secrets!

Not even aware that Brynoff had finished his story until he healed her hand, Lo looked up at him.  To think this huge man had been with her mother, had guided her when she needed it most, had stood by her side only to watch her leave because of who and what he is, and because of those who would cause him and everyone he loves harm…to love her and miss her as the decades flowed by, only to find out that he’ll probably never see her again because of a spell her crazy grandmother had cast…it’s almost too much. There was so much she wanted to say, but no idea what. Well…he had asked whether or not she’d ever learned the truth. Her shocked expression probably spoke volumes to him, but at least speaking the obvious would loosen her tongue.  “I…I had no idea.  When I was younger I asked about who my father was, but Gramma would get angry if I badgered her too much.  Mother never talked about it, so I just assumed she didn’t know because the fertility ceremony is done with masks and stuff.  The talk of the villagers made me wonder, though…and Gramma used to say that I had the temperament of a summer-born, and if I’d been conceived during a ceremony I should have been born in the spring. So I guess I’ve always known that I’m different, which is why Gramma got so angry with me…but this? I had no idea.”

Thinking back to her childhood, she pauses a moment before looking back up at Brynoff.  “I suppose there were hints, I just never recognized them for what they were. Mother always loved wolves and often spoke in their defense to anyone who would listen. She may even have spoken to the wolves themselves because the village herds were never attacked, even in the harshest winter. And Mother told me stories, lots of stories. One of my favorites…well…” Hesitating again, Lo wonders how much of this is foolishness but plows on ahead anyway.  “Gramma always hated men and used to tell me horrible things about them so I’d be afraid of them. I still have no idea why…but anyway. She was very…graphic…in her descriptions and I’d often have nightmares, so Mother told me nice stories of good men.  One of my favorites was about a man who could turn into a wolf to protect people.  She told me that this wolf-man would watch over my dreams, and even if they got scary he’d make sure that nothing bad would happen to me.  She even gave me a small carving of a wolf to watch over me while I slept, and I carried that carving around with me for years before I finally decided I was too old for children’s tales…but in the stories, she described him as kind, with a big deep laugh that came from his whole body, with sparkling blue eyes and shining brown hair…I’d always thought he was a Druid, because Mother would take the wolf form when she changed to her Wild Shape, but…” Brynoff puts into flesh the descriptions of the stories she used to hear, and after listening to him talk with such passion Lo has no doubt that her mother had been preparing her for this inevitable explanation. She may never have heard of Spellwolves before, but nothing about them surprised or frightened her.  ...well ok many things surprised her.  But not frightened, at least.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:34 pm

Brynoff smiled fondly as Lopiena related to him the tales her mother told of him. His own eyes sparkled with unshed tears and he chuckled. "It's... it's good to hear that she still thought about me. Even if she didn't use my name." He said, clearing his throat a bit.

He shook his head. "I'm so sorry that it all had to work out this way. We never wanted it that way. When you're mother first told me she was with child I.... I was beside myself with joy." He smiled. "I never thought that I would have an heir. Ever since being banished from Thunderknoll I... I thought that chance was lost to me. But then... with Kakerot...." he sighed.

"Well... we can't change the past." He looked  up at her.

"Please, open it." He said, lifting up the box that was hidden deep inside the rock.

If Lopiena opens the box, she will find a small ring with a sparkling green stone in the center. The ring is modest and the stone looks raw, as though it had come straight out of the earth. Under the ring is a small folded peice of parchment. Unraveling it would reveal her mother's handwritting.

"My Little Rose,

If you are reading this, then you have met your father. I hope that I am there with you now, but something tells me I will be absent from your life by now. Selune has whispered things to me and though it saddens me to think of my life without you, I believe she will watch over you in my absence.

Please take this ring with you on your travels. It has belonged to our family for generations. My mother locked it away because she claimed it was not condusive to our rituals, but I believe her to be wrong. This ring, from what I have been able to discern, was crafted by elves in the early years of our world and gifted to our ancestors. It is crafted of a very rare stone called Fuchsite. This stone boosts our druidic healing abilities and connects us to the earth. I have used it to grow stronger, but I feel as though you will need it far more than I.

I plan to take you back to my home village, and I do not trust the safety of the ring to my mother. She will no doubt take it from you if she discovers it. So I leave it here, in the trustworthy hands of your father, to watch over until you can find it.

All My Love,
Lorelei
"

Brynoff sat quietly as she read, his own mind wandering back to the days when he sat here like this with Lorelei. He missed her so terribly, but having Lopiena here was like having a piece of her back.

Once she was done, he cleared his throat. "I hope you won't blame your mother for her decision to leave. And please don't think her a coward for fleeing. She was anything but that. I've never known anyone so brave for doing what she did."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert   Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:31 pm

Smiling at the sparkling of Brynoff's eyes, Lo nods sadly. "I'm certain she thought of you often, even if she never spoke of you. There was always a bit of sadness about her, and as a child I often imagined that it was because she missed the one she loved, that when she went to the mountains she was visiting him and that's why she was happiest in the mountains. I was sure it was just childhood fancy, but after learning about Jacquelyn and now you..." she shrugged and grinned at him. "Only she really knows, though. I can't claim to know her very well, not after learning how many secrets she held."

Looking startled at the idea of being an heir to anything...she'd been considered a bastard child her entire life, and the very idea of heritage beyond the requirements of her grandmother was still very new to her...Lo puts that discussion to the side for now and gently takes the box, opening it almost reverently.  Seeing the ring is intriguing, but her attention is immediately drawn to the bit of parchment held within. Reading it takes some time; it's not too dark out with the moonlight, but her eyes just won't stop flowing. When she finally reaches the end of the letter and wipes her eyes one last time, she lifts the ring up to the moonlight to admire its color and sheen. Placing the ring on her first finger...her hands are too small to put it anywhere else, it seems the ring was originally designed for a man....Lo whispers a prayer of thanks to Selune and her mother.

Brynoff's next words surprised her. "What? No! Mother is the bravest person I have ever known! Everything she did was with a courage and grace that I can't even come close to emulating. And I certainly don't blame her. If anything I blame myself. I took her from you...she left because of me. Even Gramma's spell was about me, even though I didn't know about it at the time. I...wish things had turned out differently. She sacrificed so much, and after everything she did for me, for you, for the people, even for Gramma...she's still forced to live in isolation, and it's not fair and..." voice cracking, Lo fights the emotions that still threaten to overpower her sense. Lowering her head onto her unbroken arm, Lo forcibly calms herself. No you can't run home and make Gramma break the spell. No you can't change the past. And that Kokerot person is gone, no chance of finding him and bashing in his face even if you had the strength to do so...and you don't, so chill!  Thinking about Kokerot again makes Lo look up suddenly. "He knew. Kokerot knew that he only needed my blood to open the runes. He knew we were here the moment you touched the stone. I think...we might be in great danger, even now."
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Chapter Four: Barren Wastes of the Desert
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