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Fiona ONeill
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:27 pm    Post subject: A Field of Pesh Reply with quote

Evening. The Peshlian Basin. Inner Arc.

The veiled threat of thunder rumbled in the distance; it seemed to be warning that it was moving closer, and bringing a storm with it. It was darker than it should have been as the afternoon passed and evening fell, even though the canopy provided by the trees was becoming more sparse as they travelled. The sky was clouded over by the time they emerged from the tree line, and the cliffs behind them cast them further into darkness, as they found themselves looking into what appeared to be an immense earthen basin more than a hundred miles wide, it's far side obscured by a distortion in the air somewhere in between. Similar mountain ranges, cliffs, and forests seemed to skirt the rest of the basins edge as far as the eye could see in the failing light. The basin was particularly verdant, and although their blooms were hidden by the absence of light, the aromatic smell of roses – pesh in Puhra Dahli - in numbers of thousands upon thousands and more, met the First Sword like a gentle wall.

The way through the basin seemed to be spider-webbed with hard packed trails that could afford two people side by side, and it seemed as though there was some forethought in their creation. They meandered to and fro through snarls of wild roses, thorns, and vines, but they did so in ways that hinted at the hand of man in their creation: they all moved parallel with, and perpendicular to, each another. The refugees and surviving regulars had arrived at the basin first, having maintained their speed and distance advantage over the officers who brought up the rear guard. They had already started examining the paths, the surroundings, and taking their ease as they waited to push forward again. Most who hadn't ventured out amongst the roses out of simple curiosity nodded or waved their greetings to the officers as they arrived. Few set to getting ready to leave immediately; they'd give those who'd guarded their backs what time they could take for themselves to rest and try to renew themselves. Several came forward to offer skins of water, dry rations, and rations foraged from the wild during their flight.
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Knightfall
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:29 pm    Post subject: You Don't Think I Pay Attention to Things Reply with quote

Kristoph accepted both water and food, though he offered them both to Fiona first and took his own second. He looked out over the basin, fixing it with a hard stare. Someone had offered him some type of red berry, he'd accepted and now popped a small handful into his mouth and chewed slowly. He swallowed and deliberately waited until those who'd just arrived with him had taken at least some form of refreshment. “Do you see it.” It should have been a question, but it had come out flat.

“See what?” Brend answered, his innocent tone at odds with his words. “The big empty space with nowhere to hide that they'll probably ride over us on?” His tone was almost annoyingly jovial. Sometimes it seemed that he didn't worry about anything at all. “This is what you get for wanting to be a gardener, you know.” He gestured to the open field. “Fate's sense of humour sucks.”

Plopping down between some of the bushes, Livia retorted, “So does yours sometimes.” She stretched out her legs, laid back, and rested on her elbows, suspending her upper body over the ground. Just as lazily as her recline, she asked Kristoph, “What do we see?”

“Not enough,” Kristoph answered. He scanned the distance ahead of them, then glanced upwards as though a silent appeal to whatever gods were in the sky might help. “I don't know that it's the lack of light. All the larger plants have been gone a long time, but is that because people have harvested them once, and did something to the land to keep them from growing, or is it because there was never anything larger than this,” he gestured briefly. “My point is,” he was interrupted as Brend, who'd reclined in a similar fashion to Livia, spoke up.

“The city, where's this city we were supposed to be looking for? Shouldn't we be able to see it?” Brend's gaze had been following Kristoph's gaze, and he hadn't been paying attention as much to what was being said. “Huh? Oh.” His attention had returned to his friend and leader, to find Kristoph had fixed him with a look that rode the border of annoyance and amusement.
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Fiona ONeill
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:30 pm    Post subject: Problem and Answer Reply with quote

Fiona continued standing, looking out over the dark basin. “Certainly the city is still there…” Her tone was half questioning and half hoping.

Kristoph moved to stand beside Fiona, matching her gaze. “That's the problem. We don't know if it was every really here. There are no written records, we're relying on word of mouth; oral history through legends and myths.” The muscles of his jaw had bunched tightly together. If he bit down any harder, he'd crack teeth. “This might have killed us.” His gaze shifted from the basin – vacant except for plants, as far as could be seen. Night had completely fallen now, and vision was further limited.

“If it's not here, we have nowhere to run or hide or escape to; the Second Sword will ride us down. We've been lucky they have the train they have to manoeuvre through the valley and trees. If they get to where we're standing now, and we don't have an answer,” he let that notion hang in the air. The results were obvious. No matter how much distance they put between themselves and the Second Sword, if they didn't have walls at least, the Second would have a direct charge at them wherever the First went.

Fiona turned her head towards him and took his hand. Waiting until his eye met hers, she said devotedly, “We will figure something out.” Knowing he had inspired and driven them this entire time, she hoped she could inspire him now. She figured even if they couldn’t find the city, they could work together to come up with some way out, some alternate solution, something that wouldn't leave them stuck. They had to.

“What's the problem, then?” A new voice joined the chorus. An old man was squatting on his haunches close to Livia and had addressed her more than the others, a point punctuated by his the nodding inclination of his head towards Kristoph, Fiona, and Brend. Urdru, the elder Puhra Dahli, had appeared amongst them without warning or notice. One moment the space was empty, the next moment it was not.

Brend's head snapped towards the elder at his intrusion, the surprise making his hand stray to his hip – to find only empty air. His sword belt lay on the ground between himself and Livia. He swore in surprise. If it had been an enemy he'd have been empty handed.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:34 pm    Post subject: Annoying Ineloquence Reply with quote

Kristoph had cast a quick, obvious glance in their direction, but made sure to keep Urdru in his peripheral vision. The old man's peculiarities reminded him of someone, but he couldn't place it. His lips betrayed a small smile despite the sober tone of the situation.

“It's surprising,” Kristoph murmured more to Fiona than the rest, casting his glance back her way only to dart his eyes towards the other two men and back to her in indication of whom he spoke. “I don't think Brend can stand him because they're too much alike.”

Fiona smiled in response to Kristoph’s assessment, but her attention turned to Livia.

At Urdru’s question, Livia had sat straight up in defence. As she did, her hands instinctively dove down to the cuffs of her knee length leather boots, prepared to grab the long knives she had hidden in each. Once she realized it was just him, she loosened her posture and placed her hands on the ground next to herself to once again recline slightly. “The problem is,” she answered Urdru tersely while picking up one hand briefly and motioning across the vast empty space in front of them, “we came all this way for nothing.” Kristoph may have been right. The only other person that aggravated her as much as Urdru did was the man on her other side.

The old man furrowed his brows. “Huh?”

Kristoph's attention had turned more completely to the old timer before anyone else could interdict. “We should be within sight of the city, should we not? And yet,” he gestured to the vast, dark fields before them. “The Second Sword will overtake us when their mounts gain the fields. They'll send heavy cavalry and simply ride us down.”

Urdru stared at him, and feigned wide, almost ignorantly bovine eyes.

Kristoph's brow drew downward in annoyance and Brend snorted and looked away from them, focusing on the field before them in the hope that some tactical opportunity would occur to him. Before Kristoph could chastise him, though, Urdru raised a hand in defence, as if warding off whatever comments were forthcoming.

“Did you hear him,” Urdru nodded towards Fiona, then jerked his head towards Kristoph. “He's always going to be like that, you know. Oddly formal. He never breaks the habit.” He must have been referring to Kristoph's earlier comments.
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A man performs but one duty - the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.
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Fiona ONeill
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:05 pm    Post subject: Magic and the Moon Reply with quote

He stood slowly, a series of cracks and pops issuing from his bones and joints as he did so. He smirked, the weathered lines of his face crinkling in amusement. “Some people just live in the past, I guess.”

Fiona watched the old man intently as he spoke as though he knew Kristoph and how he would ‘always be’. She stared hard at him as if trying to decipher every wrinkle. Eventually she saw what Kristoph had meant. Since she had been spending more time with the members of their party, she had learned more of their personalities and quirks. Urdru shared much of the same humour and laid-back demeanour as Brend. Urdru always seemed to focus on and stay as close to Livia as possible, as he had appeared just now. Livia had mentioned to Fiona when Urdru had spoken to her and Brend in the woods when they were scouting with Kaius. Livia had complained to Fiona about Urdru in the same annoyed tone as she had used to complain about Brend. Maybe they weren’t just ‘too much alike’ like Kristoph had said, but it was something more, like maybe they were somehow the same. Fiona told herself that couldn’t possibly be true, though the old man did defy reality on occasion. Either way, he seemed like he knew more than he was volunteering.

“So,” Fiona asked casually, taking a different tactic than Kristoph’s formality, “Do you know where the city is?”

Everyone was suddenly looking at Urdru. His grin turned impish in a way that somehow admitted his guilt before he found the words.

“Of course I do,” Urdru waved at the entire rest of the group, as though they were asking the most obvious, inane, question. He pointed out into the darkened field, where the rest of the group often found their own focuses straying. “If the moon were out, you could see it, too.” Thunder rumbled as if on cue, not yet overhead, but growing closer. He anticipated one of them, as mouths opened to voice questions or demands. “It's magic, of a sort, that hides it. Not something any of you are likely to be able to break, nor even Ronin – so leave him to his rest; you might need a his arsenal again before this is done. He's already tried to pierce it, and so has Atticus.”
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:09 pm    Post subject: Question Reply with quote

Urdru's lips twitched into a grin, then twitched again as though it had gone sour or couldn't decide if something was funny or distasteful. “So has Jonas. None of them could pierce the defences of the 'holy city'.”

Still lounging lazily, Livia turned from her view of the empty space and faced Urdru. She glared at him skeptically, and said sarcastically, “Ok, so, this city that we can’t see… we also can’t get into. Good thing you came along to sort that all out for us.”

Kristoph cast a warning glance at Livia, but said nothing. Sometimes her sarcasm was an asset, other times it wasn't needed, at least he felt so. One of the benefits of her and Brend working closely together, he mused, was that then they could each deal with each others attitudes. It didn't seem like her attitude phased Urdru in the slightest, however, and the older man kept talking.

“Of course it is,” Urdru smiled, as though self satisfied. “I knew you'd recognize it sooner or later.”

“The only thing she is likely to have realized,” Kristoph had found his voice again, and had to interrupt. “Is that every word you utter takes you closer to the end of your life,” he cast a brief peripheral glance at Livia, “And not of old age.”

“If I could crow without coughing,” Urdru's eyes glittered and he smiled with humour that seemed suddenly dark, coloured as it was with the discussion of his ending. “I would. You're completely right, and completely wrong at the same time.” He actually waggled his brows. Somewhere in the peanut gallery, Brend groaned, and Urdru spoke again. “I said none of you could breach the defences, open the gates to the city; I didn't say I couldn't.”

Livia appeared genuinely interested now. Not wishing to invite another glare from their leader, she chose to stay silent.

Fiona still watched Urdru closely, noting how his age seemed to be taking its toll on his health. She wondered just how old he must be, and if he used his playful taunts and jovial anecdotes to cover up just how close he was to his end as a defence mechanism. If he could, in fact, do what he claimed, it would certainly cause him further strain. “What can we do to help?” she asked, trying to sound supportive.
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A man performs but one duty - the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.
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Fiona ONeill
Lady of The Knight
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject: Rest for the Weary Reply with quote

Urdru flashed Fiona a smile, and held up one finger and waggled it back and forth in a gesture that was almost admonishing. Brend saw that exchange and groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“It's cute when I do it,” Brend muttered under his breath. “When you do it, it looks like someone is being sassed by a saddlebag with eyes.” A reference to the old man's age. Urdru's head snapped towards the comment, and after a moment he laughed aloud.

“That,” Urdru seemed to be answering Fiona, having looked back towards her. “Just that. Be yourselves,” his eyes narrowed, crows feet tugging the corners. “Too cryptic? That's just because I know how the movie ends. You'll get there, but pretty much it'll just be me and you awake for the credits.” The old man waggled his eyebrows.

“That, old father, is entirely unhelpful towards our current dilemma.” Kristoph spoke, and though his lips carried a wry smile, his tone was quite serious. “Our need for aid is immediate, can you offer anything which will allow us to aid you in truth?”

“Just stay on the paths between the roses,” Urdru had become suddenly more solemn, as if to match Kristoph's tone. “And get some rest. You'll need it. We've got maybe 5 or 6 hours before we have to leave. Any longer and we'll be waiting right in the path of their hooves.” He turned towards Brend, anticipating some comment – and sure enough the younger man's mouth was opening. “Listen to your elders, just this once.” Urdru had cut him off, and Brend cast the man an overly dramatic suspicious scowl as the old man continued. “I'll take care of the rest of the refugees. I got them this far,” the old man waggled his brows again. Kristoph opened his mouth to comment, but he too, Urdru cut off. “Don't fight with me, I'm not your enemy. There are lots of those on the way right now. If you have questions, ask, but keep them short. Then rest.”

“Rest sounds good,” Livia said softly while giving the old man a nod.

“Rest would help the refugees as well,” Fiona faced Kristoph and suggested, “especially the weary.” Offering a subtle hint, she motioned towards Urdru with her eyes, then returned them to meet Kristoph’s gaze.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:12 pm    Post subject: A Lily Guy Reply with quote

Kristoph took her meaning immediately; he tried to remain keenly aware of those in his charge, and the refugees and Urdru were no exceptions. “My curiosity is, for the moment, satisfied, old father.” He moved subtly towards Fiona and slipped his hand into hers. “Rest,” He spoke to the rest of the assembled officers, and to Urdru. “We will rely on the refugees to be our watch, for the nonce; as we've guarded them, so too will they now guard our rest.”

Urdru gave a smugly satisfied smile and nod, and as he sighed and walked away, his shoulders seemed to slump. He was tired as well, but persevered and kept himself upright with the contrary strength of old men.

Livia pushed herself up and off the ground, taking a side step to stand in front of Brend. Looking down at him, she kicked one of his boots playfully and said with a smile, “Come on. I doubt we’ll have another chance to stop and smell some roses.” Before he could make a comeback, she added more sternly, “And no, that’s not code for sex.” She smiled sincerely down at him, and extended a hand in offer to help him up. She would have been more than happy to continue sitting with him right where they were, but not with the old man so close. Always needing to appear tough to those around her, she preferred to spend her downtime privately.

Brend's brow furrowed as he'd looked towards her as she rose. 'There's something to be said,' he thought, 'for black leathers.' He took her hand with a grin playing at the corners of his mouth. He didn't rise immediately, but held her there, tensing as though he were considering pulling her back down. Instead he winked, smiled easily, and rose. “Um,” he said aloud, then dropped his voice to a more conspiratorial, yet still audible, level as he slipped an arm around her waist – and kept it there despite her immediate superficial protest and attempt to push him away. “What was the code for sex again, then?” His tone was full of fake innocence. “And besides,” he went on more casually as they moved out of earshot. “You know I'm more of a lily guy. Roses are so overdone.”
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