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Posted: Dec 6 2010, 09:54 PM
Member No.: 33
Joined: 1-March 06
Sunlight leaked through the forest canopy at a slanted angle, casting patchwork illumination onto the grass and soil. Aslie shielded his eyes as he opened them, a beam of light stabbing down at him, and sat up with a hungry yawn. The raccoon stood up in the tree he had slept in, looking up again through the roof of leaves to the sky beyond. He couldn't see the sun directly, but based on its general position they had slept in late. He reckoned it was approximately 9am, but that couldn't be helped; they had been up late and needed proper rest to travel quickly. It made sense as well - since they were sleeping beneath the trees, the sun would need to reach a higher position for its light to angle through the leaf cover and get to them.
Aslie shook his head and yawned again, focusing his wandering thoughts. He made his way down from the tree, his robe slung over his shoulder. The raccoon looked at the others, who like him were wearing their normal clothes and had used their disguises as blankets for the night. Zone was still asleep, lying on his front beside the roots of an adjacent tree. Aslie considered waking him but decided against it. The hamster had done a lot yesterday, and more than any of them had earned the right to a full night's sleep. The least Aslie could do was get them some breakfast, as he was hungry and the others would be too. Kyrie was awake, but looked like she was still resting, so the raccoon headed over to Kartney, who was sitting up.
"Morning, Omnis" Aslie said quietly, feeling the prefix 'Good' wasn't suitable. The mouse mumbled a reply, still a little dozy. Aslie held out a hand. "Could I borrow your robe for a little while?" he asked.
Kartney blinked and looked at him a bit curiously. "Uh, yeah, g'ahead" he replied, bunching up the makeshift cover and passing it to the raccoon.
"Thank you. I'm going to gather some food. If the others ask where I am, I should be back soon" Aslie explained. Kartney nodded, and got up to stretch his own legs.
The thief set out from their impromptu camping spot. As he walked he tied the two robes together, making a crude yet effective sack. Foraging was one skill needed for surviving on the road without transport or supplies, and he had had plenty of opportunity to develop it. After searching for a little while Aslie came across some berry bushes, and once he had made sure they were ripe and not poisonous, he began loading his bag with as many as it could carry.
Making his way back, Aslie saw Kyrie was up and about as well now. The chipmunk didn't look too great though, and he carried the sack over to her. "Morning Kyrie. Are you alright?" he asked with polite concern.
Kyrie looked around as he approached, and nodded. "I just haven't slept rough for a while" she explained, yawning and giving a small smile.
Aslie nodded in understanding. "I see. Well, hopefully this will help pick up your energy" he said, setting down and opening the sack as Kartney wandered over.
The raccoon handed them each a couple of berries, then left the bag open so they could help themselves, the three of them sitting down to eat. Zone joined them after a short while, perhaps woken by the smell of breakfast, and they focused on filling their stomachs. Aslie fetched some water gourds from the supplies Kartney had been carrying to wash it down, as it was very a sweet meal.
As they finished up, Zone noticed that the bag was made from Aslie and Kartney's robes. "Are we not gonna wear these things anymore?" he asked after swallowing, pointing to the now somewhat sticky and dirty clothes. The raccoon shook his head.
"We were wearing them when we were found out. If there are wanted descriptions for us out they'll probably include these robes, so I guess we don't really have any use for them now" Aslie responded. Their only purpose had been disguises after all.
Zone nodded. "So we're just gonna bunch them up and leave them here then?" he asked. The raccoon replied with a nod. Improvising, Zone used some water to wet the fur around his mouth, then wiped himself clean with the sleeve of his erstwhile now useless robe, the berries being a somewhat messy breakfast. He rolled it into a ball and put it on top of the others. "I'll go get yours, yeah?" the hamster turned to offer Kyrie, who had left hers folded up neatly next to the spot she had slept in.
"Yeah, sure..." the chipmunk answered quietly, looking at the berry she was eating.
Zone looked at her for a second. "OK" he responded, and got up, going to grab the last robe. He returned and set it down with the others, and they finished their meal.
Aslie took the robes and hid them in the neck of the tree he slept in, just in case someone came this way looking for them. "So, which way d'we head?" Kartney asked as he climbed back down, the mouse hefting their luggage.
Aslie turned and rubbed his chin for a moment. "All I can think of is to move in the right general direction, and hope for a river" he replied, and pointed west, knowing which way it was from the position of the sun. The others nodded, and they set off.
The group travelled mostly in silence, the tension of the situation present in all of their minds. Although things were quiet now, they were, in broad terms, both lost and in hostile territory. Their thoughts and breath were focused on keeping a firm and quick pace of travel, covering as much ground as they could without wearing themselves out. All they could really do right now was forge on and quietly hope.
They had been walking for just under half an hour when they saw what looked like light flickering in a clearing ahead. "Oi, is that a forest fire?" Kartney thought aloud.
"I don't think so. There's no smoke..." Aslie replied. He looked at the others, not a word being spoken as they all reached the same conclusion.
"I'll go, stay here" Zone said after a moment, and walked forwards. Aslie raised an arm after him, but was hesitant to speak.
"Are you sure?" the raccoon said eventually.
Zone paused and looked back at him and the other two, and nodded. "Yeah. This is my mess, I should clear it up" he responded. Aslie lowered his arm and nodded a silent ascent, Kyrie and Kartney saying nothing. "Hey, don't worry" the hamster told them, cracking a grin. "I'll be right back. Rest your feet or something" he said, and gave a cheery wave over his shoulder before continuing.
The rodent left his friends behind as he headed towards the clearing. Sure enough, as he entered it the triplet fiery faces of Pyrdra came into view, reclining against the base of a tree in a disarmingly casual fashion for a dragon made of fire. They roused and faced him as he walked up to them.
"Morning little action hero" the middle head purred, smiling pleasantly at him. The hamster stopped at what seemed a comfortable talking distance and waved back.
"Morning. So, have fun last night?" he asked, grinning up at her in his trademark fashion. Two of the hydra's heads laughed mirthfully, the one that was talking to him raising her eyebrows and grinning toothily.
"Oh, you are a fun little ball of cheek" she remarked, entertained by the little boy's flirtatious phrasing and tone. It was an order of magnitude beyond obvious that he didn't have a chance in Hell with her, and his daringly playful attempts in spite of this entertained her. "Yes, I had quite a good time, thank you" she replied.
Zone chuckled, and nodded. "Glad to hear it. Sorry I ended up calling you sooner than we said, I hope it didn't spoil things" he apologised with a still-cheerful smile.
Pyrdra shook her central head, beaming. "Not at all honey. That little bit of classy showmanship you put on, snapping your fingers to give the signal? I couldn't pass up an entrance like that if my life depended on it. The priceless look on their faces will keep me warm at night for weeks to come" she told him, a distant look in the dragon's eyes as she remembered it fondly. "Besides, the one that caught you had quite a bit of power, so I got my fill in the end anyway" she added, licking her lips.
"Good to hear" Zone replied with well-concealed relief. "How much of the place did you leave standing?" he asked with a conspiratorial smirk.
"Oh, they chased me off eventually, but not before I had my fun and left my mark. If I could defeat all of their forces at the Wall it would've been burned down a good few years ago already. You were a good distraction to sneak inside and cause a bit of extra mayhem though, and besides, any excuse to get back at the Tomedians is good enough for me" she responded, one of her flanking heads winking. The other was looking off into the forest behind him. "Are your friends not going to come and say hello?" the middle one asked, all three heads turning their focus back to Zone.
The hamster glanced back, and gave a small shrug. "I thought it would be unfair to ask them to stand here silently while we talked, and doing introductions seemed a bit out of place, since I figured we'll be parting ways in a bit, right?" he explained.
The dragon smiled warmly, tilting her head. "You know kid, when I decided to help you out one time, I was worried you would get clingy afterwards and try to talk me into doing it again and staying with you. It's quite a pleasant surprise to see you're being more mature than that, makes me glad I saved you" she praised the rodent.
Zone grinned hugely, and to his surprise felt a faint blush creep up under the fur of his cheeks. "Well, don't get me wrong, it's been a pleasure having you around. But after receiving so kind a favour, from such a lovely lady, how could I possibly dare ask for more?" he said, giving her a formal bow. Pyrdra's heads laughed raucously.
"Oh, you silver-tongued little charmer of a gentleman!" her three mouths hooted at the same time, a sign she had truly lost her composure from laughing. "I hope that girl you're rescuing knows what she's getting into" she added as she calmed down.
Zone grinned, and bit his tongue on a number of comments that came to mind. "I guess we'll see when I find her" he settled on. "On that note, do you know of any rivers nearby? We were gonna try following one to find a town" the rodent asked.
Still smiling, the dragon nodded gently. "Mhmm, yes. There's one that way, maybe an hour at your speed I'd guess" Pyrdra replied, gesturing with a head south-west.
Zone nodded. "That's not far. Thanks Pyrdra, it's been a blast meeting you. You'll be alright, right?" he asked, more out of politeness than thinking she wouldn't be.
Pyrdra chuckled and nodded triply. "I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself" she replied playfully. "I'll be keeping my ears open to learn what becomes of you and your friends, so take care. I'm interested to see what happens if you make it" she added with a wink, then turned away, her necks sinking into the ground as she did.
"Oh we're going all the way!" Zone promised, calling after her. He watched the fire dragon disappear into the earth, and stood there for several seconds. The hamster reminded himself to move after a moment, and turned around, walking back to the others. He realised he was breathing somewhat quickly, as if he had just finished a 10-minute run, his heart pounding slightly. Making deals with giant creatures made of raw elemental power was unbelievably risky, but also damned exhilarating!
The others got up from where they had been sitting as he approached. "Did it go well?" Aslie asked after a moment. Zone nodded, grinning.
"Very, I'd say. She's not coming with us anymore, but she's fine with how things turned out, even though it wasn't how I told her it would. If you get past the fact that she's a three-headed dragon made of fire, then she's a pretty cool woman" the hamster replied. None of the others had any comment to make on that. "Uh, she also said that there's a river about an hour south-west of here" he reported.
"Aah, that is helpful" Aslie said, a smile lighting across his face briefly. "Let's head that way then" he said, the hamster voicing his agreement. Aslie gestured for him to go first. Zone gave him a mildly surprised look but nodded, taking the lead, the raccoon following him. Kartney fell in behind them, and Kyrie brought up the rear.
The (aspiring) Tyrant Hamster: Is Running Out Of Places To Hide The Bodies.
Posted: Mar 21 2011, 03:07 AM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 12-March 05
The morning sun drifted through the cabin window, specks of dust flickering through the light as the beams glowed onto Alina’s face. She sat up in her soft bed, wiping the sleep from her eyes as she yawned. Glancing around the small room, she tried to regain her bearings as one often does waking up in a strange place.
The shack Tresh spoke of was actually a cozy bed and breakfast run by an elderly mole couple. Tresh’s standing granted the trio their own individual rooms on the government’s dime, about which Alina had no complaints, waking not only in a real bed, but one without her captor grumbling the morning away at its side.
As the squirrel stretched, still sore from the previous evening, a soft knock rattled on the room’s door.
“Are you awake, Miss Jarr?” Lynn’s soft voice came from the hall.
“Yeah, I’m movin’. Come on in.”
The door opened slowly with a slight creak, the mouse stepping in as silently dignified as ever. “I have your uniform here. I took the liberty of cleaning all of our tarnished garments, but I’ve not had time to mend any tears and the like, so do make sure nothing too embarrassing is showing.”
“Uh… I will, thanks.”
Lynn nodded, draping the robes over a chair in the corner. “There’s towels in the closet. Tresh just got finished with the bath, if you want to clean up. Just be quick about it; we leave for the capital after we eat.”
“Alright,” the squirrel responded. As Lynn left the room, Alina glanced out the window, taking in the lush green field that stretched beyond it. A road followed along the grass, showing signs of heavy traffic but now being mostly abandoned, entailing that those who travelled it had heard of the terrors at its end. Hopefully things get back to normal soon, the squirrel thought, both with respect to the damage caused at the pass and town beyond it, and also to her own daily life.
She had little confidence about the latter happening. With that grim thought, she gathered her things and made for the bath.
The mole couple provided a simple but satisfying meal for breakfast, which was already being served by the time Alina got to the table. “Where’s Tresh?”
Lynn didn’t look up from her food, simply responding, “She finished already. Stepped out to talk to somebody.”
“I see…” There was little to add, so Alina took to piling food onto her own plate.
There was barely even time to get a bite in before the sound of Tresh clearing her throat demanded her attention. “Miss Jarr, a word?”
Not one to be left without food, Alina shoved half a pancake in her mouth and took the rest of her meal along with her as she followed the General out the back door. Greeting them there was a thin, strangely built man, mouse-like in figure, but with long, rabbit-like ears. Rather than get nosey about what strange lineage spawned such a thing, the squirrel decided to solve all of her problems with more pancake.
“Stop staring, Jarr.”
Jarr would not stop staring. Jarr would stare, chew, swallow, shove something else from her plate into her otherwise tempted maw that so wanted to ask intrusive and awkward questions, and then stare some more. She reached for the flea sausage.
“Nice pet,” the man sneered. “Is she the cause of all this?”
Tresh nodded. “In a certain light, yes, though they are being stupid about it.”
“Who?” Alina managed to keep food out of her mouth long enough to interject.
“By the sound of things, your idiot boyfriend, and company.”
Alina put the pancake halfway to her mouth back on her plate. “What, Zone? What’s going on?”
“There has been a rather… elaborate incident,” the man started. “The group you were travelling with seems to have taken some rather bold steps in following after you.”
“They’re… They’re coming for me…?” Her voice trailed off towards the end, the squirrel unsure how to feel about her friends risking their necks for her.
“And doing a fine job of it, too.” He turned his attention towards Tresh. “General, I feel we should be reporting their actions to the authorities-“
“I am the authorities, J’Renn,” Tresh snapped.
“What are you talking about?” The squirrel was starting to panic. “What did they do?!”
“There was an incident at the Wall,” J’Renn coldly stated. “Your friends caused quite a commotion, and seem to be linked to the simultaneous attack of something rather… unpleasant.”
“I’m sure they didn’t-“
“It’s love scorned, Alina.” Tresh avoided eye contact with either party, choosing to stare instead off to the side at nothing in particular. “Your man thinks your life is on the line, so he’s not letting anything stand between him and you. It’s not the best mental state for making rational decisions.”
“Regardless of any excuse you try to come up with,” the man continued, “lives were lost, some of which were… very important.”
Tresh sneered. “Don’t forget whose orders you’re under, Agent. You’re to have no direct interactions with them, and your sole task is to observe and report, understood?”
“By which you mean report only to you,” scowled the creature. “Yes, I understand.”
“Good. You and Phira are my eyes and ears on this one, but leave any decisions up to me. However…”
“Yes, my lady?”
“I think perhaps it would be wise to deter them from pulling any more stunts of that sort.”
“What did you have in mind?”
Tresh looked to Alina. “If they’re being so rash in pursuit of the girl, maybe she’ll know how to keep them in line.”
Alina blinked. “Me?”
“Jarr, it’s rather… convenient to send a message through my Agents. Anything you want to tell them? Something you think would turn a murderous rampage into something less incriminating both against them and yourself?”
“Hey, I didn’t-!”
“No, you didn’t, Jarr, but they did it because of you! The less fingers pointed at you in the long run, the easier of a time I’ll have covering your ass! Do you get it?”
The squirrel’s eyes darted about, her mind trying to process everything. With a sigh, she admitted, “I guess I do have something to pass along…”
Posted: Jun 12 2011, 10:43 AM
Member No.: 37
Joined: 1-August 06
The party was silently walking in the general direction of their destination – it was too crowded with trees to see how far away the river was, and you probably couldn't see it from that distance anyway, and the similar scenery was warping the perception of passing time. Picking up the uncomfortable mood, Aslie broke the tension.
“So when we get to this river, we should try to work fast. I still have this horrible feeling we're being watched.”
There was a sudden sound among the leaves somewhere. Everybody stiffened, biting their lips. Zone glanced at Aslie, and noticing he was watching the trees, signalled the others to also keep their eyes open.
With no mind for verbal conference, all eyes darted around the area, particularly into the trees – being such a closed in space, it was very difficult to ascertain exactly which direction the sound came from due to the echoes.
After a moment of harsh silence, there was a rustling and Kartney was the first to see a pigeon fly out of the trees, heading off into the opposite direction to where they were going. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief, although Kartney continued to stare at the tree where the small bird had come from, his eyes bulging.
Aslie clicked his fingers in front of Kartney, attempting to draw him back to the real world. Kartney breathed deeply, and in a catatonic state muttered, “We're being... birdwatched!”
Aslie scratched his chin thoughtfully, “That's just... Hmm.” He shook his head, convincing himself the birds couldn't care less while Kyrie put an arm around Kartney and worked on calming the poor rodent down.
After a short vigil where everybody ensured they were alone, the group found their bearings and varily set off again. They were more alert now, occupying themselves by watching their surroundings carefully for movement.
After some time, the group arrived at the river. It was wider than they expected, but there was a decent current, enough to speed them away from the city. The pleasant trickling of the water over the stones served well to soothe the nerves of the group who had not seen much but trees for a while. Aslie stepped towards the shoreline and examined the river, then dipped his hands in the cool water and tasted it.
“It's definitely safe for drinking... and fresh. We'll refill our canteens and then get to work building the raft.”
Aslie dipped his canteen in the water, quickly overbalancing and falling forward into the river. He bobbed about for a second or two, before dragging himself out the water and gasping, staring wide-eyed into the ground as he caught his breath.
“It's also... VERY... cold.” Aslie managed to utter these words as he was coughing up the last little bit of water from his lungs.
This prompted much laughter from the whole party, as Zone, between giggles, remarked about it not being necessary to jump into the river to collect water.
Aslie bristled his fur and placed the cap on his canteen, before drying himself off.
“Yeah, well, you try falling in a cold river and we'll see how you enjoy it. Besides, it's not fair that I'm the only one not laughing, hehe.”
He smiled, and they all settled down to work on collecting materials for the raft. Zone was trailing Aslie as they searched around the area for some larger branches they could move together. It was fortunate the trees were so close together here, as it meant most of the wood was already quite straight, and didn't need much work to tie together.
Zone futilely tried to shift an ideal branch, so Aslie cheerfully came over and helped out, hefting the majority of the weight. Zone was looking at the branch and had a thought. “Hey Aslie, do you even know how to build a raft?”
“Not a clue. I know how to tie knots, and I know how to collect wood. I'm only going by what's logical here.”
He dropped the branch there by the water, Zone not being ready and nearly going down with it. He managed to put his foot out and stop himself before he got hurt. When he looked up Aslie was already dragging another branch along, and he ran forward to try to help him lift the back end off the ground.
Aslie blankly stared at the log and continued his work, wondering to himself, “Whatever that means.”
Meanwhile, Kartney and Kyrie walking silently through the dense growth, cutting down the vines at ground length. Kartney noticed Kyrie to be more quiet than her usual self, and was actually a little concerned.
“Are you uhh... good, Kyrie?”
“Huh? Oh, yes. I'm fine, thank you for asking.”
“It's jus' that you're very quiet, and you're always real invitin' like and open. Are ya worried I'm gonna try like grabbin' you, or doin' somethin' undecent, or like... I mean, I'm not like that. I mean I was. I mean, I have done things like that in the past, but I ain't gonna go ahead and...”
Kyrie placed a paw gently upon Kartney's shoulder. “It's okay Kartney. I'm just overwhelmed by what's going on, and I'm not sure why I'm involved. I just know I wanted to help.”
“So ya aren't uncomfo'ble 'round me?”
“Not at all. I actually really like your company. You make me feel welcome.”
Kartney was a little surprised, not being totally sure how to respond. He had to hide himself blushing, as he was feeling quite proud about the warm response. “Uhh... Thanks. How many vines have we got?”
“We have five vines. I don't know how many we'll need, but ten might be enough, to be safe.”
“Right. Five vines. Five vines for the Kyrie and Kartney team. The two 'K's. We are on the job.”
Kyrie chuckled and smiled warmly at Kartney's enthusiasm, and cut down the next vine as Kartney held it down tight.
Later on, back at the riverside, they had collected all the materials and Kyrie and Aslie were tightening the last vines around the logs.
Aslie stepped back and admired the work. “That's about the safest looking raft I've ever made.”
Zone nudged Aslie in the leg, “It's the only one you've ever made, judging by what you said earlier.”
“Hey, I... want this to work.”
Kartney ran up and groped the logs on the raft as if they were a nice firm set of thighs. He pulled out his canteen and held it above his head.
“I christen this the HMS Kartney!” (“But I designed this!” Aslie thought to himself) and he lowered his canteen onto the raft with an audible bonk. The logs shifted from the impact and the whole group was staring in horror at what could've happened if they put their weight on that. It was intact, but it sure wasn't stable.
Aslie blushed, and attempted to defend himself. “H... Hey! I... haven't done this before. I... I'll... try and fix this.”
He grabbed some of the leftover vine and held it out in front of himself, putting on his thinking face as he stared at the knots. He then wrapped the vines around the wood and fastened it securely, then attempted to move the logs. He stood up and leapt upon the raft, and stamped upon it. It creaked slightly, but it was far more secure than it was a moment ago. Aslie still looked a little worried, but sighed and stepped off the raft.
“Is it safe now, Aslie?” Kyrie said, noting his concerned look.
“I think so. It's all I could do.”
There was a brief pause, the others hesitant about Aslie's uncertainty. It wasn't until Zone's interjection that they were able to clear their heads.
“Hey, we won't know until we try." he said, shrugging nonchalantly.
“... Right you are. Let's go.” Aslie pushed the vehicle into the water and jumped onto it carefully, holding it in place while the others followed close behind. A conveniently shaped stick chosen as a makeshift oar was then used to push off, and they were on their way.
"Little did he realise that he had actually just unwillingly activated the power of the stone hidden in his pants." - Aslie's Narrator
Posted: Aug 4 2011, 11:03 PM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 12-March 05
Alina found herself in the company of one more than she'd come to expect. Tresh's spy, J'Renn, had decided to tag along for a brief period, "observing," as he put it. The squirrel could feel the odd creature's eyes on her, and it made her less than comfortable.
Thankfully, the trip was short. Their destination was roughly an hour's walk up the road, the time passed largely by Lynn and Tresh talking about things they'd missed from home, none of which the squirrel bothered listening to because she was far too concerned with the laser glare she envisioned piercing into the back of her skull.
But she wouldn't say anything. No, J'Renn was scary. The strange rabbit-bat-mouse thing's demeanor seemed to invite a feeling of gloom and other such undesirable things to have hanging in the air, like he was a walking flesh tub full of hate, hate aimed directly at Alina, because Alina existed, and possibly other reasons that were comparatively trivial next to the crime of her being alive. It was roughly around this stream of thought that the girl realized she did not like this man.
There would be no moment to dwell on that any further, as time flies when you're paranoid, and as the party turned the last corner, the city's walls became fully visible through the parted overgrowth, the road bending towards the gates, suddenly paved rather invitingly with a smooth stone that glistened in the sunlight. Guards were stationed along the path, mounted upon pigeons that looked surprisingly fierce in their assorted armors. One guard stood out from the rest, a large man, a rat if appearances were to be believed, riding on a raven that looked capable of swallowing one of the pigeons whole.
So of course, he would be the one greeting them at the gate. "Halt!"
Everyone halted, though Tresh employed an eye roll that involved most of her body, just to be perfectly clear with the man where she held him in her opinions. "What do you want, Bairan?"
The rat squinted down from his impressive steed towards whoever would dare call him by his name, his eyes widening under the rim of his helmet upon realizing who he was glaring at. "Well, now! If it isn't the stray General!" He leapt off of the bird without so much as a pause, landing in front of the group with a loud thud, poised on one knee before slowly ascending to eye level. "I almost didn't recognize you, it's been so long!"
"That's funny. I'd know who you were from a mile away."
The man laughed. "It helps when you ride a beast as large as mine. And are, uh, as large as I am in a General." He winked at Tresh, grinning in a manner cheeky enough to make Alina appreciate Zone's comparative subtlety.
Tresh would have none of it. "Yes, very clever, I'm sure it was a slip of the tongue. And I never said I'd know you because I could see you. Seems you still don't understand the concept of basic hygiene."
"I have no idea what you're talking about. I am pristine as nature itself, and would never slip my tongue without permission!"
Alina made the mistake of drawing attention to herself with a facepalm, and Bairan pounced on the opportunity to acquaint himself. "And who is this dainty little treasure?"
Alina wasn't sure how to talk to the large brown rodent, but Tresh was more than happy to provide guidance via example. "She's someone who probably just threw up in her mouth a little when you called her that, assweed!"
Bairan looked at the General quizzically. "As profane as ever, Amilla. What, I can't even say hello?"
"You didn't say 'hello.' There would have been no problem with a 'hello.' Now, if you're done drooling all over your nice armor, I have somewhere I need to be."
"Well, what's the hurry, Princess?"
The glare Tresh threw at the rat was powerful enough that the group more than believed a thunderclap was audible overhead despite the clear sky. "Do not... ever... ever! ... call me that."
Barian's lack of response and terrified expression were befitting a man who just wet himself. Nobody particularly felt like sticking around to see what came trickling out of his armor, and he seemed undesiring of witnesses to the event himself. "O-Open the gate, men!"
None of his soldiers dared laugh openly at their commander, though a couple could be seen stifling giggles. As the iron doors before them openned, the party moved forward, never looking behind them, including the General as she simply waved the bird in Bairan's general direction while muttering profanities to herself.
The city itself was massive, buildings made of stone lining the streets, many towering several stories overhead, connecting each other with impressive bridges as the roads weaved around the structures and over and under themselves. The capital's wealth was also on proud display, with statues and ornate decorations covering an impressive amount of the space around them. Every window seemed to have vines and flowers sretched around it, some of which would climb to the rooftops overhead. Water flowed alongside many pathways, sometimes cascading out of towers and down to the roads below, assumedly for the sole purpose of impressing the city's rare visitors. They were doing a good job.
Once they were a safe distance into town, a collective sigh of relief could be heard escaping every female in the group. They'd gone straight towards the city's most prominent display, the castle looming over the rest of the metropolis, a building of such scale that it made most of the town look miniscule by comparison. Their pace slowed as they came to a square near the town's center, Tresh visibly relaxing but still far from at peace.
Alina decided this was as good a time as any to break the awkward silence hanging over them. "Sooooo... Who was that asshole?"
"Friend of my dad's." Tresh's answer was short and less than friendly.
"And, like, aside from the general creepy factor, what's wrong with-?"
"The creepy factor isn't enough, 'dainty little treasure'? Really?"
Alina winced. "Yeah, okay, I'll give you that."
"God, I need a drink..."
And with that, Tresh stormed off towards the merchant stalls lining the square, most likely in search of booze. Lynn reached out to stop her, but let her hand fall knowing the futility that lie before her should she go down that road.
"Impossible..." The mage was muttering to herself, shaking her head.
Alina continued trying to make conversation, though she found herself once again painfully aware of the weirdo trailing just behind them. "So, uh, this is the place, right?"
Lynn noticed the squirrel's discomfort instantly. "Does J'Renn really make you that nervous?"
"HA HA I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" Alina hoped her charade would distract the obviously totally stupid agent into thinking that she totally wasn't suspicious of him totally being sinister or anything like that at all.
This would immediately be negated by the sharp hiss she emitted three inches from Lynn's face. "Yessssssssss!"
The summoner pushed her away. "Alina, he's not the kindest of the lot, but the Kaifeila are nothing to worry about."
"Kaifeila. They're a tribe that dwells on the eastern coast of Tomed. Tresh has a liking for them as spies. They do a good job of it."
"Yeah okay I get that but what the hell is he?"
"Honestly? I don't rightly know. A lot of them look like that."
"That is not helpful at all."
"I don't know what to tell you. Any other reason he bothers you so much?"
"Well I kinda thought he was supposed to deliver a message, but he's kinda just hanging about like a creeper."
"The message is delivered, I'm sure. No worries there."
"How? He hasn't gone anywhere to do any sort of delivering!"
"It's a bit beyond you. Let's just say he has his ways. But that's not what's bothering you, now, is it?"
"Okay, fine! How about the pin-needle precision gaze he tends to aim directly at the back of my skull?"
"That one I can understand. He's not being particularly tactful about it." Lynn looked back at the creature, which was about the last thing Alina would ever consider doing, her own gaze fixated straight ahead as the summoner continued talking. "I think it's safe to say he doesn't particularly like or trust you. Which is understandable, I guess, given that you're a new face and you're not exactly inviting the best of company into the country."
"Yeah cool! Everyone hold me accountable for my boyfriend's sloppy antics!"
Lynn turned back to the squirrel, sitting on a bench in front of a fountain in the square's center as the conversation carried on. "I can't say it's fair to blame you for his actions, no. I think, perhaps, J'Renn's more curious why Tresh is trying to cover it."
"Maybe she wants to stab Zone again personally? I mean, I don't know how often that Brairan asshole gives her shit, but I can see where she'd get some sort of therapeutic release kicking the ass of anyone with a smart mouth."
"If it was just a smart mouth, she'd still be trying to kill you. Don't get me started on Bairan. He is insufferable, and that is simply a concise lid on a whole jar of angry tirades I could easily go off on."
"Noted. Know who to ask if I need a good hate speech then."
"Good is an understatement. A true lady refines her words until each considered syllable is as beautiful and sharp as a well-cut diamond blade. The language I could employ against that man would shrink his ego down from the size of his bird to the miniscule, petite, underwhelming form of his shrivelled and likely rotten genitalia that would be more at home on a corpse than on his unsightly visage he puts such undue pride in."
Alina blinked. "Yowch. No shit."
"We do not like that man. Our gender, I mean. Collectively speaking."
Tresh returned to the group, obviously less than content with her hunt's results. "Nothin'. Are we talkin' about Douchebag McRat?"
"If that is Bairan's title of the moment, then yes. Yes we are."
"And does Alina now understand the depth of all females' collective hatred towards that slimy shit stain?"
"She is beginning to be enlightened."
"Good enough. Time will provide the neccessary experience, I'm sure, assuming we're not escorting her here for a hanging."
Alina gulped. She'd forgotten what was at stake.
Lynn was quick to level the scale. "I don't think we'd be forced to escort her all the way here just for a punishment. We've been over this."
"Yeah..." Tresh sounded less than convinced.
"You've even got her under your command as an extended measure of protection, do you not?"
"Yeah number two."
"So you do have some weight in the eventual fate of Miss Jarr, then. You are one of the second in command. Long vengeance journey or not, you do have some say in things."
"So does the rest of the General Court."
"The other Generals haven't tamed the wild thief's rambunctious daughter and put her into a position of apparent servitude. Would it be correct to assume, thus, that the perception would be that you can, in fact, now control the very creature that spent so long evading you?"
"... Yeah number three."
"So then, I wouldn't worry about it. That said," Lynn turned her attention towards Alina as she continued, "Miss Jarr, do be on your best behavior. We have been lenient with you, but the ideal situation is as I've described: know your place and act the part of it in front of the queen. Depending on her intentions, which I doubt are as malicious as we could fear them to be, your demeanor could be a deciding factor on your fate."
Alina nodded. "I'm meeting a damn queen. Even I know when to tone it back a little, and you've no idea just how much practice I have putting up an act."
"That is both reassuring and disconcerting."
"You like big words."
"That was my witty retort. I regret nothing."
Posted: Mar 5 2012, 11:30 AM
Member No.: 33
Joined: 1-March 06
The raft drifted down the river placidly, the tame current carrying it along at faster than walking pace, but not by a whole lot. The sky was clear, and the flow guided their vessel pretty much down the middle of the waterway, although Aslie sat at the nominal helm to one side and applied his makeshift oar now and then just in case. Not a lot was actually happening; they were making headway and saving energy over slogging it on foot, both passive activities. The scenery past either shoreline was scenic, but incredibly repetitive. The break did at least give everyone a chance to mull over their current situation and digest the hectic events of the previous day, so they sat in general silence as they coasted gently along.
Among the quartet of rodents and raccoon Zone was the least well-equipped to handle the inactivity and was terribly horribly bored, having also worked through his thoughts about the last day the quickest. He was genuinely affronted that being a fugitive contained such long stretches of dullness. The hamster fidgeted and searched for sources of interest, restless and impatient. The forest was nice and naturey and all that, but Zone would openly admit he had a hard time being actively engaged by admiring that sort of stuff for a full minute, let alone however many weeks he'd been sitting on this raft. Now if the whole forest was on fire it could hold his interest for a span several times greater in length. Zone realised that probably wasn't a very mature or commendable perspective, but stuff it, no one was perfect. He kind of wished someone would ask him about that dragon he struck a deal with. He couldn't think of a way to bring it up without sounding like he was trying to brag (and okay, there was a little temptation there, but come on), but there was a lot he didn't know and he had told the others everything he did. He wanted them to try to figure out what the story behind Pyrdra might be, and also talk about something interesting. Gah! Zone craned his neck seekingly.
His eyes came across Kyrie, lying on the other side of the raft from him facing the other way. Zone mapped the contours of her body around the base of her tail. He was so utterly lost in boredom a shapely female behind was enthralling to him, and he stared for a couple of minutes before it even occurred to him to think whether he should be or not. Zone pulled his eyes away and huffed quietly. He just couldn't take this, it was maddening. The hamster wracked his brain for a topic. "Hey, uh, do um... Kartney, do you know much about this country?" he asked, managing to unearth one. McKartney looked up from where he sat in the middle of the raft, and Aslie turned his head from monitoring their course. "I've never been here or heard much about it, but I know most people here are mice, and well... You're a mouse" the hamster elaborated. After all, knowledge is power right? He should get clued in.
Kartney thumped his scrawny chest and grinned. "'fraid not. Maron mouse born 'n bred, mam says, don't got a clue 'bout this fancy place" he replied, with the most unusual pride in ignorance any of the others had ever seen. Zone chuckled; this was less dull already. He gestured over towards Aslie, recycling the same question.
"Well, I have studied the country" Aslie began, fiddling with his oar a bit. "Uh, but I imagine none of you are in the mood for a long lecture right now. Tomed has quite a reserved culture, formal and polite, although recent generations are sometimes more lax from interaction with other species. They're easily more advanced in the field of magic than anyone else on the continent, as well. If I think of anything else pertinent, I'll try to let you all know" he said with a small smile. The topic had got him in the mood to talk though, and he turned to Kyrie. "How about you, Kyrie? Do you know much about here?" he asked, figuring he could always miss something.
The chipmunk looked up at him, and shook her head. "Not a lot, sorry. I've kind of wanted to come here sometime, I heard of a school when I was young that studies plant life, and discover amazing things. Supposedly it's somewhere in Tomed, but I never really tried to come here and find it" she related, looking at the trees quietly.
"Did the massive wall put you off?" Zone chuckled, making a joke and also curious.
"No..." Kyrie muttered, not turning to look at him. Zone gazed at her for a moment.
"Well, they've become more open in recent times, at least. We shouldn't draw a lot of attention by walking around, and most Tomedians tend to mind their own business" Aslie surmised, as encouragingly as he could. The conversation died out after that, and they sailed for another half hour before anything of note happened.
"Hey, I think I see smoke" Aslie reported from the helm. The others looked as well and, sure enough, the steady kind of smoke trails that signalled a settlement could be seen up ahead. There was a general raising of spirits, although they couldn't do much in response, since paddling would be a waste of energy for what difference it would make. It was about another fifteen minutes before something else happened.
"Here, 'ouses in Tomed don't move about d'they?" Kartney asked in a puzzled tone.
"Not usually, no" Aslie said dryly, lacking the pep for a more thorough retort. "Why do you ask?" he added - there was a method to the mouse's madness, sometimes.
Omnis pointed back up the river, happening to be the only one facing that way. "I think one's followin' us, s'all" he answered. Aslie turned and set down his oar, and kneeling he held his hand above his eyes, squinting to make out the distant object.
"That's a boat" the raccoon said, his heart jumping. "Proper river traffic. Damn" he bit his lip, thinking fast and out loud so the others kept up. "It's larger than us... So we're probably too small to make out yet, if no one on board's using a telescope at least. But it looks powered, and must be moving faster and catching up. We've got to get off the river. Any suspicious reports might bring the Tomed army right down searching for us" he gazed around at the others, who were alert and attentive now.
"How about we pull ashore, get into the treeline?" Zone suggested. Aslie bit his lip.
"That'd mean leaving the raft, and it'd be a huge piece of evidence. I don't know if we can drag it there before we're spotted either" he fretted, wracking his brain for a solution. After several desperate seconds something came to him. "We could cut the bindings on the raft, let it fall apart and sink or float. It'll just look like a bunch of natural driftwood if it's not tied together, and we can swim to shore" he gave as his best idea. Zone nodded, and they waited for Kyrie and Kartney to dive into the water before using their knives to cut the vines and taking the plunge themselves.
Three soaked rodents and one equally drenched raccoon pulled themselves out of the water and onto land, and heavy with sodden clothes and fur and focused first and foremost on running for, reaching and retreating into the treeline. Once they had some foliage between them and the river, they turned their attention to being waterlogged, and already more than a little cold in the open air. "C-c-call me a w-wuss, but I don't f-fancy goin' far like this" the mouse muttered, wringing his top.
"No, you're right" Aslie said, facing the others and swishing as much water out of his tail as he could behind him carefully. Kyrie was chittering quietly and hugging herself, and Zone - who wore the least of any of them - was twisting the water out of his bandanna and trying not to look at her. The chipmink cut quite a noticeable figure in wet clothing. This wouldn't work, they needed dry off before trying to go anywhere unnoticed. "Zone, can you do anything to help? I don't think we've got time to sit drying by a normal fire" Aslie asked, conscious of the hours of light left.
Zone flapped his bandanna a couple of times, and thought as he tied it back under his hair. "I think I can, but... It's gonna tire me out. We still have a lot of ground to cover, don't we?" he replied, not being skilled at channelling his element efficiently.
Aslie shook his head, trying not to shiver. "We w, won't make it like this anyway. If you get too worn out I'll carry you" the raccoon offered, past making a fuss over it.
Zone gave a slightly odd look, but he was for pragmatism as well and nodded. "OK then. Give me a bit of space" he said, and the others stepped back from him as he clenched his fists and fired up his energy, heat radiating off him in a visible aura of shimmering temperature. All it took was to really want to do it and know how to channel it, and while some might have had trouble mustering motivation to be a glorified blowdryer, if Zone had one talent it was always being able to put in his all.
The others came closer carefully to dry themselves around him. He was sauna-hot up close but didn't burn, Zone drying himself out in moments and concentrating on helping the others do likewise and maintaining his output. It was a sort of awkward bonding experience, the hamster having to help them dry off head to toe up close.
After a few minutes everyone was only a little damp here and there. Zone dropped his aura and stood panting heavily, clearly wiped. Aslie knelt down and offered the short rodent his back, Zone too tired to say anything but a mumbled 'thank you' as he climbed up and held on. Aslie lifted him up and got used to his weight, which he found quite tolerable given their size difference. "Let's go" he said to the other two.
OOC: Booyah, I'm back!
The (aspiring) Tyrant Hamster: Is Running Out Of Places To Hide The Bodies.