Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

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Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:56 am

Location: Makshim Outskirts, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 116 4A
Status: 54 Stirring

It was the day before the last day of the year, the same day the group left the inn and set up their tents. Miyuki had gone off with Shiro to get Daeron and Iorlas’ tent and Lancaeriel had started a fire to prepare the evening meal, but without anything to cook, she hadn’t been able to do much more than tend the fire. Wren had taken the opportunity to ask Lancaeriel to show her how to use a mirror to communicate, and now she was making her first attempt in the privacy of her tent.

She set the mirror on the ground and leaned it against her bag so that she could sit cross-legged in front of it and see comfortably into it. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She let it out slowly, letting her senses dull as she focused on the magic that lay dormant within her. She wasn’t sure what it was supposed to feel like, and Lancaeriel had told her that it was different for different people, but she had also been assured that when she found it, she would know instinctively.

For a moment, she felt as though she was falling asleep: but suddenly a fire spread through her, something she had never felt before, a power she never knew she had. She opened her eyes and, smiling, she reached forward and brushed her fingers against the mirror. In her mind, she envisioned her father’s bedchamber, and in an instant, it appeared in the mirror.

It was dark in his bedchamber, but Wren had expected that. If she recalled correctly, the time difference between the two places was such that noon here would be early morning there, and here it was not quite noon. She had hoped to catch him still in his room, and had been prepared for the possibility that he might still be asleep.

Her heart was racing, and she bit her lower lip to keep from smiling too broadly. She was excited to speak to her father – it surprised her just how much she missed him. She took a deep breath to calm herself and called out, “Papa!”

The mirror in her father’s bedchamber was a large square one mounted on her mother’s old vanity facing towards the bed, and she saw her father turn over in his sleep and then pull the blanket up over his shoulders again.

Wren smiled to herself and tried again. “Papa! Wake up!”

With a start, Ander sat up in his bed. “Wren?” he slurred, confused. He passed one hand over his face and shook his head. “I’m dreaming again,” he muttered.

“No, Papa, I’m here!” Wren called with a laugh. Her chest felt tight, and she felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. “Wake up and look in the mirror.”

Her father threw back the blanket and shuffled over to the vanity. When he slid into the chair and his face appeared in the mirror, his expression was one of utter disbelief. “Wren?” he breathed. “How is this possible?”

Wren laughed and wiped a tear from her cheek. “Magic, Papa. You remember the woman I told you about? Lancaeriel? She taught me how to do this. Oh, Papa, I miss you so much. I never thought I would be this homesick.”

Ander’s eyes grew soft, and he pressed one hand to the glass, trying to touch his daughter’s face. “Wren,” he breathed. “Not a moment passes that I don’t miss your presence. My dear, dear child … I have been so worried about you.”

Wren giggled softly. “And I about you, Papa. How have you been?”

“The same as things have always been,” he replied, rubbing his eyes. He smiled back at her. “Things are going quite well here. There have been no reports of attacks anywhere, the past few winters have been rather calm … there really are no news to pass on. But you!” His tone grew lighter as he grew more awake. “You are halfway around the world, having all kinds of adventures! Please, tell me what’s been happening!”

Smiling widely, Wren told her father as much as she could without tripping over her own tongue. It was difficult to curb her excitement, and her speech reflected it: she sounded like River at her most excited, even to her own ears. But her father didn’t stop her, didn’t interrupt except to ask questions of clarification. He was fascinated by her description of the different races and the mixtures of them as well as the places they had visited. He was floored by her tales of Kyrie and her abilities and in awe of her description of Uruloki.

“We had heard of Aranxia’s marriage here,” he murmured with a smile when Wren had finished with that tale. “Very unusual, but as Aranel and Tinúviel were there, I suppose there’s not much to say. Just don’t you go and do the same thing.”

Wren giggled. “I know, Papa. I already promised you that it wouldn’t happen. If I meet someone, you will meet him before there are any promises made. And now you won’t have to wait!” She laughed. “Papa, we can talk whenever we want like this.”

“Except that I would have no idea how to initiate,” her father pointed out with a soft chuckle. “We could set a time, perhaps once a week? I know you’re very busy.”

“We could do that,” Wren agreed. “The same time as this?”

Ander scratched the back of his head and ran his fingers through his hair. “Maybe not,” he murmured. “A few hours earlier, yes, or maybe five or six hours later would be better.”

Wren blinked. “What time is it for you, Papa? I thought it was nearly daybreak …”

Her father chuckled. “It’s the middle of the night, Wren. Though I do have to say, I do prefer talking to you than dreaming about you.”

Wren blushed, but she smiled widely. “Sorry, Papa. I will be coming home, though. It’s just going to be … a long time. This is the second country we’ve visited, and I think there are more than twenty countries for us to see. And we’ve promised Kyrie we would stay here for a year or so, so that she could spend time with her husband. It’s her price for being our guide.”

“I hope you don’t spend that much time in every country,” her father murmured. “It will be decades before I see you again then.”

“I’m sure it won’t be that long.” Wren wanted to be able to reassure her father, but beyond hoping it wouldn’t be that long, there were no words she could say. She gazed at him for a moment, feeling better just to be able to see him again. He was doing the same, but suddenly he yawned.

“Oh, Papa,” Wren sighed, “you should get back to sleep. I’m sorry I woke you. I’ll try for late evening next time. In a few days, all right?” She smiled at him. “I love you, Papa. Don’t worry about me anymore, I’ll come home again.”

He chuckled at her. “I’ll never stop worrying, Wren. You are my daughter, and you are not here with me. But I love you, too, and I have confidence that you will return to me. I will talk to you again in a few days, my dear.”

Wren’s smile widened. She didn’t want to end the conversation, but her father was showing no signs of leaving the table and he looked utterly exhausted. Reluctantly, she reached out and touched the glass, and with a shimmer, her father’s bedchamber vanished. She stared at her own reflection for a moment, then sighed and put the mirror away. It had been nice, talking with her father, and she would make sure to make it a regular thing now that she knew how.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:57 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 116 4A
Status: Mettarë

When Wren left Lin, Eärendil, Iorlas, Daeron and Amir and headed back into the city to try to catch their shadow, she kept a smile on her face, though she didn’t feel much like smiling. The music was cheerful, but its illusion had been shattered by the thought that their group might be in danger from an unknown threat. It upset her. This was supposed to be a celebratory day, not a day in which to hide from someone who wanted to hurt them, probably for no other reason than because they were not themselves Fire Elves.

As she passed between two buildings, she glanced over her shoulder as indiscreetly as she could, and she saw a flash of green as someone disappeared between two other people. Her jaw twitched and she had to swallow down her anger. Now she was being followed, too!

Well, she told herself, turning and walking forward again, two could play at that game.

Rather than circling back as she had planned to do, she kept going deeper and deeper into the city. She had no idea where she was anymore, but she kept looking around for various landmarks she could use to find her way back. Every time she looked back, she saw that same flash of green cloth as her shadow hid behind someone or something, until at last she finally caught a glimpse of her pursuer.

It was a girl.

She was young, maybe ten years old, and the bright green that Wren kept seeing was the fabric of her skirt. She had no weapons on her, at least none that Wren could spot, and that made her feel better. She wondered again why the girl was following her, and the thought crossed her mind briefly that perhaps – just perhaps – it was part of a childish game. That wasn’t unheard of, after all, and she herself had been subjected to that sort of game back home on some of her many trips into Chansond’eau.

Well, perhaps she could find out.

She turned a corner and stopped, pressing herself against the wall. She waited patiently for her shadow to pass her, and when she did, the princess fell into step behind her.

“Excuse me,” she said, reaching forward and putting one hand on the girl’s shoulder.

The girl squeaked and jumped with surprise, and she whirled around and stared at Wren, her eyes wide.

“You scared me!” she exclaimed in faultless Common Tongue.

Wren laughed – not at the girl’s predicament, but with relief that she had genuinely had nothing to fear. “I am sorry for that,” she said, stifling her laughter as best she could, though she couldn’t hide it from her eyes, “but surely you must expect it to be at least a possibility when you are following someone.”

The girl was blushing furiously, the red of her face clashing with the red of her hair. “You saw me,” she murmured, sounding ashamed.

“Before my friends left the city,” Wren agreed. “But I wanted to know why – which makes me ever so pleased that you speak my language.” She grinned at the girl, who smiled back sheepishly.

The girl, whose name was Daelle, explained that every year, for the days of Mettarë and Yestarë, the children whose families came to the city held a challenge: stalking people. Three prizes could be given out, though only two ever were: one for stalking someone for the longest without being detected; one for stalking the most interesting people without being detected; and the third – which amused Wren greatly – was to stalk Kyrie for a mere five minutes without being detected. The third prize had never been given out.

“What do you mean by ‘interesting’?” Wren asked the girl as they sat together at a table, each of them nursing a drink – ale for Wren, cider for the Daelle.

Daelle pursed her lips and thought about the question. “Well … you and your group would qualify as interesting,” she mused, “because you’re not Fire Elves. And the woman with the wings, she would be the most interesting of all – because of her wings.”

Wren nodded. “What about where people are from?” she asked. “Does further away mean more interesting?”

“Sometimes,” Daelle replied immediately. “I’m from near the Elysium border, so I’m from further away than some of my friends, because they’re from towns nearby. So following people from my town might get someone more points than following someone from the other towns. But you’re from a different country, so that’s worth even more.”

“Actually,” Wren grinned, “I’m from a different continent. And some of my companions are from another world.”

Daelle’s eyes grew wide. “Really?”

Wren chuckled. “Yes. And each of us is a member of a royal family, each of us a prince or princess in our kingdom.”

Daelle’s green eyes grew bright. “Wow … I might actually have a chance at winning this year!” She laughed.

Wren laughed with her. “Well, we do get more interesting than that, but it’s not my place to say,” she grinned. “At any rate, I’m very glad that you’ve opened up to me. It’s not easy, not knowing the language here.”

“Why don’t I stay with you for today, then?” Daelle offered eagerly. “My parents aren’t expecting me at the inn until tonight, and I can show you around!”

Wren was delighted with the suggestion. “I would like that very much!” she beamed. “Thank you!”

They finished their drinks, and then Daelle showed Wren around the city, taking her to her favourite places – the candy store, the bakery, the jewelry shop, the carpenter’s shop, and so on. They were passing by a group of trees when suddenly Wren heard a low groan. She stopped and looked around, her brow furrowed.

“Something wrong?” Daelle asked, watching her curiously.

“I thought I heard something,” Wren murmured. “Did you?”

Daelle shook her head. “No.”

“Hm.” Perhaps it had been her imagination. Paranoia, some might call it.

She had just turned to follow Daelle once more when she heard a soft voice rasp out, “H-help … me …”

“Hold on,” she told Daelle, motioning for her to wait where she was while Wren looked for the source of the plea. It sounded like it had come from between the buildings nearby. She headed towards them slowly, cautiously, wary of what she might find. As she passed through the trees, she felt something soft beneath her foot, and when she looked down she saw an arm so pale it was white.

“Daelle!” she called out, kneeling down to see who the arm belonged to. “Come quickly!”

The girl ran to join Wren. “What is it?”

“I’m not sure,” Wren admitted, looking at the man. “He looks like a White Elf …”

The man’s hair and skin were both white, but he was not dressed like the White Elves she had seen. He was wearing forest-coloured garb. And he was armed to the teeth, wearing even more weapons than Kyrie ever did. But he was bleeding, and, it seemed, quite badly: his clothes were stained with blood, and sticky.

“We should get him to Ahkshi right away,” Daelle said anxiously.

Wren pulled the man’s arm around her shoulder and lifted him carefully. “Get his other arm?” she requested to Daelle.

The girl nodded and pulled the White Elf’s other arm around her shoulders. With the two of them taking his weight, he wasn’t very heavy. Following Daelle’s directions, they started off towards the clinic.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:57 am

Location: Tsara’s Cellar, Dekra, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 117 4A
Status: Early Spring

Night had long since fallen after the first day the group had spent in the cellar, and though the others were all asleep in their tents, sleep escaped Wren. It had been a whirlwind week since Eärendil had vanished on them. First the rush to reach Mari and the others, then an evening and an afternoon of not understanding a single word anyone was saying and very little of what was going on, all capped with an evening of catching up and getting to know the people with whom she would be spending the foreseeable future. For most people, that would be exhausting; but Wren was wide awake.

After tossing and turning for a while, she gave up. She tried to think what the time would be back home, and she quickly concluded that since it was the middle of the night here, it must be daylight there. She reached for her bag and, working as quietly as she could, she opened it up and felt around for her mirror. She had no idea if her father would be in his room, but it was worth a try.

She left the tent quietly and sat on the bottom step of the stairs that led upstairs to the main floor. It wasn’t long before she was looking into her father’s bedchamber. Her father wasn’t there, but a maid was cleaning the room, and at Wren’s request, the woman left to find the prince.

To Wren’s surprise, it wasn’t her father who first returned to the room, nor was it the maid: it was her grandmother, the queen.

“Wren,” Amalthea murmured, smiling broadly when she saw Wren’s face in the mirror. “It’s so good to hear from you again. You’re late.”

Wren smiled softly. “Sorry, Grandmother. It’s been … rather hectic since I first spoke with Father. A lot has happened since then.” She hesitated, then asked, “How much did Father tell you about what’s been happening?”

“Quite a bit,” the queen replied, “though of course I have no way of knowing whether or not he left anything out.” Suddenly she looked towards the door of the room. “Ah, and here he is,” she smiled. “Ander, your daughter is about to explain why she was late in contacting us again.”

“Good.” Wren heard her father’s reply before she saw him appear next to her grandmother. “Hello, Wren. It’s about time you showed up,” he teased her.

Wren chuckled softly. “Hello, Father. I am sorry not to have contacted you sooner, but … there has been a lot going on here.”

Ander smiled and made himself comfortable. “I hoped that was the case, and that nothing had happened.”

Wren’s smile froze, then faltered; and Ander blinked at her. “Something happened,” he said quietly, seriously. “What is it, Wren?”

Wren hesitated before she murmured, “Well … first of all, you need to understand that I’m perfectly fine. But you have to promise me that what I’m about to tell you will not go further than you two and grandfather. Ninako and Nineko especially can’t know, at least not yet.”

Ander and Amalthea exchanged a glance. “This is serious,” Amalthea murmured, turning back to the mirror. “We will do our best.”

“Thank you.” Wren sighed and rubbed her temples. “We’re in a country called Garnelia, it’s a country of Dark Elves. Lovely country, except that it’s run by a tyrant people just call the General. He usurped the throne … I think it’s been at least two hundred years ago now. We were traveling through … Eärendil was arrested.”

“Arrested?” Amalthea repeated cautiously.

Wren pursed her lips. “Maybe captured is a better word,” she murmured. “He was keeping watch at night, and never came back. Kyrie read the tracks – no struggle, it looks like he went peacefully, but …”

“But you fear the worst anyways.” Ander sighed. “And where are you now? Somewhere safe?”

Wren fidgeted uncomfortably. “Not exactly,” she admitted. “We’re as safe as we can be, but we’re working on a plan to get Eärendil back.”

She didn’t bother mentioning that they were planning on taking care of the General’s presence. She knew they would be worried enough.

“But we’re well hidden, so the chances of them finding us are slim,” she assured them, fully aware she was lying. It was for the best, though. “We’ll be fine, don’t worry. And there are quite a few people with us, we’ve got a lot of allies in this. Just … I think it’s best not to say anything to Ninako or Nineko until it’s over. No sense in worrying them unnecessarily.”

“So you decided to worry us instead,” Ander smiled.

Wren giggled. “Sorry, Father. I couldn’t sleep and I was bored. Besides, as Grandmother said, I was supposed to have contacted you a long time ago.”

She heard a noise from one of the tents, and she lowered her voice. “I’d better go. I think I may have woken someone.” She smiled again. “I love you both. And give my love to Grandfather as well.”

“And you,” Amalthea said warmly.

“Stay safe,” Ander cautioned her. Wren grinned and ended the spell just as the flap of the tent she was sharing with Lancaeriel and Mari was pulled back, and Mari stepped out.

Wren?” she murmured sleepily. “What are you doing? Isn’t it the middle of the night?

Sorry, Mari,” Wren apologized, rising from the step and heading back towards the tent. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just talking with my father.

A puzzled expression crossed Mari’s face. “Your father?” she repeated softly. “But … isn’t he …

Wren smiled. “Let’s go back into the tent so that we don’t disturb anyone else,” she murmured. “Lancaeriel will sleep through anything, so we don’t need to worry about waking her. I’ll tell you how it works.

Mari returned the smile, and Wren led her back into the tent.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:51 pm

Location: The middle of Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Spring

Since leaving Makshim, the group of travelers had been quite busy – Wren included – and so she had not had a lot of time to spare for contacting her father, especially at the time that she would be able to catch him in his room. With so many people to feed, and Lancaeriel busy with her magic – what with protections for the tent, helping Miyuki with the indoor dojo and archery range, and then the greenhouses she was working on now – it seemed meal preparations were a full-time chore that fell now almost predominantly on Wren’s shoulders. She didn’t mind in the least. She was glad for something to do. But it did mean that she needed to work to find the time to contact her father, and it was something she had not managed in a while.

It didn’t help that the time difference between the two places was different every time she tried. Constantly heading west changed things. She was getting better at it, especially with the maps that Kyrie provided, but it was still fairly hit and miss. At this point, she could only try.

Once the others were in their rooms for the night and the kitchen was clean, she headed to her own room. By this time, she had been able to customize it fairly well, and it was comfortable. Her futon was decorated with a rearing griffon, the symbol of her country, and she had even gotten Iorlas to stitch it into her pillow cover. Her bag was sitting in one corner, and there was also a wooden wardrobe against one wall where her clothes hung. Her sword she kept on the wall, across two pegs, within easy reach but out of the way when she was moving around and doing things. She never left the tent without it, but there was no need to carry it while she was inside. Her mirror, she kept mounted on the wall near her futon so that she could sit there comfortably when she spoke with her father. It wasn’t as if she used it for herself, anyways.

She sat down now and let out a contented sigh. It felt good to be off her feet after a long day. She could go straight to sleep, and part of her wanted to; but she knew that she would sleep much better if she had the chance to speak with her father. With this thought in mind, she concentrated and brought her magic to bear, then reached out and touched the mirror’s surface lightly.

There was a slight shimmer, and then her father’s bedchamber appeared in the mirror’s silvery surface. The sun had already risen in Chansond’eau, and her father was just on his way out the door.

“Father!” Wren called with a grin.

Ander turned at the sound of her voice and chuckled softly. “Wren!” he beamed, coming back into the room. He took a seat at his dressing table and made himself comfortable. “It’s about time you contacted me again. It’s been what, six, seven weeks?”

Wren blushed faintly. “Sorry, Father, but it’s been a very busy time. We’ve started on our journey again and a lot has been happening.”

She told him about Wolsic, the dragon they had encountered, the village they’d helped; about their entry into Jielam and what had transpired there; the unicorns they had met, and how they had picked up Daenis to join their group. She explained about the beliefs of the White Elves and how Daenis had wanted nothing to do with her people.

“So at least nothing bad has happened this time,” her father smiled when she had finished her explanation.

Wren grinned. “No. I know, I made you panic when Eärendil was missing in Garnelia. But nothing like that has happened since. We’re all quite safe.”

“Good.” Her father leaned back in his chair and winked at her. “Met any possible suitors?”

“Father!” Wren laughed loudly. “Honestly!”

“It’s a fair question,” her father pointed out, chuckling. “After all, that is the argument you used to convince me to allow you to go on this trip.”

Wren giggled, her cheeks a light shade of pink. It was true, after all. She had been the one to bring up the point: her father had every right to be bringing it up now. “All right, then. No, Father, no possible suitors. There are men, to be sure, but I’m afraid none of them has interested me, and I don’t seem to interest them either. It is still possible I may return home alone.”

“Even with your hair growing so long and lovely?” her father teased her.

Wren reached up and took a lock of her hair in her fingers. It had been a very long time since she had been able to cut it, and it was well past her shoulders now. Her curls were not nearly as tight as they had been, since the weight of her longer hair was pulling them looser. She knew her neck and shoulders were warmer thanks to the extra insulation, but she was frequently annoyed with how her hair was so difficult to tame now.

“I really should get it cut the next time we’re in a city,” she mused absently.

“What?” Her father was startled. “I didn’t mean that!”

Wren snickered. “Then don’t comment on my hair.”

“Even to point out how much more you look like your mother when it’s long like that?”

Wren paused and looked at her father. It was so rare that he mentioned her mother, and whenever he did it filled her with a longing to have known her, to have met her – or even, since those were impossible, to know more about her.

“You really think so?” she asked softly.

Her father smiled gently. “Yes. Your hair isn’t quite as curly as hers was, but it is very similar.” He chuckled softly. “She hated it, too, but it was one of the things I loved about her.” He reached forward to touch the mirror, as if he was trying to touch her hair. When he encountered only the cold glass of the mirror, he sighed and leaned back in his chair again. “By the Valar, I miss her. When you were here, it was bearable – you made things so much better. But without you …”

He smiled again, but this time it didn’t reach his eyes. Wren could see how sad he was. How lonely. And when he spoke, she felt a guilty pang in her chest.

“Wren,” he murmured, “come home. I know you can’t right now, but … when you can. Alone, with someone, it doesn’t matter. I just miss you so much …”

“I miss you too, Father,” Wren replied softly, her own smile failing to reach her eyes. “I’ll be home as soon as I can. I promise. And I’ll do my best to contact you more often.”

Her father’s smile widened slightly, and he put one hand to the mirror as if reaching out to her. Wren smiled sadly and reached out to touch his hand, but the moment her fingers touched the glass, the image faded and she was once more alone.


Last edited by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:38 pm

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Autumn

Wren had never really been one to obey rules, and even in the middle of a hostile environment in a foreign country, this was no exception.

“You do realize that Leo had to put guards around the tent in order to ensure our safety, even with how many people we have here,” Daenis pointed out to Wren after having asked Wren where she was going with her cloak on. The White Elven girl was sitting on the floor of the playroom with Amir, Kaede and Ira, playing with them while Daeron and Iorlas were out.

Wren just grinned at her. “I do,” she replied easily. “But that’s never stopped me before. I’m leaving all my weapons here so that if something happens at least I can’t be accused of anything. And if something does happen, I know which names to drop.”

She winked at Daenis and made sure her pouches were securely belted to her waist. She had three – one for what currency she had, one for the currency of the country which she hoped to be able to obtain through exchange, and a slightly larger one that was runed for any purchases that she might make, though her plan was more to explore than anything else.

“Just be careful,” Daenis murmured softly, her brow furrowed with concern.

Wren smiled warmly. “I will. Don’t worry. I’ll be back by dinner.”

“And if you’re not?”

Wren chuckled. “Get Eärendil to look for me. Have fun with Amir!” And she left.

She had been told earlier in the morning that it was snowing out, so she had dressed warm; but the warning hadn’t been enough to prepare her for the way it was coming down now. She pulled her cloak tighter around herself and pulled her hood up, but never slowed down as she headed towards the city.

Even with her hood up and her cloak pulled tight, her hair was long enough now that it couldn’t be contained, and she knew exactly when people spotted her golden tresses by the way they looked stiffly away from her. She didn’t let it bother her, merely smiled to herself and continued on.

For a while, she simply looked around, admiring the homes she saw, finding herself curious to know what plants would grow in the flowerbeds during the summer months, whether they would be flowers, herbs, spices, or vegetables. She liked the looks of the houses and the sizes of the yards – larger than what was found in Chansond’eau.

At length she discovered the artisan’s district, and was pleased to find that the currency exchange was the nearest building to her. She couldn’t read the runes, but there was the image of a bag of coins on the shop’s sign, which made it recognizable anyways.

“Good day,” the money keeper greeted Wren as she pulled her hood off just inside the door. “How may I help you?”

She smiled at him and ran her fingers through her hair, shaking flakes of snow to the floor. Her father’s words about her looking like her mother were still strong in her memory, and she had declined to cut her hair to this point, and was considering keeping it long for when she returned home again.

“Good day,” she returned the greeting. “I’m sure you have seen others from my group already, but I am a traveler with the large group that is staying near the city. I hope to spend some time in the city, but in order to truly appreciate all the wonderful things you have here, I would like very much to be able to purchase things to take with me. I presume from your sign that you are a currency exchanger?”

The man nodded and smiled warmly. “Indeed I am. And how much would you like to exchange?”

He brought out a scale from beneath his counter and two small bowls. Wren watched as he balanced the bowls on each side of the scale. He was careful to make sure it was a proper balance, reversing the positions of the bowls and retesting them,  and Wren found herself trusting him, which she had not at first been prepared to do. After all, she had been to places where weighted scaled had been used to give unequal exchanges.

She emptied her pouch of Four Lands currency and held it in one hand, showing it to the man. “This.”

The man indicated for her to put the coins in one of the bowls, and she complied, then clasped her hands behind her back and watched to see what he would do. He pulled a small bag of coins from beneath the counter and one by one added them to the other bowl. Slowly, the weight of the bowls began to balance out.

“And here you are,” the man said at length, holding the bowl of new coins out to her. “Fifty of our gold coins, and you can have back two of your own. I’m afraid yours is worth far more than ours.”

Wren put the coins in their respective pouches and smiled at the man. “Thank you. And when I buy things, when I expect change … how do your coins convert? I mean, in my land, one piece of gold is worth twenty silver, and one piece of silver is in turn worth twenty bronze.”

“We also have silver and bronze,” the man told her, tucking her coins away behind the counter, “but we trade at a ratio of ten to one, rather than twenty.”

Wren chuckled. “No wonder why our coins are worth so much more.”

The man smiled back at her. “Indeed. Well worth their weight.”

Wren thanked the man and left the shop, then looked around to see if she would spot anything interesting that she might want to check out. She spotted a tailor’s and a glass and jewelry shop and started down the street towards them. She had neglected to put her hood back up when she left the exchanger’s shop, and the wind blew her hair around her face. She reached up to pull it over hear head again and was startled by the sound of a voice behind her calling her name. She turned around and blinked in surprise.

“Khetal?” she questioned. “What are you doing here?”

“Putting in my order for research supplies,” the half-blooded man replied. He seemed as surprised to see her as she was to see him. “What are you doing here? Didn’t Kyrie warn you not to go into the city alone?”

Wren blushed and shrugged, pushing her wayward hair away from her face. “I’m not much for rules,” she admitted sheepishly.

Khetal chuckled and shook his head incredulously. “You and Kyrie are so much alike,” he murmured. “Well, do you have any specific plans? Anywhere in particular you’re headed? If you don’t mind, I think it’d be best if I escorted you around the city, especially after what happened last night.”

“You’re not worried about your reputation?” Wren giggled, her eyes sparkling. “If the people here are anything like in my city, there will be rumours by the time we reach the first corner.”

Khetal rolled his eyes. “Gossipy busybodies,” he muttered. Then he shrugged. “Not as if I care. They’ve never had a use for me, and it’s not like I have any sort of reputation that needs protecting. Besides that, I’d rather you stay safe. I’ve known Jerome a long time, and if he can’t get to you in your tent, I can see him trying something in the city.”

“All right, then,” Wren agreed. “I was just going to wander and look at a few things, but maybe some of our destinations are the same anyways. But just for the record, I’m not worried about Jerome or any of his friends. They’re cowards, and I honestly don’t think they could hurt any of us.” Then she paused, remembering Amir, Daenis and Andarien. “Well, most of us,” she amended.

“It’s more about the trouble he could get you into rather than the injury he could cause,” Khetal cautioned her, leading her down the street again.

Wren looked over at him. Despite his human blood, they were the same height. There was a deep-set sorrow in his eyes, something which gave Wren the impression that he was speaking from experience. She didn’t know whether she should ask what had happened. On the one hand, it would be in her nature to ask, to satisfy her curiosity; but on the other hand, it would be insensitive, and she could already see how haunted he was. She decided against asking. Maybe someday, when they were away from here, she might ask him – if she remembered.

“So where are we going first?” she asked instead, changing the subject.

“Glass shop,” he replied, nodding at the one they were approaching. “I’m going to need a lot of beakers, vials, test tubes … I can’t take all of Lynliss’s. She wants to continue her own research here.”

“Makes sense.” Wren nodded. “I had hoped to stop there myself.” She smiled at him. “Seems this is going to work out quite well.”

Khetal chuckled and opened the door for her. “So it seems.”


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:19 pm

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Autumn

While Wren was accustomed to early snows in Autumn, even she was taken by surprise by how thick and heavy this snowfall was. Khetal had told her – and Gwen had confirmed – that it was unusual weather for the area, and she was willing to take their word for it. When it had suddenly gotten even worse and Khetal had suggested they retreat to his home, she hadn’t argued.

“Well, well, look what the storm dragged in,” Lynliss teased them with a smile as they removed their footwear and cloaks. “It’s quite the snowfall, isn’t it?”

“The like of which I have not seen in a long time,” Khetal agreed, hanging his cloak on a hook.

“Well, I’ll be making a hot supper,” Lynliss told them, heading into the kitchen. “And Wren, you are more than welcome to stay.”

“Thank you.” Wren smiled and waited until Khetal gestured for her to take a seat in the sitting room before doing just that.

“Make yourself comfortable,” Khetal told her with a small smile. “I’ll be right back.” He headed off down the hallway and turned a corner.

For a few minutes, Wren just sat next to the fire and warmed herself; then suddenly there was a scratching noise at the door.

“Wren, would you be so good as to open the door?” came Lynliss’s voice from the kitchen. “That will be Uruloki with a message from Kyrie, I’m sure.”

Wren did as she was requested, and sure enough when she opened the door, Uruloki pattered inside. On the mat by the door, he shook the snow off his wings before folding them against his back.

“Hello, Wren,” he greeted her. “I’m glad to see you’re safe. Where is Lynliss?”

Wren turned and gestured towards the kitchen. “Preparing supper, I believe.” She knelt down and held her arms out, and Uruloki climbed up into her arms. A dragon he might be, and a protector, but despite that he was a glutton for being spoiled. She brought him to the kitchen but stayed in the doorway so that she wouldn’t be in her hostess’s way.

“Lynliss,” the dragon said, watching the woman as she worked, “Kyrie sent me to tell you that because of the weather, she’s going to spend the night at the tent with the others. Gwen hadn’t returned there yet when we arrived, but I saw her on her way there when I came here, and knowing Kyrie she’s likely to talk her into staying the night as well.”

Lynliss paused and looked at Uruloki. “I see … so it’s going to be quite the empty house tonight.” She fell silent for a moment as she gazed at him, and then her eyes turned to Wren. “If the weather is such that even Kyrie doesn’t want to go out in it, then it’s probably not a good idea for you to go out again, either,” she murmured. “Wren … would you like to stay the night? It would be no trouble.”

A quick glance at the window was enough to convince Wren that she didn’t want to go out again until the snow stopped.

“I would like that, thank you,” she smiled.

“Then I’ll go tell the others that you also are safe,” Uruloki told her. He glanced towards the door. “If you would be so kind as to get the door again …”

Wren chuckled softly. “Of course.”  

She brought him to the door and let him out again, and as she closed the door again, Khetal’s voice came from behind her.

“You’re not going out in that again already, are you?” He seemed somewhat incredulous.

Wren turned around to see him standing in the sitting room wearing a fresh set of clothes. He looked much warmer now, and she smiled at him.

“Your mother has kindly invited me to stay the night, as Kyrie and Gwen will be staying the night in the tent,” she informed him. She looked back towards the kitchen. “Perhaps I could help out Lynliss,” she murmured thoughtfully.

“Don’t even think about it!” Lynliss called back. She poked her head out of the kitchen. “Khetal, why don’t you take Wren to Gwen’s room and find her some warmer clothes? It’s cool enough inside, too.”

Khetal brought Wren to a bedroom and helped her to find some dry clothes, then left her alone to change. When she emerged a few minutes later, she was dry, warm, and comfortable again. Leo had returned in the meantime, and he also welcomed her quite warmly to the home.

Dinner was an interesting affair.

“So Wren,” Leo began as his wife served them all from a large pot of steaming soup; “tell us about your home. What is it like there?”

“Well,” she began thoughtfully, “it’s further north than Dolerum, so I’m fairly used to early winters – nothing like this, of course, but we do get quite the snowfall when it is Winter. It’s quite a beautiful country, though – even the city is beautiful.” She smiled dreamily. “Trees and streams … birds more colourful than I’ve seen anywhere else …”

Lynliss laughed softly. “It seems you are quite fond of your home. Despite that, you’re out here, traveling.”

“Yes, well …” Wren blushed. “My father did take some convincing. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I was never allowed to go far. I know Father was right, that I do have a responsibility to our people, but I just … had to.”

“Responsibility?” Leo echoed curiously.

Wren nodded. “As the last of my family’s bloodline, it’s up to me to continue it. My mother died before I knew her, and my father … well, I can’t see him marrying again.”

“I can see that being a responsibility towards your family,” Leo frowned, confused, “but … your people?”

And suddenly Wren knew what he meant. “Oh! Of course, forgive me – I forgot that we weren’t introduced fully. My grandparents are king and queen of our nation, the Westland, so my father is first in line for the throne and I am both second and last.”

“And apparently they didn’t introduce themselves with their titles because they don’t like to make a big deal of it,” Khetal told his adoptive parents quietly. “They don’t wish to be treated any differently than anyone else.”

“They?” This time it was Lynliss who was asking.

Wren chuckled. “Almost all of our traveling group is royalty of one degree or another. Some would rather forget about it, others just don’t want special treatment.” She turned back to Leo. “But that is, at least in part, why I’m so eager to learn so much about different countries. If I’m to rule one day, I would like to do the best that I can for my people, and to do that, I feel that I should learn from various other cultures rather than blindly continue on with what is going on now. Not that it is bad, mind you,” she added, “but there is always room for improvement.”

Leo smiled. “How true.”

“And yet, if that is the case,” Lynliss pressed, “then how did you convince your father to allow you to travel so far and for so long?”

Wren giggled. “Well, considering that I had already traveled the Four Lands and never settled down with anyone, I suggested to him that perhaps I would find someone if I were to travel further.”

“Oh?” Lynliss laughed. “Sounds a bit like Kyrie and Lara.”

“You can say that again,” Khetal murmured softly, almost under his breath.

Both Lynliss and Leo laughed at that, and even Wren grinned. She felt quite at home with these people – it was hard not to. They were quite friendly and welcoming. She found she was quite looking forward to spending the night with them.


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:41 pm

Location: Lightholm, Quir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Autumn

Wren was fascinated by the way the Light Elves of Quir lived. She had never seen anything like it before, though she was certain she had heard of something like it. She had been eager to accept Mirania’s invitation to spend the night up in the flet that belonged to her and her husband.

It was quite a long walk up, following the stair-step-sized planks in an ascending spiral around the tree’s enormous trunk; but the steps were firm and strong, and she never doubted them for a moment. When she reached the first flet of their home, she looked around, amazed. The platform was rounded to match the shape of the tree, twenty feet wide, and at least fifty feet long, going a good portion of the way around the tree. There were a few places around the edges where the walls and floor were shaped around the massive branches of the tree, but for the most part it ran uninterrupted. The floor wasn’t plain, either: each and every plank had a pattern of leaves burned into it. Even the walls had carvings of leaves and plants on them.

The closest part of the flet was reminiscent of a sitting room, with pillows, cushions, rugs and blankets to make anyone comfortable, whether visiting or staying for a prolonged period of time. Further down the flet seemed to be a storage area: there were piles and crates of supplies, though Wren couldn’t read the writing on the crates. Between the two areas of the flet, there were more steps that led higher into the tree.

“This is where we entertain our guests,” Mirania told Wren, coming up behind her. “Further up is food storage, then our dressing area, and then bedrooms.”

“I think it’s wonderful,” Wren grinned at her hostess. “I’ve never seen anything like this before, but it reminds me of my people’s ancient past, back before Melkor changed the world.”

“Your people?” Mirania asked curiously.

Wren nodded. “The Firstborn. They lived in trees, I would imagine something like this. There was no day or night then … but after Melkor was defeated and the world was changed, they began to live on the ground, in shelters at first, and then homes.”

She looked around at other flets in trees around them. “I think it would have been a wonderful way to live.”

“It is,” Mirania agreed, moving to stand next to Wren. “I can’t imagine living any other way – though I must admit, your tent does seem comfortable enough as well.”

Wren chuckled softly. “Miyuki has done wonders with it,” she agreed. “Traveling is so comfortable with that tent. I’m going to miss it when our trip is done.”

Mirania grinned. “Well, at least you know you’re enjoying the trip. And you’ll have lots to tell people about when you get home!” Then she laughed again. “As if we don’t already have a tale of our own to tell from your being here. Lamruil is able to walk again, thanks to your friends.”

“Glad to be of help,” Wren giggled. “Though speaking of Lamruil, where is he? I thought he was going to be following us up here.” She peered over the edge and for a brief moment became light-headed by how high up they were. It passed quickly, and she looked around for Lamruil. She could see the tent far below them, and people milling about, though she couldn’t tell who was who from up here. She was accustomed to seeing Light Elves, sure; but she didn’t know most of these people, and she had never tried to tell people apart from a hundred and fifty feet above their heads. It made things rather difficult.

Mirania stood next to Wren and looked around as well. “He’s probably letting the other climbers know that he’ll be back on duty tomorrow, now that he’s healed.”

“How many climbers are there?” asked Wren curiously. “You said that it’s the most dangerous job and you made it seem like there aren’t all that many …”

“Oh, there are about a dozen of us,” Mirania assured her with a smile. “There’s far too much work for any less. But fear and danger are two things that make the job undesirable for most, and those are things that are hard to overcome.” She pointed down at an elf who was making his way through the trees towards the one they were in. “There he is.”

Wren followed her finger, but were it not for the man’s direction, she would never have known it was Lamruil. It had been such a long time since she had seen nothing but Light Elves … it was startling, how odd it now seemed to her.

“And not even a limp,” Mirania murmured softly to herself, her tone filled with wonder. “Incredible.”

By the time Lamruil made it up the many hundreds of steps to the lowest flet, dusk had fallen and Wren had told Mirania a condensed history of Cael and Lancaeriel and their knowledge of magic. Then Mirania greeted her husband with a kiss, and the two of them beckoned for Wren to follow them up the next set of steps. There, they offered her something to eat and drink (she accepted a cup of apple juice) before taking her up another set of steps. On that level, there were two large wardrobes and one private changing area. The platform after that had a comfortable-looking bed of cushions, blankets and pillows.

“This is where you’ll sleep,” Mirania told her as Lamruil continued up the tree. “Sometimes my grand-niece or grand-nephew likes to spend the night here, so we always have a bed ready. If you need anything more than what you see here, just let me know.”

Wren looked around and had to admit that she couldn’t see much of anything. With the sun having set and the thick forest around them, there was little if any light to see by. When she voiced her concern to Mirania, the woman just smiled.

“Here,” she murmured, holding out one hand, palm up. Her hand began to glow, slightly at first and then brighter, and then she turned it towards the rest of the platform, illuminating the area well enough for Wren to see everything she needed to see.

“Thank you,” she said warmly. “I think it will be quite nice.”

There were a multitude of pillows and blankets, and she had no doubt but that she would be comfortable and warm. She was looking forward to this – it had been a long time since she had actually slept outside. They’d had tents since leaving Caras Galadhon, and before that they’d been on the ship or in the palace at Wing Hove. Really, it was when they’d been traveling through the Southland, the last time she’d slept outside.

A lifetime ago.

Once Mirania was certain that Wren would be fine, she headed up the tree to join her husband. Wren snuggled into the bed and found that it was even more comfortable than she had expected. The blankets smelled ever so slightly of flowers, and she fell asleep smiling.


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:38 pm

Location: Lightholm, Quir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Autumn

“So if I have this right, you’re a princess in your kingdom, and only two steps away from the throne?”

Mirania and Wren had been learning more about each other as Mirania prepared to teach Wren about climbing the massive trees in which her people lived, and she was still incredulous that Wren would be allowed to leave her country for so long.

Wren simply smiled. “I keep in contact with my father, and that makes it easier for both of us. But he I think recognized that I just needed to travel, get this out of my veins. Rather like Caranthir, I think, though I have every intention of returning home when we’re finished.”

Smiling faintly, Mirania handed Wren a pair of gloves. “Here. Careful of the hooks.”

Wren pulled the gloves on carefully. She wasn’t sure what Mirania meant by ‘hooks’, and she was surprised when she discovered tiny rounded hooks on the cushions of each and every finger as well as the palms.

“What are these for?” she asked curiously, holding the gloves up and examining the hooks closely.

Mirania chuckled softly. “That’s what allows us to climb so well. They’re designed to resemble the bottom of certain lizards’ feet. They grip the bark in ways that our fingers never could. That’s why I gave you the different pants, too – not because you might wear yours out, but because they also have these hooks on them.”

Wren looked down and ran her arm lightly over the fabric of the pants she’d been given. Sure enough, it was bumpy and caught a bit at her skin.

“Incredible,” she laughed.

“That’s not all,” Mirania giggled. “Here. The final piece.” She held out a pair of slippers to Wren, who looked at them dubiously. They seemed quite small to her. Mirania noticed her look of hesitation and smiled. “They stretch to conform to your feet. It’s necessary so that they don’t slide around, which could lose you your grip when you’re climbing.”

“Ah.” Wren smiled and took the slippers. She leaned against the railing of the flet they were on and pulled her boots off one at a time, replacing them with the footwear she’d been given. They were surprisingly comfortable.

She grinned at Mirania. “Nice. Anything else?”

Mirania looked her over thoughtfully. Nodding gently, she grinned. “That’s it for now. Come on, let’s find you a tree to climb.”

She picked up a bag and started down the steps, motioning for Wren to follow her. “You’re going to need to wear a harness. Most people do, but especially new climbers. And I’ll be helping you as you climb. Have you ever climbed anything before?”

“Small trees back home, when I was a child,” Wren replied, “but I’m not sure if that counts. They were fifteen, maybe twenty feet tall. Easy to wrap my arms around, even as young as I was.”

She chuckled as she looked up and realized they’d come all the way around the tree and that the flet was directly above them, and that they still had two thirds of the way to go before reaching the ground. “Nothing like this!”

Mirania laughed heartily.

As they headed towards the place where they would be climbing, Mirania explained to Wren that it was a construction site: a tree was being prepared for a new home, and part of her job was to help set the safety ropes for others to bring up their gear and the materials for building.

“We’re anxious for it to be finished,” she concluded as they approached the tree they would be climbing. “There’s a young couple eager to be married, which will take place as soon as their home is ready.” She waved at a group of men who were busily stacking planks which were already shaped on the ground at the base of the tree, and a few of them waved back.

“Who is this?” called one of the men, grinning at Wren. “Fresh blood?”

Wren laughed. It always felt good to be treated like a regular person, and it was something she was really enjoying on this trip.

“Wren Elessedil, from the continent of the Four Lands,” Mirania grinned back at the man. “Passing through, but she wanted to give tree climbing a try. I figured, since this is all already set up and it really needs to get finished, this is as good a place as any for a lesson.”

“Welcome, Wren Elessedil,” the man said warmly. “I am Kolvar, and I am very happy to meet you. If you’d like any tips about climbing, feel free-”

“To ask me,” Mirania interrupted him, chuckling. “Kolvar, stop flirting and go back to your own job. You can’t climb without a harness, which makes your advice pretty much useless. Come here, Wren. And feel free to ignore Kolvar as much as you wish. He’s just a sucker for a pretty face.”

“Except when Mirania takes away my fun!” the man protested, laughing as he went back to work.

Wren giggled. “He seems friendly enough.”

“Oh, sure,” Mirania agreed, leading Wren to the far side of the tree. “But he will keep everyone from doing their work if we let him get started.”

On the other side of the tree, there were two ropes hanging down. On the ground there was a large crate. Mirania headed over to it and lifted the lid, letting it rest against the tree’s massive trunk. Inside were all sorts of things – belts, tools, climbing gear like she was already wearing, and other things that Wren didn’t recognize. Mirania pulled a leather item out of the crate and turned to Wren.

“Your harness,” she told her, kneeling in front of her. “I’ll help you put it on.” As she did so, she continued to speak. “I’ll be wearing one too, today, so that if you slip or anything, my weight will counterbalance yours and you’ll be fine.”

As soon as Wren’s harness was fastened, Mirania put one on as well; and then she added a belt for each of them, with several pouches hanging on them, as well as other ropes and tools.

“How can you climb with all of this?” Wren murmured in amazement, poking through the pouches to see what they contained.

Mirania laughed. “You get used to it. Come on.” She beckoned Wren to join her by the ropes that hung from the tree, and when Wren arrived, she tied one rope to a large buckle on the front of Wren’s harness.

“Now I’ll harness myself to the other end of the rope,” she said softly as she worked, and suddenly Wren realized that it was not two ropes, but one very long one that was over a branch or something; “and as we go higher, I’ll tighten the slack on my side so that if one of us slips, the other will hold us in place.”

She had already finished her preparations by the time she had finished speaking, and she looked up, tugged on the rope as if testing it, and then turned to Wren and grinned. “Ready?”

Wren grinned back at her. “Absolutely.”

Mirania showed her how to begin her climb, how to identify what areas were safe to use as hand- or footholds, and how to use the climbing gear she had put on. Pulling away from the tree once the gloves or slippers came into contact was both difficult and inadvisable: the resulting sudden jerk could easily upset her balance. Instead, she had to slide her hands and feet upwards to release the bark from the little hooks on the gear, and then she could reach up for another grip. She felt a little like a lizard, zig-zagging her way up the side of the tree. But she was enjoying herself. It felt good to work like this, and Mirania was wonderful company.

It took close to an hour for them to reach the thick branches where the home was being built, and when they finally arrived, Wren’s arms and legs were aching with exhaustion. She was not used to using her muscles like this, and she was never so aware of it as now.

“You’re a natural,” Mirania grinned at her as both of them sat on a plank that had already been placed and secured.

Wren laughed. “I don’t feel like it.” She leaned over carefully and peered down at the ground far below them. It was hard to believe how high up they were … and that she had climbed all that way on her own. Sure, she had lost her grip once or twice, but she had never fallen.

She started slightly when Mirania put one hand on her shoulder. “You may feel very tired,” her new friend said softly, pride in her tone, “but you made it to the top. That’s more than most others have managed. And what’s more, you did it without falling. I didn’t have to rescue you once.”

The image of Wren hanging helplessly in midair suddenly entered her mind, and both women laughed again.

“I’m sure I held you back, though,” Wren said ruefully, rubbing one shoulder.

Mirania waved the worry away. “I’ve been climbing my whole life. Over five hundred years. This is your first time. It’s to be expected. Besides,” she added, her eyes sparkling brightly, “sometimes it’s good to slow down and remember that there’s more to climbing than the climb itself. I’m up here so often, and the view is stunning … but I’m always so focused on my destination that I don’t take the opportunity to look around and appreciate it.”

Wren chuckled softly. “Then I’m glad to have been of service.”

Mirania left Wren to rest for a while and helped the home builders to bring up the necessary planks. Wren watched in fascination. There were others in the tree already, and Mirania helped them to hoist up the shaped planks and fasten them safely into place. There were ropes everywhere: tied to the planks to bring them up, tied to the workers in case they fell, tied from one branch to another to facilitate movement through the tree; yet no one faltered or hesitated when they moved, and Wren could tell that each and every one of them had been doing this job for a very long time. They talked and joked together, but there was never a need for anyone to either give or ask direction.

Once Wren was rested, Mirania invited her to join in the construction. It was hard work, and meticulous: the planks had to be placed perfectly in order for them to fit, and they had to be hoisted up with the utmost care to make sure they didn’t hit against the tree’s massive trunk or any of the branches that were located lower down so that they would not be damaged.

She also discovered the reason why the utility belt she and the others wore was so heavy: a small flask of brightly coloured paint and a tiny brush were needed for marking the places for the planks; a chisel was used for any necessary reshaping of planks or making niches for them to fit together more tightly, as well as tightening screws; a flask of water to keep them hydrated; spare rope for whatever might come up – securing things, hauling supplies or people, replacing broken ropes; a climbing knife with a serrated edge for sawing if necessary and a flat edge for more meticulous work, and a hook at the tip for catching on things; a machete-type blade for hacking away vines, leaves, and smaller twigs and branches that needed to be removed; pins for securing ropes and creating footholds; screws for fastening the planks together, and a two-sided hammer with a flat end for pounding in pins and a pointed side for use as a pick.

And Mirania had laughed when she’d told Wren that these were just the necessities.

“Some people bring more, believe it or not,” she grinned as they took a short rest together. “Paper and charcoal for changing designs or transferring information … drawings of their family, maybe … extra flasks … a change of clothes for when it gets too hot or in case of a rip in what they’re wearing …”

Wren was amazed, and she couldn’t help but smile ruefully. “They must have incredible strength and endurance,” she murmured, watching some of the men as they continued to work.

“Absolutely,” Mirania agreed. “And with how dangerous the work is, it’s incredible how few accidents there are. Lamruil fell last week, and that was the first accident in nearly fifty years.”

“Impressive, considering how dangerous this job is,” Wren murmured.

“Yes, well, you only get to do this job if you’ve been climbing since you could walk,” Mirania said seriously. “There’s a reason Thorontur worries about me. I tease him about it and tell him he worries too much – which he does, about other things – but at the same time, he’s right. This isn’t a place for most women.”

Then a sparkle entered into her eye, and she grinned smugly. “That said, I’m not most women. And I’ve the feeling you aren’t, either.”

Wren chuckled softly. “My father would agree. I certainly do not, and never have, acted the part of the princess without cause. I try to avoid the palace when I can. Honestly, I don’t feel like I belong there, but I can’t do much else because I’m the last of the Elessedil line. I travel when I can, go to the city when I can’t … I know that someday I’ll have to take my place as princess, but until then …” She smiled impishly and both of them laughed.

“Anyways, I’m just going to finish a few things up here and then I’ll help you down again,” Mirania smiled at Wren, squeezing her shoulder lightly as she stood up again. “You rest. Going down is more work than going up. You’re going to want to soak your muscles tonight or you’re going to be in pain tomorrow.”

Wren laughed. “Well, that’s not new to me either. Thanks for the warning, though. I’ll wait here for you.”

Mirania grinned. “Shouldn’t be long.” She headed off to help the others again, leaving Wren to regain her energy.


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:34 pm

Location: Lightholm, Quir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Autumn

Mirania had been right. When Wren woke the morning after the day she spent climbing and working with Mirania, her entire body was aching as it had never ached before. Her neck, shoulders, arms, ribs, stomach, legs, even her feet. She had never felt such pain before. She had even made sure to take a long, hot bath the night before, and while she was certain it had to have helped, she wasn’t sure how much. Dressing was torturous, and she had to use the wall to make her way safely to the dining room for some breakfast. A steaming cup of tea helped somewhat, but not nearly enough. Daeron offered to spar with her, help her work out her muscles, but at that point Wren could hardly move, and she felt it would be wiser to start small and work her way up to more movement.

That left her with few options. She could contact her father. She could do some writing. She could clean her weapons – though they were almost as clean as they could get, really.  She could bug some of the others, but she didn’t want to whine to anyone. She wanted to be on her own. The best way to do that, she mused, was to work in the gardens. She could do that without moving around too much.

Thankfully, her tools were already in the garden antechamber, which meant she didn’t have to carry anything a long distance. She had a feeling that heat might help her muscles to loosen up a bit, so she went into the hot and humid greenhouse. She would need to check all of them, she knew, but the others would keep until she could move properly again.

The hot sun felt good on her skin, and even knowing that would probably end up burning, she took off her outer shirt and tied her hair back to keep it out of her way while she worked. She picked up a trowel and began to loosen up the soil around some of the herbs she was growing, picking out weeds. Her first movements were slow and jerky, but after a while she was able to work a bit faster, and while her muscles still ached, it became more and more bearable.

Hours passed, and at length she decided to take a break. She hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since breakfast, and it was quite hot in there. She didn’t know the exact temperature, though Shiro had once told her it would be somewhere around 35 Celsius, whatever that meant. She just knew that with the humidity level and heat combined, the plants grew quickly and needed more attention than the other gardens. But it also meant that she sweated more and used more energy, and needed to drink more – which she hadn’t done. And of course, because she hadn’t had enough to drink, and because her muscles were still aching, she was having difficulty even just getting up.

Now there was a problem she hadn’t foreseen.

Even as the thought entered her head, the doorway that led to the antechamber swung inward and Khetal appeared.

“Ah,” he murmured when he saw Wren leaning against a rock. “You are in here. Iorlas was looking for you, lunch will be soon.”

“Thanks,” Wren murmured with a wan smile.

Khetal’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he took a step inside. “Are you all right?” he asked her hesitantly. “I know I haven’t known you long, but … you don’t seem like yourself.” He continued to approach her. “You don’t look particularly well.”

“Thanks,” Wren said again, this time laughing slightly. “I just overdid it, is all. Climbing yesterday, muscles stiffened overnight, didn’t have enough breakfast, didn’t bring anything to drink, and definitely overworked myself in the heat and humidity.”

“And burned your neck and face,” Khetal added sympathetically.

Wren touched her cheeks lightly and felt heat radiating from them. She sighed and rolled her eyes. “I knew that would happen,” she muttered. She tried to push herself to a standing position, using the rock behind her for leverage, but she found herself struggling. Her calves had cramped from kneeling so much, and that, in addition to the aches from the day before, made it impossible.

The next thing she knew, Khetal had slid one of her arms around his shoulder and took part of her weight, helping her to her feet. It was easier once her feet were under her, but she was grateful for his help nonetheless.

“You should just rest for the afternoon,” Khetal told her, and Wren was surprised by the worry in his voice. “You keep yourself far too busy.”

“Too busy?” she repeated curiously.

Khetal looked at her through half-lidded eyes. “You and Kyrie are far too much alike,” he muttered. “She doesn’t take proper care of herself either.” He sighed. “Look. You worked hard yesterday, used some muscles you didn’t know you had … you have to give them time to heal. Let them rebuild themselves. And instead of that, you come out and strain them further, burning yourself in the process, which damages your skin and saps your energy further.”

Wren laughed. “Normally I’d argue with you but I’m too tired today,” she smiled. “Thank you doctor, I believe I shall follow your advice, if you have an idea of what else I could do to pass time this afternoon. I do not do well with boredom.”

“Then why don’t I help you with your pain?” Khetal smiled at her. “There are ways to ease sore muscles.”

“That would be fantastic!” Wren said brightly. “I can’t believe how sore I am today – I’ve never felt like this before.”

Khetal smiled. “Then we’ll remedy that after lunch.”


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:39 pm

Location: Lightholm, Quir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Autumn

Against her better judgment but desperate for an end to her pain, Wren allowed Khetal into her bedroom to massage her aching muscles.

“You’re sure that those of mixed blood don’t have any Gifts?” she murmured as he worked on her shoulders. “Because I could swear that there is magic in your hands.”

Khetal chuckled softly. “Well, I have been studying medicine almost my entire life. I promise you, there is no magic in my technique.”

Wren winced as he pressed harder, making her muscle twinge. “And how long has that been?”

“Mm.” Khetal sighed. “Over a thousand years. Kyrie and I were born in Caras Galadhon and spent some time in Poleria, and then she traveled the continent while I lived with Lynliss and Leo in Winum. It’s where I’ve spent most of my life.”

“And how did you get into medicine?” asked Wren curiously. “Spending time with Lynliss?”

Khetal shook his head, and for a moment, he didn’t respond. Wren wasn’t sure what to think at first, and her brow furrowed slightly in confusion. It hadn’t been a difficult question, had it? She tried to look over her shoulder to see what Khetal was doing, but he started to massage out a knot on her spine and she relaxed again.

“When we were in Poleria, viewing, for the first time, the land from which our mother had come,” he began quietly, “we had no idea that they were at war with Dolerum, which was where our father was from. Mother and Father were killed. Kyrie and I were taken captive. I was barely in my teens, Kyrie was younger … we were kept separate, and one day I was told that she had died, killed by a disease that only affected those of mixed blood. It was not until years later that I found out the truth, but still, it sparked a fire in me, a passion for learning about the disease so that I could fight it. For over half a decade I worked with the humans, until Kyrie found me and told me the truth about the place where I was working. She brought me to live with Leo and Lynliss … I had no idea how to spend my time for the first while, so Lynliss invited me to join her in her work.”

He shrugged again. “It went from there.”

Wren closed her eyes and frowned slightly. Kyrie had mentioned having a difficult past, but hadn’t elaborated – at least not in Wren’s presence – and she was only growing more and more curious about what had happened to the siblings. She knew, though, that it wasn’t her business, and she couldn’t ask anything more than she already had.

“From what I saw, though, Winum didn’t seem very welcoming towards you,” she murmured, deciding to ask about something safer.

Khetal chuckled softly. “Yes, well … they were far more welcoming of me than they ever were of Kyrie. I look elven, so most of them could … at least partially ignore my heritage. But you’re right, I was never that popular. Still,” he added, sounding much more cheerful now, “Gwen is a lot of fun, and she was almost always there to spend time with. And working with Lynliss was a privilege I will always hold dear.”

“You make it sound as if you won’t return,” Wren frowned.

Khetal smiled. “I don’t know. Life is full of possibilities, after all. I do hope that traveling with Kyrie goes well, and if it does, who knows how long I’ll stay with her? She is my sister, after all.”

Wren smiled wistfully. “I have to admit, I’m jealous of the relationship you have with her,” she murmured. “I have no siblings myself, or close relatives aside from my father and grandparents. I’m not really that close to anyone.”

“Really?” Khetal seemed surprised. “I thought you were quite close to the people you’re traveling with.”

Wren shrugged one shoulder, and she was surprised when it didn’t hurt. “Close but not … intimately close. There’s no one I really confide in, or … yeah. I did spend some time with Lancaeriel, back before she found her husband … but things changed.”

“What about back home?” he pressed gently. “I know you said you have no siblings …”

“Father has his duties, my grandparents have their duties … my mother died shortly after I was born, so I never knew her …” She trailed off, thinking deeply. As a child, she’d had her studies, training … she spent time in the city, and she enjoyed it … and yes, she confided in her father, but he was so often so busy, they really didn’t have a lot of time to spend together.

“Then it sounds as if our lives have been somewhat similar,” Khetal murmured.

Wren smiled. “Well, it just gives me every reason to go all out when we come to places like this. There’s nothing to hold me back from just enjoying myself. I do think I end up doing more than most of the others.”

“And look at what you’ve done with yourself, burned and aching.” Khetal chuckled softly, clearly teasing.

Wren didn’t hold it against him, only laughed along with him. It felt good, even with the pain that jolted through her ribs with each breath. And it was nice to know that this was a person that she would have the time to get to know better, and not just meet and then leave after a week or so.


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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 28, 2015 7:28 pm

Location: Valdell, Gemia, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Fading

Since Quir, where Wren had worked herself so hard that she’d been unable to move, Khetal had been helping her in the gardens more than he had been working in his lab. He claimed it was because she was like Kyrie and didn’t know how to properly look after herself, but he never – if ever – had to remind her when to come in from the sun, or eat a meal, or take a drink.

Well, she wasn’t going to stop him.

She made no secret of the fact that she enjoyed his company. He was intelligent, witty, and kind, and though he still teased her about having allowed herself to burn so badly that one day, he didn’t treat her like a child because of it. He also taught her more about the plants she worked with – what benefits they had, what they could be used for … all the information he knew. He didn’t know much about the plants from climates he wasn’t used to, but in two of the gardens, he knew more than Wren would ever have been able to learn by herself.

“Well, if we travel long enough,” she grinned at him as they left the hot and humid garden one morning, “you’ll have the chance to learn as much about the other plants as you know about the ones you’ve already studied.”

“That would take quite a bit of time,” Khetal chuckled, wiping sweat from his brow.

Wren shrugged. “We’ve still seen less than half the countries on this continent,” she pointed out. “It’ll be a while, at least.” Then her grin widened. “Besides, with me helping you, we can learn twice as fast.”

She knew she didn’t know enough in the lab to help him there, but when it came to the plant part of knowledge, she figured they could study twice as many plants in half the time with both of them working. And if Shiro helped him in the lab, why couldn’t he go through twice as much in there as well?

Khetal reached for the gardening cloaks and passed Wren’s to her before pulling his own on. “That is true,” he admitted with the calm smile that so rarely seemed to leave his face. “And I must admit, it is also more pleasurable with company.”

“Just anyone’s company would do?” Wren teased him, her blue eyes sparkling as she clasped the tie of her cloak.

“I don’t know,” he chuckled. He reached for the door to the cool and dry climate garden and pulled it open for her to enter first. “I’ve not tried this with anyone else.”

Wren giggled and headed into the garden. There were very few plants in here, and what plants there were they knew very little about – only what Daenis and Mailon had been able to tell them – and so every day, they spent a bit of time in here, mostly observing.

And not just the plants.

Wren had always been the kind of person who was open with her feelings and never tried to hide them. It was just part of who she was. But there was one feeling she was trying to work through on her own, without speaking of it to anyone – at least not yet – because she wanted to know what it was, exactly, before she did so.

Since the day Khetal had given her that massage, she had taken more of an interest in him. Until that point, he had merely been Kyrie’s brother in her eyes: a person who was along to spend time with his sister because they had spent so much time apart. But on that day, when she had learned a bit more about his and Kyrie’s past, she had realized that there was much more to him than met the eye.

She chided herself often for thinking that. Of course there was more to him than he showed on the surface. The same could be said of anyone. But for some reason, she wanted to know more about him.

Did she like him? Yes. Definitely yes. Was it something more? Of that, she wasn’t certain. And she wouldn’t say anything until she was. And until then, she would just enjoy their time together.

“Khetal,” she said as they knelt next to a white-flowered plant, “does it ever bother you that you don’t have a magical Gift?”

She looked at the plant instead of at him as she waited for his answer. She knew it would take him a moment to think of his reply – it always did.

Khetal was taken by surprise by the question, and it took him a bit longer than usual to answer. While he thought, he took a small clipping of one of the leaves. He would take it to his lab and analyze it later. For now, he pulled an oilcloth slip from his pocket and tucked the leaf into it, then carefully labeled it with a pen.

“Well,” he murmured, tucking the oilcloth into his pocket, “no. Does it ever bother you that you have to return home eventually?”

Wren chuckled softly. “Fair enough. No. I accept it because it’s part of who I am, which I suppose is what you’re getting at.”

Khetal laughed.

“Though I have to add,” Wren murmured thoughtfully, catching Khetal’s attention, “that sometimes I do worry that if I do find someone and fall in love, he might not want to come back to the Four Lands with me.”

Khetal’s laughter faded, and he grew thoughtful once again. They moved on to look at another plant, and then a third, before he finally spoke.

“If he truly loves you,” he said quietly and seriously, “then he will go. If he does not, if he refuses … then it is not truly love, and to leave him behind will be no true loss.”

Wren was surprised by the tone of his voice. “You speak as if from experience.”

They finished up in that garden and headed out to check the wet and cool one.

“Not experience,” he murmured, “but … experience of thought. For me, the issue would not be where to settle or where to live … but rather, could any woman overlook my mixed blood and care for me, just for me?”

Wren blinked in surprise. That was a thought that had never crossed her mind. She smiled at him and led the way into the next garden. “I have to be honest, I’d never thought about that,” she admitted. “I, too, am of mixed blood.” She ignored his look of surprise and went on. “My grandmother is Dark Elven, so my father is half-and half, and I’m one quarter.  I think I’ve just gotten so used to mixed marriages being accepted – both in the Four Lands and here among our group – that it just hasn’t crossed my mind.”

She smiled at him. “Besides, what does it really matter? The important thing is the person himself. Is he kind? Is he caring? What does he value? What are his ethics? It doesn’t matter what he looks like or who his parents are or what his family history is or what country he’s from. It doesn’t matter if he has magic or what magic he might have. If he’s a good man and there is love … that is all that matters.”

“And you’re saying this as a princess,” Khetal laughed.

Wren laughed along with him. “Yes. My people may expect certain things of my husband, but those expectations don’t matter. I love my people dearly, but they will not dictate my happiness.”

Khetal looked at her with a newfound respect. “I must admit, I am impressed.”

Wren grinned. “Nice to know I can do that to someone. Now come on, let’s get some weeding done so that we can check that sample you took.”
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 06, 2015 12:40 pm

Location: The Beach, Eaulir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Early Winter

It had been a few weeks since Wren had contacted her father – not since they had first arrived in Gemia – and though she had agreed to meet with Khetal in the living room in just a short while, she wanted to speak with her father this morning. It wasn’t their usual time, but she hoped that he would be in.

He was.

“Hello, dear,” he greeted her warmly as he slipped into the chair in front of the mirror in his room. “It’s wonderful to see you again – it’s been a while.”

“Sorry, Papa,” Wren smiled, settling in and crossing her legs. “I’ve been distracted lately.”

The muscles of Ander’s face flickered briefly and settled on impassive. “Oh?”

Wren’s smile grew wider, and she could do nothing to stop it even when she bit her lower lip. She could feel her cheeks growing warm, and she knew by the light that suddenly appeared in her father’s eyes that she was blushing. “Well, Papa … I … might have met someone …”

Her father clapped his hands together. “Indeed?” His eyes sparkled. “I wondered why you hadn’t yet cut your hair.”

Wren giggled and ran her fingers along the thick braid which fell to her ribs. “Actually, that’s not the reason, Papa, but he does seem to like it, too.” She took a deep breath to calm her nerves. It was so strange: usually she was able to just say whatever it was that was on her mind, but for some reason she was having more difficulty today.

“So do I get a name?” her father asked. “Or are you simply going to tell me there is someone and leave me to wonder until you return?”

“Oh, Papa,” Wren giggled. “Don’t be silly. His name is Khetal, I’ve told you about him before.”

“The brother of your guide?”

Wren nodded.

Her father fell silent, and she could see that he was troubled. She suspected she might know what it was that was bothering him, but she hoped she was wrong.

“Papa?”

He looked at her, his brow furrowed slightly. “He … has human blood, does he not?” he asked hesitantly.

Wren swallowed down the lump that had grown in her throat. “He does, Papa, but I thought that didn’t matter. We are of mixed blood, remember.”

“Well, yes, but not-”

“So there are levels of acceptance for the various degrees of racial purity?” she interrupted him, something she almost never did. Aside from being simply rude, it was very disrespectful, and she was well aware of this. But now she did so, and she did so deliberately – not to disrespect her father, but to show him that the thought he was trying to get across was not deserving of respect.

There was a moment of silence as Wren waited for him to respond and he tried to think of what to say.

“Papa, I thought you had allowed me to come on this trip to allow me to find someone that I truly care for,” she said at last. “And that it wouldn’t matter who or what he was, as long as he was a good man. That’s all that I care about, that he is a good man – and he is. I mean, you even supported Daeron and Iorlas’ marriage! Aren’t you being a bit hypocritical?”

“But that was different,” Ander protested quietly. “They are not-” He cut himself off and clamped his mouth shut tight.

Wren pressed her lips together tightly, fighting to control her emotions now. “Not what?” she asked quietly. “Not members of our family?”

There was hurt in her father’s eyes, and he shook his head. “No, Wren, that’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?”

He sighed. “Wren, you know as well as I do that they will be able to live their lives anywhere they wish. They will not be under the scrutiny of their people.”

Now she understood. “But I will.” She swallowed hard. “And you fear that our people will not understand or condone a foreigner, and certainly not one of mixed blood – and especially not one with human blood – as their prince.”

Her father spread his hands in a helpless gesture.

Wren had to look away to be able to think. She knew what she needed to say, but she didn’t know if she would be able to get away with it. Still, if she didn’t say it, she would regret it for the rest of her life – even if she didn’t end up marrying Khetal, even if she never saw him again. This was something her father needed to understand.

“Papa,” she said, turning back to the mirror, “look at it this way. You allowed me to come to find someone whom I could love, someone with whom I would be happy to spend the rest of my life. Someone with whom I could have the same relationship as you had with Mother. That is all I want. Yes, I am aware that I have an obligation to the people, but I will not let that dictate my happiness. I won’t marry a man of the people’s choosing any more than you would marry someone just for the sake of marrying and producing another heir if something were to happen to me. I know you loved her – and you still do, very much. If you didn’t, you would have remarried a long time ago. But what if you had not married her, despite the love you had for her, simply because someone else didn’t want you to? Or if she had refused to marry you because you’re half Dark Elven – would that be right or fair?”

A muscle in Ander’s jaw twitched, and he was breathing fast and shallow. She had hit a nerve, and he was visibly upset. She remained quiet now, not wanting to push the issue further, and fully aware that she had made her point.

Suddenly there was a knock at her door, and she looked at it sharply. Had she already taken so long?

“Wren?” came Khetal’s voice through the door. “Did I get the time wrong?”

“No, I’ll be right there,” Wren replied. “Just one minute.” She turned back to her mirror and looked at her father. She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could, he did.

“You’re right, dear,” her father said quietly. “I want you to be happy above all.” He smiled, but she could see that it was a bit of a struggle for him. “Perhaps soon you could invite him to one of our visits. I would like to meet him.”

“Tomorrow,” Wren suggested, smiling with relief. “Same time?”

Her father nodded and folded his arms across his chest. “Yes.” He smiled wistfully. “How I wish you were here, that I could hold you once more in my arms …”

Wren giggled. “Hug a pillow, Papa,” she told him. Then she smiled. “Until tomorrow then. I love you.”

With that, she touched her fingers to her lips and stretched them towards her father. When her fingers touched the mirror, his image faded, leaving her alone.

Well, it hadn’t gone as well as she’d hoped it would, but at least her father had agreed to meet with Khetal. It was something.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 06, 2015 2:50 pm

Location: The Beach, Eaulir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Early Winter

As soon as Wren had put away her mirror, she met Khetal in the hall.

“Is everything all right?” he asked her as she slid her door closed. “I don’t mean to pry, but … you look a bit distressed.”

Wren sighed and shook her head. “Nothing I can’t handle. Just a … a little disagreement with my father.”

Khetal nodded slowly and started down the hall. “Is there … anything I can do?”

Wren laughed softly. “Thanks, but no. He just needs some time.” She slipped her hand into the crook of his arm and took it lightly. “On the bright side,” she added, “he does want to meet you. Tomorrow, same time as today.”

“Should I be worried?”

She shook her head again. “Just be yourself.” She sighed. “Papa’s … just iffy because of your human heritage. The problem is, in our land, while there are plenty of Light Elven-Dark Elven marriages – an entire country, in fact – but there are still no relationships between elves and humans. The idea of it is … not welcome.”

“That’s heartening.” He smiled, but it was a thin, humourless smile.

“No, he just needs to meet you,” Wren assured him as they left the tent and headed towards the beach. “Show him you’re a person, not an entity. You’re not defined by your parents or their histories. Once he realizes that, he’ll be fine.”

She looked up at him and grinned, her eyes bright. “Are you nervous?”

Khetal laughed. “Are you kidding? He already disapproves of me. At least I’m prepared, going in.”

“There is that.” Somehow Wren was amused by the situation now. Her father had rattled her, made her afraid, but now she felt ready to take him on – and all of her people, if that was what it came down to.

They started down the beach, walking just beyond the reach of the lapping waves. There was a light breeze coming in off the ocean, and it felt good in the heat of the morning sun.

“Have you and Kyrie spoken?” Wren asked Khetal, sliding her hand down his arm to take his hand instead. She looked up at him. “I know she’s always really busy, but she is your sister and … I don’t know about you but I’d kind of like to know where she stands on this.”

Khetal laughed. “Of all the people to worry about, I worry least about Kyrie.” He squeezed her hand. “I’m sure you’ve noticed but she’s the kind of person who doesn’t care in the least about appearances and norms. All she cares about – all she has ever cared about – is peoples’ happiness.” His dark eyes sparkled. “And trust me: she’s one of the most intelligent people I know. She knows. Probably better than anyone else we’re with, she knows about us.”

He took a moment to think about what she’d said. “But you do have a point,” he acceded. “Why don’t we ask her to join us in the garden tomorrow, after we talk to your father?”

Wren laughed. “Wouldn’t that be fun? Having a nice family chat while taking clippings for experiments?” She shoved him playfully. “Try again. Think … I don’t know, think picnic, or walk, or hike or … something like that. Seriously.”

“I know,” Khetal chuckled. “I have a very one-track mind. Right. Well, we can worry about that tomorrow. First, your father.”

“First, my father,” Wren agreed.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 06, 2015 6:52 pm

Location: The Beach, Eaulir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Early Winter

With Khetal, Wren needed to position the mirror differently, and she was in the process of doing that when he came to her door the next morning.

“All set?” he asked her with a smile as she welcomed him into her room.

“Nearly.” She squeezed his hand and then made a final adjustment to the mirror. “There. Okay, here, sit.” She sat on her futon and patted the space next to her. Khetal sat down and put his hands on hers.

“Calm down,” he told her softly. “You’re trembling.”

Wren exhaled heavily and held her breath for a moment, eyes closed. Then she inhaled slowly. “Right. Okay. I’m ready.”

She opened her eyes and looked at Khetal, smiled bravely, and then turned towards the mirror. Summoning up the magic within her, she reached out and brushed her fingers lightly over its surface. Their reflection shimmered, then vanished, replaced with her father’s bedchamber. He himself was sitting in the chair in front of the vanity, which meant that his image took up the most part of the mirror. He was smiling, and Wren could see that he was going for a personal touch in his appearance rather than the intimidating appearance he could have taken on simply by wearing his crown.

She smiled nervously. “Hello, Papa.”

“Hello, dear,” Ander replied warmly. His blue eyes were warm. “I think I like this, seeing you two days in a row.”

Wren giggled softly. “Just wait until I’m home again, Papa, and then you shall see me every day.”

“Indeed.” He gazed at her a moment longer, then turned his attention to Khetal. “And you, sir, must be Khetal.”

Khetal was about to reply when Wren interjected, “Yes, Papa. This is Khetal, and he is the one of whom I spoke to you.” Then, turning to Khetal, she gestured towards the mirror and added, “Khetal, this is my father, Prince Ander Elessedil of the Westland.”

Khetal bowed his head respectfully. “It is an honour to meet you, your Highness,” he said formally.

“Likewise,” Ander replied with a smile. “And I would like to begin by offering my apologies.”

“Apologies?” Khetal blinked in surprise.

“Apologies?” Wren repeated, her brow furrowing. “Papa, you’ve not even met him before, what-”

“That is precisely why I must apologize,” her father said firmly. “Yesterday, when we spoke, Wren, I know I gave you a very difficult time. I judged both you and him based on something that – you are quite right – does not matter in the end. Khetal.”

Khetal looked at the prince apprehensively, not sure what to expect.

Ander smiled sadly. “I’m certain my daughter must have told you what I said yesterday, concerning your heritage. I’m afraid that I was neither kind nor fair. I have spent too much time among people who care not about who you are, but about where you come from, and what blood flows in your veins. I was not putting my daughter’s happiness first. I was simply looking for an easy solution. I wasn’t even willing to give you a chance. For that, I am deeply sorry.”

If anything, the apology made Khetal more nervous than he had been before, and he looked at Wren. She smiled widely at him. Her anxiety had vanished, and now she reached over and took Khetal’s hand in her own, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Khetal smiled at her and turned back to the mirror.

“Thank you, sir,” he said softly but sincerely. “I must admit, being of mixed blood has given me trouble before, and for a long time I was without hope of ever meeting anyone who would accept me. Wren took away that fear.”

“And I put it right back in there,” Ander smiled ruefully. “Rest assured, it makes no difference to myself or to my parents, our current rulers. That being said, I would like very much to know more about you.”

Khetal spread his hands in invitation. “Ask away, sir.”

Ander leaned back in his chair and smiled. He was ready with his questions, and he was very much looking forward to answers.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:29 pm

Location: The Beach, Eaulir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Early Winter

By the time Wren and Khetal finished speaking with Ander, the day was done.

“That wasn’t getting to know you, that was an interrogation,” Wren stressed once they had put the mirror away. “I can’t believe he asked so many questions – and so personal!”

“Well, you can’t say that there’s a lot about me that you don’t know anymore,” Khetal chuckled, stretching. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Calm down, it’s done with.”

“Yes, but-”

She stopped talking abruptly when Khetal began to massage her shoulders, his fingers working away the stiffness that had settled in when she’d been sitting and listening, without actually participating, to his conversation with her father.

Khetal smiled softly at her. “There. Right there. Capture that feeling. Remember it. Don’t let anything compromise it.”

“Mm.” She closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. It just felt too good not to.

There was a knock at the door, and it slid open to reveal Kyrie. “Oh, here you are,” she grinned. “Don’t tell me the two of you have been in here all day. Khetal, you were raised better than that – and Wren being a princess, no less.”

Wren was amused when Khetal became flustered by his sister’s teasing. “No,” he protested, “that’s not-”

“We spent the day talking with my father,” she interrupted him, smiling tiredly. “It wasn’t supposed to take that long and we had hoped that we would be able to spend the day with you, but my father was rather more inquisitive than I have ever seen him before.”

“You slept through half of it,” Khetal pointed out.

Wren wrinkled her nose. “I did not. I was bored and you were comfortable. I just dozed. But I heard every word.”

“Including when your father told me the qualities you always said you wanted in a husband?”

She slapped his shoulder, and none too softly at that. “He did nothing of the sort,” she scolded him.

Khetal laughed and put one arm around her shoulders. “Just checking.”

Kyrie giggled. “All that aside, you two wanted to spend the day with me?” she asked, tilting her head curiously and looking from one to the other and back.

“Well, Wren wanted to spend some time with you,” Khetal grinned, “and make sure that you would be okay with us.”

For a moment, Kyrie could only stare, and when she saw Wren’s cheeks growing pink, she snickered, then laughed out loud.

“Seriously? You were worried about me?” she chuckled. “Of all people?”

“For a bit, yes,” Wren admitted. She shook her head, tossing her braid over her shoulder. “But after today …” She put her face in her hands and shook her head again. “Ugh … my father …”

“Hey, at least you have one,” Kyrie pointed out.

Wren smiled faintly. “Yes. I’m sorry, I should be a bit more sensitive.”

Kyrie waved the apology away. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault.”

“And she actually has a point,” Khetal spoke up in Wren’s defense. “Her father certainly had no difficulty asking me anything, even things that you never dared.”

Kyrie grinned. “Then I really, really don’t see why you’re worried about me. Now come on.” She pushed her way between them and pushed them towards the door. “They are waiting for dinner.”
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Sep 19, 2015 10:14 am

Location: The Beach, Eaulir, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Early Winter

Despite Wren’s suggestion that they spend the day together outside, Kyrie insisted that she was more than happy to join her and Khetal as they did their work in the gardens. And it had indeed become their work, and was no longer just Wren’s work.

“I never realized how much you two did in here,” she commented, rubbing a leaf gently between her fingers. “I mean, I always knew you spent a lot of time in here, Wren, but …”

Wren smiled. “Well, you know, for a long time I did this on my own,” she reminded Kyrie. “Khetal’s only been helping me out since Quir.”

Kyrie grinned at her brother. “And how did that happen?” she asked. “I’ve got to say, I didn’t even realize until a few weeks ago that there was anything between you two.”

Wren blushed, remembering what had first caused them to spend some time in each other’s company. “Well …”

“It should sound like a familiar story to you,” Khetal spoke up, his eyes dancing. “She needed the aid of a physician.”

A wrinkle creased Kyrie’s forehead and she looked at Wren in concern. “I don’t recall you getting injured …”

“No, not injured per se …” Wren laughed softly, and her cheeks were so warm she knew they had to be pretty bright – and not from the temperature in the garden. “Remember when I spent that first day climbing with Mirania? I should have followed her advice and soaked in hot water for a few hours that night and then just taken it easy the next day, but I didn’t.” She wrapped her finger in a curl of her hair. “I thought it would be a good idea to come in here and work – and that without even eating breakfast.”

Kyrie didn’t even need a second to understand what had happened. She burst out laughing. “Oh, Wren. Full-body massage, then? Those are nice.”

She winked, and Wren giggled, still blushing.

“So is this a serious thing?” Kyrie asked then, sitting back on her heels and looking between the two. “I mean, where are you two at? Getting to know each other? Know enough to know that you really enjoy each other’s company?”

“Well, you know that yesterday I got to meet Wren’s father,” Khetal reminded her.

Wren groaned and face-palmed.

“So … I would guess … pretty serious,” Kyrie laughed. Her laughter faded slowly. “I suppose that means, then, that you’ll be returning to Wren’s land together eventually?”

“If that’s where our relationship leads, yes,” her brother nodded seriously. “It’s only been a few weeks, a little over a month, nothing’s certain yet. Anything is possible.”

Kyrie smiled and sighed softly. “That’s going to be different,” she murmured. “You being the one gone …”

Khetal shrugged. There wasn’t much that could be done about it. Wren was what she was, after all, and she had no choice in the matter.

“It wouldn’t have to be permanent,” Wren spoke up. She figured she should give Kyrie a bit of encouragement. She didn’t have any siblings herself, but she thought that Kyrie not seeing Khetal again might be rather like her not seeing her father again. That would be a depressing thought, indeed.

She gestured for Kyrie to come closer and knelt on the ground. She smoothed out the soil and patted it down lightly so that she could use her finger to draw on it.

“Look,” she murmured, drawing a rough oval shape. “Here’s Arkandia. Pretty big. Caras Galadhon, where we landed, is at the furthest point west, and Dolerum is at the furthest point west.”

Kyrie nodded, looking at Wren’s drawing. “Yes …”

Wren left a space about the size of her fist to the left of the oval and added a second, much smaller circle. “And here, far to the west, is the Four Lands. By ship, at least the ship we take, it takes close to half a year to cross the ocean.”

“Which means a round trip to Caras Galadhon would take a year at minimum and that’s if whoever’s doing the traveling just goes to the nearest city and back,” Kyrie said to show her understanding. Her brow furrowed slightly as she wondered what Wren’s point was.

“Well,” Wren smiled, “that’s if someone were to go between Caras Galadhon and our most southeastern city, Namonuito. But what if we were to look at the map a different way?”

Now Kyrie frowned. “I don’t follow.”

Wren looked around for something spherical. There was an orange tree nearby, and she plucked one of its ripe fruit. Then she dipped her hand in the bucket of water she had for taking care of the plants and scooped it onto the dirt.

“All right, same thing,” she murmured. She used one finger to pick up some of the mud she’d made and drew the two continents on the orange’s skin, doing her best to keep them proportionate not only to each other but to the size of the orange as well. “Again, long distance between Namonuito and Caras Galadhon.”

Kyrie nodded again, her eyes narrowing slightly. Not worried at all, Wren went on.

“Now if we forget about those two places and think instead about Dolerum and the west coast of the Westland …” She turned the orange to show the distance between the two contents from the other angle. “See how close they are?”

Kyrie blinked. “A fraction of the distance …”

“Exactly!” Wren beamed. “The Westland doesn’t have a port, but knowing now how close it is to Dolerum and other east coast countries, I can think of no reason why we shouldn’t build a port and start some intercontinental trade, if the countries here agree.”

“And if there are already relations between the countries …” Khetal murmured.

Her eyes brightening, Kyrie nodded. “I get it,” she smiled. “I’d still have to come to Dolerum to see you, but …”

Khetal laughed. “Yes. And now you can understand why Wren wanted to make sure you wouldn’t be too upset.”

“Of course, you could always take Ahkshi to the Westland,” Wren added with a smile.

Kyrie smiled sadly. “If only he could travel.”

Wren shrugged. It wasn’t her place to say anything, but she felt that if Ahkshi really wanted to, he could. After all, he couldn’t be the only physician in the city, let alone the country.

“Still,” Kyrie added, looking from Wren to Khetal and back, “it sounds as if you two really are planning on this …”

“Let’s just say,” Khetal said slowly, looking at Wren, “it’s something we’ve talked about. A lot. Being from two different continents isn’t easy, and neither one of us wants to leave either one of them behind.”

“Whether my father likes it or not,” Wren spoke up, “I love to travel. I don’t even need an excuse, but if I have one, then it’s even better. Fewer arguments.” She grinned.

Kyrie chuckled softly. “I see.” Cocking her head curiously, she sked, “What made you think of all this before ever saying anything to me? Or, I assume, to your father …”

Wren rubbed the dirt off the orange, her expression thoughtful. “Well … it’s just what I do,” she said after a moment. “I mean, it’s how I was brought up. Trained, I suppose. As a princess, especially as the only princess, one who will be expected to rule someday, I was taught a lot about international relations. Diplomacy, being able to present news that could possibly be deemed unwanted or even just downright bad without making it seem so, is a huge part of that training. It also taught me to think about how others might view any given situation, to anticipate reactions and placate negative ones.”

She smiled. “Of course, it only works if you’re honest in what you say. I do mean it: regardless of what happens with me and your brother, I fully intend to suggest that we build a port in the Westland and open trade with Arkandia.”

“Now you’re making it sound like you’re in a wait-and-see position,” Kyrie chuckled.

Khetal smiled and put one arm around Wren’s shoulders. “We’re still fairly early in our relationship,” he reminded Kyrie, “so while we both hope it will lead to us being together someday, at this point, we just can’t say for certain.”

“And we don’t want to start to count on it and then discover somewhere along the way that it’s not going to work out,” Wren added. “So that being said … we don’t want to make a big deal of it with the others. We’d really prefer to be left on our own with this.”

“Oh, trust me,” Kyrie snickered, “the others have other things on their minds. Changing up the tent, babies on the way, a certain young lad entirely ignorant of how dependent he is on a certain young woman …”

Wren blinked. “Eh? What’s this?”

Kyrie laughed heartily. “You two keep entirely too much to yourselves. Get your heads out of the clouds or you’ll miss everything else that’s going on! Besides,” she added, her eyes sparkling with amusement, “if you don’t, then I won’t have to say a word to anyone – they’ll all know about the two of you, if they don’t already. You’ve been keeping pretty exclusive company for a while now.”

Wren giggled. It was true. Not that either she or Khetal had realized it, of course, but it was true. Neither of them really paid much attention to what else was going on among their group.

“Wait,” Khetal spoke up, frowning slightly. “Babies … plural? Not just Daenis anymore?”

Wren blushed. She hadn’t even caught that …

“Not just Daenis anymore,” Kyrie chuckled. “Iorlas, too. And to be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were more soon. We’ve a few other newlywed couples among us, anxious to start families.”

Wren giggled again and looked at Khetal. “She’s got a point,” she grinned. “Maybe we should spend a little less time in the lab.”

He grinned back at her. “Could be fun.” He turned back to Kyrie. “But now you’ve got me curious. Who is this ‘ignorant young man’?”

There were a few single males among them, but very few – Shiro, Kaito, Eron, and Andarien. Of the young women, there were Holly, Rose, Miyuki and Shoneah. Of them, he could think of a few where there might be growing interest. He still recalled, after all, the excitement and interest both Shiro and Kaito had shown when Holly had joined them, and Andarien and Shoneah still worked together all the time.

Kyrie just grinned. “Not telling. You have to stop working, get out of the lab, and find out for yourselves.”

“I have to admit,” Wren murmured to Khetal, her eyes bright, “that does sound like it could be fun. A little bit of reconnaissance …”

Khetal laughed, amused by Wren’s choice of words. “All right,” he grinned at his girlfriend and sister. “Let’s do it.”
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Nov 14, 2015 1:10 am

Location: The Tent, somewhere in Eausin, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter

Wren felt guilty about not going on with the others to the fortification set up by the Light Elves, but she couldn’t. She felt absolutely sick to her stomach. And there were a lot of reasons for it: sure, when the group had come across the burned settlement where they had found Amir, there had been a lot of destruction, but that had been with a point (even if she didn’t like it); but now, the murder and burning of people who had done nothing to deserve it, whose only purpose in being on land was to have children and raise them until they could join their people … it was awful. And it wasn’t like it was White Elves who were responsible for it this time: the White Elves were notoriously violent, so as sad and disgusting as their actions were, at least it was not surprising – but this was the work of Light Elves! Her own kind!

She didn’t know what part of that made her feel the most ill. Whichever it was, the combination was too much for her. Every time she thought about the pile of tortured and murdered Water Elves, she felt nauseous all over again.

She lay on top of her futon, curled up in a ball, shivering from the horror of it. She wanted to shut herself away from the world, away from reality, and she buried her head in her arms and tried to keep her tears from falling.

She was so unaware of what was around her that when she felt a hand on her shoulder, she gasped sharply in surprise and jerked away, one arm flinging out defensively.

Khetal ducked back just in time to avoid being hit. “Whoa,” he murmured, his brow creased in concern. “Are you all right? Lashrael just told me that she saw you come in here … I thought you were going with Kyrie and the others …”

For a moment, Wren just stared at him, frozen with the shock of his sudden appearance.

“I knocked,” he added anxiously, “but you didn’t reply …”

A tear slipped from Wren’s eye, and she lowered her face into her hands and burst into tears. Immediately, Khetal knelt next to her and put his arms around her, drawing her close. She leaned into him. Surrounded by his warmth, his strength, she felt inexplicably safer, though even that feeling couldn’t block out the sickening reality of what had happened to the Water Elves. She couldn’t hold back her sobs.

Khetal just held her close, stroking her hair and rocking her gently. “It’s all right,” he murmured softly into her ear. “Let it out.”

She cried until she had nothing left: no tears and no energy; and all the time, Khetal held her and comforted her.

“Would it help to tell me about it?” he asked her when she was able at last to speak.

Wren rubbed her eyes with the back of her wrists. “You’ve already heard it,” she whispered hoarsely.

“Nevertheless,” Khetal murmured patiently. “It may help. Talking can be very therapeutic.”

She looked up at him, her eyes red-rimmed. “All I want is to forget. You weren’t there. You didn’t see them. Men, women, children … babies, Khetal. Babies too young even to walk, and yet their legs broken, shattered, so that they couldn’t escape being burned alive!”

He kept stroking her hair, comforting her. “No,” he agreed quietly. “I didn’t.”

“I never imagined,” Wren went on, shuddering, “that such atrocities could ever happen. Back home, there were people who stole children from their families and used them as slaves … and they did such horrible things to them, especially to the girls. But this …” She held her head in her hands again. “I don’t know which is worse.”

Khetal held her closer and laid his cheek against the top of her head. “I only wish I could assure that that was the end of it. That those are the only horrors the world holds. But I can’t. There is no limit to the imaginations of such depraved minds. The human facility where I researched for so many years tested poisons on people – elves when they could get them, half-bloods like me and Kyrie whenever possible, and even their own people when necessary. And even that is nothing compared to the atrocities performed on the subjects while they were in there.”

He sighed. “I don’t want to be … I don’t want to belittle what you’re feeling. You’re absolutely right, it’s horrible. And I don’t want to make you expect it everywhere. But … you can’t let it defeat you, either. You have to be strong.”

“I don’t know if I can …”

“You must!” Khetal took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes, and she was startled to see how serious he was. “If you let this beat you, then you will spend your life running and hiding. You can’t do that – for your own sake, and for the sake of your people. You have to stand up to it. Accept how terrible it is, but use that as fuel to put a stop to it.”

Wren shook her head. “I don’t think …”

Khetal pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head slowly. “Wren,” he murmured, “when I met you, my first reaction was that you were like Kyrie. You and my sister are so much alike, in so many ways … and though at first, it was in … the less than desirable ways – recklessness, lack of seriousness … since I have gotten to know you, my opinions have changed. Yes, I still think that you are like my sister, but in ways that are admirable. You are smart. Strong. Persistent. You have an incredible sense of morality, responsibility, duty. And you also have one of the strongest senses of empathy that I have ever seen.”

He took her hands and held them in his own. “Your histories are quite different, but there are similarities. Difficulties that had to be overcome. You’ve both been a part of working to save others from awful fates. For her, that’s what keeps her strong. You need to let it do the same for you – at least until it’s been resolved. You are a fighter. I know you are. I see it in the way you move, the way you hold your weapons. I can’t pretend to understand it: I’ve never held a weapon in my life. You have the ability to avenge these deaths. Don’t let that go to waste.”

Wren nodded and sniffled. “You’re right,” she murmured, her voice cracking. “I’m sorry.”

“No.” He brushed the tear-tracks from her cheek. “Don’t apologize. Never be sorry for empathizing with others. It is not your fault.”

Wren laughed, despite herself. “Don’t be like this, but don’t be sorry for being like this,” she smiled at him. “You’re very difficult to please.”

“Not at all,” he smiled at her. His dark eyes were warm. “I just want the best for you. And succumbing to the evil of others is not it.” He brushed his thumbs across the backs of her hands. “Now, we don’t know how much longer the others are going to be. What do you want to do until they return?”

She shifted closer to him and laid her head against his shoulder. “I just want to stay with you,” she murmured with a sigh. “Please.”

Khetal had no issues with that.


Last edited by Nara-pyon on Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:15 pm

Location: The Tent, eastern Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter
 
Wren ran her fingers through her newly cut hair and made a thoughtful face. “Shortest hair of anyone in the group,” she murmured. “I’d forgotten what it felt like … never thought I’d miss having long hair.”
 
“Good.” Khetal smiled at her from where he was sitting cross-legged in the corner of her room. “Then something good is coming of this.”
 
Wren chuckled and turned towards him. “You don’t like this.”
 
“No.” He pushed himself to his feet. “You look like a man. But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?”
 
She nodded and held her hands out to him. He took them in his own and stepped closer to her.
 
“I wish you didn’t have to do this,” he murmured, sighing softly.
 
“I know,” Wren smiled at him, squeezing his hands lightly. “But unless I’m mistaken, was it not you who only a week ago was encouraging me not to let these guys beat me? To get my strength by fighting against them? This is my chance. No one else can do it. I’m the only one who even has a chance. And if don’t do something to fight back against what they’re doing, I’ll go mad.”
                                                                                                                                       
Khetal sighed and brushed his fingers lightly against her uninjured cheek. “And once more,” he murmured softly, smiling sadly, “I see something in you that reminds me far too much of my sister.”
 
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Wren chuckled.
 
He smiled and shook his head. “No, you’re right. It is admirable that both of you are so insistent on helping everyone around you. I just hope that we don’t regret this.”
 
“I know Papa will.” It was Wren’s turn to sigh. “Still, I wouldn’t feel right going out there without first talking with him. Come on. I may need your help in calming him down.”
 
Khetal chuckled as Wren prepared the mirror for communicating with her father. He understood her feelings. He had listened time and again as the prince had openly admired Wren’s long hair – and while he had always agreed with the man, now he really understood why he kept making a big deal of it. If Wren had always used to keep her hair this short – even if it was different now than it had used to be – then it was quite different to see her with long hair. He sat on the futon, watching as she emerged from a state of deep concentration and reached out to touch the mirror’s surface. As her father’s bedchamber swirled into view, she moved to join him, sitting next to him and leaning against his side. He put one arm around her shoulders and held her close.
 
For a moment, there was no one in sight in the mirror’s surface; but after a moment a door in the background opened, and Ander entered the room.
 
“Hello, Papa,” Wren called to get his attention.

Despite her smile, she was nervous, and she could tell exactly when her father spotted her. His eyes grew wide, and he froze in his steps.
 
“Wren?” he croaked after a moment. He stepped forward cautiously and sat slowly in front of his mirror. “Is that … you?”
 
“Yes, Papa,” Wren smiled. She ran her fingers through her short hair, something that was beginning to become a habit. “I’d have warned you, Papa, but … there wasn’t time. A situation has come up, and I need to go in disguise.”
 
Ander frowned. “Situation?”
 
Wren reached for Khetal’s hand again, but her attention was still focused on her father. As carefully as she could, without giving too much detail, she explained what they’d discovered in Eausin.
 
“Our hope is that we can find the man behind it all by me going into the town and asking for work,” she concluded. “Hopefully I’ll be hired, or at the very least, invited for an interview. Once we know who it is and where they are, we can take care of him as well and put a stop to this for good.”
 
Ander nodded thoughtfully, but he clearly wasn’t happy with it. “Why did you have to cut your hair, though?” he asked sadly. “It was getting so long …”
 
Once more, she ran her fingers through her hair. “I know, Papa,” she murmured, “and I do wish it hadn’t been necessary … but mercenaries will only allow men to join them, no women. At least, that’s what I’m told. It’s the only way I can get in.”
 
“So why you?” her father pressed. “There are many men in your group.”
 
“Because of the other requirements,” she replied patiently. “Being Light Elven is the number one requirement. Anyone of any other race would be killed immediately. The only Light Elves among us are Andarien and Lamruil. Andarien is still a naïve child. He would never survive. And Lamruil is a climber – he doesn’t know how to fight. He can shoot a bow in a pinch but that’s about it. If we knew who was behind it all and knew where they were then this wouldn’t be necessary, but we just don’t know.”
 
Ander sighed and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms.
 
“Sir,” Khetal spoke up quietly, deeming it a good time to put in his own two cents’ worth, “you have to believe that if this were not completely necessary, it would not be taking place. But if you had seen the atrocities performed by the men employed by whoever it is who is behind it all, you would agree that there is no other option. They must be stopped. We are taking every precaution with your daughter’s safety, that I can promise you.”
 
Ander looked tiredly at the two of them in silence for a moment, then nodded slowly.
 
“I suppose I have no choice but to trust you,” he murmured. He sighed again. “Well, I am grateful that you let me know ahead of time. But promise me, Wren, that you will contact me again as soon as you’ve returned?”
 
Wren smiled at her father. “I promise.”
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:10 am

Location: Orodín, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter
 
Wren walked alongside Alph as he led the way into his home town. It was mid-morning, and the town was alive with activity. The homes were simple yet elegant wooden structures. Gardens dotted the yards, and children were running around together, playing. There were some adults standing around and talking in groups, but most were walking with determination along worn paths.
 
“My wife is probably at the market at this time of day,” Alph murmured conversationally as they entered the town.
 
Wren was surprised. “You’re married?”
 
A light blush rose in Alph’s cheeks. “Yeah … I know. I didn’t want to leave them, but the money was just too good.”
 
“Them?” Wren repeated, frowning slightly.
 
Alph smiled faintly. “My wife and two daughters. Kaylessa and I have been married about five years now, Elena is three and a half, and Tamara is almost two years old now.”
 
“Do you leave them often?”
 
Alph shook his head. “This is the first job I’ve left them for more than a few days for. It’s been a full season … they’ll be glad to see me home again.”
 
“I can imagine,” Wren murmured, looking around. She was both surprised and impressed at how few people were giving her even a second glance, but even those looks were nothing more than cursory.
 
Suddenly Alph’s face lit up, and he smiled widely. “There they are!” he exclaimed. He broke into a run down the street. “Kaylessa!” he called loudly.
 
One of the women who had been talking with a street vendor turned at the sound of his voice. She was very pretty, and very pregnant. There were two children with her, and the taller of the two was the first to spot Alph.
 
“Daddy!” she shrieked excitedly. She took off at a toddler’s run towards her father, arms outspread. The woman’s expression turned from shock to relief to tearful joy. Wren watched as the family was reunited and the three girls took turns hugging Alph tightly. She felt like she was intruding, but she kept moving towards them. She had to stick close to Alph, after all.
 
When she approached the family, all four of them seemed to be talking at once; but Kaylessa stopped abruptly when she saw Wren. The children’s voices faded more slowly, but soon all three of them were staring at Wren.
 
“Alph?” Kaylessa said questioningly, taking her husband’s arm.
 
Alph smiled and put his arm around his wife’s shoulder. “Kaylessa,” he said cheerfully, “this is …” He trailed off. In all their preparations, they had forgotten to choose a name for her.
 
“Ander,” Wren supplied, reaching forward to shake Kaylessa’s hand. “A week he’s known me, and he still can’t remember my name. Pleasure to finally meet you.”
 
Her father’s name had been the first to pop into her head, and in a way she was glad of it. She wouldn’t forget it, at any rate.
 
The woman seemed to accept Wren’s explanation, because she smiled briefly before chuckling. “Yes, that would be my husband,” she agreed.
 
Alph blushed faintly and cleared his throat. “Anyways, Ander,” he went on, clearing his throat, “these are our daughters, Elena and Tamara.”
 
“Hello, girls,” Wren greeted them with a smile and a nod.

The children hid shyly behind their parents’ legs. Wren thought they were just adorable, and she allowed herself a slight smile.
 
“Ander is going to be staying with us for a while,” Alph explained to his wife, taking her hand and starting down the street again. “He’s looking for work. He got me out of a scrape about a week ago, so I kind of feel like I owe him that much.”
 
Kaylessa looked at Wren thoughtfully, nodding slowly. She seemed a bit skeptical, and Wren deliberately looked around to make herself seem unconcerned.
 
“Where are you from, Ander?” Kaylessa asked cautiously. “I must admit, I’ve never heard a name like yours before.”
 
“Quir,” Wren replied without hesitation. It was the only Light Elven country she’d seen in Arkandia, and she trusted that, should she be questioned about it, she could answer them to satisfaction. She only hoped that no one else here would be from there, or know too much about it. Then, recalling Caranthir and his reasons for traveling, she added, “Life there is a bit boring, so I thought I’d do some traveling. Problem is, it does require a bit of money, so I’m looking for some work so I can earn some coin so I can get some more supplies.”
 
Kaylessa eyed her husband. “Well … I suppose … a few days wouldn’t hurt …”
 
“Don’t worry,” Wren assured her. “As soon as I’ve got enough coin, I’ll be on my way – and compensate you for any inconvenience.”
 
Kaylessa nodded slowly, but she still didn’t look too happy with the situation.
 
Alph took the basket his wife was carrying and hung it in the crook of his elbow. “Come on,” he grinned at her. “Let’s get your shopping finished so we can head home. It’s been a long trip.”
 
Kaylessa looked at Wren again, but Wren just waved her off. “I’ll just follow,” she assured the woman. “Go ahead.”
 
With a slow nod, Kaylessa turned and started walking with her husband. Elena took a fistful of her mother’s skirt and walked beside her, but the younger girl tugged on Alph’s shirt until he picked her up and carried her.
 
Wren sighed silently and followed after them. So far so good …
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:26 am

Location: Orodín, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter
 
On Wren’s first full day in Alph’s home town, she wandered from vendor to vendor asking for work, but always coming up with an excuse of why she wasn’t fit for that type of work, or why that type of work wasn’t for her. That evening, at dinner, she commented on the difficulty of finding work that suited her.
 
“Well,” Kaylessa said thoughtfully, looking at Alph, “you’re a traveler … does that mean that you would have the same skill set as my husband?”
 
Wren tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I suppose, yeah,” she mused aloud. “If you mean fighting and hunting.”
 
Alph looked at his wife curiously. “What are you thinking?”
 
Kaylessa pursed her lips. “Well … your cousin, Lombard, was here last week again. Looking for more people for whatever it was you were helping with. Perhaps he could help Ander.”
 
“Any idea where he is now?” Alph asked eagerly.
 
His wife shrugged. “He said he’d try again in a month or so. Didn’t you find out where he was staying when you went off with him the last time he was here?”
 
Alph shook his head. “There were enough of us to just leave. He brought us to the job and left us again.”
 
“Is there a way to get word to him?” Wren asked curiously.
 
Kaylessa thought for a few minutes, taking her time and cutting a small plate of food into tiny pieces for the younger girl. Elena was bouncing on her knees on her chair, and Alph had to keep sitting her down again and again. Wren was a little confused. She wasn’t aware that her question had been a difficult one.
 
At length, she murmured, “He may have left word with the letter office but … that would be it.” She looked at her husband worriedly. “Does that mean you’ll be leaving again?”
 
“Only to get Ander on his feet,” Alph reassured his wife with a smile. “Then I’ll be back.”
 
Wren hoped he would get to keep his promise.
 
The mercenary turned his attention back to Wren. “Tomorrow morning, I’ll take you to see the letter master. If he hasn’t got any information for us, we’ll keep digging.”
 
Wren nodded. “Works for me,” she agreed.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:50 am

Location: Orodín, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter
 
The letter master had been reluctant to give them any information, but he promised to send a message letting Lombard know that Alph was back and had someone with him who was looking for a job. While they waited for a reply, Wren stuck pretty close to Alph. They spent time at Alph’s home with his family, and Wren had to fight her female instincts to ooh and aah over the kids and play with them, or to help Kaylessa out with her chores, or to help out with meal preparation and cleanup. She knew, though, that most men – especially mercenaries – would never offer to help with such things, and she had a role to play.
 
On the evening of her third day in the town, Alph brought Wren to the local tavern for some drinks, an apparent tradition for visiting men, and one that Alph implied would be necessary if Wren were to pull off her disguise. She was wary of the drinks she was given, but none of them tasted of anything other than what she ordered. She found herself enjoying herself, at least until some of the other men became raucous from too much drink. Even then, Alph showed no signs of leaving, so she stayed. It ended up being well past midnight when the two of them left, both of them reeking of alcohol. Wren had been careful in her drinking, however, and she was in full possession of her faculties.
 
It did present a problem, however. She stank, and she knew it … and Alph’s house did not have a private bathing room.
 
“Jus’ wait for morning,” Alph grinned at her when she brought it up. “We’ll get you a bath set up in the be’room. Then you can close the door. Keep others out.”
 
Wren arched one eyebrow at him. “You sound entirely too cheerful for this time of night.”
 
He laughed. “You kidding me? I’m home! I’m back with my family – which, I don’ mind telling you, for a while there I thought I was never going to see them again. An’ I have to a’mit, I pro’a’ly had a bit too much to drink tonight.”
 
“That goes without saying,” Wren quipped with a frown.
 
Her reaction seemed to amuse him, because he just laughed again. When they reached his house again, she had to help him with the door and lead him inside. His wife took over then, and her expression was one of stern disapproval.
 
“He always like this when he drinks?” Wren asked Kaylessa, annoyed with Alph, but trying to hide it.
 
The woman sighed and shook her head. “Not usually,” she admitted. “Only when he’s stressed or celebrating.”
 
Wren figured it was probably both. “Well, at least he’s home now,” she muttered. She sighed and frowned. “I reek,” she told Kaylessa, fully aware that she was stating the obvious. “I know it’s late now, but Alph said in the morning I could bathe in the bedroom.”
 
A look of annoyance crossed Kaylessa’s face, but as quickly as it had come up, it was gone again. She simply nodded. “I’ll let you know when it’s ready,” she agreed. “But I’m afraid that for tonight, I’m going to have to forego any more hospitality. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to get my husband to bed.”
 
“Sure, sure.” Wren held her hands up dismissively. “I hear you. I’m good. I’ll just make myself comfortable again.”
 
Kaylessa’s look softened slightly. “Good night, then, Ander,” she murmured.
 
“Night,” Wren replied shortly. Without waiting, she pulled out the palm frond mat that was her temporary bed and made herself as comfortable as she could. She was so exhausted that she was asleep before her discomfort could even register.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:26 pm

Location: Orodín, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Mid-Winter
 
When Wren returned to the town after her visit to the tent, she had a large boar with her that she had shot not too far from the town. It was a hefty one, and she hoped that it would feed Alph and his family for a good long while. The ivory from the tusks would be useful too, she trusted. The catch was, she didn’t know how to clean a boar properly, and she didn’t want Kaylessa to end up being stuck with the job. She had only a handful of coins with her, but she felt it would be worthwhile to spend some of it getting someone to do the job properly.
 
The butcher promised her the job would take barely an hour, so she decided to wait around. He didn’t mind, so she watched and learned a bit about the process. Once the boar had been processed, she had over one hundred pounds of cut meat, plus two large tusks. It cost her only a single gold coin, as the butcher had simply kept the rest of the remains in partial payment as well.
 
“I’m back,” she announced as she stepped into the house.  
 
“There you are!” Alph exclaimed from where he was sitting at the table. “We were beginning to wonder if you’d be back on time for dinner.”
 
“I told you I would be,” Wren shrugged. She set her package down on the table.
 
Kaylessa entered from the bedroom. “What is all of this?” she asked, eying the package.
 
“Hopefully, payment for allowing me to stay with you,” Wren replied. She tugged on the string to open it. “One hundred pounds of boar meat, properly cut and ready to cook. Plus two ivory tusks which can be used for just about anything, or to sell if you prefer.”
 
Kaylessa’s jaw dropped, and even Alph blinked in surprise. “What?” he sputtered.
 
Kaylessa’s eyes teared up, and she reached for a chair. She looked at her husband. “That’s more than we’ve ever had in a month,” she whispered.
 
“Well, considering how much I’m imposing,” Wren shrugged, “I thought it the least I could do.”
 
She helped Kaylessa and Alph put the meat where it wouldn’t spoil, then rested while her hostess prepared the meal. She played a bit with the children until the meal was ready, and then, as would be expected of a man, left them alone for the rest of the evening.
 
As she fell asleep that night, she hoped word would come soon. She was getting tired of this.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:33 pm

Location: Warlord Mansion, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Winter
 
The mansion to which Wren had been directed was every bit as grand as she had been led to believe. The property was enormous: it was at least half a mile across, and more than that deep, and the fence around it was made of ten foot high metal pikes with bars connecting them at the bottom and middle, too low to use for climbing over the spikes. Through them, however, she could see fields and streams, all kinds of fruit trees, some sheep, even a cow. There were also a few men working in the fields, but none of them had any visible weapons on them.
 
A stone path led from a locked and barred gate down the center of the property to the mansion. It wasn’t as large as her palace home, but it was still enormous by any standard. It had twelve massive windows, six on each side of an elaborate front door, and was three storeys high. The entire second and third storeys were surrounded by verandas, and the upper one had shade set up with shelters made of fronds.
 
“This is someone who lives in luxury,” Wren muttered to herself as she approached the front gate. Something about the lack of security bothered her, and she grew more nervous as she grew closer.
 
Suddenly, from behind her, she heard some dogs begin to bark. She turned to look. Two massive black dogs were racing towards her, teeth bared, snarling and snapping and barking so vehemently that spit was flying from their mouths. Wren’s heart leapt into her throat, and she grabbed her bow, whirling around to face the dogs head on.
 
As she drew her bow, the only thought that ran through her mind was, I’ve never seen such fast dogs!
 
Then, suddenly, inexplicably, everything around her seemed to grind to a near halt. The dogs were still running, but at a speed that made her wonder how they stayed in the air as they were bounding. Leaves and fronds swayed in the wind, but so slowly it was as if they were floating, as if gravity no longer existed. She had to wonder at it for a moment, looking around in amazement; but suddenly she remembered the dogs that were attacking her. Gripping her bow more tightly, she pulled an arrow from her quiver, aimed quickly, and let it fly, with a second following almost immediately after. The shot arrows flew only moderately faster than the dogs were moving, but they were following a path directly towards where she wanted them to hit.
 
Dropping her bow, she drew both her sword and hunting knife, holding one in each hand. Her arrows were still heading towards their targets, and she took a moment to adjust her grip on both blades before she ran towards the dogs. Despite the slowness of everything around her, she moved at her normal speed, and she caught up with the arrows just as they hit their targets. The dogs both let out slow, exaggerated yelps, and Wren used both blades to cut the dogs’ throats at the same time.
 
Without warning, everything returned to normal, and the dogs fell to the ground with no more sound than a thud. Breathing heavily, her heart racing in her chest, Wren lowered her weapons slightly and looked around, wary of another attack. Two men suddenly appeared from the trees, eyes wide, mouths agape. Neither of them was carrying any weapons that Wren could see, but still she was cautious. She didn’t want any other surprises.
 
“After a display like that,” one of them called to her, “I hope you’re Ander.”
 
“And that you can prove it,” the other added.
 
Wren sheathed her hunting knife and reached for the letter in her pocket. She thumbed it open as she held it up. “This is all the proof I have,” she called back.
 
Cautiously, the men approached, one of them eying the dogs. The other took the note and read it through.
 
“Sorry about the dogs,” Wren added while she waited for him to finish.
 
The first man looked at her. “Forget it. You passed the interview.”
 
“In three seconds flat,” the other guy muttered.
 
Wren blinked. Hadn’t it been closer to a minute? Then again, she hadn’t experienced anything like that before, so who knew what had happened?
 
“That was the interview?” she asked in a flat tone, disguising her surprise.
 
The first man snorted. “Shouldn’t have been. We were expecting two people. Two people, two dogs.”
 
She just shrugged. “I don’t know how well you know Alph, the other guy who was supposed to come, but his wife is about to give birth any day. He was just going to show me the way anyways, nothing else.”
 
The second man held the note back out to her. “He’s good. Come on, let’s take him inside.”
 
Wren wiped her blades and resheathed them before following after the two men.
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:29 pm

Location: Warlord Mansion, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Winter
 
Wren sighed heavily and lay back on the bed she had been given. Her mind was awhirl with thoughts. Never in a thousand years would she have suspected that the person behind all of this would be a woman. And a smart one, too. She had seen through Wren’s disguise almost immediately. Wren was grateful for two things: first, that she had waited for Neldor, her guide, to leave before confronting her about it; and secondly, that she had willingly accepted her explanation of why she was masquerading as a man and agreed wholeheartedly to allow the ruse to continue.
 
“I know just how hard it is to gain any kind of respect as a woman,” she had sympathized with Wren. “You have my congratulations for getting this far.”
 
And then she had, on the spot, made Wren her personal bodyguard – or rather, one of two. She would meet the other one later, she was certain, but for now, she had been encouraged to rest. And after what had happened with the dogs, she was more than ready for one.
 
She wondered, as she drifted off, how long she would be with these people, and when it would be time to take the entire operation down.
 
For that matter, how would she know?
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Re: Wren's Reminscings | 116 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:22 pm

Location: The Tent, western Keliac, Arkandia
Year: 119 4A
Status: Late Winter
 
“You’re sure you don’t want to wait to talk to your father?” Khetal asked Wren as she brushed her hair. It was almost too short to brush, but she wanted to start feeling feminine again, even if she didn’t look it yet.
 
“I owe it to him,” she replied softly. “I’ve been gone two weeks and all he knows is that I was going on a dangerous mission.”
 
It sounded cliché when she said it like that, but it was nevertheless the truth. Her father was probably worried sick about her. She owed him a visit so that he could breathe easy again, and the sooner, the better.
 
“And you’re sure you want me to be here when you talk to him?” Khetal asked, watching her check her reflection in the mirror.
 
Wren looked at him sharply, her expression amused. “Are you serious?” She set her brush down, stepped over to him, put her hands on his shoulders, and smiled widely at him. “I just spent two weeks without you, and I think I can say, dear sir, that I do not want to do anything without you ever again.”
 
Khetal chuckled and put his arms around her waist, clasping his hands together behind her back. “If you insist,” he murmured. He leaned down and brushed his lips lightly against hers. “Together it is, then.”
 
Wren grinned at him, her blue eyes twinkling. “Good.” She patted his cheek lightly a few times. “Then be a good boy and stay out of the way while I get this set up.”  
 
She finished her own preparations before setting up the mirror, and then she joined Khetal on top of her futon and settled comfortably against him. Then she reached forward and touched the mirror’s surface. In seconds, their reflection vanished and was replaced with an image of her father’s bedchamber.
 
It was the middle of the night in Chansond’eau, and the prince’s bedchamber was dark. The moon outside was not full, but it was full enough that it illuminated the room ever so slightly. It was enough that they could see that Ander’s bed was not occupied.
 
“I wonder where he is,” Wren frowned, leaning forward and squinting into the reflective surface.
 
She jumped, startled, when a silhouette suddenly appeared in the room as if from nowhere. “Wren?”
 
“There you are, Papa,” Wren smiled with relief as he slid into the seat in front of the mirror. Maybe it was the lighting, as the only light that illuminated him now was from the mirror itself, but he looked rather haggard. Wren frowned at him. “You don’t look well.”
 
Ander smiled, but that didn’t dispel the dark circles under his eyes. “Thanks, Wren.” He chuckled softly. “For your first greeting in two weeks, that was nice and cheerful.” Before Wren could reply, however, he added, “Still, it’s wonderful to see you again. You’re all right?”
 
“Fine, Papa.” Wren smiled. “Uninjured, and it’s all … taken care of. Hopefully no one will be doing such things again.”
 
“Do you want to tell me about it?” her father asked, smiling.
 
Wren hesitated for a moment. It was the middle of the night for him, and he looked as though he hadn’t slept since she had last spoken with him. But if that was indeed the case, then would he be able to rest before having spoken with her for a while? It had only been seconds so far: barely a minute, if that. She had spent enough time away from him. He deserved time with her. And if he was willing to spend another sleepless night with her, then who was she to deny him?
 
“I’d love to,” she smiled widely back at him.
 
“Before you two get going,” Khetal spoke up softly, “I have some people I need to talk to. I’ll leave the two of you alone.” He pressed a light kiss to Wren’s cheek, rose to his feet, and left her alone with her father.
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